Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Red & Pleasant Land By Zak S. From Lamentations Of The Flame Princess


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I recently asked for a copy of a Red and Pleasant from James Raggi of Lamentations Of The Flame Princess after reading Tim Brananan's blog's review of the book on his blog HERE and for the life of me I've been trying to process the whole of this  book. Its part campaign setting, part art book, and part deep end launch into Zak Smith's pick up of the Alice In Wonderland books as well as legends and fairy tales surrounding the Lewis Carroll books shoved into a blender with classic Dracula and set on nightmare and the dream setting.

What's the book about? Well to be honest the back cover explanation doesn't convey half of the feel of the campaign kit/setting. It covers in broad strokes and artful descriptions a battle that has raged across 
A terrible Red King wars with an awful Queen, and together they battle into being a rigid, wrong world… and this book has everything you need to run it. (And any other place in your first, second, third, fourth or fifth edition game that might require intrigue, hidden gardens, inside-out-rooms, scheming monarchs, puzzles or beasts, liquid floors, labyrinths, growing, shrinking, dueling, broken time, Mome Raths, blasphemy, croquet, explanations for where players who missed sessions were, or the rotting arcades and parlors of a palace that was once the size of a nation.)
Zak S, game master on I Hit It With My Axe and author of the multi award-winning Vornheim: The Complete City Kit now brings the same do-it-yourself tables-and-toolkits approach and eerie magic to an entire distorted continent.

Voivodja is an old land with its own all encompassing setting and its old, rotten to the core , and damned as well as dangerous. The place is thick with vampire courts, heroes, heroines, and things they get up to all bound within a unconventional book. Many of the characters of Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass have been re imagined as ancient creatures out of European legend. Very old and very strange vampires of royalty with their own agendas and view points of events surrounding the brand new character class that shapes the events within , 'The Alice'.  'The Alice' is a new take on the 'Specialist' from The Lamentations of the Flame Princess as a heroine lightning rod for the adventure  events surrounding Voivodja. The Alice plugs into every single heroine and princess of every dream like fairy tale and pop culture fantasy that streams through the collective unconscious. 

The OSR produces tons and tons of random tables and A Red & Pleasant land has over thirty pages of them but this book implements the tables as key parts of the setting narrative guiding the PC's into the workings of the adventure setting. They range from the general encounter style ones, to one the spot adventure creation tables that happen on the fly, there are NPC generators, and more all tied neatly back into the Voivodja setting. This happens over and over again tying the PC's into the narrative of the dreamlike decayed fairy tale setting.

I've been reading reviews of A Red and Pleasant Land over and over the last few days then referencing back to the PDF. One thing that strikes me is how each person sees their own version of the setting of the Land of Unreason. This fact highlight's the phantasmagorical  nature of  Voivodja as a campaign. The factions are at each other's throats and warfare here can take the form of a game of crochet or the exploration of the setting's adventure locations. These are not simple dungeons in the conventional sense nor are they mega dungeons with their own ecologies  instead  they're almost artifacts of some old fairy tale echoing from older dreams as well as nightmares given a DYI D&D slant. 

The book is filled top to bottom with Zak Smith's artwork which set's the tone for the entire book from top to bottom marking it as an art book as well as a roleplaying campaign setting. The book is very well done in the graphic's regard. Its a brutal art book and it takes no prisoners with its dark, decadent artwork reflecting the feel of the dreamlike land of Unreason.

We're given a tour of this setting with options to look into niches,crannies, and the dark spots but there's plenty of room to get into the deepest recesses of the dream like realm. NPC's have motives and reasons as well as complex chess like takes on the state of things in the Land Of Unreason. Sometimes these goals and grudges stretch back centuries.

One thing about Voivodja, every single DM I showed this pdf in my circles of players and DM's has a different view of the setting.  Some see it as an other classic take on the Alice novels and the vampire literature. Still others have told me that its a gate way drug setting to a brand new take on using fairy tales as campaign settings. Still others have stated that this is a breath of fresh air for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg system and boosts the powerful hero PC take that the game has had lurking in the backdrop since its release. A Red and Pleasant Land simply gives validation to this ideal with bells.

Voivodja is a mix of all of the above and then some. Does it break new ground? Yes and it does it with style as a campaign setting. Do I think that it will set the world on fire? Perhaps as a way to show other game companies that there is more then a few ways of creating graphic design as a gateway for presenting your game as a both an exhibit for your product ideals and as a character within the campaign setting. A Red and Pleasant Land is as much an rpg artifact as a campaign setting.

The longer I read a Red and Pleasant Land the more the setting plays and begs to be run. There are bits of horror, fairytale, and lurking spillage of a world that runs right below the mirrors and places of shadow right behind our own world. The setting has as much of the modern running through its narrative as an alternative dimension as a it is a D&D setting.
There are so many hooks lurking in the back drop of the book that it begs to be connected with the rest of the Lamentations of The Flame Princess system but it could really be used with a great variety of other retroclones as well.
There are so many ways that this book could be plugged into games as a horror setting or as a completely different take on fairy tales. The author gives the DM everything he needs to take this setting and use it as everything from tool kit to complete campaign. The book can be dipped into a bit at a time or taken as a whole and used completely. My advice is to take the PC's there for a short visit and let them kick the tires of the setting and then see where this book takes them.

There is enough conflict for several years worth of play at least here with plenty to deal with if not more.

I don't think that A Red and Pleasant Land is a perfect role playing book but I do think that its one of the best to come out for 2014. Its a good and solid hit for the Lamentations of The Flame Princess.
Do I think that you should buy this book? Yes and I'm going to purchase a physical copy as soon as possible. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

'Beyond The Silver Threshold' - A Supernatural Horror Adventure Encounter For BASH & Call Of Cthulhu

Sitting on a shelf in a back water museum in a small New England Town is a terrible secret surrounding a centuries old Pictish artifact taken by Viking raiders in the 6th century. This silver artifact is part of ancient hoard containing ancient secrets including the location of a legendary monster god thing and its Viking warrior servants. Discovered in Nova Scotia and taken back to the small New England town museum of your choice. This piece has been stolen and is now up on the auction block. The theft has activated a strange curse summoning back the brine drenched ghosts and guardians of the god thing to slain whomever comes in contact with the artifact. Now its a race against time as the silver artifact passes from hand to hand spreading its blood curse to those who would defy the ancient god serpent monster. The thing who even now feeds upon the souls of those its minion slay in its name. There have been eight victims of the drowned Viking king and his warriors. The police seem helpless to stop the trail of bloodshed. 

