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On the Corpse of the Quantum Ogre

I'm a Quantum OgreIn the two years since I've written the Quantum Ogre articles, I've gotten a lot of response, most of it positive. This is a coda to the series, addressing many of these comments. As discussed here, last week, the responses are not disconnected statements, but cohesive responses.

What is a Quantum Ogre?
It is a situation in which the Dungeon Master removes agency* from the players because of his desire for an outcome.

WOAH! Did our eyes glaze over? What that means is that the player tries to do a thing (cast a spell, use [...]

Perhaps my best "hard choice" to date

Eric and Bastien asked me if we could play again. Naturally I said yes, as I wanted to see what would become of Falafael the Fighter and Sinathel the Druid.

I’m not going to make a long breakdown of that session. Instead I’ll share the results of a miss that really changed how the session went about.

They were undertaking a perilous journey through the Blue Mountains, and Falafael had only just enough rations for the 5 day trip. Sinathel was the Scout, as per the move, and Falafael was the Trailblazer. Falafael rolled a miss on his roll+WIS, and for once [...]

HARP Fantasy College of Magics available NOW!

As promised in the July Briefing, this is the unscheduled but anticipated Briefing to announce the release of College of Magics in pdf form. As this is an enhanced version, not a new edition, we are offering it at a special introductory discount price of 4.99 USD for one month only.
What has changed in College of Magics?
The changes from the original version of College of Magics are as follows:
1. The Necromancer's Favored categories were rebalanced;
2. Minor modifications to the Song, Music and Trance casting styles were made;
3. Significant revisions [...]

My Seven Most-Played Role-Playing Games

Here are the games that have gotten the most enjoyment from during the past ten years or so. There are many games that I’ve wanted to play that I haven’t really gotten around to so much… so I’ll include some notes on the things that helped to get actual game sessions off the ground as we go through these.

I. Moldvay Basic D&D — I can play this with my kids. I can play this with my best gaming pals. I can run this game with random people at conventions. The three things that help get this thing played are that [...]

Supplement Review: Appendix N Adventures #4: The Witch of Wydfield by John Adams & Colin Chapman from Brave Halfling Publishing

Is murder-by-mob ever a good way to solve a problem? Torches and pitchforks may get the townspeople involved, but rarely in a good fantasy yarn does mob “justice” ever offer more than a temporary fix and long-term issues. The Witch of Widefield (TWoW), the latest of the Appendix N series from Brave Halfling Publishing, proves this point in spades. Though not a long adventure, TWoW offers three great things in the writing from designers John Adams and Colin Chapman.

First, a terrific prologue. It’s something we’ve all seen in classic monster movies. A problem plagues a small town or village. The [...]

Old School Mord-Sith, Anyone?

Been catching up on my DVDs of Legend Of The Seeker (since it's been removed from LoveFilm's library - boooooo!) and was wondering if anyone had taken a stab at writing up the Mord-Sith as a playable character class for an old school game?

Or that other obvious class from the show - the Confessors?

Conspiracy X - Atlantis Rising

Released in 1998 Atlantis Rising is 111 pages long and most of it is not about Atlantis at all. It is instead a sourcebook on the Atlantean people. It does tell us things about Atlantis but only in respect to the people that call it home. The book gives the GM information in great detail about the people. It tells of their history here on Earth. It also provides information on their technology including a number of artifacts. Even if you don't play Conspiracy X I think this book would be useful to any GM running a modern or dark future game where you need aliens that are and could be again an integral part of human history.

From the back of the book:

From the dawn of civilization they have walked among us.
They have been our kings, our demons, our angels, and our gods.
For eons, they have shaped human existence.
These are the enigmatic Atlanteans.

The most human of all aliens, they may be humanity's greatest enemy, or our only hope. Immortal, invulnerable, possessed of astounding technology, Atlanteans sit astride the pinnacle that mankind hopes one day to achieve. Will they help us climb to their heights or will they send us tumbling down into an eternity of servitude as their slaves?

