Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Dark Corner Exclusive : The OSR Module For OSRIC 'The Hanging Coffins Of The Vampire Queen' By Mark Taormino

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The printed module book is $25 each (cost includes USA shipping) and come with the PDF. If you want the PDF only it is $15. You can make a PayPal payment to PDFs go out tomorrow night. For printed books make sure you include your shipping address!
Imagine taking a PC from first edition AD&D or OSRIC  and fighting your way to freedom against hordes of undead, the living dead, horrid villains, room after room of adventure all arranged for you by the vile Vampire Queen. That's exactly the sort of adventure that this one offers. Months ago I began to follow this Kickstarter and watching as some of the top artists in the field of old school rpgs got on board. I got a chance to speak with Mark Taormino about his adventure.

So Mark, why was the Hanging Coffins of The Vampire Queen made and what about the so called 'Adult Content of the Vampire?'
I wanted to make these thing for folks like you and i that hearken back to really old school fun - no political correctness etc and with irreverent humor etc
I read that this adventure is going to be packed with encounters, NPC's, and some great stuff care to elaborate Mark?
The module delivered is double the size of what was originally planned with respect to having two maps instead of one and double the encounters topping out at 52! Plus about 5 new monsters, and 12 Pre-Generated characters added as well! Oh and... the Pre-Gens. Is there going to more adventures after this one? And what's this that I hear about a this being part of an old school adventure line? This is my new brand for the products: MAXIMUM MAYHEM DUNGEONS are created with one thing in mind: ass-kicking fun. This adventure has that classic look and feel both inside and out, including blue maps and old-school fantasy art from some of the best artists in the business! Filled with irreverent characters, diabolical villains, over-the-top monster encounters, outrageous magic, mischievous NPCs, traps, puzzles, and more blood and gore than you can shake a +5 staff at! This adventure will entertain and challenge everyone who dares to play it! EVERY encounter is going to be memorable or interesting etc I did enjoy writing this adventure and I want to launch a new side games biz for these OSR products to continue making them! Also I will be launching a 2nd one in a few weeks! For module #2! I will tell u more soon!

Well Mark thanks for taking the time to talk with the Dark Corners blog and I can't wait to see what's going to be coming up in the next adventure from MAXIMUM MAYHEM DUNGEONS!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Observations on the Free OSR Adventure - The Forbidden Land For Your Old School Campaigns

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Author R.C. Pinnell brings us an eighteen page mini campaign along a sort of  high fantasy world that can be used as a great little adventure ground for any old school OD&D style or the adventure focuses 
primarily on those listed in the BX-BECMI tomes, but may be found in the other systems mentioned. This adventure could easily be converted to your own favorite edition of the world greatest fantasy adventure including Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea with little work.
The prime focus here is on the adventuring aspects and the hex crawling which creates a greater sense of campaign here. There are a few fantasy cities out lined but this is a bare bones mini campaign and its in my opinion one of the great strengths of the adventure. The level of customization by the DM is wide open here, this adventure could with little issue be used for a game such as Lamentations of the Flame Princess or some other retroclone that uses BX- BECMI as its foundation and game base. The layout in this free adventure is classic and the encounters pretty well balanced. The author gets straight to the point, lays out a few tips, and we're given a wandering monster chart, a brief outline here and there, and lots of room for a DM to put their own stamp on the adventure.
This adventure would make an excellent jump off point for a campaign or as mini campaign for back yard adventuring for starting adventurers. With a bit of tweaking this mini campaign could easily be used for an OD&D horror campaign or as a jump off point for a high fantasy campaign depending upon how the DM decides to level the D&D tropes.
I like the author's bare bones, straight to the point adventure structure, the adventure sticks with the classic aspects of OD&D while leaving a DM plenty of real estate to create his own world by using this adventure as their very own.
There's going to be a bit of back conversion if this adventure is used for Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Many of the monsters have their very own reflections in AS&SH as well so using this one won't present too much of a problem for the experienced DM.
All in all this was a fun little read through last night and I can see grabbing this one for a fast pick up or a convention set style adventure campaign. Grab it and make this one your own. Not too bad for a free download. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review and Commentary On the Pay What You'd Like Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Adventure - The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children

