Friday, January 6, 2017

Tales from the Classic Portal Yawning Wide

Tales from the Yawning Portal, is the new book announced recently by WotC promising "seven of the most compelling dungeons from the 40+ year history of Dungeons & Dragons. Some are classics that have hosted an untold number of adventurers, while others are some of the most popular adventures ever printed. For use with the fifth edition Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide, this book provides fans with adventures, magic items and deadly monsters, all of which have been updated to the fifth edition rules."

I can't but help wonder how the Classic Modules Today project launched last February with WotC's permission on the DM's Guild web site contributed to the release of this book? Probably just good timing. At 38 completed conversion guides (and growing) of classic 1e modules released to date at DM's Guild I've definitely seen first hand the thirst for original adventures for those playing with 5e rules. Individual ametuer authors just going for it are a much more nimble crowd and the amount of conversion guides we've been able to release in the last year is proof of that. It will be interesting to see how the cheap conversion guides continue to compete with high dollar, professionally published hardbacks, but more importantly I see gamers are getting more choice. You want to go cheap you can get a PDF of the original module plus a conversion guide instantly. Heck, now you are starting to be able to get POD copies of the original adventures at a modest price. Or if you are really stoked about these adventures you can get a super polished book with original art. 

Combined this treasure trove of adventure content with all the original stuff being released daily by the DIY OSR community (Broodmother, MotBM, Yoon-Suin, DCO to name a few...) 5e D&D looks to become one of the most popular editions of the world's greatest role-playing game ever. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

5e Initial Thoughts

When I ran a 5e session on International Game Day I didn't have any of the 5e books myself. I just ran it cold with some cheat sheets I generated from the free rules pdf. One of the young players had the PH and the MM. I also had my 5e conversion guide for B2 so I was able to run the Keep on the Borderlands for a few hours without any issues. But I also didn't come away from the experience with a feel for 5e. Did I like it? Is this a version of D&D I could enthusiastically play and run? 

For Christmas my girlfriend got me a copy of the 5e Player's Handbook so I've had an opportunity to roll up a PC as well as digest the contents. I like it. I like it a lot. If I was to run a regular face-to-face game this is the edition I would run. I think I would do it with just the PH and the MM for books. 

When I first started writing 5e conversion guides for 1e modules I was thrown off and scowled at the quick level progression listed as well as the high XP for monsters defeated. "What the hell, where is the long slog of treasure acquisition and the folder of dead PC's before one hits 2nd level?" I thought. Let the young breed jump on the 5e bandwagon I'll stick with my B/X retro-clones thank you. But the PH won me over. This looks fun to play. I could even resist modifying the rules here and there and live with Death Saves, the mildness of poison, and all day long cantrips which do 1d10 damage. As a DM I can see where I would have more work to do keeping track of all the NPC's abilities, but they are all essential in making them deadly to PC's. Prepping adventures would have an initial learning curve until I distilled what I needed handy at the table. Forgotten Realms will do for a campaign setting. I would make it mine of course, but I find it time saving to have some underpinnings of the game world to work off of. I'd probably also beat hell over the head of PC's and their retainers with the exhaustion rules just to slow the bastards down. Tieflings, Dragonborn I might draw the line there, but go ahead play a gnomish bard I won't mind.

Roll 3d6, in order. I would make my PC's do that. I have some roots which are buried deep...

Monday, December 19, 2016

X1 The Isle of Dread 5e Conversion Guide has been birthed

I completed Classic Modules Today: X1 The Isle of Dread 5e  and it is now live. What a monster. There is a decent sized list of Notable NPC's and New Monsters which make up the meat of this conversion guide. Not too many Magic Items and Spells needed conversions and the traps were relatively straightforward.

I did add notes on my thoughts on why I've changed the modules level recommendations from 1e, change in Challenge Ratings and XP awards, as well as why a 5e Dungeon Master should consider dialing down the cash value of treasure.

Like all the rest of the conversion guides being produced by fans working this project I sincerely believe use of the guide will relieve hours of prep work and let the DM focus on using these classics for tons o' fun at the table!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

USR Sword & Sorcery Now in Print

Your softcover black and white copy of USR Sword & Sorcery, Rules Lite Roleplaying for Fantastic Pulp Fantasy Adventures is now available for order at RPGNow. This is the first time I have ever printed a book and though small has been super fun to create and offer up to the public. The one thing which shocked me the most (cost wise) was shipping. If there was something I could do about shipping prices I would, but for those turned off by this cash burden there is still the PDF option. The printer's cut was, in my opinion, fairly egregious, but it isn't like I have a print shop in my office so whadda ya going to do? Perhaps there is economy in scale if you create a publication with a super high page count?