Photo by Johnbod 

The last person to handle the item is Lowel Henderson, a local historian and antique dealer. He's been found slain in his west side home by neighbors who found the beloved historian with multiple stab wound and the police are at a loss. The players are called in to help identify strange symbols and whirls found made with his blood. Mr. Henderson has a book underneath some splintered book shelves which might offer a clue about the legend of the silver plaque called 'Viking Mysteries and Legends of Nova Scotia - An Account of the Supernatural Myths and Legends Of Vikings In The New World'. This book was written by Mr. Henderson's great grand father who tangled with the so called 'Drowned Kings and Warriors of Old'. The book goes on to describe that the Drowned Kings are servants and victims of the supernatural evil of the Sea Wyrm forever tied spiritually to the thing for all time due to the curse. Henderson was trying to trace down the 'whirl map' made up of the mystic symbols on the plaque that lead to the supernatural realm of the sea wyrm! But the drowned kings ended his life before he could open a gateway to the sea wyrm's realm & lift the curse. The silver plaque is part of a cursed Pict hoard of stolen silver artifacts and booty. The hoard bares a blood curse upon it for the terrible evil done for its possession whose betrayers fled to the New World but whose souls were pledged to the Sea Wyrm. They serve the thing beyond the grave even now and for all eternity.
The small silver plaque has been stolen by one of the ne
ighbor's children who found the body. The magick of the blood curse compelled little Jimmy Throghu to take the shiny silver plaque because of its incredible shiny and supernaturally intricate design. The ghostly undead Viking warriors things are even now on their way.

Tracking down little Jimmy shouldn't be too hard at all as a dangerous and horrid storm of supernatural aspect moves into the neighbor hood surrounding  the Throghu household. The storm increases as the Veil between worlds begins to thin and the warriors move in.
A supernatural rip between worlds has been created as schism is created leading to the storm lashed sea  world where the wyrm waits to claim its latest victim's soul. The PC's must return the silver Pict plaque to the world of the Wyrm in order to end the curse. Or the blood shed will continue or worse will happen.

Returning the silver plaque to the realm of the Sea Wyrm will end the blood curse for now but there are many other artifacts from the hoard of the 'Drowned Kings' still circulating out in the world. The cycle of blood shed and supernatural slavery won't simply end with the saving of one or two lives. The PC's may have only seen the tip of the supernatural iceberg.

The Sea Wyrm for  Call of Cthulhu 
STR     85
CON    60
SIZ       80
INT      20
POW   30
DEX     12
HP       85
Armour:  8 points of scaly skin
Move:  4/ 12 Swimming
Damage Bonus: +9d6          
Weapons: His Majesty may bite each round, unless it is attempting to initiate a Grapple. Ongoing Grapple checks do not prevent His Majesty from biting.

Bite – 60%, 2d8+ Damage Bonus, If a target is bitten and survives, His Majesty will attempt a STR vs. STR roll to pull the unfortunate victim into its coils to Grapple, and  ‘Crush’.

Crush – His Majesty can automatically Crush each round that it maintains a grapple on an individual. It can also automatically Grapple any object, including boats with Hit Points up to ½ its SIZ. Use the Vehicle table on p. 285, of ‘Call of Cthulhu, 6 th edition, as a guide for judging the Hit Points for Marine craft. A ship that is ‘Crushed’ sustains half of the rolled damage bonus each round. When all of the ship’s Hit Points are gone it breaks up and begins to sink.

Swallow Whole – On a special or critical hit a target that is size 20 or smaller may be swallowed whole, in which case it takes half
More details on this monster can be found on Clint Staples blog HERE
For Call of Cthulhu the silver plaque is an artifact of the Draugr of Woden-lithi with deep ties to a particularly disgraced clan of these undead sorcerer warriors. Not merely undead viking warriors these things are something far more dangerous with ties to the Sea Wyrm and a deep as well as abiding curse upon them. 
STR 28
CON 25
SIZ 16 [for bloated/ gigantic, add +4d6]
INT 17
POW 27
DEX 15
HP 21 [for bloated/ gigantic, add half of therolled 4d6 for greater SIZ]
Move 7
Damage Bonus: _2d6 ot +3d6 depending on SIZ.
Weapons: Witchbronze Blessed Keening Blade [Enchanted with Enchant Cane] 90%, 1d10+1 Damage + damage bonus.
Armor Points - Dead Flesh 3 AP + 1d10 – Skin Charm.
Skills: Astronomy 80%, Cthulhu Mythos 51%, Hide 55%. Antideluvian History, 50%, Mining 80%, Bronzesmithing 90%, Occult 84%, Sneak 69%;
Spells – Augur, Black Binding, Bless Blade, Cause/ Cure Blindness, Call Nightgaunt, Contact Nodens, Death Spell, Evil Eye, Dominate,
You can also find out more about these supernatural sorcerer things right over HERE

'Viking Mysteries and Legends of Nova Scotia - An Account of the Supernatural Myths and Legends Of Vikings In The New World'.
This book is the vanity press creation of Dr. D.D. Henderson from 1919 from his deep studies of the Pictish hoards taken from the wilds of some of the isle settlements  surrounding Norway taken by the Vikings and certain artifacts found in Nova Scotia. 
It contains the accounts of mythological legends concerning the dealing of the Vikings with the Draugr of Woden-lithi, Nodens, Odin, and the god thing known as the Sea Wyrm. The book is part archaeological journal, part occult treatise, and part sea account chronicling the author's journey into the world of the supernatural and his confrontation with the Sea Wyrm.  There were only twenty three copies at the time of pressing. Only four remain in the world. 

