Saturday, January 30, 2010

City Maps for Hammersong's Legacy?

Good Morning, All:

I need to create five city maps for Hammersong's Legacy. I'm curious if there are any good tutorials on how to do so, or any good tools that I can use. With that in mind, I figured I would ask my readers if they have any suggestions. What do you think I should do for those five city maps?

With Regards,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

PDF version of MyD20 Lite Player's Guide is now available...

The PDF version of the MyD20 Lite Player's Guide is now available at the Samardan Press storefront:
MyD20 Lite Player's Guide, PDF Edition by Jason Kemp in Games

And on our new RPGNow website, as well:
MyD20 Lite Player's Guide - Samardan Press |


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MyD20 Lite: New Referee's Guide draft now up...

Good Afternoon, All:

I have updated the draft of MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide on my gaming files site. This version contains updates the organization of the book, provides a master list of proposed monsters to include in this book (based on 1E's MM1 and MM2), and adds a bit more to treasure and the like. I look forward to any comments and questions you might have.

You can find the file here:


Monday, January 25, 2010

Hammersong's Legacy: Some Thoughts About Encounters...

Good Afternoon, All:

I've been working on detailing some of the common encounters that could be found in the Hammersong's Legacy setting. Right now, I'm toying with using a Traveller-esque patron encounter style entry to allow Referees to reuse these scenarios several times, giving a new experience each time around. However, it is a lot of work to do for each common encounter type. Before I do too many of them, I think I should probably test the water here and see if this is something that you would find of value.

Below is an example of what I'm talking about. Please tell me what you think.

Wyrmblooded Family

The party comes across a family of 1d6+2 Wyrmblooded, accompanied by 2d6 mercenaries as guards to their caravan. The family is travelling to the nearest city, to join with others and participate in the Great Expedition to return to their former homeland of Wyrmanthis. Should the party appear competent, the head of the family will make overtures to the party's leader about accompanying the group to their destination, to protect them and their worldly possessions from bandits and profiteers.
Complications: The Referee should roll a d6 and consult the following table for possible complications. As is always the case, subsequent actions are left to the discretion of the Referee.
1d6 - Complication
1 - All is as it has been presented.
2 - Hidden among the family's possessions is a magical item obtained during the War of All Gods. An agent of the Elder Courts is seeking this item, as it must be sacrificed in a ritual to aid in the eventual release of an Old God.
3 - The youngest of the Wyrmblooded (or perhaps one of the mercenaries, if the family has hired some) turns out to be a talented thief, and has managed to pick up a ring bearing the personal seal of Prince Liam. The rogue picked the ring up from an adventurer recovering from his wounds back in their former hometown, and will sell it for several hundred silver shillings, unaware of its true potential worth to those seeking the heir apparent.
4 - The family is not seeking to join the Great Expedition. Rather, the head of the family has a gambling problem, a rare circumstance for the usually proud Wyrmblooded. After losing an excessive amount of money to the local crimelord, the father has resorted to fleeing his hometown to save both his pride and his own skin, dragging his family along with him. The crimelord either wants his money or wants to make an example of the man for not paying his debts, and so has hired bounty hunters to track the welcher down.
5 - An Ordathi mind-mage, using his mind-bending powers, is using this family as cover while he flees from the presence of a Censor of Patranos. The head of the family claims the mind-mage as a friend of his, and the family has come to accept the father's claim. While they are all surprised at the father's decision to suddenly join the Great Expedition, the family's other emotional responses to these circumstances are mixed. The mind-mage will do whatever he feels he has to in order to survive.
6 - All is as it has been presented. However, the youngest daughter of the head of the family develops a crush on the most attractive or charismatic character in the party, causing no end of complications in her efforts to demonstrate her affection to her new heart-throb and earn his affection in return.
Thanks in advance for your time and input.

With Regards,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

MyD20 Lite Player's Guide, Digest Edition now available...

MyD20 Lite Player's Guide now available in digest format!

Conceived as the Second Generation of Old School gaming, MyD20 Lite combines the simple, rules-light rules of the original edition of "the World's Most Popular Roleplaying Game" with innovations from the last decade of the Open Gaming movement to create a lightweight and enjoyable gaming experience.

If you have burned out on Third Edition gaming and want a lightweight game that captures all of the flavor you've come to appreciate in your fantasy gaming experience, MyD20 Lite is for you! If you love the Original game, but like some of the more popular variants of the Third Edition, then MyD20 Lite is for you! If you want a game that lets you use adventures and supplements from any edition of your favorite roleplaying system, then MyD20 Lite is for you!

Inside this book, you'll find everything you need as a player, except dice. This guide contains details on character creation, five individual races, four archetypal classes, a simple skill system, an equipment list inspired by actual medieval prices, advanced combat options that still provide a streamlined gaming experience, a complete selection of spells and more.

If you're looking for the next generation in Old School Gaming, then MyD20 Lite is your portal to a multiverse of fantasy gaming!

This 206 page digest-sized book is available in Print-On-Demand from Samardan Press here:
MyD20 Lite Player's Guide, Digest Edition

Learn more about Samardan Press and their products at our storefront:
The Samardan Press storefront

With Regards,
Jason 'Flynn' Kemp

Hammersong's Legacy: The Kelshan...

