Birthday Sale!

June 12 is my birthday, so let’s celebrate. I’m turning 45 (apparently), so on June 12 all Dungeon Age games and adventures will be $0.45.

Yes, forty-five cents.

Yes, all of them.

But only on June 12.

You know why.

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Merry Mushmen Kickstarter

Once again I am privileged to be working alongside the talented team of the Merry Mushmen to bring you not one but TWO remastered adventures. The first is The Horrendous Hounds of Hendenburgh by my new friend Liam Pádraig Ó Cuilleanáin, and the second is Raiding the Obsidian Keep by me!

Want to hear more about it, but don’t want to read? You’re in luck! Check out these podcasts:

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Tomb of the Blood Baron

Hey, I wrote a tiny tomb, and it’s Pay What You Want!

So a few weeks ago I was going to run a game for my friend’s kids and I didn’t feel like writing new content. So I asked my buddy for a recommendation and he suggested Barrow of the Elf King. It’s just a tiny tomb, and it was great! The kids (and adults) had a fun 2-hour game. And it was so short and simple, yet fun, that I wanted to write something like it.

And then I wrote a bunch of them…

Anyway, here is the first of my Tiny Tomb series: Tomb of the Blood Baron. It’s just a few creepy rooms full of critters and treasures and traps. Because every campaign should have a bunch of random little tombs scattered all over the wilderness to discover!

I wrote it with Cairn in mind, but then I added in all the stats for 5E and for OSE, so you can run it in whatever system you like. Plus it was an excuse to practice drawing bats and beetles and Red Caps.

It is Pay What You Want, so you can go grab it for free right now. Enjoy!

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Carcassay: Now in physical form!

It took too long because I was being an obsessive perfectionist, but now it is here:

Carcassay: Titan Rat City is a Lankhmar-esque (does that reference still work for most people?) city adventure full of bizarre factions and with built-in quest hooks in almost every location, plus three complete dungeons under the city. It’s 130 pages with classical paintings, original illustrations, and lots of maps. Creature stats are provided in the appendices for 5E, and Old School Essentials, and Into the Odd (Cairn).

The PDF is $10, and the softcover is $13, which also includes the PDF.

I think DriveThruRPG did a great job printing it. Every page is sharp, the art is beautiful in black-and-white, and it feels pretty good in hand. My pictures do not do it justice…but here are some pictures anyway.

It has contents!

And overview maps!

And nineteenth century paintings!

And maps of the regions outside the city!

And maps of the dungeons under the city!

And it has a back cover that looks suspiciously similar to the front cover!

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The Undying Sea: Playtest 01

Remember that project I mentioned earlier called “Dead in the Water” ? Well, it’s now called The Undying Sea and I ran the first playtest this afternoon and it went pretty great.

The Undying Sea is built on Chris McDowall’s Into the Odd engine for running a character and on Emmy Allen’s Depth-Crawl engine for creating a setting that becomes stranger the farther you go. And then I created a bunch of mythic island-hopping sailing pirate stuff for it, set in the Shrouded Sea where mists hide the shifting islands and the shallow waters are full of undead monsters.

Playtest

So anyway, today we played. Our four intrepid heroes (Elle, Skeet, Buttons, and Peg Leg Meg) awoke on their nice little island home to discover their cemetery had been dug up and several of their dearly departeds had been taken from their graves! They followed a trail of muddy footprints down to the shore where they saw a ship vanishing into the mist, but they caught two pirate ghouls stranded and left behind.

With a bit of earth-bending magic and brute strength, they caught the pirate Yorgos and got the full story. The ghoul pirate Captain Laconia Silver of the siltcutter Grave Revenge had press-ganged the dead islanders (a strangled brother, a hated father, a beloved grandma, and a pet cat) into her service to help her search for a Fountain of Life, so she could live again!

Our heroes ran back to town and launched their own siltcutter Skeet’s Skeet to start the chase. [d100 roll for Sea Encounter] Late in the afternoon, they were attacked by a handful of rotting goblin sharks, which tried to leap over the ship and knock them into the sea. A wild fight broke out on the deck, and the crew killed two of the undead sharks.

[d100 roll for Sea Encounter] During the night, our heroes chanced upon a huge glowing portal that beckoned them with the question, “Where?” They told the portal to take them to a place just behind the Grave Revenge, and sailed through. They appeared directly behind their quarry, and followed the pirates until they dropped anchor.

Our heroes waited for the pirates to go ashore, and then raided the pirates’ ship, but their loved ones were not there. So they headed ashore as well. [depth-crawl generation of an island] They cleverly survived the crashing waves and reached the beach alive, and headed inland. While crossing a grassy field, they were attacked by a massive swarm of plague rats, and Peg Leg Meg went down! But her friends carried her to safety and she recovered.

