On a Wildspace Deluge

Continuing my series of finding the best Spelljammer bits from around the web, Hack & Slash has a post showing some of the best

Ghost Ship by Brom, showing a group of people with drawn weapons on a very battered hammership.

Spelljammer could have used more art like this. It feels like something is happening in this picture, rather then just people standing around.

official art. For example, I did not know that Brom did Spelljammer art. It also shows off some of the problems with the art: Designs that didn’t match the rules, or descriptions of the ships, a lot of the art being reused too many times to save costs, and some of it being um, rather bland to be honest. You’ve got a swashbuckling setting with people leaping from ship to ship, and most of the art just has people standing around.

Hope you enjoy this little bit of Spelljammer,

Published in: on July 23, 2016 at 9:00 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , ,

The Cosmonomicon: Spelljammer + Dragonstar + 5th Edition D&D

Another post on some cool Spelljammer stuff I found the web a while ago. Jordan Short over at The Mox Boarding House has written up a cool mashup of Spelljammer with Dragonstar, and given advice on how to run it in 5th edition. It strips down a lot of the stuff blogging down both Spelljammer and Dragonstar, mostly edition-specific rules that neither are really enhanced by, and makes a pretty cool setting out of it, known as The Cosmonomicon.

For those that don’t know:

Spelljammer was a 1st and 2nd edition AD&D setting that took D&D into space, and let you fly ships from one campaign setting to the next using magically enchanted boats. It never really caught on, due to how strange it was, and, likely, due to a lot of rules and bookkeeping related to the flying ships and spellcasting in space. Mostly though, I think it was how strange it was, an odd mashup of swashbuckling, D&D and planar travel. There was also a Shadows of the Spider Moon article in Polyhedron magazine that attempted to update things to 3rd edition with a new setting.

Dragonstar was one of the setting that came out in the rush of 3rd party products after the OGL came out and was mostly lost in the rush (The company killing Living Dragonstar didn’t help.) It added a lot of Science Fiction elements to D&D, and made the players trying to exist on the edges of the Draconic Empire, right after a red dragon took the throne and has begun sending out his orc legions and drow secret police. This gives a very Star Wars + D&D type vibe that I find really cool.

The Cosmonomicon takes the Dragon Empire from Dragonstar, some setting bits from Shadows of the Spider Moon, removes the technology from Dragonstar and replaces it with Spelljammer’s flying ships. It doesn’t have all the details from Spelljammer (no crystal spheres or such), but I think that enhances things and removes a lot of the unnecessary complications. He also gives some useful details for playing in the setting in 5th edition.

I encourage you to check this setting out and enjoy: I think I’ll be borrowing some of this if I ever run a Spelljammer game. As a note to my readers: these posts on Spelljammer material are being shared to Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine, which is something you should check out.

Until next time, stay geeky

Stripped Down Spelljammer

I’m a bit late on this, but the excellent Blog of Holding has published stripped down rules for Spelljammer, trying to fit the essentials onto one page. I agree with his point that Spelljammer has a couple cool ideas, then bogs them down with a bunch of overly-complicated rules about Grubbian physics and extra rules for clerics. To quote: “I’ll break out my copy of Spelljammer. OH NO IT’S 200 PAGES! THIS BOOK IS TAKING TOO LONG TO READ! THE PCS HAVE ALREADY IMPLODED IN THE VACUUM”

The first blog post covers the basics of the setting and physics, boiling it down to a short paragraph (plus expositions explaining the decisions to help the DM understand why they have done, something useful for when you want to expand upon it for your game.

The second builds a 20 entry random encounter table that also helps explain the setting.

And finally they flesh out the setting and compile things into a one page (illustrated!) setting document.

Published in: on January 26, 2016 at 12:06 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , , ,


I’m going to start this post off with a disclaimer: This is about a roleplaying setting, and I do not categorically endorse real world violent rebellion against the police. This would generally be a bad idea and get you arrested, and there are probably a small number of bad apples giving the rest of the police a bad name.

Right, now, take all that real world restraint and lock it away. Put on some angry music; punk would be best, but anything will work; some old NWA (911 is a Joke, for example) would also work if you are into rap, or Hammers in my Head by A Miracle of Sound if you want something more modern, if a bit less angry then would be ideal.