Spells Within The Viking Mysteries The book contains some very intricate spells drawn from antiquity mapped and steeped in deep symbolic language of the original author's view of the occult. There are spells such as call/dismiss Draugr of Woden-lithi, Contact Nodens, Call Odin, Bless Blade, Contact Sea Wyrm, Create Doorway To The Realm. 
There are still more secrets within the Mysteries and the DM can add in more mysteries as he sees fit to the book.
Special thanks To Clint Staples for his creations and conversions of the film Ragnarok

Monday, December 22, 2014

Obscene Serpent Religion From Neoplastic Press For Your Old School Campaigns

Obscene Serpent Religion
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Sweet mother of serpents, where does one begin upon this pdf of metastatic awesomeness dripping with the 
bile of a thousand serpents echoing from a forgotten age? Hmm Serpent Religion is everything & has everything a DM could want for an OSR campaign all compacted into thirty two pages of disturbing and slightly over the top options for a DM to basically construct a Serpent Religion of Lovecraftian horror from the ground up for any old or new school game system with the emphasis being D&D style systems and retroclones. 
Here all of the options are laid bare right from the get go. 
From Way Of The Circle - This is very foundation core of the Serpent religion well thought out but with a core of over the top metal weirdness and supernatural core belief right out the gate. 
Who Is The Goddess - Whose your serpent goddess at the core. 
Tenets of the Faith - These might be rumors or could be solid core beliefs its really up to the DM Here are rites and disturbing rituals of high weirdness for your NPC's or PC's should you want a really weird campaign. Not my bag but some folks might. 
Quests of the Hexagram - Raise your status in the cult, astound your friends, and put your serpent cult social standing higher. 
Assigned Missions bring even more grim and metal assignments to your NPC foes or dark deeds of renown for your PC's within your serpent based religion. 
Sacred Sites - Adventure locations based in part on your serpent cult's religion. All right there to get your party into deeply assigned random trouble right up to their necks. 
Bestowed Powers - The gifts of the serpent goddess visited upon NPC cult members or high level PC's right in the thick of the coils of the religion itself. Again all randomly chosen. 
NPC in Cities- Where are the movers and shakers of the serpent religion and how deeply does its corruption go in your campaign? This random chart will tell you. 
Encounters In the Wild- This chart will allow PC's to stumble upon the serpent's influences in the wilderness of your world. 
Sable Nectar - A mixture of blood and essence from those half serpent monsters. Don't tell the orthodox serpent religions. 
Scarlet Nectar - This is a potion made from the blood of purer serpents and its effects randomly determined. 
New Monster - Skin vessels - A new serpent religion AD&D style monster with deep campaign usefulness. Very much at the core of serpent religions where stealth verses combat is the norm.

Using Obscene Serpent Religion From Neoplastic Press For Your Old School Campaigns 

Obscene Serpent Religion is a great niche product for creating a whole patheon of foes and foils for your PC's and do it with style and high weirdness. The tables within the thirty two pages give enough background options to make anything from a down & dirty cult of serpent worshiper to a full assassins guild style cult of serpent themed terrorists for your old school waste lands.

From adventure location tables to rites and rituals this OSR product has all of the high points for adventure creation but it does have a very warped sense of humor about it. 

Alright tongue is placed very firmly in cheek with this particular product from the almost unreadable Metal based font of the opening title. Obscene serpent religion plays half heads and tales with the 80's Satanic panic vibe mixed in with a healthy dose of Robert Howard on a Popsicle stick style high weirdness. Yet it still retains a high standard of game utility. 
The artwork and themes are not work safe and have been chosen on purpose. You've been warned. 

This product does one thing and does it very,very well. It randomly generates a Serpent religion and one of an extremely unpleasant nature. Once that's done the religion can be placed in any Lovecraftian horror, science fiction or fantasy, sword and sorcery setting of the DM's choosing. The fact is that this is very cleverly done product that uses OSR random table conventions to create new and different incarnations of a serpent based religions. Everything is right at the DM's finger tips. This product could be used to create a very dark and dangerous PC serpent religion based campaign of obscene and dark evil. I personally wouldn't take this particular avenue but there it is. This campaign tool box of nastiness could be used with many new and old school gaming systems. The core tables can concisely and dangerously be added to any number of old school games. This is a fine product with its forked tongue planted firmly in its cheek with its artwork depicting serpent/human hybrids with slongs, tattas, and scenes of serpent god and religion depravity. The artwork adds in to the 'charm' and humor of the product. 
This isn't a product for everyone at all but a solid investment for a DM with over arching need in the old school traditions of horror and depravity that needs a solid set of serpent based religions for adventure and NPC construction. The added bonus here is that this product has so many versatile and solidly done bits and pieces that I can see using this for years and years to come.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Free OSR Download - Adventure &03 – Book of Low Level Lairs Volume I