Clocking in at 36 pages it sports a "red" cover and includes the introductory adventure Shrine of the Keepers plus a character sheet suitable for photocopying. This new version of my simple roleplaying game has an expanded introductory page on how I see the genre being emulated compared to say epic fantasy. 

The combat section, while by no means lengthy, has been cleaned up for clarity. Bighara had some legitimate critique in his review over at the Zarth Tourist Bureau and I hope these revisions address his points. This includes the magic rules by adding an example of magic for each of the three schools of magic presented. What hasn't been addressed is a bestiary section and a deep magic section. This is because these items are currently being written and will be released as a POD/PDF supplement. Horrors Material & Magic Malignant is looking like a January 2017 release date. It will include a  roster of NPC's, beasts and monsters capable of chewing up your PC's, and of course, many horrible spells and artifacts suitable for S&S gaming!

All in all I think the revision has a far superior layout, has nice fat-sized tables for easy reading and achieves the goal of providing a rules lite rules set which has just enough crunch to enforce the genre. But no rules set truly comes alive without great adventure content to rend, fry, and bleed out the PC's, so I have several adventure which will need to be fully written and made print ready. This will keep me busy well into the summer. There is still the other USR titles which are all in different stages of completion which need to be made ready for public consumption; Anthro USR, Fear & Loathing in Fat City, Broke Down in Bug Town for Western USR, whew. 

Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying and Trollish Delver Games are Copyright Scott Malthouse
Check out all his great game products here! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

X5 Temple of Death 5e Conversion Guide Now Available

I've just uploaded Classic Modules Today: X5 Temple of Death 5e, your latest conversion guide to My next four titles I have reserved for conversion guides are X1 Isle of Dread, EX2 Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, CM1 Test of the Warlords, and M1 Into the Maelstrom. X1 should be completed this month,but don't expect the others to be available until January-April time frame. 

In other conversion notes; I've updated Classic Modules Today: B3 Palace of the Silver Princess 5e with monster statistics for the Decapus. Previous versions recommend using the Octopus stats from the 5e Monster Manual with some modification. Being the signature baddie of the adventure I decided it deserved "Special Monster" status, enjoy!

Here is the link for the Classic Modules Today web site for a complete list of current and upcoming conversion guides being produced.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

International Game Day...

was recognized at my local library, and it is not anything I would have given a second look. Truly it is an event for young kids and not a grizzled old grognard like myself. Cold pumping a session to strangers, kids no less, is not the game experience I'm looking for. But I ran a game of D&D 5e this afternoon nonetheless, with a bunch of kids and it was a great success.

About a month ago a gentleman contacted me through a game forum looking for someone to play D&D with his son. I responded that I was an adult and his son would need to get a game group started with his peers. A few more emails went back and forth between us and that was precisely the issue at hand. His son hadn't been able to get his friends to want to play. I sympathized. I informed good old dad that I had spent some time over the years trying to get a local game group together myself and our mountain town just didn't harbor folks with the interest. Aspen is all about the super athletic, the super rich, and those chasing the super rich. I could only wish his son luck and encouraged the two of them to keep on trying. Once he got his friends to play a session he would have no trouble continuing play.

Then a couple of weeks later I saw the library advertising International Game Day and I new what I needed to do. I got permission to run D&D at the event. I emailed the dad and said I would be running a game at this public event for kids and we should have a go of it. The hopes were, of course, whatever local kids joined in would be the kernel of a game group the kids would continue on their own.

Well the young tike padded the playing field and he got four of his friends to come along. This new player was going to make a fine DM, I thought. He has gone to great lengths to pursue his ambitions. I was also immensely pleased to see a girl was part of the group. He had a Monk, the rest of the group I handed out pregens. I brought B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. It worked for me when I was eleven. Why mess with success? I had my B2 conversion guide for 5e and there was a 5e Player's Handbook and Monster Manual available so I had all the tools I needed to drive this candy caffeinated train down the tracks for the next three hours. They went into the forest, they went into the swamp. Eventually they pushed forward on the main plot hook which brought them to the Caves of Chaos. Death saves were made, critical hits were scored, the shouting and disorganization mushroomed. It was awesome.

*Bonus points for Jay; near the end of the session a couple showed up. They have been living in the area for a year and had not found anyone who games. They were desperate enough for some D&D they had to take a chance, so I made some new contacts!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Another USR Sword & Sorcery Review

Bighara over at Zarth Tourist Bureau has given a very accurate review of my USR Sword & Sorcery game as well as the additional introductory adventure module Shrine of the Keepers.

The system is definitely begging for a magic and monsters supplement so I will have to reread all my Conan novels and start writing as if the hounds of hell were on my heels!