Tuesday, May 17, 2022

About Prison of the Hated Pretender

 Prison of the Hated Pretender is great short dungeon written and illustrated by Gus L.

It is available as pay-what-you-want on drivethrurpg, and you really have no excuse not to grab it now, because it's a very good one!

I grabbed the PDF and printed and stapled it at home.

The Basics

The 20-page pdf includes a backdrop village for the adventure, rumors and hooks, and the description of the dungeon itself, which has 10 keyed locations. It is "for 4-6 characters level 0-1", so basically a starting adventure.

It includes "universal" old-school statistics which are perfectly compatible with OD&D/BX/BECMI and their clones and pseudoclones. Treasure seems set to values that are appropriate for xp-for-gold systems, too.

It also includes an appendix with 5e statistics which, frankly, I didn't even bother to read.

Art is nicely evocative and the map is really good and included in three versions.

Same goes for the writing style, reasonably compact but very evocative.

The Dungeon Adventure

The Prison is not a dungeon proper, as it is above ground. It's a head-shaped, three-story tower of sorts, with an underground crypt. It's the crowned head on the cover.

Despite the small area, the prison definitely allows for multiple expeditions, because the place is full of interesting stuff to investigate and interact with, AND there's a faction of creatures that just keep coming on and on, until the players figure out what makes them return and how to prevent that, which means a typical group of the suggested level will be forced to leave fairly often, and plan to visit again.

In the 10 rooms of the Prison, there's pretty much everything a good dungeon adventure should have: faction play, possible non-violent interaction with creatures, mysteries to unravel, traps and hazards that are well described in their functioning and trigger and with ways to figure they are there, and treasure that is interesting.

Extra Feature: An OSR Essay on Dungeon Design AND Refereeing

PotHP also shines as an excellent guide of sorts for GMs who want to familiarize with the old-school style of play and adventure design, as each page has a box of text explaining the design approach of the adventure, the reasons behind it, and how to best run it.

The combination of "theory" and playable example truly is gold, and puts PotHP in the same category as Tomb of the Serpent Kings as great "educational" modules (and great modules on their own right).

Monday, May 2, 2022

May D&D Sale 2022: My OSE Recommendations

 DriveThruRPG is having a HUGE sale on thousands of titles with the May D&D Sale, with everything Dungeons & Dragons, from Original to Fifth Edition!

And when I say thousands, I mean almost seventeen thousand. Good luck browsing those! Only considering the titles tagged as OSR, you get the incredible amount of 1980 titles on sale to check!

And to those, we must also add 107 official OD&D/BECMI titles, and 134 AD&D1stEd titles

The sheer amount of titles available makes it hard to create a list of OSR recommendations, so this time I'll focus on Old-School Essentials as it is my current go-to ruleset.

OSE Rulebooks

Of course the list begins with the core OSE books, both the Classic Rules Tome and the Advanced rules. If you're reading this, you're probably already a fan (like me), but don't forget sales are a great occasion to spread the word. Tell your friends!


Well, the whole Old-School Essentials line is part of the sale, which means you can get some great adventures too, like Incandescent Grottoes or the Ennie award winning Halls of the Blood King, and also the Dolmenwood setting line!

Ominous Crypt of the Blood Moss - A very good 10 room dungeon. I've reviewed it here.

The Black Wyrm of Brandonsford - An exquisite, sandboxy point-crawl adventure for characters level 1-3, very easy to run, with lots of interaction between locations, that I can't wait to run. Just reviewed it!

Puzzle Dungeon: The Seers Sanctum - Another very good 10 room dungeon with, well, a lot of well conceived puzzles. I've reviewed it here, and if this dungeon is a great opportunity to connect your existing campaign to the setting outlined in the best seller Planar Compass zine series which is on sale too!

Hideous Daylight and Temple of 1000 Swords - Two third-party Old-School Essentials adventures by Swordlords Publishing with awesome reviews.

Xanadu - Another acclaimed third-party Old-School Essentials dungeon adventure, by Singing Flame.

Bottomless Pit of Zorth - Another acclaimed adventure, with a slime theme and insane art, for  characters level 3-5, which is a less frequent level bracket in comparison to level 1-4, and makes it definitely worth checking.

Tannic - A just released level 1-3 adventure set in a haunted forest, by Amanda Pratt, that looks pretty cool (seriously, check the preview).

Sourcebooks, Supplements & Zines

The whole Third Kingdom line of hexcrawl supplements is out there, including the great Filling in the Blanks guide.

The unusual A Groats-worth of Grotesques bestiary, which I've reviewed here.

