Friday 17 July 2020

[OSR Sci-Fi Horror] Sample Art

Quick and dirty Art

You might remember that I teased a new OSR project, last week.
The design crew (that's me and a friend) has decided to go for a very OSRish approach, not only concerning the rules, but also the Art which will be included in our next RPG.

I wanted to present you some of the Art I've developped for that game, because i'm kind of very proud of it.

The Setting

The setting will be a planet of horror, settled by a satanic cult who achieved to break some Seals, align the stars, or create an arcane apocalypse (no one really knows, and those who know... don't tell...)


So it's a futuristic setting, with cyberpunk elements (don't think only of chrome, but more of very powerful megacorporations, poluted ecosystems, and galactic misery apart for the top 0,1%), with black magic, and demons. No Angels, no other arcane powers than the dark art.
Yes it will be pretty bleak.
If you think of Doom, right now, yes, that's a major influence (along with Blade Runner, Transhuman SpaceDead Space, and a bunch of others)

The (quick and dirty) Art

I've spent a day developping a method to create Art quickly and used it for the Art you are about to see.
I'll probably make a tutorial out of my method, once the game is out.
The first art took a while, but now I need less than 2 hours for each image (and would take much longer to make it "undirty" - #StillLearning)
You can find those images on ArtStation too, where I also will add newer art pieces, later on (and will not add them into this post)

The firedemon


Wreaking mayhem and playing fire in a plaza? Yes, that's a typical fire demon

The Chainsaw-Massacre-Demon

This is probably gonna be our Cover. This is the first art piece I created.
What noise could have troubles this Demon? I'll wait for your answers in the commentaries

The quick and agile Demon

Most of the life on the planet is settled deep under the earth. These swift jumpers are rarely seen not in packs, and are a bane for travellers.

Demonic Infighting

Demons would not be demons if they were not bickering under themselves. It's always a good thing for the colonist when they steer their anger at each others...

The Patrolling Cyborg

Cyborgs are human brains implanted in a robotic body. There is no reason for anxiety, they are mentally stable and not prone to PTSD or loss of humanity. Never. Not at all. Remember these are the good guys.
And good guys go to bars, don't they?

The sad Cyborg

Why is he sad? He's working in one of the few places over the surface of the planet, at the equator.
Well why do you think he's sad?

That's all for today!
As always, comments are welcome (and I normally publish them quickly - no bots allowed here though...)

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Ruleset Review: Microlite 20 fifth - adamantine edition

Review: Microlite 20 fifth - adamantine edition 

Lately, i've been working on translating, editing, layouting and co-creating an OSR game. Its pitch is "The "Ravenium Rush" brings hundreds of new settlers on the "Satanic Planet", but only a few will survive the horror, the demons, and the corporate greed..."
With my creation mate (he created the setting), we decided we wanted an OSR system.
I had my eyes set on EXTINCTION, which is an really really good hack of the Black Hack for Space-Horror like Alien (the movie), with a touch of other Sci-Fi influences (blade runner, for example).
We could have tried to make a module for  EXTINCTION, but we wanted our system to be under the hood.

I've then looked around at other influences, because I felt that I would only want to copy EXTINCTION and add here and there some bits and odds, if we were to go "the Black Hack way".
So I needed some other basis to have my mind crunch on.
I decided to look at 5E clones/simplifications and so on, because I really like the 5th Edition and its elegant mechanics (and newer people to the hobby were more keen on trying something based on what they know).

1.) What is it?

"Microlite 20 fifth - adamantine edition" is the latest incarnation of the microlite series of D&D simplifications. Microlite has a good reputation, this version is 17 pages long (including a character sheet and the "OGL licence" for the 5E)

2.) When did I hear about it for the 1st time?

On the RPG forums and discord I delve, Microlite is often cited as a reference for D&D simplifications (there's a microlite 74, one on D&D3, another on D&D4, and this one simplifying D&D5 [There are more than just those])

3.) What did I expect?

I expected somthing easy and streamlined vaguely related to the 5th Edition. For Vanilla Fantasy.

4.) What did I find?

