Sunday, May 28, 2017

Now on Facebook!

A bit of administrivia, if I may. Greyhawk Grognard now has a FaceBook page! If you look to the right you'll see the button that will take you there. Or you can just click here.

Remember to "like" the page to get updates!

On there you'll find not just announcements of activity here on the blog, but also shorter pieces that don't warrant entire blog posts of their own, plus more ephemeral things like links to relevant news stories and things I find amusing/relevant. There also tends to be a lot more dialogue over at FaceBook, so more chances to get into fights with engage with your fellow readers!

Let's Read: Greyhawk Adventures (Part 10)

Picking up the pace as we near the end of this long, long journey, the next section up is the Geography of Oerth, and truth to tell this is one of my favorite sections.

Here we are treated to a dozen interesting / mysterious / adventure-worthy locations in the Flanaess. These aren't full-blown adventures (those come in the next section of the book), but they give enough high-level information and specific detail that a dungeon master could develop any of them into an adventure that could take his PCs weeks if not longer to work through.

And that, I think, is the strength of this section. It doesn't spoon-feed things to the DM, but rather sets up just enough detail to let the DM's own imagination take over for the details. A few game mechanic suggestions are given at the end of each entry.

The dozen locales detailed include the following.

The Pinnacles of Azor'alq, located in the middle of the Drawmij Ocean. These are a series of cliff-like islands that rise suddenly out of the sea, filled with lost interior caves, and home to all manner of fantastic flying creatures such as dragons and phoenixes.

The Sea of Dust. Already known in very truncated form from the World of Greyhawk gazetteer, we learn a lot more about its nature and its inhabitants in this section, including likely places where surviving ruins of the ancient Suloise Imperium might be found. The details don't mesh with Gary Gygax's novel set in the same place (for obvious reasons), but it is still great information to have at the DM's fingertips.

The Pits of Azak-Zil, located in the southeastern Abbor-Alz. Most of the description is left to the history of the site, which is a now-abandoned dwarven mine, at the site of a meteor impact. Some of that background doesn't quite ring true (the Principality of Ulek is going to send an expedition all the way to the Abbor-Alz?), and I wish there was more concrete information about the undead-infested mines themselves.

Skellingshald, a plateau-city located in the Griff Mountains. Originally a Flan stronghold, now abandoned to its magical and mundane guardians, its inaccessibility is as great an obstacle to overcome as the kobolds and other creatures, and what treasure remains is of course cursed.

The Sinking Isle, located near the Sea Barons. As the name suggests, this mysterious island emerges from the sea at intervals, inviting those who happen to be in the area at the time to investigate. There are treasures to be had, but the whole is dangerous in the extreme, as the island can sink beneath the waves at any time. In addition, it is guarded by both sahuagin and kraken.

The Twisted Forest, located in the Drachengrabs. Not an actual forest at all, but rather a region of stone pillars that could well be described as humanoid instead of tree-like in shape. They are, in fact, the trapped remains of a variety of evil inhabitants who wandered into the area over the years, including some ancient Suel refugees. There is treasure, but also danger from the possibility of the trapped ones taking over the bodies of explorers.

The Burning Cliffs, located along the Icy Sea. This patch of naturally hot and fiery bitumen and flammable rock is not only dangerous in and of itself because of the intense heat and smoke that it spews forth, but is actually growing each year. At the heart of this place is apparently a gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire, making the fabled City of Brass accessible to those foolish enough to make the attempt.

Csipros Erd - The Geysers of Death, located in the northern Barrier Peaks. This is pretty straightforward; a region of geysers, poisonous gasses, and hot springs that make travel hazardous in the extreme, but sweetened by the presence of a treasure hoard belonging to humanoids driven out of the Lortmils during the Hateful Wars.

Tovag Baragu - The Stone Circles, located in the Dry Steppes. This is one feature that was actually given a fuller treatment in a later module; Vecna Lives! The whole thing is an artifact that acts as a time/planar travel system. Vecna later uses it in his attempt to achieve godhood.

Rigodruok - The Rainbow Vale, located in the Land of Black Ice. Sort of a riff on the idea of the Hollow Oerth, this is a warm and fertile bowl-shaped vale in the midst of the black ice, inhabited by humanoids, spiders, and cavemen, with plentiful diamonds.

Esmerin, located in the Lortmils. This is a happy and hidden valley, rich in gems and metals, wherein tallfellow halflings and giants live in harmony.

