Category Archives: Other Systems

Barbarians of the Ruined Earth Art

More art has poured in from some amazing artists for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth! I’m getting closer to launching a kickstarter for the book. I have a few odds and ends I need to wrap up for it and once my RL work calms down, I’ll have more time to focus on all of this.

I wanted to do a post capturing the art of the book! I’m so fucking thrilled with what these talented artists have illustrated for me. Some of these have already been shared on my blog, others haven’t:)

Note: These will also be posted to my Instagram as well.

Edit: Added these two new pieces 4/15/19

Some hirelings found in the Ruined Earth- Art by JV West



Zora the Barbarian gets bashed by a Car Golem while Rathu the Sorcerer and Atook the Beastman are lost in the creature’s toxic smog.

Here is where the original blog post started

Zora the Barbarian deals the final blow to a hideous Goat-snake! Art by JV West!
Rahtu the Sorcerer is being choked by a horrifying mummy while Zora and Atook obliviously scout ahead for danger. Art by JV West.
Weaponized Animals can be used to deadly effects against foes. This was totally inspired by Pirates of Dark Water. Art by JV West.
A ramshackle human village is attacked by a cursed chunk of the moon! Art by JV West.


Pig Raiders roar through the wastes of the Ruined Earth. Art by David Lewis Johnson.

Village of the Winged Mutant People. Art by Kelvin Green.
The three heroes take on a mutant riding in a piece of Stupendous Science, the Devastator!

Zora and Rathu look on in horror as the Horrible Bear Monster swallows the sun, casting the earth in darkness for a whole year. Art by Kelvin Green.

The earth as we know it was destroyed when an alien planetoid slammed into our moon. Art by Kelvin Green.
The Western Wastes- what is currently LA and Santa Monica. Art by Kelvin Green.
The Beastman class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.

The Death Priest class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Robot class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Scavenger class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Sorcerer class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Urchin class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.
The Vek class pic. Art by Matthew Adams.

Barbarians the Ruined Earth: Episode 2- The Terror of Isotope, Part 1

Session 2

The ACTUAL Beginning

While last session was a fun time, it was more of an introduction to Barbarians and shit than actually having an impact on the campaign. We began with the group rolling up characters and I introduced them to their village of Craterton.  A small ramshackle town of humans (mostly) that was constructed around the chunk of the fallen moon.  Craterton is in the Western Wastes, northeast of Nukatomi Plaza and is led by Maloon, an aging Terromancer who hung up her adventurer’s gear for a “quieter” life. 

Here’s what we ended up with:

Players

Note: All these classes linked on my blog are the old versions and several changes have been made to the final product.

Angie- Isosceles the Sorcerer

Emma- Robbie the Robot

Nate- Pongo the Armadite

Sami- A Death Priest

Kevin- Short Round the Urban Urchin

Jamie- Kermie the Toad Beastman

Katie- Xena the Barbarian

Brian- A Vek

I’m a stupid jerk because I can’t remember Sami’s and Brian’s character names…

An Explosive Intro

I started off the session with showing the group a map of Craterton and let them talk to a few NPCs.  Then I described one of the guards clanging the alarm bell, stating there was a human woman running towards the town. 

The town of Craterton

Once the human female entered the village, she introduced herself as Ella.  She had managed to escape from the slave camp of the Sorcerer Isotope!  She was in the fields of the Snakemen village, picking the purple flowers of the Violet Cactus.  When pressed why she was picking flowers, “They are dried and used to create a compound that makes people have strange visions.  The Snakemen priests use them for their ceremonies and the slaves are giving some to keep them docile.” 

The group then asked about the more troubling matter, who was Isotpe.  Ella explained that Istope was a fiend.  He is a powerful Sorcerer that steals the life of people to keep himself young and healthy.  Ella knew it was only a matter of time before she was carted off to the holding cells in his Devastation Machine to be zapped of her lifeforce.  She planned and schemed and when a guard wasn’t looking, she managed to sneak away through the cactus fields and just ran.  Dying in the desert would be better than at the hands of that dastardly Sorcerer!

After Ella finished her story the guard clanged the bell again.  A band of motorcycles was making their way to the village!  In front was a Pig Raider!  Ella panicked, “Zeke!  He’s Isotope’s enforcer.  He’s found me.”

Marloon commanded the village to close the gate and get ready for a fight. 

Battle Time

I enjoy kicking off campaigns with a quick set up and jumping right into combat.  It’s a great way to introduce or refresh players to the mechanics as well as setting the tone for the whole campaign. 

The battle started off with the Zeke on his monster hog of a motorcycle, two other motorcycles, each with two raiders, and a ramshackle motorcycle with a single twitchy raider.  Zeke demanded the human returned to him and tribute be made to Isotope or else they’d burn the village down. 

With that we rolled initiative.  The group took pot shots at the raiders, but none were successful.  Zeke looked at the twitcy raider, “Alright, Duke!  You know what to do!”

Duke giggled and slapped his ramshackle motorcycle like a pony and charged the village wall.  The group tried to shoot Duke, but all missed.  Duke slammed into the wall and a massive explosion ripped through the village, destroying several buildings and killing roughly half the population (11 people total). 

Note: Not gonna lie- I love Mad Max: Fury Road and any change I get to put shit form that movie in a game- yeah- I’m gonna do it.

The group all found themselves lying on the ground, kissing dirt from the explosion.  The Death Priest was the first to get up.  She ran to the gaping hole in the wall and cast the Miracle Terrify (see below).

Terrify: The Death Priest channels the wrath of the dead, using the power of their words to cause unsettling fear in their enemies in a Nearby area. The Death Priest must successfully test their Charisma for each group of creatures they are attempting to rattle, adding the creatures’ HD to the roll. A GM will determine which creatures are in any particular group. Creatures that are Terrified by the Death Priest must spend all their movement (and convert actions to movement) to move away from the Death Priest for 2d4 rounds after being Terrified.

