Y is for Yondral in the Sky


The island of Yondral with its collection of some half dozen buildings floats on invisible, eldritch currents, perpetually surrounded in mist. Once upon a time, an order of mystics called Yondral home. Peaceful, contemplative, and erudite, these mystics practiced arcane meditative arts, seeking to divine the mysteries of reality for no other purpose than the pure joy of learning. Life on Yondral was peaceful, even idyllic.

That is until one of the mystics named Blaise turned his mind toward darkness. A malignant force wormed its way into Blaise’s psyche, and slowly the mystic became more wicked while the force became stronger. Before the other mystics could figure out what was wrong with Blaise and take steps to heal him, the force lashed out. Yondral was sundered, but not into pieces. Instead, beneath the floating island, there appeared a demon-haunted mirror image of Yondral.

Today, Yondral and its twisted opposite drift about, abandoned but not abandoned, perhaps still home to ancient wisdom but certainly home to ineffable evil.

April 29th, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

X is for X-tra Time


(See what I did there?)

Took advantage of some extra time this morning while my students were in computer to start writing Unenägu. First step: Start to clarify how these new rules differ from that on which they are based. Here’s a sample:

Unenägu, like Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox, requires two sets of players who differ in kind. The first is the Referee, and the second are the Players. The bulk of the first part of what follows aims primarily at the Players, who each must create a Player Character (PC), who becomes one of the characters in the shared story played out at the table during a game session.

What’s the Same?
If you’re reading these words, I’m assuming you have your own copy of Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox. You’ll need to refer to it. Unenägu doesn’t repeat information from Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox any more than necessary. For example, you’ll not find much in the way of items and equipment in what follows. Those guidelines are in Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox, and I didn’t feel the need to retype them. Still, I do want to point out briefly what Unenägu doesn’t change, so here goes.

Rule Number One is still rule number one. This is your game now. Feel free to change it, add to it, subtract from it, et cetera. One of the beautiful things about old-school games is that they are about rulings not rules. This is especially important for the Referee. When something happens in the game that the rules don’t cover, make a ruling and move on.

Unenägu also uses all the same dice as Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox. Attribute scores remain the same, and experience point (XP) calculations are unchanged. Likewise, hit points, starting gold, and alignment remain the same (unless, of course, you want to change them).

What’s more, the three basic character classes — the Cleric, the Fighter, and the Magic-User — work in Unenägu just like they do in Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox. So, too, do Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings.

What’s Different?
Unenägu adds new class options related to PCs who are Visitors, those special children who have left behind the real world and entered the Realm of Dream. As Visitors, these children are aware that they now live in a dream, and they can manipulate reality, which, in game terms, is reflected in the use of Oneiric Points.

In addition to Humans, Dwaves, Elves, and Halflings, PCs who are not Visitors may be Talking Animals. The fables and fairy tales from which Unenägu draws inspiration often include animals with human intelligence and characteristics. Some Talking Animals appear very much like normal animals, while others are more anthropomorphic (such as Puss-in-Boots).

Lastly, a few non-Visitors PCs who have exceptionally high ability scores (14+) may perform Legendary Feats. A Fighter with an exceptional Strength might be able to twist iron chains asunder, whereas a Halfling with an exceptional Dexterity may be able to race up a wall.

April 28th, 2015  in Product Development 1 Comment »

W Is for What’s Next?


Well, I think I’m done blogging about The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT) for now. I’ve got some vague ideas (which could’ve worked for yesterday’s post, what with hindsight and all that), but I’ve got the big picture down on virtual paper.

I can soon start to cut-and-paste, revise-and-edit, and format into an acceptable BKotRT PDF. That’ll take some time, and I’ll want to get some playtesting done as well. The school year is coming to an end in about a month, and I’m not teaching summer school this year, so with luck I’ll have the time and motivation to get some serious writing done.

I’m also considering finally pulling the trigger on another OSR idea I’ve had kicking around my brain for some time. That explains the charming possible cover depicted to the right.

Unenägu, at least right now in my mind, combines the Brothers Grimm (the storytellers, not the movie), Charles Perrault, the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, and elements of horror films like The Babadook to create a world of dark fantasy in the heroes are talking animals, children from our world yanked into another realm, and more standard character types such as clerics, fighters, and magic-users. If possible, I’d like to have a working draft of Unenägu before I go back to in August.

Also, I’m thinking I should collect some of the maps I’ve drawn into a document and upload that to DriveThruRPG. Response to my maps when I’ve posted them on the Interwebz has been pretty positive. Draw up a few more, format them into a PDF, and it might be worth putting out for people to download. We shall see.

April 27th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »

V Is for Very Hard to Keep Up


Musical Interlude

Sheesh. Where’d the time go? It’s Sunday, and I’m doing Saturday’s post (but I am cheating my backdating the post; shh, don’t tell anyone). Worse than that, I’ve got nothing. My brain is fried. Grading, progress reports, typing a newsletter, and next up essays to proofread for my son Christopher. Perhaps a little W. B. Yeats is apropos?

What Was Lost

I sing what was lost and dread what was won,
I walk in a battle fought over again,
My king a lost king, and lost soldiers my men;
Feet to the Rising and Setting may run,
They always beat on the same small stone.

April 25th, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

U Is for Under the Man’s Thumb


Musical Interlude

This month of The Boogie Knights of the Round Table (BKotRT) has frequently mentioned the Man, but no post so far has been devoted specifically to the Man. It’s time to remedy that because understanding the Man is important for understanding the world of BKotRT. First off, it must be known that the Man is not a man. He’s not a he.

Instead, the Man is a perverse system perpetuated by cabal of powerful individuals occupying diverse positions in society. The Man includes politicans, businessmen, CEOs, advertising execs, preachers, professors, and more. Those who comprise the Man hold to a variety of creeds and opinions, but they are unified around a common goal shaped by a common belief.

In short, the Man understands that a divided people are more easily manipulated and subjugated. Consequently, while the Man may use fine words and deliver noble-sounding platitudes, he is always selective about his audience. The Man twists words to create a pervasive worldview built around two interpretive lenses: tribe and class. To the middle class, he warns about the threat of the swelling lower class and the rapacious greed of the upper class. To the black man, he talks about the endemic racism of the white man. To the environmentalists, he talks about the crushing burden of population growth, especially in the so-called Third World, and in the Third World he talks about the dangers of imperialism.

When a new idea or form of expression becomes popular, the Man works to turn transform it from popular to populist, which is just another way of fomenting division. Popular is genuinely of the people. Populism is catch-phrases and fads turned into marketable political merchandise. Thus, society goes from Waylon Jennings to Luke Bryan. Hip hop goes from Kurtis Blow to The Black Eyed Peas. Punk goes from The Ramones to Nirvana, and gets relabeled “alternative” along the way.

The heroes of BKotRT stand against the Man, striving to keep their art pure. They stand for the man on the street not the Man on Wall Street. During this eternal struggle, the heroes must remain alert. The Man does not tolerate opposition for long, and the dangers are real. Just ask Federico García Lorca, assuming you can find whatever dark hole the Man dragged him into.

Stay strong, and play loud!

April 24th, 2015  in Product Development No Comments »