Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What About that Old-School Art Book?

Back in March I announced a plan to publish a sketchbook that featured art inspired by old-school 1970's DnD with fully statted characters, creatures, and adventure locales. What ever happened to that book?

On my schedule I was aiming to have it ready in time for Gen Con 50, which I'll be leaving for tomorrow, and the book is still sitting in very rough outline shape. So, blew that deadline!

The only thing holding me back is finishing the writing and the stats. But that's the hard part for any book, right?  Yeah and so is making all the art, and I have a lot of it. How to solve this? It occurred to me this would be a great project to outsource to the community. The last time I was involved in a collaborative project like that was Petty Gods which I think came out fantastic. However that thing took years and years and passed through different hands. This is nothing like that, nor nearly that ambitious. It is a 32-64 page book, a bit like the fanzines Knock spell and the like.

Would there be any interest or support for a project like that? And how best to manage it?

Well, Google Docs is terrific for writers to collaborate on the same document. Setting it up would require a lot of trust that no one goes in and deletes or wrecks the book. Then there is quality control and editing to deal with.

I've got the start of a document here:


Alternately writers could claim a piece on a spreadsheet and write it in their own preferred word processor and submit that. Like this:


This is an experiment. If there isn't any interest I'll continue plugging away at it bit by bit and eventually finish it.

Here is the folder full of art, not all of it will be used, collaborators would get a higher rez version of the piece they choose to do, and I'll probably be making some more drawings too:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Half A Million Page Views

This past month this blog passed a huge milestone. According to my stats Page views all time history: 517,568
That's a whole lotta old-school viewing. Some of that is likely bots, and during last year's election there was an unusual amount of traffic from Russia. Seriously. But still, most of that is real traffic.
For those who visit this blog, comment, and share it I want to give a huge thank you. You're awesome! And you help inspire the OSR style books and to keep posting things of interest to the OSR community.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

3-volume Rules Cyclopedia

Dungeons & Dragons 3-volume Rules Cyclopedia. Japan. Mediaworks, TSR Inc.

In 1991 TSR published in Japan a chunky 3-volume Rules Cyclopedia set. Looking at these photos it makes me a little jealous that they weren't published in English too.

Look at how lavishly illustrated, many in full color no less, these books are a real treasure.

For just $425 on this eBay auction you can get your very own set!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Sword of Goujian

A new relic for your Raiders! game.

The Sword of Goujian
In a tomb among more than 50 other tombs in Hubei, China lies a near air-tight wooden box held in a tight grip by a skeleton. Inside the box is a perfectly preserved 2500 year old bronze sword that is still sharp enough to slice a stack of over 50 papers at once.

Named after a book, Spring and Autumn Annals attributed to Confucius, the Spring and Autumn period is one of the most turbulent periods in the history of Ancient China. A high number of conflicts between powerful nobles, who fought for supremacy during this period, led to the production of some of the finest bronze high-quality weapons and the Sword of Goujian appears to be among the most outstanding examples.

Measuring 22 inches in length, with a 1.8 inches wide blade and 3.3 inches long handle, the sword is beautifully decorated with turquoise crystals. Eight characters in ancient Chinese script are engraved on the blade near the hilt and translate to: “The Sword belongs to the Goujian, the King of Yue State.”

Possible supernatural powers
If you want to add a touch of magic, or the supernatural, to your game here are some ideas.

The Sword of Goujian gently vibrates in the presence of malevolent spirits. The blade is sharp enough to cut an ethereal creature such as a ghost. It retains its edge regardless of what it strikes, and can cut or even slice such hardened materials as stone or metal. It is +2 and does 3d12 points of damage on a successful hit.

More info here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Dalluhn Manuscript and CONTAX?

Jon Peterson doesn't post often, but when he does it is always very interesting, thorough, and well researched. He found another clue in the ongoing Dalluhn Manuscript mystery that points to when and who (even where) it may be from. I won't steal his thunder, I'll just point you to his blog post about it:


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Erik of Tenkar's Tavern has posted a great interview of Tim Kask he found. The video was posted back in October last year on the Dorks of Yore channel, but I somehow missed it until Erik pointed it out.

