Saturday, October 30, 2021

Grim Forest Areas for OSR Games (+ ANNOUNCEMENT)

Halloween is almost here, and here's a d10 table with ten forest areas 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.

These are straight from the Areas section of Lands of Legends Grim, which is part of the Halloween Sale on DrivethruRPG. Check it out for hundreds more!

...and there's also a big ANNOUNCEMENT! Wondrous Weavings Warped & Weird is up and available as Pay What You Want at DrivethruRPG! Check it out for an alternate arcane magic system for Old-School Essentials!

Forests - Grim Areas

  1. The Dead Wood. The trees are grey and leathery, with black, swollen leaves, because they are undead. There is no undergrowth, just mold and fungi (including such monster types as random encounters). Zombi Dryads feast under the black leaves, and rumors say enormous undead Treants lurk in the most remote areas of the wood.

  2. The Evil Forest. All vegetation is evil to non-animal beings. Roll 1d6 every hour: a random character stumbles for 1d4 damage, or is stung by some poisonous vine: Save vs Poison or suffer -2 to all d20 rolls for 24 hours.

  3. The Forest of Suicide. Centuries ago, during a period of famine and war, the poorest of the villagers came to this woods one at a time and hanged themselves, to remove a mouth to feed from their families. The pain and horror of these acts haunts the place, and those who travel in the forest can meet specters, voices and new suicides hanging from tree branches. Heroes failing a Save vs Spells begin to feel the desire to commit the same act and should they fail three consecutive days will have to be physically restrained from doing it.

  4. “Help me... Please, help me...” This wood is infested with forest hyenas, treacherous and cruel animals digging burrows in the ground and among the roots of trees. They know how to imitate the human voice and utter a few words that they have learned from their victims (screaming, "help" "mercy" and so on...) and use this skill to lure explorers and assault them in a pack. A WIS roll allows one to understand there is something wrong.

  5. The Dance of the Alders. Spending the night in these woods is very dangerous. Around midnight, distant sounds of flutes and dancing lights might attract explorers to a glade where dark creatures, looking like bewitched elves, are dancing in the moonlight. The creatures invite everyone to dance with them. If a person refuses three times or fails the dance (a DEX roll), then one of the creatures will strike him, causing a terrible disease (mummy’s rot, for example). Dancing with the creatures is just exhausting: non-stop dancing until dawn, but it will not bring any other result.

  6. Fields of Asphodel. Small white flowers grow in this forest, capable of stealing the lives of explorers through their breath. Everyday travelers must pass a Save vs Death or temporarily lose 1 point of Constitution. As they lose their points, the asphodels around them become more vivid and florid.

  7. Groans from the Trees. This forest resounds with groans that seem to come from everywhere. There are no green plants, and no straight branches: all vegetation is dark, gnarled and twisted, with no fruit but only poisoned thorns. The groans come from the trees themselves. Snapping a branch or hitting the bark with a blade releases cries, blood and words: the trees are miserable men turned into plants by the ancient Witch of the Woods who lives inside the forest.

  8. Ironwood. This dark forest’s trees have deep red foliage all through the year. All the beasts living here have a 10% chance of being mutated with a partially metallified hide or carapace that grants +4 to their Armor Class and may be employed to create special armors.

  9. Crawlwood. The trees of this forest live in symbiosis with long lived giant snails: most trees grow on top of the snails’ partially flattened shells. During the night each tree crawls for about d6 feet and all the forest is slowly moving towards the same direction. The undergrowth is scarce, as it is consumed by the snails and the soil is often slippery with the slime left by the snails.

  10. Forest of Madness. Evil spirits haunt this forest: for each night spent here, one random character will hear a voice in his head ordering him to kill one of his comrades. If the character refuses to obey, he has to Save vs Spell or is forced to harm himself, continuing until restrained, dead or unconscious, or until a cleric successfully turns away the evil spirit, or until the break of dawn. Lone travelers are unaffected.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

20 Magical Mishaps for OSR Games

 Here's a d20 table with twenty 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.

