Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Fantasy! RPG Review

Another in my continuing series of reviews of products I have bought on RPGNOW and finally got around to reading. Only 600 more to go (I am only exaggerating a little).

Fantasy! (yes they have an exclamation in the official title) is a translation of a Swedish OSR Fantasy roleplaying game. They also have games called “Action!” and “Sci-Fi!”. It comes from a company called Saga Games.

On the first page, the editors put in a disclaimer warning that this is a translation to English done by people who do not speak English as a first language. It is noticeable, but we are reading rules and not a novel so it is not really a problem. If you are someone who gets annoyed by the use of the wrong word on occasion this product is not for you.

There is one funny spot in the main core rules where there is an entire sentence in Swedish. I used Google translate and it turns out it is repeated in English in the next sentence. The sample adventure in the back of the rules does have a lot of instances where the original Swedish was retained in the room titles. It makes the rooms sound grimmer than they actually are, “En mork korridor urthuggen ur urberget” is something like, “Dark Corridor”.

Core Rules

The game uses only 6-sided dice and characters are describes by four attributes (Constitution, Coordination, Intelligence, and Presence) and start with 5 abilities. The system does not have classes but there are optional archetypes that can be chosen, Ranger, Warrior, Assassin, Knight, and Thief. You notice there is no magic using class. The system is geared toward a low fantasy human-centric setting. Mages are assumed to be NPC’s but there are suggestions for including magic wielding characters.

Spells cost different mana points to cast. Non-magicians can use Power Words to do small magical tasks. Characters decide the number of mana points to use for Power Word and then roll that many extra dice in the resolution roll. The limit is 3 mana for a single Power word.

Dwarves and elves as playable races are also presented in the appendix. But the setting assumes dwarves and elves are rare.

The rules use hit points but they are fairly static. There are ways to improve them slightly. You do also have Temporary Hit points which are added hit points removed first and represent your experience at avoiding damage. Temporary hit points can be increased with advancement.

Humans pick 5 abilities to start play, demi-humans pick 4. Since any ability can be chosen customization is open. If this is to much work for you, there are optionally the five sample archetypes to choose from.


In the rules assuming the action is not automatic (simple) or impossible a die roll is made. A Resolution Roll is a roll off as many dice as your level in the Attribute. Extra dice are added for abilities that fit the situation. On a 4-6 it is a success, less than 3 are failures. The number of successes is compared to the difficulty of the task. For every die that comes up a 6, you get to roll 1 more die.

The tasks difficulty is a fairly standard ladder of 1-easy, 2-normal, 3-difficult, 4-insane, 5-heroic, 6-Legendary, 7-Forget about it.

There is an added element of risk of spectacular failure if at least half the die rolls are 1’s.

After Play

The suggestion is that after each game session the characters each receive 1 experience die. The next time they play the character can add 1 experience die to any roll. The maximum experience dice you can hold is 10. After 10 you need to spend the dice. For me, the rules were not clear on this point.  The Experience die is also needed to improve your character. So is it either or? The note in the rules states, “When you spent your ED to improve die rolls you of course get them back the next game session”. So if you spend them on improvements you cannot get them back? Logically that is the way I would rule it.


Combat includes attack and defense rolls. You have a number of combat dice based on your attribute used to attack (CON or COR). You have to split these between attack and defense with at least 1 die always being held back for defense. If your number of successes is greater than the defender's number of successes the attack succeeds. You could also find yourself splitting your defense dice between multiple attackers. This is an interesting system and reminds me of one of the versions of RuneQuest I have used (RQ 3 I believe).

On defense, you also add dice from any armor or shield.

There are special rules for being caught unaware (you get only 1 defense die) or for having flanking protection from allies (1 extra die to defense per protected flank).

Armor gives defense dice and absorbs the Armor modification amount of damage.

As befits a low fantasy setting the healing of hit points is quite grim. HP heals at a rate of 1HP per day in the care of a healer or 1HP per week if just resting.


