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