These are straight from the Mishap Table in my Wondrous Weavings Warped and Weird, an alternate arcane magic system for Old-School Essentials and similar rulesets.

The cover:

The full version of Wondrous Weavings Warped and Weird includes 100 results, but here's 20 that I want to share as a preview.
The full version of Wondrous Weavings Warped and Weird also includes rules for when to roll a Mishap, of course.

I've written these to have effects that are not "Spell range is reduced by 10%". Who needs these? I don't. I tried to stuff the table with actual consequences and, to the best of my possibilities, with fun, interesting, problematic situations that push the game and the story on.
Hope you'll like them. Let me know in the comment section!

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 complete banquet table with delicious food for 10 people appears in front of the target. Double chance of Wandering Monsters who may be attracted by the scent.
  2. The target shifts forward in time: they disappear and reappear after 1d4+1 rounds.
  3. Glowing nodules, the same as a Fire Beetle’s, grow on the caster’s palms.
  4. Tentacles grow in place of the caster’s beard. The caster can make 1 attack with the tentacles. A hit by the tentacles causes paralysis for 2d4 turns (save versus paralysis).
  5. The caster’s right hand now has the same effect of a Rust Monster’s feeler, and the caster can now eat rusted metal.
  6. The caster’s left hand now has the same effect of a Wight’s Energy Drain ability, but a creature that is slain by this effect crumbles to dust instead of becoming a Wight.
  7. The target suffers the same effects of a Tarantella’s bite (save versus poison to avoid).
  8. The caster’s tongue becomes the same as a Giant Toad’s.
  9. All of the gold carried by the caster becomes copper.
  10. All of the copper carried by the caster becomes platinum.
  11. All prepared spells disappear from the caster’s mind.
  12. The spell appears to work, but it actually only creates a magic illusion mimicking the expected effects. If the intended spell actually was an illusion, it becomes real.
  13. The target of the spell is miniaturized and trapped inside a corked glass bottle. While inside the bottle the target is immortal and impervious to all effects, but completely unable to act in any way. Opening or breaking the bottle releases the target, which returns to their normal size.
  14. The spell activates normally, but its duration is altered by a time paradox. Temporary effects become permanent (and treated as a curse), while permanent effects and consequences are reverted after 1d6 rounds. This includes cancelling damage inflicted by magic missiles, fire balls, and similar spells, which “rewind”.
  15. The caster’s shadow permanently becomes a Shadow (as per the creature) under their control.
  16. The target is teleported to the last place where they slept.
  17. The target’s left hand becomes a fully functional Spitting Cobra head.
  18. The caster (with all their equipment) becomes a Living Statue for 2d6 rounds or until its Hit Points are depleted. While transformed, the caster is unable to cast spells, but acquires all the characteristics and abilities of the Living Statue that matches their alignment (Lawful: Crystal; Neutral: Iron; Chaotic: Rock). Lost Hit Points don’t carry over when the transformation is over.
  19. The spell creates a duplicate of the caster’s body (without equipment). The caster’s mind is not duplicated, but it controls both bodies. If one body dies, the other must save versus death or die as well.
  20. The spell sends a mental image of the caster into every existing mind. Every sentient being in the universe now knows the caster’s name (followed by “the Great”) and appearance and will recognize them immediately. Even the fiercest enemy will now consider at least one round of parley when meeting such a famous person.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Grim Swamp Encounters for OSR Games

Halloween is almost here, and here's a d10 table with ten swamp encounters 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.

These are straight from the Encounters section of Lands of Legends Grim, which is part of the Halloween Sale on DrivethruRPG. Check it out for hundreds more!

Swamps & Marshes - Grim Encounters

  1. Maidens in the Water. Ghosts of drowned women lurk in these pools. When travelers come close to their pools, one or more of these Wights grab the heroes' ankles and drag them to the bottom. If a hero gets caught by their claws, he must get rid of them fighting underwater before drowning.