Book of Low Level Lairs Volume I

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'&' publishing brings another free old school niche product with the 'The Book of Low Level Lairs Vol. 1' which includes everything a DM and players need to run an entire evening's entertainment and adventure using first edition AD&D or OSRIC. The adventurers are in for a hell of a lot of combat, fun, and high weirdness in the old school tradition.
Here's what its about according to the '&' website :
This adventure collection includes 18 new mini-adventures for parties of levels 1 to 4. 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!The bonus? Two new cleric spells suitable for low level parties!
Basically this is a series of encounters that can happen in any old school AD&D style world, the encounters are pretty variaried and solidly done but their marketed to be a bit challenging and with some of the progression notes can be woven into a challenging mini campaign.
Many of the monsters and encounters are while specifically designed for AD&D first edition could be adapted to a number of retroclone systems with little issue and might even be thrown into a Lamentations of The Flame Princess for a real boom rang encounter or two for players expecting something less exotic.
These encounters are very nicely done by the '&' crew of designers and writers, there's a real sense of fun and enjoyment that the authors have put into this product. The challenge here is pull in the players with a sense of challenge and bravo while bring the PC's into a real conflict. Combat is up to the usual D&D style and the encounters are original enough to challenge even a mid level party of adventurers with something that they won't be expecting.
The back drop for each encounter is woven into the monsters's reasons, ecology, and lairs as well. Which makes the bonus clerical  spells have their place in the background of the product not simply as bonus 'XYZ' spell that has been randomly dropped in.
These adventures make pulling a party into the deep end of a campaign with a bit of conflict a snap. Tailor an encounter into some little nice corner of your world and watch the party encounter some hi jinks and wonder what they wandered into. This is a really nice product to get a campaign jump started and into high gear. 
With a bit of work these encounters could be used to pull in a group of sword and sorcery adventurers quite easily. The monsters are standard D&D fare and though given a very original treatment can work nicely into a variety of retroclone style systems. I'm thinking about using one or two of these to pad out an upcoming Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea but adding in my own twist to several of these but which ones are going to be under wraps.
All in all not a bad bit of work that can easily be adapted for a number of retroclone systems. Grab this one when you can and get your PC's into hot water and right into the deep end of your campaign adventures.  Best of all this is a free product with some solid old school backing. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Free OSR Download The Second Edition Alchemist By Leonaru For Your Old School Campaigns.

Second Edition Alchemist

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Second Edition Alchemist is a solid old school second edition style add on for the world's most popular fantasy game. Alchemists have always been the black sheep of the grand game but there have over the years been various attempts to create a fill in of essentially what has been in the past an NPC hireling class at worst and a blank spot of metaphysical esoteric background disguised as a class at best. In the past there have been several attempts to bring alchemists into the dungeon with varying degrees of success. 
This is an attempt to grab the alchemist and bring this unappreciated class into the OSR and allow him to be a playable option, on the whole this twenty five page pdf is done in the second edition style right down to the selection of font and layout.If your expecting long winded symbolic laden spells and rites look elsewhere. This is a straight up second edition AD&D take on the Alchemist class complete with a full selection of spells and what have you. There are complete backdrop and explanations for AD&D first and second edition style retroclone action here. And its well done as well as free. The choices of the author are bold and intuitive with the class making it an actual playable option for the dungeon. The alchemist has all of the usual racial AD&D style of choices and options laid out right in front of both player and DM with a wide range of tools brought into play.
The spells are interesting and engaging and there's enough here to play the class right out of the gate. There's not a whole lot of background which is fine, this allows the DM to fill in what he needs as needed for his campaigns.
This class is ideally suited for those middle period AD&D sword and sorcery style games where the talents of an Alchemist could prove invaluable. 

The playility of this pdf is going to really depend upon the imagination and intuition of the DM to adapt the material as its presented and then use or discard what is necessary. The author is no slouch when it comes to presenting a wide array of choices for the Alchemist to advance along the level axis as the class presents itself. 
The language of the rules, spell, setting (what there is of it) is simply straight forward and down to fully realized business. There's no fluff or BS here just a class that is clearly defined and well adjusted to bring a style of Alchemist into a second edition AD&D style campaign. All in all this a pretty nice attempt at bringing the Alchemist out of the Dark ages of AD&D and into the light of the OSR movement. Did I happen to mention that this pdf is free and you might want to download it ASAP to start rapidly getting into the groove of this great little addition to your DM's tool box today? 

AFS Magazine Issue #6 is released and ready for order!

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I've been a fan of AFS magazine for a while now and the latest issue has a ton of old school, retro clone and some solid AS&SH goodness packed within this issue. And its available for ordering! AFS  continues to chart its own course in the OSR and do it with style.
 This issue contains three adventures! Two for AS&SH and one for B/X as well 
Here are the details on 
AFS Magazine Issue #6 is released! and available for purchase. It will ship within the next 2 weeks. It contains a color cardstock cover, is over 50 pages long and will be sent by parcel mail. Each copy costs $10.00 USA Domestic includes shipping, $12.00 Canada includes shipping, $15.75 International includes shipping. It includes old school gaming adventures, tables, a short fiction piece and articles with a nod to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance, Robert E Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith.
AFS 6 includes three full length adventures! – two written for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea ruleset and one written for B/X .
Paypal is accepted, just go to and my paypal is srmoberly at Please ensure the address paypal has on file for you is accurate. As is usual - the first 20 copies sold will be numbered and signed.
Thanks for your support!

AFS Magazine #6   - Table of Contents

Adventure – Wrath of the Sea God Khulk-Xu by the Scribe Lestrade

New Monster -  Scorpioids of Xin-  By Michael Haskell

Adventure – Beyond the Ice Fall by Joseph D. Salvador

Fiction – Two Military Executions by Ambrose Bierce (1906)

Table – Celestial Phenomena  by Benjamin Ball

NPC spotlight - Ulva  Esquimaux (Eskimo) NPC of the Purloiner class from the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers game by the Scribe Lestrade (also includes a re-print of the Purloiner class for AS&SH by Jeffrey Talanian & Colin Chapman)

Adventure – Haunted Ruins of Castle Mold-a-Vay for character levels 3-6 written for B/X by Scalydemon, Rflowers, Fingolwyn, Distorted Humor, & Darkgrey 

Variant Class – The Huntsman written for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea ruleset by Jeffrey Talanian

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brand New 1d10 Random Minor Treasures Table For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea

