WORMSKIN #2 now available in PDF

The hour is upon us!

Issue 2 of the world's most popular Dolmenwood zine: Wormskin.

Its 46 dewy-moist pages feature:
  • An introduction to the High Wold, the south-westerly corner of Dolmenwood. 
  • Descriptions of the seven hexes clustered around the village of Lankshorn. 
  • Details of the most signifcant people and places in Lankshorn, including: the Hornstoat's Rest inn, the fairy-blooded bladesmith, the Man of Gold Apothecary, the Church of St Pastery. 
  • Tavern fare generator. 
  • Psychedelic compounds generator, including details on buying, selling, and manufacturing. 
  • Seven new monsters: addercorn thralls, barrowbogeys, bog zombies, longhorn goatmen, shorthorn goatmen, nightworms, witch-owls. 


(PDF only for the moment. The print version should be ready to go next week.)


Star-Teader, the Beta-Gnosis Cluster and the Interplanetary Engine

Been working on some SciFi stuff in the off-hours.

STAR-TREADER is a very streamlined, pseudo-scientific setting book inspired by the (scanty) space opera of H. P. Lovecraft (mostly "In the Walls of Eryx") and the dozen or so interplanetaries of Clark Ashton Smith. Contents include basic procedures for adventure (aka the INTERPLANETARY ENGINE), some sample worlds and their local flora and/or fauna, and a number of space-faring beings.

BETA-GNOSIS CLUSTER is a campaign guide utilizing the Interplanetary Engine. It covers all the major worlds, way stations and anomalies in the Cluster and describes many of the beings that may be encountered there. Here are two of the planetary bodies found in Beta-Gnosis:

Hodge's Planet

A small outpost world, extensively mined and scoured by corporate industrial machines. After its resources were sufficiently exhausted, the planetoid was sold for a mint to an Earthman named Witkin Hodge, who has since dwelt there for at least a thousand Earth years as an eccentric cyborg recluse.

Kurme [kur'm]

Transolar dump-world maintained by xygobotic industrial corporations. ["Dump-worlds" are a widely-utilized means to store solid waste materials, as the practice of jettisoning such stuffs into empty space is actively discouraged by most interplanetary law enforcement agents.] Kurme has the distinction of being a well-known black market in addition to a typical, storm-wracked industrial trashscape.

A black sea, toxic to most organics but well-suited to xygobotic florafauna, rings a partially inhabited sub-continental district situated about the northern pole. There a geodesic Star-Port may be found. Several miles from this smokes a grotto-city called Gulphe. This is where the widely regarded and extralegal black market is located.

Carnivorous xygobot garbage-forms roam much of the planet, feeding on a surprisingly resilient population of quasi-mammalian vermin. Translucent pseudo-lichens flit above the surface of burning swamps and excrement-choked chunnel-systems, teeming in flocks sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands. 

Loose tribes of humanoid scavengers make forays into the Southern Caches, occasionally returning with centuries-old parts and components that enrich Gulphe's expansive market. Archaeo-engineers refurbish defunct industrial mechs, bringing them back from Kurme's robot-hell to serve the organics again. The most common conveyance to be found is a bug-like vehicle called a rewreck that crawls on a set of four or eight hydraulic legs, each terminating in pairs of spring-loaded metal hammer-claws.

Kurme's constant precipitation and electro-magnetic squalls make a close survey of the planet's surface from the air an ill-advised plan at best.

Air-quality varies in inhabited areas from passable to aggressively horrible. Zones of radiation and chemical waste may make passage through certain areas deadly or simply impossible. 


WORMSKIN #1 Available Now in PDF

Wormskin explores the mythic forest called Dolmenwood, a setting for use with B/X campaigns or similar tabletop systems. Each issue will look at various elements of this eldritch realm situated on the leafy verges of Faerie, where austere Drunes rub elbows with weird elf-lords and talking beasts, where witches wander skyclad and armed with sinister magicks to bind the spirits of hapless adventurers. Be wary.

Issue 1 includes:
  • The grimalkin race-class.
  • Four new spells of cat-kind, including the terrifying (?) furball.
  • The moss dwarf race-class.
  • One (1!) new forest-creeping monster: the root-thing.
  • A hearty article on the fungi of Dolmenwood: edible, psychedelic, and poisonous.

(Print version coming in the new year. If you purchase the PDF edition now, we'll send you a discount on the full print/PDF combo when it goes live.)