Good Morning, All:

One of my goals when developing the Hammersong's Legacy setting was to find uses for the more common minis I've collected over the years. Given WOTC's predisposition towards tieflings and other demonic folk, I have a number of tiefling adventurer miniatures that I wanted to have a use for. However, I didn't want to go with the traditional perspective on tieflings themselves.

As I was thinking about my quandary, I remembered a race called the Kitaki from the Dray Prescot of Antares series, by Kenneth Bulmer. This was a race that were very devilish in appearance and temperament, but were just as earthly and mundane as any other on the face of Kregen. With that concept in mind, I created a race called the Kelshan:

These red-skinned, fork-tailed folk are known as sadistic slavers and cruel warriors in service to their dark master and patron deity, Sandamos, the Grand Tyrant. Were it not for the fact that a common enemy during the War of All Gods bound together people whose differences might have otherwise made such a union impossible, we would never have known these “devilfolk” to be anything other than a vile and despicable race, unworthy of our attention. Yet, in fighting side by side, there are those among the Kelshan who have come to see another path, one of Light and Redemption, and those Kelshan whom I know that walk that path are good and noble folk, as devout a friend as any could imagine. Sadly, the actions of the majority may doom these few social exiles to a life burdened by mistrust and antipathy.

I was thinking about giving the Kelshan a -2 penalty on reaction rolls due to the sadistic reputation the race has, in addition to any benefits I give the (low-light vision, a bonus on saves versus charm and mind-affecting effects, or something like that). What do you think?

With Regards,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ol' Snagtooth, the White Terror of the Black Hills...

Good Afternoon, All:

I had some fun today writing up some of the lairs for Hammersong's Legacy, and I thought I'd share a fun one with those of you who might be interested.

2028 Ol' Snagtooth, the White Terror of the Black Hills
This small valley is the home of Ol' Snagtooth, a large albino tyrannosaur that terrorizes much of the Black Hills. Time after time, brave adventurers have sought to destroy this fell beast, and some have reported success, only to have Ol' Snagtooth strike again elsewhere in the Black Hills within the next moon. The rumors of treasures found among the discarded remains of those captured by Ol' Snagtooth continues to grow, but the fierce cunning and legendary resilience of the White Terror keeps all but the most intrepid or foolish from attempting to retrieve that lost wealth.

There are a lot of possibilities that I can see for Ol' Snagtooth, which I'll leave to the Referee to determine. Perhaps the albino T-Rex is really just an undead dinosaur, and it reforms and rises again on the new moon after it is supposed slain by adventurers. Or maybe the White Terror is infused with godsblood and now has regenerative powers. Or perhaps there are more than one of the beasts. Or is the beast simply a reincarnated soul, trapped in a most unusual form, which could lead to a spellcasting T-Rex and a very surprised party. Also, is Ol' Snagtooth acting on his own, or is someone directing his actions?

I like entries that spark my imagination, and so I try to write items like that in my background pieces. Any of the scenarios I provided above would make for a very interesting encounter, or even a series of encounters, for a party of adventurers. Heck, just the fact that they're facing a very large albino tyrannosaur is something different enough to hopefully stand out in their memory as a unique element that makes the setting stand out.

Many of the other dozen or so lairs I've created are inspired by ancient mythology, as I wanted to capture that kind of flavor with the well-known lairs of the region. I thought such legendary elements were appropriate in a setting that takes place after a war between the gods. Some, however, were just fun things, like a giant porcupine the size of an eighteen wheeler. That's not the kind of thing you expect to see every day, but should still make for a good and memorable challenge. Of course, the Random Encounter tables for each region will be aimed at more reasonable and commonplace encounters.

So here's a question for you: If you were populating your own version of this kind of post-apocalyptic setting, what kind of lairs would you want to see? Do my thoughts mesh with yours? Or would you have other preferences you'd want to explore? And if so, why?

Thanks in Advance,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Have You Heard? The 'One Page Dungeon Contest 2010' Has Started...

Good Afternoon, All:

Last year, Chatty DM sponsored a One Page Dungeon Contest. Over the course of a month or so, contestants submitted over 110 entries. Sadly, I missed it, and didn't get the chance to submit anything of my own.

However, all is not lost! A new contest, the One Page Dungeon Contest 2010, has started. You have until March 1st to submit a One Page Dungeon per the rules provided on the main contest page. The Judges will review the many entries, and arrive at a list of winners by April 18th. I think I'll try to put something together this time around, and see what others think. This will challenge me to exercise my dungeon-making skills instead of "reskinning" the work of others, and see if I still have what it takes to create a fun and entertaining dungeon.

For those interested, the contest's website can be found here:

Wish Me Luck,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Wyrmblooded - A New S&W Race...

Good Afternoon, All:

For the curious, I've come up with a preliminary racial write-up (in Swords & Wizardry terms) for the Wyrmblooded, a race I've mentioned before for my Hammersong's Legacy setting. Please let me know your thoughts.

The Wyrmblooded
The results of magical experimentation on dragons to create a docile slave race, the Wyrmblooded still retain some of their draconic heritage. These include vicious claws, an intimidating presence reminescent of a dragon's fear aura, and a resistance to paralysis and magical sleep.

Character Advancement: Wyrmblooded characters use the Fighter class advancement chart. They are typically allowed to progress as high as eighth level.

