Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Death's Head Keep: Level 1, Room 5

The room is dominated by a wide set of stone steps leading down into obscuring mists.

  • It is 10’ x 40’. 
  • The mist starts 10’ down the steps.
  • The room is oppressively humid and anyone wearing armor sweats profusely.

The steps within the mist are slick with moisture.

  • They lead down 20’. 
  • The steps are Difficult Ground.

A large doorway glows amber in the mist.

  • The doorway is 20’ away from the bottom step.
  • The amber glow is a minor enchantment on the doorframe.
  • The ground is spongy with an earthy smell and in the light of the doorway you can see it is covered in brown moss.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Death's Head Keep: Level 1, Room 4 #Dungeon23

The room is pitch black with a lonely 

stool in its center.

- It is 15’ x 25’. 

-The walls are rough stone.

- The smell of chlorine is acrid and


- A barred wooden door is the only exit  

  in the far right corner of the room.

Anyone who sits on the stool must 

make a Spirit check. 

- On a failure the apparition of an 

  ancient woman moves intangibly 

  through the door to stand before them. 

- The woman’s left eye is covered with 

  an eye-patch and her nose is crooked

  and broken.

- She in an imposing sight and is just

  over 6' tall.

- Her teeth are crooked and black and

  leans uncomfortable close to asks the 

  creature who sat down what their True

  Name is.

- If the creature chooses to answer her

  question and lies the GM gains a Benny.

- Any attacks pass harmlessly through

  her as she is an astral projection and 

  her body is far from her. 

- The next round she leaves the way she

  came in.

- She will not reappear again.

  There is a secret door in the middle of

  the left-hand wall that can be found

  with a Notice check at -1.

- It has 6 shelves that holds close to 3

  dozen humanoid hearts in glass jars.

- The hearts are suspended in a bright

  green fluid. 

- All of the hearts are beating audibly

  and in unison. 

        - There is room for more hearts equal to

  the number of PCs. 

- If opened the heart in the jar stops

   beating and the liquid turns blue, 

   has the consistency of honey, and is 

           becomes a remarkably strong adhesive 

           known as twitterpaste.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

#Dungeon23: Level 1, Room 3

A set of narrow steps leads up and through an opening revealing a balcony overlooking a rough stone terrain 30' below. The balcony has room for three adults at one time. The ground is littered with weapons of all kinds.

Above the balcony a thick metal cable is anchored into the wall at a height of 7’ and it leads across the room to an opposite balcony 50’ away.

Crossing the room on the cable is an an Athletics check and anyone who critically fails falls 30' to the ground below and takes 3d6+3 damage. If a creature dies on the ground they rapidly decompose to dust on the next round.

When a creature arrives on the ground below 2 stone golems take shape within 1d6" and attack them. This occurs every time a new creature meets the ground. Defeated stone golems return to the earth the following round. The terrain is Difficult Ground.

Littered on the ground is 600 gp, 23 arrows, 2 battle axes,        3 bows, 2 crossbows, 8 crossbow bolts, 9 daggers, 2 flails, 1 great axe, 2 great swords, 4 long swords, 6 shields, 5 short swords, 2 staves, 2 warhammers, 1 set of chain mail that fit a PC and 2 sets of tough hide that fit a PC. Additionally, there is a Flame Tongue long sword and a Ring of the Ram with 16 charges.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

#Dungeon23: Level 1, Room 2


A dim yellow-green light emanates from an orichalcum rail, about 2' off of the floor, runs along the circumference of this circular room.

A successful Academics check reveals that the confusing pattern cut into the stone floor is a map of the solar system, however, there is an additional planet the same size as ours whose opposite orbit keeps the Sun between us and them.

The image of the Sun, 8’ in diameter, is at the center of the room and is slightly recessed.

If someone steps on the etching of our world, a door opens in the walls several feet away at the 9 o'clock position. Blue light and a low mist spill from the doorway after opening.

Level 1, Room 2

Friday, January 27, 2023

#Dungeon23: Level 1, Room 1

Death's Head Keep has been abandoned for one-hundred and ninety-six years. The locals celebrate it’s fall on the summer equinox each year. It is known as Magusburn and it is filled with song, dance, food, drink, and lasciviousness.

Everod Teeg can't help but hate Magusburn. His family are merchants based out of the City-State of Jarlsburg and the holiday disrupts his very tight schedule each year. Worse, his sales are always lighter on that first trip after the holiday.