The Delver Magazine zine series, full of awesome random tables, along with its Tavern spin-off.

My very own Lands of Legends zine series, learn more about it here.

The Old School & Cool zine series by Knight Owl Publishing.

Bonus Offerings

For those who feel like reading thousands of pages, the Castle Oldskull Megabundle is definitely worth a look (includes guides, classes, bestiaries and even novels), and price-wise it is the sale with the largest discount.

And if all those sales don't whet your appetite, you can check some free or PWYW titles, such as my own Old-School Essentials e-zines, or the stunning Black Pudding zines by James West!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Axian Library Preview: A new d20 Table of Magical Mishaps

  Here's a d20 table with twenty new Magical Mishaps for your OSR game of choice, wether is Old-School Essentials, Labyrinth Lord, Sword & Wizardry, or any other clone of OE, B/X, or BECMI Dungeons and Dragons.

This is the second preview from the new, alternate Magical Mishaps table that will be included Axian Library. The first preview can be found here.

The full table will include 100 results, to complement the original table from Wondrous Weavings Warped and Weird, totaling 200 different effects!

They are, in turn, a functional part of the whole alternate arcane magic system detailed in Wondrous Weavings Warped and Weird, which empowers the the players of magic users to break the rules of magic, if they are willing to take some risk....

These mishaps have effects that are not "Spell range is reduced by 10%". Who needs these? I don't. I want  actual consequences and the possibility to create fun, interesting, challenging situations that push the game and the story on.

Hope you'll like them!

d20 Magical Mishaps

Roll a d20. If the listed effect affects the target, and the intended spell didn't target a creature, the effect is applied to the caster.

  1. A decorated stone fountain appears next to the target, with brilliant water spouting. A character drinking from the fountain rerolls their ability scores. The fountain has a 2-in-6 chance of disappearing after use.
  2. The spell creates a magic mouth on the nearest wall. It can identify magic item properties by tasting them, but wants to be fed fresh fruit for its services.
  3. An earthquake shakes the ground in a 1d6 mile radius. Unstable buildings and structures (including dungeon sections) have a 3-in-6 chance of collapsing; mechanical room traps hidden in walls, floors etc. have a 3-in-6 chance of getting damaged and stop working.
  4. A black disk covers the sun for 2d6 days. For the duration, chaotic monsters gain +1 attack rolls and saves.
  5. A tombstone appears next to the caster and to each of their allies, with their names on it. They suffer -2 to all their saves while in sight of their tombstone.
  6. The caster vomits a stream of 1d4 x 5,000 copper pieces, equivalent to a breath attack (a cone, 30’ long, 1’ wide at the mouth, 30’ wide at the far end). All caught in the area suffer 1d8 damage (save versus breath for half). The caster may target the breath in the direction they prefer.
  7. All creatures capable of speech within 10’ of the target reveal their best kept secret.
  8. The spell summons a tyrannosaurus rex 2d6’ from the target. Roll for random reaction.
  9. A 1’ long, spiraling horn grows on the target’s forehead. It has a continual light spell on it, which the target can switch on and off.
  10. The spell creates 1d4+1 killer bees telepathically linked to the caster and obeying their mental commands.
  11. The caster’s eyes become mirrors. They are now immune to all gaze effects and abilities.
  12. Stone statues appear next to every creature within 50’ of the target, duplicating their aspect.
  13. The spell summons 2d6+20 goats 1d6’ from the target (herd animal, small; 1 HD). Roll 1d4 every round. 1: flee immediately. 2-4: stampede in a random direction (roll 1d12 and read it like a clock).
  14. All metal weapons and shields within 50’ of the caster are pulled into a magic vortex, forming an anthropomorphic iron living statue which obeys the caster’s orders. After 2d4 rounds, or if killed, the statue crumbles in a pile of all the weapons that made it (intact).
  15. The caster’s INT and STR scores are swapped for 1d6 days.
  16. The caster and all creatures within 100’ float 3’ up into the air for 1d6 turns as per the levitate spell, except they can’t mentally direct vertical movement.
  17. All creatures of comparable size within 100’ of the target become illusory copies of the target.
  18. All footwear within 10’ of the target are magically glued to the ground for 24 hours.
  19. All the caster’s prepared spells leave their mind and transfer their energy into the nearest non-magic sword, turning it into a sentient sword. The sword’s INT is equal to 6 + the number of spells drained from the caster’s mind (up to 12).
  20. All non-magic melee weapons within 100’ of the target become succulent roasted gigots, with the same size of the original item.

Into OSR? Check my other OSR posts and reviews!

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