I decided that for simplicity, the enemies were all one group for Sami to test her Charisma against.  Aaaaaaannnndddd she rolled a 1.  So, the raiders shit their pants and Zeke squealed like a motherfucker, “Isotope won’t forget about this!  He’ll punish you!  I ain’t dying here!”  With that the baddies turned tail and ran, fleeing towards the west, in the direction of the Snakemen village. 

With that we ended the session.  I then placed a map in front of the group (see below) and said the area they live in is known and caravans have travelled to Craterton and have told stories about what’s around.  The notes on the map are to give enough info for the group to choose what they are interested in doing. 

Aside: My group and I only get to play once a month and our sessions usually only go for an hour and a half to three hours (sometimes thee and a half if we are extremely lucky), so I try to give as much info as possible to cut through the bullshit and preamble so we can get right to the action and fun.

I asked what the group wanted to do- and they decided they wanted to smash Isotope’s face in- so we ended with the group following Zeke’s motorcycle tracks. 

Next Session: Sneaking around the Snakemen village. 

Here’s the map, unlabeled. This is close to how it will appear in the book.

Further Design Thoughts on Spells for The Sorcerer Class of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Updated Rules, and Some New Art

Last week I posted the new spellcasting rules for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth.

After the initial conversations with my wife and her thoughts/concerns regarding the original alternative magic system I had written for the Sorcerer class, I took a step back and asked myself a few questions.

  1. What am I trying to accomplish here?
  2. Is what I’ve written fun?
  3. Is there a type of player who wouldn’t find this fun?
  4. Does this really add anything and really do what I’m wanting it to?

I figured it would be fun to go through this on my blog for those who are interested

Q1- What am I trying to accomplish here?

A1- To capture the feel of Thundarr the Barbarian, Pirates of Dark Water (and the like) with a sprinkle of Mad Max: Fury Road. I wanted to do this with as little “rules” as possible (hence why I used The Black Hack, 1e). I wanted the magic in it to be free flow and crazy as it is in Thundarr the Barbarian. I didn’t want it to be limited to a spell list and spells per day (although the standard spell rules from TBH were included in the book for those that didn’t want to use the alternative casting).

Q2- Is what I’ve written fun?

A2- I’ve been running various games of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth for over a year now and several people have had fun with the alternative casting rules. I watched as my players came up with cool and fun ways to use the spells on the fly… but something was biting at the back of my brain (see below).

Q3- Is there a type of player who wouldn’t find this fun?

A3- Absolutely. What I noticed is players didn’t like coming up with spells on their own all the time, or it would just fall into a “I want to damage them” or “I want to protect myself”… Some players would throw some utilitarian or healing style spells, but not as often as the damage/protect wash, rinse, repeat avenue.

Q4- Does this really add anything and really do what I’m wanting it to?

A4- Once I stepped back and really looked at it, I don’t think it did. I think it wasn’t as clearly written as I had hoped, gave some players decision paralysis, and bogged down play- which is precisely what I DON’T want.

I decided to design spells so they were in line with abilities and weapon damage of other classes, scaling only slightly as the Sorcerer gains levels. Some spells give an added benefit as the sacrifice of another- duration is in rounds or turns (a few are in hours), but I nixed effects that lasted days, hours, weeks, etc.

My goal was to make magic as close to Thundarr as possible. I didn’t want to do spells per day; you don’t see Ariel saying, “Hold on Thundarr! I can’t ride through the night because I’m out of spells.” However, based on the experiences I got from playtesting- I didn’t want to do free form either.

I went through my notes of Thundarr and wrote out spells that from the show (Light Bridges, anyone?). I also decided that detecting magic, danger, or Stupendous Science should be an innate ability rather than a spell.

Finally I give a little advice/thought to creating new schools of magic.

The spells have been cleaned up and changed since I posted last week and I added a new school of magic, Stupendous Science.

Status Update

Matt Hildebrand is working hard on the layout of the book! We are nearly done tightening it up and then I’ll start getting the rest of the art done! Looking forward to this being out!

Here’s three new pieces by the sexy and amazing Kelvin Green as well!

The adventurer’s fight the Terrible Bear Monster
The adventurer’s battle a crazed mutant raider in the Devastator- a nasty piece of Stupendous Science!
Behold as the moon was destroyed by the collision of an alien planetoid!

Here is a PDF version of this as I know WordPress makes tables look like ass in the blog format.

Magic System

Art by Matthew Adams for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

There are 10 “schools” of magic that Sorcerers harness to cast spells.  These spells allow the Sorcerer to manipulate, harm or hinder their foes, heal themselves or their allies, or even alter themselves with Stupendous Science!  Each “school” contains three spells. Starting at 1st level, a Sorcerer begins play knowing four schools and one spell from each (player’s choice).  Every level a Sorcerer chooses a new spell from a school they already know.   Every third level the Sorcerer learns a new school and gains one of its spells.  For Example:  A 10th level Sorcerer has mastered 7 of the 10 schools of magic and knows 17 of the 30 spells.   

A Sorcerer can cast any spell they know by succeeding on an Intelligence Save.  If the roll fails, they are unable to harness the magical energies necessary to use magic.  If the Sorcerer rolls a 20 on their Intelligence test, they lose the ability to cast spells for 24 hours.  Sorcerers can attempt to cast any spell they do not know, but the Intelligence roll is made with Disadvantage.  If a 20 is rolled when casting an unknown spell, it backfires disastrously, causing harm to the Sorcerer and loss of the ability to cast spells for 1d3 days.  Note that some spells may require an additional roll (as per the spell’s description) to function properly. 

Note on Magic: Players should feel free to ignore the spell descriptions, if they choose, and make up their own descriptions of how the spell manifests.  Magic in Barbarians of the Ruined Earth is zany and crazy; it’s an 80’s infused-kaleidoscope powered by heavy metal.  It’s an illuminated disco dance floor pulsing to the rhythm of fantastical machinery.  It’s inappropriate leather and spandex mixed with maniacal laughter and roars of fury.  It’s what you make it- so have a blast!

