Into the Darkness

My love/hate relationship with World of Darkness and its offshoots is pretty well known.  In my early 20s when I first got into gaming (large part thanks to some Airmen in AIT) 3rd edition had just been released and I was all in.  Competing against that in my little microcism was White Wolf's World of Darkness books, particularly Hunter and Vampire.

For some reason I could never wrap my head around these game.  I found them obtrious, finky, and vague as hell in a lot of respects.  Add to that the stereotype of the types of people who played WW games (you know goths, emos, theatre-kids) and I eventually stayed away outside of the Hunter games on the X-Box and Vampire for PC.

Around 2008 a new edition was released that seperated the books into a Core book and theme books (Mage, Vampire, Werewolf, etc). Meaning that all the games played with the same rules, names, etc with very little difference between them ... I got into, and into hard.  Not the theme books, I couldn't give a crap about those, but the core book, the one where the players were normies in a hidden supernatural world.  For me this was mana, it was I had hoped for (and didn't get) in the X-Files and did eventually see in the first three seasons of Supernatural.

Only problem was, no one wanted to play it.  The older WW players loved their systems and boycotted, non-WW players looked down on it the way I had the original stuff in 2002 ... in the end my few World of Darkness books fell to the wayside, gathering dust ...

... Until Onyx Path got the rights and tried to revitalize the series with a rename:  Chronicles of Darkness.  I picked up the core book (an expensive but cheeply produced rebranding of my NWoD book) and went online looking for games ... again none where to be had.

Last year, Onyx Path joined the Community Content groups over at  DrivethruRPG with the STORYTELLERS VAULT but CoD wasn't there ... as of a few weeks ago that has changed and Chronicles of Darkness games are now able to be released through the Storytellers Vault.

So get to it and let's get some awesome adventures, games, creatures, etc going in this new world!

Op-Ed: Future Imperfect

The past few years have been very spotty for Genius Loci Games (or GL Games or GLG as I've been recently calling it).  I have made several planned comebacks to no avail as real life tended to get in the way in one form or another.  Recently I have been thinking of giving it another go ... no releases, no products, or adventures, nothing business related.  Instead, I have been thinking of just getting back to what I started as a guy who loves games, loves to write about games, and likes to share the little hobbyist things he creates.

To that point the blog is a huge part of what made GLG what it was back between 2012 and 2016.  I posted heavily, shared ideas and would like to think I fostered a nice small community.  Going forward I would like to make the blog a big part of that again, however, as a post I made on G+ and MeWe tonight suggested, I am not overly confident that Blogger is going to be around for much longer.

Google has made it clear in the last few months that many of its web projects are on the chopping block.  By August 2019 Hangouts, Inbox, and Google Plus will be gone and who knows what will follow.  By now the clear leader in blog creation is Word Press and many sites have either moved there or are in the process of moving their (or Wix so I am told) ... Google does not like to be second-place and because of that I have little faith in Blogger seeing 2021.

Right now I am up in the air on where to go.  Word Press, Wix, and MeWe pages have all been suggested to me as viable alternatives to Blogger and I am looking into them all.  I will say that despite being "flush" with employed money, I am not keen on paying for a service (Word Press and Wix), however, MeWe offers limitations of its own in terms of community, visablity, etc.  One option would be to try and reorganize my patreon as a means to set-up and sustain a paid service, however, my personal feelings toward that are grim.  I know there are bloggers, vloggers, influencers, etc who do this but my thought is that if I am running a patreon I should be giving something tangible and seperate from the thing I would be doing anyway.

So a lot to look into, to think about, etc going into 2019.

WEG d6 the Lost

A number of years ago the OSR community managed to convince One Bookshelf, the owners of DrivethruRPG and the soon to be redacted RPGNow, to create a category for OSR games, systems, etc with-in the site, seperating it from the d20 systems category of the time.  ON top of this, popular rulesets within the OSR like Dungeon Crawl Classics, Labyrinth Lord, & Swords & Wizardry
were all given there own sections within that category.  This helped fans of individual rulesets - yes the OSR as a whole is largely interchangable, but AAC is better damn it! - to find and support their ruleset of choice far more easily (as a note, GL Games did see a sales increae for a time after this occured) which in my opinion helped to grow the audience, the contributors, and the digital head space of the OSR.