Tim Kask talks about the early early days of TSR with lots of anecdotes (and some pie) about those days long ago when this weird little game called Dungeons & Dragons just came out which nobody really quite understood yet. It's nearly two hours long, only meandering occasionally, and a great ride through TSR history.

Friday, July 21, 2017

XMas in July sale 2017

It is DriveThruRPG's annual big sale. I've included all the Night Owl Workshop products in the sale, so that's 25% off everything.

I'm picking up several things for myself including White Box Gothic, and Dyson's Delves.

Head on over: http://drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/6385/Night-Owl-Workshop

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A firefighter, a soldier in full gear, and a medieval armored fighter

"A firefighter and a soldier in full gear bear the same load as a medieval armoured fighter. Which one will perform best on the run?"

This video displayed in the exhibition "Armatus Corpus" at the Military Museum, Castle of Morges, Switzerland is a pretty fascinating comparison. The clip shows how well designed medieval armor really was.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Raiders of the Lost Artifacts Review

Review of Raiders of the Lost Artifacts on Reviews from R'yleh
what you have is a really fun game supported by lots of useful information and background material. In fact, it would be useful no matter the rules you used as it could be easily adapted were you so inclined, though it would be interesting to see a post-‘Original Edition Compatible’ version of the game. Overall, the impressive background detail and the obvious love for the subgenre is what shines through in Raiders of the Lost Artifacts: Original Edition Rules for Fantastic Archaeological Adventures and makes you want to run games of Pulp action and archaeological adventure.
Overall a positive review. Interestingly one of the criticisms in the review is what has been considered a strength by most players, and that is the simple straightforward character creation system that doesn't get bogged down in much detail. This is an intentional design goal of all these ODD (original design do-over) games. I think the background system addresses some of the issues about character diversity that are brought up, but YMMV.

Link to the review here: http://rlyehreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/pulp-dungeon-pillaging.html

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cavaliers & Roundheads - TSR's first book

A common misconception is that Chainmail was TSR's first book and out of that came OD&D. The history is much more convoluted and interesting than that.

Cavaliers & Roundheads was TSR's first publication, and the sales were intended to help fund publishing OD&D. In a cruel twist of fate things went awry and the history of TSR became a convoluted mess after that. But that is another story.

OD&D was already well into development when Cavaliers & Roundheads was published. So this game had little impact on OD&D except in a few cosmetic ways. The format of the book: saddle-stitched digest sized. A cover that established the basic layout printed monochrome on textured paper. Plain san serif font body text, clean simple layout. Crude amateurish art.

Cavaliers & Roundheads is like a cliff's notes version of Chainmail. It is succinct, to the point, has no fluff except a couple of pages of art describing uniforms. And it is musketeer-like focused on its topic: the English Civil War of 1642. No dragons, no uber powered Landsknechte, just English, Scottish, and Irish troops battling for the political fate of the Kingdom of England. Even if you're not a history buff you've no doubt heard the famous name Oliver Cromwell, this war is why.


Skimming through it the system appears very similar if not identical to Chainmail. Considering it has the same authors that isn't surprising. I just got this copy and am still reading through it, I hope to get a few play tests in to get a feel for how it works. I've started a post over at ODD74 if you want to follow along as I read and comment on it.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Beastie of the Week: Gnomblin

Last week the family went to DisneyWorld, while we had a blast we all came back with the plague. So between coughing fits and sleeping from taking too much NyQuil I have managed to draw a few new beasties. I've been fiddling with the description for this gnomblin and while I have lots of ideas, I've got nothing really coherent yet.

In order to get a good post in this week I'm posting this one in very rough form with an outline that kind of shows the process of how I think about generating the stats and abilities for a new beastie.

Big Concept: Gnome + Goblin
Gnomes are kind-hearted, family oriented illusionists, goblins are chaotic little murder machines who hate the light. Common theme: both dwell in the underground and are diminutive in size.

HD 1/2 to 2
AC 13 to 16
 Atk 1 weapon (1d6)
Move 9
Save 18 to 13
CL/XP B/10
Special: -1 to hit in sunlight.

