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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Posted by Logar The Barbarian, 0 comments

‘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

Posted by Logar The Barbarian, 0 comments

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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Dungeon Week!

It is Dungeon Week on Wobblies & Wizards. All of our episodes this week focus on Dungeons. We launch the week off with a visit from Amanda P. to discuss Beyond the Burning Teeth. Click here to check out the first episode of Dungeon Week on Anchor.FM. Our Blog review this week will focus on blog posts about running and making dungeons. We will be reviewing In the Shadow of Tower Silveraxe by Jason Fleming on Zine Thursday, and Chriss Bissette will be joining us for Saturday’s episode to talk Dungeons. Light and Logar wrap up the week by rolling up a random Dungeon.

I also launched a Patreon page www.patreon.com/wobbliesandwizards. We are releasing the episodes early there so if you don’t want to wait, quite a few of the upcoming episodes are already available for our Patreon supporters. Which is exactly none as it’s brand new this morning, so we would love it if you helped to change that.

We accidentally recorded too many episodes for Dungeon week, so the extra episode will be on Patreon for subscribers. Then there is the forbidden episode. Light and I were just not on our “A game” and recorded a half hour episode that should never be heard. I am looking at just uploading it to the Patreon, consider it a blooper reel or just an example of how not to record a podcast.

We might be changing a lot and adjusting the Patreon as we go. For now it was set up using what Patreon suggested.

We have a lot more planned to come, and I am really looking forward to 2022 here on Wobblies & Wizards.

The blog posts covered here in this week blog review are:

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RPG Blog Reviews

I’ve been slacking, have not been getting many posts up here lately, but I’m making plans to change that. I write a lot, but most of what I write sits on hard drives never to be touched. I also have put out more Wobblies & Wizards content here on the podcast than I ever did on the blog. If you have not been listening to the podcast, check it out. I have found that the podcast has gotten way more folks listening than this blog ever has. I’ve been happy seeing the steady growth there and we have had some great opportunities to talk to a lot of really cool game creators.

I am starting to reconsider what this blog is used for and what I want to do with the site here now that our central focus has shifted to doing a regular podcast. I have a few ideas of things I want to explore here on the blog. We have just started doing a weekly blog review episode on the podcast so we have been looking a lot at blogs from around the gaming community more. There is a ton of really cool stuff people are putting out.

With all the regular content coming out on the podcast getting more and more attention I have asked what we will be using the old blog here for.

I don’t want to make big promises and fail to deliver, so I’m not going to give a post of things to come, but I am planning on a few different things and we will see how those go. One of the first things I’m going to do is give a post dump here at the bottom of this post. Just some links to blogs we have reviewed so far on the Wobblies & Wizards podcast.

So, go on over to the podcast and check out the episodes and go visit the blogs we discussed. And as a disclaimer, a few we put on the lists did not make it on the show just because of time. I tried to catch them all, but some may have made it onto this list:

Click here to listen to the W&W RPG Blog Review 12/19/2021on Anchor.FM

Blighters

https://www.bastionland.com/2021/12/blighters-rough-version.html

Pantheon Worksheet

https://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2021/12/pantheon-worksheet.html

Quality reusable traps

https://lapidaryossuary.blogspot.com/2021/12/quality-reusable-traps-d6.html

The Ruffian Class

https://ashzealot.wordpress.com/2021/12/12/the-ruffian-class-bx-ose/

December tables

https://tabletopcuriositycabinet.blogspot.com/2021/12/dicember-days-1-8-d6-tables.html

Into the unknown

https://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2021/12/table-tools-booklets-and-into-unknown.html

Lots of cool posts on Prismatic Wasteland

https://www.prismaticwasteland.com/blog/apolitical-rpgs-do-not-exist

Psionics revision

https://elfmaidsandoctopi.blogspot.com/2021/12/psionics-revision-lv-six-seven.html

Fairy Cities

https://axianspice.blogspot.com/2021/12/fairy-cities-for-osr-games.html?m=0

The Wonderist Character Class

https://peakrill.blogspot.com/2021/12/the-wonderist-character-class.html

Faction Play with tables & goblin bazaar

https://www.paperspencils.com/supporting-faction-play-with-treasure-tables-ned-13-food/

Apolitical RPGs do not exist

https://www.prismaticwasteland.com/blog/apolitical-rpgs-do-not-exist

Vancian magic

https://brinehouse.blogspot.com/

 

Click Here to listen to the W&W RPG Blog Review 12/26/21 on Anchor.Fm

OSR: Unsolved Magic Problems

https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.com/2021/12/osr-unsolved-magic-problems.html

Bad Apples in Classes – Cleric(s)

https://vdonnutvalley.wordpress.com/2021/12/19/bad-apples-in-classes-clerics/

My” D&D – Classic 1981 B/X

https://dysonlogos.blog/2020/04/29/my-dd-classic-1981-b-x/

A Dungeon for B/X made on gridmapper

https://ashzealot.wordpress.com/2021/12/19/lair-of-the-putrid-warrior-gridmapper-dungeon/

Quarrel & Fable Comparative OSR

https://leyline.press/blogs/leyline-press-blog/a-comparative-exploration-of-osr-rpg-systems-quarrel-fable

OSR: 1d20 Ludicrous Taxes

https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.com/2021/12/osr-1d20-ludicrous-taxes.html

Magic item origins

https://www.greyhawkgrognard.com/2021/12/21/magic-item-origins/

OSR News Roundup for 12.20.21

https://www.thirdkingdomgames.com/post/osr-news-roundup-for-12-20-21

Simulacrum: Exploring OSR Design

 

Click Here to listen to the W&W RPG Blog Review 01/04/22 on Anchor.FM

Three types of conflict

https://tabletopcuriositycabinet.blogspot.com/2021/12/three-types-of-conflict.html

Equipment Load and Wealth

https://vdonnutvalley.wordpress.com/2021/12/26/equipment-load-and-wealth/

Happy Needfest! The Digital Darlene Greyhawk Map

https://batintheattic.blogspot.com/2021/12/happy-needfest-digital-darlene-greyhawk.html

Skrulls for Hyperborea

http://www.crossplanes.com/2021/12/marvel-monday-skrulls-for-hyperborea.html

Top D&D illustrations of golden age

http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2021/12/my-top-10-d-illustrations-of-golden-age.html

d10 Relics for Cairn

https://ialath.com/blog/d10-relics-for-cairn

D10 bulky treasures

https://themanwithahammer.blogspot.com/2021/03/d10-bulky-treasures.html

Santa & Friday the 13th

https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/12/santa-claus-and-friday-13th-christmas.html

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Posted by Logar The Barbarian, 0 comments