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Like other Fighters, the Wyrmblooded are trained in warfare and as such have no armor or weapon restrictions.

Intimidating Presence: The Wyrmblooded has an intimidating presence, which imposes a -1 penalty on a foe's morale when engaged in combat with the Wyrmblooded character.

Natural Weapon (Claws): The Wyrmblooded may use their sharp claws to deal damage equivalent to a dagger (1d6-1).

Saving Throw: Wyrmblooded are resistant to paralysis and magical sleep; they get +4 on saving throws to resist such effects.

Languages: For campaigns that give each race its own dialect, the Wyrmblooded should be able to speak with dragons, duar, humans and hyrknoff.

With Regards,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An Old School Cover Idea for the Player's Guide...

Good Morning, All:

Having seen a number of OSR products lately with "Old School" stylized covers, monochrome with a simple line drawing on the front, I've come up with an idea for an Old School cover for the MyD20 Lite Player's Guide that I thought was interesting. What do you think for a digest-sized cover?

With Regards,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hammersong's Legacy: The Wyrmblooded...

Good Evening:

Here's another snippet from the fantasy setting I'm working on, Hammersong's Legacy. This time, I thought I'd drop a note about one of the races from the setting, the Wyrmblooded. Here's what the race chapter currently says about them:

Not all of the depravities wrought on the world came at the hands of the gods. The ancient serpentfolk known as the Drakon once used their vile mysticism in a terrible experiment to warp the offspring of powerful dragons into a more servile race. Though many variations were forged over the course of this magical rite, the most viable results were the predecessors of the Wyrmblooded race. Through careful breeding, these beings were forced to become a slave race in service to their mortal creators. When Soleron, the Sun Lord, approached the most powerful of the Wyrmblooded and convinced them to join the cause of the Gods of the New Order, the Wyrmblooded gained their most cherished of gifts: freedom. Despite the trials and tribulations these people have suffered, they are a race filled with gratitude and joviality, for the Wyrmblooded have discovered a great inner strength within themselves. While many look upon this world and see only devastation and hardship, the Wyrmblooded see triumph and opportunity.
The Wyrmblooded are inspired by the Dragonblooded Humans from the Modern SRD, as well as the Half-Dragon template from both the SRD and the Modern SRD. (Besides, it would be nice to have a use for those Dragonborn minis that I occasionally pick up as part of my D&D mini habit.) In a post-apocalyptic setting, it seemed fitting that there should be a race that looked upon the tragedy with joy instead of sadness. It is this almost enthusiastic exuberance that I want the Wyrmblooded to bring to the table. I have yet to fully settle on their abilities game-wise, but I can already imagine these valiant, proud warriors leading the way through mortal danger to recover the lands they had lost, claiming them now as a free people, and adding that whole paladin-esque hero vibe to the group without having to play a holy warrior.

As the only suggestion I've seen thus far in terms of what game system to support with this setting has been Swords & Wizardry, I imagine that the Wyrmblooded will likely be able to advance much like Fighting-Man/Fighter up to 8th level. If I decide to give them a breath weapon, it would start off small and increase in damage potential at 4th and 7th levels. However, I'm not entirely sold on the breath weapon idea. The jury is still out, and I'm open to suggestions if people wish to make them.


Friday, January 15, 2010

MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide - Incomplete draft posted for comments...

Good Afternoon, All:

I've recently posted the first rough draft of an incomplete MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide. It contains the basic structure of the book, as well as some Refereeing advice which I hope will prove useful. You can check it out here:

Please let me know what you think,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review: Savage Swords of Athanor...

Good Evening, All:

Tonight, I'd like to review a rules supplement for Swords & Wizardry: White Box. This one is entitled Savage Swords of Athanor, by Doug Easterly. Savage Swords of Athanor is a science-fantasy setting with heavy tendencies towards the planetary romance genre, my literary genre of preference.

I purchased my digest-sized softcover copy from the author's website on The cover for this 64-page supplement is a basic white book roughly the size of one of the Old School Traveller Little Black Books. The front bears a series of silhouettes in orange and black that create the impression of a lost world, and the font used for the title is both evocative of the setting and readable. It hints of Golden Age sword and planet adventure to me, so I was eager to dive in.

Looking at the 64 pages within this book, I can see that Mr. Easterly does not waste much space for non-necessities. There's a title page, followed by a page that contains both the table of contents and a one-paragraph introduction, and the final page of the manuscript contains the OGL. That's 61 pages left for gaming goodness. The font size of the body of the book is easy to read, and well-formatted. There are only two images through the book, a map of the City-State of Zamora and a regional map of the area around Zamora proper.

After the single paragraph that marks the introduction of Savage Swords of Athanor, the author organizes the contents in the classic three sections named after the three core books of the original version of the World's Most Popular Roleplaying Game. Throughout the text, I should note that there are a large number of typos, misspellings, skipped words and other editing issues. While this does not detract from my enjoyment of the material presented within, it does detract from the professionalism of the product. However, that said, the youthful enthusiasm and exuberance that Mr. Easterly brings to Savage Swords of Athanor make up for this distraction, in my mind.

