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Reviewing Yellow Dawn: The Age of Hastur

Full disclosure: Back around the beginning of March, I was researching medieval mysticism, woodcuts, and tomes for my Ghartha series when I came across a blog post by David J. Rodger, discussing the Polanski film The Ninth Gate. It was a well written post (and made me go look up the movie and watch it […]

T Is for Telomeric

telomeric: (adj.) relating to the natural end of a eukaryotic chromosome composed of a usually repetitive DNA sequence and serving to stabilize the chromosome

Highbeam Multistellar’s most skilled engineers on Bellatrix have created some impressive weapons over the years, including the Bellatrixian plague fungus and the causality virus. In this grand tradition comes Highbeam’s horrific telomeric gas.

This heavier-than-air gas (approximately as dense as carbon dioxide) acts quickly after being inhaled or otherwise absorbed through a mucuous membrane (or even via the eyes). At this time, the active chemicals in the gas attack the victim’s DNA, overwhelming the telomeres of the target [...]

T is for Torch Boy

Hirelings, they come in all shapes and varieties. Some don't last long, yet others through cowardice, luck, or sheer will manage to stick around. Guides are needed to trek through wild lands, as are henchman to haul around loot. And let us not forget the humble torchbearer. When you're packing around a broadsword and heavy shield, someone needs to hold the torch (or lightning rod) for you.

(Imitates Arthur from Army of Darkness) T is for Torch Boy!!!!!

Miles Osgood

Miles was once a normal boy. He had loving parents and a normal farm life. This was before his family was brutally killed [...]

5-Minute Adventure: Shrine of Thiseir for Swords & Wizardy and Next

While the following is a new 5-minute adventure it is a departure from a normal 5-minute adventure in two ways. The first is obvious as it is listed in the title of the post and that is tha tI developed the adventure to be usable in both Swords & Wizardry Core (4th printing) and the Next playtest rules of the world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game.

I do not know how well I succeeded in this goal and feedback is greatly needed if I am to improve my ability to both use and develop for Next Playtest and eventually [...]

Musings on Alignment Abuse

Look in your heart, you know it to be true...Last year, I wrote a short post about the alignment system present in Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder (which you can find HERE). In that post, I mentioned how I'm rather fond of the alignment system as a concept and like how it gives the player a starting point for their character's personality and personal philosophy. I also like the idea that forces of absolute chaos, good, evil, and law exist within these fictional settings and how mortals who might not meet up to those same standards might interact and align [...]

S is for Satyr

Satyrs are the life of the party. They are often considered the male equivalent to dryads (or potentially nymphs). Unlike those beauteous fae, they're not particularly pretty. Still they have their charms (literally when you take their pipe ability into account).

Prepare to drink and sing, because S is for Satyr...

Theron of the Clovenflame
"Any festival you can walk way from wasn't worth attending in the first place."

To those that have met him, the satyr reveler Theron is often seen as a force of nature. To be fair to nature, there are natural disasters that are less destructive. The [...]

Wicked-Awesome Art Wednesday: Ostium Inferus

Via thepidgeonsandpeepsTumblr,Ostium Inferus by deviantART userGrivetart.

The post Wicked-Awesome Art Wednesday: Ostium Inferus appeared first on Age of Ruins.

On Hyperborea and Fate

Previously, I reviewed Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. I talked about how I liked both the rules and the …

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Podcast episode -- The RPG Room: Get out of my hobby!

Our hobby has a nasty side sometimes and when it shows its ugly face it is very difficult to roll high enough to save for the trolls. And some trolls don't go away even if you pour acid or burn them to the ground. That's what happened recently with a Kickstarter project from Daring Entertainment. [...]

The post Podcast episode – The RPG Room: Get out of my hobby! appeared first on G*M*S Magazine.

Short Film: Milonga

Redheads! Italy! Motorcycles!