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So this is it, the Free Rpg Lamentations of the Flame Princess module from Free Rpg day. And its really a nasty little adventure and not because of the content either. The adventure clocks in at a whole fifty six pages of  low level dungeonfest exploration meat grinder adventure.
 Let me in on a little secret, your PC's are going to be killing the 'Crystal Headed Children' by the score in this one. The adventure is great low level introduction to the world of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, if world is the right way of putting it. Like every other LoFP adventure this one stands on its own merits and its a well put together old school pulpfest adventure. I don't want to go into too much detail but its nicely done and with the right group of players this adventure could really have the players challenged in a very stark and well done almost survival mode of an adventure. Note that this adventure uses the 'Grind House' edition rules of the game and with a bit of tweaking it could be used with the 'Deluxe' edition.
This adventure is not meant for the faint of heart and I'm not talking about the content here which really isn't any worse then 'The Palace Of The Silver Princess' from way back. This adventure centers around the dealings of an alien artifact and a villain whose got a whole mess of problems to deal with leaving the PC's with a dungeon crawl with several twists.
From The Rpgnow blurb: 
LotFP’s 2013 Free RPG Day adventure, Better Th an Any Man, was banned by many game stores around the world. ‚The adventure was even accused by one participating store as being about “killing children.”
It wasn’t; but people see what they want to see, and because LotFP wants to work with retailers and be a publisher that produces what retailers want to see, we have decided that per that store's wishes, this year's Free RPG Day adventure should be about the killing of children.
Not to worry though—they are freaky crystal-headed children. Inhuman RPG cannon-fodder. ‘Monsters.’ So it’s okay. Th‚ey deserve it. So you can have fun carving them up. Right?
A LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing adventure for characters of any level. As the title indicates, it is a dungeon crawl.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing is the horror‹ adventure RPG out of Finland that holds nothing back. It is part of the Old School Renaissance family of games, which makes this adventure broadly compatible with dozens of other old school games.
If you find The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children a sufficiently guilty pleasure, look for other LotFP adventures and supplements right here on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children
 For Your Old School Horror Campaigns 

Alright I downloaded this adventure expecting the Earth to shatter and lakes to dry around me. As a DM its a solidly made and well thought out adventure with some really nice pulp elements. I was expecting one hundred days of Sodom and instead got a nice introduction to the Lamentations mode of old school role playing.
This is a survival mode style of  adventure with a dark undercurrent that rolls in the  underpinning of the adventure and that in my opinion isn't a bad thing. PC's are going to get involved in the plot and background as they start to play and events will move along quite well.
The sheer weirdness of the adventure is nicely done and I surprised that so much care had been put into the encounters. The alien device and backdrop is unique which is to be expected from Lamentations of the Flame Princess's design ethos and the execution of this adventure. This one is a good adventure to introduce players to the ideas of the LoFP old school retroclone but don't get too attached to those PC's. There's a number of ways to die in this adventure and there may need to be a few PC's to navigate this adventure. That's not always a bad thing because as a player your going to get to the ins and out of this adventure quite well by the time the ride is over.
All in all I was really happy to finally get a look at this adventure. A four out of five for my expectations and the delivery on this one!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Observations on Using The Free Basic Fantasy Adventure - JN1 The Chaotic Caves For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System

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According to the Basic Fantasy website blurb - 
'This is a very generic adventure setting, consisting of a group of monster-infested caves and an abandoned manor-fort, for beginning player characters.'
This is exactly what makes it so desirable for AS&SH, the customization factor and  back drop, the easy to refit setting, and the fact that its free as well as easy to use.