Looking at that today, I noticed that another area of interest to me WEG d6 System (Open d6) gaming is in far more dire straits on sites like Drivethrurpg.  Part of this is because of the popularity of d20 style systems and story system like PotA and FATE.  The other is that DTRPG lumps the vast majority of d6 systems into a single category, making it difficult - damn near exhusting really - to find any settings, sub-systems, etc of the WEG d6 system.  Looking at the category you see the hottest sellers are as follows:

  1. Wraith and Glory:  Core Rules
  2. Wraith and Glory:  Dark Tides
  3. Fragged Empire:  Core Rule Book
  4. Wraith and Glory:  Blessings of the Unheralded
  5. Fragged Empire:  Protagnoist Archive 1
  6. Fragged Empire:  Antagonist Archive 1
  7. Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters
  8. Get Funky
  9. Unbound Rulebook
  10. Gorean Adventures 06: The Green Island

Out of these 10 (again the "Hottest" or best selling) only two are of the WEG d6 style (Unbound and Gorean Adventures).  Fragged Empire and Tiny Frontiers are 2d6 systems with modifiers and Advantages and Disadventages(ala 5e) while Wraith and Glory is  a Warhammer 40k system that looks like more like a Storyteller (White Wolf) game using d6s.    This mix of systems leads to, as stated, confusion to the consumer as finding a WEG d6 game is dependant on three things that may not be obvious depending on the seller.

  • The Open d6 logo
  • Mention in the content blurb that it is Open or WEG d6
  • A Full-Size preview with the OGL for Open d6 plainly seen

Given that these may not be apparent and that the final one requires the consumer to both know what they are looking for leads to eventual abandonment of the search and the continued obscurity of the WEG d6 system.  As of right now, DTRPG has multiple d6 style system entries, none of which leads directly to the Open d6 system and all of which can be confusingly used in place of another.  This is something that does need to be cleaned up because right now systems like Fragged Empire and Tiny Frontiers which are 2d6 systems are listed in the more generic d6 systems instead of the more appropriate 2d6  (xd6) category.

So, what can be done about it?  One thing is to contact DTRPG and ask if streamlining the d6 categories is possible and if they can do it.  Another is education, id you are a d6 creator, familiarize yourself with the DTRPG categories, look at what is in each and place your product accordingly.

2018 - Year in Review

2018 was, for the most part, an extremely quiet year for GLGames, with only a single release (Pyramid of the Lost King Extras - The Howling Dolmen), and blog posting only through April.

For the most part I have spent the year finishing up my latest juant into the realms of academica and reconnecting with family (anyone who follows me on the now doomed G+ should have seen the myraid of photos from camping trips in deep, dark forests)  and looking for new and gainful employment.

On that note:  Success all around.

This was, however, a troubling and turbolent year in other respects.  A year where we saw RPG reviewers and commentators assaulted at Gen-Con, paragons of the OSR alleged to have harrassed and assaulted others, a divide of the OSR into two camps ... and my - how do you say -  tart relationship with both factions have left me drained and very much heading to the door ...

2018 hasn't been all bad though, I was a guest host on the RPG Breakfast Club twice and will be again in January (and maybe beyond).  My far more hobbyist work in the d6 community (especially Mini-Six) has been regarded well with calls for expansion of my house-rules for the system into something releasable (I swear guys, I am working on that!), and I have found a community (online) of fellow gamers to play with on a semi-regular basis.

So with 2018 closing I can say it was a bitter-sweet year, one with a lot of ups and downs, but also leaving me with nudging toward optimistic for 2019.

Happy New Years, everyone!  Let's make 2019 an amazing year in the OSR and gaming in general!

Mini-Review - Matt Finch's 0e Monsters of Jordoba

Matt Finch begins 0e Monsters of Jordoba with a page long mission statement, one that ends with this statement:

So I’m going back to those grassroots for a while. Jordoba isn’t a polished, finished project being handed down by a publisher as a complete product. Instead, it’s the material spun out from the ongoing process of building a campaign world organically, through actual gaming. The world is developing simultaneously in the 5th edition rule system and in the original 1974-1978 version of the game (Swords & Wizardry). They’re not incompatible except in the eyes of dedicated edition warriors. 
Right On, Matt!

What is it?


0e Monsters of Jordoba is an eight-page supplement for the developing world/setting/cinematic universe (kind of).  It, as the name implies, focuses on the various monsters and monstrous entities that populate the Jordoba setting (or at least those that have been encountered so far).  Each monster takes up between 1 to 2 pages of the total 8, with a photograph of a mini being used to represent the creature.  I find the mini shoot to be fun as it really brings home the mission statement put forth by Finch in the opening segment.