I can watch this one over and over…

Max Brooks' Extinction Parade Optioned by Legendary for an Original Television Series

Max Brooks and Avatar Press have announced Legendary Television and Digital optioned the New York Times Bestselling Author Brooks' Extinction Parade as an original property for development as a new television series. Brooks is closely tied to the development of the project and will be writing the Pilot episode.

“I only brought the idea to one company, Legendary, because they do the kind of quality work of which any writer would be proud.” stated Brooks.

“Max Brooks is a visionary with an incredible ability to tell stories that deliver a fresh approach to the horrors that haunt our nightmares. His [...]

GM tips - Failing Forwards (video)

GM Tips - Failing Forwards
A more interesting way to resolve 'failed' rolls.

The Battle for Van Fleet Manor

Q and R are for the Rat Queens


There I said it.

I saw this random panel on Tumblr and immediately knew I'd love the series. Hands down, it is my favorite comic of the last few years (though I will say that Saga is exceptional too). I've previously mentioned the Queens here. The series is a darkly humorous and violent fantasy series with modern aesthetic.

If you don't mind vulgar language (often of a sexual nature) and drug references mixed with your swords and sorcery, then Rat Queens is the series for you. The first five issues are available int he [...]

Lost City of Eridu (Early Temple Period)

Up until 50,000 years before the present day of my new world campaign, the landscape of the new world was considerably different.  A basalt ridge left behind from a volcanic eruption and lava flow in the distant past divided the drainage basin of the jungle roughly in half, and what are now the two main tributaries of the Zamonas were separate rivers, the Maita to the north and the Ilyapa to the south.  The Maita fed into an immense coastal swamp, while the Ilyapa snaked through the southern hills before going underground and flowing through a series of lava tubes [...]


COME ON DOWN!!! http://www.kingdom-con.com/ I have the 10AM timeslots for RPGs on Friday and Saturday. Kingdom Con 2014 - RPGS April 24 - 3:00pm Outbreak: Can YOU Survive? Outbreak: Undead GM: Brett Lynam Length: 4 Hours Players: 9 or more It has finally happened; the dead walk and society has crumbled. This is a character [...]

Caradoc ap Segovax: A Darkling Village (Age of Arthur, Session 3)

With our escort of the Kindly Ones we made our way through the forest, guided with all speed past the natural hazards of this great place, heading southwestwards; my heart grew heavier as we neared the darkling village and I contemplated what doom the unbelievers and worshippers of the false god had bought down upon all of our heads. Whilst Soctia marvelled at the shining arms and armour of our guides we began to descend into a valley, the air growing soupy and quite unlike the pure clean vapours of our northern home. We stopped a days walk from our [...]

D&D Puns and Stuff

Okay folks, not much new to show off this week so I'll regale you with some of my gaming puns that I regularly tweet (yes I tweet: @GamersTableMike). Hate em or love em, puns have been a staple of my D&D humor for years. Standard apologies if you've hard any of these before. Enjoy (or not)...

  • Skeleton armies have a particular skull set.
  • Combat tactics: Fallen Footmen need Archer support.
  • Alcoholic Genies crawl into bottles.
  • Humanoid drunks go to orcaholics anonymous.
  • We had to pay to use the Troll bridge because we missed the Faerie crossing.
  • On the hole I always [...]

Hump-day Hildebrandt... His Backpack's Got Jets...

Well, last week was hectic.  You may have noticed the lack of any writing.  I noticed the lack of most things that relax me.  The holiday added extra things to my "to do" list, on top of the unrelenting busy season at the real job.  If those weren't enough, my child was ill the entire week.  I didn't get any writing or gaming time in whatsoever and the regular game was cancelled.  That said, I have gotten some offline work completed this week and I'm almost ready to roll out the first "I Give a Fluff."  Having written that, some [...]

Legends & Lore: Double Down

I agree that simpler rules make for easier preparation and improvisation, which is why I love monster design in 4th Edition: it is incredibly easy to make monsters/NPCs of any level and scope (even on the fly), all the formulas can fit on a card, and unlike 3rd Edition it is actually reliable. This also extends to building encounters: I feel much more confident that I can quickly and easily design an encounter, while still making it precisely as difficult as I want.