Illusion spells levels 1-3 (define spell list).

A gnomblin has magical ability equivalent to double its hit dice. Gnomblins save vs. magic or wands with a +4 bonus. It is theoretically possible for individuals of even greater power to exist. The Game Master can roll spells randomly or determine appropriate choices from the Magic-User spell list.

I've been developing this idea of goblins being fecund; willing to breed with anything and everything. Because of their unique DNA they are able to create offspring, mostly sterile, with almost any humanoid. This opens up no end of options for interesting little goblin+ hybrids. I've been having a lot of fun drawing these little beasties, and hope you are enjoying them too, I have several more in the pipeline. Also the Gnome/Goblin war of 576 which I have a LOT more to say about in the future.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Freebooters Review on Save or Die!

The Save or Die podcast reviewed our Age of Pirates old-school roleplaying game Freebooters! And they really gush about it, I'm almost embarrassed, but glad they love it so much. One of the things they note is how painstakingly researched the setting is and how historically accurate it is. This is not a fantasy game! Yes, it does include an optional character class that has magic, but it is respectful of the customs and beliefs of the region during the period and it is purely optional. Everything else about the game is rooted in realism and historical accuracy.


Interestingly one of the members on the podcast has his own YouTube channel, Ol' Man Grognard, where he has reviewed several Night Owl Workshop books. His reviews are worth watching for anyone who enjoys OSR games.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Comprehensive List of Retro-Clones?

Are you like me and never tire of getting, reading, and sometimes even playing Retro-Clones? Since more are published nearly every week, and there are already so many out there I was curious if anyone put together a comprehensive list.

The problem, obviously, is in the definition of Retro-Clone. Are they all remakes of various versions of early D&D and its sources? Or are they of any RPG from the early 80's and before? Or does the goal post keep moving so that it is any RPG more than 20 years old? (actually, I don't think that is a terrible definition, then it is much like some definitions used for classic cars).

At this point the vast majority of them are of OD&D, Basic D&D, and 1st Edition D&D, with the occasional Chainmail and speculative "what would Gygax have done?" edition.

Fortunately Taxidermic Owlbear has put together a pretty good page of them.

And of course there is this old thread on the RPGSite which is an excellent compilation.

Here are a couple more good compilations:




Thursday, June 8, 2017

Poster: HawkMoor Underworld Cutaway Map

Poster of HawkMoor cutaway map is now available at DriveThruRPG.

I've made a variety of cutaway maps over the years and have occasionally posted some of them here, but this one of the HawkMoor Underworld has been by far the most popular. I've seen it reblogged, pinned on Pinterest, tweeted, and spread around the net in unexpected places. It was one of those drawings where I spilled a bunch of ideas in my head down onto paper one day. You never know which drawings are going to resonate with people, and this one has. So I made it available as a high resolution download, or as a 12"x18" poster map you can put up in your gaming area.

I received my proof copy today and it looks just like I designed it. The paper stock is glossy, the blacks are dark and rich, the touches of color came out as intended. And it comes in a bubble wrapped envelope with card stock to help protect it from damage during transit.


HawkMoor is a fantasy world I've been developing for sometime, really since the beginning of this blog, and piece by piece it has been coming together. If you've followed my Beasties of the Week posts you may have noticed little mentions here and there of this world. I have a lot more things set in this world to share on this blog over the coming weeks and months.

Here is the sell text which I think came out rather evocative (I say patting myself on the back):

Hawkmoor Underworld Cutaway Map

Many dwarven cartographers perished to bring you this underworld cutaway map of the mysterious Lost Realm of Hawkmoor. Revealed for the first time are the Halls of Hammerguard deep under Dragonbluff. See how the Sewer Pits where the wererats lurk are connected to the Tombs of the Ancient Kings under Castle Werthorp.

Far under Hawkmoor are pockets of civilizations such as the Twilight Citadel where underdwellers have built a great city. Deeper still is the city of the dark elves where few dare to venture into unless allied to those sinister and zenophobic beings.

It is even rumored that a submerged city is home to one of the last remaining clans of shahada, the ancient race that spawned the sahuagin, the tritons, and the merpeople.