There are a number of artifacts that have been uncovered at the edges of Hyperborea that speak of the level of sophistication of magical workings of Atlantis and lost Hyperborean kingdoms. Many of these items have ancient curses, magical workings, and incredible powers that tell of the heights that the ancient Hyperboreans reached in their workings.
These items often carry with them strange side effects and weird curses that echo through the ages. The Green Death  often left these items in odd places and with very little to speak of their original functions but their magical power remains.
File:Lorbeerkranz Zypern rem.jpg
1d10 Random Minor Treasures Table 
  1. Magical crown of fey gold and  silver wire with incredibly detailed leaves & branches. The piece enables the owner infravision up 250' feet. The piece is etched with unknown runes and grants the owner visions of celestial bodies within the Outer Darkness. Worth 300 gold pieces. 
  2. Solid Gold harp that plays seven ancient & unknown songs. The thing summons 1d8  demonic mites and Outer Darkness minor spawn. These little horrors will attack the owner of the harp. Worth 200 gold pieces but this cursed item will bound itself to the owner. 
  3. A  jade demonic head's statue that will summon a succubus when held under the third moon's light. The demonic being will try to seduce the owner and murder him as a sacrifice to her Outer Darkness masters. The head will grant its owner a demonic boon should the owner survive the machinations of the succubus. 
  4. A pewter  goblet encrusted with semi precious stones that will fill with one of the prime elemental elements within a round. The goblet will enable its owner to commune with an elemental prince once a week. It will burn its owner for 2d6 points of damage if mishandled. Worth 200 gold pieces 
  5. A large diamond filled with a strange smoky alien Lovecraftian essence that will suck dry the soul of its owner after allowing its owner to use 1d6 minor cantrips and 1st level wizard spells before the new moon. Worth 1600  gold pieces. 
  6. Green Glass prism which glows with 1d6 alien landscapes and occasionally shows a vision of a possible future. The thing is actually the prison for a minor alien elemental demon. Worth 200 gold piece to the right collector. The owner's eyes glow green when using the prism, there may also be 1d6 other minor powers of this object. 
  7. Fine quality telescope like instrument with cut diamond lenses, this strange instruments will show limited visions of the surface of Saturn and its moons. Worth 1300 gold pieces to the right wizard or collector. 
  8. A strange chess set like game that has random unknown 1d20 Lovecraftian god pieces and a metal playing board. The whole arrangement will show these figures and a stylized Hyperborean landscape when arranged. The pieces will move of their own accord depending upon the trepidations of the entities represented upon Hyperborea. The owner can determine the machinations of these horrors by their movements ten days ahead of these events. The horrors may be aware of the owner though if this item is used to often. Worth 2000 gold pieces to the right cult or 400 gold pieces normally. 
  9. An enchanted dinosaur bone flute that in the hands of a bard allows the storyteller to dream in the minds of the ancient reptile lords of Hyperborea. The bard may be lost within these ancient king's minds for 1d10 days and may magically take on a sinister reptilian aspect. Otherwise this is an ordinary if somewhat large finely made bone flute worked over with incredibly intricate carvings. The piece is worth an easy 500 gold pieces and a 1000 to the right Eastern Hyperborean bardic guild. There may be and additional 1d4 minor powers of this instrument. 
  10. Large chunk of raw meteorite diamond from the heart of a cursed star that allows the owner to access the negative energies of the Outer Darkness and have 1d4 minor necrotic powers. There is a 50% chance of an Ancient Earth lich king trying to possess the owner. Worth an easy 200 gold pieces or more. Evil aligned NPC's will try to kill the owner for possession of this item. They will not know why but the compulsion will be very strong. 

Kickstarter Silent Legions: A Sandbox Horror RPG by Kevin Crawford

Project image

Pledge Right Over

Kickstarters are more and more prevalent these days and now author/designer Kevin Crawford has launched a new old school Lovecraftian horror sandbox campaign system. This game looks like it treads the same ground as his Stars Without Numbers Rpg rpg system and its cross compatible. Even though the project is funded, a pledger can get in on the ground floor right now with the Beta version of the rule book. There's a ton more Mythos style rpg systems on the market these days but this looks very well done. Here's the low down on the game from the Kickstarter campaign.
The world is woven of secret names. The skin of our days is stretched tight over strange bones. There are powers that move in the dark corners of the earth, truths that are spoken in lonely places, and heroes who die nameless deaths fighting forces that they dare not comprehend. These are the silent legions that guard the waking world, and their blind armies struggle against the powers of a fathomless night.

Silent Legions is a modern-day Lovecraftian role-playing game, one built to support a sandbox style of gaming and the creation of your own diabolical Mythos. While compatible with the Stars Without Number game system and many other classic old-school games, Silent Legions is built to stand alone and provide you with everything you need to develop a grim world of unspeakable occult secrets and mad, sorcerous scheming.

Silent Legions is 160+ pages of specially-designed material to help a game master create their own cosmic evils and mysterious alien powers. Rather than simply recycle the traditional Cthulhu Mythos baddies, Silent Legions gives you the tools and techniques to make your own, the better to shock and dismay your players with fresh horrors that haven't already been wrung dry by familiarity. The creatures and cults the game helps you build are also fully compatible with most classic OSR games, allowing you to export them to other settings or mix and match with material you've drawn in from your other games.

More than that, Silent Legions is designed to help a GM create a true sandbox horror campaign. Instead of sending the hapless investigators along an intricate story arc, the GM creates a region, seeds it with points of interest, and then uses the tools in the book to quickly and easily create content for the heroes wherever they may go. The faction tools help keep the nefarious cults in motion even when the heroes are otherwise engaged, and both players and GMs are allowed the special excitement of not knowing how their desperate struggles are actually going to end. Will they crush the insidious powers of darkness, or will they miss some cyst of evil until it is far too late?

Inside Silent Legions, you'll find...

Tools for creating eldritch gods, alien races, black sorcery, unique Lovecraftian magical artifacts, fantastic demi-planes of dream, and unspeakable cults of foulest evil. Make your players afraid of the dark again- give them an enemy that's a genuine mystery to them!

Guides for the creation of horrific monsters, building them from basic templates elaborated by unique qualities and special flavors of horror. Use the example templates for a quick abomination or flesh them out to be a special nemesis for your players.