Turucambi, located in the Oljatt Sea near Hepmonaland. A maze of limestone and coral reefs and shoals, with many small islands. The maze of reefs under the surface is home to sea-races of all types, and the whole produces weird and unpredictable tides, geysers, and the whole filled with poisonous plants and animals. The presence of many rare and valuable corals makes the whole thing worth visiting, despite the dangers.

Next up: Adventures in Greyhawk

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

RPGNow OSR Extravaganza Sale - 15% off!

I didn't know it was coming, but I'm glad to be a part of it.

Right now all of BRW Games products are 15% off as part of RPGNow's OSR Extravaganza Sale. That includes all our game titles, hard copy as well as pdf!

Enjoy!


Friday, May 19, 2017

We have winners!

Well, two out of three winners, anyway.

In conjunction with the recent ADD/CotMA pdf sale, three lucky winners were going to get free hard copies of their purchases. All three winners have been contacted through OneBookShelf, but unfortunately I've only heard from two of them!


But we still have another winner to be heard from! If you're reading this and bought a pdf during the sale, please look for an email from Chris Tang (from OBS) with the subject line "Free Book" and follow the instructions within.

If I don't hear from our mystery winner within a week, I'll be forced to draw another winner. I'll also ask OBS to try to get in touch with him again.

Jonathan and Weird Dave, your books will be en route shortly. Thanks to everyone for participating!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Reminder: Sale ends today!

Just a reminder that the Adventures Dark and Deep/Castle of the Mad Archmage 20% off pdf sale ends today. Plus, two lucky winners will get a free upgrade to softcover versions, and one grand prize winner will get a hardcover version of their purchase. Details here. Good luck!


Friday, May 5, 2017

BRW Games PDF Sale and Drawing!!

Hey-o!

As we head slowly into the summer months, I thought I'd do an impromptu sale, with a contest to boot!

From Saturday May 6, 2017 through Sunday May 14, 2017, all print-possible pdf titles will be 20% off.

In addition, anyone purchasing a pdf version of a title (that has a print version) will be included in a special drawing. Two lucky winners will win a free upgrade to a softcover version of the title, and one lucky winner will get a free upgrade to hardcover (if available)!

Shipping to the United States is included. Outside of the U.S. you will be asked to make up the difference in shipping costs. But the books themselves are still free!

Purchases of titles that do not have a print version will not be included in the drawing. But if you get a print title, and want to try for a second copy, more power to you! The following titles have print options available:

A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore
Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
Adventures Dark and Deep Game Masters Toolkit
Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual
Castle of the Mad Archmage Adventure Book
Castle of the Mad Archmage Adventure Book (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Edition)
Castle of the Mad Archmage Illustration Book
Castle of the Mad Archmage Map Book
Castle of the Mad Archmage Expansion - Level Three East
The Golden Scroll of Justice

This offer does not apply to the Adventures Dark and Deep bundle, but does apply to the Castle of the Mad Archmage OSR digital bundle.

Good luck!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Slügs in the Castle of the Mad Archmage

So I downloaded James Raggi's latest dealybob over at RPGNow, which is a pay-what-you-want version of his Free RPG Day offering. It's called Slügs! and it's just what it says on the tin; a mini-supplement with a bunch of variant giant slugs in it.

First of all, buy it. Buy it now. It's great, and hilarious, and useful. It's worth a buck or two for the brilliantly passive-aggressive introduction, even if you never use a giant slug in your game.

But more to the point, it made me realize there is only a single giant slug encounter in the entirety of my own Castle of the Mad Archmage. Just one. And even that's just on the random encounter table on level eight.

Consider this a free (and very optional) supplement to Castle of the Mad Archmage to correct that oversight.

General Note

When playing on December 25, all slug encounters are changed to a Christmas Slüg (37 h.p.). No exceptions.*

When playing from 4:00 AM - 11:59 AM (local time), all slüg encounters are changed to a Breakfast Slüg (52 h.p.) 40% of the time plus 5% per hour closer to noon. As there is no such thing as a Brunch Slüg, and the concept is clearly beyond the boundaries of any reality that might realistically harbor a labyrinthine maze inhabited by monsters, filled with treasure, and ruled by an insane wizard, once noon rolls around all slug encounters are back to normal.

Level Seven: The Crypts


A roll of 5 on the random encounter table indicates Slügatron (38 h.p.). He is on the level trying to discover the location of the Clockwork Crypt, thinking that the mechanical man Tok-Tok might be allied with Slügatron's nefarious robot enemies from a distant star (it's up to the GM to determine whether or not that is true). If the PCs befriend him and agree to help him find that specific crypt, he will join them.