This large wall map is sure to inspire many adventure ideas and stir your imagination!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Beastie of the Week: Hoblin

This week is a special two for one. Its been a bit busy around here lately and I've missed posting any beasties in the past couple of weeks. This is a critter I've developed for the fantasy world of HawkMoor (more on that later!). It comes in 2 flavors: naughty and nice. First the less mean one, and then a really rotten little beast:
HD 4
AC 18
Atk ML 1d6, RNG 1d4
Save 13
Move 12
CL/XP 6/400
Special: night vision
When a goblin couples with a halfling a sterile hybrid called a hoblin can be the result. These creatures tend to take some of the more noble aspects from their halfling parentage, but do gain sensitivity to light and the ability to see in the dark.
They also tend to be more feisty and courageous in battle than either of their heritages.
Unfortunately due to their disturbing and unattractive appearance they are often spurned by the halfling community. Goblin clans will also rarely take them in. Thus they often spend their lives on the outskirts of civilization, trying to survive, and hoping someday to find a community that will let them in.

Hoblin, Cruel
HD 4+2
AC 18
Atk ML 1d6, RNG 1d4
Save 12
Move 14
CL/XP 6/500
Special: night vision, stealth
When a goblin breeds with a halfling a sterile hybrid called a hoblin can be the result. 1 in 10 of those will be born with a cruel demeanor. These vicious little monstrosities are cold, heartless, ruthless killers. They cannot adapt to society or a normal lifestyle and will live on the fringes. Stealing and murdering to survive.
Unfortunately for the majority of hoblins this reputation seems to have spread to all of them, regardless of how kind hearted, generous, or honorable the hoblin is.
Cruel hoblins are most often hermits, ambushing prey they believe to be susceptible. In some circumstances they will even eat halfling flesh.
They are extremely stealthy, only able to be detected on a 1 in 6, or even 1 in 8 in nighttime in the wilderness.
They collect any shiny little bits they can find and will have a nest lined with rags, matted hair, and scraps of things they've found or stolen. And while they may seem somewhat animal like they are actually deviously clever and will concoct vicious means to lure in prey.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Free Character Sheets! Guardians, Freebooters, and Raiders!

So I'm wrapping up 3 more free character sheets. I found myself fiddling with the Guardians sheet a lot, there are so many ways that the Gifts, Powers, Special Abilities, Limits, Issues, and Gadgets can be layed out on the sheet. Since this is a "Basic Character Sheet" series inspired by the very simple character sheet in the classic Moldvay Red Box D&D set I decided to leave it a bit more generic. If I get feedback on the sheets I can modify them or make more detailed forms. Perhaps even fillable PDF's in the future.

Here are links to the PDF's:




Colonial Troopers Free Character Sheets!

In preparation for Kublacon I made several character sheets. For this one I went back and forth with Steve Perrin the author of Colonial Troopers to get this character sheet right. It is a balance between simplicity and all the information you need to play.

Here is a link to the free PDF:

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Miniatures for Colonial Troopers? And a Free Battle Mat!

 It's been a while since I talked about the little sci-fi game Colonial Troopers. A surprisingly consistent seller despite the lack of promotion. I have not forgotten this game! I'm working on a character sheet for it right now as well as an expansion book that fleshes out space combat and provides lots of encounter locales and adventure hooks. More on that later.
Right now Colonial Troopers is all about ground combat in powered armor against vicious aliens to protect the colonies of the great Terran Empire that are under constant siege from hostile forces. And for that it might be handy to have some miniatures for those situations you need to visualize the specific placement of the Troopers and their foes. These toys popped up in my Amazon recommended list and is a near perfect collection of figures for the game.
It comes with 35 figures. 15 Marines and 20 Aliens. Each of them come in 5 styles.

The scale isn't ideal compared to your typical RPG miniatures, they are somewhat large. I don't know the exact scale. But for the price they work great as a visualizing tool for ground combat.
Here is the link (my sales associate link so I might get half a penny if you buy them here):http://amzn.to/2qU6023

Here is a free Battle Mat I used for these photos

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan shares a special place in my memory along side The Isle of Dread as one of the first adventure modules I played.

