Monday, March 15, 2021

OSR Review & Commentary On Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan Campaign Setting By Terje Nordin For The Warriors of the Red Planet Rpg

 "Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan is a campaign setting for use with the Warriors of the Red Planet Roleplaying Game.

New character races: Mutant, Robot, Rogue Formian, Rogue Formiankin, Lizard Folk.

Rules for Psychic Combat and Super-Science Research.

Wyrd Stones, mysterious artefacts that let you manipulate the matrix of Matter, Energy, Time and Space.

18 new creatures including Spectral Walkers and Winged Squid.

Seven strange Alien Godlings.

Campaign map with 100 detailed hexes.

The city state of Yankara.

The Vaults of Illumination, a 22 room starting dungeon."

Its been over a week since Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan crossed the gaming table & now the piper is coming due. This Sword & planet campaign setting crams in forty eight pages what has been seen in other game systems drawn out over two hundred or more pages. The fact that  works with the Warriors of the Red Planet rpg & gives that rpg system an alternative setting to play in. There are so many good things about Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan  where to begin?!

Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan  evolved straight out of a home campaign morphed into a full on Sword & Planet adventure setting. And it brings the planetary heat straight out by giving us a straight in your face planetary setting out of the gate Xuhlan was the seat of a instellar  empire. But the Fall came hard; "Then came the Cataclysm. There are few facts but many myths and legends regarding the fall of the Primordials. Most accounts are vague and they seldom agree with one another, but many speak of apocalyptic wars, entire star systems being destroyed and a plague of madness forever eclipsing the minds of those few Primordials who survived. Zeenu (or Xanu or Zano depending on which source one consults), Devourer of Stars, glorious Conqueror of the Galaxies, Eternal Hegemon of the Primordials was deposed by his subjects and imprisoned in a black hole (or went into self-imposed exile outside the common space-time continuum, again depending on the source). Mankind, brought to Xuhlan by the Primordials to satisfy some playful whim or other, fought with many other sapients from across the universe for survival in the ruins left behind by their fallen masters. Millennia passed, empires rose, only to degenerate and crumble and come crashing down into barbarism again. Nearly a thousand years ago the surface of Xuhlan was under the hegemony of the Celestial Domain, the greatest human civilisation the planet has ever seen. But as the dynasty of the Aether Lords declined the domain was torn between the competing factions of the Guild of Noetic Engineers and the Ascended Masters of Unspace until the conflict escalated out of control. The human scientists had but learned fragments of the esoteric secrets mastered by the Primordials, but the destructive capacity of their technology was enough to extinguish the majority of human lives on the planet and lay their empire in ruin." 
The players start with several major races right out of the gate Mutant, Robot, Rogue Formian insect antmen, Rogue Formiankin former thralls of the insect men, Lizard Folk. Then mutations & psychic combat which is cleaned up a bit as well as being a real boon to Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan . There's superscience research as an add on system to Warriors of the Red Planet & its needed folks. There's really an orginal Dungeons & Dragons feel to Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan . Then we've got Wyrd Stones which are essentially 'infinity stones'  of Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan . But these stones are more in keeping with the Pulp magazine Sword & Planet stories that inspired this setting.  The Beastery is one of the best parts of Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan  because you get a real nice smattering of additional monsters. And if you're into the Warriors of the Red Planet rpg's weird monsters these are some fantastic creatures. 

The world of Xuhlan is straight up Pulp goodness right from the get go as you get into the hex crawl of the world setting with over a hundred encounters. The cartography is very well done. And this blends right into the city state of Yankara. And there's even a starting adventure right in  Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan called The Vaults of Illumination. Theres 22 rooms & its all set ready to go play! 
Is there any downsides to 
Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan ?! Honestly no in my humble opinion. You've got everything you need to really blow the doors in for an original B/X or original Dungeons & Dragons Sword & Planet campaign. 
Gotta say that in addition to Warriors of the Red Planet Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan would also work as an excellent setting to BX Mars. All of the material in  Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan  can easily bolt on to BX Mars so that the players & DM have an additional world setting to play with. 

And this is really one of the strengths of 
Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan. The fact that it can easily be adapted to any number of OSR systems. For example using Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan  with Adventurer,Conqueror, King's Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu allows the DM to bring another instellar planetary setting into their ACK's campaigns. 