At the age of twenty he is the youngest member of his family to win the coveted Salt Road route heading South to Freeport. He prides himself on his poise and diplomacy and yet here he sits, in the Sherif’s small office in Greenway, babbling like a child as he explains that the Keep’s bridge was down and it’s portcullis was up; something no human in this region has ever seen.

For her part, Sheriff Fillis Darryn, who has known Everod since he was a boy, can’t help but stare at Teeg's hair, once a fiery and now as white as snow.

Death’s Head Keep looms before you. An inky blackness swarms those brave or foolish enough to enter its maw while the wind mocks you for being foolish enough to trod enter it's maw.

Looming large along the room's Northern wall are double doors that go from floor to ceiling and reflect any light with a violet hue, indicating they are made of the antediluvian metal known as orichalcum.  The doors are barred with a plank of the metal that is at least four inches thick which bears the phrase, "Something wicked your way comes" in High Enoy, the language of long dead Thoeda..

The sight of the barred doors requires a Spirit roll and anyone who fails has a -1 to all Spirit checks until they get a full rest while a small voice whispers in their ear, “It was never about keeping you out”.

Lifting the bar requires a Strength roll at -2 unless at least three people work together to remove it.

Once the bar is removed both of the doors will open with the left groaning loudly.


The ceiling is 15' high.

The East and West walls feature murals that have deteriorated to such a degree that only abstract colors and shapes remain.

The South wall has a lever on each side of the front gate and both are in the up position. The lever on the left can be moved to the down position with nothing appearing to happen. The lever on the right is permanently frozen in place and will break before being moved.

In the Northeast corner is a single platinum coin that bears the Sigil of the Witch Queen and if claimed they gain 1 Benny. 

Smaller Savage Worlds Stat Block 2: Electric Boogaloo

I had quite a bit of input from yesterday's post (a huge thanks to all of you who responded) and I've got a bit of a hybrid between both options. 

Below are an Orc and an Orc Shaman so I could showcase powers.

Further input is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Smaller Stat Blocks for Savage Worlds

I've been toying around with a point crawl I started working on a few years ago and have been looking at publishing it for Savage Worlds. However, their stat blocks take up a fair amount of space compared to B/X DnD, Labrinth Lord, Old School Essentials, Swords and Wizardry, and ShadowDark so I've been tinkering around with them. Below are two options and I'd love to hear feedback on which may be better, if there is anything I have forgotten, or you just have a better format.

Here is an Orc Warrior

Options A

Parry 6; Toughness 9 (3 chain); Fighting d8 (battle axe d10+d8); Shooting d6 (bow 2d6); Athletics d8; Pace 6; Ag d6; Sm d6; Sp d6; St d10; Vi d8; Skills Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Survival d8; Edges Brute, Mighty Blow

Option B

Parry 6

Toughness 9 (3 chain)

Fighting d8 (battle axe d10+d8)

Shooting d6 (bow 2d6)

Athletics d8

Pace 6;

Ag d6; Sm d6; Sp d6; St d10; Vi d8; 

Skills Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Survival d8; 

Edges Brute, Mighty Blow

My Path Forward as a FLGS Store Owner, a Blogger, and a Fan Post-WotC Apology

I've taken some time as a store owner, a blogger, and a fan to really look hard at what WotC has done to the rest of the industry in the past month and I've reached a decision on how I plan to go forward this year.

As a store owner, I've restocked Savage Worlds, Deadlands, Savage Pathfinder, Savage Rifts, Numenera, The Cypher System, GURPS, Complete Champions, Call of Cthulhu 7E, Fallout 2d20, RuneQuest, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Transformers RPG, Starfinder, Pathfinder 2E, Modern AGE, Scion 2E, and Vampire: the Masquerade. Sales have been stronger than  expected and I'm glad. I won't lie, I still stock the full line of DnD 5E but I am only giving it about 10% of the face-out space it occupied before this whole fiasco. I am not telling anyone to abandon 5E, but if someone asks me about the OGL situation I will answer them with my personal opinion while emphasizing that is all it is a personal opinion. 5E is a very good game and you should play what you like. I hope the right people are put in charge of WotC and I hope they stick to the plans they announced last week, but we'll see.

As a blogger I'm going to switch over to Savage Worlds and The Cypher System for the time being. Maybe adopt some "Old School" ideas for both. I've published for both of them before so maybe I'll do that again. Either way, I'm taking a break from the OGL and DnD. I mean how many "skill systems" or "thief classes" can I keep coming up with? Most of its been covered at least as well as I have.

