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 Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble's websites, in addition to Lulu.

If you're in Canada, you can find DRZ #1 at Amazon.ca 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!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Medieval Demographics Made Easy (PDF)

Hey folks! When preparing your RPG adventures, have you ever wondered:

How many people live in this kingdom?
How many cities, towns and villagers are there?
How many taverns, blacksmiths and magic shops are in this town?

If you don't give a hoot about 'realism,' then you probably just make up some numbers. Which is cool!

However, if you prefer some semblance of historical accuracy, then you've probably heard of S. John Ross' well-regarded Medieval Demographics Made Easy (PDF) document.

MDME has been around forever. Well, almost forever, at least in internet terms. S. John has graciously made it available for everyone to download by tossing it out there into the Wild Wild Web in a swanky new updated PDF. Many of us fans are hosting it on our blogs and websites. You can find it here. I've also placed a permalink over there in the right-hand column. Just scroll down a bit.

Thanks for reading!

Steve C

Friday, July 27, 2018

Dice Roll Zine Ramblecast on Anchor & Everywhere Else

Did you know I started a podcast? Yeah I can't believe it either!

The Dice Roll Zine Ramblecast is hosted on Anchor, the sweet interactive podcast platform, but is also available most other places that hip, cool, and super trendy podcasts are available (ahem). Places like Spotify, iTunes, Castbox, and so on.

If you are interested in the OSR ramblings of an idiot gamer metalhead goofball, please check it out! :D

I have embedded DRZ Ramblecast episode #10 below for your listening pleasure. This here is the main link to my profile page on Anchor where all the DRZ podcasts are listed. It's also over there (*points right) on the side of the page. Or you can search for Dice Roll Zine on your favorite podcast app.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Dice Roll Zine #1 in Print and PDF!

Dice Roll Zine #1 is now available in print and PDF!

Dice Roll Zine is a 36-page old-fashioned zine for OSR RPG games written by me and illustrated by some of the best OSR-influenced artists around.

Contents of the premiere issue include a barbarian class for B/X games, a different way to turn undead in B/X games, a trippy sci-fantasy adventure location called The Purple Mushroom Inn, a chaos mutation die drop table, random dungeon stuff tables, and more!

PRINT: Please look over on the right-hand column to buy the print-on-demand version at Lulu. A5 size, 36 pages, perfect bound. $5.50 USD ($7 CAD).

PDF: The PDF version of the zine is now available at Tabletop Library, DriveThru RPG, and RPGNow. $4 USD. For four measly bucks you get the zine PDF as well as all of the map files (.png format) for the issue: 7 maps!

Zine sample photos below.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

RPG-a-Day 2017 - Catching up and Finishing Ahead of the Month!

Here is my next post, long overdue, for RPG-a-Day 2017!

All the remaining questions in one go, plus the first 5 copied in (from my first post) at the beginning for completeness. :-)

1. What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?
Toon. Because I've had some really fun and crazy games of Toon in the past and I'm feeling like I need an outlet of fun and crazy cartoon hi-jinx right now. :-)

2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?
Mine. My own, My precious... (I'd want to do it a bit differently than any of the past--or current--versions, with "dynamic" words of power spellcasting and invoked auras and legacy-building items and who-knows-what else...)

And as cheesy as it may sound, I'd like to see a really fun, quirky, and intellectually-challenging Harry Potter RPG designed for kids. I think that that kind of feel would fit well with the source material. I would probably do the design as a melange of very basic trad RPG and action/event card-board game.

3. How do you find out about new RPGs?
Word of mouth or select "social media" reviews and commentary. Typically online via G+ gaming circles and occasionally blogs I follow. I don't do Twitter-piddle, Instagroaner, or Facialbook tho.

4. Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?
Pathfinder. Rise of the Runelords campaign. It's kind of funny because as a DM, I'm almost exclusively a grognard old-school game system fellow, but one of my buddies (who alternates as DM with me) wanted to give it a go, so we played... for a while. The crunchy nature of the ruleset combined with playing over the Roll20 platform became a bit too much fiddly and not enough fun, so we have since switched to Swords & Wizardry. :-)

5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?
The Moldvay-Cook Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons boxed sets. Erol Otus. Can't beat them. Hands down.

Second best is probably the 1st edition Call of Cthulhu boxed set. So creepy. I love it.

6.  You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do!
I would run a mini-campaign with a game system I've never GMed before. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea would top the "want to run" list, although that might be a bit influenced by its AD&D roots. Although I favor OD&D- and B/X-based games these days, I still have a strong love for AD&D.

Following AS&SH on the want-to-run-but- never-have list is probably Traveller (original), White Star, Gamma World, and Crypts & Things.

7.  What was your most impactful game session?
My first session, no doubt. It was in the basement of Miltos' house (or mine, I forget that part) and Mark was the DM, and Gary, Mike, Miltos, another Mike, me, and one other person (I forget who...) were playing. It certainly wasn't the most memorable game (although I do remember Mark cackling A LOT!), but without that first Basic Dungeons & Dragons session in 1981 -- me as Merlin the magic-user (how clever!) with his hold portal spell and dagger, and dying in his first fight -- there never would have been all the others over the decades.

