Attronarch's Athenaeum

Campaign journals, reviews of TTRPG stuff, and musings on D&D.

OK, the final list for this year's Black Friday. I promise.

Goodman Games might be best know for their Dungeon Crawl Classic system, but I love their system neutral supplements, as well as opulent re-releases of cherished classics.

I like most of the stuff written by Michael Curtis, whom also authored the amazing Stonehell megadungeon.

Modules & Settings

Supplements

#BlackFriday2022 #GG #DCC #OSR

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In the previous posts I've focused on the specific publishers:

In this, probably last post (gotta keep my own wallet safe), I list my recommendations for materials compatible with TSR and OSR games. Most of the books bellow are settings and procedures, which makes it easy to take out elements you find interesting and use them in your game.

Arduin

Dave Hargrave was a mad man. A very creative mad man. You might never play Arduin as written, which just like Palladium Fantasy was a bunch of AD&D 1E house rules, but you will walk away inspired like never before.

  • Arduin Trilogy. Compiles Arduin Grimoire Vol 1, 2, and 3. I still use special ability charts presented herein.
  • Arduin II. A first attempt to make a functional, stand-alone game after TSR and Gary turned on anyone who dared hack it.

Hack & Slash Publishing

Campion & Clitherow

Weather? Weather! Never worry again. Never.

True Mask Games

Factions? Factions! Never worry again. Never.

Green Ronin Publishing

They used to make good setting books during 3E era. Here are a few I enjoyed.

Geoffrey McKinney

Seriously, for less than $10 you can get material that will last you a lifetime whenever your players decide to go somewhere you haven't prepared for. As a bonus, below supercharges B1 and B2.

Simon Forster

What, you want more variety than in Mike's dungeon. “Production qualities?” Well then you are in luck, because Simon Forster has written splendid digest-sized books of lairs:

Expeditious Retreat Press

The first publisher of OSRIC material. A lot of good stuff, but I picked few of more generic offerings I often use.

Your favourites?

Do let me know your favourite OSR supplements. Just because my wishlist is big, doesn't mean it can't get bigger.

#BlackFriday2022 #OSR

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A well known publisher of Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, and Pendragon. Although I'm not interested in their rules, I've always been fascinated by Glorantha.

Glorantha

These are all modules from the first edition era. Just how I like them.

Pendragon

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Palladium Books is a troubled publisher, but I still have a soft spot for their early fantasy work. Black and white illustrations galore!

Palladium Fantasy RPG 1E

Weapons, Armours and Castles

These are illustrated guides to various weapons, armours, and yes, castles, one might use in their fantasy game. I love thumbing through them for inspiration.

#BlackFriday2022 #PLFRPG #OSR

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Autarch is the publisher of Adventurer Conqueror King System, marvellous system built on B/X chassis. It offers superior take on domain management, race-as-class, functional and tightly integrated economy, and plethora of play-tested options for ambitious Judges and adventurous Players.

Rules

Adventures

All adventures, except Dwimmermount, are set in Auran Empire, which is an ACKS setting. I've found all the adventures superb and easy to adjust (and steal from). AX3 has some great tables for urban dwellings.

#BlackFriday2022 #ACKS #OSR

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It's that time of the year again. May our wallets survive.

After recommending some Troll Lord Games products on sales, it is time for Frog God Games.

My favourite recommendations are in fact re-issues of Necromancer Games material, a predecessor to Frog God Games, like The Lost City of Barakus, The Tomb of Abysthor, and Bard's Gate. And make sure to grab the bestiaries if you haven't already.

Great majority of the recommendations below are for Swords & Wizardry system, a retroclone of Original D&D. All statblocks have descending and ascending AC, and everybody uses a single save throw (but since HDs and levels are nearly identical, you can use TSR-era saves without any hassle).