  • Detailed history of the Atlanteans and their culture.
  • An overview of Aegis' knowledge about Atlanteans.
  • Complete rules on Atlantean nanotechnology.
  • New player character option: The Forgotten.
  • Five detailed Atlantean NPCs.
  • A exciting adventure introducing the Forgotten.

Table of untested, untrustworthy and somewhat incompetent henchmen

Johnonsaid: Actually I just got done rewriting CSIO to give it a slightly more low-magic, swords-and-sorcery feel… a table of possible henchmen for hire…

Here’s a table of untested, untrustworthy and somewhat incompetent henchmen.

Roll 1d20 for each column Former Occupation Incompetence Motivation Attribute 1 Barkeep Bad at fighting Sick relative Nervous 2 Gravedigger Equipment upkeep On the Lam Tells bad jokes 3 Town Guard/Jailor Falls asleep on watch Just greedy Overconfident 4 Headsman Coward Pride (wants to jump class/caste) Obsessed with bathing 5 Prostitute or madam Easily confused Owes money to a wizard Glutton 6 Knight Clumsy Under a spell Drunkard 7 Farmer Sociopath The thrill Angry 8 Shepherd/cattleman Easily discouraged Spoils of war Young 9 Bard Hero worship Tales of old Religious 10 Sailor Oblivious Misplaced sense of chivalry A witch 11 Craftsman Wooden leg Redemption Sings off key 12 Librarian/scholar Loud Prove self/earn money to marry Good medic 13 Clergy (non adventuring) Very stupid Daddy/mommy issues Insomniac 14 Sewer cleaner Physically weak Just crazy Afraid of or dislike of non-humans 15 Printer Wanders off No other options [...]

Reign of Winter is Moments Away From Starting

Come watch us now!

Bounty of Bones

I had convinced myself that out of all 17,744 backers of the Reaper Bones Kickstarter, I’d get mine last. Well, miracle of miracles, I was not. I was close though. All of the local people and the majority of our Asheville Pathfinder Lodge had already gotten theirs… and last I checked it was down to 4500 left to go on the Reaper Webpage Kickstarter Tracker-thing, and then I got home this last Thursday and a huge box had been dropped off.


With next to no recollection of what I had actually ordered, I was unprepared for what arrived. I got one [...]

Review Pacific Rim

This post contains minor spoilers.

Last night I went with a group of friends to see Pacific Rim. We've all been wanting to see it since it was first announced. How could you not? Giant robots fighting godzilla-type monsters?

It practically screams Evangelion! And I mean that in the best way possible.

This really was a love letter to some of the best tropes of anime. My personal favorite was when the mecha, eva, sorry, jaeger was crashing back toward the bay, and stops just as it reaches the water's edge, it bumps ever [...]

[Splittermond] Skizzen-Leak

Ein weiterer Leak vom letzten Uhrwerk-Stammtisch. Die Skizze stammt wiederum aus der Feder von Florian Stitz zeigt eine Reiterin derAshurmazaan. Links: Splittermond-Homepage Splittermond im Uhrwerk-Shop Splittermond bei ubiHEX

RPG Blog Round Up

The latest posts from my favourite other rpg related blogs

A Bit More on FeatsMike provides you with an update about feats in D&D Next this week. Take a peek at what he reveals---and feel free to take up the discussion with Mike over on Twitter this time around. [...]Mon, Jul 15, 2013
Source: Wizards of the CoastThe Expanded Six Talismans MonkThe six talismans monk, an archetype for the monk class detailed in New Paths #5: The Expanded Monk and Ninja, introduced a monk that utilizes ki-infused paper talismans in combat to damage, bind, or seal away opponents. These feats present [...]

What I want out of a combat system.