The Men and Magic chapter is 15 pages long, and yet there's a lot of material packed in those pages. Under the Men and Magic chapter, we first encounter rules for the races that exist on the world of Athanor. It should be noted that, like the other products I've reviewed to date, Mr. Easterly separates race from class, a practice I support. The races detailed within this book are: Humans (in four sword-and-planet flavors of unusual skin coloration), Mal'Akkan (cactus-men), Alemanian (blue-shelled bug-men), Throon (humanoid fungus-men), and Earthmen (humans from worlds other than Athanor, presumably of Terran descent).

Next, Mr. Easterly talks about character classes. While we can play fighting men and magic-users, the cleric is not available as an option in the world of Athanor. Instead, the author introduces us to a new class, the rogue magic-user, or Rogue for short. The class has limited magical abilities, and poor combat abilities, but possesses slightly better hit points and great saves.

The next subsection of the Men and Magic chapter describes a very simple skill system. In general, you can attempt anything by making a saving throw. If you happen to be skilled at something, then you get to add four to your save. You basically get one or two skills for your character, which you select from a small set of broad skill groups, and you can spend money and time to learn new skills over the course of the campaign.

The section on Magic in Athanor describes the creation of scrolls, provides a chart for magical mishaps in the event that your spell is interrupted (or in case you interrupt the Big Bad Guy's spell), and wraps up with a list of spells by level. The spells on the list come from Swords & Wizardry, and are limited to those that represent psychic powers, as would be found in a planetary romance setting.

There's a small section on mutations, allowing the Referee to provide unusual abilities to PCs, NPCs and monsters alike should they become exposed to radiation through a variety of means. These range in power level, and avoid the outlandish powers that some mutation charts tend to hand out. All in all, I find them to be very evocative and many conjure up images that are easy to transform into adventures or encounter scenarios.

A brief paragraph and associated chart introduces the concept of the Clone Pits, where you might get a dead colleague resurrected for a pound of flesh and a thousand gold. Using the Clone Pits to cheat death, however, is not without risk, as this is one of the ways in which a character might gain a mutation or two.

The Men and Magic section wraps up with two pages of variant rules. Here's where you can find a variant on the Death's Door rules, binding wounds to restore lost hit points, the healing power of a good ale, parrying and two-weapon combat clarifications, and rules on disarming a foe. The mechanics are simple, functional and in keeping with the playability of Swords & Wizardry.

The second major section, Monsters and Treasure, is only 13 pages long, but the Referee can still find a lot of useful information in this section. The bestiary covers 32 monsters in 8 pages, including a wide range of dinosaurs, common planetary romance monster types, and a variety of monstrous antagonists related to the Zamora setting. Three more pages cover eleven "artifacts" of ancient technology, ranging from medical tech and weapons to defensive shields and a hand grenade of depression and woe. The last two pages discuss bound spirits, extradimensional essences that magic-users can summon and attempt to bend to their will. Herein lies the path to corruption and Cthulhu, I'm sure, but the abilities are very reasonable and in keeping with the flavor that's already been created by Mr. Easterly's presentation.

The third and final section, Underworld and Wilderness Adventures, forms the bulk of Savage Swords of Athanor, weighing in at 33 pages. We start off with four pages of random encounter tables for the various locations and terrain types found in the Zamora region. Seven pages describe the world of Athanor, with four of those pages devoted to the religious practices of the people. The rest includes details about the flora and fauna, climate, the two moons above, technology, travel, food and history.

Seven pages describe the City-State of Zamora. Among the local sites, persons of importance and power factions, Mr. Easterly has hidden a number of nice gems. Ramirez's, an inn within Zamora, is obviously an homage to the movie Highlander. The Lo Pan Society, as written, conjures thoughts Lo Pan's tong in Big Trouble In Little China. There are certainly other jewels within this section, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

After the section on the City-State, Mr. Easterly provides us with twelve adventure seeds and a series of charts the Referee can use to create their own planetary romance plot.

The last ten pages of the book contain a map of the Zamora region (with some of the hexes strangely misnumbered), and an amazing number of small entries describing the lairs, ruins and small adventures that await adventurers ready to explore this planetary romance sandbox. There's a wide variety of encounters, from killer robots and atmosphere factories to ancient bunkers and fallen meteorites, from mines and refugees to undead sorceresses in love and a lost astronaut from Earth. These entries definitely capture the flavor of a planetary romance setting, while making it easy and accessible to Referees interested in stepping outside the usual campaign settings and exploring the world of science fantasy.


All in all, I liked Savage Swords of Athanor. As an ardent fan of the sword-and-planet genre, I've looked long and hard for settings that capture that flavor. The World of Athanor is definitely one of them. Despite the typos and editing issues, the great depth and evocative nature of the writing more than makes up for the distraction I sometimes felt. Mr. Easterly does a great job of developing the world of Athanor and presenting it to the reader in a style and format that offers much in a surprisingly concise manner. I definitely hope that he continues to publish more works in this vein. I know that I would consider myself a fan of his work.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd have to rate Savage Swords of Athanor as an 8. For the planetary romance fan, I'd even bump it up a little higher. It's definitely worth checking out, and for only eight bucks (yes, I said $8), it's a steal!

With Regards,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hammersong's Legacy: The Vaults of Celebrus...