  2. A Thorn in the Side. Thick bushes of curved thorns grow verdant in this desolate place. If a thorn scratches one of the heroes (Save vs Death) the tip breaks off and enters the wound. In a few hours the tip will try to crawl up to a safe place in the body (armpit, groin, abdomen, chest) and there it will begin to grow, until exploding in a tangle of thorns and tendrils and transforming the victim into another bush. Upon entering the body the tip deals 1 HP to the victim and acquires it as its own, then it "steals” the victim 1 HP every hour until he dies. Extracting the tip (or the growing bush) requires an expert healer or surgeon, and causes 1 damage to the victim for each HP of the plant.

  3. Scarecrows. In this part of the bog there are many poles stuck deep into the soil, on which creepy black crows are perched, staring around to people walking in “their” place. Digging around the poles or plucking them out, one may find that they are attached at the bottom to a carved pumpkin, like underground, upside down scarecrows. If these objects are destroyed or damaged, 1d6 horrible undead crows come out from the ground for each damaged pole. As soon as a good number of these diabolical creatures has gathered, they will attack the party.

  4. The silent death. A grey gas exhales from some pools of the marsh, remaining very low on the ground. The shortest explorers (dwarves, halflings) may feel a sour taste in their mouth and an irritation at nose and throat. If the party stops to camp, ignoring these effects, those who sit or lie down will fall asleep almost instantly and asphyxiate in five minutes, without even waking up. Only a successful Save vs Death, or noticing the immediate sleep of those who breathe the gas, can prevent this silent death.

  5. Just a Sip! Something the heroes have eaten or drunk contained the spores of some killer snail. The snails settle inside the stomach of one randomly chosen character, grow up in one day and start eating the victim from the inside, killing him in atrocious pain in 1d4+3 days. Each day of pain imposes a cumulative -1 to all rolls. After understanding the cause of the unbearable stomach ache and blood spitting, the best way to kill this parasite is to find a deadly poison and drink an abundant sip of it. After swallowing the poison, the victim must normally make the Save against it, hoping that it takes effect only against the small monsters.

  6. Bog Bodies. The bodies of those who drowned in this swamp have been preserved in a unique way, due to its particular environmental conditions. They have retained their skin and internal organs but their bones have completely dissolved. These unusual zombies can be met as peaceful corpses or wandering the swamp with a staggering, slow gait. They reduce bludgeoning weapon damage but take normal damage from cutting weapons.

  7. The Hag’s Hut. The heroes spot a hut built on top of a wooden platform. Charms made of bones, feathers and twigs hang from the roof. It is the home of an old hag, retired here after a life of mischief. If found at home (50% chance), she might be welcoming and curious about news from outside the swamp. If her house is explored while she’s outside gathering herbs or food, she’ll get angry and try to trick the characters with the story of how she was forced to leave her village when she was young because she was “wrongfully” accused of being a witch, and then she will serve a poisoned dinner. Her familiar is a fist-sized spider hidden under her clothes.

  8. Crab Spiders Pool. The heroes spot a pool whose banks are filled with soft, twitching, iridescent, fist-sized spheres. They are crab spider eggs, ready to burst and feed on the animal carcasses left nearby. Their d4 mothers are around, looking for food, and will be back in d4 hours.

  9. Festering Logs. The heroes spot a pool of mud choked with soft, rotting trunks, their mold-covered roots turned upward and emerging from the sludge. The rotting wood seems to tremble and pulsate: under the bark, the soft, rotting pulp is full of larvae of giant mosquitoes or giant robber flies, in various stages of development. Characters might take some and sell them to alchemists, or try to grow a very unusual pet.

