Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Dice Roll Zine #3 Launched on Kickstarter for Zine Quest 2!

Hi folks! I just wanted to let everyone know that I have launched my Dice Roll Zine #3 as part of the Zine Quest 2 campaign on Kickstarter. You can find out all about it there, but I'll break down the contents below for you as well.

In Dice Roll Zine #3 you'll find:

  • The Artificer of Xixis class -- a technomancy magic specialist.
  • Technomancy -- new tech-themed spells and magic items.
  • The Accursed Caverns (of Xazyzl) -- a 'mythic underworld' style adventure site for a group of lower level PCs.
  • Roculus Horngard -- a detailed 'rhino man' sci-fantasy NPC to thwart/help your PCs.
  • Dirty Tricks -- an optional fighter class ability.
  • Dragonauts -- kick-ass techno-dragons.
  • Ugluks -- humorous 'feral humanoid' monsters.
  • 'Lifepath' PC Backgrounds -- create a PC backstory with a series of rolls.
  • And even more old-school RPG goodies, all originating from my own sci-fantasy home campaign called The Wastelands of Kreth. 

Dice Roll Zine is entirely written by me and illustrated by some of the best old school-inspired artists around. Issue #3 currently stands at 40 pages, digest-sized, black & white interior and cover, and the zine will be professionally printed and staple-bound with a card-stock cover.

The zine is primarily based around the 1981 B/X style rules, so it's perfect for Old School Essentials games, but also very easily usable with any old-school systems like Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Basic Fantasy, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Black Hack, and so on.

I expect to have the Dice Roll Zine #3 PDF finished and released to backers in late May 2020, with the printed zine following up about a month later after proofing and final printing. I'd say that about 70% of the writing is complete and about 60% of the commissioned art has been received at this point, so I've given myself an ample fulfillment window to get everything tidied up and completed.

If you're interested in supporting me and Dice Roll Zine #3 on Kickstarter's Zine Quest 2 campaign, please check it out and join in the fun and exciting journey of bringing the latest issue of my old school zine to the people!

Friday, October 25, 2019

B/X (OSR) Essentials Class - Witch Hunter

I'm about to resume my B/X Essentials (well, actually now it's Old School Essentials!) RPG game, tentatively known as the "Gloomburg" campaign, which is set in a very Solomon Kane-Warhammer-The Midderlands-Symbaroum-ish blender campaign setting called the Border Ghostlands, with places named appropriately spooky things like Gloomwood, Daghold, Blackspire Peaks, Gloomburg, Blackhaunt Forest, Mistwood, Moontower, and so on and so forth. All very Doom Heavy Metal-ish and Nordic, I suppose. 
At any rate, I've needed a very loosely "Solomon Kane-ish" type class to help fill in some of the setting vibe, so this is what I've come up with. Feel free to let me know what you think! I've done very limited playtesting so far, so it's likely to continue to evolve (see notes below for changes). Hat tip to JB of the B/X Blackrazor blog for some of the original inspiration for this class, his Witch Hunter from a-way-way back in 2010.
Image copyright 2009 Epic Tales Limited,
Davis Film Productions S.A.S.,
Czech Anglo Productions SRO.
All Rights Reserved.


The witch hunter stands a beacon of light in the darkness against witchcraft, demonology and sorcery. His martial prowess and divinely-granted powers aid in his quest to protect the innocent and destroy evil. (More fluff text to be added later.)
Requirements: STR 9, WIS 9, CHA 9
Prime Requisite: WIS
HD: 1d6 (+1 per level after 9th level)
Max Level: 14
XP: as fighter
THAC0: as fighter
Saves: as cleric
Weapons: all 1-handed melee, crossbows, firearms
Armour: leather, chainmail, shields
Hunter of Evil: Can hide in shadows and move silently as thief of equal class level (if wearing leather only).
Limited Possessions: May only keep wealth and possessions that they can carry (or pack on mount). Excess must be donated to charitable groups that protect the innocent, or groups devoted to eradicating witchcraft and sorcery. Donating to other PCs forbidden.
Protect the Innocent: Sacrifice a number hit points to provide an equal bonus to allies/innocents on saving throws vs evil magic. Lasts 1 hour if protected in advance or allows a new save on existing spell effect at double bonus. Subjects must be touched.
Repel Witchcraft & SorceryCan turn demons, devils, magically summoned creatures, and evil spellcasters like a cleric turns undead.
Thwart Magic: Can detect magic like the spell 1/day per 5 levels (1-5/x1, 6-10/x2, etc.), and can dispel magic or remove curse like the spells 1/day starting at 5th level (2/day at 10th level and higher).
Tracking: Can track like a ranger of equal class level.