Adventures

  • MCMLXXV. Old-school wilderness treasure hunt. For first level parties.
  • Grimmsgate. A village, surrounding area, and dungeon suitable for first level parties. Dungeon is well made, with multiple entrances and uncommon foes.
  • Stoneheart Valley (Swords and Wizardry). A collection of three old Necromancer Games adventures: The Wizard's Amulet, The Crucible of Freya, and The Tomb of Abysthor. First one is shit, second is fine, and third is awesome.
  • The Lost City of Barakus (Swords and Wizardry) (local and regional maps). Perhaps my favourite Necromancer Games mega-dungeon—because it is so much more! You get a starting city (with seven adventures), a wilderness area (with 26 keyed encounters and mini adventures), and a mega-dungeon with interesting factions and cool big-bad. Suitable for low-level parties.
  • Cyclopean Deeps (Swords and Wizardry) (volume one and two). Underground hex-crawl for high-level parties. Includes underground settlements as well. Perfect for plugging into lowest levels of large dungeons... Or under sprawling cities...
  • The Slumbering Tsar Saga (PF). 800 page monster. High-level, high-lethality area with brutal challenges.
  • Bard's Gate (Swords and Wizardry) (player's guide). A massive city packed with urban encounters and adventures (8 included, from levels 1 to 10+). Very dense book. Some say this is FGG's finest product. The truths is: this is another Necromancer Games revival. And that's why it's great. :)
  • The Blight (Swords and Wizardry). A rotten, overpopulated, sick mega-city. Whole campaigns can be played in it. Heavy horror vibes.

Supplements

  • Monstrosities (Swords and Wizardry). Nearly 500 monsters. Each monster comes with an example encounter/nano-adventure. Includes tables with monsters by challenge level, guidance on creating new monsters, tables of monsters by terrain, and tables of random encounters (3d6, so bell curve).
  • Tome of Horrors Complete (Swords and Wizardry). More than 700 monsters (no duplicates from Monstrosities). Again, each comes with a small encounter. Includes mundane animals as well.
  • The Blight: Tome of Blighted Horrors (Swords and Wizardry). What, you want more? Well, here are 80 more—body horror apleanty.
  • The Book of Taverns (volumes one, two, and three). Had enough of generic taverns and inns, but short on prep time? Steal one from here. Again, these are revivals of old Necromancer Games books. They are good.

#BlackFriday2022 #FGG #NG #SW #OSR

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It's that time of the year again. May our wallets survive.

Here are some Troll Lord Games adventures and supplements I've found useful and enjoyable, although I do not run Castle & Crusaders system.

I found most of TLG stuff to have minor errors (e.g. typos, location missing on a map, etc.). Also, most of the modules do require prep. Despite that, I found below worthy of mentioning.

Adventures

Supplements

#BlackFriday2022 #TLG #CC #OSR

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Taegen Ianlynn Elf level 1 Tan skinned wood elf of magnificent physique. Doesn't hide it.
Flamthwynn Magic-user leve 1 An older gentleman sporting fashionable dark blue robe with purplish overtones. Seeking arcane objects and offensive spell.
Blutvarth Fighter level 1 A skinny man with sharp features, curly hair and a sneering smile. He swears that he is friendlier than he looks.
Eccy Throi Elf level 1 Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.
Ulster Fighter level 2 A former caravan guard with a promise to fulfil.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Adkin the Butcher Fighter level 3 A hot headed warrior quick to fury trained by Marco Vitelli, retired quartermaster of the army of the Invincible Overlord.
Rhovar Fighter level 3 A generic Nordic guy.
Dave John Basic Fighter level 3 A village boy with an affinity for stabbing rats.

Warmshade 12th, Waterday

Slow fire burned under the cauldron with pale green liquid.

“Should we get out?”

“I think this might be our best chance to defeat that evil mushroom...”

“We still haven't found Sinai!”

“How about one more room?”

The adventurers agreed that those burdened with awesome treasure they've just plundered from alien mushroom's chambers should start heading south, towards suspect exit, while the rest will investigate north. Western passageway, the one they came in through, was still blocked by heavy portcullis.

Carefully moving on, the explorers found themselves in the most alien chamber so far. The walls were bulging and warping as if they were melted into shape. A familiar stream went through a grate in the floor, crashing on something hard below.

A round, oddly shaped desk was in the center; a bizarre recliner next to; and a large, warped cabinet extruded from the western atrocity of a wall. Flamthwynn recognised the place as some perverse take on library. Stroking his chin, he announced that he'll be studying the contents of this chamber. Eccy Throi joined in, seeking the spell book his Master sent him after. Rad went for the cabinet. DJ Basic sought rats.