You’ve got your music on? Good, now lets do some inspirational reading. Lets start with something I got off Reddit’s News of the Weird. Now look up some things on Adam Nobody. Heck, just go on youtube and watch police brutality videos for a bit. Then imagine this was Standard Operating Procedure; if you have trouble with this Transmetropolitan is a great comic series. Now take all of these bad, horrible things and turn them up to 11, at least in the cities; place a Bradburian dystopia in the suburbs. Now that we’ve set the stage, I give you:

Occupypunk, (Alternate Title: Yippiepunk)

They killed my Charlotte. Sweet innocent girl, just trying to make the world a better place, protesting and going to sit-ins and crap. Then the pigs beat her to death, and left me for dead. Too bad for them I didn’t die, and remembered their faces. I waited outside police stations for days, waited until I saw one I recognized, followed him home, out to the nice, safe, surveillance-free suburbs. Then I beat him to death, just like he did my Charlotte. The next one I just shot; after the first they were more careful. I had to get help with the next few; they knew my face by then, but luckily with all the shootings and beatings the pigs do, it wasn’t hard to find help. Once the government let them off their leashes, they’ve been running rampant, and there are a lot of people who’ve lost loved ones, limbs, friends, and bedmates to them. Only deal I had to promise them was that once we finish the ones who killed Charlotte, I’d help them with the ones who hurt them. You know, if I’m still alive. It isn’t like pighunting is conductive to a long and healthy life. One day they’ll catch me, like they caught Joe. Sent an entire SWAT team after him. Too bad for them someone got word to Joe that they were coming, and he had time to take so many uppers and dreck that he forgot how to die, for a little while anyway. Jumped them with a couple hatchets. They had to take him and a whole buncha the cops out in a bag, cus they couldn’t figure out what bits belonged to who. They’ll never get the blood out of that apartment, I live there now. Rent is really cheap, and the splatter is kinda artistic, if you’re into that kinda thing. Anyway, I don’t expect to have a long life, but hell, the courts ain’t administering justice, so someone has to.

I can’t think of much to add to this: It is probably the most straightforward of my settings, just channelling that helpless rage we feel when we watch the news these days into something constructive. Also, ripping off part of Steal This Book.

Anyway, I have some ideas on how you could do this setting in a game, to reward self-destructive punk gameplay. I’ll try and write them up later, until then, stay geeky.


Edit: I forgot to link the original RPG.net thread.


Over on RPG.net there is a very inserting thread about ideas for -punk settings. Now, punk in this context is descended both from the musical/social movement, and cyberpunk. Steampunk also, but only true steampunk, none of that atheistic top-hat foppery. Therefore it should be dark, gritty, ugly, and the characters should be self-destructive and nihilistic. Not something I’d like to play in or even read, but great fun to muse about and design.

wapa created a setting called Anebellumpunk:

In the South they’re breedin’ men like they was animals. Worse than animals; they’re treatin’ them like they was tools – breedin’ them up, strappin’ them into moulds and feedin’ them up on quack formulae from birth so you’d barely know they was men, and what them rich folk are doin’ to their own kids only looks prettier on the outside. North ain’t much better – they’re fixin’ to replace men with clocks and steam engines, where they ain’t just ruled by ’em. Ain’t none of it Godly. But some folk, decent, churchgoing folk are out to abolish all that in the name of the Lord – and in the meantime just get on by. We’re all God’s children, whether we got a clock for a heart or grown eight times the proper size, and God’s children gotta look out for each other.

I like the idea, but thought it was too clean and optimistic, and thus I created Abolitionpunk:

A man can only see so much, you know? For me, I broke when I saw an innocent young, slip of a girl being torn apart by dogs. I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I set the dogs on her asshole of a master, and shot the overseers. Then me an’ some buddies, and a couple of the now-free slaves armed up, and decided to take out all the goddamn slavers in one go. We waited till Sunday, rolled a big carriage up to the doors of the church, then burned all them bastards inside, womenfolk and all. Not like they don’t order slaves beaten even more then the men. Then we headed out of town, pointing the way north to the slaves, and taking off before the army shows up. Now we live like bandits, killing and murdering slavers all across the south, staying one step ahead of the law. Sure, they’ll catch us eventually, but damn if we haven’t brought justice to a hell of a lot of bad, bad men on our way. Sides, you ever seen one of those big plantation houses burn down? Its a pretty, pretty sight. Even better when we get our hands on some dynamite and can blow it up.