This ass kicking illustration by Jason Thompson of a group of adventures making their way through the Hidden Shrine is a real treat. It was recently featured in the Dragon+.

I haven't read Dragon magazine since it went all digital. I think I stopped reading during the 3.5 era sometime before the print edition went extinct, but if this is an example of the kind of content it contains I might consider subscribing again.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Beastie of the Week: Shahada

In celebration of Mermay (an event many artists participate in May where they post drawings of Mermaids everyday on Instagram and other social media) here is an aquatic race of sea people I created long ago for my high school D&D game called the Shahada. I always envisioned them as related to the sahuagin and merpeople as elves (of Middle-Earth) were to dwarves and men. They have an ancient past and built fabulous cities under the depths long before mankind walked the earth. Eventually their society fell into decadence and decay, now they are a shell of their former great civilization. But, they are still formidable foes and dream of one day returning to their time of glory.

A drawing from my high school D&D campaign (recently colored in Photoshop).

HD 4+1
AC 5[14]
Atk 1 weapon (1d8), claws (1d6)
Move 1 (Swim 18)
Save 14
CL/XP 5/170
Special: Magic resistance 80%, breathe water, sonar, sea-song. Females have spells (see below)

Shahada are an elder race of sea people; predecessors of the triton and the merfolk and cousins to ancient kuo-toa and sahuagin. They appear to be an amalgamation of human and fish with shark-like teeth. They have large radial fins from the top of their head to the end of their tail reminiscent of a sailfish. The legs and feet end in large flippers. They have long curved claws on their hands and membranes that stretch from their elbow to their hip that helps them swim swiftly and navigate in turbulent water. The males are almost faceless while the females have colorful plumage and attractive but cruel visages.

They live in salt water, sometimes at considerable depths, and rarely come to the surface world except on rare occasions to plunder and capture slaves.  These beings are thoroughly chaotic/evil.  Their society is highly organized, and their lairs are often guarded by sharks or other fearsome sea monsters.  Some shahada may have entangling nets used to ensnare opponents.

Shahada are similar to mermen and tritons, but for their more fishlike and crueler appearance.  They are a much more magical race entirely and are very resistant to magic (80%).

They have sonar which allows them to see regardless of how dark it is, and a sea-song that summons giant sea creatures within a mile radius to their aid (usually arriving in 2-8 rounds) and can cause panic in normal sea animals.  The females are the leaders and have spell casting powers. Treat females as 5th level magic-users (Spells: 4 x level 1, 2 x level 2, 1 x level 3).

Common spells:
Level 1
Charm Person
Magic Missile
Protection from Good

Level 2
Darkness, 15 ft Radius
Detect Good
Mirror Image
Phantasmal Force

Level 3
Dispel Magic
Hold Person
Lightning Bolt
Monster Summoning I
Protection from Good, 10 ft Radius
Protection from Normal Missiles

Another high school drawing, just colored in Photoshop.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Warriors of the Red Planet Character Sheet

Kublacon is coming up Memorial day, that's next weekend May 26. I've been working on some character sheets for the various OSR games to give out to anyone who purchases games from me at the con.

This version is a modified one of an old Swords & Wizardry sheet I made long ago when I first started this blog. I'll be posting more to come.

Here is a link to the high res PDF version.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Beastie of the Week: Vulture Harpy

I managed to draw a Beastie of the week just before the weekend, and a first draft of stats which I think could work very well as a slightly amped up version of the regular harpy.


HD 4
AC 6[13]
Atk 2 talons (1d4) and weapon (1d6)
Move 6 (Fly 18)
Save 13
CL/XP 5/120
Special: Terror, Flight, siren-song

The vulture harpy is a much fiercer, tougher cousin to the common harpy. From a distance they appear very similar, but up close their fearsome countenance and unholy gaze is unmistakable. They let out a blood curdling screech as they attack their prey. This screech causes terror, make a saving throw or be at -1 to all attack and save rolls for 2d8 rounds.