Rest of the party proceeded north, upstream. There they found a massive chamber full of large, human-sized pods hanging from the ceiling. Dozens, and dozens, and dozens...

At this moment Blutvarth the Lizardman begun screaming and shivering—another disgusting metamorphosis was taking place! His scales started peeling off, his yellow eyes burst with force, his razor sharp teeth fell out, and his tails spasmed so hard it broke in places. At the end of this macabre show, Blutvarth the Pink Human was left one the ground, a naked, shrivelling excuse of existence.

He did get some help from the party, but they were more interested in parchments on the table and contents of the cabinet. Indeed, Flamthwynn could read some of them. It were mostly ramblings of a mad person. Calculations of nutrient requirements, plant growth cycles, an the like. He did find an illustration of a cage-like shaped. The text next to it said:

“Command: Fahoorth”

Rad scoured the cabinet for traps. Having found none, he smugly opened it, only to have the cabinet shriek loudly. Alarmed, the thief was joined by Eccy, DJ Basic, and Flamthwynn in smashing it. After they properly beat it up, they proceeded to plunder its innards. They've recovered three scroll cases, presumably with scrolls in them, eight heavy tomes on horticulture, and one large, leather-bound, locked book. The last one was taken by Eccy.

Flamthwynn and Eccy stayed in the library, while the rest joined Adkin and the gang. Together, they went further upstream, and played exterminators for an hour. That's how long it took them to cut down just a little bit over a hundred pods. By the time they were done, all were thoroughly covered in minced fish paste, rotten vegetation, and an assortment of colourful gooey substances.

As this took place, Flamthwynn studied more of the alien notes. An illustration of familiar U-shaped plant with slimy tendrils on the underside had “Shothuar” scribbled next to it. The following unfinished note caught his attention as well:

”...the unexpected result of the experiment has been forced into a larger cavern, where it has, so far, remained peaceful. I can keep it back with its discipline stick, but it has become a very irritating obstacle.”

What about Blutvarth? Well, I'm happy that you remembered him, for he was better off whilst being ignored. Flamthwynn the Master Alchemist, persuaded the young warrior to drink another vial of blood red liquid, which was “most definitely” a healing potion.

Too weak to think or argue, the man downed it all in one go. It went out as fast as it come down. Blutvarth vomited blood all over himself. Eccy and Flamthwynn masterfully evaded the vomit projectiles. The elf couldn't believe how incompetent this lot is.

“Feeling better, boy?”

Too weak to exist, Flamthwynn interpreted the boy's wobbling head as yes. From now, both Herat and Eccy had to assist him. Remembering that Rad felt better after drinking the pale green liquid from the bubbling cauldron, Master Alchemist's next brilliant suggestion was to go for it.

They took (dragged?) Blutvarth to the vat. The boy dunked in his head and took large gulps. Others left him to it, not wishing to risk getting themselves soiled. This time the contents stayed in the boy's belly, and he did feel... warm. Which helped, since he was still naked after the transformation.

By now the Exterminators have rejoined the Healers. The party was now where they were at the beginning of this story—in the cauldron room.

“Let's get out!”

Following southern path led them down the tunnel which entered into yet another large chamber. Entrance was flanked by the upside-down plant cups.

“Shothuar!” Flamthwynn yelled, proving himself actually useful. The plants flattened against the cave wall.

A gravelly, rumbling voice echoed through darkness. It spoke in elven:

“Who goes there? Have you returned to torture me more?!”

Hesitantly entering the cave, the party quickly found the source of this disturbing voice. A twelve foot tall, six-men wide tree was planted in the south-west corner. Its roots were mortared, and many branches were chained to the ground.

“You are not that accursed mushroom... Free me! Free me so I can trash this place!”

“Watch out!” Rad yelled as he noticed two blood-red carpets slowly descending from above. “That's it, we are out of here!”

And so they ran north, upstream, finding themselves at the familiar T-junction. Lowered portcullis was to their right. They were on the right track. Low, hateful grumbling echoed from behind them.

