Hobo’s Guide to Time and Space

The idea was to do a time crawl, that is where it started. We had literature, films and TV that seemed to be in a certain genre of Sci-Fi that we wanted to emulate in creating a different sort of adventure.

Space Sweetie

Still working on stuff, hopefully there will be some fun things to show off for the final.

What is Hobo’s Guide to Time & Space?
Early attempts at time travel proved to be fatal when scientists discovered that those who were being sent backwards or forwards in time did not move through space as well. Because of the ever-expanding nature of the universe and the rotation of planets time travelers would find themselves in the exact point in space as they were at the moment they left only the universe had move on leaving them drifting through space at the exact point in space the planet once was or would eventually be. Eventually the problem would be solved by one of the most advanced civilizations in the galaxy. On a large planet located in the vicinity of the constellation of casturberous (might change that name) there was a civilization formed by a collective of anarchist communist space hobos. It became the only fully functional fully realized ideal of anarchist communism, and was so successful that the citizens of this great civilization were able to advance beyond the imagination of other races throughout time and space. With no worries or poverty created by capitalism and in a civilization of pure equality, all who sought to pursue their dreams were able to do so to the fullest extent of their abilities uninhibited by scarcity or oppression. For this reason this great civilization became masters of time and space constructing not only machines that could travel the vastness of the universe throughout time in space in mere moments, but they also constructed the time corridors. Because of their new found liberties being no longer restrained by time and space, many space hobos took to wandering freely throughout time and space.

You and your friends will be taking the roles of Space Hobos, travelers through the vast corridors of the time tunnels exploring and adventuring throughout time and space. One of your friends will take the role of Game Lord or Lady and that player will be responsible for playing every other being sentient or not across all of time or space. They will also be responsible for bringing your time tunnels alive.

What is a Time Crawl?

Instead of exploring musky old dungeons you will wander a time tunnel, a labyrinth tunneling through time and space. Each door could lead deeper into the labyrinths, or it could take you to a totally different time period or planet. The potential of places to explore, genres and adventures to be had are endless. 

Hobos Guide to Time and Space Appendix N:

TV:

Sapphire & Steel (1979 – 1982)
Doctor Who (1963 – 1989)
Doctor Who (2005 – Present)
Blake’s 7 (1978 – 1981)
Red Dwarf (1992 – Present?)
Sliders (1995 – 2000)
The Librarians (2014 – 2018)
Good Omens (2019 –  Present?)
Worzel Gummidge (1979 – 1981)

Movies:

Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)
Time Bandits (1981)
Hitchikers guide to the Galaxy (2005)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

Books:

Douglas Adams: The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Spider Robinson: Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon
H.G. Wells: The Time Machine
Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
L. Frank Baum: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Audio Adventures:

Iris Wildthyme (Big Finish)
Bernice Summerfield (Big Finish)
War of the Worlds (1938 Radio Drama)

 

This is meant to be a combat lite, role playing game. It focuses less on fighting and action and more on falling down rabbit holes. We have random wallpaper pattern tables to populate your time tunnel instead of the traditional tables you would find in a dungeon.

It is my plan to take the rough draft of the game to the others working on it with me this week, and have them do some edits and revisions. After those revisions, we will be putting a play test copy up on the Patreon. This is to try and get some feedback. It will have some notes about different ways to run it and we hope folks will be able to try it out and give us feed back as to what works at their table and what doesn’t.

This initial play test will also be print out as an old school zine. Since the method to make the zine will be more in line with the old way of cut, paste & copy this will only be a physical zine not a PDF. I plan on printing 42 of the play test zine and those will only be available directly through me. You can hit me up for one when we announce they are available on Twitter @LogarHailCrom

And prepare yourself for the Malevolent Mind generator

Much more to come about the game here soon.