Yeah, that would be a hell of a dark campaign. Characters would include abolitionists sick of a lack of action, washed up cowboys, defrocked priests, brutal norther agents, ex-slaves and so on.

Next time I’ll show you my even more violent setting: Occupypunk. Until then, Stay Geeky

Edit: Kris Newton, (@FeedRPG on twitter) liked my concept enough to create a spin off of it, adding vampires, and making it even darker (YouTube). I wouldn’t necessarily play in that game, but it is a really cool take on it and I encourage people to check it out.

Spelljammer and Clerics

Clerics represent how the desire to limit change to the existing settings and/or establish a distinctive setting identity limited roleplay possibilities.

The settings that SJ connected to have dozens, and in some cases, hundreds of gods. They limited clerics ability to get spells if the sphere they were visiting didn’t contain a following of that god. There are workarounds —You could store spell levels in a portable alter, worship a pantheon or the gods of a plane to increase your chances of finding a god belonging to it in that sphere, or worship Celestian or Ptah, both of which allow clerics to get spells as long as they are not on a planet. Therefore you are going to get lots of clerics of pantheons, planes and Celestian and Ptah, but not much else.

I think this is a great missed opportunity. First off, it makes it much harder to bring groundling clerics into SJ. This makes it harder for players to scoop up groundling NPCs they encounter on the way, or to transition from groundling games to SJ. Secondly it limits the number of religions present in SJ, which I don’t think is a good thing.

You have a culture made from the bits and pieces of a thousand other cultures from a hundred worlds. I think of Lankmar’s Street of Gods, with a selection of constantly changing temples from all over the world, many with only a few followers. Another model would be Lin Carter’s Gondwane Epic with its innumerable religions, cults and heresies from 900 millennia of civilization. Both have the feeling of a mishmash of different things, which I think is what Spelljammer should feel like. Also this would open up religions to more abstract things like the Church of the Silver flame or the Ancestor Worship of the elves in Eberron.

The easiest way to encourage this would be to take a page from Eberron and remove the gods as anthropomorphic entities. None of the faiths can be proven to be correct, so a multitude of conflicting religions exist, coexisting, clashing, getting spells no matter what. This matches the riot of colour I see in my head, which would be more similar to what we see in the first episode of Firefly, the Star Wars cantina scene. Luke, a groundling walks into a wild space bar and is just stunned by the riot of different people and colours. There are many ways to do this, but I think the easiest starting point is religion.

 THIS is the Spelljammer I want to play in.

 Until Next Time: Stay Geeky.


Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 5:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

A Tangential Universe

The universe is composed of many dimensions. The simplest view of these is as cables in a bundle. At the centre of the bundle is baseline, (0,0), the parties’s home. Each universe out from that diverges slightly at some point in the past.

First come historical changes: Japan invades Russia during WWII, preventing them from using Siberian troops against the Germans; WWII never happens as Hitler died in 1929, The Roman Republic managed civic reforms that prevented it from becoming an Imperial state; China discovered America and gains access to its natural resources during the middle ages; The Egyptian Empire avoids cultural and technological stagnation and still stands in the 22nd century. In a cable this is the thin strands of copper at the center.

Further out from that in the bundle metaphor lie worlds that diverged far enough back in time so as to have biological changes: Empires of Cat-people, dog-people, Civilizations of dolphins, lands where dinosaurs roam the earth. While there are many more of these dimensions then there are of the Historical dimensions there is much less known about them due to the fact they have been far less heavily explored.  This would be the strands of rubber insulation around the copper.

Then you have the rubber coating of the cable: These are realms where things diverged back when the solar system or universe was forming. Earths locked in ice ages; earths backing in the sun; earths with CO2 atmospheres and whatnot all exist here. Very little is known about this region as exploring it is very dangerous for obvious reasons.