JN1 The Chaotic Caves is a free download adventure from the folks behind The Basic Fantasy Rpg. I've often used Basic Fantasy to run a few convention games and get into the style of  Moldvay and Cook.
According to Wiki - 
'Basic Fantasy Role Playing Game (BFRPG) is "(a)n old-school roleplaying game in the style of Moldvay and Cook",[1]written by Chris Gonnerman and many other contributors. It is freely available in PDF and OpenDocument formats, along with numerous supplements, from the game's website.[2] BFRPG is stylistically similar to, and largely compatible with, the 1981 Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert sets ("B/X D&D") edited by Tom Moldvay and Zeb Cook respectively. Its differences from B/X D&D include d20-style ascending armor class and separation of character race and class. Gonnerman first announced BFRPG on the website on 20 January 2006, when the rules were at Release 9.[1] BFRPG Release 62, released on 17 February 2007, was marked as the First Edition and made available on the print-on-demand site Lulu.[3] BFRPG Release 75, released on 15 July 2008, was marked as the Second Edition and is currently available from Lulu.[4]
Gonnerman drew on his previously designed RPG, Project 74,[5][6] as well as some descriptive text from the D&D 3.5 SRD and Castles & Crusades, for material to create Basic Fantasy.[1] The game has been positively received.[7][8][9][10] Criticism of BFRPG has focused on its deviations from B/X D&D, particularly in comparison to Labyrinth Lord, another "retro-clone" RPG'
The game has a number of free quality adventures that can be downloaded, gutted, and refitted into go to sword and sorcery style modules for games such as AS&SH. The same thing that has been done with other basic and zero edition games adventures. This one is isn't an exception at all.

About 90% of the adventure has an AS&SH analog that can easily be substituted into the module. This adventure clocks in at forty one pages and has a very old school Along The Black River Conan Howard style to it if played right for a group. 
The text and substance of the module is pretty well done and concise but its monster descriptions and customization factor is dense by comparison.
The maps, locations, and more can easily be made into a very clever introduction into the world of Hyperborea. Seriously this adventure really screams for it. 
There are several places along inside the adventure where Hyperborean events can be slipped into the background such as the ravages of the Green Death and the fighting with the lizard men tribes.  With a bit of clever DMing slight of hand this module is perfect for a complete Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea make over to really get it to shine.
 For a free resource this one isn't bad at all. With a bit of Dm spit and polish this adventure would make a fine little customization project for any number of OD&D style sword and sorcery campaigns. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Observations And More On The GP Adventures Developments With The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers Of Hyperborea Rpg System

I've been quietly following a very interesting little thread upon the AS&SH forums that was started by AS&SH contributor Benoist Poire whose has been drafting some great AS&SH-related articles of late. In these articles, he explains various ways with Ernest Gary Gygax Jr for adapting serveral adventures they've published to the AS&SH rpg system. In my opinion this material is something for the OSR Dungeon Master  to pay close attention to.

According to the introduction on the forum  :
I am Benoist PoirĂ©, founder with Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. of GP Adventures, LLC. I am the co-designer, developer and cartographer on the Hobby Shop Dungeon project (HSD for short). The HSD is one of the surviving dungeons that were created in the Lake Geneva, WI area in the 70s. Created by Ernest, inspired by the games he played with his dad, it is a traditional adventure setting that is very classic in its conception and very effective for campaign play because of it. 

GP Adventures started introducing people to the world of the Hobby Shop Dungeon through a module published in Gygax Magazine Issue 3 (available here in print and here in PDF format). It is entitled The Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat'uul, and presents an old abandoned dwarven settlement that the players' characters can explore to their hearts' content. It will be published in its entirety for the first time soon by GP Adventures, and will include a number of pointers, additional encounters, one additional level and more to the material that was published by Gygax Magazine.  This will become DU1 Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat'uul.

The Marmoreal Tomb is the first of a series of modules that will introduce and later complement the dungeon itself, a dungeon which we plan to publish some time at the beginning of next year. Other modules will be published in the meantime, including DU2 Haunted Halls of the Beggar King, a completely autonomous chunk of which is already available on our website and GB1 Murder at Sandermire, authored by Simon Todd, a long-time friend and illustrator of the Hobby Shop Dungeon, who also did the art on

"These Picts have embraced the ways of the ancient fomorians who walked the surface of the continent long before the first spires of Khromarium were raised by the Hyperboreans. They listened to the forbidden secrets hinted at by the ancient mossy stones raised in the forlorn fens of the world. They discovered the Black Stone and were welcomed by the essence of Gol-goroth who dwells in places where darkness is so thick and sharp it can cut through the eyes of those trying to pierce it."

