23 November 2023

Black Friday 2023

Here is a summary of all the offers I have spotted until now (to be regularly updated):

Chaosium — use the code BLACKFRI23 at check-out and get 10% off your order on chaosium.com

Mindjammer Press — 30% off all their digital products at DriveThruRPG

Lamentations of the Flame Princess — 25% off all their PDFs at DriveThruRPG

Osprey Games — 30% off Jackals and its supplements, 30% off Righteous Blood, Ruthless Blades, 30% off Romance of the Perilous Land; both dead tree and PDF

Lots of Jonstown Compendium items are discounted.

LULU — use the code TWINKLE30 and get 30% off all print orders.

15 June 2023


The Basic Role-Playing System (aka ‘the Chaosium system’) started out as a very slim introductory booklet with just the barebones D100 rules. It wasn’t sold separately but was a free addition to many of the early Chaosium role-playing games that were sold in boxes.

The first game that was marketed as an expansion of the BRP System per se was the boxed set titled Worlds of Wonder, which contained three mini-games that used the same core rules applied to three different genres: fantasy, super-heroes, and sci-fi.

The fantasy mini-game was called Magic World [not the same as the later standalone frp game]; it was translated to Swedish and published as a standalone game in 1982 under the name Drakar och Demoner (Swedish for ‘Dragons and Demons’). As with many BRP-derived games, it went through a tortuous life of its own, changing publishers and/or names several times, and even having a system overhaul once before getting back to the BRP System (albeit with D20 instead of D100, à la Pendragon).

The game was purchased by Fria Ligan (Free League Publishing) in 2021, and is now coming back in English as ‘Dragonbane’. Fria Ligan already own several successful role-playing games, and apparently Dragonbane has adopted a few features from them.

Anyway, I’ve downloaded Dragonbane’s Quickstart, and I will try and highlight the differences I have found with the Basic Role-Playing System.


SIZ has disappeared. As a result, HPs are equal to CON instead of ½(CON+SIZ) or CON with SIZ-dependent adjustments.

Power points/magic points are called willpower points (WPs) and are used for special actions on top of spellcasting.

Game System

A ‘1’ is a crit, and a ‘20’ is a fumble, instead of having more refined D100-based values.

There is a system of boons & banes à la D&D 5E where you roll an additional D20 for each boon/bane and count only the lowest/highest result.

There is also a ‘push’ system like in CoC 7th ed., but it can quickly result in your character getting a bane.


Each combatant has a single action for each combat round.

Initiative is 1-10 and drawn from a set of numbered cards. Meh.

Parrying is a fully-fledged action and uses up your single action. Meh.

You can do nothing during a round and recover 1D6 WPs. Given the prevalent use of WPs this is pretty cool.

When you roll a crit in combat you get to choose amongst three different effects (double damage, extra action, ignore armour) rather than automatically apply a given effect. This is super cool.

Weapons get damaged more easily than in the BRPS because whenever the armour protection completely negates the damage from a melee attack the attacking weapon itself suffers the damage instead. Ouch.

There aren’t any hit locations. If an opponent is partially covered by an obstacle, you get a bane on your attack.


This is where Dragonbane shines: each monster has its unique abilities and attack table. The GM rolls on this table when it is the monster’s initiative (also randomly from the cards). A monster never rolls the dice to hit its target: monster attacks succeed automatically.

I really, really like this. Obviously I haven’t tested this in actual play, but I’d love to see some monster fear instilled back into my players’ eyes. Today they’re only afraid of criticals.

As an example, the giant spider from the sample adventure in the Quickstart has the following attack table:

It’s obviously massive work at the GM’s side to build such a table for each monster in their campaign. However, I really feel like this is the major innovation in Dragonbane.

Given the similarities with the BRPS I reckon any GM could pick and choose whatever they like best from this game to add flavour to their BRPS games. I guess you should at least download the Quickstart (available for free on DriveThru or directly here).

08 June 2023

Ultra-Fast As-You-Go Character Generation

QuestWorlds features a character generation option called the ‘As-You-Go Method’: instead of fully statting your adventurer at the beginning of the campaign, you simply sketch it to have a general idea and then you fill your ability slots during the course of the game whenever you need to roll under an ability, i.e.:

When events in the story put you in a situation where you want to overcome a story obstacle, or discover the answer to a story question, make up an applicable ability on the spot.


