MACE 2018 RPG Feature: Old School Revival (OSR)

MACE 2018 will feature a number of “old school” RPG sessions, enough so that we want to make it a convention feature.  The OSR feature tag will be games of the old school variety included First Edition and Second Edition D&D.  They will also include old school style games like Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics, Gamma Worlds (early editions) and more.

What is OSR? The Old School Revival, Old School Renaissance, Old School Revolution, Old School Reformation, or simply OSR, is a movement among players of tabletop role-playing games (especially Dungeons & Dragons) that draws inspiration from the earliest days of tabletop RPGs.

Check out OGRe for games labelled with the OSR tag.

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MACE 2018

November 09-11 2018
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

ConCarolinas 2018: Preview of The Halls of Arden Vul, a mega-dungeon

ConCarolinas 2018 will feature a preview of The Halls of Arden Vul, a megadungeon by Expeditious Retreat Press. Run by the Designer, Richard Barton, he will be running it in old school AD&D first edition.

You’ve been contacted by Calpurnia the Quiet, a well-known mage in the College of Macrina, about a special operation. Calpurnia claims to have discovered the location of the fabled Gemini Blades deep within Arden Vul, the ancient underground imperial city abandoned a millennium ago during the War of the Sortians and Theosophs. As all scholars know, the Gemini Blades were the possessions of the legendary hero-twins Thekla and Taticus, known for slaying a troll in defense of their family. Calpurnia assures you that great riches are to be found in the Twins’ tomb, and in those of neighboring Archontean nobles; all can be yours, save for the Blades themselves, which she intends to present to the Emperor as a gift. Enticed by visions of coin and magic, you’ve agreed to her offer.

Calpurnia has teleported you into one of the few known locations within the vast, empty halls of Arden Vul, and has provided you with both a sketch map of the region and a set of rough guidelines on how to find the Tomb of the Twins. She is ‘fairly certain’ that the Twins’ tomb is one of those set into the south wall of the Drowned Canyon, and ‘absolutely certain’ that it was ‘delved right next to the tomb of Phocius Tricotor’. Finding the right tomb may take some time, as many of the elites of the old empire delved their tombs into the walls of the canyon. Since Arden Vul is filled with dangers, including a dangerous tribe of trolls, she’s given you a token of recall, one that will activate from the location into which you teleported after exactly 8 hours. That means that you’ve got 8 hours to find the tomb, loot the Gemini Blades, and get out with as much loot as you can!

This scenario is designed for 1e AD&D. Pre-Gen characters (6th to 8th level) will be provided. It takes place within a small section of the Halls of Arden Vul, a megadungeon to be published by Expeditious Retreat Press in 2019.


ConCarolinas 2018

June 01-03 2018
Sci-fi Carolina Style
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

MACE 2017 RPG Feature: Old School Revival (OSR)

ogre.logo20.sidemenuMACE 2017 will feature a number of “old school” RPG sessions, enough so that we want to make it a convention feature.  The OSR feature tag will be games of the old school variety included First Edition and Second Edition D&D.  They will also include old school style games like Dungeon Crawl Classics, Castles & Crusades and more.

What is OSR? The Old School Revival, Old School Renaissance, Old School Revolution, Old School Reformation, or simply OSR, is a movement among players of tabletop role-playing games (especially Dungeons & Dragons) that draws inspiration from the earliest days of tabletop RPGs.

Check out OGRe for games labelled with the OSR tag.


MACE 2017

November 10-12 2017
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

MACE 2017 Featured Publisher: The Rune^Forge

We are proud to announce The Rune^Forge attendance at MACE 2017.   Please Join us in welcoming them to MACE! They will be running demos of their new role playing game, Oubliettes, Sorcery & Reavers (OS&R) (d20)

About Oubliettes, Sorcery & Reavers (OS&R) (d20)

OS&R is designed to bring that Original Seed System feel a more modern conceptualization; combat is fast, players gain far more choices over their archetypes and actions, magic is just as much a give and take as is conflict, and zero HP is just the beginning of your roleplaying!

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You can see the schedule of games as well as when they are running demos on our Online Gaming Registration system, OGRe.