"Krassus the Cambion learned from them. He is no Pict, oh no, for he spent a long time getting used to Hyperborea, building up his forces in hopes to challenge those who oppose him. He was not always strong, however. He thought he was, as one of the major commandants of the Ninth Legion, but he did not really know what he was doing. Adventuring beyond the Wall was folly, he knew it then, but had he known his fate on that day, he might have deserted instead of walking further north. It would have been fine for a strong youthful Roman commander to die in the service of the Senate of Rome, but to be exiled, victim of some Pictish sorcery, to become lost and wander up to the point he emerged from the dark swamps of Hyperborea on this cursed Skarag Coast, he could not abide."

- The Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Pat'uul adapted to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. See for more.

This is some pretty interesting stuff, its a trend that I've seen over the last year or so of taking an existing module and converting it from the tradition OD&D TSR adventures  and adapting it to the sword and sorcery mold of AS&SH. This is a formula that has win/win written all over it. This is a trend that I've seen done at various times with In Search Of The Unknown at the AS&SH forums HERE and the  I'm familiar with Benoist PoirĂ© work from AFS issue #3 as well as Gygax magazine. Ernie Gygax's writings paired with Paul over the last year or so have yielded some pretty solid stuff. Ernie is a pretty solid designer and writer in his own right. So its going to be really wild to watch where this development goes.
So I'm following these developments pretty damn closely. This is a very exciting time to be an OSR and  AS&SH dungeon master. 

Review Of The Free Downloadable Map Of Hyperborea For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg System

According to the AS&SH Facebook group this new downloadable interactive map is perfect for the DM on the run. I've grabbed the map and took a look at this resource. Its a great way to use the main campaign world of the AS&SH.
Courtesy of Ben "blackadder23" Ball (the author of our forthcoming adventure module, _Beneath the Comet_), we now have a new, user-friendly version of the Mainland Hyperborea map, usable by players and referees alike. You can download it now at our Resources Page: 

All of the major landmarks of Hyperborea are right there at your finger tips and this download makes it just that much easier to look at, print out, and plan adventures in the AS&SH game. Need a section of the world? You've got it right there at your fingers. Need to crush a kingdom and plan your next siege in the world of AS&SH? Well that's doable as well and you can make it just that much easier to grab and go with this download. All in all this is another must have for the AS&SH box set and a great addition for the AS&SH Dungeon Master's arsenal.
With the continue on line support of the AS&SH game this is one to grab. The game is a great twist on OD&D game and with the options available and more coming everyday this download is really a no brainer to have. Did I mention that this one is free?  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

1d10 Weird Random Minor Treasure Table For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

File:Iranian - Scabbard Tip - Walters 711199.jpg

There are weird treasures that are unearthed across the face of Hyperborea, strange finds that make their way to bazaars, markets, and shops across the whole of the world. Many of them are from before the Green Death plague that swept across the world. All of them carry with them strange and odd patterns of magic or worse. Here are a quick selection of such items for your adventurers to find.