Moving further upstream, the party once again went into the chamber with cages. A dwarf was still imprisoned. The dwarf that turned out to be a horrific black monster last time it escaped.

“Let's kill him!”

“What if the cage is magical and anyone inside looks like a dwarf?”

“Let's open it and see?”

“What if it isn't and it kills us after we let it out?”

“I have an idea.”

The idea was Flamthwynn, and yes, it included passing the liquid to the person being “helped.” In this case it was a vial of ink and a piece of parchment. Surely whatever was inside could write something? Alas, the dwarf was as uncommunicative as it had been before.

Without much else to do, the party proceeded upstream, to exit. They traversed slowly, making sure that the exquisite tapestries don't get damaged. Once again the went for the left tunnel, taking them through the room with fish-mincer. On their way to the the four-way junction with wood divider, DJ Basic noticed something odd to his left.

There was a dry tunnel they've always ignored since they assumed it to be a dead end. Also, entrance into it was basically a collection of ropy pillar of fungus growth spanning from floor to ceiling. But this time it seemed as if these pillars were moving towards them.

“Guys, check this out...”

“What are you seeing?

“I'm not sure...”

“How shall we resp–”

Before Adkin had the chance to finish his sentence, a massive mound of vegetation shambled out of the fungal wall. It engulfed both Adkin and DJ Basic in a single attack. They found themselves in a green hell, with endless tendrils constraining their limbs.

Rhovar immediately dropped the tapestry he was holding, and joined the fray. Flamthwynn, Eccy and few others fled upstream. Taegen the Invisible, Rhovar, Rad, Ulster gave it their best, but haven't managed to land more than two blows.

Having absorbed two of their members, the monster retreated back into the fungal overgrowth. Party desperately tried to hit it with their missile weapons, including burning oil, but once again missed. With a heavy heart, they too retreated upstream.

Adkin and DJ Basic fought the tendrils with all their might.

“Oh, no, you green demon, you will go down with me!” Adkin muttered. He would've rather set himself on fire, than die within this glorified pile of leaves. Gathering just enough strength to take out and uncork two of his oil flasks fueled his rage even further.

Flint and steel were. Damn, in which pocket were they? As he struggled to reach them, the innumerable tendrils overpowered him once again. Few constrained around his neck.

DJ Basic also struggled immensely. At one moment he nearly got out, but got pulled in at last moment. He heard Adkin grunts of defiance; he heard the uncorking. Then he heard the vials bouncing off the ground; the clang of flint hitting the hard cavern floor. And then his grunts were the only one.

Until they too, were no more.

“We haven't found Sinai. We lost two more...” Herat lamented as the survivors were greeted by the village boy, their guide.

“There will be time to mourn. But not now.”

Warmshade 13th, Earthday

They rested at Bathdawn, and with the crack of dawn rode off in two separate directions.

Rad, Flamthwynn, Taegen Ianlynn, Eccy Throi, Ulster, and Herat rode to Tenoch, intent on making their meeting with Minn Almar on Warmshade 14th. They reached their destination by the end of fourth watch.

Rhovar and Blutvarth took all the treasure to Antil. They were to gather reinforcements, sell the treasure, and get proper healing for Blutvarth, before joining others in Tenoch. Five giant wolves surprised them in the woods just after they had crossed the majestic river Highcourse.

Player Session Reports

Flamthwynn's juice:

Adkin's end:

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Flamthwynn Magic-user leve 1 An older gentleman sporting fashionable dark blue robe with purplish overtones. Seeking arcane objects and offensive spell.
Blutvarth Fighter level 1 A skinny man with sharp features, curly hair and a sneering smile. He swears that he is friendlier than he looks.
Adkin the Butcher Fighter level 3 A hot headed warrior quick to fury trained by Marco Vitelli, retired quartermaster of the army of the Invincible Overlord.
Rhovar Fighter level 3 A generic Nordic guy.
Taegen Ianlynn Elf level 1 Tan skinned wood elf of magnificent physique. Doesn't hide it.
Eccy Throi Elf level 1 Wears a dark green cloak to hide his bulging muscles and crippling anxiety.
Ulster Fighter level 2 A former caravan guard with a promise to fulfil.
Alestone the Brave Dwarf level 1 Overdressed coward.

