Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts

Saturday, September 12, 2020

About Brancalonia, The Spaghetti Fantasy RPG

 Brancalonia is a soon-to-be-released setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. It launched with a nicely successful kickstarter which ran through April 2020.

The game was funded by 3297 backers, with more than $200.000 and a heap of unlocked stretch goals.

An all-italian medieval, roguish and picaresque setting for the 5th Edition of the most famous role-playing game of all time.

While the crowdfunding is closed, the game is available for preorder on the publisher site, Acheron Books. Oh and there's a neat quickstart folder that's free for grabs

Even though I don't play much D&D these days, this setting is pretty close to my interests as it boasts an all-Italian team, which includes my long time friend Mauro Longo, blogger, novelist, rpg author, and gaming scholar (and we created Ultima Forsan and Tropicana together).

And I really enjoy two sides of the project: all that went into the setting, AND how focused the game is going to be.

Here's the amazing map of Brancalonia, by Fabio Porfidia.

If you think this is going all epic and world-shaking like, I don't know, Eberron, think again.
The world of Brancalonia is a “back-to-front” version of Medieval Italy, an unheroic, picaresque and roguish world mixing references from over a hundred works of Italian fantasy tradition, pop culture, and collective imagery. That means it ranges from Pinocchio to Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, from the Sergio Leone movies to Italo Calvino and Dante Alighieri, picking up actual Italian folklore along the way. High brow literature meets pop culture meets tradition, in short, creating a fantasy that breaks free from the the same old dwarves and elves. It definitely is a lower-key fantasy than the usual D&D, with subtle and surreal wonders, depth as well as lots of tongue-in-cheek humor. All that, and stuff like being able to play a Pinocchio-like animated puppet!

Here's how it's described in the KS:

Now to the game itself, I love how they are designing a focused game experience: player characters are going to be a band of knaves working dirty jobs, cutpurses and cutthroats, mercenaries and treasure-hunters seeking the right job, roaming the kingdoms of a fantasy Italy, probably while fugitives from the law and their debts. All of this, while built on the D&D5E engine, is going to be supported with specific rules and useful tools.
Besides the usual and expected new races, classes, feats, spells etc., the book will feature special rules for Companies, Cronies, and Den management, and Bounties, Revels, and Prophecies. Those sound intriguing to me!

This big guy looks familiar... That's cool, right?
Now, as I said, Mauro Longo is a long time friend of mine, so I just had to ask him for some sweet, sneaky, inside-job preview, and he's passed me this: the Fairy Godfather! (art by Lorenzo Nuti)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

About On Mighty Thews

 On Mighty Thews is a pulp sword & sorcery RPG by Simon Carryer, and one of my favorite "modern" (or "narrative") RPGs.

 OMT is designed for prepless oneshot games or short campaigns. At the beginning of the game, the players and the GM follow a few simple, engaging, fun steps that create a "setting" for your session (it can be a city, an empire, a continent, or a whole world). This is mostly done by taking turns at drawing a map, one element at a time. The map will be used by the GM as a setting for the adventure, so the players have a chance to put whatever they think will be fun to see in the game. Infested jungle? City of merchants? Ruins in the desert? Draw it to on the map...

It is a "modern" game, meaning that the rules don't aim at recreating physics but at producing a fun, coherent story, and it codifies specific situations where players partake of the GM's narrative authority.

With proactive, creative players, this game is wonderful. I know, I've played it a lot! It is not particularly suited for campaign play (no conventional character development), but it's amazing for one shot, prepless games.

A fun trivia about OMT: Savage Worlds was one of the inspirations for the game, and so some of the OMT dice, wounds, and raise mechanics are immediately familiar to SW players!

OMT is available on drivethru!

Monday, September 7, 2020

KS Watch! The Majestic Fantasy RPG

 The Majestic Fantasy RPG crowdfunding project is in this final hours!

TMFRPG is an old school ruleset, largely compatible with the early editions of Dungeons and Dragons.

What's cool about it? I won't tell you about the many little differences and adjustments this particular system offers because you can read about it on Robert Conley's blog.

I will tell you my completely personal take on it. Rob has been into the hobby for 40 years, and has been running an OSR blog for ages. He's authored a lot of gaming supplements, with a true indie spirit.

A blog I love, one of the blogs that got me back into RPGs after a long hiatus, and that made me fall in love with the OSR. The ethic of the die and random table, the real sandbox play, these are values I've learned from his blog.