Today’s post is a suggestion to try and use this method for RuneQuest. However, instead of “making up an ability” you will choose among the skills printed on the RQ character sheet.

As with my previous character generation methods, this should work for any character type, except the assistant shaman.

Character Concept

Create a character concept: a homeland, that will give your adventurer their starting languages, and a general profession/background, that will give them reasonable equipment when needed.



Do not roll for characteristics but freely assign the following values: 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 to your characteristics, +4 extra points.

Do not apply the Rune or Homeland modifiers to characteristics (p53 of the core rules) as the values above have already taken them into account.

Compute the skill category modifiers per the rules.



Reserve three slots for three starting Passions: one at 70% and two at 60%. You will assign them during the course of the game.



Reserve three slots for three Elemental Runes: one at 60%, one at 40%, and one at 20%. You will assign them during the course of the game.

On top of this, you will be able to add an extra +10% (or +5% twice) to any of these Elemental Runes during the course of the game.


You have a grand total of 50 percentage points that can be added to any Power/Form Runes (max. +25%) during the course of the game.



Reserve 20 slots for 20 skills that will be improved during the course of the game. You have a grand total of 450 skill points that can be added to these initial skill values during the course of the game. You needn’t use all of the 20 slots – that will depend on whether you want to end up with a specialised adventurer, or one with a broader set of skills. Instead of improving a skill, you may also use a slot to add a new Passion that will start at 60% + the amount of skill points used up.


Skills that fully correspond to the character concept can be raised up to 100%.

Skills that are close to the character concept can be raised up to 75%.

Skills that are unrelated to the character concept can be raised up to 50%.



Once you have chosen which cult your character will be initiated into, distribute +45 skill points among three to four skills that fit in with the deity’s portfolio or with the deity’s Runes, e.g., Speak Darktongue for an initiate of a Darkness deity.

You also get to choose 5 points of Spirit Magic amongst the cult’s available spells. Your adventurer receives 3 Rune points dedicated to their cult, and an extra Passion at 60% amongst the ones listed under their cult. 

02 June 2023

New BRP Handouts

The Chaosium has just made available a free, 21-page downloadable PDF booklet with all the useful Basic Role-Playing tables and charts from the new edition of the Basic Role-Playing System.

Amongst what the booklet contains, I have found the following as being the most interesting:

★ the Optional Rule Checklist (this is really super useful for all the GMs who like tinkering and, well, if you’ve purchased the Basic Role-Playing System I guess you do),

★ a matrix with all (?) the possible results between attack, parry, dodge, etc. depending on the skill success levels,

★ a summary of fumbles, wounds, etc. and their effects,

★ and last but not least a summary of personality traits and reputation effects [new to this edition if I’m not mistaken].

19 May 2023

The Lair of the Leopard Empresses is out!

A few months ago, I mentioned the fact that the Monsters! Monsters! engine (which is basically T&T without the name ‘Tunnels & Trolls’) would henceforth be available for third-party publications, and that Sarah Newton’s The Lair of the Leopard Empresses would  be the first fantasy role-playing game that would benefit from this new licensing scheme.

Well, The Lair of the Leopard Empresses (LotLE) is out and available in both print and PDF format on DriveThruRPG. The game is a stand-alone role-playing game (meaning you do not need the M!M! rules to run it), and although it comes with a set of rules that is deeply intertwined with its setting (à la RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha), I believe you can still use these rules as the basis for any swords & sorcery frp game.

The setting, though, is not to be overlooked. Ximuria is an ancient world with crumbling empires, decadent cults, and evil magicians plotting behind the scenes at the courts of inbred rulers — and these are all aspects that we expect from a S&S frp game — but it has its own surprises that go beyond mere pastiches of Robert E Howard’s and Clark Ashton Smith’s œuvres, like:
 ★ Cannibalistic fire elves,
 ★ Guerrilla hobbs fighting against goblin invaders,
 ★ Weird dwarf sub-races (frost dwarves, volcanic dwarves),
and lots of mysterious backstories, like the origins of dragons and giants, whence the Six Elements (Earth, Wood, Air, Water, Fire, and Metal) originate, and what continents lie beyond the oceans.
I also like the heavy ‘beastly’ influences like the Serpent Kings of the past, the Bat Cult of the Nagraefi, or obviously the eponymous Leopard Empresses. More generally, the non-European feel of Ximuria is very welcome and is a refreshing change from the scores of faux European fantasy settings.

