Thursday, April 18, 2013

In the Aftermath of S&W Appreciation Day

Wow! Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day turned out to be an absolute tidal wave of material across the entire OSR, with monsters, full-on adventures, campaign setting notes, new spells, philosophies of gaming, and all kinds of other topics. It will take days to sift through it all.

I just got an email from Michael Cote, an artist who has done lots of work in Knockspell Magazine, with the link to his Swords & Wizardry post -- I mention it because I don't think he was on Erik's list. Michael's art is spooky, somewhat Otus-y, and full of excellent. Here's his blog entry for S&W Appreciation Day, at Magical Monstrosity Press.

Also musician James Stanton was apparently in the emergency room yesterday (hope you're feeling better, James!) and didn't have a chance to do his SWAD post, so here's the link to some new spells.

Wayne Rossi blogged a lot during the Appreciation Day and hasn't stopped: his aftermath post is about diseases.

Mark Siefert has announced that he's not done yet, and will keep going until the end of the week, so stay tuned to his blog.

On a final note for now, Bill Webb tells me that all the orders received before 6PM Eastern have been packed and will go out, except for one order that seemed to have a glitch in it.

Thanks to everyone for an incredible day yesterday! I will blog a bit later about assembling various articles for inclusion in Knockspell.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Free Stuff

Johnathan Bingham is giving away free 'zines:

A quick edit: There's also a neat mini-adventure at the Iron Tavern, and another at Infinite Dragons.

Another edit: I don't know how I missed this one, I think it's because it was posted so early. There is a neat, free downloadable adventure called the Tower of the Red Angel here at ...and the Sky Full of Dust.

That's three free adventures right there!

Make it four, and I really, really recommend this one, the Forbidden City of the Black Idols (Taqat) by Nicolas Senac. This is pure, undiluted Swords & Sorcery here -- it rings like R.E. Howard.

The Poetry of Swords & Wizardry

Sheer brilliance, both of these:
Swords & Wizardry limericks (my favorites are the first two)
Swords & Wizardry Haiku

Occult Healers, Degenerate Cavemen, and More!

For the mystical place between the magic user and the cleric, Castelli & Chimere offers the Occult Healer class, for members of this little-known order of physicians. The class has a smattering of martial arts, uses a spellbook, has healing skills, and also has a very distinct vibe to it that works quite well, I think.

Also, a shout-out to one of the game's longtime supporters and an awesome artist, Bliss Infinite has what might possibly be my favorite banner illustration of all time. His post for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day is a collection of links to a lot of different resources. You scroll down, and scroll down, and keep scrolling ... awesome stuff - races, character sheets, books of spells ... Highly recommended!

Need an adventure with vikings and degenerate cavemen? That's almost a rhetorical question: everyone needs an adventure with vikings and degenerate cavemen! Take a look at the Caverns of the Skraelings by Dave Baymiller.

And to keep track of these characters, here's an absolutely incredibly super-cool character sheet from Fear no Darkness. I kid you not, take a look at this.

Entire Mini-Adventure

Hereticwerks has written up an entire adventure with an excellent map, rumors, encounter table, and ring-tailed kobolds. Ring-tailed kobolds? You instantly have my attention, Hereticwerks, even if you choose to be coy and give me no further details about these obviously pernicious creatures. How do they interact with the red-snouted kobolds? This is like the magic of Judges Guild, where a brief sentence can explode into a panoply of ideas in the space of a mere moment.

Back to the campaign idea that seems to be percolating in the collective imagination of the SWAD Legion:
In the world of Puritans vs. the Old Ones, we can hand another weapon to both sides. Cameron DuBeers offers up an entire PSIONICS system. Overall, I think this looks bad for the pilgrims in their isolated villages.

A word about Cameron: the guy is official pure-mithral OD&D. He knows the OD&D books inside out, he has contributed to Swords & Wizardry, Delving Deeper, and is now writing material for straight-up OD&D, I think. And he's a good guy; I've met him in person at -- where else? -- the Hobbit Cafe in Houston. Anything he says is worth listening to.