Good Evening, All:

As I started to ask myself about something to post here in the early part of the week, I realized that I have mentioned my future setting book in passing, but I really haven't spent much time talking about it in any depth.

Hammersong's Legacy is a basic fantasy post-apocalyptic setting of sorts, inspired in part by Greek mythology and depicting a world roughly a century after a great war between different divine factions. I've also drawn some inspirations from Malhavoc's Requiem for a God, as well as some thoughts from Sword & Sorcery's Scarred Lands. Although the inspirations are many and varied, the setting is my own creation, a synthesis of these disparate sources and my own previous campaign experiences.

I have yet to decide what rules system to publish this setting for. I've thought about using it as an example setting for MyD20 Lite, as well as a setting for Fantasy Traveller, if anyone ever publishes rules for that. I've considered crafting it as a Swords & Wizardry setting. I've even considered writing it as a systemless setting, but truth be told, that's just not my favorite idea. However, I am writing it in such a manner that the fluff is separate (for the most part) from the crunch, making it easy to translate to your personal system of choice. I am doing that for two reasons: 1. Because I think it increases the ability of the buyer to utilize only the parts of it he or she desires, assuming that they decide not to use it as a total package; and 2. because I haven't decided on what system to use.

I have already detailed a number of cities and townships within the primary campaign area, and listed over a dozen sites of ruins that can be developed by the Referee as they see fit. (Yes, it is being developed as a sandbox-style campaign, inspired by both Judges' Guild's Wilderlands setting and by Robert Conley's Majestic Wilderlands.) I've come up with a basic history, and am working on lairs and adventure notes for the setting, as well as maps. Ugh! Maps shall be my downfall; I just know it.

One of the elements I've done with Hammersong's Legacy is removed humans as the primary race of the setting. Yes, they are still present, and are on the ascendancy, but the stocky Duar (dwarves) are the predominate race of the region. Indeed, the Duar Protectorate serves as the bastion of all that is good and right with the world. Sadly, the King of the Duar has passed, and his heir is missing. None know what lies ahead for Hammersong's Legacy, but there are many forces that would see it fall, if heroes do not rise against the growing tides of darkness.

Finally, I wanted to share with you a brief glimpse at my personal favorite of the ruins I've developed for the setting:

The Vaults of Celebrus
The Vaults of Celebrus were originally created as a prison for the most vile creatures and a warehouse for the most powerful magic relics of an ancient era. The Archmagus Celebrus, in pursuit of protecting his domain during the last century of the War of All Gods, captured numerous powerful beings, ranging from dragons and demon lords to great warlords and enemy archmagi. He created an extensive prison for each one, linking them together both physically and via teleportation portals. Also within his Vaults, the archmagus stored powerful magic items, lest ordinary men become corrupted by their presence and follow a dark path to evil ways. Over the years, Celebrus fell into insanity, and his Vaults become more elaborate as his definition of evil expanded to include more mundane scourges to his lands. By the time that Celebrus had begun to imprison those that simply disagreed with him into his oubliette, the common people of his domain had determined something must be done to stop Celebrus the Mad. Finally, Celebrus met his match at the hands of a band of adventurers, who imprisoned him in the depths of his own Vaults, and left him there to die. The Vaults of Celebrus are said to hold at least ten powerful abominations imprisoned within five or more levels. Most sages and scholars agree that this entrance is most likely not the only one, given the heavy use of teleportation portals within the Vaults themselves, but simply the only one that has been identified.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts on the concepts discussed above, or the example of one of the ruins I've detailed for the setting.

With Warm Regards,

Friday, January 08, 2010

An Inside Peek: Product Sales for Samardan Press...

Good Morning, All:

With a number of small publishers posting information on their blogs about the number of copies of their products that have sold, I figured I'd do the same. Since I only use Lulu, and since Lulu doesn't provide the level of detail I'd prefer, I will simply post the number of products of each type that I've sold since being posted on the Samardan Press storefront.

Fantasy Concepts Campaign Resource -- Download: 89 (from Nov 2007)
Fantasy Concepts Campaign Resource (softcover) -- Print: 18 (from Nov 2007)

Flynn's Guide To Alien Creation -- Download: 47 (from May 2009)
Flynn's Guide To Alien Creation -- Print: 17 (from May 2009)

Flynn's Guide to Magic in Traveller -- Download: 14 (from Oct 2009)
Flynn's Guide to Magic in Traveller -- Print: 5 (from Oct 2009)

Modern Options: The Tome Of Talents -- Download: 18 (from July 2006)

OGL Alternatives: Alternate Advancement System -- Download: 28 (from Sept 2006)

One-Act Adventure: Vengeance By Proxy -- Download: 9 (from Sept 2009)
One-Act Adventure: Vengeance By Proxy -- Print: 6 (from Sept 2009)

My older products still continue to make the occasional sale from time to time, but not really enough to count on. The items that sell well, and continue to provide decent sales over time, are the products with a page count that exceeds 30 pages. With this experience, I consider a small product (30 pages or less) to be a success if its numbers exceed 20, and I can apparently count on about 15 sales over the first six months. A larger product (more than 30 pages) can be considered a success if the number of sales exceeds 50, and I can expect at least 20 sales over the first six months. This helps me to set my expectations, and hopefully this information will help others in setting their own expectations.