His ruleset currently on Kickstarter is the system he's been using for years, and I think it is the kind of experience any OSR enthusiast should be delighted to delve into, and a lesson into the "there is no holy text of rules, the game is there for you to enjoy it and make it your own".

It is also a crowdfunding with a true indie spirit, with no flashy art, but true gaming value. Check it before it ends!

Saturday, September 5, 2020

About Four Against Darkness

Four Against Darkness is a great game by veteran designer Andrea Sfiligoi, author and publisher of an enormous amount of RPGs and miniatures games such as the hugely popular Song of Blades and Heroes, or my personal favorite Battlesworn.

4AD is a pen and paper solo dungeon crawler, which can also optionally be played as a gmless group game. It is a WILDLY successful game (see that MITHRAL badge on drivethru? Now check those 242 ratings on Amazon...), and has received a rich line of supplements, and a few spin-offs into other genres and play styles.

What I like about it is that rules are simple and straightforward, with the level of crunch and detail that I find enjoyable for a solo game! 

The core book contains all the basic rules which are needed in order to play, and a  dungeon which, probably, is the weakest part of it, as it feels too generic to really be engaging. This very problem is fixed with the expansions, each of which offers a focused story or dungeon, with full flavor, and story events triggered while you play.

The spin-off games derive from 4AD, but include all the rules needed to play, and usually expand them to fit different themes, settings and narrative structures, and as such are stand-alone products. They include titles such as the atomic age sci-fi Four Against Mars, or the survival horror Alone Against Fear.

The latest spin-off, one that looks VERY interesting (and I'm definitely going to grab soon) is the stand-alone game Four Against the Great Old Ones. Designed by Marco Arnaudo, it is an adaptation of the 4AD "engine", turned into a Cthulhu themed game where investigators must find clues and foil the plans of insane cultists in the 1930s US before doom happens.

As I said, Four Against Darkness is an ever-growing line. I hit Andrea for some sneaky preview of the an upcoming supplement, and he passed me a succulent preview!

The next 4AD product is Labyrinth of the Lurking Lepidopterae, an adventure written by Erick Bouchard who's already authored Warlike Woes and Greedy Gitfts of the Guildmasters, with illustrations by Andrea Sfiligoi.

Here's the description Andrea gave me:

Labyrinth of the Lurking Lepidopterae
This adventure occurs on the western continent of An-Mòr, north of the fungi-infested land known as the Sun-Kissed Vale, and to the west of King Ven’s dwarf kingdom of Kestar Kell. A merchant family from the southern isle of Enotria, the Van Pontoretto, is trying to cut the grass under their Dorintian rivals by finding new trade routes between the realms of Man and the dreaded Sun-Kissed Vale, rich in fabulous alchemical ingredients and delicious edibles. The safest path goes through Kassar Du, the mythical Green Door to the underground kingdom of Kestar Kell, but unfortunately it is forbidden to you. Maestro Van Pontoretto (that’s his actual name) has run afoul of Lyonette of Midlands, king Ven’s Guildmistress of the Armorers Guild. Rumors speak of crookery and romantic entanglements. Whatever the cause, the miner dwarves will not let the Enotrians nor your agents enter their lands, nor will they tolerate armed soldiers at their frontier.

The Labile Labyrinth
Fortunately, there still lies a path the Dorintians dare not thread – the Labile Labyrinth, a shimmering canyon between harsh mountain fangs inhabited by the sinister moth people and their insane queen. Ever since the gods cursed the moth folk to lose their flight, they have become vicious, forcing captives to obsessively collect insect wings when they are not killing trespassers outright. If a safe path could be established for caravans, the lucrative trade with the fungi folk – for they are not all dangerous psychopaths – would drive a hard blow to the Dorintian traders, and especially the Orfeld Company which has been denying the Von Pontoretto for far too long. All that’s needed is to establish a beachhead by having a first convoy arriving safely at the Outpost, the only known passage from human lands to the Sun-Kissed Vale. In the name of profit, free trade and maybe Enotrian patriotism, your party has been tasked with escorting a caravan of four chariots, half a dozen workers and as many llamas across this wicked and treacherous land.
Will You Survive the Labile Labyrinth? Four hundred gold pieces for escorting a caravan across a valley populated by butterfly people. Who could refuse that? Of course, it won’t be that simple. The moth folk fiercely defend their valley with treacherous traps and bruising brigades. Not to mention the menacing mushroom men, weird temples, shape-changers and the ominous Tower of the Screaming Virgins. Things wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the quarrelsome, alcoholic, lustful and dishonest crew members who you will have to keep an eye on. Add the bad roads, broken wheels, stolen cargo, tactical ambushes… and the llamas. Oh dear. Requires only the core Four Against Darkness book. This book contains adult humor, flamingos and lecherous llamas.