Level Eight: The Lesser Caves

A roll of 4 on the random encounter table indicates an Acid Slüg 50% of the time, rather than an ordinary giant slug.

67. This cave is now home to a Glass Slüg (h.p. 45).

Level Nine: The Greater Caves

28. A Love Slüg is nestled in the northwest alcove in this room, soaking up the radiation from the temple of the goddess of love and beauty. If the proper ritual is enacted on the altar (as described in the text), the Love Slüg will "pleasure" the character who performed the ritual. If more than one character was involved, the slüg will choose one at random.

Level Ten: The Lesser Caverns

13. A pair of Ocular Slügs dwell here now (h.p. 28, 25).

Level Eleven: The Greater Caverns

A roll of 5 on the random encounter table indicates the Swiss Army Slüg from area #47, when rolled outside the fungus forest.

47. This cave is now home to a Swiss Army Slüg (h.p. 70). Replace the reference to the Catholic Church in the monster description to the Church of Saint Cuthbald.

Level Twelve: The Catacombs

2. The purple worm in this room is replaced by a pair of Rock Slügs (h.p. 56. 59). The treasure remains as described in the original text.

Appendix D: Special Random Encounters

On a roll of 1, the PCs encounter the Mentallo Slüg, who is on a mission to try to find the Mad Archmage to try to warn him of the impending invasion of the world by a horde of mechanical alien ladybugs from a distant star (they hitched a ride unnoticed on Slügatron, so if the two ever encounter one another, the Mentallo Slüg will be decidedly unfriendly).

__________

* You're lucky I didn't change all encounters to Christmas Slügs.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Deal of the Day is Up!

Now's your chance, fans of post-apocalyptic gaming. Project Oasis is 50% off at RPGNow and DriveThruRPG for the next 24 hours. Grab it while the grabbing is good!

You can purchase Project Oasis here




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Let's Read: Greyhawk Adventures (Part 9)

Ehlonna's tits! Am I still doing this series?

Yes. Yes I am. Even though the last installment was a shade under two years ago. (Sorry!) My work on 5E Greyhawk has given me renewed incentive to look through the sources for material, and Greyhawk Adventures is one of them.

This time out we look at the Magical Items of Greyhawk, and in my estimation this is one of the weakest chapters in the book. Not only are the origins and names completely unimaginative (with such entries as the casket of Furyondy, or the necklace of Almor), but the in-setting details are sometimes suspect. For example, we are told of the Dark Crown of Aerdy:
This evil headgear was worn by one of the original Overkings of the House of Naelex [sic] in the ancient Great Kingdom.
The problem being, of course, that the original Overkings were from the House of Rax. And it wasn't called the Great Kingdom at the beginning; it was the Kingdom of Aerdy until the Battle of a Fortnight's Length more than a century later. And they weren't decidedly evil until much later.  And the House of Rax was succeeded by the House of Naelax, not Naelex (we are similarly told that the capital of the Horned Society was Malog, when it should be Molag). It's just sloppy writing and editing, but it speaks to the almost afterthought-like vibe I get in this whole section.

I find this an enormous missed opportunity to have brought in all the "missed" magic items from the original Greyhawk campaign that never made it into the DMG or UA. Things like the needle/spear of Zagyg. Of course, that would have been difficult at the time, with Gygax, et al estranged from TSR. But instead we have mostly mediocre magic items with names of geographic locales from the Flanaess tacked on seemingly at random. What else to make of the prism of Greyhawk, which casts color spray and hypnotic pattern once per day? There's nothing there that particularly ties the item thematically to Greyhawk; it's just another magic item that any DM in the 11th grade could have come up with.

In some ways, the ones that do convey the theme of their place of origin are worse, because of the heavy-handed and completely unsubtle way in which they are handled. Take the red armor of the Hellfurnaces. It's plate armor +4 made from the hide of a red dragon, and allows the wearer to save vs. fire attacks for half or no damage. Get it? Hellfurnaces. Fire. It's a natural!

Now, to be fair, there are some that are genuinely clever in my opinion, and actually add to the flavor of the place whence they come. The chalice of the Shield Lands, for instance, allows the user (who must be a fighter) to take a holy vow and become a paladin of the same level for the duration of a single quest. That's a nicely themed, non-generic magic item in my view. The black sails of the Schnai are another great one; sails for funeral ships that, when the final piece is burned, summon the spirit of the warrior whose funeral ship it was, to fight for you. It's a nice call-back to the archetypical Viking ship-funeral, and that goes well with the generally Viking tone of that part of Greyhawk.