Entire S&W Campaign Setting

Check this out. If weirder fantasy is your bag, School Master (who are you?!) has provided an entire set of campaign notes, including links to all kinds of game and Lovecraft resources, for a campaign in the Lovecraftian Campaign-world of Mu. This is a must-see.

If you're up against an impossibly non-Euclidian wall with tentacles on all sides, you might just have an equalizer. Go Solomon Kane on their ass and haul out the black powder pistol for some Thirty-Years-War-era tentacle-blasting. Dak Ultimak provides a full set of rules for firearms (mainly modern ones, but including black powder pistols). War Hound and the World's Pain and Solomon Kane in Swords & Wizardry. For when shit gets real. I love the idea of Puritans against the Old Ones. There's a whole campaign world in that one idea.

Reverend Dak has a picture in his post that really says it all:

A Couple More Signposts

Free download of the Core Rules is HERE. (direct download link)
 Double-Barreled post from Wayne Rossi at his blog: Semper Initiativus Unum. First there's his view on what Swords & Wizardry is, and why he changed his mind to like that approach. He has definitely hit on an interesting approach by viewing S&W as a "distillation" rather than a "clone."  I still think "clone" is the right term, but it's definitely a point of discussion in the community about how closely Swords & Wizardry emulates the original rules, whether close emulation is even possible with the original Dungeons & Dragons books, and whether close emulation is desirable (which, for my part, I think it is).

Wayne's other post is a new monster. Grug Beetles are an oily vermin to add to the dungeon....

Another blogger providing gaming material is the formidable Rob Conley, author of Majestic Wilderlands (yes, that's the Judges Guild Wilderlands, and Rob wrote it with a license from them). Majestic Wilderlands is specifically written for Swords & Wizardry, and Rob is also the author of Blackmarsh, which is a system-neutral and FREE mini-campaign for hex crawling. Today, Rob has put up Bodenburg Castle, and it's worth taking a look at! The link to the Wilderlands, above, points to a whole slew of materials for Swords & Wizardry (or system-neutral with S&W in mind).

Since I mentioned Rob's publishing site, I should also do the obligatory mention of the official Swords & Wizardry locations: My own storefront for S&W Core Rules, Frog God Games, and John Reyst's SRD site.

Three Signposts

I'm nowhere near the finish of reading the over-a-hundred blog postings for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, but since many people will likely be checking in here for updates, I thought I'd provide a couple of signposts to some absolutely astounding posts that I have already seen in my journey through the day. Note: now that I have finished writing, the number of signposts is officially three.

The so-called "Snippet" over at Battleaxes & Beasties is essentially an entire adventure, including an incredible map and some great sketches that are on the parchment (the text of the parchment is a guide through the adventure). This is a long post, and very worthwhile read for those who like to see an adventure unfolded for the reader instead of presented as an outline for running it.

Two fantasy races, the canein and the faun, at Basic Fantasy. These rock, particularly because they have great illustrations. The thrust of both posts at Basic Fantasy is that Swords & Wizardry and Basic Fantasy are essentially 100% compatible with each other, both being versions of Classic D&D. I think it's worth emphasizing that point today, because many, many of the blogs involved in Swords & Wizardry Appreciation day aren't about Swords & Wizardry day in, day out, they are about modern old-style gaming in general, or even about other old-school rulesets. Which means that having 130+ blogs participating in one day, all linked to each other, multiplies the effect of ALL the old school games together. The leverage of compatibility is tremendous. Indeed, I'm probably going to blog on this in greater depth at some point -- feel free to weigh in on compatibility as a topic, or mention it at the Google+ site.

Finally, for this post at least, Erik Jensen of Wampus Country used today to provide an index of several TABLES! Awesome stuff like a multi-column d100 table for generating swords, which is the specific one for today. There are many more -- this post is a power nexus for neat table resources. Erik, you're always welcome at the Swords & Wizardry Google site -- don't be a stranger -- this is an official invitation and stuff!