MACE 2017

November 10-12 2017
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

Clement Sector: The Rules

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Clement Sector: The Rules is a new RPG Core Rulebook from Gypsy Knights Games.  It use the open game license for the Cepheus Engine.

Open game licenses are tricky and the revival of many old school game engines have tried their best to take advantage of them.  In the case of Gypsy Knights Games, their license with Mongoose Traveller had run its course and they were left to find a new alternative for the core rule system.  Enter Samardan Press and their Cepheus Engine, which is based on the classic 2d6 system of Classic Era Science Fiction 2D6-Based Open Gaming System (aka old Traveller).  For the past year or so, Gypsy Knights has been busy working to convert their products to the Cepheus Engine.  Starting with this book, it is a new era for the Clement Sector.

From page 16: Clement Sector began its published life in 2011 as an alternate setting for a popular science fiction roleplaying system.

You can obtain the Cepheus Engine SRD by donating any amount of money in DriveThruRPG.  However, it is not needed as the Clement Sector: The Rules PDF contains all you need.  There are some slight adjustments to the rules, skills, careers, etc to fit the setting but the basics are more or less the same.  While this PDF gives you some of the basic stuff like core rule system and the like, the Clement Sector Core Setting Book (2nd edition) also provides more, including tables for Character Generation.

SETTING

As the name implies, this is a rule book and has very little setting information.  However, the setting itself has not changed and much of this information is contained in the Clement Sector Core Setting Book.  At its heart, the Clement Sector is a setting of human exploration, expansion, and exploitation.  Humans are the dominant species and very few aliens (if any) have been encountered.  For informational and contextual purposes, I will include a short summary of the setting.

In the 23rd century, Earth humans discovered a Einstein-Rosen bridge or wormhole (The Conduit) near the Epsilon Eridani system and used it to discover the Clement sector on the other side of the galaxy.  Even with the “Zimm Drive” (this setting’s version of FTL), it would take a long time to reach the other end of the wormhole.

For a time, that wormhole remained stable enough that humans could colonize the plethora of worlds found on the other side.  Before long, the humanity had established 16 sub-sectors including Franklin, Winston, Dade, Sequoyah, Cascadia, and Hub (previously reviewed first edition books).  Then the wormhole collapsed after about 130 years of colonization and expansion.  Clement was left on its own.  The setting starts a little over a decade after the collapse.

The setting is rich in culture – some familiar and some imaginatively warped or mashed together.  Instead of aliens, the setting has Uplifted animals – apes, dolphins, bears and other animals have been genetically upgraded to be intelligent.  They also have transhuman Altrants – humans that have been genetically altered for a specific purpose.

CORE SYSTEM

The core system is very familiar to anyone that played classic Traveller.  Even though they can not make any reference to the copyrighted name, it is basically classic Traveller.  It is a basic 2d6 roll versus a target number of 8.  Eight is always the target number.  What makes it vary are modifiers to the roll.  It is a rather simplistically elegant system that is easy to remember.  Old school.  It does not have a lot of game play flair but it get the job done when and where it needs to.  At times, the system requires an Effect, which is how much the total either exceeded or missed the target number of 8.  This can determine a degree of success or add to damage of an attack.

The book itself is broken down into 16 sections.  The first five cover the core of what roleplaying games are about – the Basics (rules), Characters, Skills, Equipment and Personal Combat.  The Basics generally go over foundational concepts of role playing, core system concepts and mechanics as well as common themes of Clement Sector adventuring.  As described above, the system is elegant with an old-school feel.

Character creation for a character in the Clement sector is more than just a few numbers and skills.  The player generates stats and skills along with a full background starting from Childhood through Collegiate events. This section references tables that are not included in this PDF but are found in Clement Sector Core Setting Book.  This system completely fleshes out a three-dimensional Clement Sector character.

Skills are straightforward.  Listed are basic skills and their specializations.  There are a few more than in the basic Cepheus Engine system as well as a few more specializations.  Equipment includes a considerable list of general gear, armor and weapons.  Tech levels are adjusted for the setting.  As for weapons, standard slugthrower type weapons are standard but there are also lasers and gauss.