Edit 1 (Oct 25, 2019): Changed the Harness Magic ability to be useable from 1st level, but with scaling chances of failure based on spell level vs class level.
Edit 2 (Nov 8, 2019): MAJOR REVISION. Added WIS 9 requirement. Reduced hp to +1/level after 9th. Updated Hunter of Evil to note equal class level. Updated Limited Possessions to note specifics of donations. Updated Repel Witchcraft & Sorcery to remove 2 levels lower than cleric stipulation. Removed Harness Magic ability completely to better reflect "opposed to magic" vibe. Removed Detect Magic & Dispel Magic abilities and replaced with Thwart Magic. Added Tracking ability.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hog Town Games Birthday Sale!

It's my Birthday so I'm having a sale on Hog Town Games' titles!

Until Labour Day, Dice Roll Zine #1 and Dice Roll Zine #2 PDFs are 60% off at DriveThruRPG -- only $2! The print on demand version (A5 perfectbound) of Dice Roll Zine #1 is also now available for only $4 (and you can get a free PDF too if you choose the combo!) on DriveThruRPG!

The saddle-stitch, digest-size print version of Dice Roll Zine #2 is now on sale exclusively at Hog Town Games' Big Cartel store for only $4 (+ shipping)!

Get yer old school game on!

Enjoy the rest of the summer folks!

Steve C

Monday, July 29, 2019

Barbarians & Black Magic - A Sword & Sorcery Pamphlet RPG

Hey folks! Today I'm posting the first draft of a swords & sorcery inspired 'Pamphlet RPG' I've created, called Barbarians & Black Magic. This is the nuts and bolts of an RPG all crammed into a double-sided standard letter-sized page and folded into three panels. Download here from the google drives.

Barbarians & Black Magic owes it's mechanical chassis to such fine old RPGs as The Fantasy Trip and GURPS, so it should be easy to grok for anyone familiar with those games. The stats are pretty straightforward and simple and the gameplay (admittedly minimal playtesting so far) is pretty quick.

I'm hoping to get out a companion 'scenario pamphlet' later this summer which will provide examples of spells, magic items, traps, monsters, and other such things to help make the game feel more 'complete.' So look for that in late August!

Ultimately, the goal here is to write a digest-sized version of Barbarians & Black Magic RPG in the 32 page range that is an xd6-based, roll-under game engine, with some different and hopefully colorful combat and magic mechanics, but is not just yet another Dungeons & Dragons retro-clone type RPG.

This is what I got so far. Cheers!


P.S. Thanks to William McCausland for his great collections of fantasy spot art available at Check out Outland Arts for more art & RPG goodies!

P.P.S. If any person knows (or can figure out!) where I cribbed the name Barbarians & Black Magic from, I will send you a free print & PDF copy of Dice Roll Zine #2, my zine devoted to OSR roleplaying games. This mini-contest is open to anyone, worldwide. Leave a comment below with your answer. Good luck!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dice Roll Zine #1 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Hi folks! Exciting news here at Hog Town Games and The Borderlands Blog. Dice Roll Zine #1 is NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT on and Barnes & Noble's websites, in addition to Lulu.

If you're in Canada, you can find DRZ #1 at or Lulu's Canadian store.

I only have a few print copies remaining in my possession, so it's coming off the Hog Town Games' Big Cartel storefront. I'll keep these copies for promos and giveaways and whatnot. Of course, you can still get the current Dice Roll Zine #2 in print from the Big Cartel storefront.

Thanks for reading!