The entire core rules section is only 23 pages. It covers everything an experienced role-player needs to play the game. Not every situation is covered by the rules and for an OSR game, it should not be. The gamemaster section has more information on running games, campaigns and handling magic (since the base assumption is that mages are NPCs). No example spells are provided. Instead, players should tell the gamemaster what they want to attempt with a spell and the gamemaster sets the difficulty. There is also a fairly standard section of the rules listing monsters.

The rules close up with a simple setting called the “Distant Dales”. There is enough information here for at least a half-dozen adventures. There is also a 3 dungeon level adventure called “The God in the Mountain”. It has the feel of something that has been done before but any reasonably experienced gamemaster can take the bare bones of the idea and expand upon it.


These are simple but complete OSR style fantasy rules. Perfect for someone who wants to run a magic light setting and enjoys customizable characters and no levels. Given that class and level is one of my least favorite parts of D&D I can see running some adventures using these rules.

Four adventurers prepare to enter the dungeon of The God in the Mountain.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

How the Mighty have Fallen

I had an idea for a 5th Edition adventure for a campaign I was running. But it never got used as the campaign ended. The idea was for a low-level city adventure. The players are asked to help out a local good aligned temple where an accident has occurred.  I called it How the Mighty have Fallen.

The temple had commissioned a new statue of their god. A particularly big, stone statue. Unfortunately, the floor of the temple gave way and the statue fell down into some old ruins below. The idea was that it was an undercity of sewers, old cellars, and buildings overrun by troglodytes. The temple guards had been sent below and did not return. The temple sent for help.

I was doodling a map this weekend and finally put this idea onto a map. There is not a write-up for this yet but I did quickly create something to visualize it.

Who wants to go down the rope first?

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Stillwater 3D Rendered

Quite some time ago I loaded a quick post on the village of Sillwater (here). I was one of my more popular posts. At the time I was new to blender so I did not try to create any art for the post. I have since become marginally better and the thought has occurred to do a full 3D walkthrough animation of the village. It is really not that difficult but it involves a fair amount of work.

To get things started I built the epi-center of Stillwater, the Toppled Tankard Inn. Right now it is just an Inn floating in the vast darkness of the 3D mesh. But here are some shots of the exterior and the interior of the Inn.

The Toppled Tankard

The Toppled Tankard Inn, one of the few places to rest indoors in Stillwater valley. You will have to sleep on the floor but it is fairly clean and it is warm in the winter.

The Tap Room

Monday, 29 October 2018

Knave Rules OSR Style minimalist rules

I have come across the knave rules a few times on the internet forums so I downloaded it took a look at it. The rules are written by Ben Milton.  The rules are minimalist. The rules check in at only 7 pages and 2 of those pages are spells (and some magic rules).

The rules are written with the intention of allowing you to run OSR adventures with only a few changes. There are a number of minimal rulesets online but these take a different approach. The six standard attributes are still here (called abilities) but they do not modify rolls. Instead, they are used as ability checks whenever a character attempts something. The attributes are also created differently. You roll 3d6 and keep the lowest roll. That number is the bonus and 10 is added to it for the “defense” of the attribute.

There are no classes or class like abilities. Any character could fight, wear armor, pick locks or perform any action.

In a move not unlike a computer game, characters have equipment slots. In this case, based on their CON defense. So if you have a CON of 12 you can have 12 items. That includes worn or held items. Small items like coins fit multiples in a slot (in this case 100). Hit points are d8 based and are re-rolled at each experience level.

Saving throws, which are the basic roll for attempting actions, is a d20 roll with relevant ability bonus. A 15 or greater succeeds. Opposed rolls are a little different, instead, you use the opposing character’s relevant defense. There is the possibility of advantage and disadvantage.

Combat is an old-fashioned d6 initiative for each side. Attack rolls are d20 + STR for melee or WIS for ranged. WIS because I believe they wanted to make every ability relevant. If the attack is greater than the defender armor class it hits. Standard weapon damage is applied. There are a neat weapon and armor quality rules that come into effect on fumbles and critical rolls.

There is a provided option to allow players to make all of the rolls, in other words, attack rolls when on the attack and defense rolls when being attacked.

Healing is d8+ CON bonus after a meal and night’s rest.