  10. Sludge Demon. A pool of mud raises a muddy hand to grasp a character’s ankle: it’s a sludge demon, coalesced from the dirt of the pool (1d6 HD). This fat, slow, revolting abomination cannot really hold anything with its semi-liquid state, but can, and will, try to asphyxiate its preys by forcing its muddy arms and appendages through their mouths, tendrils and ears (attacks up to 4 targets, 1d6 damage, plus losing next action if it hits). It cannot really be killed as long as it has muddy soil under its feet, where it regenerates very quickly (one HD worth of HP per round). If destroyed, it will leave a long, green, jagged tongue on the ground.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

10 QUESTIONS TO: Kel of Awfully Queer Heroes

Kel is the mind behind Awfully Queer Heroes, the team that’s currently crowdfunding Tower of the Soul, a “LV 1-20 Campaign location featuring tons of new LGBTQIA+ content” that’s already funded on Kickstarter.

Their campaign and project intrigued me because of several unusual features, so let’s get to know them and what’s going on!

1 Hello Kel. First of all, please introduce yourselves and tell us all you want about you, don’t be afraid to go personal!

Hi, I’m a nonbinary creator who started playing D&D about a year before the pandemic hit, I wanted to keep playing so swapped to online which is when i made Awfully Queer Heroes and gathered the team together. We were playing some homebrew and some official but was struck with how little LGBTQIA+ representation there was. I started to make my own and everything snowballed from there.

2 Ok, now tell us about the Tower of the Soul. What is the structure of the book? Does it contain fully mapped levels, or is it something else? How does it manage to be a level 1 to 20 campaign location in less than 150 pages?

Everything in the tower is randomised through tables. The levels have a couple of pre-set rooms (so no one floor only has 1 room on a bad roll) which the number of is decided with a dice roll, then what those rooms are are rolled as well. So if you have 5 rooms, you would then roll against the ‘room table’ 5 times to see whats inside.

Every single room will have its own encounter, though that doesn’t always mean a battle. There is an entire encounter section where it could be a magic effect, riddle, traps, battle, healing or a combination of the above. 

There are two towns and a set of ruins to explore if the characters want a change of scenery or if they haven’t leveled up enough to take on the floor boss.

Laying the book out in this manner has enabled me to keep the page count lower along with printing and shipping costs which I try to ensure are as low as possible for the backers. 

3 What’s up with Chaos? The Tower is a “chaotic characters only” campaign? Why did you choose this approach?

Everyone has seen and done from the ‘good’ side. Even if it's a Murder Hobo campaign, everyone around is generally considered to be good. There are always two sides though and I was wondering how those monsters and beasts felt at constantly being hunted down. This is the result of that.

4 Now on to the “new LGBTQIA+ content”. The KS page doesn’t reveal much about that. Tell us more!

Absolutely, There are spells, all the NPCs are LGBTQIA+, i have flags in pretty much all the buildings (i think it's all but say pretty much in case i missed one), all the races have a specific sexuality or gender listed. I even have a Nonbinary version of Incubus & Succubus.

For example one NPC is:

Sojaar, Owner of the Crown’s Lodge: The jewel of Zah’go, a living testament that wealth and fineries are nothing in front of a charismatic smile and a proper compliment. So, imagine what an individual can do with both. They are a flamboyant Tabaxi, who manages to have everyone’s smile and gazes in this lawless town.

Backstory: Few people know of Sojaar’s story, and even fewer are alive to tell it. They were a noble in a faraway desert land, who had to flee to escape the dangers of court. The road led them to the Zah’go, where money and a well-placed smile led them to become the owner of the most glamorous establishment of the land.

And here's a Race description:

The Erinyes 

Beautiful, striking, fierce, such are the descriptors of these winged horned creatures. Their divine origin is tied to both discipline and intense dedication in the pursuit of the culprit of a nefarious affair. Usually, such culprits are mortal men who have transgressed a sacred deed, or inflicted unearned pain onto others using foul means to achieve even fouler ends. Erinyes are disciplined warriors, bringers of swift death or the most exquisite of pain from the skies, ensnaring their foes and inflicting divine carnage. 