Creating New Schools and Spells: GM’s should feel free to create new schools and spells of magic!  Perhaps a long-forgotten school of magic is discovered in a brittle old book, and study and experimentation will unlock its secrets.  Look at the spells listed below as a guideline.  Damage should be comparable to weapon damage of the other classes while durations should be in rounds, turns, or hours- not days, weeks, or years.  Damage and duration should only increase slightly as the Sorcerer gains levels.  In Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Sorcerer’s can cast spells more freely than standard OSR rules, so attention must be paid to not make these them overly powerful. 

Sorcerer Ability:

Detect: The Sorcerer chooses to detect magic, Stupendous Science, or danger at the time of casting.  Everything Nearby that is considered that category glows.  Duration: 5 minutes.  If the Sorcerer studies the object for 10 minutes, it is identified for what it is and how it functions. 

Arcane
Obtained Spell
  Magical Ally: The Sorcerer summons an ally composed completely of magic.  The creature’s appearance is as Sorcerer desires.  These creatures have 1 HP per Sorcerer level and deal 1d6 damage.  Increase to 2 HP, 1 RP, and 1d8 damage when Sorcerer reaches 5th level.  A Sorcerer can summon a number of these allies equal to their level (must be cast multiple times).  These creatures are not intelligent and obey simple commands.  They do not have any special abilities. Duration: Lasts until killed. 
  Dispel Magic: The Sorcerer dampens a Nearby Arcane spell effect, be it a piece of Stupendous Science, magical item, or another Sorcerer or Death Priest’s spell.  If cast on Sorcerers and Death Priests, but they get to roll a WIS save with Advantage to avoid the effects.  If the Sorcerer or Death Priest has more HD than the caster, they are immune to this effect.  This is also applicable to magic items or pieces of Stupendous Science that are more powerful than the Sorcerer (GM’s decision).  Duration: 1d4 hours. 
  Animate Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to imbue a Nearby object with motion and simple intelligence.  Duration: 10 minutes.
Blight
Obtained Spell
  Plague: Sorcerer makes a Wisdom test against all Nearby targets.  If successful, targets suffer 1d4 damage per round for the next 1d6 rounds (ignores armor).  Targets are covered in boils, sores, and have a clammy, pallid appearance. 
  Confusion: The Sorcerer reaches into the mind of a target, befuddling them for 1d4 rounds. Each time the affected target attempts to act they must roll 1d8: 1-4) Do nothing; 5) Act normally; 6) Attack ally; 7) Flee for 1d4 rounds (do not roll during this time); 8) Attack self.
  Animate Dead: The Sorcerer uses dark magics to summon forth 1d4 Skeletons/Zombies with 2 HD each, from nearby bodies.  These undead remain until destroyed or banished.  The Sorcerer cannot summon any more undead until all current Skeletons/Zombies have been slain or banished. 
Control
Obtained Spell
  Charm: The Sorcerer uses magic to beguile a Nearby target.  The target obeys any command of the Sorcerer, If the Sorcerer gives a command that would directly result in the target’s death or is out of their character, the Sorcerer must succeed a WIS test (with Disadvantage).  The Sorcerer must pass a Wisdom test each turn to see if the effect lasts.
  Sleep: The Sorcerer places a 1d3 targets in a Nearby radius in a magical sleep.  Targets with 2 HD or more are immune to this effect.   At 5th level the Sorcerer can affect 2d4 targets in a Nearby radius.  At 10th level the spell can affect creatures with 4 HD or less. Duration: Number of rounds equal to Sorcerer’s level.  Loud noises can arouse affected targets.
  Hold Person: The Sorcerer uses magic to paralyze 1d6 Nearby targets. After the first round, the Sorcerer must test their Wisdom each round to see if the effect lasts.  Targets with 6 HD or less are immune. 
Force
Obtained Spell
  Stunning Orbs: The Sorcerer conjures 1d4 balls of light that can be directed at Nearby targets.  The Sorcerer must succeed a DEX test to hit the target.  If successful, the target is stunned for 1d4 rounds.  Targets of 3HD or more are immune to this effect.  
  Blast: The Sorcerer release a bolt of energy at a target up to Distant range for 1d6+1 damage (ignoring armor).  The Sorcerer must succeed a DEX test to hit the target(s).  When the Sorcerer reaches 5th and 7th level they gain an additional bolt.  These bolts of energy can be released at one or separate targets.  A Sorcerer can forgo multiple blasts by releasing a wave of energy that hits all targets for 1d8 damage in a Nearby radius (no attack roll necessary).
  Whirlwind: The Sorcerer conjures a whirlwind which engulfs up to three targets (must be standing next to one another).  At the start of the next round the whirlwind flings them Nearby distance, stunning them for 1 round and dealing 1d6 damage.  A Sorcerer can concentrate increasing the effects of the of the spell each round for three rounds.  Second round: stunned for 2 rounds and suffer 1d8 damage.  Third round: stunned for 3 rounds and suffer 1d10 damage. 
Illusion
Obtained Spell
  Invisibility: The Sorcerer uses magic to bend reality and make themselves or a touched creature invisible.  This does not mask sounds or hide tracks made.  Duration: Lasts until the target attacks or the Sorcerer dispels the effect. 
  Silence: Magical silence covering everything Nearby to a target.  Duration: 1 hour.
  Darkness: The Sorcerer release an inky cloud of smoke covering a Nearby area that blocks all types of vision (all melee attacks suffer Disadvantage and ranged attacks miss automatically).  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
Movement
Obtained Spell
  Light Bridge: The Sorcerer creates a bright golden bridge of pure light that extends from the caster’s feet up to the Sorcerer’s level x 30’ away.  The bridge can handle up to an automobile in weight.  Duration: The bridge remains for 10 minutes per Sorcerer level or the Sorcerer cancels the effect. 
  Web: The Sorcerer’s hands release a web that grows to encompass a Nearby area.  Web stops movement.  Must make a STR test (Disadvantage) to cut it or burn it to break free.  If freed, movement is reduced to one quarter of normal.  Target must make a new test each round (or Luck roll for NPCs) to remain free.  Test Wisdom each hour to see if the effect lasts. 
  Float: The Sorcerer touches a target (including self?), granting them the ability to float down from great heights (roughly 60’) and land on the ground safely.  The distance is increased to 150ft when the Sorcerer reaches 5th level and the Sorcerer can cast this on all Nearby allies (and objects?) .  Duration: 10 minutes.
Protection
Obtained Spell
  Force Field: The Sorcerer conjures a protective bubble that encases them.  The bubble has 1 HP per level.  The bubble must be destroyed before the Sorcerer takes further damage.  This sorcerer can still cast spells while in the bubble, but not physically attack or use their staff.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can cast this spell on an ally and the bubble has 2 HP per Sorcerer level.  Duration: Lasts until consumed.
  Sorcerer’s Aid: All Nearby allies defend against attacks with Advantage.  Duration: 1d4 rounds.
  Wall of Fire/Ice/Stone/Energy: The Sorcerer summons a wall that encompasses a Nearby area.  Duration: 10 minutes (see description).  Choose type of wall below: Fire: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d6 fire damage per round until they get further away.  Running through the flames results in an extra 1d6 damage. Frost: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d4 frost damage per round until they get further away.  Targets become frozen and can only take a partial action (either move or attack) per round while near the wall and an additional round after.  Running through the frost results in an extra 1d4 damage. Stone: Thick stone wall bars passage.  The wall is 10’ tall and will only crumble if 50 points of damage has been done to it.  Energy: Yellow swirling energy bars passage and will even block magical attacks and effects.  
Restoration
Obtained Spell
  Cure Wounds: The Sorcerer heals a Nearby living target for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level this increases to 2 HD of hit points. 
  Cure Disease: The Sorcerer releases a wave of healing energy at a Nearby target, removing a single disease from them.
  Neutralize Poison: Energy flows from the Sorcerer, encasing a target for just a moment, removing any poison from a Nearby target or making them immune to poison for 10 minutes (Sorcerer’s choice).
Stupendous Science
Obtained Spell
  Conjure Device: The Sorcerer can create small items such as chairs, melee and ranged weapons, helmets that allow a person to breathe underwater, even laser pistols, or a small hoversled that holds up to two people (GM has final arbitration on what can be created).  All these items are created by magic and do not actually have inner working pieces.  A Sorcerer cannot have more than three devices created at one time.  At 7th level a Sorcerer cannot have more than five devices created at one time.  Duration: 1 hour or if the Sorcerer is knocked unconscious/killed.    A Sorcerer can opt to create a single permanent device.  If they do so, they cannot use this spell again for one week.  
  Repair Technology: The Sorcerer can use magic to repair small damaged pieces of technology/machinery (broken laser weaponry, cell phones, etc.) which are repaired instantly.  Robots are healed for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can heal Robots for 2 HD of hit points.  Additionally, the Sorcerer can use magic to repair more complicated piece of a technology/machinery (factory equipment, vehicles up to a two-person helicopter, etc.). 
  Augment: The Sorcerer uses magic to fuse cyberware (pg XX) to their body (or another person or creature).  This process is less risky and invasive than the unsanitary surgical conditions in the Ruined Earth and there is no pain or recovery time involved.  If the Sorcerer fails their spellcasting roll, they cannot attempt to augment that piece of cyberware again.    
Transformation
Obtained Spell
  Mist Form: The Sorcerer can transform into mist and float around, up to 50’ high, and back, at will.  While in this form the Sorcerer can move through cracks, keyholes, etc.  They move slowly, roughly 10’ per round.  Only magical attacks can harm the Sorcerer while in this form.  The Sorcerer cannot communicate, manipulate or interact with objects, or use magic while in this form.  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
  Morph Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to transform a mundane object (or weak Stupendous Science items) into something else.  For example, an enemy’s laser pistol can be turned into a stick or a metal girder transformed into manacles that bind a target.   The effect is permanent and cannot be reversed. 
  Change Shape:  The Sorcerer transforms themselves or a willing target into another creature of equal or less HD.  The target gains all abilities of the new form.  At 7th level the Sorcerer can transform an unwilling target.  Duration: 1 hour per Sorcerer level. 