The rules suggest that standard OSR Monsters can be used with few changes.

Magic is very different. Spells are cast from spellbooks that must be held in both hands and read aloud. A spell can be cast once per day per book. Each spellbook contains a single spell and takes up 1 equipment slot. This could lead to a lot of high CON mages. Spellbooks must be found. They cannot be transcribed or traded. Spell success is based on the relevant save by the defender so anyone can cast spells.

Would I use these rules?  Possibly, I can see that these rules would be great for new players or online games. If I did run it online I would be tempted to allow the players to make all of the rolls so I could concentrate on the world-building. I wonder if all of the characters might not feel about the same. I think it might only be the player personalities that come to the fore.

The rules suggest creating a character using a completely random method for the statistics, equipment, and even the character’s personality.  I decide to roll up a character and came up with Oddmantle (below).

Sunday, 28 October 2018

G+ Exodus

The great G+ Exodus

I have not posted to my blog since late September. Why? Well, in the interim Google announced they were killing Google+. According to Google, the social media app had never really caught on. However, amongst the gaming the community it was really popular.  At least I thought so.

I decided to create a website and create content because of Google+. All of my traffic on Blogger was directly related to Google+. The use of communities in G+ is perfect for tabletop gamers. It subdivides the community by play style and ruleset. It is also super easy to post to communities and it posts with an image from your post.

So for a few weeks, I thought about whether to join the exodus to MeWe, stick with G+ to the end or just stop bothering to write. I have decided to give MeWe a try mainly because I enjoy writing and I need somewhere to post it. I do not get a lot of traffic but I usually get around 100 visits per post. Some are less and some are more. I write for myself for the most part but it is nice to share with a few people. No one wants to write in a vacuum.

In the next few days, I will return to writing reviews, adventures and session reports.

Saturday, 29 September 2018


Chapter One Graverobbers

I decided to go to southern Italy in the summer and found myself in Taormina Sicily. Staying at a nice, reasonably priced hotel clinging to the hillside with a clear view of smoldering Mount Etna. The last bit might be poetic license it was probably just normal clouds clinging to the peak. I had a pretty mundane day and decided to go out at night for a walk. I took the path up from the hotel up the hill toward town and I took a wrong turn in the dark and ended up in a small cemetery.

The path had clearly led up to the cemetery but when I had done the same trip twice during the day I had not seen any sign of a cemetery. Just hotels, stone steps, and rocks. I looked about puzzled. It was a small cemetery. Not more than twenty graves in the plot surrounded by a brick wall. All of the gravestones looked old. Some did not appear to have names on the stones.

Then I heard the distinctive thump of a shovel digging into the dirt. I froze. Someone was digging a hole. In a cemetery. In the middle of the night. This had gone from mildly amusing travel anecdote to seriously scary.

I realized I had frozen at the sound and was not moving. Barely breathing. Everything was quiet. Even the normal sound of cars on the nearby winding road had stopped. The shovel noise was probably just my imagination.

Then I heard it again and someone speaking in hushed tones in a latin language. Which I knew all of two words so I could not make out anything. It sounded like “sestito qualcosa”? I held my breath for a moment.

“Niente,” came the gruff reply as clear as day. It was off to my right. Looking I could see a number of tombstones covered in overgrown weeds. And a mausoleum. A dim, flickering light reached around the edge of the mausoleum.

Before I had time to think things through clearly I had shuffled forward near the mausoleum and stopped behind a tombstone. Peering around its edge I saw two men armed with shovels busily scooping dirt out of the ground and laying it to one side. On a nearby tombstone was a red lantern lighting the scene.

Real graverobbers. I could not believe it. This could not be happening in the present day. I reached down for my cell phone. I needed to call the police but I could not recall the number for police in Italy. Maybe I could just take a picture and run to the police. I always had my cell set to vibrate so there was no fear of making a noise. Positioning it carefully I opened the camera app and pressed the button, and then the flash went off!

I dropped the cell phone in surprise and scrambled to run. Behind me, I could hear a cry of astonishment and more shouts of what I assumed were “get him” or “kill that guy”. I put my head down and ran. Straight into a tombstone at ankle height. I slammed my foot into it and went down hard. Pain lanced up my leg and I could feel that I had scraped my knee and elbow as well. A weight dropped onto my legs. I struggled and kicked but could not move. They had me.

There was a loud crack followed by a groan and suddenly my legs were free. Then another thwack and the sound of a something big hitting the ground. I rolled over onto my back to look. Both graverobbers were lying at my feet dead to the world. Standing over them was a man armed with a shovel. He was dressed like a renaissance gentlemen like the pictures I had seen in a museum in Palermo. A jaunty hat on his head. And most importantly, I could see right through him.

The “man” said something to me in thick Italian. I stared at him in shock. He also seemed taken aback and reached out toward me. I flinched and scrambled back and small a smile appear on his face.

“Well, Englishman you can see me, No?”


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Palace of the Jade Sorceress Completed

The continuing adventures of Shenhong Long using the Scarlet Heroes Solo rules.

When last we left, the hero, Shen had narrowly escaped death in the dungeon level of the Palace of the Jade Sorceress. Shen fell through a trapdoor into a sewer and fought off a number of giant rats. After a brief rest, Shen recovers 2 hit points (I read up on the rest and recovery rules for Scarlet Heroes).

The next room he entered was well decorated with a small crystal harp sitting on the floor in the center of a circle. Shen picked at the strings of the harp for a few discordant notes and the ghost of a woman appeared. The woman explained the disaster/curse that had befallen the Jade Sorceress and implored Shen to play a few notes (which she taught Shen) on the Ice Harp to break the Red Ruby in which the Jade Sorceress was trapped.

Shen thanked the ghost which quickly disappeared. Moving on Shen is attacked by five zombie palace guards. In a pitched battle, Shen manages to put down all of the zombies. After passing through a few rooms he comes across the recent corpse of a human in a guard uniform. The guard has several burn marks on him. Nearby Shen sees a message, “Beware of Travis” scrawled on the wall.

Continuing along he sees a long hall with several doors. A flickering light shines under one door. Avoiding it Shen shoves open another door and surprises 4 shou (orcs) dressed in ill-fitting guard uniforms. Shen quickly kills the orcs. The room is a large mess, with a bloodied desk and a half-eaten wolf carcass. At that moment the door with the light opens and several orcs peer out. Seeing Shen, standing over the corpses of four orcs, bloodied naginata in hand, the orcs hold up their hands and back away.

Shen advances and follows the orcs into another room. Two orcs leap from behind the door with surprise and attack. Shen quickly dispatches them. The remaining 2 orcs drop their weapons and back away. Not understanding Shou speech, Shen threatens them to remain where they are and moves on.

Shen heads on further through natural caves. He comes across a cave full of life-like statues. From what the ghost told him he understands these are palace inhabitants that have been turned to stone.

Continuing upstairs, Shen springs a trap but nothing happens. Listening at a door he hears grunting and chewing noises. Shen kicks the door open and surprises three troglodytes eating a recently killed human (see the adventures of Ti Yasho). Shen kills the troglodytes quickly and finds one has a nice looking dagger that he keeps.

Shen advances up through the watchtower to the second level of the Palace. One of the first things he encounters is an iron statue in a laboratory. On his first attack, his naginata becomes stuck to the side of the statue. In a lengthy combat (11 rounds) Shen survives by using his recently found dagger which proves to be magical. Shen pauses and binds the wounds he received from the fight with the iron statue.

Shen encounters a playful black kitten in another chamber but ignores it. Moving on he comes across two human women examining large parchment drawings of a black cat. The women are briefly startled and on guard but eventually introduce themselves as Duchess and Candella. Duchess does most of the talking and attaches herself to Shenhong’s side. She explains she and her friend are novice adventurers who just want to find their way out of the Palace. Shen agrees that they can join him.

Duchess and Candella

The three adventurers enter a bedchamber full of interesting furniture. Shen looks on amused as Duchess and Candella immediately begin to ransack it. Duchess pulls back the bed-curtains and lets out a shriek awakening a bearded old man on the bed. The old man, who is dressed like a sorcerer introduces himself as Mirabilis. He explains that has the curse fell over the Palace he put himself in a protective trance and escaped the effects. To Shen the two women seem very suspicious of Mirabilis.

