29 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 23: Machinations of the Space Princess

Machinations of the Space Princess is a clever little science fantasy/science fiction role-playing game by James Desborough. As implied by the name of the game, Machinations of the Space Princess has transposed the mechanics and the spirit of Lamentations of the Flame Princess to a science fantasy/science fiction milieu… and it works surprisingly well! In but 239 pages, this role-playing game covers everything needed to play in a science fantasy/science fiction campaign; there is even a whole chapter about customising one’s body using cybernetic enhancements.

Name Ss’ssk’a
Race Ophidian
Class Psion
Level 1

Charisma 14 (+2)
Comeliness 9 (−1)
Constitution 11 (0)
Dexterity 13 (+1)
Intelligence 12 (+1)
Strength 17 (+3)
Wisdom 15 (+2)

Race traits
Infrared vision
Natural weapon D6
Narrow body (may enter gaps)
Skin is of a highly visible hue

Hit points 4
Psi points 4

Everyman Skills
Climb 1
Languages 1
Search 1
Security 1
Sleight of Hand 1
Sneak Attack 1
Stealth 2
Structure 1
Survival 2
Tinker 1

Psi Skills
Psychic Training 1
Ravaging Intellect 1

General Skills
Web of Contacts 1

Psi Talents
Beguile (lvl 1)
Luck (lvl 1)
Mindbolt (lvl 1)
ESP (lvl 2)

Saving Rolls
Charm 7
Looks 5
Toughness 6
Reflexes 7
Logic 8
Power 9
Will 8

Movement 10

27 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 22: The Motherland Calls!

The Motherland Calls!, subtitled ‘a role-playing game of courage and resolve in defence of the Motherland’, is a historical role-playing game that I worked on between June and September 2016, in which you play the role of a member of one of the rifle corps of the Red Army during the fateful days of Operation Barbarossa. I have only GM’ed the game once, at THE KRAKEN convention in Germany in October 2016. For some reason, WWII has inspired writers of fiction, designers of wargames and boardgames, but not of role-playing games — and before someone should mention Night Witches: yes, I know and I own the game, but at the time I was aiming at something more Old School.
Alas, the session I GM’ed at THE KRAKEN wasn’t particularly successful, mostly I think because the system itself wasn’t really suited to the genre… too much detail in some areas, not enough in some others. The Motherland Calls! is still on my “will re-work one day” list, and I think I’ll definitely move away from Old School and towards something more narrative, more character-driven.

Anyway, here is a character still generated using the 2016 rules:

Name: Nikolai Pavlich Berezov
Ethnicity: Russian Gender: Male Handedness: Right
Height: 1m62 Weight: 58kg
Age: 21                                                        
Description: Short, thin                                                                       
Distinctive Features: Freckled, Looks younger than his age                                                   
Role: Rifleman
Background: Member of the Komsomol

EDU 13


Cold weather

Political Profile

Orthodox 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3 Revisionist
Proletarian 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3 Bourgeois
Modernist 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3 Traditionalist

War Weariness 2

Hit points


- Model 1940 steel helmet
- Cloth peaked cap
- Rucksack with ration pouch
- Two cartridge pouches, each containing 20 rounds
- Two grenades
- M91 bolt-action rifle (5 rounds) with bayonet

26 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 21: John Carter of Mars

The PDF of the core book of Modiphius’ John Carter of Mars role-playing game is currently free on their web-site if you use the code BARSOOM upon checking out; the other PDFs are at −20% if you use the code VIRGINIA.
I have just downloaded the free John Carter of Mars PDF and it is thus unavoidable that today’s player character should hail from Barsoom (I seldom blog about planetary romance, but I am a big fan of the genre)!

Sculptos Sahl hails from one of the minor Red Martian city-states. He has heard about John Carter’s exploits, and he’d love to revisit the feats that the Earthborn has accomplished. Alas, his duties in the air force of his home city-state prevent him from adventuring in the footsteps of the Virginian explorer. But who knows? That might change one day!

Name: Sculptos Sahl
Race: Red Martian

Cunning 4
Daring 7
Empathy 8
Might 5
Passion 4
Reason 6

Confusion 8
Fear 7
Injury 5

Eye for Danger (Grade 1)
Find the Way (Grade 1)
Skilled Physician (Grade 2)
Suppressing Fire (Grade 2)


25 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 20: Lamentations of the Flame Princess

I like Old School gaming, everybody knows that. However, and contrary to popular belief, Old School doesn’t mean “D&D-like”; Old School actually means “Rulings, not rules!”. We Old Schoolers fondly remember a time when a role-playing game was OK even if it didn’t have rules for breathing in thick smoke or flying a different plane than the one you had been trained for. Or maybe said rules were printed in a module where you had to survive in thick smoke or fly an unusual aeroplane.

So I like Old School but have been mostly playing and refereeing D100-based role-playing games for 25 years or so. I still like, however, the odd D&D-ish adventure and my favourite system, in this case, is Lamentations of the Flame Princess, a D&D retro-clone that is technologically rooted in 17th century Europe rather than in a vanilla high fantasy pseudo-mediaeval world. Also where LotFP really shines is in its adventures, which are amongst the very best that have been published for the last 10 years. And it has consistently had the best art of any non-Gloranthan role-playing game.