Once more I find myself taking inspiration from the writing process, as work continues apace on my Steampunk RPG: Rise of the Automata. I’m still chugging away nicely on it and have almost finished the section I will need to try a play test of the combat system out. I’m not going to go on at length about what this will entail, as I have a different blog for that, but it has made me think about the kind of combat system I wanted to create, as it would be the kind I also wanted to play.

In the past I [...]

Dangerous Mines

Picking back up where I left off months ago…

R. Silvaonsaid: I request some horror scenes for an exploration of a dwarven mine, please.

Entrance collapses.

A fire in the tunnels above. You must head downward...

Loose timbers. Oh and look, here's a dead giant termite. I bet there are others.

A dead canary (you did bring one, right?).

A trap involving a long and disorienting mine car ride.

Random noises will get the party on their toes.

A skeleton is strewn along a passage. Every ten to twenty paces a few more bones are found. The first are foot and toe bones, the last a skull.

Several pellets [...]

Episode 074: Actual Play - New Duds

This Episode:  The group resupplies, while also getting fitted for new attire and trying out some of the local delicacies. Jesse (Game Master), Dave (Ro'Dash), Kelli (Falltu), Gabby... A group of friends who ramble and shamble while dice rumble and tumble. Call us casually-hardcore role players of Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder.

Trade Routes of the North

The major trade routes are listed with the time it takes outbound to reach the final destination and major stops along the way. Water route travel times are given coming and going to accommodate ocean and river currents. Travel rates may vary depending on load capacity, weather conditions, and the overall peace-hostility climate.

  • High Road: Waterdeep to Baldurs Gate in 32 days.
  • High Road: Waterdeep to Luskan. Leilon in 11 days, Neverwinter in 17, Port Llast in 19, and Luskan in 23 days.
  • Coastal Route: Waterdeep to Luskan. Outbound to Luskan in 6 days. Inbound to Waterdeep in 8 days.
  • Long Road: Waterdeep to Mirabar. Red Larch in 7 days, Triboar in 13, Longsaddle in 18, and Mirabar in 26 days.
  • River Route: Zundbridge to Silverymoon (by small barge). Outbound to Ironford in 6 days, The Stone Bridge in 14, Yartar in 20, Nesm in 30, and Silverymoon in 43 days. 
  • Silvermoon Pass: Silverymoon to Sundabar in 6 days.
  • East Trail: Waterdeep to Llorkh Secomber in 11 days, Loudwater in 20, and Llorkh in 27 days.
  • Evermoor Way: Triboar to Silverymoon. Yartar in 2 days, Everlund in 15, and Silverymoon in 20 days.

Map-A-Monday: The Brecken Vale...

Click to embiggenThe default setting for the Hero Kids RPG.

Into the tridimensionalplaneboxmegacrawlathonsandhexamagig

Over at Monsters & Manuals, meet the Tri-dimensional Planebox Megacrawlathon SandhexamagigTM!  The simplified premise - take one hex map.  Copy it three times.  Assign each a... Click the title if you want to know more...

On the Buccaneer's Nightstand

I have a hard time reading one book at a time. In fact, it's not uncommon for me to bounce back and forth between three or four books at once, so my nightstand tends to be a bit crowded. Right now there are just two books there - at least for the moment.

The first is Warrior Pursuits: Noble Culture and Civil Conflict in Early Modern France by Brian Sandberg, assistant professor of history at Northern Illinois University. Focusing on the first quarter of the 17th century, when the southwest of France was riven by confessional conflicts between Catholics and [...]

Classical Play: Niche Protection

Back in my early Dungeons & Dragons (Moldvay/Mentzer) gaming days I used to complain that D&D didn't have a skill system, which was true, to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi, "from a certain point of view." Looking at it another way, D&D did have a skill system; it was embedded within the character classes. Each character class had what it needed to delve dungeons and explore new lands and, while there was some overlap, each class specialized in things the other classes couldn't. Only together could they form a balanced team, with each class shining at the appropriate time. In short, if you [...]

A Follow Up on QR Codes

I didn't think that a simple post on multimedia functionality and QR codes would generate so much chatter.