Warmshade 12th, Waterday

“We've got company!” Rad yelled while slamming the doors behind him.

Most of the party was focused on naked and groggy Eccy. His arms were lined with bloody dots; needles hanging from the alien recliner he was lying on being the most probable cause of these mysterious injuries.

In the confusion the party had been joined by two newcomers:

Alestone the Brave, an absolute coward dressed in heavy armour from top to bottom. He even had matching knee pads. The dwarf seemed to materialise out of thin air—as if he came out of the fog.

Blutvarth, another heavily armoured figure. He was much less cowardly than the dwarf and had a sneering smile to prove it.

With little time to act, Adkin and Rhovar shook the elf back to his senses, while Taegen the passed healing potion to him. Eccy downed it without hesitation. The ghost of Saint Zagyg smiled upon him.

All warriors—Adkin, Rhovar, Blutvarth, Ulster, and Alestone—rushed to form a bottleneck at the entrance into the chamber they've been in. Whatever will come through that doors will suffer hell.

Herat stood her ground in the centre of the room, firmly holding the torch and providing much needed illumination. Freshly rejuvenated Eccy noticed his equipment in the corner and rushed towards it. Flamthwynn exercised tactical retreat in the direction he judged to be safest.

THUD. THUD. THUD.

The cave ground vibrated underneath their feet as something approached the closed doors.

A moment of silence was gone before Alestone had the chance to relent, and the doors came down with a tumultuous noise.

Gigantic fungi-man squeezed sideways through the door-frame, revealing two massive hammer fists. Dwarf immediately set him alight with precisely lobbed oil flask. The giant reached the party in one step, and enveloped Alestone with another.

Alas, the dwarf tried to wriggle out of it but was crushed to bloody by the monster's hammer fist in seconds. His blood splattered all over Blutvarth and Rhovar; the only reminder of his existence.

The warriors were swift in their vengeance, each carving out a chunk of the humongous fungi-man. Taegen went all in and cast Light upon the monster's head.

“Crushed dreams” illustration by one of the players.

Giant monster now acted as a lighthouse, revealing yet another curious figure just outside the smashed doorway. Rhovar, Blutvarth, and Adkin could see a eight feet tall mushroom with huge cap and two mean looking narrow eyes. They radiated sickly yellow light and looked as if the creature was scowling.

It focused it's gaze on Adkin the Butcher, and shouted in Common: “Protect me mighty warrior! Save me from these barbarians!”

To which the fighter positively responded and implored his friends to stop this violence at once. To say that he was ignored would be an understatement.

Distracted by their traitorous peer, Rhovar and Blutvarth hadn't noticed a number of purple-coloured orbs flying towards them at incredible speed. The former suffered two strokes, while the latter went down after a single hit.

“You! YOU!” Ulster boiled with rage. “I will kill you Sorcerer!” he roared as he charged past the towering fungi-men, and went straight at the mushroom-wizard. He was checked by another fungi-men, but not before he took a swing at the target of his rage.

His mace bounced of invisible barrier.

“Ack! Savage!”

The creature fought back, striking him with a staff-like object.

“Adkin, what has gotten into you?” Rhovar pleaded as he tried to wrestle down his friend. Alas, he was no match for the man trained by the famous Marco Vitelli. He was thrown to the side like a little pebble.

“Don't you remember all the wine and ale we guzzled together? All the dungeons we ransacked? And the women too?”

Overwhelmed with all the fond memories of their tight camaraderie, Adkin managed to snap out of whatever charm had that mushroom-wizard placed on him.

Herat and Taegen finished off the blinded monster. Flamthwynn maintained safe distance throughout the engagement. Let the kids perish, he did not reach his age by rushing in first.

“Ack! Savages! Savages! Savages!” the Sorcerer yelled as he turned and fled into the north-east chamber.

Still outraged, Ulster smashed the head of the fungi-man who had stopped him with a single strike, and charged after the fleeing monster. Other warriors, as well as two elves, followed.