They soon found the pirates huddled near a strange glowing pool full of crabs and algae. [depth-crawl generation of an island feature] Peg Leg Meg pretended to be a captive of the pirate Yorgos and went down to talk to the pirates, while secretly using her magic to dig some pits around them. Captain Silver immediately turned on Yorgos, while Meg dove for safety and the other undead pirates made a run for the Fountain of Life.

The rest of the heroes charged in! Skeet skewered the ghoulish captain with a single throw of his harpoon. Buttons and Elle hurled the pirates into the pits. In all the confusion, Meg’s undead grandmother drank from the Fountain and was restored to life! But this exhausted the Fountain, and it vanished.

With the battle over, the pirates Yorgos and Olga decided to join the crew of Skeet’s Skeet and continue the search for more Fountains of Life, along with Button’s undead brother Whiskers and Elle’s wretched cat Tiger. And last but not least, Elle looted the dead captain to find some precious jade. Huzzah!

Thoughts

The game ran 2.5 hours. It was non-stop action and laughs. We only used a tiny fraction of the content that I had prepared. Everyone loved the simplicity of the Mark-of-the-Odd system for characters and combat. And I loved the effectiveness of the Depth-Crawl to generate locations and encounters.

My original plan was to do eight encounters at sea and explore two new islands. We only did two encounters at sea and one new island. Lesson learned! This system could easily support a really long campaign and constantly generate entirely new locations and events, with essentially zero prep. I’m pretty happy.

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Wicked Little Delves: Update

This weekend I upgraded the covers and downgraded the prices (to $2.50) for the three volumes of Wicked Little Delves:

I’m still very pleased with how these collections of one-shots turned out, although maybe I should have made them into a single big collection, like 13 Weird One-Shots. I suppose I can always make that change…

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Dead in the Water: A new maritime TTRPG!

I’d like to take a little break from talking about Carcassay (currently 20% off!) to talk about the Mark-of-the-Odd game that I’m writing now where you play as the crew of a somewhat piratical ship, upon a cursed sea, exploring islands, fighting warships and krakens! No, it’s not Pirate Borg (which I recently picked up and found quite cool). It’s…

DEAD IN THE WATER

I’ve been writing Dead in the Water for quite a while now, so I’m going to starting talking about it now too. I’ve taken Chris McDowall’s delightfully stripped-down RPG engine from Into the Odd, changed very little about it, and then built on a nice little system for running a ship, exploring a sea, having sea battles, and basically doing pirate things.

Dead in the Water takes place on the Shrouded Sea, a cursed ocean that is always obscured by fog and silted up to be no more than 10 feet deep. That shallow sea means we have cozy little pirate ships with cozy little crews to battle cozy little sea monsters! The Shrouded Sea is pulsing with necromantic energy, so its full of undead fish and people, which are just mobile meals for the countless scavengers of the sea. Quite a hideous circle of life.

What do you do?

Player-characters choose from a variety of nautical backgrounds that bestow stat bonuses, equipment, skills, and challenges. And of course the world is full of “regular” treasure, as well as a wide array of ancient relics with magical powers.

The players form a little crew with a little ship, which they manage jointly. The ship has 3 stats, similar to the PCs, and can be upgraded in a variety of ways. To improve its stats, the crew can have a shipwright enhance the sails, rigging, and hull. They can also get more and bigger cannons, in addition to magical and mechanical devices (from pumps to cats!) to provide unique abilities and features.

As the crew sails around, they roll for a variety of encounters every day, including Wonders, Hazards, normal Creatures, huge Leviathans (living and undead), unknown Ships (including ghost pirates, merchants, alchemist vampires, warships, and crab colonists), and Uncharted Islands. These encounter-related tables and tools take up most of the current draft of the game manual.

What’s the point?

Dead in the Water takes the classic fantasy world notion of a “points of light setting” and just drowns it. Instead of wandering the forest, you sail the mist-choked sea. Instead of stumbling upon a village or ruin, you discover an island or (sunken) ruin. The players are re-cast not just as adventurers but shipmates, with the task / challenge / opportunity of managing their mobile base of operations, their ship.

No two versions of the Shrouded Sea will be the same. Players can run small missions or massive campaigns, engage in trade or piracy, play a role the political machinations of living and undead navies, or build an island paradise for themselves.

Why? Because I like boats.

Coming… eventually.

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Welcome to Carcassay

Welcome to the strange and dangerous city of Carcassay, huddled below the skeleton of a titan rat, sprawling above the ruins of countless dead civilizations. This is where folk come to find wealth, power, revenge, secrets, oblivion… and everything in between.

Carcassay is a sandbox city adventure. There are many locations to explore in, around, and under the city. Players can explore any place at any time, and may radically reshape the city’s politics, economy, religions, and physical existence. There are standard dungeons stacked under the city, and GMs are encouraged to keep adding more dungeons… all the way down.