The Sorcerer Spell Casting for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

Recently I’ve started running Barbarians of the Ruined Earth for my Rochester group. We are four sessions in and everyone seems to be having a blast thus far. Hopefully someday I’ll have time to do a quick summary of the sessions, but who knows.

After the second session, my wife, who is playing a Sorcerer stated that she wasn’t a fan of the Alternative Casting rules I had written. So upfront- my wife isn’t a gamer. She plays once a month and does proofing and art for me (to which I am eternally grateful)… so when she starts debating mechanics in a game with me- I listen.

After hearing her feedback/concerns, I really looked at why I went that route. I listed the standard spell list found in The Black Hack (and other OSR books) for those who preferred that, as well as the free form casting. The reason behind this was to try and capture the feel of Thundarr the Barbarian.

When I really started looking at it though, it is overpowered and I felt it ended up being more confusing and cumbersome than it was worth. I then looked at the standard magic list and system and felt that didn’t quite work for me either.

So after some thought, here’s where I’m leaning on this.

New Magic System

There are “schools” of magic, each has three spells the Sorcerer can cast.  At 1st level a Sorcerer begins play knowing three schools and one spell from each.  Every even level a Sorcerer chooses a new spell from a school they know.   Every third level they learn a new school and gain one of the spells in it. 

To cast a spell the Sorcerer knows, they must succeed on an Int save (like attacking).  If they roll a 20, they lose the ability to cast spells for 24 hours.  A sorcerer can attempt to cast any spell they do not know, but the roll is made with Disadvantage.  If they roll a 20 on a spell they do not know, the spell backfires disastrously and they lose the ability to cast spells for 1d3 days.  Note that some spells may require an additional roll (as per the spell’s description) to function properly. 