 

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The Book of Forbidden Knowledge

The following are not original works, but quotes and sections from The Book of Forbidden Knowledge: Black Magic, Superstition, Charms and Divination published by Johnson Smith & Company in Detroit Michigan (1910?ish). There are modern printings out you can find, and I suggest picking one up for flavor with your game. They have a ton of fun quirky stuff in them. Here are presented a few folk remedies from the book. You can access The Book of Forbidden Knowledge at Archive.org. This is just a bit that I had pulled out for something I was writing, and figured I would share here if anyone found them interesting, and might be fun to add flavor to your game as superstitions and cures.
WHEN A PERSON DESIRES TO REMOVE CORNS
When they bury an old man, and the funeral bells are ringing, the following should be spoken: They are sounding the funeral bell and what I now grasp may soon be well and what ill I grasp do take away, like the dead one in the grave does lay. ***
While reciting the sentence, always hold the troubled part in the hand, and regarding the corns, move over them with your fingers after cutting out the corns, and as long as they are tolling the bells repeat the above. As soon as the dead body begins to bleach the corns will disappear. Probate in the case of a male, wait for the funeral of one of that sex; In the case of a female wait until a female is to be buried.
FOR VIOLENT TOOTHACHES

Take a new nail, pick with this tooth till it bleeds, then take this nail and insert it in a place where neither sun or moon ever shines into, perhaps, in the rafters of the bin in a cellar, toward the rising of the sun; at the first stroke upon the nail call the name of him who you design to help, and speak: Toothache cease, pain allay!

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Why not player facing rolls in D&D?

One thing I see in a lot of newer games popping up is the player facing role where the DM or game master doesn’t make the rolls, but the players do. Now, I think that is cool for a change up here and there but it is not my preferred play style. I’m still very much attached to that old school game where a dungeon master rolls behind the screen and you don’t know what horrors await. But I enjoy it trying out new games to change things up and a lot of folks seem to prefer it. 

 

It occurred to me that I can really do this with a lot games by inverting the rolls. Take Dungeons & Dragons, it’s got a passive defense with AC. The DM rolls above the AC and if they beat the AC you are hit. Let’s change that, now it’s there player rolling to see if they get hit, their fate is on their own hands. It simply becomes the player has to roll under their AC to avoid being hit, really it’s that simple. You can change the whole dynamic by simply inverting what you need and changing who rolls. It’s still a roll above hits. The mechanic doesn’t change what changes is who rolls and it becomes more of a savings throw.

 

This might become complicated when players have to roll high to attack in combat yet they have to roll low to defend in combat. It is not a unified mechanic where all the attack rolls are roll high, yet it might be a mechanic worth playing with

 

It’s just a thought. Maybe someone has a hack somewhere up their sleeve that can get more creative with this. It would be easy to do this invert of rolls in lots of game systems to make player facing rolls.

Posted by Logar The Barbarian in Mechanics, 0 comments

The birth of gods

The following is written for my home game that I am preparing right now.

Humans have created gods for a god to have power the god must be manifested and reified by the social body. The act of worship gives power to the god. Organized religion is essential for a God to exist. This is because for a God to exist there has to be enough worshipers and followers to manifest the deity. Rural areas often have petty gods because the local small scale worship of deities has less power to manifest a deity. Petty gods have become major gods over time when a rural deity has been brought into an urban population and spread with the birth of new religion reaching further parts of the world. Major gods have been known to begin as petty gods in rural areas.

 

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‘The Laboratory of Ord’ Module Review 

This is a short dungeon for Old School Essentials (OSE) written by Cameron Shanton for levels 1-3 characters. It will work with any Old School Renaissance (OSR) system.

Disclosure: Author provided the module to us for free.

Find the dungeon here on his itch.io as well as other work that he is doing.

https://lateroflife.itch.io/the-laboratory-of-ord

https://shantonproductions.blogspot.com/

https://lateroflife.itch.io/

Its a 2 floor – 11 room dungeon at 8 pages long.