General consensus seems to say that it would be an interesting gimmick, but probably wouldn't have a whole lot of functional value. TinyURLs might serve the same purpose just as easily, a quick footnote at the bottom of the page with a web address that links to a descriptive video of the concept under discussion.

A few people have pointed out that QR codes have a time and a place, they tend to be best on street advertising and billboards [...]

[Kickstarter] Excelsior - An Inspired Steampunk Pen and Paper RPG

Ein neues Steampunk-Rollenspiel im viktorianischen Zeitalter. Mit Lovecraft'schen Einflssen. Es geht los mit $ 10 fr das PDF. Das Softcover kostet $ 25 plus $ 10 fr den Versand nach Deutschland. Sorry, aber mich rockt es nicht. Links: Kickstarter auf ubiHEX

More on the Bright Company

The Bright Company are said to believe that they commit no murder, since a god or spirit turns their victims into dolls immediately before they strike the killing blow.

Man who catches Cthulhu critters for a living

Ok, maybe the headline is not entirely accurate, but I found this awesome wine box and it started my mind running.

There Is A Season


Let's talk about turning.  Not the wonky mechanic, but the philosophy behind the whole 'turn undead' shindig.  If we do this right, it'll be essentially edition-agnostic, because we don't care about how turning is done, just where we aim it.

Even without 2nd Edition's specialty priests coming along, the idea of turning something besides undead makes good sense; it's just a question of how to fit it into the game without throwing every other assumption out of whack, or overpowering a cleric, or underpowering a cleric.  It's easy to get behind the idea of the fire-priest [...]

Horror Crimson

 You know that tedious, incharacter expository fiction that permeated TSR splats in the 90s? Well hopefully this is better than that.

I've had this idea floating around in the back of my mind for a while. I guess it's got a bit in common with that video game Bioshock. in that it's underwater and people are terrible.

1) I don't play video games.
2) This isn't a dystopia; Nobody meant for this to happen. 'Tis a full-blown, post-apocalyptic, science-fiction, survival horror. (Use All The Adjectives!)
3) Red Light, Heavy (not entirely sure of the name) is a [...]

Poll Results

With 42% of the votes, Hobgoblins have officially won the latest poll and have jumped onto the upcoming work list. Check back soon for the finished miniatures!


Dungeons and .......  Fill it in and you get the other D word.  Synonymous in the game that made our hobby but how often do they get used?  And how do you play them when you do use them?  I am thinking about all of these reptile related questions and realised that as a creature I have really under utilised the Dragon in my games for an extended period.
I have read this recently...
This is an unreal situation when I think about my history with the Dragon.  I was once accused when I ran Shadowrun of having a book [...]

Reminder - Only a Few More Days Left to Get Your Entries in for the July DCC RPG Contest Here at the Tavern!

Don't make me go out there and physically twist your arm!

In all seriousness, we have a crapload of prizes and only 2 entries. Excellent entries, but we need more. I may extend the deadline if needed but I'd rather not. Play the odds, they are in your favor!

We have print copies of Appendix N Adventures, In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer, Through the Cotillion of Hours and the latest Crawl! IN PRINT! There are also a bunch of PDF prizes including Purple Duck and Purple Sorcerer releases.

Take 10 minutes and enter. It will make this old bartender feel useful ;)

A Little Something, Something

Been a fairly busy Sunday over here.  I've been going over the first set of edits for Manor Issue #4.  Going well.  I've got a crack team telling when I'm being a bit stupid/wrong/ignorant (I told them they could one circle one of those at a time.  Ken just circled them all and claimed it was just one circle.  In any case, if any stupid/wrong/ignorant stuff gets into issue #4 its on me cause these guys are catching everything.  I guess you could say they are my zine condoms.  I use them for your protection and to increase your pleasure.  [...]

Episode 105 -- Skipped a bit!

