Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New OSR Adventure - The First Sentinel. Written by Edwin Nagy From Lesser Gnome Studio For Your Old School Campaigns

Preorder It
Lesser  Gnome games has a very interesting old school game module with some pretty interesting overtones. The folks over there have been putting out an huge buzz about this module for months and it looks really nice. The looks like a low scale adventure for levels three  thru five. This is going to be the limited edition of the adventure 'The First Sentinel'.
I've seen some of the quality products that Lesser Gnome has done in the past like Whisper and Venom and this limited edition seems like its going to be on par with those products.

 Once again this looks like it could be played with the retroclone of your choice or perhaps with OD&D or First Edition AD&D. I'm a sucker for the 'Alien In The Dungeon' theme, so this looks right up my sword and sorcery alley.
This module could be used as the jump off point for a full scale sword and sorcery alien invasion or as a party stand alone.
The price tag doesn't look bad at all for what you get with the adventure.
Here are some of the details from the Lesser Gnome website :  
The First Sentinel is the latest old-school adventure from Lesser Gnome. Within its pages Game Masters have a complete adventure for three to six players using character levels between three and five.

Included with the limited edition-
  • The First Sentinel 16 page adventure booklet written by Edwin Nagy and edited by John Hammerle.
  • The custom sculpted 28 mm Nexid Spider figurine by Tim Prow cast in a translucent resin.
  • A detached folded cover with original art by Lloyd Metcalf. So retro it requires a save vs. nostalgia to open (failure leads to uncontrollable reminiscing about gaming days of yore).
  • A full color 11″ x 17″ Map Insert (including the Original Whispers Vale Map by Alyssa Faden, as well as the specific adventure location with added detail).
A few last minute surprises might make it in as well.
Here are some images of the Nexid Spider (sculpt by Tim Prow).
Nexid Spider Collage 400

Once again we're seeing more cartography from Alyssa Faden on the module's maps, I'm familiar with the sculpt of the mini from Tim Prow, Edwin Nagy is a name I've heard in the OSR before and the entire package looks pretty amazing but this adventure isn't going to be for Pathfinder although it might be able to be adapted for it. Instead this is going to be a full scale old effort and fully playable with the system of your choice. All in all this looks like a fantastic little package for the old school DM to unleash upon his players and PC's. I think that Lesser Gnome might have another hit on their hands. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Un Boxing And Review Of The Hanging Coffins Of The Vampire Queen By Mark Taormino