Like most any sci-fi setting, the Clement Sector can get violent.  The Personal Combat section covers all that you need to deal with that kind of violence.  The Clement Sector Rules system changes the Cepheus Engine slight by asking the players to roll initiative each round.  I prefer a system that does this, giving everyone a chance to affect each round in their own way.  Actions are either free, minor or major (similar to d20), and there are various  battlefield effects that might change the effectiveness of those actions.

I have always found it interesting how this system has no hitpoint but instead damage is taken directly from stats.  First Endurance, then Strength or Dexterity.  Once either of the latter are reduced to zero, they are unconscious.  Once all three are reduced to zero, they are dead.  This makes for a pretty gritty and deadly system, with pistols capable of 2d6 damage and large weapons cause up to 4d6 and 5d6.  Armor is important.

From page 17:  This simple system is used for nearly everything in the game, with variations based on the modifiers added to a roll and the effects of success and failure.

The last four covers the sci-fi fundamentals of Space Travel, Trade and Commerce,  and Space Combat.  Included in the space combat and travel section is a special appendix on the largest ship builder in Clement – Anderson and Felix and their additions to starships.  This is further expanded on in the The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture.  

In this kind of sci-fi RPG, the players find adventure because they are involved in some kind of space travel or trade.  In many cases, they own or lease a ship. These sections cover the day to day operations they may do as a crew.  The biggest change between this and standard Cepheus Engine is the Zimm Drive, which is a setting specific technology.  There are a lot of tables and math in this section to calculate time of travel, etc and if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty of space travel, this is the section for you.  Have your spreadsheets ready.

If things get real nasty, and the party is involved in space combat, the rules are contained in the Space Combat section.  My problem with any science fiction game that includes this is that it boils the game down to a miniature game and draws the attention from the players.  I am not a fan of that kind of thing, so it would be up to the Referee/GM to keep the focus on the players while dealing with ship to ship combat.  If this is what you are into, this book supplies all you need to do it, utilizing the Cepheus Engine to its fullest extent.

The last chapters cover various miscellaneous subjects like Environments and Hazards (which can be quite a lot in sci-fi), Worlds and the Universal World Profile, and a series of Encounter tables.  One of the things I found useful from Traveller and used in many of my other sci-fi games was their encounter tables and the adventure seeds that grew out of them.  Patron Encounters were my favorite.  These can be directly related to the various 21 Plots supplements by Gypsy Knights.  The book finally ends with notes on how to run as a Referee (Game Master) and how to write an adventure.

In conclusion, at its core, Clement Sector is a throwback to old school Traveller with a fresh look at how it can be played.  The Cepheus Engine is a perfect marriage for it, as it takes very little conversation from the 1st edition stuff.  From a rule system standpoint, this book sets you on the right path for a solid RPG system that is strongly rooted in old school gaming.  There is a reason why the classics are coming back with this old school revival movement – because they were good and simple.  This is definitely one of those systems.

From a setting standpoint, it is not your typical space opera or science fantasy type game as it has its roots in realistic sci-fi.  It takes human social structures, groups and norms and advances into the future, without the standard tropes of pointy-eared aliens and tentacled ancients.  My advice to any Referee that wants to play this setting – engage your players into the setting, link them directly to it and give them a reason to care about it.  Characters can not be just randomly placed into this setting.  They need to be part of it.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG Core Rulebook Clement Sector: The Rules” check them out at their website Gypsy Knights Games, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 17

Product Summary

Clement Sector: The Rules

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Type of Game: RPG Core Rulebook

Authors: John Watts, Michael Johnson, and Jason Kemp

Additional Material: Ian Stead

Artists: Bradley Warnes, Ian Stead , Stephanie McAlea, Algol,  Oleg Gapeenko,  GrandFailure, DesignWest

Editor: Curtis Rickman

Cover Layout: Stephanie McAlea

Number of Pages: 217

Website: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

MACE 2016 Feature: Old School RPGs (OSR)

ogre.logo20.sidemenuMACE 2016 will feature a number of “old school” RPG sessions, enough so that we want to make it a convention feature.  The OSR feature tag will be games of the old school variety included First Edition and Second Edition D&D.  They will also include old school style games like Dungeon Crawl Classics, Castles & Crusades and more.