With your hosts, Liz and Mike! This week, Liz talks to us about Cube World, Mike gives us a full run down of Nobilis and Finally thanks to Reddit, we do a bit of ulterior motives for NPCS! Enjoy!


Geeky Week!
  • Liz is also starting a Pathfinder Game! Wooo!

  • "Parallel Lives" – Mortals and Vampire

  • The Final Girl – in the park!

  • Dawn of Worlds

  • A rather interesting Kickstarter Project to include audio in your games!

  • STEAM SALE STEAM SALE! (Oh, and here is an awesome website to help)

  • A rather awesome video [...]

Image of Nidhog - Hall of Nidhog Adventure Preview

Currently I am writing a short, linear adventure for +Erik Tenkar's upcoming fan-zine called "Nidhog's Hall". This adventure takes place far to the east of Eira in the homeland of the dwarves long before they left that land and sought refuge in Eira. The main adversary of this adventure is the ancient Arch Draco-lich, Nidhog, who is so powerful that he split his soul into five different phylacteries.
While Nidhog is only one being each phylactery is semi-sentient and can create an "Image of Nidhog" a clone or avatar of the Nidhog that processes a fraction of his power (1/5 to [...]

Mini Review - Transylvanian Adventures - The Winter Home (DCC Adventure)

Transylvanian Adventures - The Winter Home is a strange beast. It is written as a one-shot with pre-gens to serve as an introduction to the forthcoming Transylvanian Adventures sourcebook.

What is Transylvanian Adventures? It's "a supplement for Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics roleplaying game (DCC RPG). It is quasihistorical and heavily influenced by Gothic Horror and the Hammer Films of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The setting is a mythical version of Transylvania at the turn of the 19th century. There are no Elves, Dwarves or Halflings."

Yes, it's one hell of a divergent direction for the DCC RPG. If the full Transylvanian Adventures sourcebook / supplement for the DCC RPG is anywhere near as good and fun as Transylvanian Adventures - The Winter Home, [...]

Blade Runner in 60 Seconds

Superhero Short: The Flying Man

Looking to Buy, Sell or Trade RPGs or Minis?

Well then there is a new Facebook group for you.  And by new, I mean just a few hours old.


Created by Keegan Reid the group's aim is to connect gamers to trade, sell & barter RPGs and Minis.  Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.

Join the group to see what is going on.

Dungeon Monthly (July 2013)

Here's this month's dungeon map:

And, as always, unnumbered versions of the map (suitable for use with virtual tabletops) can found in the following G+ albums:

50 pixel per grid square album
70 pixel per grid square album

Fantasy Version of the Hisil

Animistic Shrine
(The Witcher)Animism can add a whole other level to Fantasyland and it depends on how you want to play it.  In  Fianyarr, the easiest method is to simply make the Hisil a divine realm where the sins and good deeds of the populace create patches of hell, heaven or something in between depending on their actions.  It would make sense to worship such a divine realm and give pleas to spirits of rain and where leaving offerings in small shrines or praying at sacred groves has a definitive effect of strengthening the spirits people wish to have around.  Naturally [...]

Review -- Chinese Warlord Armies 1911-30

I recently picked up a copy of Chinese Warlord Armies 1911-30 from Osprey Books as a reference and it succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. The warlord period of 20th Century Chinese history is fascinating, though it must have been rather horrible to live through, the overthrow of the last Chinese Empire and the establishment of the Republic, which was unable to maintain order or any sense of control and the country rapidly descended into a period of warlord rule.

The warlords fragmented China in their constant grasping for an ever bigger territories to rule until the Chinese Republic finally got its [...]

Where to Find My Work

The things that my wife Katie and I create under the collective studio name Asparagus Jumpsuit are available at a number of places around the internet.

Art prints, including Torn Verse, can be ordered from the Asparagus Jumpsuit deviantART page.

Original art, including Katie’s dolls, clay figures, and jewelry, can be purchased from the Asparagus Jumpsuit Etsy page.

Roleplaying game material can be purchased from DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and d20pfsrd.