Altogether there are 5 monsters presented, in the standard Swords & Wizardry long format, with some details on history, abilities, how the creature fits into the world, etc.   All in all, for a doller it is very much worth the price.  From a quick look at the OGL in the back, all the monsters are included which is great as I have always found Matt’s creations to be a hell of a lot of fun.

0e Monsters of Jordoba (aff) is available as a PDF from Drivethrurpg for $1.00.

Deviant Tuesdays - The Art of Alexander Nanitchkov

Moving Deviant Fridays over to Tuesday for reasons that will become apparent later.
This we were are looking at Alexander Nanitchkov who is probably the most widely known of the artist I featured.  He has worked for Paizo, WOTC, and PXXL.


Nanitchkov's work has a bit of surreal to it, even when it comes to his commissions from larger groups like Paizo, the work carries the quality of something potentially seen in a dream or under the influence of something.
Now I want Beatle mounts in the next PotLK expansion

I think the Pathfinder got lost

Like many, I cut my RPG teeth on 3e (and later 3.5).  When the first Pathfinder was released I was all over it, I had the beta book, the bestiary previews and scooped up the first adventure path like it was water in a desert.  For me (and others) Pathfinder was the ONLY WAY to continue gaming the "right way" after 4e changed the format so much.






I fell quickly away from Pathfinder, only taking part in a few games near its beginning that were a weird mishmash of 3, 3.5, and Pathfinder's "streamlining".  I found the OSR and aside from some publication development and lore never really looked at Pathfinder again.  That was until a few months ago when the playtest for the second edition was announced (PDF available for free on August 2nd, and physical pre-orders available through May 1st).  I became excited again, I enjoyed the art and lore of Pathfinder.  I liked how the world gave a reason for all the adventurers (The Pathfinder Society) instead of just allowing a bunch of murder-hobos on the loose.  With this in mind, I decided to keep an eye out, following Paizo's blog and pre-ordering the physical copy of the playtest.


Now, though I am a little worried.  Given what I know about printing, proofing, and all that other stuff from my own releases I am left to assume that given the August 2nd date Pathfinder 2.0 is almost in its first run ready state.  This has me concerned in large part due to a post on Halflings of all things. 


Here is the concerning section:

We've mentioned ability boosts and flaws a few times now, so let's go into more detail about how those work! At 1st level, your ability scores all start at 10. Your ancestry then gives you ability boosts, each of which increases the score by 2. Most ancestries get three ability boosts, two of which have to go into specific scores. The remaining free ability boost can go into any score except the two set ones. Most ancestries also get a flaw, which decreases a designated score by 2. You can put your free ability boost in the same score as your flaw if you want to get back to 10. In later parts of character creation, you'll get more ability boosts, which we'll cover in later blogs! (And if you want to roll your ability scores randomly, we have an option for that in the playtest so you can see how that might work, though we prefer for characters used in the playtest to be generated in the standard way.)


Now there are months before release but the one thing that worries me is that they seemingly have removed dice or points from character creation.  With everyone starting at base 10 ability scores and adding or subtracting points from those scores based on level and ancestry.  To me, this gets very far from a d20 descendent game, placing it much more in line with a story based system or one of the ill-fated "forge" games that I hear whispered in dark corners of gaming pubs.

My hope is that this is an option and the player can still build using dice or point-buy, however, from what the next paragraph says I doubt it.


At 1st level and as they level up, halflings can pick up halfling ancestry feats that take advantage of their size, their gumption, and their fabled luck. Distracting Shadows lets them sneak around by using larger creatures as cover. They might also pick up Plucky to overcome fear and other detriments to their emotions. They can take Titan Slinger to get a bonus to damage when using their slings against Large or larger creatures. This bonus increases on critical hits, even before being doubled! Additionally, the sling is now a more formidable weapon than in Pathfinder First Edition—we've both increased its damage and done away with the difference in damage die size between Small and Medium creatures. A halfling with a sling can be pretty dangerous!



While I could be wrong this description rings closer in my mind to skill tree map popular in later day MMO games and suggests more of a mechanical building of a character than an organic one that can at least be somewhat found in older d20 based systems.

In the end though I suppose it is a waiting game.