And here's also a preview of the cover, with art still not finalized, but nice to see!

Nessuna descrizione disponibile. 

KS Watch! For Coin and Blood Second Edition

 For Coin and Blood Second Edition is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

The project has already been funded, and the campaign goal achieved, with almost 600 backers and still four days before the campaign ends.

Immagine del progetto per For Coin & Blood: Second Edition

So what is it? For Coin and Blood is a grim old school fantasy game designed by Alan Bahr (with several contributions by other authors) where tropes are turned upside down as players take on the roles of the bad guys. The really BAD guys. Cutthroats, cult leaders, assassins, necromancers, and so on. You get to play the villains, in short!

Seriously, these are the classes available: Assassin, Blackguard, Cutpurse, Diabolist, Executioner, Knight, Machiavellian, Magus, Priest, Sellsword, and Witch Hunter.

The game features a solid old school ruleset, with a few modern mechanics. Most rules are the type you may expect in any BX/OE retro-clone: no skill list, just six core attributes, for example. But there's also room for an Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, and things like class-based melee damage. And since the game is about villains, characters have an Infamy score, and there are rules for gangs and organizations.

This is a second edition as the game has been expanded and streamlined, with extra options and better editing, and more art, and the crowdfunding campaign's only goal is to make an offset print run, so this you won't find the usual, endless lists of backer options, stretch goals, and add-ons. 

I've had the opportunity of reading the pdf before release (because yes, the game is ready and the funds are only needed for the print run) and I must admit I find the rules intriguing and, strangely enough, fresh.

The book is a complete game so it also includes spells, monsters, and magic items. These I found particularly delightful, with wonders such as the Belt of Oppression, the Blade of Hero's Bane and the Rod of Rebellion.

The final section is The Port of Perchoir du Corbeau, a 15 pages city setting written by the well known freelance writer Darren W. Pearce!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Designing Curse of Aufgartz

My current project is Curse of Aufgartz - A Savage Worlds Solo/GMless Game.

It is a dark fantasy story with a heavy Diablo 1 feel, offering several quests that you can tackle, and that will keep you busy for about one to four hours, depending on which optional rules you use.

Here's an early sketch for The Chainer, one of the agents of the Curse that you'll have to face in the game. Looks familiar?

Curse of Aufgartz builds on the experience I developed from the Gold & Glory solo rules, as well as from reading and playing the recently released Deadlands - Crater Lake Chronicles.

The design goal is to make a game that you can play with no GM, alone or with a group.

It works a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, because you make story choices and go back and forth through the book, and also a bit like a board game.

You choose which quests you want to tackle, in a structure that resembles a typical Savage Worlds Plot Point Campaign, with Plot Points and secondary quests.

Each quest is a two-page spread, and it does not ask you to flip the book back and forth. All the options, events and game contents are there in that two-page spread. You finish the quest, you return to Aufgartz (the "home base" chapter), and select a new one.

I'm so excited about this project because it involves more than writing a standard adventure. It needs a structure and and a set of procedures that will allow the book to function as a GM, using some tokens and trackers.

The current iteration of the game includes a single-sheet printout called Adventuring Journal, which features: 

  • A Time Tracker, where you mark the passing of time. You mark boxes when you solve a Quest or as a consequence of some events. As time passes, more quests unlock, but the Curse also grows stronger.
  • A Quest Log, where you mark which quests are available and which you've already solved.
  • An Advancement Tracker, where you mark boxes as you complete certain quests or events. After a certain number of marks, you gain an Advance.
  • A Clue Tracker, keeping track of your success at unveiling the secrets of the Curse.
  • A table to roll random Curse Effects, which are triggered as you advance in the game and Evil spreads in the land.
All these bits work together fine... so far! But I'll sure need a group of playtesters to check how it works for good!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

About Gold & Glory - Seven Deadly Dungeons

 Gold & Glory - Seven Deadly Dungeons was my first project I designed completely by myself, crashing together my love for Savage Worlds and OSR games.

From the blurb:

Welcome to a world of legendary heroes and daring feats or, more probably, to a dishonorable story of ill-fated treasure hunters who’ll soon bite off more than they can chew… unless they manage to return home with enough gold to carouse wildly until their next expedition!