So why is it that---besides, you know, 3rd Edition did it---they see the need to provide a second [...]

Caradoc ap Segovax: Ancient Spirits of the Forest and Air (Age of Arthur, Session 2)

I was awoken during the night by Scotia, the soft sound of laughter and other strange noises filtered through the forest trees that were illuminated but dimly by the flickering embers of our campfire; pulling a burning brand from the fire I blew gently on it, sending a small cloud of ash spiralling into the air and I peered into the patterns that it formed, seeking the will of the ancients in the chaotic swirls of grey.
"They are spirits of the forest" I said, almost as much to myself and to my companions, "we must show these guardians of [...]

What Does the OSR Mean to You? (not asking for a definition)

What does the OSR mean to you? I'm not asking you to define the OSR, because such a definition is fairly nebulous and arbitrary.

For me, the OSR means making the old new again. Keeping the rules I first found as a teen fresh and relevant 30+ years later.

The OSR means I can find new adventures for my old rules, and new rewrites of the old rules that are easier for these aging eyes to read and this aging mind to follow.

The OSR has given D&D of old the lifespan and vitality of a Tolkien Elf - it will not die even as those that deigned it have moved on to the beyond.

The OSR is. That in and [...]

Review: Mansions of Madness

George says: Somnium is an experienced gamer I met in a forum for Greek roleplayers. We rarely agree on anything, but he's kind enough to share his considerable knowledge on board games, starting with this guest article and hopefully continuing with more in the near future.

Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight Games

Mansions of Madness is a boardgame by Fantasy Flight Games. What makes this boardgame particularly interesting, however, is the fact that it is based on the Cthulhu mythos (and the expanded Call of Cthulhu universe), and that it's focused on delivering intense, competitive gameplay, as well as a gripping [...]

Blast from the past: Zero

A couple of days ago I finished watching the remake of the classic TV series The Prisoner (you know, the one where Patrick McGoohan declares that he's not a number but a free man in the beginning of every episode). While the remake had some interesting ideas and a great cast, the original series remains unsurpassed as an allegorical tale of anti-authoritarianism and pro-individualism.

The Prisoner and especially McGoohan's catch phrase actually remind me of a short game I once found in the top shelf (aka where games go to die) of a small FLGS not far from where I grew [...]

World of Darkness: Tales from the 13th Precinct

The new World of Darkness is an efficient and flexible ruleset that can be used to run a wide variety of "modern" campaigns, from horror to espionage. This series of reviews examines the various sourcebooks published for the "generic" World of Darkness line and their usefulness in running your own homebrew settings.

Tales from the 13th Precinct

The concept of Tales from the 13th precinct will be familiar to readers of the Asylum or Dogs of war sourcebooks: it is both an occupational sourcebook and a mini-setting for the new World of Darkness. This time the focus is on local law enforcement.

Tales [...]

Book Excerpt - 'How To Be An Annoying Player'

This is an excerpt from my book 'The Book of Roleplaying Hints, Tips and Ideas', available now on Kindle and DrivethruRPG.

Although this and many of the 29 articles in the book were written with a light-hearted tone, there was a somewhat serious side to the essays in that I was exploring different aspects through careful observation during the literally hundreds of games I played in and ran with dozens of groups during my 30 years in the hobby.

This particular article literally drips with sarcasm; it was the mirror image of Gary Gygax's book 'Role-Playing Mastery', [...]

Cool Stuff around the Blogosphere

While I haven’t been as active as I’d like to be here at are phantasia in the last month or so I have had the opportunity to explore some of the work of others who have. I’ve discovered some really cools stuff recently that I’d like to take a minute to share.

1. Role Play Craft

First up is a blog that I’ve been following for some time. Patrick Wesley has been doing some really fine work over at Role Play Craft offering original content for rpgs in the form of interesting NPC ideas, adventure hooks, complete adventures and campaign settings.