As a fan, I don't want to say I'll never try One DnD or I'll never run DnD again, but I was bored with it and this just gives me an excuse to move on. I'm in a Curse of Strahd campaign and another of our DMs is planning a City of Brass campaign so I'm sure we'll be playing it. We like 5E and will always have it to use if One DnD isn't our jam. I'm sure at some point I will miss it and maybe I'll go back? At the same time, I think Shadow of the Demon Lord is a better game overall and maybe I'll just use it for dungeon fantasy since I like horror in all of the games I run and really love the "Old World" Warhammer vibe it has.

I am very interested in Kobold Press' Black Flag and will playtest it. In my opinion, Kobold and other 3rd party 5E publishers have been doing the coolest stuff for the last couple of years. Their monster books are used by all of the DMs in our group. I hope what they do is just as cool.

I don't think WotC will miss me as a fan or a blogger and they are a large part of my professional life so they will continue to deal with me. At the same time, I rarely deal with anyone at WotC and have great reps at several distributors that make my life easy. I would like Hasbro and WotC to learn from this situation but I doubt they will. Lets be honest, if the new DnD movie is a hit and the playtest numbers for 1DnD aren't too low they will eventually segment their section of the industry, a substantial segment, behind some pay wall. Its inevitable in my opinion.

I will add that I really enjoyed the most recent trailer for the new DnD film and will probably see it within the first 2 weeks of release. I hope it's fun because DnD is fun. Maybe if DnD is successful we will get a Deadlands movie! Right? I can't be the own one who wants it, right? Right?

Friday, January 13, 2023

My Response to WotC's Announcement on the OGL 2.0

I love Dungeons and Dragons. I love playing it, running it, and introducing it to people. I am grateful for the people it has introduced me to, of the barriers it shatters, and of the memories it has made for me.

But I'm tired of Wizards of the Coast. I'm tired of Hasbro.

I'm sure most of you know Wizards of the Coast responded. Finally.

You can read it here.

Things that piss me off because it show their contempt for us:

"However, it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1".

Other choice passages:

"First, we wanted the ability to prevent the use of D&D content from being included in hateful and discriminatory products."

Like the Hadozee in Spelljammer?

"And third, we wanted to ensure that the OGL is for the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community—not major corporations to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose."

And yet when it was launched for 3E you included White Wolf, Atlas Games, Green Ronin, Necromancer Game, and Mongoose Games. The OGL has always been for the industry. How can it hurt DnD to be used in a video game? How? Yeah, I'm sure it really sucks that it was used in one of the most beloved CRPGs ever made.

"Driving these goals were two simple principles: (1) Our job is to be good stewards of the game, and (2) the OGL exists for the benefit of the fans. Nothing about those principles has wavered for a second. "

You are "stewards"? That is why you wanted to steal people's work? DnD was united even those that didn't like you used DnD's "language" to keep playing and ou don't know what a "principle" looks like?

"In addition to language allowing us to address discriminatory and hateful conduct and clarifying what types of products the OGL covers, our drafts included royalty language designed to apply to large corporations attempting to use OGL content. It was never our intent to impact the vast majority of the community."

Sure. "Corporations". If someone had a $1 million Kickstarter your proposed cut was $50k. Is that even worth your accountant's time? "Large corporations"? Is there anyone anywhere involved with the OGL and RPG industry bigger than Hasbro? No.

"Content already released under 1.0a will also remain unaffected. "

We can't ever trust you again unless you add "irrevocable" to the OGL 1.0a. Otherwise it's all a hard pass. Buh-bye.

"What it will not contain is any royalty structure. It also will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work. That thought never crossed our minds"

The fuck it didn't. You guys are the poster child for "greed is good". We weren't afraid, we were pissed off because we SEE you.

"As we continue to invest in the game that we love and move forward with partnerships in film, television, and digital games, that risk is simply too great to ignore."

The "game" doesn't matter to you. You see it as a "lifestyle brand" now. You want to sell lunch boxes, underwear, toothbrushes...the game is barely on your radar. The only "risk" is you. 

"Second, you’re going to hear people say that they won, and we lost because making your voices heard forced us to change our plans. Those people will only be half right. They won—and so did we."

Wow. You don't have any idea how hollow you sound do you? This isn't a cartoon or comic or film you make to sell toys this is a game that helps us make friends, meet our soulmates, make lasting memories with, helps us fight our mental illness', and helps us deal with any number of physical, mental, or emotional challenges we face on a daily basis. No one won here. We didn't. And you sure as Hell fucking didn't. But we stood up to you. We beat you but it's hollow because you showed us how much you despise everyone of us. You despise your customers, fans, and even your staff. You put this on people that are new to your company and are having deal with your greed and fallout you created.