NTRPG Con, Review on Tenkers, and Patreon updated

A message from you humble sage

Good morning dear readers!  I have been away a long time ... yes, a very long time.  Oh, I have tried to come back before, made a few changes here and there, spoke of a few little things, said pretty words, that kind of rubbish talk and half-hearted false starts.  I could say that I am old - but that would be a lie, wouldn't it? - could say that the magic and lore of the OSR and the gaming world have slowly fizzled away, leaving me unable to conjure even a minor light spell!  That too would be a lie.
I will make no excuses!  No, there is no time for that, no time at all.  Instead, I sit here, pouring over tomes of arcane script known as Java and C++ and hear the muse's call again, and the spark of magic in the air ... so, let us say that I was merely napping.  Yes, merely napping which is something we are all prone to do and later deny.
Well now, that I have had a good nap and a nice spot of Valhalla Blend let us move to the announcements, eh?

North Texas Roleplaying Convention Schedule

This year I will be attending the NTRPGcon for my second time.  This time I have chosen not to convey myself to that lauded convention daily but instead to stay and enjoy the company of my fellow gamers and designers.  I am, unfortunately missing Thursday and will be arriving Friday afternoon.  I hope that I am given the chance and honor of meeting some old internet friends and make some new ones as well.
Name    Time Location
The Long Crawl - X-crawl                          Friday Afternoon at 13:00       Chinaberry at Table 2
Dwarven Epics - Delverr's Keep Playtest   Friday Evening at 20:00         Sunnyside at Table 1
Dwarven Forge Party                                  Saturday Early Morning       Boardroom 1314 at Table 1
Awards / Raffle / Auction                           Saturday Afternoon at 16:00   Irving Lecture Hall 
Adventures in Middle Earth Game B          Saturday Evening at 19:00      Magnolia at Table 1
Millennium GIrl                                             Sunday Morning at 10:00        Sunnyside at Table 3

My gaming this year is rather eccentric as I have decided that I want to try many new things instead of staying within my comfort zone.

Pyramid of the Lost King Reviewed at Tenker's Tavern

Doug Kilmer provided a rather glowing review of Genius Loci Games' own massive adventure Pyramid of the Lost King over at Tenker's Tavern.  Doug deep dives in the adventure a bit and comes away with some great insight.
To say I danced a rather provocative jig after reading the review is a bit of an understatement.

Guest Review - Pyramid of the Lost King by Genius Loci Games (S&W Sandbox/Adventure)

Patreon Lives

Now then before the coffee wears thin and my bones need the warmth of fire and flame, I must also remind everyone that I do have a Patreon.  It isn't a very big one but it is there and has always served this humble, coffee-addicted sage very well.  After a year to the day of the last update I have blown off the cobwebs, and with a little elbow grease, and youtube tutorials - to teach me InDesign. I still prefer PagePlus! -  I have produced a new short adventure that can be placed anywhere but was designed with lore to the Saragubi Desert and the Lands of Usarm in mind.  Now, this adventure called The Howling Dolman is only available to my patrons until the 20th of May and then it will be released to RPGnow as a POD title on cardstock.

Now, that isn't my only Patreon news,  I have added a new tier for pledging one that I hope will be successful because I would find it rather fun to fulfill that reward ... here, now take a gander:

Lordship
$5 or more per Short Form Adventures ∙ 0 of 5 patrons
You receive all of the above (the $1.00 through $5.00 pledges) and an invitation to a monthly game VIA Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds (I have Ultimate Edition so no need to buy, just have the trial software) exploring one or more of the adventures published in the prior month.

The Patreon is over there, take a look:  https://www.patreon.com/GeniusLoci

Deviant Fridays - Miguel Mercado

Deviant Fridays returns!  This week is Miguel Mercado a character illustrator from the Philippines who does work that sometimes looks like Rockwell taking a peek at the 80s.

He works as a cover artist for IDW and several other comic companies.

Quick Update

Andrei Shishkin
Good Evening everyone!  This is a quick update to say that I am working on a few small projects for Swords & Wizardry and 5e.  These projects are similar to some of the Patreon exclusive "1 Sheet" adventures I did a few years back.  The 1 Sheet adventures are similar to AAW's mini-dungeons in that they'll be available for print and set up so that they can be three-hole punched and added to a binder or organizer.

Like the ones I did for Patreon these are meant to be settingless, opening them up to work in any fantasy (or potentially paranormal/urban fantasy) setting.  The digital ones will link to the respective system's SRD for stats as well as list location in print copy ... so i.e. Goblin (MM|5e 165) for quick reference.  These adventures will typically be location-based and either using a licensed commercial map like the one's Dyson just released or from Mapforge once the commercial license goes live.

