Sunday, September 14, 2014

[review] The Ruined Abbey of Saint Tabitha

You are all likely aware of my love of lite game systems and Pits & Perils is one of my more recent finds, so when I found out Olde House Rules had dropped this on RPGNow I could not wait to read it. As a side note, I was provided a copy by the publisher.

First, I am completely in love with the design aesthetic James & Robyn George use for their products. This booklet looks like you could have bought it 30 years ago at a garage sale: old typewriter font, simple formatting and layout, and all black and white art. It may simply be nostalgia but I WANT to read this in a terribly bad way. So I printed out a copy to read by the pool with a cup of joe.

One thing I noticed immediately upon printing this out to read was the subtitle on the cover - "An Adventure Setting" and this truly is more than a simple adventure. While the booklet does have an adventure of a ruined abbey at its focal point, this booklet goes to great depth to present the lay of the land and really does provide a starting point for an entire campaign setting.

The Ruined Abbey
The first half of the booklet details the ruined abbey, providing two maps with twenty-eight locations for exploration and pillaging. All the rooms are fleshed out adequately with enough details for GMs to provide an engaging encounter and adventure

Here I would like to take a moment to discuss something I find unique about the booklet. Each encounter area is described as seen in the picture below. A quick paragraph the GM should have knowledge of, but not the dreaded "Boxed Text" unpopular by many. These paragraphs provide a basic overview of the location the GM can use to describe and 'operate' within the room. Traps and basic layout are discussed here. There is also a block of lines for additional notes the GM might make. I find this interesting and likely very useful for GMs as they read through this in preparation to run the adventure. I found myself coming up with ideas on the room and wanting to drop quick notes to myself here.
You may notice that creatures, treasures and the like seem to be missing here and you would be correct, these are listed out later in the book:
I find this an interesting method for describing the abbey. At first read I liked it, a good deal in fact. I was able to read through the abbey and get a solid feel of the layout, the former and current uses for the rooms. I felt I had a good mental picture of the ruins and could run a group through the place. Then I got to the "Matrix" as it is called and that all changed. I found the two locations of text, pretty far from each other, to be a tad annoying as I flipped back and forth.

This could just be me as I like to read the room description and then look at the map. I tend to use my visual senses to to piece information to tie text to image in my mind (I know this from my military training and reading mission orders and maps). So I found myself having  to flip from the description text, to the map, then to the matrix to get a clear picture of what the room is like. This is not terrible, but certainly a design choice that I would think twice before using myself. I certainly DO LIKE the empty area for GMs to write notes, this is brilliant and something I may incorporate into my own publishing material.

Overall, the Abbey is nice but man I think it will be deadly. The details laid out in the Matrix are pretty tough, and numerous enough that it will take a pretty good, and smart, group to make it through the place alive.

The 'Setting' Part of the Adventure Setting
The second part of the book is a combination of a setting, the Matrix and a local lore section, adding up to approximately half the book.

The setting is great, this part of the book truly shines. Normally some adventures have a page or so about the area around the dungeon but this is about ten pages and details the locations, the religions a good section on the important NPCs in the town. This section is simply stupendous. It follows the same format as the Abbey section: a short paragraph with details on a location or place and a section for notes form the GM.
This may seem trivial to some but I can clearly see it being used and being very useful during the game. Perhaps the GM drops in the name or detail not in the booklet when his players visit the chapel, he can write it directly there. Most GMs I know keep a notebook for notes they take during the game, I myself have horrible memory and run the game by the seat of my pants, so having a spot right there in the book for me to take notes? Brilliant!

Below is the only map you are going to see of the town. I love it. Has the feel of the rest of the artwork in the book and certainly evokes the feel that this book is going for. You know I love maps but this one is perfect. I think it fits in with some of the Carcosa-ish maps you see floating around as well.

After reading this book I really feel the setting portion of the book is a winner. The adventure is good as well but I felt this part of the book really shined. It hits just the right level of details, provides enough interesting facts for a GM without becoming some massive historical guide for a fantasy world. I particularly love the historically sound bits about a newer religion absorbing and slightly changing the pagan religion it replaced to help it gain acceptance.