Tone. It leans more toward low fantasy or sword-and-sorcery. Most shops look like real shops. Most people look like real people. But strange and horrible things lurk everywhere as soon as you start to scratch the surface. This is my Lankhmar.

What’s in it?

Carcassay is a vast, bizarre city. It has over 100 locations where you can meet Chaos cultists, Lawful knights, retired adventurers, shopkeepers, brewers, musicians, artists, scientists, hermits, royalty, beggars, doctors, space vampires, eldritch horrors, machine priests, crab colonists, mushroom farmers, mummies, assassins, and diplomats from distant lands… and the moon. And every one of them has goods or services to sell, and a quest (or three) to offer. 

What sort of quests? Fetch a relic, assassinate a rival, find a relative, steal a soul, implant an agent, cure a disease, stop a riot, solve a murder that hasn’t happened yet, hunt a thief, locate a shrine… the list goes on. And for every Quest, there is a specific Reward: money, weapons, relics, Chaos mutations, exclusive memberships, information, Angelic miracles… the list goes on.

This is a place where you can make a lot of money, but also where you can spend that money on interesting goods and services. 

Factions? We have a few. Seven Chaos cults, five knightly orders, two mercenary companies, four wealthy families, six (seven!) Corpse Lords, foreign diplomats, rival innkeepers, rival tavern owners, plus all the dungeon-delving gangs currently mucking about underground. When you grow weary of all the adventures at ground level, there are three classic dungeons buried under the city to explore.

This book contains months (if not years) of campaigning. Enjoy the Chaos.

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Updates from Carcassay

My hideous city-inside-a-Titan-Rat-corpse is crawling toward completion. I have stopped writing, and started moving the text into layout!

This is a different rodent of unusual size

What’s in it?

At the moment, there are over 100 locations in and around the city. Almost every location has at least one well-defined NPC with at least one Quest/Reward to offer, in addition to selling goods and services.

There are dozens of factions to interact with (or start feuds between): knights, cultists, mercenaries, clerics, merchants, innkeepers, barkeepers, wealthy families, gangs, diplomats, vampires, plumbers, farmers, and Corpse Lords…

As written, the setting of Carcassay assumes that most “people” are human. The few non-human folk are taken from Dungeon Age lore, and include:

  • the Vrahoi delvers (stone-folk, fairly similar to dwarves),
  • the Arbaj dryads (tree-folk, barely similar to elves),
  • the Kadav (undead folk who are functional members of society),
  • the Ghiran (mechanical clerics created by an angel),
  • the Brakken (crab folk), and
  • the Vampires (from outer space).

What’s it like?

The overall tone “feels” a bit low-fantasy to me. Meaning, there are no magic trains, and the few people selling potions are charging an arm and a leg (not literally…I think). Most Carcassites are regular people, and they don’t have any magic items or abilities. If you were just walking down the street, it would look like any marketplace in eastern Europe, or the Middle East, or central Asia (depending on which district you are in). But there are magic relics, secret societies, and weird monsters lurking EVERYWHERE. You just have to find them.

The major underlying conflict is between factions of Law and factions of Chaos. There is no central “plot”, just a hundred plot threads that your players can tug on to make the whole city unravel. As the GM, you’ll have the freedom (and the challenge?) to page through this place and pick out the types of activities that appeal to you and your players.

The city is divided into four quarters:

  • Spider – the old quarter, byzantine and shadowy, noted for its spidersilk garments and armor, and the entrance to the dungeons down the Rat’s Tail.
  • Firefly – the new quarter, clean and orderly, wealthy and law-abiding, full of deadly artists and deadlier politicians.
  • Worm – the industrial quarter, grimy and smoky, the streets muddy with the blood of giant worms, the air hazy with fumes from the ironworks.
  • Flea – the dying quarter, dusty and dilapidated, half the buildings empty and boarded up, giant fleas leaping through the streets, desperate people lurking in the shade.

And of course outside the city there are ancient hills and plains, rivers and lakes, a regular forest and a fungal forest.

Any actual dungeons?

The tail of the dead Titan Rat spirals down underground, creating a highway through countless buried civilizations (“dungeons”, if you will). I’ve created three of these dungeons, and the layout lets you just keep adding in more dungeons as deep down as you like, so you can plug-and-play other published dungeons to your heart’s content.

Work, work, work

I have the dungeon maps done, but the city map is going to take some more time. There will be two types of art: full-color classical paintings and black-and-white ink illustrations.

Most pages will display 3 locations. There are a few tiny locations, with a bunch on one page. And there are a few big locations, with just 1 on a page.

What systems?

As per usual, I wrote the actual meat of the content to be system-agnostic. The final product will come in three flavors, with appropriate stat blocks: OSE, 5E, and ItO.

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A few doodles

Inspired by Richard Whitters…

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