Region creation tools for building your own sections of demon-haunted Earth, including sixty location tags to define the special torments of your land. These tags are largely compatible with the other tags found in Sine Nomine products such as Stars Without Number and Scarlet Heroes, so you can mix things up for even more dread chaos.

Adventure templates for quickly producing an investigative adventure suitable for sandbox use. You can create "blank" templates out of raw plot elements and then drop them on top of your region; the blank spaces in the template interlock with the location tags to create an instant adventure no matter which location receives the template.

Cult rules that adapt the popular Faction system from Stars Without Number for the dark machinations and secret feuding of the malevolent cults you create. Keep your world in a steady downward spiral whether or not the PCs are there!
So what the hell is this game system coming under the swords and sorcery label on my Dark Corner blog? Believe it or not this system is going to be a welcome resource to pull from for S&S because one thing that the Lovecraft circle of writers often did was hint at a myriad of faceless horrors lurking in the backgrounds of their literature and stories.
This book  and attendant systems is going to put the power of random Lovecraftian creation of cults, monsters, and whatnot in the hands of the DM. This enables the Dm to pull enemies from a wide variety of places, times, and circumstances.
All in all I'm really looking forward to using this new system and its up coming products. I'd get in on the ground floor of this one and begin to look into the background of the system's Beta. Even though this project has been funded there is plenty of room for lots of rewards and releases to come. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Aegean Regional Map (Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting) From Skirmisher Publishing For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

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Maps are a very tricky little issue when it comes to rpgs, they set the tone of a campaign. Allow the players to reference the entire campaign and even in someways bring players into having a stake in campaign world by allowing the players to chart the course of their PC's across the face of the world. The Aegean Regional Map (Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting) From Skirmisher Publishing is a very central resource for the Kos setting. The setting of the Kos campaign and its attendant products has been growing for a long while now. 
If your into the old school Swords of Kos sword and sorcery setting then this map is really a no brainer. This map shows in great detail the world of the campaign and allows a DM to see as well as design their own adventures using the whole cloth of Kos as fodder. This is not our Earth but an alternative world with its own distinctive flavor drawn from the mythology and legends that the designers have come up with. 
Kos has plenty of room for a DM to customize and stake out who, what, where they wish to stake out in their own campaign. Everything is laid out in very nice detail within the cartography of Kos and shows all of the locals that the Kos line of products has produced. There's a nice distinctiveness with this map and its a really nice little piece of artistic fluff that allows a DM to pitch their own campaigns within the confines and use this map as both a campaign resource and as a palette to set down their own old world mythological adventures in one sold product. 
Maps such as this one can also serve a higher purpose as both a hand out and as reference to give credence to the DM's vision for his or her own campaign. There are several things that I really like about this map. One the colors are not exploding off of the page but reflect Kos's Agean grounding. Second thing is the level of detail is just enough to explain but not over state campaign bits and pieces. The third thing is that there's plenty of room for customization and just enough places to fit a plethora of adventures across the area. Not too bad of a piece of artwork that actually has real world gaming applications. 

According to the Drivethrurpg blurb: 
This map is bounded by the Black Sea in the north, mainland Asia in the east, the sprawling island of Crete in the south, and the Ionian sea in the west. It encompasses the area occupied in whole or in part by the modern countries of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. States represented on the map, both with political boundaries and their national symbols, include the city and island of Kos, Abbadonia, the Tetrarchy of Anatolia, Attica and the city state of Athens, Çatalhöyük, the Kingdom of Lydia, Greater Peloponnese, the Grand Duchy of Porphyris, and the Republic of Rhodes.

I've always liked the cartography of acclaimed fantasy artist/cartographer Francesca Baerald. And this map looks like it came out of a Ray Harryhausen film. A piece of artwork set's the tone for an rpg campaign and this map looks like a piece that might be on an Aegean general's desk or within a sea captain's cabin with some old instruments around it. 

Thus a DM can use this map to print out smaller sections to bring his party right into the fray of adventure and detail what will be pivotal to the adventurers. Is it worth the price of admission? Perhaps but I might wait till Drivethrurpg has a sale. But I definitely would purchase this product because of its utility and usefulness in adventure creation and balancing of the Kos campaign setting. This is a really nice piece of artwork and cartography with myriad of uses across the board.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Free OSR Adventure Resource - TM1 The Ogress of Anubis From New Big Dragon Games Unlimited For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

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This OSR adventure doesn't get much press, that's a damn shame because this is a lovely old school Egyptian style romp with some really inventive action and adventure cues. Between the set up & the plot this one makes a really nice old fashioned sword and sorcery adventure with a central Egyptian plot straight out of an old pulp magazine with a modern sense of play and style.
The plot goes something like this :

Azeneth believed the life of the high priest (or priestess) should be as comfortable as that of the kings and the gods. She spoke her contempt for her father’s “weakness” loudly and publicly, almost from the time she learned to talk. As she neared her teens, she made it known her plan was to supplant her father and become high priestess of the temple, sometimes claiming it was her place as the incarnation of the goddess Nekhbet.
Many say Azeneth has the power to command serpents, and it was she who sent the asp that killed her father Kemosiri. Regardless, she siezed her position as high priestess of the temple and set about her accumulation of power and wealth. 
Recently, children from the villages around the temple have begun to disappear. Rumors abound that Azeneth is sacrificing them and cannibalizing them because she believes this will make her wealthier, more powerful, and more divine. The people of the villages have begun to refer to Azeneth as the “ogress of Anubis”—believing it was Anubis himself that made this woman mad, and commanded her to consume the children she sacrifices.
Someone must end this reign of fear and terror, and try to return the children alive—if it is in the will of the gods.
Right so the set up of this adventure places the PC's at ground zero of the Egyptian style action and deals them into a very dangerous and nasty situation. A quick pace is set with this adventure and the vile villian really does live up to the hype of the plot blurb. Because of the very nature of the plot in this adventure the PC's are going to be heavily invested in terms of both time, energy, and as well as the action here. The adventure farely seeps with a sense of dreaded horror and adventure. While not strictly Lovecraftian with a few tweaks this adventure could easily be adapted into the world of Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea but it really does stand on its own merits. And the author does a marvelous job including all kinds of old school goodies to help run this adventure with your favorite old school retroclone. There are enough goodies under the hood for this adventure to become a full blown campaign world on its own. Seriously this adventure comes with a ton of resources to adapt it for a wide variety of retroclone resources. 
Includes the following: information for adapting to different OSR rules editions; adventure background; regional overview (small map + info on villages and wandering monsters); information on the temple compound and its vicinity (including wandering monsters); a detailed map of the temple compound; a 4-page detailed encounter key for the temple compound; new monster (animal mummy w/ 7 variants, statted for Oe/BX/1e); "generic" stats for all monsters and NPCs mentioned in the adventure; 12 pre-generated NPCs w/ details; 10 adventure seeds (for continuing adventures in the area); and 8 additional unkeyed maps (7 tombs, 2 caves, 1 sunken city) for use with the adventure seeds.