8.  What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2 hours or less?
Any RPG can be played in 2 hours or less. However, if I were forced to choose which RPG works best when kept to an under two hour timeframe, I'd say Toon. (That's two for Toon on my RPG-a-Day list!)

9.  What is a good rpg to play for about 10 sessions?
See above. Anything. Except Toon, actually. 10 consecutive sessions of Toon are probably too much for any reasonably sane person.

10.  Where do you go for RPG reviews?
Reviews posted on G+
Reviews from R'lyeh
Ten Foot Pole
And, of course, recommendations made to me personally.

11.  Which dead game would you like to see reborn?
I don't grok the question. Once a game is published, it is forever. There is no "dead" game as long as people are playing it somewhere.

But that's just me being a semantic asshat. I suppose the real question is which currently unsupported game would I like to see supported again with regular supplements by a publisher?

My answer is Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium. I have yet to be able to get my hands on this limited release game from back in the day (2000?) of the final throes of Last Unicorn Games after they were acquired by Wizards of the Coast.

12.  Which RPG has the most inspiring interior artwork?
Same as answer #5. The Moldvay-Cook Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons boxed sets. Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, et. al. I am still inspired to this day by the amazing artwork.

13.  Describe a game experience that changed how you play.
My Dark Sun campaign circa 1992. I ran a game with the regular group, but we all consumed various substances, both legal and illicit ... and we had an awesome session! Totally free-form, combat encounters were brutal and fun, rules were adhered to but almost meaningless, and the roleplaying was sublime. Atmosphere was great with music and player banter, but admittedly everything was a bit confusing and very tangential at times. We sorted it all out though. :-)

It taught me that my improv skills were way better than I ever realized, or imagined they could be.

14.  Which rpg do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
I don't have a preference, but I will say that my longest campaigns have been run using the two editions of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

15.  Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
Like many folks, no doubt, I enjoy adapting every game I play. But the most? Probably Swords & Wizardry White Box. It's just so flexible and easy to modify without upsetting the apple cart, so to speak. Unless, you wanted to upset the apple cart. But you could also easily do that with White Box, if you were so inclined.

16.  Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?
Warhammer Fantasy Role-play. First edition. I have virtually no "mechanical" house rules for this game, other than extra bits and stuff added on.

17.  Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?
Rune. A rotate the GM-type hack-n-slash RPG of viking mayhem written by Robin Laws and based off a video game of the same name. I got it as soon as it came out in 2001 but have yet to play it ... 16 years!

18.  Which RPG have you played the most in your life?
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Hands down.

19.  Which RPG features the best writing?
Two-part answer.
For rules clarity and flexibility? Moldvay-Cook Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons.
For rules clarity and flexibility plus fluffy stuff plus general reading enjoyment? Star Trek RPG (really anything from the three series lines -- TOS, TNG, & DS9) by Last Unicorn Games.

20.   What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?
I mostly use eBay. There are no decent sources like Noble Knight to order from up here in Canada, not that I know of anyway. I sometimes just roll-the-dice at the local game stores and see what they have when I visit.

21.  Which RPG does the most with the least words?
The original Dungeons & Dragons. I mean, seriously, what can beat original D&D for the mostest with the leastest? It started all this RPG shit and spawned two entire entertainment genres -- tabletop RPGs and computer RPGs. That's a lot of most!

Risus the Anything RPG would be my second pick. :-)

22.  Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?
Any TSR-era Dungeons & Dragons game. The rulebooks and modules are really interchangeable.

23.  Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?
One of the most gorgeous books I've seen (but not yet held in my hands) is the Swedish RPG Symbaroum by J√§rnringen. The English print version is available from Modiphius here.

24.  Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more?
There are quite a few, but I will single out James V. West's Black Pudding zine.

25.  What is the best way to thank your GM?
Showing up at their games on time and letting them know you have a lot of fun and appreciate all their hard work. Show you care by being attentive and involved while playing. It really is as simple as that.

Maybe bring them their favorite beer or beverage. Perhaps offer to cook a dish to bring to the game, if you have cooking skills. If you are the gift-giving type, giving a gift card or something you know for certain they like (i.e. game books) is a classy move.

26.  What RPG provides the most useful resources?
Basic Fantasy RPG has an awesome support and downloads page. See here.

27.    What are your essential tools for good gaming?
Good people. A table (or chat room or whatever online). Dice (or dice roller). Imagination.

Seriously. Everything else is details and gravy.

28.  What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?
And now for something completely different...

Monty Python, by far. Second biggest is probably Lord of the Rings.

29.  What has been the best-run RPG kickstarter you have backed?
The Mystery at Port Greely and the 3-pack of AS&SH adventure modules (Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes, Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess, and Beneath the Comet) by Jeff Talanian of North Wind Adventures.

30.  What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?
I don't like mashups.

Unless it's the ultra-chauvinistic-fantasy-titties-n-beer/weed Sabrina the Teenage Witch-Charmed-Call of Cthulhu-Hackmaster RPG mashup I've had simmering on the back burner for years now...

31.  What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?
Me writing more stuff for games. :-)

And tons of better stuff being written by tons of cooler folks than me in the OSR gameverse!