Sexuality: Lesbians

5 Now about rules. Tower of the Soul features several rules add-ons and options. What are they? Are they tied to the chaos theme and the  LGBTQIA+ content?

The LGBTQIA+ content is there and just weaved into everything i could possible consider. 

The Rules are a variety of things that initially came around due to things that irked me in official rules or that honestly i just thought would be really cool. However, all of them work really well within the Chaos setting. 

One player having to merge with an elemental for every level of the tower before being able to take on the boss is huge and so much fun. There is another reason though and… SPOILERS……….. At the end, players have a chance to go onto another Tower. If they do a God will appear and merge them into a Hydra. Each player will control one Hydra head in the ensuing battle and the heads breath attack will be the same element that they merged with during the campaign.

That was a pretty tough thing to follow but thankfully it was also the last part of the book that i had intended to write. 

Other rules include the new healing rules which are based on the level of comfort that you sleep in which is tied to how much HP you recover nightly. It changes how you play the sessions as some folk prefer to save their spells slots for extra healing or take more down time to recover.

6 A delicate question about the KS project and communication. Stating “LGBTQIA+ content” straight into the project subtitle isn’t something one does without thought. You sure know and have considered the whole range of different perceptions such a statement would get from all the different corners of the TTRPG audience. So, what were your considerations?

I wish we lived in a world where such a statement would not be needed at all, i.e. no product would need to be labelled as queer friendly, basically because implies the existance of queer unfriendly games which, unfortunately, we all know are out there.

My primary consideration is always, do LGBTQIA+ folk feel seen, represented, can they play as themselves etc. Many other places that answer is NO. I don’t want there to be ANY doubt that this is Queer made and Queer aimed. Of course non queer folk can back and play, they can even change things if they’d like. I have no problems with any of that. I made it to start to try and show that we are normal, we are here and we can be at your table without it being a big deal.

That's why nothing in my campaigns is SCREAMING gay. It's just there. The bartender is Pansexual, the mage is a male gay Orc. it's just included as part of everything else because it's just one part of us.

7 Tell us more about those nice add-on medallions please!

The purpose of these is three fold. Within the Tower, at the end of most levels, you get rewards for beating the boss. The medallions are part of that. They unlock certain rooms and training options to enhance your character. If the medallion is not on your character when you try and enter these locations, they won’t get in.

I wanted the players to have a physical representation of that in the first instance. They’re a D2 so can absolutely be used for D2 rolls or a yes/no, 1/20 roll of any kind. Lastly, I have adhd and need to fidget with things and I loved spinning them around constantly so figured other folks might as well.

8 Care to tell us about your live plays too?

At the moment, the Live Plays are on our Podcast. We have a twitch stream in the works but that is a couple of months off yet.

The podcast can be found here: and it lists other places the podcast can be listened to like Spotify.

9 Let’s dream big. Tower of the Soul - The Movie becomes a thing! Can you pitch it to us? You are in charge with the casting, with an endless budget. Who’s in?

The director and assistant director i’d have as Patty Jenkins and Amanda Tapping as i love both of their works.

The player team i’d have (oh wow this is hard!) Alicia Vikander Martin Freeman Kristen Stewart Cate Blanchett Kate Mckinnon For the Gods (as i have 2 fully written out with images n everything) Rujun would have to be Tom Hardy Aharis would be Salma Hayek

10 “KS days are crazy days”. How are you coping?

I’m glad I have a great day job lol. It's hard at times for sure, right now it's super busy after launch, and I’m trying to keep up with all the questions while also trying to spread the word.  Honestly, one of the best things that could happen to me is if someone can’t back the project for whatever reason, they can still share it.  Boosting the signal would be the biggest favor for me.  Every once in a while imposter syndrome kicks in when I don’t get as many backers as I hope, but it’s a campaign, and it has already funded so will still reach as many people as possible.  I honestly think its absolutely awesome and it’s a really fun campaign! I don’t want that to get overshadowed by the diversity part of it.