I’ve found [...]

Quick Note - Not to be Swept Under the Rug

A quick note and shout out to the venerable +Mark Van Vlack of Dust_Pan_Games for hitting his hundreth post! Congratulations man and may the next year feature another hundred great posts.

Mark's blog started shortly before mine and it is a go to for me on a weekly basis (or whenever I catch the notification). Mark tends to muse on the community, the game and the ways in which we as gamers play and manipulate the game. Often witty he deserves a lot of credit from me when I almos tthrew in the towel earlier this year. Nothing [...]

Back In The Saddle

I'm pretty excited. This Friday I'm back to GMing and it's been a long while. At the very least it's been since sometime in November when my Shadowrun game came to an impromptu end due to time constraints. Since then my normal game has been on hiatus while a friend ran another game, but now that game is back on hiatus and the "main show" is picking back up.

Getting Back Into Character
One of the problems I'm expecting my players to have is getting back into character. It's been a long time since the last time we played, [...]

World of Darkness: Skinchangers

The new World of Darkness is an efficient and flexible ruleset that can be used to run a wide variety of "modern" campaigns, from horror to espionage. This series of reviews examines the various sourcebooks published for the "generic" World of Darkness line and their usefulness in running your own homebrew settings.


Werewolves (and other werebeasts to a lesser extent) have been a staple in the World of Darkness since the earliest days of the classic rules, being the second "creature race" after Vampires to get their own setting. So a book about shapechangers in the generic new World of Darkness [...]

Quest Night: Glory and Gold

Earlier I had mentioned going to this event to raise money for the cure for cancer (go here to find out all the details you could ever want to know). I made it out opening night, for the first run of the night even but I’m getting a bit ahead of my story. So, I […]

Chancing FATE

I finally getting around to responding to a reader’s question…

“Hey, Scott, why do you hate Fate so much?”

I don’thateFATE, so much as I find some of the fast and loose aspects (See what I did there..?) can create a much higher level of complexity that is needed. I had the same issue withMarvel Heroic RoleplayingandFireflyfrom Margaret Weiss — which are essentially Fatewith Cortex die schemes. The plehtora of assets, complications, etc. adding to dice pools can get a bit hard to manage. (Although it doesn’t reach the wheelbarrowful dumping of dice majesty of d6Star Wars when a Stardestroyer opens [...]

My favorite articles on Gamemastering

5 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Skill System 5 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Skill System 5 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Skill System 5 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Skill System 5 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Skill System

When it comes to running adventures and campaigns, nothing can replace actual experience. However, that is not to say that you can only learn from making your own mistakes. There is actually a great number of excelent pieces of advice on the topic of preparing and running games, but strangely it’s something that almost no RPGs ever care to mention. [...]

1984 -- A MARVELous Year

For me 1984 was pretty much my breakout year where it was obvious I was a full-blown nerd. I had played D&D one time in 1982, collected a Moldvay Basic and Cook Expert boxed set by 1983, but had a hard time getting anybody to play. Inflicted a few sessions on my sisters and some distant cousins, but that was about it.

In 1983 I started seriously reading comics, starting with “The New Mutants #1″ and “Uncanny X-Men #167.” Gradually I started reading other Marvel Comics titles.

Then in 1984 TSR came out with this:

the Marvel Super Heroes roleplaying game. [...]

Everyone is John - microReview

Every week I delve into an indie game and report back with musings about what I found. Today I look into a small story game from 2002 about a person who hears voices in their head: 
Everyone is John Free pdf, by Michael B. Sullivan

I kept hearing about (pun, not intended) Everyone is John around the internets for quite some time, but I didn't have the chance to check it out until last weekend. In this game, both the players AND the GM are John - an insane man from Minneapolis, who hears voices in his head. Players take the role of those voices [...]