And this interstellar planet setting could be easily used as a weird science destination for Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg or as a Carcosa subsetting. 
Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan  does takes its ques from planetary romance, Pulps, & Sword & Planet Science Fantasy. The sum here is far greater then the parts as Swords and Super-Science of Xuhlan  stands on its own assumptions. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Godbound Session Report - The Jaws of the Leucrottas

 Tonight's Godbound rpg session almost ended earlier then expected. The PC's discovered a major planar wreck or ruin  along the edge of the Arizona border. And almost bought it during tonight's game as they were lured into the ruin by what they assumed was the cries  of child inside the wreckage. 

Spaceship Crash - Digital Matte Painting by Reeves123
The party very carefully went inside only to find a cache of gems, swords, armor, & bones. Before the party could leave a strange planive cry or cough came from outside. And the party's demi god warrior Thesazu The Mighty saw the horrid vista of a mated pair of Leucrottas of incredible size. And the whole place sound weirdly like a fun house of horror. 

The party inside the craft found a crude shrine to  Kostchtchie,Yeenoghu,  a female aspect of Demogorgon! This messed with the players heads because this wasn't the usual Advanced Dungeons & Dragons aspect of the demon lord Demongorgon. This instead was a strange immortal  from Mystara?! And that's when they saw the giant hyenas & their witch riders! 

The party didn't even have time to get a spell off before two massive ice & lighning spells came bursting in on them! Then a brace of gnoll warriors were gated nearby each more scarred & battle hardened then the other. The gnolls & witches were chanting & chanting the name Kostchtchie, over & over again. The party has no wish to meet the demon lord of wraith. 

The players were not amused by this turn of events at all. They had their backs against the wall here & only a word of travel got them out of the situation. They were able to gate out fifty miles from the situation deep into the Arizona desert.  Kostchtchie has had it in for the player's PC's for a couple of years now. 

This began back in 2019 when the players killed a Leucrotta in Nevada that had come through a back alley version of a night road that had opened up within a small town. The party had saved a young woman from the jaws of the monster that was eating through a car door. And then cursed the monster say 'Whomever this horror belongs to we will bring wraith & vengence down upon you!' Tonight the hammer almost came down on the party's collective heads. 
Back in Dragon issue#91 in the 'Ecology of  Leucrottas' by Ed Greenwood we learned that these beings have very close connections to both Yeenoghu &  Kostchtchie

Is there far more going on here then meets the eye. And why is a major demon lord or lords tracking a party of minor godbound across the planes?! The players are both scared & pissed! They've come across the work of this pack or coven of demon worshipers before in the wreckage of small towns across Nevada.. 
With whispers of The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth that they've heard rumors of before in their ears things are heating up again. All in all not a bad game when you've got the player's PC's on the run again. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Review & Commentary On The Sorcerer Class for Labyrinth Lord By James Mishler, & Jodi Moran-Mishler From James Mishler Games For Labyrinth Lord Or Your Old School Games


James & Jodi Mishler from Mishler Games have created an OSR sorcerer class that dips deeply into the mythology of  classic Dungeons & Dragon style games with their latest Sorcerer Class for  Labyrinth Lord

"The new Sorcerer Class for Labyrinth Lord includes the following:

Class Details, including Spellcasting, Sorcerous Origin, and Evoke Magic;
The following Sorcerous Origins, each with their own special abilities:
New spells for the Dragon-Blood and Vampire-Blood sorcerers, adapted from spells included in the Dragonborn Race and Necromancer Class booklets."  The Sorcerer PC  Class is one of those classes you don't think your gonna need as a player or DM but then it hits you. This is a perfect class for an OSR  horror game or even a science fantasy campaign.  

Here the Mishler's do an excellent job of boiling down the PC  sorcerer into its OSR roots & this is both its charm. And its dangers; "
Sorcerers are humans who possess innate magical spell-casting powers due to ancient, inhuman family bloodlines, such as through having an angel, demon, dragon, fairy, genie, vampire, or other magically-powerful creature in their family line." Why do I say dangers?! Because sorcerers have powerful supernatural or occult  parents. Parent can be very protective of their children. 