Description by the author:

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The Laboratory of Ord is an old-school adventure designed to be easily dropped into existing campaigns. The adventure module is aimed at groups of player levels 1 – 3, and provides modest standard and magical loot as a reward for it’s difficulty.

The dungeon consists of two floors, with 11 rooms for adventurers to explore. The Laboratory of Ord has within it a self-contained mystery for players to piece together and solve, centered around the maddened sorcerer Thorngage Ord. Rumors of mass disappearances have plagued the local countryside, and many believe that Ord is to blame

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I love small dungeons / short adventures. They drop in nicely into existing campaigns in between longer adventures. I like this one as its only 11 rooms and very straightforward to read through and prep for. Mega-dungeons tend to be a bit overwhelming to commit to.

The Adventure – without revealing too many spoilers in this part, the adventure is well suited for lower level characters (as it recommends). There are enough standard treasure and magical treasure to make it worthwhile for low level characters to go exploring it. It also provides enough items to help you keep moving along and not get stuck. It has some Frankenstein type elements with a mad scientist – ahem, sorcerer named Ord. I may change it to a necromancer for my Hyperborea campaign, but I get OSE doesn’t have a necromancer class. 

Monster encounters will give players achievable combat (for level 1-3) sprinkled in with some tougher bosses in key places. There will be tough fights that you can beat (by being creative and not rolling 1’s), and then tougher fights that will make it more challenging (and a oh, crap moment what do we do now). There is also a bonus new magic item as well that the players will certainly want to try out as it has some surprising effects.

As its 11 rooms, you should be able to finish this in 1 session (2-3 hrs). I plan to drop it into my current Hyperborea campaign. Will post post adventure report addendum to this review.

Maps – nice and big and not overly complicated. (ie. no winding corridors, unclear connections from room to room).  I got crappy eyes so appreciate a nice big map that I can see on 1 page. (vs. zooming in and out constantly)  I also hate trying to figure out how floors or areas connect. ie. via secret doors or other methods. This map was easy to figure out how everything connected together. The map is the first thing I usually check out when opening a new adventure.

Random tables – love random tables to mix up what monsters show up and what loot you find. It makes certain parts of the module replayable without repeating itself.

Layout – very clear with headers, italics, bold text, spacing. Makes reading each encounter area very easy as you get the key points across quickly. ie. what’s in the room: treasures, monsters, traps., where are the doors, etc.

I also hate adventures where its paragraph upon paragraph of blocks of text that is hard to decipher. (I get it – you have space limitations for printed hard copies of zines and modules)

New Custom Stuff

There is at least 1 new magical item (maybe 2 – I haven’t found a reference to the second one in any of the books that I have or online).  This new magic item will be described in the spoilers in future article after we play the module. I like the concept of it, and I guarantee the players will get a kick out of it.

Role Playing

There isn’t as much built in role-playing opportunities in this adventure as it is a short one. (vs. larger dungeons where you may have different factions)  There is opportunity to create some interactions with the villagers on the outside before going into the dungeon as well as bumping into some of the villagers below ground in the actual dungeon. You could also interact with Ord himself which could make for some interesting twists in the adventure. I may throw in some lost villagers trying to find their way out to add more of a role playing element to this adventure.

Encounters / Investigation

There is a mystery to be solved. There are traps. There are random encounters and monsters. Players will have to find things to be able to move on in the adventure and escape certain death. Its a short 11 room dungeon with enough mystery to keep the adventure interesting.

Monsters / Combat

Monsters are appropriate for low level adventurers. It will be challenging, but survivable early on. There will be some tougher boss type monsters to fight as you progress through the dungeon, and players will need to use their smarts to survive. Killing everything you see (though can be fun) is not the way to solving every adventure. As its a low level adventure (level 1-3), I will probably beef up some of the monsters / encounters / bosses as my Hyperborea party is at level 5-6.

 

Forthcoming stuff: Author is publishing a series of 1 hr dungeons and 1 pager adventures for OSE which I am looking forward to checking out. You can find his work on his itch.io and blog referenced at beginning of this article.