Lost Blogs

As far as I can tell, I've already found a couple of Swords & Wizardry blogs that aren't on Erik's list, and they're pretty major contributions since one post contains an entire variant system for use with bad guys, and the other is an article-length analysis of class balance.

To get the first draft of a free, goblinoid-based variant of Swords & Wizardry, click over to Rob Griffin's blog Blood & Battle, and check it out: Using these variant rules for Swords & Wizardry, you can create characters who are orcs, bugbears, goblins, gnolls, and half-orcs. Classes available are Barbarian, Shaman, Witch Doctor, Sneak, and Warrior.

For an in-depth analysis of class balance (2200 words!) in S&W by Daniel Stack, check out 19th Level.

I found Rob's and Daniel's posts via the Swords & Wizardry Google+ community, which is -- not unexpectedly -- abuzz with activity today. The Swords & Wizardry Google+ Community is Here.

Many more posts to come, I suspect!

S&W Day: The Warmup

Since today is Swords & Wizardry Day, I'm planning on being at the computer for most of the day. I'm extremely grateful to Chris Helton (of Dorkland!) and Erik Tenkar for setting the day up, and you probably already know that several bloggers are listing the secret coupon codes for 25% off Swords & Wizardry stuff. That sale is at Frog God Games, and also (if all you need is digital media) at the Swords & Wizardry SRD site, which is run by John Reyst.

More posts to come!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Saturday, I made my way through a horrendous traffic jam in the middle of Houston to attend MagCon 5, an event organized by David Donohoo to benefit his school district's "at-risk student" program. Which is an awesome cause.

I really should have done some publicity-gathering for the con ahead of time, but I ended up so busy with Razor Coast and other projects that talking up MagCon never quite hit the top of the agenda.

I had an EXCELLENT time; there were only 4 players in my game (normally 12-14), which changes the pace considerably. I don't mean to suggest that the con was hurting for players; there were tables and tables of wargames, boardgames, and other RPG's. The turnout was much smaller than North Texas, but much larger than I would have expected. I recommend this convention.

By the way, it was a TPK. The only survivor was the hired halfling torchbearer, Sam, the only person who knows where to find the suspended-in-time remains of his erstwhile employers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Knockspell Magazine: the Re-beginning

Ever since Calithena decided to close Fight On!, I've had a lot of supportive people contact me about restarting Knockspell Magazine. I outlined my difficulties with that idea in an earlier post, but I have since been convinced not only that the magazine fills a valuable niche, but that producing it isn't something that will utterly swamp me.

One of the key ideas that will help this work is that several of the bloggers who are writing material for the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation day will allow Knockspell to publish their work in printed/pdf form. To that end, I will be asking all of you who are participating to send me a letter (the form of it later in the post) containing your approved form of the manuscript and the permission to use it.

Next: I'm NOT going to do this issue as a Kickstarter. Unlike many people, I don't have a problem with the idea of a Kickstarter being used to fund an as-yet-unwritten publication if that approach is needed for some reason, but for myself I don't do that simply because of having bipolar disorder. There's always an outside chance that I could be temporarily down for the count at a crucial moment, so I don't take pre-orders unless I have something fully written.

The present plan is to put it up on lulu, rpgnow/dtrpg, and as well.

So, for anyone who would like to have material included in Knockspell -- with the understanding that it might not be included, and that I might come back with editorial suggestions -- please email me (mythmere at yahoo DOT com) the following:
1) A copy of the manuscript as you would like it to appear (in case you use a different "voice" on your blog than your actual writing style)
2) The statement that "I am granting Matt Finch and Knockspell Magazine the non-exclusive but perpetual right to publish the work in any medium." That way, I can, down the road, publish something like, for example, a Knockspell Compendium for epub (or for some as-yet-uninvented file type) rather than just issue #7 as a print/pdf document. You as the author retain the copyright, and you can re-publish elsewhere if desired. Michael Curtis's Dungeon Alphabet was first published in Knockspell, for example.
3) A statement that "the work is my original work and does not violate anyone's copyright."
4) If the work contains Open Game Content, please let me know this, and the source, so that I can include the proper legal language in Section 15 of the OGL
5) A statement that "I agree to let Knockspell release my work as Open Game Content." If you wish to keep some of the content as your property (generally this would be a proper name of something) rather than Open Game Content, you must let me know so that I can exclude it.