Sorcerer Ability:

Detect: The Sorcerer chooses to detect magic, Stupendous Science, or danger at the time of casting.  Everything Nearby that is considered that category glows.  Duration: 5 minutes.  If the Sorcerer studies the object for 10 minutes, it is identify for what it is and how it functions. 

Restoration
Obtained Spell
  Cure Wounds: The Sorcerer heals a Nearby target for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level this increases to 2 HD of hit points. 
  Cure Disease: The Sorcerer releases a wave of healing energy at a Nearby target, removing a single disease from them.
  Neutralize Poison: Energy flows from the Sorcerer, encasing a target for just a moment, removing any poison from a Nearby target or making them immune to poison for 10 minutes (Sorcerer’s choice).
Protection
Obtained Spell
  Force Field: The Sorcerer conjures a protective bubble that encases them.  The bubble has 1 HP per level.  The bubble must be destroyed before the Sorcerer takes further damage.  This sorcerer can still cast spells while in the bubble, but not physically attack or use their staff.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can cast this spell on an ally and the bubble has 2 HP per Sorcerer level.  Duration: Lasts until consumed.
  Sorcerer’s Aid: All Nearby allies defend against attacks with Advantage.  Duration: 1d4 rounds.
  Wall of Fire/Ice/Stone/Energy: The Sorcerer summons a wall covers a Nearby area.  Duration: 10 minutes (see description).  Choose type of wall below:   Fire: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d6 fire damage per round until they get further away.  Running through the flames results in an extra 1d6 damage. Frost: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d4 frost damage per round until they get further away.  Targets become frozen and can only take a partial action (either move or attack) per round while near the way and an additional round after.    Running through the frost results in an extra 1d4 damage. Stone: Thick stone wall bars passage.  The wall is 10’ tall and will only crumble if 50 points of damage has been done to it.   Energy: Yellow swirling energy bars passage and will even block magical attacks and effects.   
Control
Obtained Spell
  Charm: The Sorcerer uses magic to beguile a Nearby target.  The target obeys any command of the Sorcerer, If the Sorcerer gives a command that would directly result in the target’s death or is out of their character, the Sorcerer must succeed a WIS test (with Disadvantage).  The Sorcerer must pass a Wisdom test each turn to see if the effect lasts.
  Sleep: The Sorcerer places a 1d3 targets in a Nearby radius in a magically sleep.  Targets with 2 HD or more are immune to this effect.   At 5th level the Sorcerer can affect 2d4 targets in a Nearby radius.  At 10th level the spell can affect creatures with 4 HD or less. Duration: Number of rounds equal to Sorcerer’s level.  Loud noises can arouse affected targets.
  Hold Person: The Sorcerer uses magic to paralyze 1d6 Nearby targets. After the first round, the Sorcerer must test their Wisdom each round to see if the effect lasts.  Targets with 6 HD or less are immune. 
Movement
Obtained Spell
  Light Bridge: The Sorcerer creates a bright golden bridge of pure light that extends from the caster’s feet up to the Sorcerer’s level x 30’ away.  The bridge can handle up to an automobile in weight.  Duration: The bridge remains for 10 minutes per Sorcerer level or the Sorcerer cancels the effect. 
  Web: Release a web from hands that grows to encompass a Nearby area.  Web stops movement.  Must make a STR test (Disadvantage), cut it, or burn it to break free.  If free, movement is reduced to one quarter of normal.  Target must make a new test each round (or Luck roll for NPCs) to remain free.  Test Wisdom each hour to see if the effect lasts. 
  Float: The Sorcerer touches target, granting them the ability to float down from great heights (roughly 60’) and land on the ground safely.  The distance is increased to 150ft when the Sorcerer reaches 5th level and the Sorcerer can cast this on all Nearby allies.  Duration: 10 minutes.
Transformation
Obtained Spell
  Mist Form: The Sorcerer can transform into mist and float around, up to 50’ high, and back, at will.  While in this form the Sorcerer can move through cracks, keyholes, etc.  They move slowly, roughly 10’ per round.  Only magical attacks can harm the Sorcerer while in this form.  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
  Morph Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to transform a mundane object (or weak Stupendous Science items) into something else.  For example, an enemy’s laser pistol can be turned into a stick or a metal girder transformed into manacles that bind a target.   The effect is permanent and cannot be reversed. 
  Change Shape:  The Sorcerer transforms themselves or a willing target into another creature of equal or less HD.  The target gains all abilities of the new form.  At 7th level the Sorcerer can transform an unwilling target.  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level. 
Illusion
Obtained Spell
  Invisibility: The Sorcerer uses magic to bend reality and make themselves or a touched creature invisible.  This does not mask sounds or hide tracks made.  Duration: Lasts until the target attacks or the Sorcerer dispels the effect. 
  Silence: Magical silence covering everything Nearby to a target.  Duration: 1 hour.
  Darkness: The Sorcerer release an inky cloud of smoke covering a Nearby area that blocks all types of vision (all melee attacks suffer Disadvantage and ranged attacks miss automatically).  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
Arcane
Obtained Spell
  Magical Ally: The Sorcerer summon an ally composed completely of magic.  The creature’s appearance is as Sorcerer desires.  These creatures have 1 HP per Sorcerer level and deal 1d6 damage.  Increase to 2 HP, 1 RP, and 1d8 damage when Sorcerer reaches 5th level.  A Sorcerer can summon a number of these allies equal to their level (must be cast multiple times).  Duration: Lasts until killed. 
  Dispel Magic: The Sorcerer dampens a Nearby Arcane spell effect, be it a piece of Stupendous Science, magical item, or another Sorcerer or Death Priest.  If cast on Sorcerers and Death Priests, but they get to roll a WIS save with Advantage to avoid the effects.  If the Sorcerer or Death Priest has more HD than the caster, they are immune to this effect.  Duration: 1d4 hours. 
  Animate Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to imbue a Nearby object with motion and simple intelligence.  Duration: 10 minutes.
Force
Obtained Spell
  Stunning Orbs: The Sorcerer conjures 1d4 balls of light that can be directed at Nearby targets.  The Sorcerer must succeed a Dex test to hit the target.  If successful, the target is stunned for 1d4 rounds.  Targets of 3HD or more are immune to this effect.  
  Blast: The Sorcerer release a bolt of energy at a target up to Distant range for 1d6+1 damage.  This spell ignores armor.  When the Sorcerer reaches 5th and 7th level they gain an additional bolt.  These bolts of energy can be released at one or separate targets.  A Sorcerer can forgo multiple blasts by releasing a wave of energy that hits all targets for 1d8 damage in a Nearby radius.
  Whirlwind: The Sorcerer conjures a whirlwind which engulfs up to three targets (must be standing next to one another).  At the start of the next round the whirlwind flings them Nearby distance, stunning them for 1 round and dealing 1d6 damage.  A Sorcerer can concentrate increasing the effects of the of the spell each round for three rounds.  Second round: stunned for 2 rounds and suffer 1d8 damage.  Third round: stunned for 3 rounds and suffer 1d10 damage. 
Blight
Obtained Spell
  Plague: Sorcerer makes a Wisdom test against all Nearby targets.  If successful, targets suffer 1d4 damage per round for the next 1d6 rounds (ignores armor).  Targets are covered in boils, sores, and have a clammy, pallid appearance. 
  Confusion: The Sorcerer reaches into the mind of a target, befuddling them for 1d4 rounds. Each time the affected target attempts to act they must roll 1d8: 1-4) Do nothing; 5) Act normally; 6) Attack ally; 7) Flee for 1d4 rounds (do not roll during this time); 8) Attack self.
  Animate Dead: The Sorcerer uses dark magics to summon forth 1d4 Skeletons/Zombies with 2 HD each, from nearby bodies.  These undead remain until destroyed or banished.  The Sorcerer caannot summon any more undead until all current Skeletons/Zombies have been slain or banished. 