A stremlined and simplified version of the Basic Rules of 5E. Which means it's open source content, for the vast majority. 
It keeps the 5E feel and its iconic mechanics (advantages, Bounded accuracy) but refines it to its most simple core:
You now have only 3 Attributes and 4 skills, along with 4 classes. Still it is very well designed and written, making the core shine like a 100 GP pearl (yeah, identify is important).
It allows itself the luxury to add monster creation rules that generates 1-line-stat-blocs, encounter building guidelines, and an appendice to introduce more classes.
I really liked the quick and simple ruleset.
It's not as deadly as an OSR, but you could apply some rules from 5E-HARDCORE-MODE from Runehammer to spice up / OSR up the game experience.

5.) Will I use it ?

I need to convert my co-autor to base our game on this, but I'm really tempted to create a game based on this motor. I would make it less simple in the end, but I hope it would be an upgrade on the basis, not an over-complexification.
If he's not up for it, maybe I'll build a game around it for this blog. Or rebuild around this ruleset my SciFi project "Stellar Fiefdoms"

6.) Would I recommend buying it?

Well, since it's free, you should definietly grab a pdf. Then print it as a pamphlet at work (it's 16 pages, once you remove the page 16 where the licence is), read it in the train back home and play with your hastily got together friends and neighbourgs.
Maybe also print a one-page-dungeon?

Some of the links included in this article are affiliate-links.
One day, I will have a few dollars credit on Drivethru and I'll re-buy an item on Pay What You Want (PWYW) I found very useful there. So somehow this is supporting indie creation, right?

Any of you played with Microlite 20 fifth?
What is you go-to 5E related system?
Do you jerry-rig your 5E?

[OSR SciFi horror] New project teaser

What's going on with the setting of D.R.E.A.D.? 

Well, even if I haven't posted anything for a while, i still continue to develop things, in my head or on paper. To be honest, i've been working on quite a lot of other projects too, cooperations with other autors or illustrators that can't really write but still got to get their ideas on print... 

New projects

Anyway, right now, i'm working on 2 collaborations: 
  • One narrative urban fantasy game with faeries and a big influence of the Tarot. 
  •  The other one is probably more for the public of this blog: It's an OSR space horror game with demons and satanic cults. 
We are in the beginning stages, but the framework of the background already stands. And I made a cover for it, that I can show you here. We've decided to start really talking about the game in September, once everyone is back from holiday, but I wanted to present you with a small teaser...
And as always, they'll be a lot of random tables...

The "Ravenium Rush" brings hundreds of new settlers on the "Satanic Planet", but only a few will survive the horror, the demons, and the corporate greed...

Saturday 4 July 2020

[OSR] Real places to use in RPG [4]: Eternal Flame Falls

[OSR] Real places in RPG [4]: 
Eternal Flame Falls

The Eternal Flame Falls is a small waterfall located in the Shale Creek Preserve in Western New York. The grotto emits natural gas which burns quasi continously.


Fire has always been a dual thing for humans. On one hand, it is what has permitted humanity to settle down and survive, and later develop technology, and on the other hand, humanity has always felt an unhealthy fascination for fire, for it's destructive power and potential to hurt.
It is no wonder that a perpetually burning flame is something dreaded and enthralling at the same time.
Water and fire have always been seen as adversaries in antic cosmologies (and often in fantasy), so a place combining those two elements is particularly bewitching.


Ancient European societies (celts, their contemporaries, and other cultures before them) erected structures along what they believed to be places with arcane power.
This is a concept seldom used in RPG, which I find is a shame, since it has a lot of potential.
Birthright uses them as magical power sources and they are an arcane incarnation of the raw magical power of nature and "the land" (which blooded character are attuned to). The more civilized a region gets, the weaker these magical places would get.
Another way to see these leylines is to bind them to an element: Ancient forests would create "wood/nature" leylines, mountains have stone leylines, rivers, lakes and oceans support water leylines, volcanoes contribute to leylines of fire.
Magician would need to tap into these sources of power either to power up rituals or recharge their arcane reserves (with mana, or elemental magic "atoms", to use later on)
What happens when two leylines cross each other? Well, I think the eternal flame falls is the best example of what I would picture for the crossing of a small fire leyline and an equally small water leyline.