I only have one fantasy product, Fantasy Concepts, and that definitely sold better than my generic/modern stuff. The Traveller products are still my personal favorites, and they sale well, so I think there are those Traveller fans out there that enjoy the work I put into them. In the coming year, I am working on a variety of products, some fantasy-based and some Traveller-based, so I'll have more information by this time next year to see where I should be putting my focus.

Hope This Helps,

Thursday, January 07, 2010

MyD20 Lite Player's Guide: Going Into Layout...

Good Morning, All:

I am beginning to feel that I am close enough to a final version of the MyD20 Lite Player's Guide that I can start working on layout, adding art and such for publication purposes. I will likely offer two versions of a softcover book (one economy on publisher-grade paper and one on the nicer paper for a few bucks more, basically to cover the difference in publishing costs), and a hardcover for those that might want it in the more durable format. No worries; I'll keep the prices reasonably low, since the economy is hitting all of us hard.

With Warm Regards,

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

MyD20 Lite Player's Guide v0.5

Good Morning, All:
I've updated the MyD20 Lite Player's Guide draft document on my Google site to Version 0.5:

This version includes new racial talents, a talent summary, a basic step-by-step guide to creating a character, some suggested skill selections for each race and class, a few changes to the current character sheet, various updates for the purposes of consistency, and minor changes too numerous to enumerate here.

Please review the latest draft version, and let me know your thoughts on the new and updated material.

Thanks In Advance,

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

More Stuff To Review...

Good Evening, All:

My copy of the original printing of Sword & Wizardry: White Box came in yesterday, and I've received an email from Lulu that Savage Swords of Athanor has been shipped. This definitely will give me some nice review material for the coming week.

Should Be Fun,

Monday, January 04, 2010

1250 Monsters In The Beginning...

Good Evening, All:

I have begun to convert a slew of monster stats from D20 to MyD20 Lite, using an automated process. At this point, I am current working through around 1250 records as part of the conversion process (basically looking at the SRD and Necromancer Games' Tome of Horrors). Some of these will be removed from the final document, but I fully expect to be able to pack over 1000 stat blocks into the Monster section of the MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide. Now, once I get these closer to being done, and I move these over into a document, I may discover that I've got too many. In that case, I'll have to decide how many to pull out in order to keep the page count at a reasonable level. Mind you, this is all without flavor text, so that will have to be added, too. Even at a small three-sentence paragraph apiece, that will be some undertaking.

In order to determine which stats to include, I will review the old Monster Manual 1 and 2 for 1E and make some decisions from there. That's probably the best way to get the basics that I will find in the older modules, and then I can add extras as space becomes available.

If all else fails, I may have to go the "three book" route for MyD20 Lite: Player's Guide, Referee's Guide, and Bestiary. Not sure if that's the best idea, yet, but as I said, I'll have to wait and see how the monster stats look in the document first.

With Regards,

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Review: Supplement VI, The Majestic Wilderlands...

Good Morning, All:

In hopes of starting off 2010 in style, here is a review of the popular product by Bat In The Attic Games, Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands, by Robert S. Conley. Created with permission of Judge's Guild, the Majestic Wilderlands is a supplement that present Mr. Conley's version of the traditional Wilderlands campaign setting, and the new form that it has evolved into after thirty years of campaigning. The book is compatible with Mythmere Game's Swords & Wizardry, and presents both new rules for consideration as well as an overview of the Majestic Wilderlands campaign setting.

This digest-sized book weighs in with 140 pages. With a title page, three pages for the table of contents and one page for the legal text of the Open Game License, that leaves 135 pages for pure gaming content. There are two versions of the cover available, one a nostalgic monochrome cover reminiscent of the Original D&D supplements of yesteryear, and one in a more contemporary version with three pieces of evocative public domain artwork in connected hexes reminiscent of the mapping style of the original Wilderlands maps. I picked up the original contemporary release, mainly because one of the images used is the same one I used for the cover of Fantasy Concepts. As is typical for Lulu publications, the cover and binding are of excellent quality, and the effort put into the cover image is fantastic. I really like the promise of adventure that it inspires when looking at it.

Throughout the book, the text is laid out in a single column format. The font is easy for me to read, and the tables are generally laid out pretty well. (A few tables have layout issues, such as the Ritual Cost table on pg 71, but the tables are simple enough to intuit their meaning.) Clip art, map snippets, line art and black & white images are used with frequent regularity throughout the text, breaking up the text wonderfully without being a nuisance. While you won't find any hex-based maps in this product, the cartography is nice and shows up well. I think the level of detail on the larger maps of the Wilderlands and the Main Campaign Area could have used a little more detail, but perhaps the next level of details would have made the image too cramped for a digest-sized product. All in all, though, I think the appearance of the book is very professional.

There's a lot of content in this supplement. In general, I found the text easy to read, although I was somewhat astonished at the number of skipped or misused words throughout the text. Most of the time, I was able to discern the intended meaning of the text from the context of the paragraph or the use of common sense. However, sometimes it did take me a little bit to wrestle an appropriate understanding out of the wording, such that the flow of reading the text was broken. Many of these elements could have been caught by using MS Word's grammar check, so I was definitely surprised when I noted that there were three editors that were credited with reviewing this document beforehand, given the number of skipped words I saw throughout the text. Although it was frequent enough to be noticeable (and I even made a small game of spotting them as I went along), this was really a minor distraction, and did not detract from the quality of the content found in this supplement.