Grab It Right Over
So I finally received my physical copy of  'The Hanging Coffins Of  The Vampire Queen' , the OSR vampiric tour de force by Mark Taormino. This module is for any number of OSR retroclones and it really does a wonderful job of trying to plug into the the older edition or retroclone of your choice. 
Mark has a passion for D&D and AD&D, he's also a screen writer as well as a game designer out in California all of which comes through in The Hanging Coffins. The plot goes something like this : 
'Death or freedom? The Vampire Queen has challenged a small band of her worst prisoners to escape from her wicked dungeon lair. With all of your original weapons, magic items and possessions, it is up to you to outwit and fight your way through terrible traps, beastly monsters, and all the horrific surprises she has arranged for you'
Right off the bat this module has a wicked sense of humor about itself  but its still a nasty & deadly little read through for an AD&D style first edition module.
The writing is tight, the plot inventive, and play is wicked. Have a few PC's on standby for this one. Seriously, this adventure is very nasty but in a good way.
I have to say that I was very pleased to feel a stiff cardboard backing to the envelop right out of the gate. That's a good sign that the game company or hobby store that your dealing with knows what its doing. It helps to preserve the module or game product from the postman. Take note game companies for future shipments. 
 Good quality packing material makes all the difference as well. It basically means that the company or person cares enough to hand pack their stuff. This is one of the reasons why I prefer the smaller game companies to the mass market stuff out there. Also you don't get that 'Christmas morning' gift feeling unpacking a pdf.
 I'm greeted by the Vampire Queen herself whose sealing the adventurers doom with a kiss, a very nice little bonus to an already nice old school adventure package. The author is setting the tone of his adventure with the little details of artwork that make this a total package. The sense of humor is one that is here in spades, a darkly playful bit of fluff that goes a long way to making this a real winner of a module in my book.
 The next thing comes across in the physical book that is the module,this book is sealed up with a lovely comic book collector bag in addition to the cardboard wrap around. Yes, I'm making a big deal about this because I've recently gotten a book from 'Fleabay' and well we've all been there. In this economy good packing makes for happy gamers and DM's. The artwork screams 'Old School 'right out of the gate!
 The page count is a hefty one and the paper stock is good quality as well as the wrap around cover. Mark is using a nice printer as well. Good quality in a module means solid shelf life over the coming years which equals solid utility in the years to come. Loving the Jeff Dee cover art which pops even more in person and the back cover as well sells this one.
 The module sells you on the adventure just like those old first edition AD&D modules, it almost jumps into your hands and says, 'play me!' You can see where to take a feather from another old school writer's cap, the art sets the tone and stepping points for the book here. So far I'm loving everything I'm seeing.
 Overall my initial impressions are very favorable that this module was worth the time and energy for the Kickstarter.
The wraparound cover maps are very well done and I recognize the cartographic style of Alyssa Faden and a very clever back joke to the adventure map itself. Nice.
 That wrap around cover map is very well done and reminds me of some of the very early TSR products from back in the day.
 As we start dive into the background of the module with the introduction, it becomes clear that the Vampire Queen is a vile villain of epic scope that could take over the undead scene of the campaign that she's let loose in. That's not a bad thing but man is this adventure well done but please bring some extra PC's to the fold. The adventure says for levels ten through fourteen on the cover and their not kidding.
 As your reading through the Hanging Coffins keep that 'wrap around' cover handy for reference, this adventure's encounters move fast and remind me of some of the Goodman games adventures I've seen in the past. The writing here is playful, funny, and very deadly.
 A quick word on the spacing and fonts of the  Hanging Coffins, they're very easy to read and for older eyes that's really very important. A real plus in a world of old school rpgs that like to have very tiny little lettering. He scores points for that as well.
 Nice old school stat blocks that are quick for a solid way to reference at the table during play is a always a plus. The encounters here remind me of Hammer's 'Famous Vampire Killers' thrown into a blender with AD&D then set on Vampire Queen!
 Yeah bring a few extra adventurers to this one, the humor is high but not playground at all. The module is clever but doesn't talk down to its audience.The encounters here are going to take a bit of work through but the adventure is flexible enough to allow the DM to work this adventure into his pattern of Dming and campaign.
There are a few sidelines adventure bits, some really nice hooks, and a few dangling plot bits that the DM can exploit for their own campaigns but these are not barn doors that will effect play at all. Here's where the author's background as a screen play writer shows through. That's a good thing and makes this module read like a clever black horror comedy in some places and yet the adventure turns up the heat to some searing edges in other places. Its a hard and razor edge style of play to balance though but the author does it nicely. 

Several of the encounters are throw backs to the puzzle solving, investigation bits, and work throughs  of the older TSR Advanced D&D first edition adventures. With a bit of real skill and luck on the players part its survivable with some really good rolls of the dice. 

The treasures, loot, encounters, and meat of the module are a nice change of pace from some of the hum drum material that has been making its way to the marketplace lately. The Hanging Coffins Of The Vampire Queen is out just in time for Halloween and might make a fantastic October mini campaign. 
There are a lot of old school Kickstarters out there and that's fine but with Mark's efforts and further en devours only now starting to get off the ground, this was one adventure worth the wait to me. I'm very happy to have a physical copy of this adventure and it will have a proud place upon my shelf right along with my copy of OSRIC and my AD&D first edition books. 
If your fretting over the level of play here in the Hanging Coffins of The Vampire Queen there are a number of pre generated PC's for play. In reading through the module, I can actually see using these as fodder for the trepidations of the Queen herself or her myriad of forces that infest her dark and nasty lair. 
Note that the stat blocks of the Vampire Queen are easily convertible to your favorite OSR retroclone or even Pathfinder with a bit of work. The level of play here is well thought out and the balance is nice for the pregens. All in all I think that this is a really nice modern throwback to another age of gaming. 

Bottom line here is that I feel that the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen is worth the time, energy, and your dollars.Grab a copy just in time for October, grab some friends, and sink your fangs into this wonderful old school retroclone module today!
Note: that this one isn't for the kids, this has several adult threads that run through the module. The humor is well done and very un PC in places just the way I like it! But its definitely not for the kiddies. Now that that's understood, this is only the first of several Kickstarters that Mark Taormino will be running.
'The Secret Machines Of The Star Spawn' is his current Kickstarter and you can find Chocolate Thunder and her friends right over HERE
Chocolate Thunder and Otto the Viking are taking down the "Sucka!"