Vulture harpies have the upper torso of a human female, but their face, lower body, and wings have the sickening appearance of a vulture.  Like the common harpy their song is a charm that draws its victims to the harpy (saving throw applies), and the harpy’s touch casts the equivalent of a charm person spell (again, saving throw applies).

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Is HeroQuest the Greatest Board Game of all Time?

This reviewer certainly thinks so!

A cloaked figure wanders through the crowded tavern, unheeded by all. Suddenly he casts back his hood: it is the Bard! He has come to tell of the greatest thing ever to happen to a table surface: Heroquest!

Feel the excitement! Taste the fear! Heft your Broad-soad in celebration of the pinnacle of all that is, was, and could ever be in the arena of fantasy adventure games!

The best thing about HeroQuest is...everything!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Beastie of the Week: Undead Giraffe

Undead Giraffe
HD: 4
AC: 15
Atk: 2d4
Save: 12
MV: 12”
CL/XP: 4/200
Special: sadness

Seeing an undead giraffe scrounging for food it cannot even digest and enjoy causes the viewer to experience extreme sadness. Save or lose motivation to do anything for the next 2-7 hours. Failed save will result in moping about, wandering aimlessly, and an unwillingness to engage in activity other than weeping.

When a giraffe is slain as a trophy by a cowardly hunter using unnatural means such as a magic weapon or spell there is a 1 on 20 chance that the giraffe's soul will not depart. In these cases a corrupt cleric can use a raise the dead spell which will not restore the giraffe but instead creates an undead.

Can be turned by a cleric as a ghast.

An undead giraffe tries to satiate its unbearable hunger by feeding on the dry limbs of a dead tree, if there are no dead trees then it will feed on any living creature it can catch.

There is a cursed pocket dimension called Gloom where undead creatures are cursed to roam, seeking for those things that brought them happiness in life. They exist forever unsatisfied in this barren wasteland. The plains of this haunted realm has many undead giraffe wandering its savanna.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pet Peeve: Blogs With Great Names...Wasted!

Sometimes when I have what I think is a really good, or dare I say, great idea I check to see if there is a blogspot with that name just in case I need it someday...

So often I'll find blogspots with freaking awesome names that are being utterly wasted, and it really frustrates me. I wish Google would release unused blogspots after a period of time, with appropriate notices to the owners of course. Here are just a few I've recently found.

Wouldn't it be neato to have an OSR blog called old school DND? Nope! Taken

Oh, what about an OSR blog called OSR? Well screw you.

I know how about a Star Wars fan blog called Docking Bay 94, after the famous scene in A New Hope where the Millennium Falcon is parked? Sorry!

Dungeoneer is a pretty good name, how about that? Nope you're SOL!

I wonder what the person who owns greyhawk.blogspot.com is doing with it? Oh, right NOTHING

I bet someone created an awesome Chainmail fan blog and scored http://chainmail.blogspot.com/, NOPE! Their prices may not be cheap, but their spelling certainly is.

Seriously the list goes on and on. Just test any cool name you can think of and it's almost a sure bet someone is wasting it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Dungeons of Wonderland!

I've always loved those two weird offshoot D&D adventures Gary made inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I think Wizards of the Coast could benefit from having a little more of that fun adventurous spirit in their D&D line. They are just so married to Forgotten Realms and generic fantasy adventure paths.

One of my "someday" projects is to make an Old School DND style book called Dungeons of Oz that treats the land of Oz the way Gary interpreted Wonderland. Someday...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Adventures as a Print-on-Demand Publisher in 2016

Looking back from February 2016 to February 2017 it was quite a year finding my way through publishing several books:

  • 5 Core Rulebooks: Warriors of the Red Planet, Guardians, Colonial Troopers, Raiders!, and Freebooters.
  • 2 Adventures: Power of Fear (Guardians) and Mechanized Men of Mars (WotRP).
  • 1 Supplement: Beasties.

That's 8 books in a year, some of them quite meaty, all of them with quite a bit of art. In addition to a Book of Drawings (soon to be an OSR edition!). I've learned quite a bit about Print on Demand, and realize I have so much more to learn. It's exciting times for individual creators.