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Random Roll Adventure: The Crystalized Prison Library

We have been having some fun rolling a random adventure on the Wobblies & Wizards podcast. We have been using Matt Finch’s Tome of Adventure Design along with Raging Swan Press’s GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing and the OSRIC book. For those of you interested in checking each episode out in order I am posting links to all the existing episodes so far.

We hope to have some of the maps to the dungeons we rolled up posted to our Patreon here in April. We could really use the support to keep the podcast going.

Part One: The Crystalized Prison Library

Part Two: Cocoon of the Water Hag

Part Three: The Crypt Dungeon

Part Four: Fleshing Out Details

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Swords and Sorcery Adventure Modules Played in Our Hyperborea Campaign

Our Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerer’s Hyperborea (by North Wind games) campaign has been going on for over 2 years. We’ve had some players come and go, but its been a pretty consistent crew for past year? or so with 6 players / 7 characters. Characters are around level 5-6 as I’ve been using milestone advancements. 

Its a pretty powerful party with berserkers, barbarians, rune engravers along with a scout, priest, and heavy weapons cryomancer. We’re having fun with it as its a Swords & Sorcery fantasy game vs. traditional D&D fantasy. I add in NPCs to the party if they need some other skill sets. Though in the recent adventure, the party has been sending the NPC paladin through all the doors first.  

We’ve played a lot of adventure modules from both North Wind games (publisher of the system) and other OSR publishers. Some modules I’ve had to convert from 5E, d20, or other systems as well as subbing out some races/creatures that aren’t in the Hyperborea universe. eg. Hyperboreans for Elves. Reskinning for Hyperborea setting isn’t too hard and just subbing out monster stats from 5E / other system to OSR stats is easy too.

Adventures have taken anywhere from 3 to 6 sessions to play with each session lasting about 3-4 hrs. The modules that we have played not from North Wind, I picked because of the weird fantasy or horror elements in it along with occasional OSR dungeon crawl.

If you are running a Swords & Sorcery type of campaign, these adventures would fit (some may need a little reskinning).

  • Rats in Wall  (North Wind)
  • Black Moss Hag (North Wind)
  • Chaos Touched  (Troll Lord Games)
  • The Brazen Bull (North Wind)
  • The Anthrophophagi of Xambaala (North Wind)
  • Mystery at Port Greenly (North Wind)
  • City of Riches Messantia (Mongoose Conan D20)
  • Castle in the Sky (Goodman Games)
  • Brief Azathoth temple adv (Conan Moedipus)
  • Caves of Dero (Conan Moedipus)
  • Horror out of Hagsjaw (S&W)
  • Quests of doom 4: Pictures in Exhibition (S&W)
  • Downtime activities
  • Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes (North Wind)
  • Mysterious Tower (Goodman Games)
  • Blood Lagoon (S&W)
    • Side Adventure: Kobold Press
  • Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen (Dark Wizard) – currently in progress
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Games Currently in play with our gaming group

Our current home gaming group has been playing together for several years now starting with in person play (pre-pandemic). We started with a game every other week of Castles & Crusades (Troll Lord Games – TLG) with Rapanathuk (Frog God Games – FGG) setting with a large party (8-10 ppl), and Logar was the DM. Then we added alternating Friday night and then a Wed. night game with other folks DM.

Below are the games that are currently in play with our group. Games are every other week, and most games are online with Discord. As we are playing online, we have expanded to include players located in other areas of the country. Our games are more OSR or older games.  

  • Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Since Nov.2019)
  • Mutant Crawl Classics
  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten
  • Rifts
  • Alternating Wed. – 1 shot module with new alternating game systems

             Forthcoming 1 shots – Cairn (played), Troika (in progress), Cyber-Hack

                                                      2 games in development by group members

  • Play by Post via Discord – Cthulhu Hack in progress

We have different DM/GM for our games, and DMs are players in other games and vice versa. This allows for different styles of refereeing and gaming. It also gives DMs a week off as prepping for game does take time on top of other things in daily life. Current games have anywhere from 4-8 players. 