1d10 Weird Random Minor Treasure Table 
  1. A silver torc that contains the soul of a great Celtic chieftain, he will bestow upon a fighter a + 1 to all damage rolls but in the midst of heavy combat, he may try to possess the owner. Worth 200 gold pieces because of the incredible workmanship of the piece. 
  2. A golden dagger that carries with it, a strange curse for anyone using the weapon. The owner's flesh becomes a part of the spirit world enabling the owner to wound spirits and ghosts but eventually, the owner will become a specter of evil aspect himself. A pack of the previous owners of this weapon will welcome him into their ranks in the realms of the dead. Worth 150 because over the centuries the heavy toll of use has damaged the weapon. The dagger carries the name Wither Sharp in High Hyperborean tongue on the blade. 
  3. A single well preserved eye of an unknown type of giant makes up the center jewel of this bronze and gold ring. The ring allows the owner to spy upon any magical rites or rituals happening within a four mile radius of the ring. The owner may hurl a minor 2d6 damage lightning bolt three times per day from within the fragments of the giant's soul at a target within fifty yards. Each time this is done however the owner's skin turns a pale shade of blue for 1d8 days. If done more then three times per day there is a 30% chance of this mutation becoming permanent . There is also a chance of the owner being possessed by the soul of giant king whose eye this ring was made from.
  4. This metal cube contains the third eye of a wizard preserved and locked with a jeweled matrix. This device enables the owner to stare deeply into a target's soul and three times per day know a great truth about the target unless a save vs spell is made. The device may also allow the owner to freeze the target in place for 1d8 days in a stasis time lock. The device once belonged to a cult of assassins who wish it back and will hunt down the owner to get this device back once its been found. 
  5. An iron crown which once belonged to a great king has within it the soul of his lord chamberlain who can advise the target on matters of state. The chamberlain is of an evil aspect and will begin to steer the owner toward building a small empire based upon evil and brutality. The owner will become a minor chaotically evil warlord over time. The crown also acts as a mass charm spell once a week. This minor artifact once had a great name but it has long since rusted away. 
  6. A small rod that contains a bound fire elemental was once the heart and soul of a great forge and furnace. Three times per day this rod may cast a fire ball spell, or a flame strike. The elemental is a minor noble among its kind and is waiting for a worthy owner to pass along its ancient knowledge of the riddle of steel and the metal workings of the gods.  If the rod's owner is not worthy the road will erupt into a gout of pure elemental flame for 3d6 points of damage per round and consume the soul of the owner. 
  7. This small black ring contains the power of a dead star within its iron confines and once per day open a door to the realm of the dead. The secret to shutting it has been lost, 1d8 souls of damned will emerge to torment and harry the owner. A demon will come to collect the souls and unless the owner can convince the dead otherwise; it will kill the owner for allowing the gates of Hell to be breached. Only certain spellbooks of the damned contain the secret for closing the door. 
  8. This staff belonged to a star gazer and court astrologist who once charged the heavens of Hyperborea. Those holding the staff will know the position of every star within the sky. The owner's consciousness will expand within 1d8 months and they fade into the fabric of eternity unless they make a save vs staves and rods once a week after staff's trial period. Those who do will become astrologists of an almost divine aspect, able to cast charts for royalty.
    The staff contains an onyx map of the heavens in miniature. The staff is worth 1000 gold pieces. It once had a great name but it has been lost to eternity. 
  9. This tablet of soap stone contains seventeen passages of the names of the dead kings of Hyperborea from the ancient past. These names may be used to banish certain types of demons from Hell and the Outer Darkness. The tablet though contains a curse of damnation and insanity. 
  10. This minor astrolabe contains the jeweled planets of the Great Old Ones and their demons. Once per stellar alignment if their true name is known a wizard may call one down. Those names have been lost to the decay of the ages making this a 500 gold piece curiosity of the damned but nothing more. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review and Commentary On The Free OD&D Setting Book From the Folks At The Semper Initiativus Unum Blog

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The book is on the right hand side of the blog under free setting.
The Original D&D setting book is an OSR PDF that I stumbled upon about three nights ago and its an interesting collection of ideas based upon the original OD&D concepts from Gygax  Gygax put into a commentary and campaign book in one. Even though it clocks in only at eleven pages, this little setting book does a wonderful job distilling down the essence of some of the greatness that is OD&D. There are many idea within these pages that are very well thought out and extremely useful.
All of the weirdness, and awesomeness that is a part of the OD&D book is here. The author's blog posts have been collected and put into one very useful book. There's an honesty about the book that shines through and its openness is a nice change of pace actually but its really the 'Gee Whiz' factor that seems to really come through.
This is a setting book that is proud of its strange and awesome linage. Simple, easy to digest world and sand box campaign ideas are all there. This book makes a great little companion piece for AS&SH when a DM wants or needs to design a foreign landscape. The wilderness is brutal and dangerous, the rivers a very nasty encounter zone, and the list goes on as the author clearly outlines some highlights for creating some very horror and weirdness filled areas for a sand box campaign. All in all this is  pretty solid little gem to stumble upon and a very well thought out set of ideas. If your not following this blog and your into OD&D or its retroclones this is one  to follow. Grab this setting book while you can and you won't be sorry. Simply one of the easiest setting books with common sense advice I've read in a while.
Semper Initiativus Unum