What is OSR? The Old School Revival, Old School Renaissance, Old School Revolution, Old School Reformation, or simply OSR, is a movement among players of tabletop role-playing games (especially Dungeons & Dragons) that draws inspiration from the earliest days of tabletop RPGs.

Check out OGRe for games labelled with the OSR tag.


MACE 2016

November 11-13 2016
The Best & Most Organized Carolina Gaming Con
Hilton Charlotte University Place
Charlotte, NC

Dungeon Crawl Classics

From:  Goodman Games

Reviewed By: Barry Lewis

So I really don’t play very many RPGs anymore, but with the “old school renaissance” happening I’ve found myself checking RPGs out more and more.  After much “huzzahs” and “hey nonny nonnies” from my friend about Dungeon Crawl Classics or DCC, I decided to check it out for myself.  When you first see the book, don’t let its size intimidate you, although I still wouldn’t recommend dropping it on your foot.  The book is basically everything you need to play.  It’s player’s manual, bestiary and magic tome rolled all into one.  DCC definitely takes its cue from the original D&D and AD&D, but without THACO.

I definitely want to start with character creation.  DCC is different in character creation in that it suggests a “funnel” system that requires each player make at least 4 “0” level characters since most or all of them won’t live to the next session.  DCC is the “Game of Thrones” of RPGs.  Don’t get attached to any one of your PCs because they might not be around for long.    You’ll start off rolling 3d6 for each of your 6 attributes; Strength, Agility, Stamina, Personality, Intelligence and Luck.  I’ll get into a little more detail on the Luck attribute later.  You’ll have 1d4 hit points, modified by stamina, a random piece of equipment and a random occupation.  Good luck.  Any character or characters that survive and make it to level 1 then get to pick a class.  That is basically the “funnel” system.  A motley group of poor shmucks looking for glory and gold go in and PCs come out.    Currently, you can only advance to level 10, but with how dangerous  and unforgiving DCC sessions are if you actually make it to level 10 you’re basically a legend.

Let me touch base about the Luck attribute now.  As you would think Luck plays a part in all rolls, but it also plays a part in certain elements of play for your PCs depending on their class.  You can also “burn” Luck as well.  For example, you can “burn” 4 points of Luck and get a +4 on your next roll.  The downside to that is your Luck attribute is now 4 points lower.  Luck though can be restored over the course of an adventure or adventures and you can declare you’re burning luck either before or after the die roll.  Although you may only burn luck once per roll.

You might be asking where are the races?  In DCC, races and classes  are one and the same.  As the book states “You are a wizard or an elf”.  The character “classes” are what you might expect:  Warrior, Wizard, Thief, Cleric, Elf, Halfling and Dwarf.  I especially like the non “PC” use of the term “Thief” rather than “Rogue”.  They all have their strengths and weaknesses and all have their own special “crit” table to roll on when they critically hit an opponent in combat.

My only real hang up is the “Funky Dice” or “Zocchi Dice”.  We all know the regular RPG dice, but DCC has along with the regular dice added in a d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24 and a d30.  You can get these dice made especially for the game or you can be like myself and make yourself a little cheat sheet with what regular dice you need to substitute for the “funky dice” roll.  With the “funky dice” comes DCC’s “dice chain” which I like.  The “chain” starts in ascending order with d3, d4, d5, d6,d7, d8, d10, d12, d14, d16, d20, d24 and d30.  Sometimes a situation may come up where the rules will state for the PC to use an improved die.  So you’ll move up the “Chain” and use the die to the right of the die you were originally using.  For example if you’re a magic user using a spell you’re familiar with along with an item that grants you an improved die then you’d go from using a d16 to a d20 or even to a d24.  This does work the other way too.  If you’re fighting with an unfamiliar weapon then the DM may ask you to use a reduced die.  So you’d move to the left on the “chain”.  This all sounds confusing with the “funky dice” and the “dice chain”, but it’s really not and once you start playing it’ll come to you quickly.

I’m only going to mention skills briefly since the book uses a whole two pages to cover this subject.  You’ll start out with the basic skills that are determined by your “occupation”.  Those skill checks are considered “trained”.  You may also attempt to make skill checks that are not common to your occupation.  These are, of course, “unskilled” checks.  You’ll still have difficulty checks(DC) and use a d20 for all checks.