Flamthwynn, feeling safe, went over to inspect Blutvarth. The boy was still breathing but needed urgent attention. He quickly instructed Rad and DJ Basic how to help him. Then he went through the potions shelf that DJ Basic started, but hasn't finished ransacking.

“Hmmm... What might be a healing potion here... Hmmm... Probably something red?”

Lo and behold, he did find two vials with dark red liquid. Putting his nose to both revealed one had a rusty smell while the other had a pleasant cedar aroma.

“Here, this one will... Make you feel better...”

Blutvarth, barely conscious, placed the vial to his lips as carefully as he could. Then he took a few shy sips. He felt tingles on his lips and warmth in his belly. And then he down it all in one go.

First few seconds were rather uneventful. Then he started to itch. A lot. Then his hair started to fall out; his skin started to crack and split; his teeth and nails came loose before falling off. He could feel his asshole burning, as well as stupefying pain in his face, as if great force was pulling it forward.

Flamthwynn got to enjoy the show from first row. The man in front of him went from broken boy in metal armour to a blob of pink flesh in matter of seconds. Blutvarth's face elongated into crocodile like shape, and razor-sharp teeth replaced human molars; pinkish skin was no more, replaced by shiny green-scales; nails replaced by claws, and swimming skin between the fingers; and finally, a long tail stretched from just above where once his anus used to be.

Clearing his throat, Flamthwynn spoke in lizard-man tongue “Ahem... So... Are you feeling better?”

Blutvarth, still recoiling from the horrific experience, took some time before responding. He did indeed feel better, but was thoroughly confused with what had just transpired.

As this macabre transformation took place rest of the party chased after the mushroom-wizard, charging into a large circular room. Unlike Ulster, others were not blind to lavish furniture. Four large masterwork tapestries adorned each wall; a large, alien-like reclined couch with silk bedclothes; a glass cabinet containing three cut-glass decanters and a silver goblet; a water pipe on a low table in the middle of the room with an enormous brazier full of unlit coal right next to it.

Ulster had seen his victim run through the eastern doors. They were similar to other doors leading into this chamber with one exception: they had iron bars running up and across them. Next to the doors were two holes carved into the wall. Both were filled with pale green, stringy substance, quite similar to the material fungi-men are made out of.

Using the shafts of their long weapons, Adkin and Taegen pushed the substance aside, revealing a small mushroom in each hole. Both felt wooden to touch, and did not budge even when pulled or pushed. They did move once they were twisted. The duo pulled both up simultaneously. The wooden mushroom rose as two small penises, and then limply fell back once they were released.

At this moment Ulster and Eccy judged they had enough of this, and invited invisible Taegen to force the doors open. After all, this wood elf was known far and wide for his impressive pythons. He earned his reputation once again, opening the doors as if they had never been closed at all.

Alas, Ulster was left disappointed, for around the corner laid nothing but a dark corridor and lowered portcullis. Party ignored his calls for vengeance, opting to plunder the lavishly decorated room instead.

Rhovar and Adkin gently lowered, rolled up, and then tied two of the majestic tapestries. They were so heavy that two men had to carry one. Herat helped herself to the glass cabinet, nicking all the stuff within.

Finally, Flamthwynn introduced his new friend to the rest of the party. Fighters deemed wholly unimpressed, unlike Eccy, who wondered who are these accursed folk whom he had partnered up for this expedition.

Once they finished taking all the valuable they can carry, the adventurers headed back into the chamber with three vats. As soon as they left, five fungi-men assaulted them form behind. Neither had proven to be any significant threat to this well oiled machine, not even the four-armed buff fungi-man. In fact, he was the first to go down, chopped to thin slices by Adkin the Chef.

Whilst discussing their further plans, Flamthwynn scanned through piles of parchment on the workbench. He recognised the spidery alphabet: goblin. But language was elvish. What a weird combination. The notes were either of an alien or mad mind. They were on combining plant and flesh to create new life; on something called “snagwort;” and numerous diatribes on “surface-dwelling folk.” Was there anything there worth of further study? Only time will tell.

At the moment the party stood in the dimly illuminated chamber, discussing their next move. Embers beneath one of the cauldrons quietly cackled.

What is this place?

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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