"Our plan was always to solicit the input of our community before any update to the OGL; the drafts you’ve seen were attempting to do just that. We want to always delight fans and create experiences together that everyone loves. We realize we did not do that this time and we are sorry for that. Our goal was to get exactly the type of feedback on which provisions worked and which did not–which we ultimately got from you. Any change this major could only have been done well if we were willing to take that feedback, no matter how it was provided–so we are."

You are fucking liars. You were planning on dumping this yesterday and having the holiday weekend to dodge any heat. You are so fucking clueless that you had no idea that your customers have some backbone. You didn't leak this. You didn't even know how to respond so you had to cancel the original announcement and you are still hiding behind the holiday weekend. This isn't going away. We aren't going away. You created competitors that understand this industry better than you. You empowered the last publisher to challenge one of your mistakes, again over the OGL, and then gave a slew of others to join in taking your down again. The damage is done. We are moving on and good riddance to you. We will never trust you again.

Monday, January 9, 2023

For Your Consideration: The Cypher System

As a vanity publisher and someone who loves the DIY nature of the OSR this new OGL 1.1 debacle has gotten me down quite a bit. If you are looking for alternatives to DnD or an OSR clone might I suggest Monte Cook Games' Cypher System which powers Numenera, The Strange, The Stars Are Fire, Ptolus, Planebreaker, etc.

I've always been a guy who loves lots of RPGs and you never know when you might find your next favorite game.

Here is an 8 minute YouTube video going over the basics of the system. 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Spotlight on Essential Classes for 5E

 I've been a fan of Joseph R. Lewis' Dungeon Age products for DnD 5E and OSE for a while now. His adventures are really easy to use as a Dungeon Master as he lays out his products in a very clean way while maintaining loads of flavor and atomosphere and his products have become a must-buy for me. 

With Essential Classes for 5E he has created four full classes, the Mercenary, Necromancer, Occultist, and Spyder, all with unique mechanics and tons of flavor that are best suited for dark fantasy. These classes give characters new unique Actions, Bonus Actions, and Reactions as their class abilities and each has special mechanic that involves failure when rolling a 1 on a d6 and damage to yourself.

The Mercenary Class is a combination of a fighter and a thief in the tradition of Conan and at 2nd Level you gain the Crude Medic ability: As an Action, heal yourself or one creature within 5 feet using old bandages smeared with a salve. Gain HP equal to 1d6 + your Mercenary level. Some of their abilities use a mechanic powered by Fortune that requires you to roll a d6 and on a 1 the ability fails and you take damage equal to 3 x your Mercenary Level. 

By level 20 a Mercenary gains 7 new Actions, 6 new Bonus Actions, and 5 new Reactions and all of the other classes, the Necromancer, Occultist (think Hellboy, Simon Belmont, or John Constantine), and the Spyder (assassin/thief), gain similar mechanical abilities.

Here are a few examples:

For the Necromancer at Level 6: Animate Greater Thralls which is powered by their Mortis mechanic: As an Action, choose any dead creature that is Medium or smaller within 60 feet and animate it as a Undead version of its original form. Use the Ghost stat block for this thrall. It obeys you and acts on your turn. It endures until you dismiss it or it is destroyed. A destroyed thrall cannot be animated again. At any one time, you can have a maximum number of ghastly thralls equal to half your Int modifier rounded up. Since it uses Mortis that means you roll 1d6 and on a 1 you take damage.

Here is an example of an Occultist ability at Level 2 called Bell of Law and it is powered by the Doom mechanic: As a Bonus Action, ring this small copper bell. All creatures within 60 feet that can hear suffer Psychic damage equal to 1d6 + your Occultist level. Lawful creatures are immune to this damage. Doom works the same way as Fortune and Mortis.

For the Spyder at Level 5 they gain the Metal Hair ability: You infuse your own hair with the iron in your blood. This natural helmet makes you immune to Charm effects and Psychic damage. This effect works no matter how short you cut (or shave) your hair. Their equivalent to Fortune and the others is Spyder. 

These classes pair old school pulp archetypes with 5E's modern mechanics as full classes but they lack of sub-classes and I don’t mind that choice as much as I thought I would. I’ve never complained about sub-classes but its a mechanic I’ve grown bored of and would happily run a game using just these Essential Classes. I’m going to add that Joseph is very clear that these classes aren't balanced against the traditional classes and that was not one of his design goals.