Several more books are in the works; as you'd expect a Beasties 2, a couple of Core Rulebooks that aren't just genre books, but are original settings. A card game and a board game that I'm debating making PoD, or running Kickstarters to actually publish them. I can't wait to show you those...

The two primary outlets I use are Lulu and DriveThruRPG. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, and that's what I really want to talk about. To share what I've learned about each, having fun creating stuff for this hobby, as well as earning a little bit of change to spend on more RPG books and games of course. :)

I started out using Lulu many years ago to print little books I'd take to gaming and comic book conventions. Sometimes I'd do artist sketchbooks, but Warriors of the Red Planet was my first foray into making a full RPG. Al Krombach did a great job of writing this genre book, he obviously has a deep love and knowledge of everything Sword & Planet and Swords & Sorcery related. So it was a great introduction to hobby gaming publishing.

Lulu is easy to use and will take just about any file you can get into PDF format, or even a Word doc. If you don't want to buy any software you can just use Google Docs and output a PDF.

If Lulu has a fault they try too hard to make it easy, and end up with a lot of useless interface getting in the way of anyone who has even a little knowledge of desktop publishing.

DriveThruRPG (RPGNow)
Relatively new compared to Lulu, DTRPG has really taken over the hobby gaming space! It's got a great community that is very active in reviewing and sharing the books they like. It has a harder initial learning curve to publish on, but once you're comfortable with it this is the best place to sell your RPG's.

Some advantages are it is great for PDF sales. The PDF's are watermarked, so when they inevitably end up on file sharing pirate sites you can see where the copy came from.

However, getting print copies available for sale takes a long time. From uploading the file to getting printer approval, to getting a proof copy so you can confirm it can take at least a couple weeks up to a month or longer if your file gets rejected by the printer for any reason. Lulu, by comparison, is much more forgiving in the process and their online tools give you a pretty good idea how the cover and interior are going to look.

Another advantage of DTRPG is the bundles you can put together. Usually print + PDF combo which can represent up to half of your sales there.

This is most certainly a hobby. I'm not sure how you'd turn it into a full time business unless you somehow struck gold with a runaway hit. For the time and effort put into these you'd make more money as a barista at a coffee shop, but would you have as much fun? So it's not about the money, it's about the love of the games.

How does the quality of the print books compare? Looking carefully side by side there is very little difference between LULU and DTRPG. The text is sharp, rich dark, and unbroken. Paper quality is about the same. The covers do vary in color from batch to batch. However when you look at artwork that has any grayscale or fine shading to it you can start to tell that LULU has higher resolution to their printing with the exact same files. So I'd say LULU for print* and DTRPG for PDF is the way to go.

This review only covers a small portion of the services offered, specifically PDF and soft cover books. As Night Owl Workshop expands into hardcovers, cards, and other items I'll have more to say in the future.

*My understanding is that LULU contracts out their print jobs to various printers, so can vary from job to job. If that's true I can't tell a whole lot of difference other than color variations on the covers. While DTRPG just uses Lightning Press.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alternate Red Box Cover

An interesting bit of Dungeons & Dragons art history just popped up. An anecdote by Frank Mentzer about the creation of the famous mass market version of the Red Box. Apparently the original composition Larry Elmore designed for it showed much more of what a D&D game is really like with a party coordinating to take on a red dragon.

The original sketch is up for sale if you want to jump into the bidding war. Link below.

Frank Mentzer said:
Initial cover concepts were similar to the previous edition, portraying a group of adventurers with a dragon. That was almost used, but it bothered Gary. After the color images were ready to be finalized in oils, after a lot of plans were made, Gary changed course. He asked Larry to focus the action on just one fighter and one dragon...


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beastie of the Week: Colonel Redcap the Battle Gnome

Colonel Redcap
Battle Gnome

HD 6 hp
AC 6[13]
Atk 1 armored fist (1d4)
Move 9
Save 12
CL/XP 1/30; battle tactics, strategic planning, invisibility & mirror image
S 9, D 14, C 13, I 15, W 17, Ch 12 (18 to other gnomes)

During the great Gnome-Goblin war of 576 many gnomes took on the mantle of battle hardened soldiers. Even though war is against their generally peaceful and family-loving culture.