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Gardens Of La Tsing -The Man From K'n-yan - Actual Play Encounter For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Part III

Continued from last time's game
Right over

The PC's were captured by the main complex's temple guardians who happened to be their own former comrades that had their flesh reworked into more pleasing shapes by the temple's demonic inhabitants.
Clipart Critters 305 - Surreal Horror
These surreal horrors are the work of Post Mortem's Studios available right over
 The PC's were brought down into the depths of the finely worked stone past a few mind shattering shaggoths and other horrors.The PC's were not pleased at all with the horrors they witnessed on the way downward that they might have to face trying to escape the depths of this place of horror and depravity.
Clipart Critters 28 - Fleshy, Absorbed, Mass
This shapeless horror is available right over
 The guards departed and left the PC's in a stone worked chamber covered with row after row of hyrogpyhis. Suddenly from two side entry ways came their escorts. A pair of nine foot tall mummies of a most particular aspect. Horrors from beyond the grave whose presence unnerved the PC's to know end. Their grasp was like iron and the weird preservatives gave the horrors an unnervingly juicy look.
Clipart Critters 24 - Unraveled Mummy
This undead mummy is available right over

The PC's themselves thought that this was their death song as iron claws of incredible strength pressed into their flesh and their wizard made signs of caution. Still further into the pyramid were they lead past rows of other former priests and other worshipers of foul gods long forgotten on the surface of Hyperborea. But then they were lead to one of the former masters La Tsing.
Passed rows of imprisoned Great Race Of Yith intellectuals working at weird brass stands on the strange bound volumes of forbidden knowledge were the PC's lead. Until they came to a throne room.
The PC's were ushered  into the presence of something old and very dead lurking in the shadows of a throne. The entire party gasped as the lich priest of the pyramid revealed itself.
 Shi Re 'The Wicked One'  the lich priest from K'n-Yan who has dogged the PC's every step ever since they ruined his shrine in Underborea three months ago now faced them. Would they die or was their a worse fate worse then  await them?
Tune in next week and find out!

This vile villain of a lich is available right over
All artwork is used with permission and can be found at the Post Mortem studios store as part of the marvelous stock from Rpgnow. You can find more of this wonderful fantasy clip artwork right over HERE
Special thanks to  Bradley K. McDevitt for the opportunity to show my players exactly what they've been facing down these past couple of months. The monsters are trade marked and copyrighted to the artist and owner.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mega Dungeon Madness - Two Free '&' Magazine Mega-dungeon Downloads & A Column From Benoist Poire Of The Dungeon Hobby Shop

Today has been megadungeon madness on the blog today with two new free downloads from '&' magazine for all of your mega dungeon needs along with an aditional column from the Hobby Shop.  First the Adventure #3 The book of lower level lairs, this is a great resource for low level beginning parties and features a ton of material to stick into your mega dungeons but this book is also a bit of a PC book as well with plenty of old school adventure action to challenge your beginning level players! The effort here is to make the encounters balanced yet able to engage the PC's at the same time. The suppliment is a for character levels 1-4 but with plenty of room for expansion. This book has been created for Castle Triskelion the official '&' megadungeon. This book is only the beginning and its not bad for a free resource.
Book of Low Level Lairs Volume I

Grab it Right Over
According to the '&' website :
Everything from brown bears to giant porcupines to kenku and lizard men! All mini-adventures that can usually be run in a single session. Pick the ones you need, string them together as you see fit!
 Then this afternoon I stumbled upon : 
The second segment of the Castle Triskelion mega-dungeon, the Outer Ward First Floor
 has been released! In addition to this segment, Tim has included a number of new monsters, magic items, and other information about the castle and its environment. This is all described in the first supplement, the New Materials Volume I. Please note that this manual is necessary to use the First Floor, so download both
 Go right over HERE  for all the Castle Triskelion material

Castle Triskelion - Outer Ward First Floor

Available right over

 Finally Benoist Poire of the Dungeon Hobby Shop offers up a ton of useful and time worth advice upon designing, creating, maintaining, and fleshing out your own mega dungeons. He goes through the set up and step by step process that aided him in the design and writing of the news mega-dungeon coming soon from the Dungeon Hobby Shop, DU2 The Halls of The Begger King all of this is on the OD&D forums
right HERE

Monday, September 1, 2014

Latest Word On The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Adventures Kickstarter
Here is the Val Semeiks pencil sketch for the cover of Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess

So I've been hearing a ton of requests about what's happening with the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg system adventures. Well I've received word from Jeff T today via Facebook and here's the latest : 

I've been receiving some requests on the status of our next three adventures, which will be launched simultaneously through a single Kickstarter campaign. They are _Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes_ (Jeff Talanian), _Beneath the Comet_ (Ben Ball), and _Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess_ (Joe Salvador).