I hope to hear from people! I will have more updates next week.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Hideous Gump of JD Jarvis

On his blog, J.D. mentioned that his monsters are on the Swords & Wizardry SRD site. Since there is nothing cooler than seeing your monsters illustrated, here is J.D.'s gump, along with the illustration from Monstrosities.

Hit Dice: 4
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Attacks: 1 weapon (1d6+2)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Gaze attack paralyzes (+2 save)
Move: 9
Alignment: Chaos
Number Encountered: 1d4
Challenge Level/XP: 5/240
Gumps are large and blubbery humanoids with an overly broad jagged toothed grin and a pair of small, deep-set eyes in an otherwise featureless face. Gumps are motivated by hunger and the deep down joy they feel when murdering a helpless foe. Anyone meeting the gaze of a gump must save vs. paralysis at +2 or be held in place for 2-5 rounds (fighting without looking incurs a -4 penalty to-hit). It is safe to view a gump’s reflection in a mirror or other reflective surface. The gump is able to squint in an odd manner which keeps it from paralyzing an ally.
— Author: JD Jarvis

Gump: HD 4; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6+2); Move 9; Save 13; AL C; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Gaze attack paralyzes (+2 save).

I think the artist is Stan Morrison

(Edited to link Monstrosities and Stan Morrison)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tenkar's Robust Review

Granted, I'm sort of duplicating this just so that I can point people toward it, but good reviews are one of the things that makes hobby publishing really worth the effort that goes into it. The full review is over at Tenkar's Tavern, and most of my readers will already have seen it. Nevertheless, out of pride, here is the awesome part:
Believe me when I say I have them all in dead tree format. I have OSRIC in full size, trade paperback and the Player's Guide.  I have LL and the AEC (and somewhere OEC, but I can't find it at the moment). Obviously I have Basic Fantasy RPG. Actually, I have the whole available line in print. Way too much Castles & Crusades. We all know my love for the DCC RPG. I even have Dark Dungeons in print, the Delving Deeper boxed set, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (thank you Kickstarter) (edit) BOTH editions of LotFP's Weird Fantasy and will soon have some dead tree copies of the Greyhawk Grognards Adventures Dark & Deep shipping shortly.

I am so deep in the OSR when I come up for breath it's for the OSR's cousin, Tunnels & Trolls.

So, out of all that, why Swords & Wizardry? Why, when I have been running a AD&D 1e / OSRIC campaign in Rappan Athuk am I using Swords & Wizardry and it's variant, Crypts & Things, for the second campaign?

Because the shit works.

It's easy for lapsed gamers to pick up and feel like they haven't lost a step. I can house rule it and it doesn't break. It plays so close to the AD&D of my youth and college years (S&W Complete especially) that it continually surprises me. Just much less rules hopping than I remember.

I grab and pick and steal from just about all OSR and Original resources. They seem to fit into S&W with little fuss. It may be the same with LL and the rest, but for me the ease of use fit's my expectations with S&W.

Even the single saving throw. That took me longer to adjust to, but even that seems like a natural to me now. Don't ask me why, it just does. Maybe it's the simplicity of it. At 45, simplicity and flexibility while remaining true to the feel of the original is an OSR hat trick for me ;)

Did I mention we now have 112 blogs signed up for the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day?

Friday, April 5, 2013

And the Winners Are...

Rolling the d10 ...
Dak Ultimak

Each of you needs to tell me if you want issue #1 or #2 (based on your own collection, I might suggest). I will send you the link to download it.