Gold & Glory is  a toolbox, to enjoy the Fast, Furious and Fun rules of Savage Worlds in a game of classic dungeon exploration, in the spirit of the Old School Renaissance, with no other book needed besides Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

It is ideal to play one night games as well as longer campaigns and allows you to play with no preparation at all.
Gold & Glory: Seven Deadly Dungeons includes:
  • A random character generation system to start playing in no time
  • New equipment for dungeon delvers
  • Magic and Miracles Arcane Backgrounds to create classic arcane characters in the FFF spirit of Savage Worlds
  • Downtime activities such as Carousing and Magic Research, tied to the Experience system, to keep your heroes busy between one expedition and the next
  • The Dungeon Deck system to generate your dungeons while you play
  • Seven deadly self-generating dungeons for your heroes to explore!
  • More than 30 new monsters to face and a heap of magic items to loot!

All Gold & Glory interior art and covers are by ink master Francesco Saverio Ferrara (check his works on Facebook!), and we also used some maps by acclaimed map artist Dyson Logos to complement the layout.

Gold & Glory has received a widely favorable reception, with several dozens of five-star reviews, both for the SWDeluxe and SWADE version.

Even now that two years have passed since release, I must admit I'm really happy and satisfied with how the random character creation system works. That, and the Dungeon Deck that generates thematic dungeons while you play, are two of my most accomplished designs, in my view.

Design aside, I'm also happy with the variety of the seven dungeon adventures I squeezed into the book, a mix of vanilla fantasy, dark fairy tale, and horrific visions. They range from the rather classic swamp temples of the Serpent Shrines and the abandoned dwarven city of the Dwarf Prince Demise, to the Moldy Caves, infested with undead bandits and moldy abominations, to the non-euclidean Witch House with its grim fairy tale vibes, to the verdant, puzzling nightmare that is the Green Maze, to the steampunkish, ooze-infested Iron Vat, to the Hellraiser tribute that is the Halls of Pain.
And thanks to the Dungeon Deck system, each of those will play different every time, with a unique map and always new combinations of events, hazards and rewards.

The Gold & Glory book is also expanded with the following:
Solo, GMLess and One-on-One Adventures: A supplement with rules, options and suggestions to play with no GM. The obvious complement to a system that is already prepless on its own! It also features an Abstract Clues system and options for hired Allies, which can be used in any type of fantasy games!

The Old School Gaming Guide: A guide aimed at explaining the core concepts of “Classic Dungeon Games” and how they interact with the Savage Worlds rules through the Gold & Glory book!

The Dungeon Template: simple empty form organized with all the infos and tables of the G&G dungeon format, which you can fill with your own unique creations.

The Character Sheet Pack: A character sheet specifically designed to make character creation ultra fast, with checkboxes for all the main results of the G&G random creation system.

And then there's a whole lot of dungeon adventures written by guest authors such as Diogo Nogueira, Richard Woolcock, Andrea Mollica, and Courtney Campbell... but the "deadly dungeon hosts" will be the subject of another post!


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Wizards & Mystics - First Impressions

 Wizards & Mystics is a fantasy add-on for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, released under the SWAG license, written by Cyril Ronseaux, and expanding his line of fantasy add-ons which includes the already published Tomes & Prayers, Companions & Familiars and Bards & Minstrels.

Cyril used the Unofficial Savage Worlds Discord server to find volunteers willing to take a look at Wizards & Mystics before release, and I was happy to help. This also means I can share some impressions before it's released! With his permission, of course. 

Wizards & Mystics is quite a long supplement and, in short, it's awesome. If you plan to run a fantasy campaign, you will probably find a lot of use for this.

Wizards & Mystics offers a LOT. I'm not going to list everything that's inside, but focus on the things that I liked the most.

- A system to design and balance your own Arcane Backgrounds. This is very nice. You "buy" bits of rules and build unique ABs, defining the number of starting powers, initial power points, type of backlash, and many other details.

- Eleven fully developed Arcane Backgrounds, including Alchemist, Arcane Marksman, Shaman, Druid and Rune Mage. When I say fully developed, I mean that you find everything you might need to implement those into your campaign: well defined trappings, powers list, possible interactions with rules such as Support and Tests, and any special rule the specific AB might need, such as the ingredients rules for Alchemist, which I found very nice.

- Ten new Power Edges, empowering arcane characters in new ways. My favorite is Lightning Reflexes, which allows you to cast a spell at any time, even if it's not your turn, once per scene.

These are the things that struck me the most, but there's a lot more inside, so I really suggest you check it out on drivethru!

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