Catacombs of Alam [P]

Catacombs Area P

Area P
  1. This chamber is coated in dust from a sagging ceiling full of cracks. One corridor has a small chasm that falls dozens of feet below, to places unknown. Dusty and tattered tapestries hang on the walls, depicting battles of ancient lore. Statues of the deities of merciful death, and honour and justice sit in the corners, and alcoves hold five caskets that hold ashes. A pair of stone sarcophagi hold skeletons that are brittle and yellowed with age, and a low platform has two depressions withs carvings on the front of soldiers kneeling in prayer. Inside [...]

B/X Spell Roundup: 3rd level magic-user spells, part 2

Four more superbly useful magic-user spells - and not a direct damage spell among them.

5. Haste:  Super speed is often a useful ability, and in B/X, it lacks the penalty levied against it in AD&D (specifically, rapid aging) so you can use it with impunity as often as you're able to cast it.  The doubled movement rate is nice, but of course the main attraction is doubling the rate of attacks.  It affects up to 24 creatures (implying that the caster can choose which ones) within a 60' diameter circle, and at up to 240' range.  (What's the [...]

The Barbarians: Fantasy Film Review

What if you took Conan the Barbarian, doubled the bodybuilders, threw in some cheesy comic relief, a gypsy clown caravan, arm wrestling, Michael Berryman, the largest uncircumcised penis dragon to ever grace the silver screen, and that obnoxious laugh from Revenge of the Nerds?  Well, you'd get The Barbarians.  Not a great film, but definitely entertaining.

I hadn't seen this since I was a youngster.  I fondly (in a weird way that just sticks in your memory and won't fade away) remember the belly button / ruby scene.  I suppose, as a 14 year old boy (albeit with access [...]

Atomic Robo RPG by Evil Hat

Despite a dickish Twitter exchange with one of the creators, I am still a firmAtomic Robo fan and have Comixology on the iPad set to let me know every time a new comic drops. So i was very happy to hear an RPG of the comic was coming, and despite the rules being FATE, I signed the group up for playtesting. We didn’t get to do as much as I hoped, thanks to folks leaving New Mexico or finding gainful employment that prevented them from playing, but it looks like the game is finally here.

You can now preorderAtomic Robo through [...]

In my life, Role playing games were spared from near extinction.

OR: How my hobby was saved.OR: Dr. Peabody and How I  learned to Relax and Love the internet.
This is my 100th blog post!(FIRE-WORKS-&-METAL!)

Roll for ... something...
I'm not sure if this is a mile stone or simply a distance marker, but in the light of my well known inability to focus on any one thing for more than a few days, one hundred posts is significant.
We make trade-offs every day. One way or another we balance our time between family, work, hobbies, sleep, and any number of other things.
Online gaming has saved my RPG [...]

Weird Wednesday: Unholy Mass

Unholy Mass CR 6 XP 2,400 CE haunt (30 ft. radius) Caster Level 6th NoticePerception DC 20 (to hear chanting on the wind) hp 6;Trigger proximity;Reset 1 day Effect: When this haunt is triggered, ghostly figures appear in the haunt's area---an evil cleric is conducting a sermon for the vile god of undeath, […]

The post Weird Wednesday: Unholy Mass appeared first on Adventure-A-Week.

Thoughts on the Old James Bond RPG

I was having a look over the retro-cloneClassified which repackages the oldJames Bond: 007RPG very faithfully. It’s no secret I’ve been working on and off on a similar project for a few years — slowed and distracted by professional concerns and child care duties. As writing carried on two years ago, I realized that a redesign of a few of the rules were needed. That expanded into tearing the system apart and putting it back together. Here are a few of the points that I’ve been working from:

1) Less freakin’ math! Let’s face it –James Bond: 007(hereafter JB:007) is a [...]

The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Chapter VI -- Rudolph Erich Raspe

The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen"comes to us courtesy ofProject Gutenbergwhere many free stories may be had and used. We present the third chapter in the book as written by Rudolph Erich Raspe. We will present subsequent chapters over the next few weeks.