Guest Post- Review of Hubris by James Maliszewski

Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure is available on Drivethrurpg and Lulu.)

I’ve known Mike Evans for a long time, starting with reading his blog, way back in the mists of 2009. In the years since, we’ve exchanged emails, commented on one another’s posts on G+, and generally moved in the same circles. In that time, I’ve come to admire his creativity, his industry, and, above all, his perseverance in pursuit of his dreams, perhaps the greatest of which is his Hubris campaign setting, published in 2016.

Being an (increasingly) old and out-of-touch person, I didn’t get around to seeing a copy of Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure until a few weeks ago, thanks to the generosity of Mike. I mention this both to thank Mike and to be upfront about our connections to one another. In my experience, many people expect a certain degree of detachment and objectivity from something purporting to be a review. If so, what follows most certainly isn’t a review so much as a collection of thoughts occasioned by reading Hubris. Even so, I hope these thoughts will nevertheless prove useful.

Hubris is an original setting for use with Goodman Games’s Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game, presented in a large 348-page book. Like so many third-party DCC RPG materials, Hubris is weird. I don’t mean that negatively. What I mean is that it goes off in unexpected directions, mixing and matching stuff that generally isn’t put together (or at least that I wouldn’t put together), and then cranking it up to 11. You only need take a look at Mike’s version of Appendix N to get a sense of what I’m talking about: a stew of Lewis Carroll, Robert E. Howard, Army of Darkness, Princess Mononoke, and Metallica – just to name a few of its eclectic “literary” sources. To call it “a sword and sorcery campaign setting,” as the cover blurb does isn’t to do it justice, but then I’m not entirely sure what would do so.

For me, whose own tastes in fantasy tend toward the prosaic, what really sets Hubris apart is its wild creativity, starting with its additions and changes to the DCC RPG rules. There is, for example, a new table of occupations for starting characters. Simply reading the table gives you a good idea of what the setting of Hubris is like. There are alien abductees, chimney sweep children, flimflam artists, nosey neighbors, pig wrestlers, and snake handlers, to name but a few. There are also five new races, each with their own table of occupations. It’s amazing how much flavor is packed into this single table, except that this isn’t the only table like this. Hubris is positively packed with imaginative tables, which both efficiently present the setting without the need for lots of encylcopedia-style exposition and inspire players and judges alike.

There are four new classes, too, such as the Dr. Jekyll-like alchemist, fiendish blood witch, bestial druid, and stealthy shadowdancer. These are in addition to the aforementioned five new races, which function as classes like those in the DCC RPG rulebook. Wizards get four new patrons (in addition to freakish, living spellbooks), while clerics get twelve new gods. And, of course, both classes get new spells and other game mechanical goodies. This is all good stuff, but it’s the kind of material you’d find in almost any RPG setting book.

But the real glory of Hubris is its presentation of the setting itself. Instead of long, faux-academic entries on the Great Plains of Unbidden Sorrow or the Land of Perpetual Stone and Mire, we’re treated to short overviews of the setting’s regions, followed by tables, tables, and more tables. Some present rumors and adventure hooks, while others typical encounters, “the lay of the land” (that is, unique locales within a region), or even more specific content (such as the effects of bathing in the Black Pool of Inexplicable Ecstasy or your opponents in the Arena of Blood). It’s frankly a brilliant way of presenting a setting, one that gives judges lots of leeway to mold it to their needs while still providing plenty of details to hang their hat on.

Hubris also offers many more tables for the judge, all of which combine utility with flavor. There are tables for ancient and forgotten demigods, bandits, grave diggin’, herbs, taverns – just about anything you’d need in the course of play. That’s another aspect of Hubris that comes through in reading it: Mike has clearly used this setting extensively. Its content is geared toward play rather than simply being an exercise in creativity. Hubris is a big book, yes, but it’s filled with very practical material. This includes the magic items, monsters, and, above all, starter adventures (one of which is a funnel). Reading through this, I found myself wanting to run my own Hubris campaign and, because of the material included in its page, I felt like I could.