11 The extra question. Please point us to a song you think would be a cool soundtrack for Tower of the Soul!

I was actually going to commission a soundtrack for the whole campaign but I ran out of time.
There are a couple, mainly from From Software games. The Bloodborne soundtrack goes really well with this as well as the Dark Souls 3 album. Its a fairly dark and twisted location while being something that is yours and you love and would defend with everything you have. Anything along those lines works wonderfully I feel.

Thank you Kelly for your time, and best luck with Tower of the Soul!


Hope you liked this interview. Stay tuned for more!

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Saturday, October 2, 2021

10 QUESTIONS TO, ENNIES SPECIAL: Mauro Longo & Two Little Mice

This is a special interview! Today we chat with Mauro Longo, the mind behind Brancalonia the Spaghetti Fantasy RPG, and the Two Little Mice team, who gave us Broken Compass. Why am I interviewing them together? Because they have a lot in common, such as being Italian and having won a bunch of Ennie Awards two weeks ago!

Brancalonia got the Gold Award for the Best Electronic Book category, and three more Silver Awards for Best Setting, Best Writing and Product of the Year, while Broken Compass received a Silver Ennie for Best Production Values. 

Mauro Longo is an old time friend of mine: we played RPGs together for years, and we wrote together the Savage Worlds settings Ultima Forsan and Tropicana, and the Old-School zine series Lands of Legends. He’s also worked on internationally acclaimed RPG projects such as Lex Arcana and Inferno, and is also a novelist and a Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks author.

Two Little Mice actually is three -regular sized- people: Rico Sirignano, Simone Formicola and Daniela Giubellini. Before Broken Compass, they created the fairy-themed Household RPG, which won the Italian RPG of the Year 2019 award, the Parsifal graphic novel, and the Anime e Sangue urban fantasy series (available on Amazon Prime Video). And today’s news is the TLM team has just been acquired by the board game colossus CMON!

1 Hello Mauro, Rico, Simone and Daniela! So, how does it feel to be nominated for the Ennie Awards? And then to actually win? Did you see it coming? What was your reaction? Italian RPGs had received a few nominations in the past, but this year Italy totalled five Ennies, which is a record. Do you see a trend in that? What are your plans to keep winning?

Mauro: Well, as you can imagine, it was OUTSTANDING and we don’t have plans for that :D . Of course, we submitted our game to the judges, “with our hat in our hands” like we say, hoping for 1-2 nominations. We didn’t see the four nominations coming, nor the four awards we got. We actually spent the night (3 a.m in Italy) watching the streaming together with the TLM team and our shared joy was a real thing. In one moment, we all passed from our national RPG scene to the world top level… What a night! 

There is a trend: an internal Italian trend. Starting with Ultima Forsan, then with Lex Arcana, Broken Compass, Valraven, Inferno, Lands of Legends, Not the End and similar Italian games, Italian game designers are transcending the national border and bringing our games to the rest of the world. We didn’t have the strength to arrive on the English speaking marketplace before, we have it now. And the whole thing will escalate quickly.

TLM: Being nominated for the Ennie Awards was thrilling, and winning a silver medal was way beyond our wildest expectations. This is one of the greatest awards for games, and we only stepped into the gaming sector three years ago.

In the last years Italian role-playing games are proving well received even beyond our borders, thanks to some very successful KickStarter campaigns. We hope that the recognition awarded to Broken Compass and Brancalonia will contribute to bring even more attention to our niche and help the Italian gaming industry to grow.

2 Ok, just in case someone reading this doesn’t know your games, could you please pitch them for us here in, like, 10 lines?

Mauro: Brancalonia is a “spaghetti fantasy” setting for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s set in an unheroic, picaresque and roguish version of Medieval Italy, a world that quotes, collects, and mixes references from contemporary Italian fiction and over a hundred works of Italian fantasy tradition, pop culture, and collective imagery – like Collodi’s Pinocchio, Orlando Furioso, Calvino’s fiction, fairy tales, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and the “Spaghetti Western” films. In Brancalonia, all the player characters are knaves, members of a Free Company of mercenaries, rogues and rascals, engaged in questionable jobs across the various domains of what is left of an ancient kingdom now in ruins.