Beyond that lies Terra Incognita, the land unknown. This is the strange region that no one really understands. Almost no travellers have returned from here, and those that do report wildly varying laws of physics, worlds full of magic, worlds with psionic and stranger things. Most expeditions to this region have not returned, and it is thought this is because they traveled into areas in which dimensional travelling technology does not work, or areas where the laws of physics do not support the existence of human life. This is normally described as the area beyond the cable.

This is the basic outline of the universe my next campaign will take place in. I’ve given some of the ideas I am working off of before, but what with running this campaign very soon I thought it would help with the adventure to set things down on digital paper. I will freely admit that most of this is taken directly from Tangents, which is the backdrop of my campaign, but with my own ideas mixed in. I’ve started out with tangents as the base, which I’ve posted a summary of below, and then will spend latter posts documenting my divergence from this idea, including  the problems with the cable model, the fuzzy nature of individual strands, tears in the universe and how to travel using them and what the Z-coordinate means.

Until Next TIme, Stay Geeky


Ideas for my online game

As you all probably know, I am planning on running an online game this summer. I am not officially recruiting yet, as I am unsure of my schedule once I start my job, and that seems like an important thing to know. However, I love writing out game ideas, so I thought I would set some down here.

Idea #1: “XSlayers” (Ie Dungeonslayers meets X-Crawl) I’ve blogged about this one a lot before, specifically when I first mentioned my summer game. To recap: The players are sports starts who descend into short, premade dungeons before a live and televised audience. A Master of Ceremonies runs the show,  providing live commentary, flavour and possibly altering the dungeon as the players move through it.

Idea #2: “Megaslayers” This is very similar to idea #1, except that the players move through a large megadungeon. A megadungeon is one of those giant, many levelled complexes with perhaps hundreds of rooms in it, where the players will never truly “clear” it: New monsters will move in, old ones will leave, and monsters may well migrate as the players kill others and create vacuums within the dungeon. This is set in the same world as number 1, but instead of being a short sports event this is a weekly show. Players still are in a modern setting, but instead of being in a small dungeon 1-page dungeon style affair they are in a long megadungeon, and thus can play monsters off against one another, retreat to the surface, will have to rest in the dungeon and conserve resources.

Idea #3: “XSlayers Classic”  This would be like idea #1 except that instead of going through an adaptation of a one-page dungeon or something short that I cook up the part will go through an adaption of a classic adventure. Probably an old TSR adventure, but I can take suggestions provided players promise not to use out of game knowledge to their advantage. This could very well branch into “Megaslayers Classic” if a longer adventure like the Temple of Elemental Evil is chosen to.

Idea #4: Straight up Dungeonslayers: If the modern-reality TV dungeon idea is not popular then I could go with running a traditonal fantasy version of Dungeonslayers.

Idea #5: “Dungeonslayers Classic”: If people like the idea of mixing Dungeonslayers and classic D&D adventures, but do not like the idea of the modern-dungeon crawling then I could do that to.

Idea #6: “Megadungeonslayers” Again, Megadungeon+Dungeonslayers but no modern.

Idea #7: Dimensional Hoppers: Another idea that I have blogged about before, this game would involve the players travelling across dimensions in search of a way home. Each dimension will be part of a slightly different genre and tech level for a highly episodic feel, but with (hopefully) continuing characters. I would be using a variant BRP system.

Idea #8: Dungeonworld/The Sargasso of Dungeons: Really I can’t think of much to add to this, except that I’d probably use Dungeonslayers, or if I can’t get support for that something like Warrior, Rouge & Mage or a retroclone. This one could be modern, fantasy or some combination of the above.

Idea #9: Tangents. I recently found the Tangents book for Alternity and discovered that it has a really cool adventure series in it. I would be willing to run this with the caveat that players either have to make their own characters or use a premade one from the adventure, as I don’t have enough experience to help them with it as I do the other systems.