Buy Now


Revised B/X Monster List

[Not Final]

CULTIST (includes "Acolyte")
HILLMAN (replaces "Neanderthal")
Normal Human
NPC Party

Cat, Great
Herd Animals
Insect Swarm

Ape, White
Beetle, Giant
Cave Locust
Centipede, Giant
Driver Ant
Ferret, Giant
Fish, Giant
Leech, Giant
Lizard, Giant
Octopus, Giant
Robber Fly
Rock Baboon
Scorpion, Giant
Shrew, Giant
Spider, Giant
Squid, Giant
Toad, Giant
Weasel, Giant

BUGBEAR (literally a bug-headed bear)
Devil Swine
Displacer Beast
DOUBLE (replaces "Doppleganger")
Dragon (Red, Green, Black, White, Blue, TIAMAT)
Dwarf (Mountain)
ENT (replaces "Treant")
Giant (ELDER)
GNOLE (replaces "Gnoll")
GORGON (replaces "Medusa")
HOBBIT (replaces "Halfling")
HORSE, FLYING (replaces "Pegasus")
Lizard Man
Owl Bear
REVENANT (INCORPOREAL) (replaces "Spectre", "Wraith" and similar)

Dragon Turtle
Sea Dragon
Sea Serpent
Termite, Water

Carrion Crawler
Gelatinous Cube
Purple Worm

Black Pudding
Blink Dog
Cloying Mist
Dungeon Fruit
Earwig, Greater
Fake Cake
Gray Ooze
Green Slime
Jade Jism
Kitten Strangler
Mocking Turd
Numinous Tree-Shroom
Ochre Jelly
Phase Crystal
Royal Jelly
Saffron Scum
Umbilicus, Giant
Vestigial, Elder
Waxen Floatroot
Xorbidic Slime
Yellow Mold
Zoetic Moss


GORGON | Trollnuts of Unwisdom

The Idea

Trollnuts of Unwisdom is a book-within-a-book that will be a part of GORGON #666 and also available as a separate, arted-up tome. Trollnuts are the opposite of "Pearls of Wisdom" -- they are more often than not designed to mislead adventurers and possibly lure them into traps. The book would contain a variety of rumor tables for different situations. (We leave it up to the referee to decide what degree of truth, if any, these rumors contain.) While the book will be intended for use with any pseudo-medieval campaign setting, I would encourage you all to invent new fictitious kingdoms, realms, townships and hovels willy-nilly, and I'll bake them all into a single campaign map. Cross-referencing other people's inventions as we go is absolutely encouraged.


Ten Lies Concerning the Location of the Sacred Grove

1) It is hidden in a cave beneath the roots of Blacknife, a crooked mountain far to the north-west. Gold flows like honey there, and the local dryads are eager for men's seed. [gg]

2) It lies just beyond the next hill. You will know you have reached the place because it is a copse of cinnamon trees -- their musk fills the air. A lone maiden attends to the shrine -- you will see her light from the road. She will accept a gift. Do not touch her. [gg]

3) It burned down long ago, but seeds from the trees were saved and the forest replanted in a different location. The grove retains the memories of its ancestral home and several trees long to return there. [Matthew Schmeer]

4) Near the scrim of the sea on the southern shore, the grove is hidden within the bowl of a sea cave. The trees need no light to grow but devour fish each night with mouths full of razor-sharp teeth in their roots. A sea god sometimes sleeps beneath their boughs. Do not disturb his rest. [Matthew Schmeer]

5) On an island in a lake of red waters grows a grove of bambaga trees, each tree three times as tall as a hill giant. The grove is protected by a spiderlion which spins webs of acidic silk. The fruit of the bambaga tree heals all sadness. [Matthew Schmeer]

6) Far into the desert, a copse of trees springs from the brackish waters of a dying oasis. Remove the curse and the oasis will recover. The trees will thank you with riches from beneath the sands. [Matthew Schmeer]

7) In a high mountain vale a stand of 7 trees is surrounded by 7 stones, each stone inscribed with 7 runes. If the correct 7 runes are touched in the correct order 7 times, a jeweled bird will alight in a nest on a branch of the 7th tree and lay 7 jeweled eggs. The bird will then depart. If the 7 eggs are kept warm for 7 days, they will hatch. Inside each egg is a seed which, when planted in a protected vale, sprouts an identical grove. [Matthew Schmeer]

8) Within the dark wood is a large clearing; in the middle of the clearing a clump of rowan trees entwine, their branches hopelessly engnarled. No magic works there. Buried beneath the roots of one of the trees is a golden axe. Remove it at your peril. [Matthew Schmeer]

9) The grove is to be found on the Plateau of Frozen Dreams, where the Snow Maiden slumbers. It is foretold that one day a brave soul's kiss shall awaken the sleeping beauty and lift the curse. No one has succeeded so far, and many lovesick souls wander among the timeless trees, sad and unfortunate. [Sándor Gebei]

10) In an underground paradise, created by the archmage Inscrupulous Testamen [sic]. The wizard, seeing how the overland world was unforgiving and intolerant, decided to conjure the elements to build his very own world, a haven for great minds, he thought. Since then, many misunderstood artists and philosophers have fled to his sanctuary, finding peace and harmony under the artificial sun. [Sándor Gebei]



What if the OSR had a quarterly anthology of cool bits from the community in a nice 8x10 softcover phonebook format?