Mishler's sorcerers go to twentieth level & leave lots of room for the players & DM's to have fun with the class in OSR games. The class has plenty of opportunities to take full advantage of the magic infused nature of the class; "SPELLCASTING: Sorcerers possess the ability to cast magic-user spells, but in a very different way than magic-users gain and cast spells. A sorcerer does not learn spells, scribe them in spell books, and then memorize the spells desired. Instead, a sorcerer innately knows a number of spells equal to her level plus her Charisma bonus. She then use her spell slots to cast the spells she knows in any combination desired, within her combination of known spells and available spell casting slots. For example, at 1st level Tiana the Sorceress (CHA 16, +2) knows three 1st level spells (plus one from her Sorcerous Origin), which she can cast in any combination of two spells per day using her two 1st-level spell-casting slots. At each level, when a sorcerer gains a new spell, she may choose a spell of a spell level that she can cast (including any newly-gained spell level from that character level) from the magic-user spell list. For example, Tiana the Sorceress advances from 3rd to 4th level; she may choose one new spell of 1st or 2 nd level, as she can now cast 2nd level spells." 

The very nature of the sorcerer's magic makes it even more dangerous; "EVOKE MAGIC: Sorcerers do not have any proper training in the use of magic items that are normally limited to use by magic-users, however, their natural affinity with magic allows them to try to use such items that require activation. In order to do so, they must make a saving throw versus Wands (if using a wand) or Spells or Spell-Like Devices (if using any other item other than scrolls) each time they wish to use an item that requires active use. No roll is needed to use passive items that work without activation. To cast a scroll, the sorcerer must make a Charisma-based Spell Learning Probability Check (Intelligence Table II), with a penalty of 5% per level of the spell; even sorcerers who cannot read can try to use scrolls, as they can feel the magic in the scroll and simply evoke it out of the magical writing. However, there is danger in trying to evoke magic out of a magic item or scroll. If the saving throw fails with a Natural 1, or if the sorcerer rolls 96-00 when trying to use a scroll, Something Bad happens, the nature of which is at the whim of the Labyrinth Lord." I can think of at least ten or so uses for this class as the basis for an NPC villain or mid level hench villain with an occult parent whose a complete & utter bastard. 

Mishler shifts from the various Angel-Blood, Demon-Blood, Djinn-Blood, Dragon-Blood,  Efreet-Blood
Fairy-Blood, &  Vampire-Blood. There ar new spells, advantages, explainations, class advances, & all of this fits into about twenty pages. Not bad for a compact little class with tons of D&D potential to say the least. The two stand outs for my money are the Dragon Blood & the Vampire Blood who have some real potential as possible NPC  royals or henchmen for thier parents. Taking the material has been ported over into these sorcerers with spells like this; "Dragon Claw & Fang Level: 1 st level Dragon-Blood Sorcerer Duration: 1 turn per level Range: Self The sorcerer transforms her hands into dragon claws sharp as daggers, and her head into that of a dragon, complete with sharp fangs. The sorcerer may attack each round with a claw/claw/bite routine, dealing the following damage: 1st to 3 rd level 1d4/1d4/2d4, 4th to 6th level 1d4+1/1d4+1/2d6, 7th to 9th level 1d6/1d6/2d8, 10th to 12th level 1d6+1/1d6+1/2d10, 13th to 15th level 1d8/1d8/3d8, and 16th level and above 2d4/2d4/3d10. Attacks made with the claw and bite attacks are rolled on the Monster Attack Table rather than on the Magic-user Attack Table. The sorcerer can cast spells normally while her hands are claws, but other more detailed work might be troublesome." 
All in all you get the essence of the sorcerer with all of the backwash of the classes origin. In no way are the Mishler's work being desparaged here. This is a great PC class with some solid bones to it! 

So where can the Sorcerer class be used in old school or OSR games or settings?! The obvious answer is within Adventurer, Conqueror, King's  Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu. Half  dragons check & Science Fantasy check along with Sword & Sorcery. This is a perfect class to slide in the ACK's backdoor. Then there's Castles & Crusades which this class fits right into epecially given the number of elemental or potential god like cosmic powers we've got lurking in the background of Castles & Crusades. Yes I'm talking about the Adventurer's Backpack book here as the basis for a sorcerer to work along side the classes introduced within that book. 

Could the sorcerer class be used with say Lamentations of the Flame Princess!? Yes but it would require a bit of adjustment or would it?! Say using the basics of the sorcerer with some of the spells from Lamentations might be fun.. The sorcerer could be a very dangerous & unknown quatity as an NPC or as a PC. Sorcerer Class for  Labyrinth Lord is well done & serves its niche within old school or even OSR games quite nicely. A very useful class in my humble opinion. 