I think I’m the most interested in running #1,#3 and #7, followed by #4, #5, #8 and #9, but if I get a bunch of enthusiastic players for any of them I think I’d catch the enthusiasm myself pretty quickly. Also it should be noted that while I listed a bunch of megadungeon ideas they all rated pretty low on my list: This is likely because I’ve not run enough dungeons yet to create a good atmosphere in most of them, and have them react organically to events in the dungeon. The Sargasso would be an inherently random place, so I think it might work more easily… That isn’t to say I wouldn’t try, which is why I listed them. Ideas which I really like, but am unsure I could run, like this idea I have for a game set on a Spacehulk/Sargasso of Death setting I haven’t listed, as I am sure I could run it, but can’t think of a system I am comfortable enough with and that has enough creatures for me to stock it with.

So, does anyone have any feedback on these ideas? Would anyone be interested in playing in one of them? Questions on bits of the setting that seem unclear? Just want more details on one or more of them? Please leave a comment!

Until then, or next time, Stay Geeky!


My New Campagin: Modern Dungeon Crawling with Dungeonslayers

I’ve been thinking of running an online game of Dungeonslayers this summer if I can find enough interested players. I’m going to start putting more work into this once I am done exams (end of the week), but am starting to put thought into it during my study breaks.

I’ve been a fan of modern dungeon crawling ideas since I heard about XCrawl, though I was reasonably disappointed in the book and setting when I read them (Great ideas, poor implementation –though latter books improved it a fair bit) and have done some writing on the topic.

I was looking at the dungeons posted and was thinking that it might be fun to mix things up by adding in a modern twist.

I’ve started writing up a bit of background. I’ve used some ideas from X-Crawl, some of my own and random bits from a couple of other places.

Gladiatorial matches have long been a staple of the Empire. For years gladiatorial matches have been popular on television. Recently a small arena owner, bored of traditional events set up an obstacle course filled with lethal traps and several monsters in mini-arenas. The event was huge, and the sport of Dungeonslayers was born. The mazes quickly evolved into full blown dungeons, more monsters were added, each slayer has dozens of statistics tabulated and compiled after each dungeon and managers, bookies and fans pay pour over these numbers. Slayers start in simple dungeons made of plywood, scrap metal and concrete slaying rats and spiders, and if they live eventually face demons and dragons in recreation dungeons in front of live audiences of half a million. Guns are not allowed in the dungeons as it makes it far to hard to have a live audience, but a fair amount of other things are allowed.

Dungeons would be similar to normal, but the traps may use modern mechanisms and there is of course live commentary and occasional anachronisms. Guns are not allowed in dungeons as it makes it too hard to have live audiences. I am also thinking that a a late 80s-early 90s level of technology would work quite well- TV is big, possibly some BBSes, but less gadgets and whatnot for players to want me to rule on, while at the same time being familiar enough to me to be comfortable with it. Magic replaces technology in some instances, however due to black boxing no one really cares about which is which.

Any suggestions on using Dungeonslayers for this? Ideas for me to put in my dungeons? What about converting traditional fantasy dungeons to have a live-sports feel? Heck, would anyone be interested in playing? I’ve not worked out times or medium or whatnot yet, but I can start work on that once I have preliminary expressions of interest.

Well, sorry for the long gap between posts, school distracted me for a while. I’ll try to post more regularly after exams. I’ve got my first ever blog recommendation coming up, which I meant to write up oh, a few months ago and got busy. Anyway, until next time, Stay Geeky.


DJ Elemental

I’ve been thinking of my old modern dungeon crawling idea more, and have thrown together a couple of DJs for an XCrawl like event. I found that the information on the DJs in the xcrawl book was a touch bland, with a couple of very interesting DJs, but most of them rather bland. I find that this is one of the most interesting ideas of XCrawl as the DJ designs the dungeon. I think that every DJ will have some sort of trademarks and themes they like to place in the dungeon, to let the fans watching instantly recognize them. This will also help make each crawl feel a bit different, so that the players don’t encounter dungeon after dungeon of 10×10 rooms.

The first idea I had was DJ Elemental. Elemental themed dungeons are not a new idea, I mean, look at the Temple of Elemental Evil, so it struck me that someone in the dungeon crawling league must enjoy elemental themed dungeons. They would have a very distinctive visual element, allow lots of dramatic special effects, and have a number of very obvious monsters. So without further ado: DJ ELEMENTAL!