This adventure is a complete world into itself and can easily be added into a whole different campaign with a drop and drag flick of the DM's wrist. On the whole I've enjoyed the read through today on this one.
 Place this adventure within your favorite retroclone desert, go to town with the plot elements and adjust where you need to. There's so much happening with this adventure that there's room for at least three more sub -adventures from the bones and frame work here. The 12 Pre generated PC's could easily appear within your own adventures foreshadowing the events of  
The Ogress of Anubis and act as a bridge gap for the events of this adventure.
Then there are the several other locations that appear within the confines of this adventure enabling further Egyptian hi jinks to occur. All in all this generic tool kit approach of this adventure makes it an excellent resource. The fact that it's free is simply an added bonus. All on all I was extremely pleased with this adventure and highly recommend it for your old school gaming experience. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Free Halloween Download Psycho #14 For Your Old School Horror and Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

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Psycho #14 from 1973 features some all time classic horror bits from Skywald publishing's house of gore and more. This issue dives right into the deep end with some absolutely classic bits in stories like 'The Classic Creeps" - This tale can easily be adapted for a weird Call of Cthlhu style one shot ride and features themes that wouldn't be seen again for quite some time until the 80's classic monster movies such as Monster Squad! 
'Monsterity' is the sort of midnight movie or Saturday night special fungus or slime monster with origins that can actually send a team of adventurers heading for the hills.
The interior featurette is the sort of classic reference point that can give readers and DM's some ideas and pointers for classic horror adventures. A real window into fester years bastion of horror.
" The Artist's Other Hand"'s character could make a very nasty NPC patron or encounter for a group of horror adventurers.
"The Horror That Is Not As It Seems" might make an interesting little turn around adventure for a game of Lamentations of The Flame Princess for the Weird New World style campaign and the same goes for the 'Man Who Dared Not Sleep'.
"Cassandra: Sorceress of the Seventh Wind" is really the whole reason to download this mag. Written by Marv Wolfman/Art by Don Heck and Mike Esposito this piece can serve as a bridge gap between a modern game and an Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The art is great and the storytelling is solid in my humble opinion. It really does make this issue for me.
"The Hippy Criters Are Coming' is pure 70's shlock but in a good way and might make a solid encounter for a more modern style game such as Call of Cthulhu for a change of pace. 
" I Battled The Vicious Vampire Bats of Transilvania and Lived To Tell About It' is well pure Skywald at its finest and might make a great turn around modern style vampire encounter or one for Planet Mother $%#$er.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick Shout Out For Slaughter Grid For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

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After a recent TPK in AS&SH, I haven't really been doing as much as I should with this blog.Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea is retooling and getting a new Kickstarter soon as well as getting ready to unleash a plethora of kick ass sword and sorcery products.
Lamentations of The Flame Princess has been dealing with production and print issues, which I hope the printer in question is dealt with. I understand issues with printers all to well from various friends who small and vanity press publish. You have my sympathies when it comes to these.
In the meantime I've been contending myself with other old school & OSR  materials including this gem that I got to see in the flesh and read this past weekend. I've heard about Slaughter Grid for a few years but never got a chance to peak between its covers.
Just wow is all I can say, the cover says for OSRIC but after peering through this one it might be right along the edge of a Lamentations of The Flame Princess vibe. The design aesthetic here is right down that alley.
The description on Lulu has a pretty good break down : 
Created by genocidal halflings aeons ago, SlaughterGrid is a strange and gruesome dungeon, avoided by all save the bravest or most foolhardy of adventurers.

This module features:
* An 18-area mini-hexcrawl to start you off
* A three-level dungeon with 55 encounter areas
* Rules for thieving abilities, schemes, and weaponized monsters
* 32 new monsters, including stygiacs, gold-whores, progenitors, and necro-otyughs

* Weird treasure, dangerous magic items, and unpleasant surprises

So right off the bat this module has the excitement and vibe of many of the old school products of yesteryear with exciting background, high weirdness, and several really well thought out encounters. It reminds me of an old AD&D first edition favorite?
The text gets right to the point in a concise, well laid out manner, and no nonsense way while maintaining the adventures goals.
Right so this one is a homage to White Plume Mountain but takes several of the conventions of 'fun house' dungeons and turns them on their collective ears.Taken as an adventure this is a very fun rattle trap of a dungeon in the old school tradition of exploration, treasure, escape, and evade in equal turns of high weirdness. Rafael has carefully crafted this adventure to play around with PC's while adding elements of play that are nasty and dangerous to PC's but done with style. In other words this is a very well done module. I think that with a great deal of customization this one might be used with Lamentations of The Flame Princess or any retroclone. I personally liked some of the ideas that were behind the dungeon ecology and sword & sorcery vibe in this one. Yeah, yeah its a throwback in some respects to AD&D 1st edition's glory days but its got a lot going for it. Pick this one when Lu Lu has their sales.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1d10 Random Ancient Antiquities From The Low Lands Table For The Astonishing Swordsmen And Sorcerers Of Hyperborea Rpg System

After the Green Death swept the lands of the lower valleys of Hyperborea clean with a swath of plague, death, and pestilence only recently have ancient artifacts and useful items been uncovered by the winds and the rains that rage across the valleys.
Some of these ancient pieces of wonder and forbidden knowledge still retain their magic and blessings of the old times. Below are a selection of these items for the edification and torment of your PC's. 