If the flaw of this section could be summed up in a single word, it would be rushed. The whole seems like it was knocked off in a day or two, with insufficient thought or research into the lands in which the magic items were supposed to have originated. Take, for a final example, the anvil of the Lortmil Mountains, which is a dwarven magic item that can allow the user to make blades worth 100 times their normal value. That's all well and good, until one considers that the Lortmil Mountains were under the control of humanoid tribes until the Hateful Wars some 75 years prior to the timeline of this book (the FtA era, 585 CY). Is that enough time for such an item to have been created? Sure, but wouldn't it have been much cooler to have a humanoid-themed item from the Lortmils, that predated their expulsion, and which could be used in some plot to reconquer the mountains? A few more minutes of reflection on each item might have produced far greater results for this entire chapter. On the whole, I find it a disappointment.

Next up: Geography of Oerth

Project Oasis 50% off tomorrow!

Hey all!

Just a quick note that Project Oasis, my post-apocalyptic RPG setting, will be tomorrow's Deal of the Day at RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, for 50% off the normal price.

One Day Only!

Project Oasis is a gonzo PA setting that draws inspiration from the post-apocalyptic aesthetic of the 1960's and 1970's. Think Planet of the Apes (movie, TV show, and Marvel Comics' original stories like Terror on the Planet of the Apes), Logan's Run, Genesis II, Planet Earth, Ark II, A Boy and His Dog, Mad Max, and the Ultimate Warrior (a very underestimated film in my opinion!).

Toss all that up in the air and let the pieces settle all over a continent-wide map of North America, throw in a 36 page guidebook that's very rules light (although it does have appendices with new monsters and technology, statted for both Apes Victorious and Mutant Future, although you can use it with almost any old-school science fantasy rules), and you get Project Oasis.

And it'll be just $4.98 tomorrow. I guarantee it will never be that price again.

Enjoy!

A thousand years ago, the world died.
Now, out of the ashes of the great nuclear-biological Devastation comes a new world. A world where intelligent apes hunt humans for sport. A world where subterranean mutant cyborgs serve great disembodied brains and plot world domination. A world where apocalyptic cults try to finish what the bombs started. A world where frightful artificial intelligences command armies of robot servants, and entire nations of clones lead peaceful and productive lives, unless you’re not of the right clone-lineage. 
And it’s also a world where mankind and his newfound fellow intelligent species try to pick up the pieces and rebuild civilization.
This is a world where a force for good, knowledge, and science works to help restore that which was lost, to guide this new world onto a path of justice and learning. That force is called Project Oasis.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Greyhawk update/designer's notes

Hey-o!

So back in January I announced that I was working on some 5E Greyhawk products on the off chance that Wizards of the Coast would eventually open up my favorite setting to designers on GM's Guild. No, this isn't some announcement that they have done so. I just want to give a quick update and let you know about the approach I'm taking.

Specifically, I've been working on what was the Players Guide to Greyhawk, because the rest all hinged on having Greyhawk-specific 5th edition material to make it all work. Unfortunately, that turned out to be too large a task for a single book.

So now, what was the Players Guide to Greyhawk is going to be three different books.

Most of the crunchy bits will be in the Player's Guide. The class options, the backgrounds, the spells, factions, etc. There will still be plenty of color, but this will be where the majority of the rules-heavy stuff will be found. All new, but a lot based on things from the earliest days of Greyhawk and the 1st Edition rules. Because I'm a 1E nerd, and proud of it.

The DM's Guide, on the other hand, is going to feature the new monsters (mostly drawn from the Greyhawk Adventures book and the Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk volume) and new magic items (again, mostly from the GA book). But the majority of it is going to give history and the current state of the Flanaess circa 576 CY; the same era as the original Folio and Gold Box editions. It will have all the information in those books, plus a lot more gleaned from all the other products that have come after; history, NPCs, etc. from various adventure modules, sourcebooks, boxed sets, articles, and some more outré sources that I think you'll find pretty cool.

I was going back and forth between just having a brief entry for each country, and going on a full-bore in-depth recitation based on the sources, and have decided to go with the latter. It won't be completely comprehensive (the book would be a thousand pages) but it'll cover everything the DM needs to get things going in 576.