I hope we see more of these and I'm trying to find time to see them in play with one of his many great adventures.

I heartily recommend this or any other Dungeon Age product.

The OGL 1.1 from My Perspective as a FLGS Owner

First, we don't know if the leak of the proposed OGL 1.1 is actually real and until we all see it everything here is pure conjecture. However, I really think this the path Wizards of the Coast will pursue.

The main reason I'm processing it is that I have products both on the DMs Guild and on OneBookShelf using the OGL 1.0a for OSR products.

While the money I make helps me with Kickstarters and action figures I'm not going to create a headache for myself in any way. This is a hobby at best and not my livelihood, thankfully.

Second, I've dealt with Wizards of the Coast for close to twenty-five years as a vendor. I own two comic and game stores and I sell a lot of their products. Hasbro has spent the last five years or so trying to find their customers floors and ceilings. I've noticed the Magic: The Gathering team doing this in the last three years and I think they are now turning their attention to Dungeons and Dragons. 

The CEO of Wizards of the Coast was promoted to CEO of Hasbro earlier this year due to the unexpected death of the previous CEO and we also learned that WotC was responsible for 70% of their profit in 2021. Think about that for a minute, Magic and DnD made them more money than Transformers, GI Joe, Star Wars, My Little Pony, etc.

Hasbro was ecstatic with the millions of people DnD has brought in and its growth is important to them. Sadly, they don't realize that Critical Role did more for DnD than anything WotC did. They have projected that they can double their profits by 2025 from $1 billion to $2 billion, however Hasbro's earning report fell short of their goal which caused some concerns amongst their stockholders. Another complication occurred when they announced a Magic release that cost $1000 for four boosters packs and were only available through direct order from WotC, these cards are not playable in tournaments or organized play which led to Bank of America down grading Hasbro's stocks because they believed that WotC was trying to "kill Magic: the Gathering". 

WotC then had a "fireside" chat where they claimed everything was fine, that yes, some customers were "price sensitive" but everything was great. Additionally, they mentioned that 20% of DnD's fanbase are Dungeon Masters who account for 80% of their sales. They want to better monetized the other 80% of DnD's base. For December's Dragonlance release you could order a version direct from WotC and got access to it on DnD Beyond two weeks early. This echoes what they have done with HasbroPulse for toys and print on demand sets for Magic: the Gathering. 

The unusual part is that WotC used to be a distributor but converted that infrastructure to only fulfilling product to Amazon, Target, and Walmart about five years ago. I foresee, as demand grows for DnD fulfillment, that this will be a customer service challenge for them because a few of those Magic direct to consumer products are months late for fulfillment. They keep releasing several of those print on demand products every month and last year around 70 were released. Those sales are full profit for WotCs as there is no middle-man in that chain of sales while it also trains their customers to be fulfilled by them not a local store or an online retailer. It's ironic because part of Pathfinder 1E's success was their implementation of subscription services too so obviously, WotC was watching.

If this leak is real I think WotC has decided to gain more of that 80% of DnD's player money by trying to get royalties from publishers who use the OGL rather than make cool and interesting projects. They have data from 3E and 4E that told them multiple releases each month was competing with themselves so maybe this is their "killer app"? 

Royalties are an easy money grab and doesn't really affect most DnD players (who know little about what is going on by WotC). I also think that they might be content with the DMs Guild for 5E material but want to own any marketplace they develop for One DnD or "6E". I have a feeling that a benefit of using the OGL 1.1 could gain access to your material being available on DnD Beyond, which is huge for some publishers.

Hasbro wants to protect its IP and make sure that if something is cool they get access to it via the new OGL. We won't see another Pathfinder 1E or Critical Role without them getting some of that money.

At the end of the day Hasbro is a corporation with stockholders and it is their job to make those people as much money as possible and that is what they are going to do.

I'm uncertain how to proceed as a publisher but I'm currently thinking about altering all of my products to exist without the OGL and contact the publishers of the games they support to see if this is acceptable and if not, I'll pull them down until another solution presents itself.

I'm really torn about what is happening and the development of 1DnD. I think WotC is picking a fight with our whole industry but I don't think most DnD players are going to know about it. Yes, social media is prevalent but if you aren't looking for this kind of thing does it cross your radar?

Thundarr the Movie

As a life-long comics fan and a retailer with a quarter century of experience, I was today years old when I discovered that Buzz Dixon and ...