The supplement is broken down into four sections, three of which were inspired by the original presentation of the Original Edition of the World's Most Popular Roleplaying System. These sections are: Foreword (1 page), Men & Magic (70 pages), Monsters & Treasure (10 pages), and Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (54 Pages).

The Foreword contains Mr. Conley's introduction to the setting itself. Here, he discusses the evolution of his campaign setting over the last thirty years, taking the original Judges Guild campaign setting of the Wilderlands and making it his own. His version of this campaign world has survived translation through at least five different rules systems, and picked up a significant amount of culture, history and setting flavor over the years as his campaigns continued to evolve the setting. Ultimately, he felt that his version of the setting had diverged enough from the original that he had something unique and interesting to share with the gaming community.

The section entitled Men & Magic contains significant notes on new game mechanics to add to the core rules of Swords & Wizardry, adding many new options designed to enhance the players' gaming experience within the Majestic Wilderlands setting. First, Mr. Conley introduces a number of new subclasses and classes to the core rules, including: Berserkers, Knights, Soldiers, Paladins of Mitra, Myrmidons of Set, Mages, Artificers, Wizards, Rune-casters, Theurgists, Rogues, Burglars, Thugs, Mountebanks, Claws of Kalis, Merchant Adventurers, and Non-Adventurers (commoners such as Craftsmen, Hedge Mages, Priests and Scholars). Each class or subclass is well defined with a handful of special abilities designed to work within the context of Swords & Wizardry, adding definition to the core concept of the class without overly restricting characters to a narrow, defined concept that hinders character development and roleplay. I had a few issues with the implementation of the implementation of the saving throw values (some of them went down to 1, instead of stopping at eleventh level and continuing from that point when the same value thereafter) and the non-mathematical progress of skill-like ability bonuses for some classes, but these can be changed with some simple modifications to the tables of these classes. I don't have any problems with the special abilities of any of the classes, though.

The next part of Men & Magic defined the races of the setting. Mr. Conley, like myself and many others, does not use the race-as-class conceit found in the core rules of Swords & Wizardry, and so provides a separate list of character races for the Majestic Wilderlands setting. His races include Man, Elves, Halflings, Half-Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Orcs, Goblins, Reptile Men, Lizard Men, Serpent Men, Viridians and Half-Viridians. Aside from the Viridians and Half-Virdians, I felt that the races were very well presented and easily understood. The implementation of the bonus spellcasting abilities of the Viridians and Half-Viridians was confusing and lacked adequate explanation, in my opinion, and was the only flaw to this subsection that I could find.

Mr. Conley then provides a subsection that defines a series of skill-like abilities called simply "Abilities". Any ability can be attempted by any class, but some classes gain bonuses to certain abilities. This provides better definitions for certain actions, without restricting those actions to only certain individuals. I personally prefer such an approach, as it empowers players to attempt more with their character instead of feeling restricted.

Two pages of Optional Combat Rules enhance the use of crossbows, polearms and shields in the game, and provides additional rules for the prone condition, mounted combat, head shots and face shots.

The final subsection of Men & Magic focuses on Magic, introducing the concept of rituals to the game, as well as fifteen new spells. Some of the new spells are useful in the creation of various magic item types, in some ways reminiscent of 3E's item creation feats converted into spells. Rituals are an interested subsystem for the game, and I feel that Mr. Conley's new magic-user subclasses reflect different magic systems very well, using variants of the usual Vancian spellcasting system and the new ritual system in combination to create different and unique spellcasters within the setting.

Scattered throughout this section are snippets of setting-related details that help immerse the character rules into the Majestic Wilderlands, and provide some nice gaming-related insight into the setting itself. I feel that this was done tastefully, and with good insight into improving the value of these basic rules within the context of the Wilderlands.

Monsters & Treasures is a small section. Two new monsters (dragons and boglings) are detailed, and the setting's view on vampires and werewolves are detailed interestingly. The last few pages of this section detail a number of artifact-level items specific to the setting, with details that suggest a good number of adventures based on their presence. I'm pretty sure these come from Mr. Conley's extensive campaign experience in his setting, and I appreciate the effort taken to avoid dictating how these should appear in the campaign and instead are presented in a manner that encourages the Referee to add them to adventures of his own creation.

The final section, Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, provides us with details on the actual setting itself, the Majestic Wilderlands in all their glory. It is in this section that Mr. Conley "breaks the fourth wall," as it were, and speaks to the reader occasionally with his thoughts and experiences on why certain sections evolved as they did. I appreciate these occasional "designer notes" type of intrusions, and would have liked to have seen a few more throughout the book, but I think they are most useful in this section.

The first part of this section focuses on an overview of the world in general. Each of the primary regions of the setting are introduced with a paragraph or two, hinting at a background history that provides some basic, high-level structure to the evolution of the Majestic Wilderlands. Each region appears to be designed for a specific type of campaign, and Mr. Conley thoughtfully provides suggestions, with a few exceptions,in a sentence or two at the end of each region's description. I immediately thought of different campaign ideas I could run as I read through here, none of them focused on the main campaign area, so I know there's definitely room for me to make the setting my own.