The rules are very Old School-ey, with many character classes (called ‘callings’) and races (called ‘kindreds’) available for player characters. You can also use them for NPCs (again, à la RQ) or stick to the standard Monster Ratings as in classic M!M!/T&T.
The main deviation from M!M!/T&T, however, is that spells are grouped into spell lists (à la Spell Law); spell-casters may only access spell lists available to their calling and depending on their culture, which will guarantee that players will be able to customise their spell-casting PCs and that no two wizards will be the same.

LotLE also introduces shamans, without resorting to additional rules but simply by adapting the magic system and by adding some special abilities to this calling.

The game is chock full of sensible advice for starting as well as seasoned GMs, who may both be unfamiliar with the M!M!/T&T rules. There are, in particular, many examples of use for the stunts, which were usually only hinted at in previous M!M!/T&T publications, and which get a full treatment here. There is a whole chapter dedicated to creating and using Cults, Guilds and Brotherhoods (an aspect that was seriously missing from previous M!M!/T&T-based games). Joining a cult/guild/brotherhood gives your player character a lot of nice perks, much like in RuneQuest. These organisations, however, are not only there for power-hungry players: they really add layers of verisimilitude to the world of Ximuria and (again, much like RQ cults) an aim to your PCs other than simply looking for treasure; here are a few examples:

Join the Sisters of Wragna because the dream of the Once and Future Queen must not die. The Good Kindreds of Ximuria were once united in a Golden Age of peace and justice, and can be again!

Join the Wyvern Masters because your people have done so for generations. Or because the Dragonwatch and the defence against the Enemy in the East needs your support. Or because training and riding wyverns is in your blood— it’s so freakin’ cool!

Another chapter is titled ‘Elaborations’ and, er, elaborates upon a lot of the fundamental but oft-overlooked M!M!/T&T rule elements such as Ranged Combat, Saving Rolls, Spite Damage, or Stunts [yes I know I’ve already mentioned Stunts, but the way LotLE uses them is really at the core of how Sarah Newton has improved the M!M!/T&T engine].
This chapter also provides a lot of spot rules, e.g., PCs helping each other, Ganging up, Surprise attacks, Mounted and aerial combat, Cover and concealment...

In the RPG community, Tunnels and Trolls is famous (a) for being the second frp game ever published and (b) for its many solitaire modules. I feel The Lair of the Leopard Empresses at last shows how the M!M!/T&T engine can be satisfactorily used as a fully-fledged GM role-playing game.

10 May 2023

Tunnels & Trolls Purchased by Rebellion

The exciting boring saga of the T&T purchases continues! After Rick Loomis’ sad passing in 2019, Tunnels & Trolls (along with all the other Flying Buffalo Inc games, with the exception of Monsters! Monsters!) was purchased by Webbed Sphere Inc, a US toy retailer, who sat on the licence and didn’t do anything with it.

A press release dated 10 May 2023 announces that the British video games company Rebellion Developments Ltd has in turn purchased T&T, MSPE and the other former FBI games. Rebellion has a tabletop imprint called Rebellion Unplugged and, judging by what they have published on their web-site, they are true blue Tunnels & Trolls fanatics. So here’s to hoping they’ll do a better job than Webbed Sphere [tbf that shouldn’t be too difficult]!

09 May 2023

Arkat Podcast

Arkat is one of my favourite figures from the Gloranthan legendarium... probably even my favourite one, as he epitomises everything that sets Glorantha apart from all the other vanilla fantasy worlds: there is no ‘good’, no ‘evil’, but an ‘us versus them’ attitude, and player characters have access to heroquesting, i.e., the capacity to explore past myths in order to modify them or to gain personal power from that kind of deep spiritual/religious interaction.

Well, the God Learners podcast have just made available their latest podcast and it is a whopping 67 minutes devoted to our beloved bad-tempered hero.


The Hardboiled GMshoe’s Office hosts a transcript of an interview Jason Durall gave about the new Basic Roleplaying book.


[needless to say, I am expecting y’all to have already purchased the PDF of the new BRP book]

27 March 2023

Gloranthan Magazine Indices

Shannon Appelcline has updated his Gloranthan magazine indices.