1d10 Random Ancient Antiquities From The Low Lands Table

  1. A silver torc man's bracelet that is writ with the curses and blessings of the gods of battle. The torc allows one to see with the eyes of an eagle once per day and to call down a battle rage when engaged in combat with enemies. The torc also allows one a +1 in battle as the ancient gods hunger for blood and thunder. The engravings belong to a Hyperborean general's household long extinct. 
  2. A Box of Disposal - This box with rounded corners has within itself a zone of nothingness that will tear apart anything placed within its confines. It will do 1d4 points of damage per round to anything placed within its confines. The box will explode for 2d8 points of damage if tampered with or handled roughly. Anyone within a 50 foot zone of this thing must make a Dex check or be sucked into a deadly region of the Outer Darkness. 
  3. A mummified falcon with coffin, this was once a necromancer's familiar and the perverted thing knows many secrets of ancient horror. It will fly off and escape at the nearest opportunity when it reanimates. It will play at being a dumb animal but in actuality is possessed by a minor demon of malevolence and horror. 
  4. A set of nine pieces of silver cutlery engraved with scenes from the ancient Hyperborean world. They seem to animate when looked at with a side long glance. 
  5. The gold and silver wedding clasp of some long forgotten household that a lonely ghost still follows but it knows not why. The thing is worth a 100 gold pieces at best. 
  6. A small boot knife engraved with fire glyphs and fine etchings. A small piece of jade decorates the hilt. A clan blade to a long dead clan perhaps or perhaps not. 
  7. A small silver and gold child's crown engraved with a spell of protection and a minor one of healing. The crown is wreathed by an air of sadness. 
  8. 6 Alien and demonic humanoid  looking game pieces made of lead and silver that are very nicely detailed that glow green and red in the moon light. 
  9. A small box of silver and gold wreathed with incredibly intricate wire work that contains a silvery powder. The thing has an air of magic and sorcery about it. Worth 20 gold pieces to the right collector. 
  10. A small golden cask of incredible workmanship that seems almost alive from which comes a series of knocking sounds! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Revisiting Poul Anderson's Free Sword and Sorcery Tale The Valor of Cappen Verra

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Years ago I came across this book in a box as part of a haul in a used book store, one of the stories in this collection was a Poul Anderson. Anderson worked on and off in the swords and sorcery literature movement of the 60's and 70's.
 I really love the interplay between characters within The Valor of Cappen Verra  because of Anderson's literary sleight of hand in his tale spinning. The fact is that this is a bit of a classic but not one that get thrown out there by any degree of regularity.
 The tale sets up a major arch for some of Anderson's later Fey war tales and here we see that fore shadowing enables him to pull his reader into the world that Cappen Verra sets up.
 This techqiue of story telling is something that the author used later for some of his other sword and sorcery titles and stories.
This one remains an old favorite and classic in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1d10 Random Encounters With Lovecraftian Horrors From The Outer Darkness Table For The Astonishing Swordsmen And Sorcerers Of Hyperborea Rpg System

On the outer edges of Hyperborea  where the darkness washes against the edge of the world dwell things that should not be that often come to sup upon the marrow of the peoples of world. Here are a small selection of encounters with some of these minor dwellers in the darkness that can be devil your PC's. 

1d10 Encounters With Lovecraftian Horrors From The Outer Darkness Table
  1. A collection ancient and old ghostly souls left over from the Green Death that have fused together in one massive ectoplasmic ball of pulsing undeath horror and nastiness ready to suck the souls from any they come across. There are 1d20 ghosts within this cloud of horror. 
  2. A strange jelly like substance that belongs to some other older order of beings that once fed upon the marrow of Old Earth and now hungers after the life force of humanity. Use the stats for a Shaggoth for this horror. There are 1d8 pieces of raw undigested metal if this thing should be killed. There is a 10% chance of it having a random artifact or piece of gold or silver mixed in with the material. 
  3. The animated collection of animal and human organs turned inside out and melded together with demonic energy from the Outer Darkness. This thing is a giant ball of flesh and ancient memories. These it uses to hunt down its old haunts for new flesh and souls. 
  4. This ancient shadow is on the hunt for a brand new person to possess and take on their form for great evil in the world. The thing is a minor demon with delusions of insanity and dreams of horror that it wishes to share. Use the stats for a minor demon. 
  5. This strange collection of bone and decayed flesh is about the size of a small ox and seeks a sorcerer to serve but it lacks any proper form and seeks to create itself from the dreams and nightmares of others. Once per day it may teleport without error into a new location. The thing is infected with a dangerous form of the Red Death. 
  6. This is a weird collection of technological horror that is on the hunt for souls to fuel its return to the Outer Darkness. It wishes to exchange a minor artifact for a brand new sacrifice. The thing will sing its replies in ancient and forbidden verses. 
  7. A weird pulsing glowing unreal colour from beyond space time seeks out an innocent to cause the ancient soul of a long dead Hyperborean sorcerer to be reborn into a new body. The thing will kill anyone who gets in its way. The same stats as a Colour from Outer Space. 
  8. A weird glowing sword is actually the imprisoned form of a pit fiend. This thing seeks a worthy hand to wield it but in fact is a prince of lies and seeks a sacrifice for its dark obscene master and will lie about its entire history. 
  9. A demonic strange mount with a wounded ancient demonic warrior seeks to pass on its curse to a worthy human so that he or she may fight in its stead at the last battle place. 
  10. A wounded spawn of Cthulhu will land and become a toxic waste hazard of vileness and insanity where its blood spreads along with its soul warping madness that surrounds the thing. Others of its kind are hunting it right now.