25 March 2024

It’s Tolkien Reading Day

I recently started rereading The Silmarillion. I had last read it over two decades ago. I liked it then but I’m really enjoying it this time! Despite being a huge Tolkien fan, this is the first book by him that I’ve read or re-read since The Children of Hurin (which I read in 2017). 

After I finish The Silmarillion, I think I’ll keep going! I’ll read at least The Fall of Númenor and parts of Unfinished Tales. Perhaps I'll read parts of Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin before The Fall of Númenor (most likely I’ll focus on the final or most complete versions of those tales). 

Happy Fall of Barad-dûr day!

20 March 2024

Darkmaster plans for 2024

The cunning Darkmasters at Open Ended Games have some nefarious plans for 2024: 
  • Firstly, there's the physical version of Secrets of the Golden Throne, which will come to our backers first, and then in POD on DrivethruRPG. 
  • Later this year (probably this summer) we'll have the Against the Darkmaster GM's Guide, a companion to the Player's Handbook, containing all of the GM-facing material from the Core Rules, revised and updated, and then some! 
  • Through the year we'll also be releasing several new adventures: at least one of them will be a full-length scenario (about the length of the Silence of Dawnfell), while the others will be shorter, ready to run adventures, meant to be played in one or two sessions. 
  • Finally, we’re compiling something you have been asking for a long time, a great Against the Darkmaster Bestiary, packed with new creatures and opponents! No release date for this yet, but we'll talk more about it in the future.
(From the announcement at the VsD Discord site.)

I’ve been reading Secrets of the Golden Throne and am now about halfway through it. It’s excellent. Since I had an “early view” PDF a few months ago (because I backed the kickstarter), I’ve already incorporated some of the new rules and other material in my campaign, namely, the new kins (a pixie NPC and a gnome NPC have appeared in my “Court of Urdor” campaign) and spell lores. 

Additional rules, monsters, and spells aside, the campaign itself looks properly epic. I’ve reserved a place for the “Isle of Awallon” in my “Ukrasia” setting for future use. I’m really looking forward to finally getting the physical book!

I’m delighted that a Game Master’s Guide will be available in the near future. The book with the complete rules is glorious – but unfortunately it cannot be made available via print-on-demand. (I assume that this is because of its massive size.) For reasons not entirely clear to me, it is no longer possible to order physical copies of the core rulebook outside of the US. Since a Player’s Handbook has been available in POD and PDF for a couple of years now (at DTRPG), once the GM’s Guide is available as well, the complete rules will be readily available in physical form to gamers throughout the world. 

The announcement of the Bestiary was a pleasant surprise. I am very excited to see what is ultimately included in it. Eventually, the “classic trio” – (i) a player’s book, (ii) a GM’s book, and (iii) a monster book – will be available for VsD!

19 March 2024

James M. Ward, RIP

TSR legend Jim Ward has passed away

I have many fond memories of poring over the entries in Deities & Demigods as a young teenager. The overviews of the "AD&D-ified" pantheons helped to get me interested in learning more about real world mythologies. Deities & Demigods also prompted me to check out the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock.

Thanks for everything, mighty wizard Drawmij!


16 March 2024

OSRIC Player's Guide

There is a new Player’s Handbook -- er, Player's Guide -- for OSRIC (the “retro-clone” for first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) available. The PDF is available for free here; paper versions are available on Amazon (Canada/US). 

OSRIC, of course, was the original retro-clone. Along with Basic Fantasy (which appeared around the same time), OSRIC helped to launch the “Old School Renaissance” almost two decades ago. 

The original OSRIC was not a proper ruleset; rather, it simply included the necessary information (tables and the like) to permit the publication of material (primarily modules) for 1e AD&D. Shortly after it originally appeared, however, OSRIC was fleshed out into a complete game. Since then, though, it has not been substantially updated. 

But there are now plans to revise it so that it (a) includes more material from the original Dungeon Master’s Guide (in particular, I think, material having to do with campaign-building and running) and (b) more closely resembles the 1st edition AD&D rules. (Since it was the original attempt at a retro-clone, OSRIC was cautious in replicating the original ruleset. Subsequent retro-clones, like Old School Essentials, have demonstrated that near complete fidelity to the originals is unproblematic. So hopefully half-elves will not be so horrible in the revised version of OSRIC.) 

I believe that there will be a kickstarter for the revised edition of OSRIC sometime next autumn. In the meantime, it’s great that there now is a very attractive player's book available. 

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).