Final thoughts
I really like the booklet and think it is a great product. While I am not enamored with the splitting of the treasure/monsters from the description of the rooms (too much flipping) it is not something that would make me not like the product. The layout is perfect, the art is fitting and they have done a great job on writing and editing this booklet. As P&P is simple but still old school, this adventure setting can easily be translated over to another game system. In fact, I am thinking of running for my group which is currently enjoying D&D 5e, the switch over would be a very simple thing to accomplish.

There is nothing outlandish or crazy or off the wall here, so do not go in expecting a homosexual hydra with laser for eyeballs or giant space rocks that cause people to sprout a penis in their forehead. This is an old school, straight laced adventure of heroes vs monsters.

I would recommend this to others, especially those who like Pits & Perils and old school games, but even to those who enjoy other game systems. I would say 4 out of 5 stars.

You can pick up the booklet here: RPGNow & DriveThruRPG.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Patreon Maps

I just dropped my latest map on Patreon, above you can see a sample of the PDF I also uploaded. If you were a patron you would see all five versions of the map right now as well as a downloadable PDF to have handy at your game table.

What are you waiting for?    ;-) 

Patron levels start at just $.25! Sign up today and get all the maps you might need for your games. Patrons also get the opportunity to influence the maps I draw by providing me with ideas. Click here or the image below to visit the Patreon site and sign up today!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Forge

The Forge
This business is ran by a smart young man named Rogthrall, a tall and muscular human with blond hair. Rogthrall is openly friendly to those who visit his establishment but he rarely opens up. Rumors have circulated about his mysterious past and many a watchful young females have their sights on him. So far he has not taken the bait on any of these fair maidens. What little is known of him is that he is an excellent blacksmith that has cultivated quite a good reputation for his skills in the little time he has been in town. He has also proven himself capable with weapons, having to defend himself in a few squabbles with customers who demanded prices lower than he felt acceptable.

Rogthrall moved into town last year and purchased this empty two story building, it is rumored he was previously an adventurer due to the sizable amount of gold he paid. He quickly hired a few locals to make modifications to the building: removing about half the lower level and installing a large forge facing the front of the building and restructuring the upper level to serve as rooms for renting out. Six months later he added a larger forge on the side of building. Locals have noted that he seems to use the old forge in the morning and the newer forge in the afternoon (if asked he will say that is simply a matter of getting a better breeze between the morning and afternoon).

The truth is much more sinister however. Rogthrall is a vampire, though he is nearly perfect at keeping this hidden. The switch in forge use is to keep the sun off of him (it would occasionally shine into the work area in front of the old forge). While the occasional sunbath will not destroy hum, he found it rather annoying. While he is an excellent smith (his previous employment prior to his transformation) he now uses the forges, which are always burning as a method to discard of his victims.

Products available: (roll 2d6 to determine products available)
2-5 Sword, Ax, or halberd of good quality
6    Fine suit of plate mail, human sized
7-9 Sword, fine quality, +1 to hit (non-magical bonus)
10 Ax, fine quality, +1 to hit (non-magical bonus)
11 Hammer, fine quality, +1 to all damage rolls (non-magical bonus)
12 Very fine quality sword, +1 to hit and damage (non-magical bonus)

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Dark Dweller

Playing around today and trying to finish up my Pits & Perils adventure. I thought I would share the particularly nasty creature you will find living in Bloodnut Pass.

Licenses now available for my work

Have you always wanted one of my maps for one of your projects but thought you could not afford them? For a limited time I am offering up just about ANY map that I have posted on this blog for commercial usage for a small fee.

For a limited time, my maps are available for just $25 each.

So for just $25 you can have maps such as the following in your products. Maps are sold as is (client will receive the original image in PNG format via email rather than the Googleified version posted to the blog). Exclusive licenses are available as well, please inquire via email.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[map] The Broken Gnome

The Broken Gnome
Abutus Longbeard is not a gnome but a dwarf, a stout and generally likable dwarf at that. A long retired adventurer who opened an inn with the wealth he had accumulated during his travels, he has a soft spot with the down trodden adventurers. He stands a solid five foot tall and hobbles around on his one good leg and a wooden peg. His hearty laugh echoes through the inn almost every evening. He will gladly trade room and board for a good minstrel who can tell stories through the evening.