If I have a complaint about Hubris, it’s that it’s pretty gonzo. It’s a kitchen sink setting filled with mutants, bird-men, half-demons, steam-mechs, sex prophets, and dinosaurs, among many, many other things. At times, it’s a little too much. I occasionally felt overwhelmed by it all. But, as I noted above, one of the glories of Hubris is its presentation, which is highly customizable. Don’t like some aspect of the setting? Change it or get rid of it entirely. Want to add something to it that you think is missing? Go right ahead. There’s no One True Hubris, except perhaps the one you’re using at your own table and the book makes it extremely easy to turn it into the setting you want it to be.

Ultimately, that’s why I was so inspired by Hubris. There’s no doubt that some of the material included in its pages is terrifically imaginative, but it’s the presentation that really grabbed me. Mike Evans has done a remarkable thing here, providing us with a toolkit that is simply packed with tools of every conceivable shape and size. Even if you’re not interested in using a single thing directly from Hubris – and I’d be amazed if anyone could read it and not want to swipe at least a couple of things for their own campaigns – you’ll have your eyes opened about how to introduce a setting and its details.

Hubris is terrific. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


I’ve Got That Zelda Feeling, Whoa oh oh Yeah…

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games I’ve played in a decade, if not ever.  The game rewards exploration and experimentation with weapons, abilities, items, etc. that I haven’t really seen in another game.  

Anyways, I could gush on the game all day- but if you’re interested in it, here’s a great review by Previously Recorded (these dudes are part of Red Letter Media).  

Anyways, I was taking a shower and washing my bits and baubles (nice image there) and started pondering how I would handle damage and HP if I wanted to capture that feel of Zelda mechanics. 

Here’s the rough idea (completely untested).

Attributes

I’d use the standard attributes from D&D: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  Players would roll 2d6+5 for each stat.  This would result in more competent characters than traditional OSR, but hey- this is Zelda.

Hit Points

Traditional hit points are gone.  Instead each character starts with three hearts.  These hearts, as per normal hit points, represent your vitality and how much damage you can take.  Hearts have three levels: Full, Half, and Empty.  When you reach zero hearts, you are dead.   More on damage below.


Mechanics

I’d like to keep it simple- roll under, same as The Black Hack or Into the Odd.  

Things I Can Do

A character can take two actions per round.  They can move twice, attack twice, move and attack, look through their pack and take a potion, use an ability from an item twice, etc. 

Initiative

Roll 1d20.  Who ever gets the lowest result goes first.  Then proceed in numerical order.  

Combat and Damage

For melee attacks and defense, the player would need to roll under their Strength.  For ranged attacks and defense, the player would need to roll under their Dexterity.  

Weapons would be broken down into five categories: Small (dagger, throwing star/knives, shiv, etc.: 1 die); Light (short sword, bow, club, boomerang, etc.: 2 dice); Medium (long bow, bastard sword, crossbow, warhammer, etc.: 3 dice); Heavy (two-handed: great axe, great sword, falchion, spear, halberd, etc.: 3 dice); Large (weapons for larger creatures- must be held in two hands, giant axe, giant sword, etc.: 4 dice); Siege Weapons and Explosives (ballista, catapult, bomb arrow, bombs, etc.: 5 dice). 

When a target is hit by an attack, roll a number of d6’s indicated by the weapon type.  If the result is even, that means 1 full heart of damage.  If the result is odd, that means 1/2 heart of damage.  

For Example: Link is wielding a longsword and a shield and in combat with a bokoblin and successfully rolls under his Strength, meaning he rolls three 1d6’s for damage.  Link’s player rolls 3d6 and gets: 4, 1, and 3; meaning that the bokoblin takes two full hearts of damage (out of four).  

Powerful Foes

Some enemies are super beefy (bosses, magically enhanced creatures, etc.) and pack more punch.  After a Powerful Foe rolls damage, they can pick up any dice that are an odd number and reroll them, attempting to get an even number.  This can only be done once per attack.  

Armor

Armor offers protection against damage from a foe’s blade.  The heavier the armor, the more damage can be potentially absorbed.  However, the heavier the armor, the slower the characters moves or perform delicate tasks).  Armor is broken into three categories: Light (Absorption: 1 die; Move: Normal; Dexterity Penalty: None); Medium (Absorption: 2 dice; Move: -5 ft; Dexterity Penalty: +1d6); Heavy (Absorption: 3 dice; Move: -10 ft; Dexterity Penalty: +1d8).  

When struck by an attack, roll a number of d6’s indicated by the armor being worn.  Compare the results to the attackers.  Each Even and Odd cancels out one of the attackers. 

For Example: After Link successfully attacked the bokoblin, it quickly retaliated, hitting Link with its jagged club (3 dice of damage).  The GM rolls 3d6 and gets: 4, 4, and 1, meaning Link would suffer 2 1/2 hearts of damage (out of his five).  However, Link is wearing medium armor, meaning he gets to roll 2d6, getting a 4 and 3.  One of the bokoblins even and odd rolls are canceled out!  Link only suffers 1 heart of damage.

The Armor Penalties

The heavier the armor, the more it impedes your character in several ways.  First, you move slower.  Characters can move 30′ per round (or 90′ with a full sprint). Second, armor makes it harder to move around and perform delicate tasks.  When attempting to sneak, climb, pick a lock, etc. you roll 1d20 + the Penalty Die and attempt to get under your attribute.  This penalty die is added to initiative rolls.  The penalty die does not affect Dexterity rolls for attacks and dodging.  

Starting Gear

Into the Odd has a great character starting package.  I’d do something similar to that- give each character a goal, quirk, one single special ability, and starting gear.  Then it’s go time.