Loot and wounds. How Old School is this?

I have chosen to roll a Magic-User because of the way LotFP presents this character class: “Most of the world lies sheltered from the existence of magic, encountering it only as it victimises them. They huddle in their churches for comfort and trade their freedom and dignity to a ruler as they beg for protection, all for the fear of the supernatural which they do not, and cannot, understand. Magic-Users choose a different path. Instead of cowering away from the darkness, they revel in it. They see the forces of magic as a new frontier to explore, a new tool for the attainment of power and knowledge. If it blackens the soul to equal that of any devil, it is but a small price to pay.”

Name: Jeroen Visser
Class: Magic-User
Level: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Age: 37
Sex: M

Hit Points 3
Base Attack Bonus +1
Mêlée Attack Bonus 0
Ranged Attack Bonus +1
Armour Class 12

CHA 11 (0)
CON 10 (0)
DEX 12 (0)
INT 14 (+1)
STR 8 (−1)
WIS 9 (0)

Saving Throws 
Paralyse 13
Poison 13
Breath 16
Device 13
Magic 14

Architecture 1
Bushcraft 1
Climb 1
Languages 2
Search 1
Sleight of Hand 1
Sneak Attack 1
Stealth 1
Tinker 1

1 first-level spell

Starting money 90 sp

24 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 19: Adventure Fantasy Game and Chthonic Codex

Paolo Greco is an OSR writer who has published quite a few weird OSR gems. One of them is the Adventure Fantasy Game, the other is the Chthonic Codex, an OSR supplement chock full of cool ideas, additional rules, tables, twists and tweaks.

Here’s a Level One Caster:
Physique 9
Craft 12
Spirit 14

Hits 6
Mana 1
Spells: 3

One of the Chthonic Codex tables helps generating weird starting equipment for magic-users. Here’s mine:

•    A pint of children tears
•    Slug nails
•    A curious speaking tube that translates any language into whistles
•    Hydrometer for testing specific gravity of fluids, esp. Beer
•    Opera glasses that purportedly show all on stage buck-naked
•    A magnificent glass-topped wooden display case segregated into 256 compartments that contain the full spectrum of colours found in accumulations of navel lint

22 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 18: French Basic Role-Playing System

The Basic Role-Playing System System Reference Document (SRD) by the Chaosium is now also available in French, thanks to Jean-Christophe Cubertafon who did the translation.

To celebrate this, I am going to create a player character in the world of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Miyazaki Hayao’s dark yet sublime post-apocalyptic manga), using the guidelines that my friend GelWeo had published on her web-site many years ago.

Nom : Felwahr des MarchesDésertiques
Genre : F
Main directrice : droite
Description : petite mais élancée, Felwahr garde une énorme cicatrice au bras droit, souvenir d’un combat épique contre une courtilière égarée sur ses terres
Âge : 23 ans
Traits distinctifs : cf. ci-dessus
Occupation : Guerrière (archétype : bretteur)

FOR 13
CON 13
TAI 11
INT 13
PER† 14
POU 16
DEX 17
APP 12

†PERception, caractéristique supplémentaire ajoutée par GelWeo

DEP 10
PV 12
Points de Pouvoir 16
Bonus aux dégâts 0

Épée courte (1D6+1)
Fusil (2D6)
Armure : gilet matelassé (2), casque léger (+1)

Arme à feu (Fusil) 75%
Armurerie 15%
Art de la guerre 25%
Athlétisme 50%
Bagarre 75%
Botanique 40%
Cascade 40%
Connaissance de la Forêt Toxique 35 %
Discrétion 35%
Équitation 25%
Escrime 75%
Esquiver 25%
Langue (maternelle) 65%
Langue (tolmèque) 60%
Leadership 25%
Lire et écrire 25%
Renseignements 45%
Survie (Forêt Toxique) 30%
Vigilance 28%

21 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 17: Wordplay: The Big Five

I am lucky enough to have regular gaming groups and to be regularly able to play, both face-to-face [well, that was before the lockdown] and on-line. I also regularly attend conventions where I also play a lot.
Despite all this table-top role-playing activity, I don’t play many different games. My gaming life revolves around D100-based games, with the odd Old School or novelty RPG thrown into the lot.

As a result, I have a lot of unplayed role-playing games on my shelves— what we RPGers call our ‘shelf of shame’. And amongst these unplayed role-playing games I do have a few favourites. I understand it may sound absurd to have a ‘favourite unplayed’ role-playing game, but I do read all the rulebooks I purchase, and I sort of can figure out whether I’d enjoy a game or not. And my favourite unplayed RPG is probably Wordplay: The Big Five. See, I am usually wary of narrative RPGs… they all look super interesting when played in a one-shot gaming session, but I suspect they break down at some point if played in a campaign, mostly because they tend not to handle scale well… This is why I do like HeroQuest – the Ш mechanics perfectly cover the change in scale, and you can use HeroQuest to GM a bar brawl or a mighty combat between demigods using the exact same rules. Well, there is something similar with Wordplay: The Big Five called the Scale Level and the Scale Effect, which explains why I like this RPG even though it doesn’t exactly correspond to my customary RPG ‘comfort zone’.