We have played alot of other games. Some campaigns longer than others with C&C Rapanathuk / Lost Lands as our second longest running campaign. (behind current ongoing Hyperborea). Alot of fantasy campaigns and adventures in previous so I’m pushing our group to play more different genres other than fantasy.

Previous games played – 

  • Castles and Crusades Aihrde
  • Castles and Crusades White Box
  • Blight Swords and Wizardry
  • Rapanathuk / Lost Lands
  • Call of Cthulhu Berlin
  • Savage Worlds Rifts
  • Old School Essentials: Dolmenwood
  • Amazing Adventures 5E
  • Heroes Unlimited
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • Forbidden Lands
  • Dark Places and Demigorgons – Holiday 1 shots
  • Barbarians of Ruined Earth – 1 shot
  • Mothership – 1 shot
  • Munchkin (card game)
  • Mansions of Madness (board game)
  • Hero’s Quest (board game)
  • I’m sure I’m missing some.

What’s worked well for our group?

  • Know your players – what style of game do they like? what genres?
  • Having a diversity of players and style of players.
  • Have different players in different games. not everyone can join every game. having a bi-weekly game works well with most players who may have changing work schedules and other events. (though Logar and Light play in about every game)
  • Online games vs. in person games enables new and more players.
    • Our in person gaming group is different than our online gaming group.
  • Set up a FB group or Discord channel or some place for your group to connect and build a community beyond gaming sessions.
  • When starting a new game, over recruit players for your games. people will invariably drop off and you may have change in player lineups over the course of the campaign.
  • Have different DM/GMs to mix things up.
  • We don’t require players to purchase all the game systems. DM/GMs will usually purchase the game system books, and some get extra copies of players manuals for the table. 
  • Our players also have similar values in that we are anti-racist, anti-fascist, pro-worker, pro women, pro LGBTQ+, pro Trans, and such. Basic human rights are not up for debate. We don’t want to associate with hateful people and certainly don’t want to share a gaming table with them. Its not something we will compromise on.

 

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Character Classes: Skills / Abilities

The core 4 character races: Fighter, Cleric, Thief, Magician. Each has special skills that are needed for dungeon crawl or traditional fantasy game. Fighters have great combat ability and strength while Clerics are primarily healers, can turn undead, have decent fighting ability and spell casting. Thieves have a variety of skills from finding/disarming traps, picking locks, sneaking around and Magicians get powerful spells. Missing one of the core 4 classes in your party will usually result in alot of pain or not being able to advance in the adventure at a steady pace.  Depending on the type of adventure that you are in, some of the classes may feel like ‘support’ classes as you have fixed list of skills or abilities.

I have found in some long dungeon adventures that the core 4 classes can start to get boring when classes become very functional. There isn’t much for a thief to do in a dungeon except when they need someone to check for traps or pick locks or for a cleric except to heal people. Just searching for traps over and over makes the game a bit tedious. yes, you can get involved in other activities like combat, but you aren’t going to be very good at it and may die quickly. A good game has elements of role-playing, combat, and investigation / problem solving. Some OSR dungeons are just grinders without all three elements. eg. mostly combat and traps. Making sure that your game includes all characters in the game and their skill sets is important, and you need to pay attention.

Characters don’t gain new abilities within their class unless they advance levels. There are several systems that allow you to pick skills or add/learn new skills as you advance. Chaosium Basic Role Play system is an example of one system that allows you to pick your own skills with a limited point buying base. You can be a jack of all trades/master of none or a ‘specialist’ and put more of your points in one area and create the classic core classes. I like having the flexibility to make my own unique character. You have some occupation / profession skills as well as personal skills that you can pick yourself in Basic Role Play system. 