One legendary gnome soldier was Finnigus O'Maliggan, or Colonel Redcap as he came to be known. Colonel Redcap was a grisly war veteran who rose to the ranks of commander of a legion of gnome soldiers. He was instrumental in the victory over the goblins at the crucial battle of green river valley which many consider to be the turning point of the war in the gnome's favor. Colonel Redcap has a number of unusual special abilities that make him a valuable ally and dangerous foe.

Invisibility & Mirror image: Colonel Redcap can simultaneously cast invisibility and mirror image so that his invisible real self can move to a safe location, while his mirror image dashes off in a different direction to deceive opponents. Oddly, fellow gnomes can still see the 'invisible' colonel.

Battle tactics: any gnomes within sight of Colonel Redcap will have +1 to all attacks and Save rolls.

Strategic planning: if given time before an operation Colonel Redcap can endow his co-conspirators with +1AC and +1 to Save rolls for 1d4 hours after the planning session.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

This Bot Generates a Fantasy World Every Hour

Uncharted Atlas is a bot that continually generates new fantasy worlds and posts them on their Twitter feed. These look like the kinds of maps you would see on the end papers of a cheap fantasy novel. Even the inking style looks like fantasy maps from the 1970's.


Tramp Tuesday

I haven't done a Dave Trampier Tuesday in a while, well I stumbled across this image while looking up some Star Frontiers reference and was surprised to find this full color cover by Trampier!

This Saturday is Dave's 63rd birthday. It's been just over 3 years since his passing. He's still my favorite artist from that era of TSR.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Beastie of the Week: Bugbear, Battlerager

Bugbear, Battlerager
HD 5+1
AC 16
Atk 1 bite (2d4) or weapon (1d8+1)
Move 9
Save 12
CL/XP 5/120
Special: Surprise opponents, 50% chance, battlerage
Battlerager bugbears appear very similar to normal bugbears: large, hairy, goblin-like and stand 7-8ft in height. Despite their size they almost always getting the chance to surprise even alert opponents with a roll of 1-3 on a d6 (50%).

If wounded in combat they will go into a rage and gain +2 to hit and will become resistance to any spells like charm or sleep gaining +3 on any Save rolls. This rage does take its toll and the creature will collapse and fall into a near comatose state for 2-5 hours after combat.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Raiders! Print Edition and Combo Package Available on DriveThruRPG

The proof copies of Raiders! along with Freebooters arrived yesterday. The book looks good and has been approved for public sale.

The combination package of Print + PDF at a $5 discount is also available.


I've been thinking quite a bit about the difference in process between Lulu and DriveThruRPG. You can certainly get your print books up and available faster on Lulu, but if you don't proof it first you run a high risk, though you can preview the cover online which helps. DriveThruRPG reduces that risk since they require you get a proof first, but it seems like they're turnaround is a bit slower.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Freebooters Available in Print Edition and Combo Package on DriveThruRPG

Received proof copies of Freebooters today and everything looks in order. A little drift on the spine text, but that is normal for these little print on demand books, text still lands fully on the spine.

So the print edition is now publicly available, and the combination package of Print + PDF at a $5 discount is also available.

Comparing the quality to the Lulu prints they look identical, other than a slight variation on the color of the cover - again typical of POD, this might be even closer to the LBB cover color they are intended to emulate. Interior printing is sharp, and the black toner ink is rich and unbroken.


Beastie of the Week: Wererat Captain

Wererat Captain
HD 4
AC 14
Atk 1 bite (1d4), 1 weapon (1d6)
Move 12
Save 13
CL/XP 5/120
Special: Lycanthropy, control rats, surprise.

Like all wererats, captains can control rats, and are extremely stealthy (surprising opponents on 1-4 on a d6). In addition they have the ability to summon 1d4 wererats to do their bidding that will arrive in 2-5 rounds (1d4+1).

Wererat captains tend to hold high official places in city governments in their human form. This prestige gives them access to wealth and power. Their aims are to further the coming glory of the rat kingdom which will surely rule the world someday. Their policies, such as city ordinances banning cats, can be a giveaway to their true self.

Here is the original inked drawing: