There’s a degree of irony to the fact that the Old School Renaissance is producing some of the best and hottest artwork, modules, and GM resources in the tabletop roleplaying game industry right now–isn’t “old school” by definition staid and played out? As with all gaming communities, there’s a component of tabletop RPG culture that is grounded in nostalgia; the best OSR content is like a classic car that’s been retooled with all-new parts, parts that have emerged from thirty to forty years of deep thought, experimentation, and winnowing on the topic of game mechanics. The folks behind that movement might have grown up on AD&D or the white box, but me and mine, we grew up on version 3.0 or 3.5.
Despite the fact that my game Jokers & Journeys has been part of the BLP catalogue since last November, I don’t consider myself a game designer just yet. The reason why has something to do with this principle from Things We Think About Games: “Having played chess does not qualify you to answer ‘yes’ when you are asked ‘do you play chess?'”
Roleplaying games. For some of us at BLP, they’re our bread and butter (I’m one of those lucky jerks who gets to play them as part of my day job). For some of us, they’re a recent discovery. Psychodrama, the performative act of becoming someone else in mind, and sometimes in body, is an ancient one that galvanized culture and led to most forms of art and entertainment in the present day. Roleplaying games connect us to aspects of other people and ourselves, and helps open our eyes to new perspectives. This week’s Going Around poses this prompt to our team of contributors: Tell us about an RPG character (tabletop or otherwise) who has stuck with you after the game is done.
To play Jokers & Journeys with Tarot cards, use the pip cards as usual. A Royal Family becomes that much more difficult to score; a Blackjack is played with the Page of each suit and its corresponding 10 (you can call it a “reversed reading” if you want to). The Major Arcana are as follows:
Most of us know that you should never, ever try to use the wish spell to become immortal. For the rest of you…well…
Hello hello hello! Wowie, dear readers, I am caffeinated! And very excited to share what BloodLetterPress is going to be up to for the next few months! We’ve had this blog up for a while now and have been churning out content ever since, but as the final days of Halloween Month draw closer, we’re getting ready to explode forth from our blog format into REAL LIVE APPEARANCES with our REAL LIFE SELVES! Details under the cut!
Even More Books in the Wizard’s Library (some translated into Common by the Society for a Vernacular Zenith)
1: From Many, One, by Jenth Cooper (memoir of an awakened flesh golem, in Old Common)
2: An Ethnobotany of the Gleaming Swamp, by Ecalsis Wide-Eyes (in Sylvan, but trails off into pictographs and asemic writing at the end of each chapter; excellent botanical illustrations)
3: A Beginner’s Guide to Cobblecraft, by Ricki Hobnail (instructions on the creation and enchantment of magical footwear)
4: People of the Rune: a Study of the Ilumians, by J.F. Shmatz (iffy scholarship, but words glow blue and float off the page, so it ought to be worth something, right?)
5: An Anatomical Atlas of the Purple Worm, by Alysha Wroughtiron (includes a 10:1 scale foldout [8 feet long] with several layers of cross-section)
6: Where We Flock Together: A Living History of the Good Partridge Tavern, by Toastmaster Groth Jarlson (includes partridge-based recipes; book will hunt partridges by itself if removed from library)
7: The Definitive Museum of Fatespinner Textiles, by Lord Huecorro Sartor (one incorporated textile is poisonous on contact)
8: Shieldcraft, by Ulgurk Ulrich (book has been used as the key to a cipher; covered in scrawled notes, nearly illegible)
9: The Nopos Manifesto, by Orlog Siegetongue (made of cut-up bits of other books, preaches novelty and originality as the highest virtues of art; heated debate over this text distracted from several high-profile heists by its author)
10: The Monarchist’s Cookbook, no author (anti-insurrectionist explosives assembly manual)
11: Popular Folk Songs of the Asedia Lowlands, by Picadilly Stout (notation for mandolin, hand drum, and reed flute)
12: Grand Evocations of the Ancient Pistians (beautiful fake; curses thieves in 1d4 minutes, or explodes on anyone who opens it)
13: Interviews with Those Guarded by Unicorns, by Wasseli Fillamentra (constructed of cotton, wool, and other gently-harvested fibers, written with walnut ink).
14: Filvire Spangrov: A Life, A Death, An Unlife, by Dictus Abraxis (biography of lich by the detective who killed it)
15: Sentimentalism: An Ethical History of Charm Spells, by Rev. Lorelai Craishin (includes section on recreational use)
16: The Wizard’s Guide to Obtaining Free Labor, by The Great & Terrible Progadrius (hollowed out, pages glued together with dried blood; hollow contains copy of The Case for Lizardfolk Self-Determination by Genko of the Poison Fen)
17: The Theoretical Sixth Spellbook of Ivonne Dalehelm, transcribed by Fasaal Ibn-Ezesh (exists only when thought about)
18: We Love Macreedis Serpret, by his twenty-six homunculi (Serpret made this and other copies but keeps the original)
19: Sonnets by Glarthrek (flyleaf informs reader that opening book summons invisible horrors that attack if book is not finished in one sitting)
20: The Tome of the True Gourmand, by Gastrique, the Sultan of Spice (most recipes call for extremely exotic/expensive ingredients; careful perusal provides permanent +2 bonus to Profession (chef) or related skill)
Look for more installments of Books in the Wizard’s Library in the future. -ð
Gryphonson Brews is a brewery and mixer founded by Kvelis Gryphonson, a wild elf paladin of the trickster god, who settled down after receiving a signal to retire from her deity. She has turned her adventuring fortune into a successful business in specialty liquors. Most Gryphonson Brews are made with mundane ingredients and can be found in taverns throughout the land, but the high-end Limited Collection, themed after challenges or locations the owner encountered as an adventurer, is made with exotic ingredients. One or two new brews are added to the Limited Collection every year, while old brews may retire from production.
In my last article about NPCs, I wrote that NPCs are memorable when they’re consistently useful or adversarial to the party. Outside of exchanging goods and money with the PCs, or harrying them at every turn, how can you make your party care about an NPC? Here are twenty possibilities.
After reworking the haunted manor, I had just enough time between sessions to whip up the dragon’s lair it connected to before my group found their way to the mural in the furnace. Sorry the map is a little messier this time; I’ll admit to cutting corners and freshening up the original map I drew instead of using the old one as a reference for a new copy. To sweeten the deal a little, I’ve included a print-out-and-cut-up puzzle component. Once again, 5th Edition D&D terms are included here, but feel free to change, convert, or ignore them as you see fit.
This is the subterranean lair of Nakryativatka, the rare sort of black dragon that prefers trickery and traps to direct confrontation, and her kobold servants. All rooms are pitch dark and hollowed out from marsh clay unless otherwise noted.