TLM: Broken Compass is a pulp adventure game inspired by the classics of the genre like Uncharted, Indiana Jones, and Tomb Raider. When playing Broken Compass you step into the role of an Adventurer, someone who braves the dangers of the world in search of a Treasure and will have to face a terrible and dangerous Rival to get it. The best things about Broken Compass are that it’s very easy to pick up, simple to learn and play, even online, and the great attention to details that gained it the Silver ENnie for Best Production Values.

3 Tell us about your specific jobs. What are your roles and your areas of expertise? How does your creative and productive process work? Your creative productions include RPGs and also novels, CYOA books, comics and live action shows. Is there an overlap, influence, contamination that seeps into how you conceive, play and create RPGs?

Mauro: I’m now the creative director of all the RPG and gamebook lines in Acheron Games. I lead a composite staff of writers, artists, developers and other contributors. I usually try to work on POP CULTURE as a whole subject, from which to extract tropes, ideas, features and quotes. This is the way I approach RPGs, even in their mood, their atmosphere. Ruleset comes later.

TLM: Two Little Mice is made up of Riccardo “Rico” Sirignano, Simone Formicola, and Daniela Giubellini. Rico and Simone are both writers and they focus on the development and writing of the games, while Daniela is the artist behind the beautiful illustrations in our books.

Before diving into the RPG scene, we produced a tv series released on Amazon Prime Video and several plays for theatre. These days we are also working on a graphic novel that should be delivered to our backers shortly. We take inspiration from many sources; Broken Compass, for example, was clearly the product of our shared passion for both movies and travel.

4 Both Brancalonia and Broken Compass were launched on Kickstarter, with very successful campaigns. The perfect example of how crowdfunding was supposed to work: small publishers gathering funds for large projects.

Through the years, though, it has become more and more important even for the “big players” in the RPG industry.

Do you consider that unfair? Or is the presence of big publishers beneficial to the small ones? Do you see that changing anytime soon? How would YOU like things to change?

What’s your overall experience with Kickstarter campaigns?

Mauro: Kickstarter is a tool publishers can use for their projects, and in this way it’s neutral. For us in Acheron, an international crowdfunding portal is the way we can directly reach an audience worldwide: players living in the USA, UK, Australia and so on. The point is not the money, the fundraising, but the visibility our games can have, and the direct connection between creators and players. 

It can’t be unfair, if everything is used in transparency. I like this system, I adapted very well, and I will use it again, when needed.

TLM: Many of our projects over the years have been founded with the help of Kickstarter and we are very grateful to have such a platform. When big players also use this platform, they help introduce it to a greater public, which then has a chance to discover the smaller companies there. In our opinion, and as proved by our experience, this coexistence doesn’t work against indie companies. It’s not unfair for larger companies to use this platform, so long as they do it responsibly. But this goes for everyone, big or small.

In future, we’d love for both creators and backers to come closer to the philosophy behind crowdfunding campaigns, both explaining clearly and accepting the risks they involve, and striving for a better communication on all sides.

5 Italian style. Is there any such thing in RPGs? How “Italian” are your Brancalonia and Broken Compass? Rules, setting, concept, approach, anything you think may apply. Has it been a key element for success?

Mauro: Acheron IS a producer of Italian-style concepts, IPs, games and fiction. It’s our mission: “Made in Italy, shared worldwide”. We are expressly devoted to Italian-ish settings, novels, lore, pop culture and so on. Of course we also like stories and settings with completely different flavor, BUT we use “Italian stuff” as a distinctive trait, to introduce ourselves and to be distinguished from other publishers.

In our case, it definitely has been a key element for success.