The Black Hack game: By this Axe, I Hack* has an interesting (optional) system for adding on skills as you advance levels. It has a list of all the skills for the character classes and more that you can buy with character points. You gain character points as you level up and can buy skills outside of your core class. There are also rules for creating your own custom class which is pretty cool. As Black Hack is OSR based, its easy to port over to any of the other OSR game systems. 

Having all the additional ‘advanced’ classes add alot more variety and flavor to the game for those that like old TSR style OSR.. I remember getting the first Unearthed Arcana 1E (still have it) and loved it for all the new classes that it had. (yes, there may have been some issues with that release) Having additional classes added some new skills and things that you could do with your character. or you could multi-class as well to get some of those skills. for example, Conan was more a barbarian – thief type character. Probably has high STR and DEX scores for D&D type system character but probably wouldn’t have the climbing and sneaking skills of a D&D thief. 

*disclosure: we game with the author of ‘By this Axe, I Hack’. I bought the game and received no compensation from the author for this article. 

 

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Sword and Sorcery RPG vs. Modern RPG: Class and Playable Races

We’ve been playing a Swords and Sorcery campaign with Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria ruleset for over year. All characters in the party are human based (exception with 1 Hyperborean who despises Picts).  The number of classes in the game make up for the lack of different races beyond humans. I enjoy having so many different choices for sub-classes among the core 4 especially among the magician sub-classes. It adds to the flavor of the game with this many pre-built class options.

Playing in a Sword and Sorcery world, alot of the encounters and enemies will be other humans or former humans (eg. undead like zombies, skeletons, ghouls) and super sized creatures from the animal kingdom like giant crabs or wooly mammoths. Encountering non-human monsters happens infrequently and in far away / distant places away from human civilization. You won’t run into any non-humans at the tavern unless you’re in like Port Greely… At higher levels, there will be more alien creatures and demons to tangle with.

With modern RPGs, there are alot more race options especially in 5E. I can’t keep up with all the different race expansions beyond the core book. Different races in modern games allow different attribute bonuses and background customization. However I’m also a bit of a traditionalist in fantasy gaming so used to the typical fantasy elf / dwarf / halfling races as playable races from my B/X days. I’m also open to playing ‘monster’ races like orcs, goblins, kobolds. I played a greedy little goblin in a Forbidden Lands campaign and had a blast. Our whole party there was made up of non-humans which made the campaign quite different.

Having options is good to have variety and diversity to the game. However, I find it challenging to keep up with all the expansions that you need to get to keep up with all the available races in 5E. You need to purchase alot more material and books and learn alot more additional rules for each new race. I don’t fancy getting a subscription service just to keep up with all the new digital content being released either. Its also tricky fitting some of the races into your game pending the setting. Having a sentient turtle or fish folk or eagle person go into a mega dungeon dive in the desert doesn’t seem to fit the character classes and their drivers.  

Does Sword and Sorcery have some racist elements by making it humans only? With anything non-human is beastly and evil and to be destroyed. It certainly can be construed that way. Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, was a racist. His writings with Conan, Solomon Kane, and other writings certainly had racist elements in it. I’ve tried to bring other cultures into games that I play and allow other cultures into the Hyperboria game beyond the ones in the rulebook or European. We have one player with an Aztec priest as an example. I would prefer to bring in more of our different cultures into the game than have different fantasy races especially for our Swords and Sorcery game. Every culture has warriors, shaman, healers, magic men, holy men, assassins etc. that can be ported in to fit the different classes and be of human race. I’ve had swordsmen characters with Wuxia influences and Yakuza monk character based on a character (Lu Zhishen) from Outlaws of the Water Margin. 

As in all things, its best to talk through with your players on the expectations and ground rules for the type of  game that you plan to run. If certain races don’t fit into the campaign or world that you are running, it will make the game a bit odd pending the environments that you plan to run them through. If it is a party full of different non-human races, that could work, but if you have 1 aquatic race in party full of mostly earth bound races, it will make the adventure a little off.

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