Leveling Up

There would be zero traditional leveling up in the game.  Everything would be earned through exploration and playing.  Going through mazes, shrines, etc. would grant boons from Priests, monks, etc. gaining hearts or increasing an attribute.  

Magical items would increase attributes while worn (or consumed), grant special abilities, and so on.  All the rewards would be given through these means rather than through an arbitrary experience system. 

Money would be important for new gear, arrows, etc.   

Cooking Food

Food and potions would be paramount to healing, staving off diseases, etc.  Everyone can attempt to cook.  Ingredients would be separated into: Poor (Odd result only); Normal (1 Die); Excellent (2 Dice). 

When cooking the player rolls the number of dice indicated by the ingredient category.  If the result is Odd, that heals half a heart; Even, a full heart.  The character can toss up to five ingredients into a pot at once. 

If a character has seasoning salt (or whatever the fuck you want to call it), after the result of the roll has been determined, the character can pick up any dice that are an odd number and reroll them, attempting to get an even number.  This can only be done once per dish.  

For Example: Link has two apples (poor), flour (good), and honey (excellent).  He throws them in a pot with seasoning salt to simmer.  The player rolls 3d6 (for the good and excellent ingredients) and gets 1, 1, 4 (plus the odd result for the apple), resulting in 2 1/2 hearts that would be restored by this dish.  However, because of the seasoning salt, Link’s character can reroll the two 1’s in the hopes of getting even numbers.  

In Conclusion

This all popped in my damned head this AM while showering and turned into this as I was jotting down notes… Heh, I think I gotta a little carried away.  Hope ya enjoyed it!


Bar Nowhere for Death is the New Pink by Gennifer Bone

One of the many projects that I am currently working on is a Death is the New Pink zine (that will come out whenever I plan on releasing)- total punk rock-style!

Note: There’s a killer character sheet for DitNP here.

When I was writing stuff for a DitNP session I was listening to Lone Digger by Caravan Palace (see the video below) and dug the feel of it for a glitzy dive bar.  Also I was watching season 1 and 2 of Killjoys.  I love the character, Pree.  He’s funny and rambunctious and a badass.

I wanted to steal that zest for the bartender/owner for my DitNP location.

Pree

Pree was a big inspiration for the character.

 

Anyways, when I decided to start writing the first issue of the zine, I wanted to include the bar.  I also wanted to make the character transgender.

Instead of me writing a transgender character, being a straight white CIS male, I wanted to hire the awesome Gennifer Bone to do so!

So here is her art and words!  Enjoy!

Bar Nowhere

Bar FINAL

Siouxsie Khan by Gennifer Bone

 

On the outskirts of Scratchtown, hugging the wall that separate the dangerous wilderness of the Wasted World from the “civilization”, you can find Bar Nowhere. Built within the shell of a concrete dome, the Bar has no sign, though you can always identify the place by the garish neon light shining through the single window. Bar Nowhere is typical for a Wastlands pub- a bar, some chairs, a smattering of scrounged and home-brewed hootch. An old jukebox plays eccletic tunes. It’s the lady behind the counter, backlight by the huge “Bar” sign, that makes Bar Nowhere different.

She’s a tall, strong woman of Asian desent. She’s never seen without perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, and her signature pipe. She’s Siouxsie Khan. A smart and well-connected woman, she’s known for either having the info you need, or knowing who to talk to to get it. A pleasant, charismatic sort, Siouxsie is a consumate bartender. She turns down any propostions with a wink and a smile.

Some newcomers stare at her broad shoulders, or comment on her deep voice. These newcomers get one warning- “Siouxise Khan is who and what she says she is.” Continuing to comment (or worse, laugh) is trouble- she’s an excellent fighter, backed up by the Clairance, the bouncer. (A huge man wearing a metal mask, who rarely speaks)

Siouxsie only talks about her trans*(MtF) status with people she trusts.

Siouxsie runs a good bar, a peaceful bar. All the locals know that Bar Nowhere is neutral ground- no fighting. One time, a trio of bandits decided to throw down in Siouxsie’s place. With a press of a button, they were ripped apart by drone guns hidden in the walls. Then she had their friends clean up the mess.

 

As the local’s say, “Nowhere’s like Nowhere”.

 

Hooks and Rumors

1) Siouxsie Khan has decided that she’s ready to match her body to her identity. The Meat Bags are hired to travel to a far Medical Research Lab, to retrieve a robot device- the Bio-Remix-Transmographier (B.R.T., or Bert). It has the ability to remake any living thing, so changing Siouxsie’s physical sex should be easy. The journey will not be easy, and when the Meat Bags finally get their, they will find that Bert, who has the mind and personality of a child, has been using it’s abilities to make “friends”. Some truly gnarly mutants wander the lab.

If sucessful the Meat Bags will be well-compensated, Siouxsie closes the bar for a week for the gender alteration(she won’t look any differet, she likes her looks, after all), and Bert does a brisk business altering Meat Bags for profit(gender alteration is free to select customers).

2) Nobody knows how Siouxsie gets her infomation- she rarely leaves Bar Nowhere. There are a few who would pay well for her secret. (Her secret is a military-grade radio\descrambler and spy drone comp in a chamber deep below the bar)

3) A persistant rumor claims that Bar Nowhere sits above an underground military bunker, full of weapons and supplies! (Looks to be true, but the way in behind the Radio Room was blocked off by a cave in years ago)

4) Siouxsie loves gifts. Meat Bags may want to search the ruins for a suitable gift, or are hired to find one. (she loves beauty supplies and fine dresses, both a rarity in the Wastes). She is willing to trade valuable information for quality goods.

5) Siouxsie’s estranged family have come calling! A ruthless, well-organized band has appeared, demanding that she “return home, and cease this shameful life”. Naturally, her allies rally to her defence- This looks like all-out war! Meat Bags may be hired by Siouxsie, to protect the bar, or by the Khan family, to assult it. They may even be called upon to mediate between the two parties!