The inn is a two-story timber and quarried-stone building, with a pounded tin roof which gives it a distinctive greenish roof. Available accommodations consist of several small rooms upstairs with wooden cots. As an overflow measure the upstairs has an open room with numerous hooks hammered into the wall.  When the inn gets crowded....or Abutus opens his inn to the downtrodden adventurer, he offers hammocks to be hung here. It is not the most comfortable sleeping arrangements, but it is better than the freezing cold and howling winds outside.

A cellar lies beneath the inn, accessible through a trapdoor in the floor of the back store room. The main cellar room is nothing more than cool storage for meats and the like but a secret door leads to a smaller room. This smaller room contains a large horde of treasure left over from Abutus' rather successful adventuring career. He will not take it too well if someone with sticky fingers discovers his hidden treasure and lightens his load.

Common Menu (varies by day and depends on what comes in from the local farms and fisheries)
1. Oat Porridge, Mug of Perry (2 cp)
2. Stewed Asparagus, Mug of Cider (2 cp)
3. Barley Porridge, Mug of Mead (4 cp)
4. Vegetable Stew, Mug of Mead (5 cp)
5. Roasted Chicken and Oat Biscuits, Tankard of Mead (11 cp)
6. Broiled lamb and Almond Bread, Tankard of Beer (13 cp)

edit: As for the name, well, you will have to ask Abutus but it is likely a tale he will not tell as he stares off into memory and his eyes well up.

Variant versions:

And even a version with grids:

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

[map] The Long Hall

The Long Hall
Much has been stated over the decades regarding the dungeon complex known as the Long Hall, but almost none of it is true. Rumors of untold wealth and treasures, the rumors of ghostly specters haunting the barren halls, even the tales of a long vibrant elven society...all are false and very wrong and the truth is even worse.

The long dead, and forgotten, dark elven king Melkor has become a very powerful liche and has surrounded himself with not only his original servants turned into undead slaves, but also the dozens of adventurers and explorers that have been tempted to wander his dark domain. Now, a huge variety of undead servants prowl the Long Hall protecting Melkor and the remains of his lost love, Vellaria.

Variant maps:
(this next one is my favorite version of this map, the muted colors with the white background just appeal to me for whatever reason)

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Friday, August 29, 2014

[map] The Dragan LAC IX

As Light Attack Craft go, the Dragan LAC IX has been a game changer. Small, agile and exceptionally fast (no doubt due to the four Merrin III Sublight cores mounted on stubby wings in an X formation), the Dragan has been a welcome addition to the Alliance fleet.

Crew members report nearly a triple fold kill to damage ratio in sublight dog fighting. The crew must also feel well armed with the two Mead-Miller Ion cannons mounted on extended struts to the front. Field reports say when fired in tandem these cannons can shred the shields of even the largest capital ships in the enemy's arsenal. A large dorsal mounted grapshot launcher provides protection against incoming missiles.

Variant maps:


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

[map] Deep Space Recon Station Algernon IV

Sectors away from Core Space, the UCN has established Deep Space Recon Station Algernon IV. Algernon orbits the large gas giant Talmnak, which provides excellent signal masking and thus far has prevented the station from being detected by hostile forces.

Algernon is a small station, with a medium size bay able to hold two scout ships or one frigate. The facility includes living space for its crew of eight plus two recon teams each of six personnel.

Alternative versions:

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

[map] The Artemis Bunker

Deep in the wasteland, the Federation has established a small facility to help guard the borderlands from incursions by the rebels. Artemis has been used for a multitude of purposes over its lifetime: prison, arms storage, space recon location and most recently as the base of operations for Special Recon Team 7. SRT7 is a quick response team with expertise in dealing with alien scum that attack human space.

A few variations on the map:

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