And the third will be something I've been writing about for years; the Great Greyhawk Campaign. It would have all the information a DM needs to take the Greyhawk setting forward in time up to 591 CY, a full fifteen years of game time. And in so doing, it would allow the DM to set his or her game in those other periods that have been extensively covered in the past; 585 CY (From the Ashes), or 591 CY (Living Greyhawk Gazetteer).

So anyway, that which was one is now three. It's really no more work for me than I had originally envisioned (other than maybe the GGC book), but as I go through the sources, it's really just a question of putting the information in the right place.

__________

And hey! Don't forget that the GM's Day sale is still going on, and you can find almost everything from BRW Games on 30% off; if you ever wanted to check out Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, or nearly anything else, now's the time!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Playtesters Needed - 5E

OYEZ! OYEZ!

I find myself in need of playtesters for some 5th edition D&D material I'm writing up. If you're a DM with an established group, preferably playing in a World of Greyhawk campaign (but that's not necessary, as long as you can use WoG-centric stuff in your campaign), and are interested in playtesting some new player options including class options, spells, backgrounds, etc. please send an email to greyhawkgrognard@gmail.com.

You and your players will be asked to sign an NDA, and will receive regular updates with new material to try out.

Thanks in advance!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

All my stuff is 30% off for the GM's Day Sale

Happy GM's Day!

You can get all my books, including my latest, Project Oasis, for 30% off at OBS's GM's Day sale this weekend. Just click here:

http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=3728

Enjoy!

(Please note that Project Oasis will be on sale today only, so if you want to get it, don't dawdle!)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Project Oasis Now Available (updated)

I'm very pleased to announce that the latest BRW Games title, Project Oasis, is now available at RPGNow.com.

Project Oasis is a gonzo kitchen-sink post-apocalyptic campaign setting. It contains a complete overview of 30th century North America, including new creatures and equipment for both the Mutant Future™ and Apes Victorious™ games, more than a hundred adventure hooks, plus a giant poster map.

There are out-of-control artificial intelligences, mutant cyborg conspiracies, radioactive dinosaurs with cybernetic mounted energy weapons, clones, self-contained arcologies, high-tech enclaves working towards civilization (or conquest), and of course apes, all set in a post-Devastation landscape a thousand years in the future.

The guidebook is 36 pages and includes a huge full-color poster map of 30th century North America.

Buy it here!

Update: Someone asked for a sample page in the comments, because it's not available on RPGNow. Here you go! (Click to embiggen)




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Attention Mutant Future and Apes Victorious fans!

I've been working feverishly on a little something for y'all...


I know... it's naughty of me to have something in the works and not let anyone know. Well, consider the cat out of the bag. The book is around 36 pages (and it's all written; I'm just polishing obsessively at this point), will accommodate both the Mutant Future™ and Apes Victorious™ rules from Goblinoid Games (but mechanics are very light, and it'll really be usable with any science fantasy rules, even that one with the Greek letter in the name... umm... Theta World or something?), and will also feature a huge poster map suitable for printing and framing. Here's a meager sample:


This isn't a typical post-apocalyptic setting where everything is ruins and wastelands; this is one with a semi-civilized world to explore and interact with. There are pockets of high technology trying to civilize (or conquer!) the rest of the world. It's very much a gonzo kitchen sink setting, think a mish-mash of every 70's post-apocalyptic theme you can think of (especially Genesis II/Planet Earth and Marvel Comics' Terror on the Planet of the Apes). 

I think it's safe to say that release is imminent. It'll be all pdf and print-it-your-own-damn-self, but fans of the original World of Greyhawk folio will find the book format very familiar. :-)

Look for an announcement that it's available soon. Really soon. Did I mention I was obsessively polishing?

What, you want more? Fine. Here's the back cover copy:
A thousand years ago, the world died.
Now, out of the ashes of the great nuclear-biological Devastation comes a new world. A world where intelligent apes hunt humans for sport. A world where subterranean mutant cyborgs serve great disembodied brains and plot world domination. A world where apocalyptic cults try to finish what the bombs started. A world where frightful artificial intelligences command armies of robot servants, and entire nations of clones lead peaceful and productive lives, unless you’re not of the right clone-lineage. 
And it’s also a world where mankind and his newfound fellow intelligent species try to pick up the pieces and rebuild civilization.
This is a world where a force for good, knowledge, and science works to help restore that which was lost, to guide this new world onto a path of justice and learning. That force is called Project Oasis.