Mirabilis explains the curse to Shen. Shen tells everyone that he has discovered a way to break the curse. Everyone looks at Shen expectantly and he shows them the Ice Harp before putting it back into his pouch. Mirabilis asks Shen many questions about the origins of the Harp but Shen declines to answer. Shen asks Mirabilis about the layout of the Palace and he tells Shen that of course, he knows the way around. But he is not certain where the ruby gem might be located. He suggests the ballroom and leads them to that room.

As the group enters the ballroom, Shen begins to hear low, eerie music. Suddenly, a pair of ghostly figures appear dancing in the center of the room. Shen and Candella are overcome with fear and run through a nearby doorway out into the garden. The garden is open to the sky. As they enter the garden they see sickly looking bushes that fire sprays of thorns at them. Grabbing Candella by the hand, Shen makes his way toward a door out of the garden. The bushes fire two more volleys of thorns but miss.

Shen and Candella find themselves in a north-south hallway. From the north, Duchess comes running up to the pair. She tells them that Mirabilis ran away. Shen suggests looking for the old man but Duchess dissuades him.

Heading south they enter an ornate bathroom. Candella, declares “this is mine” and begins prying gems out of the walls and pocketing an ivory soap dish. Shen shrugs and moves on. Duchess asks to see the Ice Harp again but Shen shushes her. Just then Shen sees four hobgoblins rushing toward them.

Shen fires at the hobgoblins with his bow but misses. Duchess tries to grab Shen’s loot bag but he blocks her. Duchess and Candella flee north leaving Shen to deal with the hobgoblins. Shen pulls out his naginata and kills the hobgoblins in 4 rounds.

Alone again, Shen heads back to the vandalized wash chamber and bandages the wounds he received from the hobgoblins.

Heading south in the direction the hobgoblins came from, Shen finds a pair of ornate double doors. Pushing them open he finds the throne room. Statues of courtiers are positioned about the room facing a dais on top of which is a throne. Sitting on the throne is a large ruby.

Shen approaches cautiously. Moving up the dais a step at a time expecting an attack. Shen sets his naginata and reaches out for the glowing gem. There seems to be a tiny figure trapped inside of it. Just as he is about to touch the gem red vapors billow up and surround Shen. He grabs his naginata in a defensive pose. The smoke clears and a human in glowing red full plate armor steps forward and attacks armed with a red, glowing sword and shield.

In a desperate combat, Shen strikes the red knight several times with his naginata with no effect. Tossing aside the weapon he leaps at the knight with his dagger. Just as he touches him the knight disappears. Shen realizes it was only an illusion.

Shen walks up toward the gem again. This time he does not hesitate but pulls out the ice harp and plays the notes he was taught. The gem shatters and red mist pours out of it obscuring the entire room from Shen. A thin figure emerges from the mist as it begins to dissipate.  Shen readies his dagger.

“Relax my hero. The curse is ended!” states a young woman in a fine silver dress with a crown on her head. Looking about Shen can see all of the statues in the room have turned back into humans and dwarves.

Argentia thanks Shen for rescuing her. She was trapped in the gem by the evil sorcerer Catharandamus who has now fled the palace with his shou followers. She was unable to do much while trapped but she could observe what was going on and used all of her willpower to open a path through to the gatehouse for Shen and another earlier adventurer who arrived a few days ago and unfortunately perished.

Argentia sends out messengers to bring stability to Haven and knights to attempt to locate Cathararandamus. She insists that Shen stay in Haven for a week while things are put to order and throws a feast in honor of Shen bestowing upon him a Silver Medal of Honor and 1,500 gold coins. She also exempts Shen’s village of Darga from taxation for the next five years.

Session Report

One of the main reasons why Shen was able to survive the Palace of the Jade Sorceress is that I re-read the rules and realized that I should be healing 2 hit points of damage recently received after a battle. This is huge at lower levels when you only have single digit hit points.