All three adventures are written. I would not launch the Kickstarter without this at the least. One has been completely edited (_Beneath the Comet_). _Ghost Ship_ is being edited by Dave Prata as I write this. I am working with Joe Salvador on a little content editing for _Forgotten Fane_ right now.

Cover art by Charles Lang is in for _Ghost Ship_. As you fellows saw, progress is being made by Val Semeiks on the cover for _Forgotten Fane_. Peter Mullen is working on the cover for _Comet_. John Bingham is working on the interior illustrations. Mark Allen did an illustration, too, and it's gorgeous. 

Maps. They are complete for _Comet_ and the pencil maps for _Ghost Ship_ and _Forgotten Fane_ are complete and scheduled to be digitally inked.

A lot is done, but there is more to go. If progress continues at the current pace and no major stumbling blocks are encountered, I'm planning for an October KS launch. I leave you with the illustration by Mark Allen. This is called "The Ruined Fane of Apollo," which is part of the early set-up for my _Ghost Ship_ adventure. Happy gaming!

 Want to know more? Check out the AS&SH Facebook group for the latest info!
Right over

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gearing Up for Dave Arneson Game Day 2014 With A Free OD&D Download

You can read all about
Harvard's Dave Arneson Game Day 2014
Right Over

So my buddy Havard is celebrating Dave Arneson Game Day 2014 on Dave's birthday, October first.
He's pulling out all of the old school Blackmoor schmaltz and why not. Dave is one of the creators of the game that I love and he's the originator of the first fantasy campaign.
I'll be celebrating right along with my friend by running the original Temple of The Frog from Blackmoor Supplement II on October 1st.
Temple of the Frog is an old favorite of mine. If you want to get in on the celebration of the life of one of the creators and originators of OD&D. Grab a copy of the original Blackmoor right over
And be sure to check out the other great Blackmoor downloads as well.
So we celebrate the life of one of D&D's creators in the best possible way. We play upon the campaign world that he developed and designed. We have a fun time with the game. I think that's what Mr.Arenson would have wanted.
Dave Arenson was taken way too early at the tender age of sixty one. He was,has been, and continues to be  one of the main influences on my gaming. Dave is missed by all of us who game. I think the words of his daughter pretty much sum up her father's ethos.
Dave Arneson.png
Arneson died on April 7, 2009,[38] after battling cancer for two years.[14] According to his daughter, Malia Weinhagen, "The biggest thing about my dad's world is he wanted people to have fun in life ... I think we get distracted by the everyday things you have to do in life and we forget to enjoy life and have fun."
If you wish to know more about the life of Dave Arenson go right over to the Wiki entry HERE
Better yet head over to the Blackmoor Castle site and have a read HERE
Be sure to check out the new Blackmoor Group on Facebook as well right
Thanks for everything you did Sir and we owe you a lot.
Here's hoping the PC's survive!
Time to get your game on folks! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coming Soon From Kickstarter : Maximum Mayhem Dungeon #2: Secret Machines of the Star Spawn by Mark Taormino

Chocolate Thunder and Otto the Viking are taking down the "Sucka!"

Go Take A Look Right
Well it looks like my buddy Mark Taormino is at it again with another incredible adventure  by launching another Kickstarter for Freak show games latest creation.
The plot goes something like this :
Locals have been hearing whispers of strange happenings around the Ancient Volcano. Rumors over the last few months of an unspeakable evil that has risen up inside. An evil that “fell from the stars.” They say there is something wicked and devilish going on inside. Highwaymen report of strange creatures, mechanical monsters, and "Little Green Men" that are roaming the land causing chaos and mayhem! 

The locals are at their wits end. They put out a call for the bravest, the strongest, the smartest group of adventurers they could find... and unfortunately for them, your group has "answered the call." You and your stalwart band of adventurers know exactly what to do...  plunder the mountain for the treasure within! And maybe figure out what those pesky locals are bitching about!

Half of the adventure takes place in the Volcano Dungeon Lair and the other half on a huge, Futuristic Spaceship which the Star Spawn has had "parked" above the planet unknown to anyone for the last 1000 years! If we can hit enough stretch goals we'll "unlock" more encounters, dungeon levels and ship levels etc!

I got to see the cover for this module about a month ago and it looks pretty insane for an OSRIC or first edition AD&D style adventure. I'm hoping that they meet their stretch goals. Mark has worked with some pretty incredible artists and the module has a definitive 70's weirdo grind house vibe to it. So I can't wait to see what happens when this one hits the airwaves. Stay tuned folks.