Usage in a RPG quest

  • Alchemy:
Using the water and the flame could have interesting alchemical proprieties, for example for a water breathing potion that would also protect from heat, or anything related to steam or steam machines.
  • Enchantment:
Elementally enchanting a blade with the power of fire and water could be difficult, unless you are in an arcane locus saturated with magical energy from both elements.
  • Rejuvenation:
An eternally burning flame is certainly a symbol of infinite youth... Who knows if drinking the water from the fall heated on the flame would not lend you some part of that immortality?
  • Cure:
Thermal sources are renown to these days for their healing capabilities... What kind of ailings do you think this source would be able to heal? Burns, maybe, but what else?
  • Untapped power source:
In Birthright, the power sources are all controlled by someone. It is possible to create new sources, though... In a session, I would expect from the player wanting to create a new magical source which he or she strives to control to describe me a fantastical place like this one.
  • Doorway to another plane:
Planes of existence are suppose to spill through at places where they are near each other or in contact (like in Sharn in the setting of Eberron). This small grotto could be a doorway to the elemental plane of fire (or just believed to be, or an indication that a portal to the other plane would be easier to open there)

Do you see other usages for this place in a rpg game? What would the place mean to a nature defending Werewolf? What kind of creature would protect this place?
Develop that in the comments !

Wednesday 1 July 2020

[OSR] Real places to use in RPG [3]: Harihar Fort

 [OSR] Real places in RPG [3]: Harihar Fort

This seemingly inaccessible Fort is in the Nashik district, Maharashtra. western India.
Its purpose was to look upon the trade route through Gonda Ghat.

Unreachable places

Fantasy stories often feature a quest for a mentor/professor type of person. Those are evidently the secluded type (how else would there be an adventure?), searching for peace and quiet... At the top of a montain.
Even if this photo shows a stair carved in stone to a fortification, it really opens your mind to the possibilities of hardship you could find along your path to get to your ermite source of knowledge

They normally won't get down into the civilization, so why have an easy route to come to visit? They WANT to be left alone, anyway...

Untakeable Fortress

This kind of fortress was not a defensive fort, more of an observation point and deliver intelligence on anyone taking the road down in the valley.
Sure, as a last time mesure, a sovereign could barricade himself up there, and could probably not be easily dislodged from there.
Not even a trebuchet could throw stones at this remote area. A frontal attack by foot soldier would also be doomed to die under the stones, arrows and bolds of the defenders.
A siege could also take a very long time, and the resources to invest into the siege would be tremendous (manpower must be paid, but also food, etc.)
Spells like Goodberries or Create Food and Water make the outcome of a siege even more difficult if divine or mundane spellcasters are in the ranks of the defenders

Aerial attack

Attacking from above would be an option... Griffin-mounted knights? Low tech goblin air ballons? Floating disk? Wind-elemental-powered skyships? Yes, fantasy gives you options. Don't think the defenders would not think of such possibilities in planning their defenses (unless the technique is a novelty)?


Spells like Dimension door, Teleport, or Gate could bring you within the fortress walls... Sure, it's not easy or the war won just because you got there, but these spells do take away a good portion of the usefulness of such fortification. Unless they are protected by runes, enchantments, glyphs or the like. Which again is a big cost added to the construction and upkeep of the place (try to send one of those cushy spellcasters to walk to the top of that montain, taking stairs)... They will even complain the lack of teleportation circle, which is a security mesure!

Other reasons to want to get up there

As I wrote in a previous post, this series of post is based on a collaborative "show me your rpg places"-Group on facebook.
Other people there had good ideas, too...
  • What about the moss? Could it be that this moss is a particularly rare and hallucinogenic sort?
  • Could this stair lead to a doorway to another plane?
  • Who else could you want to meet there? An orders of seers with peculiar knowledge about current events? A martial Art master tired of war and rivalry? 
  • Is there a magic source in that fort? With rejuvenative proprieties? Or just plain cure against the magical plague slowly decimating your village?
  • Is the sword of the Emperor of the 5 Kingdoms set in a stone up there? (that would diminish the amount of candidates...)
  • Is the Philactery of Lich hidden there?
  • Is it not the best place for a dark cult to practice their unholy rituals ?(humans to sacrifice might get scarce, though)

And remember: reaching the top and surviving whatever ordeal is waiting for you does not mean you'll survive the descent back to civilization...

If you have another idea about what could be done, write it in the comment (in here is better, everyone can then read it)