TLM: Italian style is famous all over the world in many sectors, from design, to fashion, and for many other artistic products. We like to trace our love and attention to details back to our traditions, our history, and the many beautiful things our Country has to offer, and we hope to keep sharing our love for peculiar things with others. It would be hard to say if there is such a thing as an “Italian Style RPG”, but the cultural wealth that surrounds us is a great inspiration for our imagination, and there’s no doubt it played a role in the creation of our products. In many ways, Broken Compass is NOT an Italian game, but we believe that our novel approach to a genre so dominated by the American perspective played a role in our success.

6 Inclusion and representation of minorities in RPGs are a hot topic. How do you address that? 

Mauro: We try the best we can. Our saying, for Brancalonia, is that we are “social justice knaves”, and everything in the setting is planned to be "cosmopolitical", inclusive and respectful, even if in an ironical way. Our most frequent trick is: take a stereotype and then subvert it. This way you get to use the tropes that you want to, but you can create more than that, representing a lot of differences. 

TLM: When designing Broken Compass, we came to realize that the genre that inspired us (let’s call it “archaeological adventure”) historically hasn’t been the most inclusive or respectful in the representation of other genders and cultures. Our objective was to bring the genre into the present, adapting it to a modern society and leaving its problematic traits in the past. Representation and diversity have always been a cardinal element of our creative ideals, and we often had to go against the reference material and find different ways to stay true to them.

We are proud of having created Broken Compass as a game with people of many genders and nationalities, and proud of our fans and backers who appreciated and supported our choices.

7 Let’s see how good you really are as role players. Now you are Hollywood screenwriters and must write a short email to convince Mr. Warner Bros to produce a movie or tv show based on your games. Go!

Mauro: Brancalonia is “fantasy with no money for CGI”. Think Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach with blades instead of guns and that’s it. What could possibly go wrong? 

TLM: With the fifth Indiana Jones in the works, Jungle Cruise in theaters, and a movie based on Uncharted that’s already going through post-production, we think Hollywood knows already that the archaeological adventure genre is ready for a revival. It would be hard to come up with anything that could rival such colossal productions!

8 Licensed games. If you could buy any franchise/IP for an RPG, which would it be? Tell us about the franchise and the game you’d make.

Mauro: I’d go with some Italian crime story, but with an ironic mood in it. Inspector Coliandro would be a great game.

TLM: Without leaving Italy, it would be great to work with the great people at Bonelli. We think coming up with an investigative rpg that lets players become “Nightmare Investigators” like Dylan Dog would be a fun and interesting project.

9 I’m sure the four of you already have at least ten other ideas for new RPG products that you might be publishing in the future! Am I right? Can you share what’s on the design table? 

Mauro: Brancalonia and Inferno will go on for a while with extended lines. A new idea for the future could be “Fascists from Yuggoth”, a pulp-weird adventure game in a fascist empire that never fell, thanks to some crazy alien lovecraftian tech. In the game, you will be part of the international antifascist brigades and fighting against this evil Italian tyranny, their legionaries and their mad scientists, up and down the Mediterranean Sea.

TLM: We think we’ll stay at the House for a while and, as already announced, work on the second edition of our very first role-playing game: Household. There are more surprises ahead, but nothing we can tell you yet.

10 My regular final question: please point us to a song you think we should listen to, game related or otherwise.

Mauro: We spoke about Italian stuff, so my suggestion is a piece by Ennio Morricone from “My name is nobody” OST: “Il Mucchio Selvaggio”. It’s a not-so-known spaghetti western music I really love very much.  Again: so Italian!

TLM: Ok, we’ll give you three, one each.

Rico: The beast of pirate bay (Aurelio Voltaire) 

Simone: Aerials (SOAD)

Daniela: Weapon of Choice (Fatboy Slim)

Thank you Mauro, Rico, Simone and Daniela! Bye!!

Mauro: Ciao Giuseppe!

TLM: Thank you Giuseppe, ciao!


This ends the interview with Mauro and the Two Little Mice.

If the interview made you curious, go check out Brancalonia and Broken Compass!

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