I also want to take advantage of today’s post to highlight the role played by Hungarian adventurers at the turn of the last century. In fiction, Hungarians are often portrayed as decadent Transylvanian nobles or similar outré characters but, in reality, many explorers and travelling scholars at the time when Europeans ‘discovered’ the most remote areas in Asia and Africa were Hungarian. Today’s character, for instance, is loosely based on Ferenc Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás.

Name: Pál Weörös de Nagy-Telep
Age: Middle-aged but still young at heart
Gender: Male
Concept: Scholar-cum-adventurer

1- Decipher the Voynich manuscript
2- Find the entrance to the subterranean kingdom of Agartha
3- Become the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Dextrous 5d
Handsome 4d

Keen-eyed 4d
Manipulative 6d

Ambitious 4d
Crave knowledge 5d

Bibek, my personal secretary, bodyguard, and lover

Wealth 5

QuestWorlds SRD

After the Basic Role-Playing System SRD, the Chaosium has made the Questworlds SRD available on their web-site! (Seems the Lockdown is beneficial for table-top role-playing...)

However, whereas the BRP SRD was a mere 23-page booklet that paled in comparison to the 2008 “Big Gold Book”, the Questworlds SRD, at 76 very dense pages, is a hefty, fully-fledged role-playing game.

I already hear you saying “But praytell, what on Earth is Questworlds?”. Well, Questworlds is the genericised version of HeroQuest that the Chaosium has been promising us for years — at least since October 2017. You can now publish your own QW-driven role-playing game, à la Mythic Russia, following the guidelines on Chaosium’s web-site.

19 April 2020

A New Gloranthan Boardgame: Last Faction Hero

Hey, no 'Lockdown Challenge' this week-end, as I've been too busy finalising all the details surrounding the publication of my very first professionally distributed boardgame... Last Faction Hero!

Alas, it's only a print and play version of the game, but I'm still chuffed that the Chaosium has purchased it to sell it under their name, rather than merely letting me use the licence to Greg Stafford's fantasy world.

this is what LFH should look like once you have printed out everything

So, what is it all about? Last Faction Hero is a fast-paced boardgame in which you take the role of one of Greg Stafford's most beloved heroes (Harrek, Gunda, Androgeus...) and explore the Lozenge looking for allies and magic items to help you fulfil your mission. There are half a dozen different missions, and they all involve very different goals– each game should be fairly different to the previous ones.

There is also a team game mode in which the heroes are pitted by pairs against the other pairs of heroes... the last alive are the winners!

Last but not least, the game is profusely illustrated by Dario Corallo, the artist who kept the Gloranthan flame alive via fanzine artwork during the late nineties and the early noughties, when our favourite fantasy world was barely supported by professional publications.

I am currently working on three expansion sets,
1- new monsters/spirits,
2- new factions/heroes,
3- weird events.
However we're still playtesting them for balance, and I don't believe they will be available before the end of the year.

Ah, a last important piece of information... the Chaosium is donating 100% of all proceeds between now and 30 May 2020 to the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, so by purchasing the game you are also helping the global response to the pandemic!

16 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day 16: Hyborian Age Roleplaying

Jason Durall is a prolific writer of RPG material. For me (beyond the fact that he is a good friend), he’s above all the author of the invaluable “Big Gold Book”, the hefty 2008 tome that consistently presented the core Basic Role-Playing System engine and many of its optional rules in one single place. He’s also the line developer of Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of [that was a long name], a pulpy S&S game set in a lovingly accurate version of Robert E. Howard’s Hyboria – not a surprise here, as Jason is a long-time fan of the Texan writer’s barbarian hero.

At the time of the BGB, or slightly earlier, Jason had his own homebrew BRP game set in Hyboria (Hyborian Age Roleplaying). He was kind enough to share a few notes with his friends, so here is a character generated for Hyborian Age Roleplaying!

Nickname: the Lithe
Gender: Male
Age: 23
Homeland: Bossonian
Occupation: Thief
STR 8  – Effort 40%
CON 17 – Stamina 85%
SIZ 11 – Damage bonus None
INT 16 – Idea 80%
POW 11 – Luck 55%
DEX 16 – Dexterity 80%
APP 13 – Charisma 65%

Hit points 14
Magic points 11
Fate points 3

Distinctive feature: Musical speech

Poniard 45% Dmg 1D4+2+db
Cutlass 35% Dmg 1D6+2+db
Throwing dagger 35% Dmg 1D4+½db

Leather Jerkin 1D4


Bargain 35%
Climb 80%
Conceal 45%
Disguise 55%
Dodge 52%
Evaluate 35%
Fast Talk 35%
Gamble 5%
Hide 60%
Insight 35%
Jump 25%
Listen 45%
Move Quietly 20%
Natural World 65%
Navigate 10%
Orate 25%
Physick 30%
Pick Lock 45%
Repair 64%
Ride 35%
Sailing 15%
Scent/Taste 15%
Search 60%
Swim 25%
Throw 25%
Track 30%
Trap 5%