Pricing point will be about the same as the AAW stuff $1.00 for pdf and $2.00 for pdf/print.

Review - Tim Snider's Burial Plots for Cryptworld

Cover Art: Jethro Lentle
2018 Goblinoid Games
Tim Snider is one of the creators in the small-press scene I absolutely love.  He is a great guy, a wonderful editor, and his work has long been something I have been a fan of.  From his Deviant Database books (here and here aff) full of wonderful post-apocalyptic creatures for Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord to his official work for Goblinoid Games he never fails to impress me with his wit and imagine.  With that in mind, I was very surprised and happy to see an addition to the horror system that Tim helms for Goblinoid on RPGNow earlier this week.

Burial Plots (aff) is a 52-page supplement for Cryptworld (aff) using the Pacesetter system and features five adventures of the strange and macabre.  As per the listing on RPGNow:

Condition Critical
Dr. Howard Eastman has called a press conference at his remote research facility to announce a medical breakthrough that will “eradicate human illness and suffering forever.” But what if the cure proves to be worse than the disease?

Unquenchable
Three days ago, a group of hunters failed to return from their annual deer hunt near Akron, Ohio. Your team of expert trackers and investigators has been brought in to assist in the search. But there seems to be an undercurrent of unease amongst the police who whisper of a disturbing discovery they’ve made. Is there something sinister lurking in the forest?

Death in the Dust
In 1888, the silver-mining boomtown of Weaver, Arizona, was abandoned after a series of unexplained disasters, and the town was left to crumble in the desert sands. Today, the former ghost town has been revitalized as a historical attraction. Is history about to repeat itself?

Forget-Me-Not
Horrific axe murders recently committed in Oregon's Tillamook State Forest are identical to those committed by the legendary "Paul Bunyon Butcher" 40 years ago. However, the original killer – now elderly and feeble – remains behind bars. Has a copycat killer surfaced, or is this the work of something even more sinister?

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

The Christmas season is typically a time of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. But one THING has decided to make this year's Yuletide visit to relatives a horrific holiday from Hell.

My favorites are Condition Critical and Death in the Dust.  Both adventures have the feeling of the late 70s or early 80s  effects-driven horror movie.  Think the Fly or The Thing.  The suspense from my quick single-player run through of Condition Critical was palpable, and even though as both the one running and playing the adventure I knew everything the situation was still tense.

Layout and design hold with the previous Cryptworld books with a three-panel layout and nice clear fonts that to my eyes recreate phototype from an earlier time (look at those "u" 's!). The art on the cover (above) is great and really matches the previous covers while holding some 50s horror comic aesthetic to the art.  The interior art holds true to the other books with simple black and white line drawings.

All an all I was happy to spend the $4.99 on it and really wish I had the funds for the soft-cover to add to my printed Cryptworld collection.

So in the spirit of the adventures I give this 4 melt human bodies out of 5.

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Other books of the week:

Tales from the Loop: Our Friends the Machines & Other Mysteries (aff)
The Show Must Go On (aff)
Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting (aff)

Sword & Wizardry {OSR} Optional Rules - Threshold Save

The following is a Snippet from before the quiet time of the Desolation of the Pyramid.

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Threshold.

Threshold is a character's ability to fight back the chilling grasp of Death and stop herself from crossing the Threshold of Life and Death.

When a character dies she rolls the Saving Throw for her class with a modifier equal to the amount of negative HP she currently has. If, however, the character's HP is - 10 or lower there is no way to stave off Death except through magical or divine decree.

A character who makes her Saving Throw is alive but too weak to do anything except basic functions for 1d6 hours and takes a 2 session hindrance from a table percentage table I never created.

Example:

Barbie the Barbarian has 6hp and is struck for 12 placing her at - 6.  As a 4th level Fighter she has a Saving Throw of 11.  Not yet ready to die, the Barbarian spits a curse to her cruel gods and fights against her death. Barbie's player rules her Save needing a 17 (St 11 + NHP 6), luckily she rolls an 18 and Barbie can live to fight another day. 

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Threshold was never playtested as the Desolation of the Pyramid took too much out of me (hell still recovering from that) and life itself conspired against me with college and work.

If anyone implements the Threshold roll please tell me how it works for you. 


Map Friday - Featuring MapForge

With the fever behind me I now find myself on the cusp of the weekend, that time when family and real world needs take precedence over the m...