Steve C

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dice Roll Zine #2 in Print & PDF!

Dice Roll Zine #2

Dice Roll Zine. Get yer old-school game on!

Dice Roll Zine is a 40-page, saddle-stitched, digest-sized print zine for old-school RPGs written by Steven A. Cook and illustrated by some of the best retro-inspired artists.

Visit the Hog Town Games Big Cartel store here to order a print copy. $7 USD + shipping. Ships worldwide. And to Mars. OK maybe not Mars, but I would if I could!

UPDATE! Now available for $4 USD on DriveThruRPG in PDF format here!

The second issue includes a Sorcerer class for Swords & Wizardry Complete games; 'Roll all the Dice' tables for generating fungi, plants & freaky stuff; The City-State of Kreth, a weird-fantasy city overview with history, factions, unique gear, rumors, adventure seeds, thumbnail descriptions and encounter tables for nine city districts, and more; new spells and magic items for an 'oldhammer' fantasy role-playing game; and various other cool rules options and odd things for your old-school games.

Please Note: Print buyers also get a PDF copy for free. Details are included with your print zine.

Thanks for reading! Steve C

Monday, November 19, 2018

How to Resolve Anything That Comes Up!

This blog post was prompted by +Michael Bacon's G+ post over here. This is a one-page article from my first issue of Dice Roll Zine (PDF at RPG Now or POD from Lulu) published in the fall of 2017. I hope you folks find it useful ... and at least a little bit funny. :-)


What Else are Those Damn Ability Scores for Anyway?

In a tense game session, players sometimes forget that NPCs and monsters can be bargained with, not just slain. NPCs have bills, taxes, bad habits, and exes, too. Hired guards might flee suddenly when one of their own is used as Old One bait. Go figure. Your enemies may pay your torchbearer to stick his torch up your ass. When did Oddwick accidentally sell the mahogany chest (or was it the one with gold-pressed black iron locks?) with Blackrazor and the Eyes of the Overworld in it? Why is that weird jade monkey statue looking only at you? Is that giant slug with the bloody spiked tail going to offer you tea and directions or thump you? Did that tavern owner's potboy leave you fidgeting with an itch? Scratch scratch.
When stuff like this happens, either you or the Referee rolls 2d6 and adjusts the sum of the dice by one of your PC's ability score modifiers, whichever one seems right for the situation. Then check the result on the Resolve It! table below.

2 or less
Catastrophically bad. It attacks, hurts, steals, hates, maims, attempts to eat, uses its worst, or otherwise fucks you up. Seriously. No chance of fixing. Hope you got a sharp sword or some hot spells of fiery doom.
3 to 5
Hostile or very bad. You're attacked or otherwise thwarted, hindered, harmed, or cleverly made to look like a chump. Too bad for you. If you want to recover, get creative or make some damn good rolls. Maybe get the Referee a beer.
6 to 8
Cautious or uncertain. Make another offer cheapskate, think outside the box, keep the negotiations going, play to your strengths, etc. Roll again if the Referee feels generous. Referee, you had a beer lately?
9 to 11
Friendly or good. Things go your way, your offer is accepted, or the NPC is willing to comply/discuss/help you out. Otherwise, the NPC thinks you rock on toast and quite possibly even likes your sexy smell and smarts. Or thinks you might taste good later, if hungry. Good going!
12 or more
Enthusiastic or extremely good. The monster or NPC goes far beyond your expectations to provide assistance or information. Perhaps you glean arcane or divine insight about something, real or imagined. Can you translate ancient hieroglyphs into six modern languages without a reference? Easy peasy, step aside lads, watch the professional work!

This table means to quickly resolve any minor issues and avoid messing about with obscure situational rules you never recall and probably have to look up during play. In fact, this table may spell the end of rules subsystems as we know them. Forever. Okay, perhaps not. Obviously, this table shouldn’t be taken too seriously—it’s also meant to inspire a ‘Rulings not Rules’ play style. This is only a game, after all. If you decide that a ruling is valuable to your game play, stick with it consistently in the future. No doubt, you do this already. Carry on with the fun!