Now to combat.  I can hear the “Huzzahs” from here.  The combat system should be fairly recognizable.  The DM rolls for surprise for the first round then everyone rolls initiative and “acts” in that order.  All attacks are then resolved by rolling dice and adding or subtracting modifiers to the roll.  The roll is then compared to the defender’s armor and if the attack is higher or equal to the armor’s rating then it’s a hit.  This is where the “funky” dice and the “dice chain” will come into play the most.  PC’s also have action dice and depending on their level they may have more than one action dice.  So basically the more action dice you have, the more things you may do in combat.  For example, if you have two action dice you may attack twice.  I’ve already touched upon the “Crit” tables earlier for PCs, but there’s also a “fumble” table for all of you who have a penchant for rolling a “1”.  The fumble chart is not as deadly as the “crit” chart, but when you’re a “0” level PC with very little hit points a fumble could still be very deadly.

In combat, Warriors have what are called “Mighty Deeds of Arms” or “Deeds” for short.  Basically a “Deed” is a heroic feat or mighty action called by the warrior before his attack or action.  These can result in what I call “Errol Flynn” moments.  The Warrior will roll his bonus attack die, which is also his “deed” die, along with the d20 and add them together.  If the attack hits and the “deed” die is 3 or higher, the deed also succeeds.  The higher the result on the deed die, the better.  Even if the deed die does not succeed, the attack or action may still succeed.  There are many different types of “deeds,” but I will not go into them in this review for the sake of time.

Last, but not least…MAGIC!  Fear not spellslingers, DCC has not forsaken you.  Wizards will learn one of three types of magic; black, elemental and enchantment.  Clerics learn a style of magic called Idol Magic.  Casting a spell is how you would think it would work.  Roll a d20 and add your modifier whether it’s Personality, if you’re a cleric, or Intelligence, if you’re a wizard.  Compare that roll to the results table for that spell and if it’s equal to or higher than the spell’s DC then it succeeds.  There are criticals and fumbles for spells as well.  What I really do like is the mechanic, Spellburn.  It works basically like burning luck, but instead of luck a wizard can burn either strength, agility or stamina to add +1 to his spell roll.  Example:  A wizard decides to burn 5 points of agility in an attempt to cast a spell.  So he’ll subtract 5 points from his agility and add +5 to his spell check.  “Burned” attributes may be recovered 1 point a day as long as spellburn is not attempted during that time.  You may also regain spells using spellburn as well.

Well, that’s it or at least most of it.  There’s a few things I didn’t cover, but these rules only encapsulate about a third of the book itself.  The rest of it, like I’ve said, is spells, magic items, bestiary, some various appendices and two mini-adventures.  One for 0-1 level characters and the other for 5th level characters.  This book is all you’ll ever really need unless you want to run a game and Goodman Games has many adventure modules for GMs to choose from.

If you’re a fan of “old school” RPGs than this book is for you and if it isn’t then broaden your horizons a bit and delve into what us “geezers” used to chuck dice to!

Codex Rating: 17

Product Summary:

From: Goodman Games

Type of Game: RPG Core Rule Book

Written and Designed by: Joseph Goodman

Additional Design: Tavis Allison, Andy Frielink, Todd Kath, Doug Kovacs, Harley Stroh, Steven Thivierge, Dieter Zimmerman

Additional Writing: Michael Curtis, Harley Stroh, Dieter Zimmerman

Editing: Aeryn “Blackdirge” Rudel

Art Direction and Graphic Design: Joseph Goodman

Cover Art: Doug Kovacs

Endsheets: Doug Kovacs (front), Peter Mullen (back)

Interior Art: Jeff Dee, Jeff Easley, Jason Edwards, Tom Galambos, Friedrich Haas, Jim Holloway, Doug Kovacs, Diesel Laforce, William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Jesse Mohn, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, Erol Otus, Stefan Poag, Jim Roslof, Chad Sergeketter, Chuck Whelon, Mike Wilson

Number of Pages: 480

Retail Price: $39.99 (US)

Website: www.Goodman-Games.com