 The Sorcerer Class for  Labyrinth Lord is 
Available Right Here. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Class Matters - The Slayer player character class From Mayfair Games Demon Box set Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st & 2nd edition or Your OSR game Campaigns

 "FULLY COMPATIBLE WITH AD&D 2ND EDITION. Eons ago...they were imprisoned in a vast inferno for fomenting a conflict amidst the gods themselves. Now, they're loose and free to prey upon the will of man. Run out of challenges? Try matching wits with the embodiment of all evil. The Demons sourcepack includes: * 48 pages of hole-punched monster descriptions, covering the demons and the inhabitants of their inferno lairs, for your players to add to other game materials; * An 80-page game master's booklet; * The 64-page Infernicum Mallemancia, an ancient book of demon lore that provides your players with all the clues they need to tackle and defeat their diabolical adversaries; * New character classes, including the demon-summoning Thaumaturgist and the demon-hunting Slayer; * Rules for half-demon player characters; * Dozens of new spells and new magic items; * A Full color, 22 "x 34" map; * A complete adventure; and the most powerful spells in fantasy role-playing!"

Things have been very busy with a full on Hostile & Cepheus Engine rpg campaign ongoing on the other blog. But there's a great deal of player pressure to get back on the Dungeons & Dragons  or Advabced Dungeons & Dragons train. So last night out came the Demon box set binder. Started looking into the possibility of using The Demons I & II  box set as a sort of backbone with several of our on going campaigns. The demon slayer class is an old favorite of ours & it fits very well with what's an on going series of campaigns where demons play a sigificant part. 

So there are several reasons why the slayer class works in a number of areas when it comes to demon hunting, slaying, & banishing demons. The slayer is a  fighter subclass. The slayer uses the same skill progression as a paladin & has the same saving throws used by clerics. 
 They can work as a wandering bounty hunter of demons working the land for their ever going hunt against the Infernal. The fact is that slayers have to be very wary of the infernal or demonic taint that comes with dealing with the powers. And this leads into the lawful alignment aspect of the slayers. They can only be one of the three branches of slayers, white slayers who are lawful good, grey slayers  lawful neutral, or black slayers lawful evil. They will work together against any demonic or infernal threat. So this isn't a case of a Sith vs Jedi war or issue unless the DM needs there to be such a war. 

Slayers gain several abilities that help them in their struggle against the infernal; Detect demon within 12", Turn demon as if they were a cleric three levels higher then their own has no effect on other undead ( let this slide in several games), & they can cast wizard spells from a list within the demon box set that helps them in their battles. 
From all appearances these fighter subclasses are a wandering slayer of demons or the infernal. Slayers  have very little interaction with the infernal or the divine & those that do Fall. They lose all abilities if they have truck with the powers of chaos & the demonic. 
How do slayers work as a class for old school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons or in OSR games?! Well that's pretty simple actually. The slayer class is good for those players who want to do a rotating guest spot within your home campaigns. The guy or gal who wants to play once in a while for a Gothic or even a modern style of horror game. For OSRIC the slayer class could be used with impunity at the table top. With a game such as Castles & Crusades?! The slayer is going to require a bit of fiddling but its a pretty easy bit of kit to fit them into the mix of a C&C campaign. 

Slayers are the PC class that shows up like Jedi knights or Boba Fett in a campaign when that half demonic wizard shows up on his nightmare. The slayer has been tracking him or her for ages & now he or she has shown up in your game. 

Slayers should never be used with matters of the gods unless minions or  demon lords or ladies show up. They will not be impressed by the gods or by infernal or demonic royalty. Slayers want one thing the slaughter of the demonic full stop. From time to time I've used slayers as villains within games as well even the lawful evil ones intentions or goals are 'good' in a sense. The brutal methods they employ however are nasty & dangerous to the lives of PC's around them. 
Slayers at the table top level are a polizerizing force we've found. There are some players who love the 'lone wolf' aspect of the fighter subclass. And there are those players  who hate the class with a vengence. The slayer is a very polerizing figure at the table top. 
Slayers are never going to get their due at the table top level but paired with a paladin of equal alignment. These can be very nasty combinations indeed. The lone wolf nature of the slayer means that eventually in our experience that they will leave a paladin behind. 
Its too bad that given the storied legal history of Role Aids line we'll never get a slayer PC supplement. There is far more that can be done with this fighter sub class then merely as an NPC murder weapon or plot device. 
The slayer class represents a very in niche within a niche PC class but its one that can be used to great advantage with a clever player & DM.