The following ones are probably those of particular interest to readers of this blog:

 ★ Tales of the Reaching Moon, issues 1 to 20.

 ★ TradeTalk, issues 1 to 17 (you may want to compare it to my own TT index).

 ★ Wyrm’s Footnotes, issues 1 to 15.

But do also check the other ones.

22 March 2023

5-Year RuneQuest Campaign Podcast

I have played an online RuneQuest campaign game set in Sartar for five years (I reckon it must be the second-longest I’ve ever played). We played approximately every fortnight; you can imagine the sheer number of episodes the campaign entailed!

The game started with RQ2 on Roll20, then moved on to the RQG rules (and Foundry) as soon as they were made available, and ended up with a hybrid RQG-OpenQuest ruleset, with the occasional “Runes in the Dark” homebrew for our (many) heists. 

Despite the many dangers, our party of five remained the same during the duration of the campaign... I was the only one to transition from a first character, killed in a single blow, er sting, by a Chaos wasp who rolled a crit in his head, to a second one, so we all ended up with Rune-level characters. The whole zero-to-hero shebang.

Our GM extraordinaire, Steve, has devoted an episode of his Orlanth Rex’s Gaming Vexes podcast to reminiscing about salient events, favourite rules changes, character arc vs story arc, and whatnot, from these five glorious years of gaming. Oh, and did I mention Chaos wasps?


20 March 2023

New BRP Book Coming!

 A replacement for the “Big Gold Book” is coming, along with a dedicated licence (ORC). Can’t wait!

(from the bluebird site)

28 February 2023

Cults of Glorantha

The tease is over! It appears we’ll be getting 10 books: the Prosopaedia plus a single book for each pantheon, instead of the three tomes (2 cults books + 1 prosopaedia) initially announced.

Not sure what the Mythology book will consist of. When asked on social media what this latter tome would encompass, Jeff Richard said it would be a surprise. For my part, I really hope the Mythology book will contain the long-delayed heroquesting rules.

14 January 2023

Industry News (OGL Debacle, ORC, and Monster Revolution)

A lot has happened in our beloved RPG industry in the last few months and weeks.

First of all, Flying Buffalo has sold Tunnels & Trolls to Webbed Sphere, who has been basically sitting on the IP and doing nothing with it since the purchase. Fortunately, Ken St Andre kept the rights of Monsters! Monsters! (which is basically the same game as T&T but with a different title), and now all the new supplements are marketed for M!M!, for which a new edition is in the works. — But more about M!M! later.

However, the big talk of the moment amongst RPG enthusiasts is obviously the OGL debacle by WotC. For those who have lived under a stone since Christmas 2022 I’ll try and summarise what happened.

1. A new version of the so-called Open Gaming Licence (OGL) has been leaked (intentionally or not, who knows). This new version implies a much tighter control by WotC over what is published under the OGL and, more importantly, is supposed to retroactively replace the licence that has been in place since the early noughties and under which a ton of games and settings have been published.

2. There has been a general uproar by players, designers and publishers alike, and many reactions, from closing shops and removing OGL-based products to moving to a different engine altogether.

3. WotcC clumsily denied what happened and said the new licence would be reworked. But that was too late: Paizo is currently launching the Open RPG Creative Licence initiative, also known by its acronym ORC, with allies Kobold Press, Chaosium, and Legendary Games. Little is known about ORC, mostly that it will be  a system-neutral open RPG licence that can be freely used across the RPG industry.

Many companies are also offering cheap versions of their RPG engines to show creators that there is much to be found outside of the OGL and the D20 engine.

Chaosium, for instance, is selling the PDF versions of the Basic Role-Playing System, of the RQ Starter Set and of the CoC Starter Set for a mere 99¢ at DTRPG.

Back to M!M!— Ken St Andre is allowing third parties to use the M!M! engine for their own products for a small percentage of the generated revenue. 

The Lair of the Leopard Empresses by Sarah Newton is the first RPG that has been announced for this new licence. The game should be released in spring 2023 and it is expected to be a ~250-page game that will include a fully-fledged campaign, city maps and gazetteers, full rules, spells, magic, treasures, and an introductory adventure.

Erik Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern fame is also preparing a M!M! supplement titled Sovereign Monsters! under this new licensing agreement. See his posts here [edited 2023-01-17] and here.

Exciting times ahead!