Then, when S&W Appreciation Day rolls around, you can give away one copy of the pdf to one of your loyal (or disloyal, if you so choose) followers. Dak, I need your email addy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Free Stuff on Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day

I've already completely lost track of all the stuff being given away for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, but Erik Tenkar is valiantly trying to maintain order in his capacity as Centurion rather than Decurion of the overall madness that he has unleashed.

For my part, I will give away 2 free pdf copies of Knockspell Magazine#1 or #2, since I can email them to people using yousendit.

I'll give those away to bloggers, so they can re-gift them to a single blog reader in whatever way they see fit. Um ... so, if you have a blog that's participating, comment below, and out of the first 10 respondents I will roll a d10 (twice) to see who gets the pdfs.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Knockspell Magazine

Over the last month or so, although it's been building ever since Calithena announced that FightOn! would be closing shop, I've had lots and lots and lots of people asking me to get moving on another issue of Knockspell. All that time, I've basically given people answers that are patently attempts to stall the decision. Knockspell is a really huge investment of time on my part, and it's only worth doing (a) well, and (b) with something that provides added value over the free or at-cost materials that currently exist. In case you're not familiar with Knockspell, I won't list all the links to the issues, but you can scroll through my online store at lulu to find them if you want.

Let's review for a moment what is already out there, and how I see it in terms of what it delivers:
1) Footprints. The editorial team on FP has started rolling again after a long hiatus. Footprints is high quality and is focused primarily on the First Edition approach. It's downloadable free. As far as I know, you can't get it print-on-demand, and I think that the pdfs are at a web-level rather than a print-level of detail. In general, I think Knockspell reached a slightly higher quality level than (most of the) Footprints issues, but only just. However, what Knockspell delivered was that it was more OD&D in feel and content than Footprints, which is very AD&D in feel and content.

2) Zines. There are several mail-at-cost (or pretty much at cost) zines out there. True zines, not just digital, and others that are digital-only. Production values are not slick, but they rock it with the DIY feel. Which I tend to prefer, myself. Knockspell always turned out a bit slicker in feel than I meant it to. I'd like to make a list of the 'zines, by the way. There is The ManorZogorion, Delve!, and I know of Oubliette as well, off the top of my head. What are the others? Crawl! is one I forgot. I'll also add Open Gaming Monthly to the list as soon as I know where to link to.

3) Green Devil Face. Professionally produced with deliberately DIY feel by James Raggi of LotFP. This is really sort of where I would prefer to be with Knockspell, although I like the letter-size page more than a digest-sized page. I don't know when the last one of these was issued, but it's apparently at #5. I only own #1 and #2.

4) Gygax Magazine. This one is branching way out into the mainstream (with Pathfinder, etc.) and covering non-fantasy games as well, so it intersects only slightly with what Knockspell does. KS is basically the niche of old-school, fantasy-only writing, which makes it harder to fill a magazine with content, but more on point for the readers who want exactly that mix. The problem with Gygax Magazine is that it can suck the wind out of the availability of good writing, and damage the perception of the more DIY periodicals. Most likely, people will send their manuscripts to GM first, and others only after rejection (or delay in review). This will cut the availability of manuscripts, it will cull out the best, and it will create the perception that what's left is the dregs. Perceptions, even when they are untrue, are very important.

So that really leaves me with the question of whether Knockspell would deliver something that's unique enough to be worth the tremendous effort required for it. With Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day coming, if I decide to re-open Knockspell, I can ask bloggers for permission to use their material, and that would go a long way for the magazine's beginning.

What is really needed, though, is a steady supply of authors and a steady supply of color art for the covers. That's the long term. So ... although I'm definitely tending towards it, and definitely hearing the requests, I want another few days before I come up with a true plan for this, or else abandon it (or continue to stall).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Google Outhanging

I'd like to thank all of the Swords & Wizardry fans who came into the hangout to chat today and yesterday -- I had a great time, and assembled lots of new entries on the "to-do" list. It's really cool being able to put faces to the names of people I've corresponded with for years, like John Bingham.