[DriveThruRPG] 40% Off Pathfinder Compatible Material

Right now a huge selection of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible merchandise from several publishers --- including Asparagus Jumpsuit --- is on sale for 40% off! This is a sale you can’t afford to miss! This sale is only going to last for a few days, so act now and pick up great stuff for your game at fantastic prices!

Take me to the sale!

[DriveThruRPG] Pathfinder Compatible Game Aids 40% Off

Right now a huge selection of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible merchandise from several publishers --- including Asparagus Jumpsuit --- is on sale for 40% off! This is a sale you can’t afford to miss! This sale is only going to last for a few days, so act now and pick up great stuff for your game at fantastic prices!

Take me to the sale!

Super Rules for Superhero 2044

L to R:  Spy Smasher, Bulletman, (the genuine) Captain Marvel, Minute-Man, Mr. Scarlet     
Image from the cover of America's Greatest Comics #1 (public domain)
In the sixth issue of Different Worlds (Dec 79/Jan 80) appeared an article written by the inestimable Brian Wagner, "Super Rules for Superhero:  44."  According to Wagner:
As enjoyable and interesting game it is, it's not without its rough spots.  The basic systems of the game work well but there are parts which need to be elaborated upon or outright changed.These "rough spots" did not permit Superhero 2044 to enjoy a decided popularity, much [...]

On Role-Playing (Part 7 of 11)

Of course, the RC introduction is almost the last bit of role-playing advice to be found in the book (other than the bits recycled from Mentzer that were recycled from Moldvay). The part of character generation that includes creating a "personality" and "background" are non-starters in the arena of role-playing, as far as I'm concerned: playing a character with a well-developed backstory does NOT necessarily mean you're role-playing and you certainly don't need to lay this kind of "groundwork" in order to role-play. If anything, I found these to be distracting passages from the [...]

Where to Find My Work

The things that my wife Katie and I create under the collective studio name Asparagus Jumpsuit are available at a number of places around the internet.

Art prints, including Torn Verse, can be ordered from the Asparagus Jumpsuit deviantART page.

Original art, including Katie’s dolls, clay figures, and jewelry, can be purchased from the Asparagus Jumpsuit Etsy page.

Roleplaying game material can be purchased from DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and d20pfsrd.

Filed under: published work, roleplaying games Tagged: information, rpg

Soundtrack Suggestion: Pacific Rim - Ramin Djawadi

Pacific Rim
by Ramin Djawadi

My partner and I just caught the incredible kaiju+robot movie, Pacific Rim, and we definitely enjoyed Guillermo del Toro's latest flick.   If you guys have a chance to catch it, I highly recommend you do so immediately!  Now, the movie was such an engaging experience thanks also to the soundtrack, which was crafted by Ramin Djawadi, whose work might sound familiar to many of you guys (Game of Thrones, Persons of Interest, System Shock 2 and Medal of Honor).
The soundtrack is composed of 25 tracks and runs a total of 58 minutes [...]

I love June

Doing some late end of the month analysis out at the pool and noticed that June was my best month of sales since October.

That is really awesome.

I am working on a few more books and hope to get them out to you all soon.  Not just OSR, but Gaslight, Pathfinder and more.

I have also had a couple requests for for a hardcover version of the Witch.  Any more takers on that?

I have not utterly abandoned the way of the swashbuckler

So I'm visiting Greyhawk Grognard because Joe Block is always interesting even though he writes about a game I don't really want to play anymore from a sociopolitical perspective I disagree with and I see Blue Boxer Rebellion in his blogroll with the title "[Free Map] Swashbuckler's Delight."  I don't use maps anymore, but I was curious about the title.  I took a look and --

I really, really, really want to run a fight scene there NOW.

Dresden Files: A Calm Little Dungeon Crawl

A short and simple session this week. We started with a quick dramatic reading of last sessions notes thanks to Gizoogle. Yeah, we had a [...]
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