Contributors would give the GORGON permission to reproduce their stuff. While I will happily layout some material for inclusion, the intention would be for YOU to layout your own stuff in 8.5x11 (.5" margins!) with all fonts embedded. This will cut down the time of production considerably and give GORGON a kind of punk look, with no continuity of style from article to article.

GORGON would be sold at-cost as a POD item from Lulu. So about 2,000 coppers (~$20) including shipping and handling.

I will take pains to not include any illustrations or artwork that is not from contributors or in the public domain. There is no shame in GORGON's game.

LINK: Gorgon Quarterly G+ community


1. By submitting your stuff to GORGON, you give us permission to publish it in perpetuity on a not-for-profit basis.

2. In other words, I WON'T MAKE A RED COPPER ON YOUR WORK. GORGON pdfs are free to download, and GORGON print products will be sold strictly at-cost on Lulu.

3. All submissions should be in PDF format. Dimensions 8.5" x 11" (.5 inch margins!)  with all fonts embedded. Greyscale/b&w. REMEMBER: The way you lay it out is the way it's going to look in GORGON. More info on embedding fonts: http://tinyurl.com/k98286f

4. Submit stuff to the GORGON QUARTERLY Google drive here: http://tinyurl.com/pdv7oag

5. Make sure you have the rights to any illustrations you use in your submission. Whether you're an illustrator or an author, you retain the rights to your work, and you can use that work anywhere you like, regardless of its appearance in GORGON. Likewise, you can use work that you previously published elsewhere as long as you have the rights to do so.

6. There are NO LIMITS on the page-counts of your submissions, and NO LIMIT to the number of items you submit. That said, there's no guarantee that everything you submit will appear in GORGON right away or in the same issue. I will try to be flexible to your creative intentions, however.

7. There are no rules governing the TYPES of things you choose to submit. If it's something that would appear in an OSR blog post and it's good enough for the dead tree treatment, then it's allowed. If possible, I will attempt to keep the contents of a single issue loosely related thematically, or organized into a set of loosely related themes.

8. OGL: If you want to include an OGL license with your submission, please make it a separate PDF document that CLEARLY INDICATES what work(s) it addresses. If you have no interest in writing up and including something like this, you'll be covered anyway by a general purpose Creative Commons license that will appear on the last page of each issue.


QUASI-CLONE | Crimson Dragon Slayer RPG

by Venger Satanis

Q: What is it?

A 42-page ruleset available in PDF and print via RPGNow from the guy that gave us Liberation of the Demon Slayer, Revelry in Torth and (my fav of Venger's adventure module-supplement series thus far) Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.

Calling CDS a retro-clone really pushes the (arguable) definition of the term. What we have here is more like a set of stream-lined house rules that borrows some basic ideas from D&D (ability scores! XP levels!) and mashes them up with some non-TSR mechanics like point-based expenditures for spell-casting and dice pools that determine the outcome of actions. A stocked sample-dungeon is included.

The conceit of CDS is the venerable "guys sucked into a video game" set-up, itself a variation on the "guys sucked into a D&D game" set-up popularized by the Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon from the early 80s. This approach flavors most of the options available to characters, who have backgrounds as "real-world" types from 1983 that happened to get sucked in to the eponymous fictitious Commodore 64 game.  All this is familiar territory for fans of Venger's Heavy Metal (as in the magazine) retro-fantasy oeuvre that draws from the deep well of Hollywood/comic book/video game/pre-90s nostalgia that colorizes many OSR endeavors to a greater or lesser degree. Note: There's not much in CDS to offend folks with sensitivity to the luscious T&A scattered throughout Kort'thalis Publishling's other books. I wouldn't have minded, but there it is.

I love the Benito Gallego pieces chosen for the interior art -- skilled homages to John Buscema's Conan work that effectively capture the time period (more or less) that CDS immerses itself in. I think this tack could be taken even further in future editions -- maybe mimic the look of 1983-era video game guide booklets in terms of font and layout? and definitely include 8-bit "screen caps" depicting scenes and monsters. The cover art is killer but also obviously modern -- modern enough to dilute CDS' central conceit a bit.

Overall CDS looks like a good introductory pseudo-clone for folks new to the OSR and old school games in general. Stripped of its flavorings, the ruleset is light enough to be entirely modular like most of the clones to date -- in other words, you can add and take away bits as you see fit with ease and not have to worry about upsetting the works. In order for CDS to compete with more involved rulesets like the immensely popular Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry system families, it will need to grow its content -- but as a lighter alternative it is a solid offering.