The next subsection details the Main Campaign Area. In this section, the major landmarks and locales within this region are further defined, and here Mr. Conley provides more details on the tales of his gamers through this region, as they helped to shape the setting into the form it has become. Certain entries are more detailed than others, perhaps indicating a greater campaign focus in Mr. Conley's experiences, but all of these entries provide the Referee with good information that can be used to create adventures and campaigns based in this area. The one element that this subsection lacked, in my own opinion, as a list of interesting sites, such as dungeons or lairs, around which to build adventures. Perhaps Mr. Conley expected the reader to either provide their own or use those available in the original Judges Guild product line, but I still would have appreciated a page or two providing an overview of such sites in the Main Campaign Area, simply to serve as a start to my adventure planning without having to find out-of-print products.

The last subsection of the book gives us fourteen pages detailing the cultures and religions of the Majestic Wilderlands setting. I think this is perhaps the most evocative section of the book, giving a synopsis of cultural detail designed to enhance roleplaying and adventure potential. Each race, major culture and major religion is addressed here, with a level of detail that once again inspires rather than hinders. Of the so-called "fluffy" bits found throughout this supplement, I was most impressed with this subsection.

My Thoughts
Overall, I really am impressed with the quality of this product. I found the text easy to read, evocative and even inspirational in terms of running adventures and campaigns within this setting. The setting is very cool, with enough variation to fit almost any campaign I would like to run. I don't feel confined by the author's thirty years of experience with the world he's presenting, nor by the weight of the out-of-print products that inspired the Majestic Wilderlands. Rules-wise, I really love the flavor of the new rules presented here. The few issues I have with the game mechanics themselves are all easily changed by updating table values. I think that Mr. Conley has done an incredible job of capturing his campaign world and providing an excellent set of rules that add a lot to the core gaming experience provided by Swords & Wizardry. I'd recommend this product to anyone looking for a new campaign setting (particularly for any retro-clone rules set), to anyone looking for new "crunch" to add to their own retro-clone games, or to anyone who might be fans of the original Judges Guild Wilderlands campaign setting.

All in all, I think I'd rate this product as a 9 out of 10. Stonehell Dungeon rates higher, in my opinion, but I still think that Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands is an excellent addition to any gamer's library, and for $12, you just can't beat it.

With Regards,

MyD20 Lite Update: 01/02/10...

Good Morning, All:

I'm going to have to make two posts today, in order to keep up with my New Year's Resolution in regards to blogging. The first post I'm making for today is to provide an update on MyD20 Lite, for those who are interested in my Swords & Wizardry variant rules set.

First, I'll be posting an updated version of the Player's Guide early next week. This version will contain new racial talents, as well as a talent guide that provides a list of available talents at a glance for easier character creation. In addition, I will be including an outline of the character creation process, to provide a reference for players in creating their characters. The goal here is simply to speed up character creation.

Second, I'm working on the generation of monster stats for the Referee's Guide. The two biggest parts of the mechanical portion of the Referee's Guide are simply Monsters and Treasure. The rest of it is the synthesis of advice on Refereeing games and creating adventures and campaigns, as well as an accumulation of game mechanics for specific elements that were not included in the Player's Guide. Of the three parts, I think that the Monster stats are probably the hardest to produce, so that will be my focus for the time being.

Once the basics of monster stats are created, I'll post a rough draft of the Referee's Guide for your consideration, and begin taking suggestions on additions, subtraction and modifications that will improve its content.

Hope This Helps,

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Gaming Resolutions for 2010...

Good Evening, All:

Like most bloggers on the RPG circuit, this is the time when I feel I should make a number of New Year's Resolutions for 2010, particularly in regards to gaming during the coming year. As my wife is pregnant and due in early June, this coming year is going to be particularly challenging on that front. Nonetheless, here are my three gaming resolutions for 2010.

As a side note, I put all of my resolutions in a three word format, as there's an unwritten rule that all Universal Truths can be expressed in three words. For example, please consider the following: "Love is blind!", "Life is pain!" and "It's a trap!" Besides, three word phrases are easier to remember throughout the year, and if you can remember your resolutions, then you are more apt to complete them.

For Gaming, my New Year's Resolutions for 2010 are:

1. Publish four products.  Last year, I made a goal out of publishing three products, and I successfully did so. This year, I'm upping the ante, and putting the minimum total of products at four. Hopefully, I'll meet and even exceed that number.

2. Blog thrice weekly. Now that I have an RPG blog, it helps if I have content. Therefore, I'm making the resolution to blog here at least three times a week. I'm sure I'll try a bunch of different things, and hopefully along the way, I'll come up with interesting posts that contribute something back to the community.

3. Publish four fanzines. I've been very lax in publishing issues of Stellar Reaches, my Traveller fanzine. This year, I am resolving to publish four issues, one per season. These do not apply to the first resolution given above, as they are not products that I will post on the Samardan Press storefront.

I'm sure I'll do a lot more in regards to gaming, but these should make very good resolutions that will contribute to the gaming community at least on some level. Ultimately, that's really what it's all about. I know that I will be gaming as regularly as life allows. That isn't a stretch. The above will be a stretch, but if I can manage it, then I'll be a very happy camper at the end of 2010, at least on the gaming front.

More Later,