As a teller of great truths the Baron often found himself in the company of those who might not consider his every word to be a statement of pure fact with no embelishment whatsoever. Fortunately, such people are few and far between, though it often falls to the Baron himself to admonish those who not only listen to [...]

potelbat Ep. 41 "Poorly Grounded"

New places! New faces! Every once in a while you get the urge to go adventuring in places you’ve never been before.

Like, the bottom of the sea. Or in Outer Space.

Somewhere where the rules you know and love just don’t quite apply like they used to. Not only that, there are a whole bunch more little fiddly rules that you never used to have to pay attention to.

Happily, we’re prepared to offer some really clunky advice about how to handle it all.

And then there is the listener mail. One in which the listener clearly has no idea what he is [...]

Haste! WoD MMO Cancelled, Ryan Dancey talks OGL, and Physical Props.

|Episode 110|


Don’t forget that the d20 Monkey contest is going on and that you’ve still got a little bit of time left to submit to our April's fool contest! Also, be sure to check out part 2 of our interview with Rob Schwalb.

Also – we’re hiring a Background Image Designer!

Lastly, check out adventureaweek.com, of which our good friend Justin Mason is a part of. A continual source of adventures for your D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder game. $10/mo to subscribe to ongoing content creation. Really cool stuff!

Topics World of Darkness MMO Cancelled

It bums us out to have to [...]

Gaming Rundown Q1 (and other Updates)

Note: The latest History of Superhero RPGs list will be up next week. I like to post those on the week opposite our new Play on Targetepisodes. I hope to have some additional news and incentives regarding my gaming history lists next week as well.
FIRST QUARTER CAMPAIGN UPDATESThought I'd give a quick rundown of play and campaign activity for the first quarter of 2014 (to establish my gamer bona-fides???). I want to get a better sense of what we actually get done in three months. All of the f2f games play out bi-weekly; the online games play out [...]

F#@& Your Self-Help Advice: On Motivation and Success

Today we take a look at something that the vast majority of humanity struggles with: getting motivated! Our reader writes:

Hey DM,

I've been having some issues lately. I am creatively dead at the moment. I'm trying to get two separate D&D games going, neither of which seem like they'll happen. I haven't done any updates on my blog in a long while. I don't have the time or (creative) energy to make anything. Or maybe I'm just lazy. I dunno. Thoughts?

As always I have numerous thoughts, none of which involve telling you what a lazy waste of space you are, or [...]

Encounter With The Black Eyed Children - Black Eyed Kids For Mutant Future And Your Old School Post Apocalypse Campaigns

These entities are usually encountered out in the wastelands near abandon ruins  but they may be encountered anywhere. There have been reports of these beings encountered in large urban areas and communities.The Black Eyed Children
 will ask adventurers for help or ask for permission to come into a vehicle, tent, or other dwelling. After 1d4 rounds the victim may sense a 'wrongness' about the BECs and begin to feel uneasy or an almost supernatural dread. A flight or fight instinct in the victim may kick in this will the victims to escape unharmed.  These horrors will vanish 1d4 rounds later never [...]

Video Unboxing Dr. Hrubec from Czech Board Games

I always wanted to be a doctor when I was growing up. The stains of blood on the scrubs as the doctors leave theatre with a razor sharp scalpel in their hands; the screams of people longing for healing and help; the pulling of rotting teeth from bleeding gums; setting bones and dislocated joints... So [...]

The post Video Unboxing Dr. Hrubec from Czech Board Games appeared first on G*M*S Magazine.

Publishing Struggles Sometimes Works Outs for the Better

Yesterday, I wrote about my struggles with getting approval from RPGNow, but that may be a good thing in the end.  While I am still struggling to find out what's wrong with my file, I don't understand the message they sent, and there have been a few very cool OSRians like +Joseph Bloch, +Rob Conley and +Pete Spahn have been helpful.

While the process is frustrating, RPGNow has always been fantastic to deal with and I've shot an email to Chuck, who apparently is the gatekeeper.

While I was frustrated, after looking it over...again...I found more small things [...]
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