In 2019 Dave Cox kickstarted a “Rogue Like” tabletop RPG setting with a heavy sea scape theme. A reverse dungeon crawl where the heroes, in this case familia heirs that are attempting to return an artifact to the lowest level of the dungeon. I feel in love with the setting in my first play as a PC and quickly wanted to share this with the rest of my group.
Challenge for this setting is that just about everything is procedurally generated: rooms, encounters, situations, character traits, equipment, and more. While I love the concept of procedurally generated stuff, it is challenging to use real-time on the tabletop. So I built myself a tool that allows all of this to be generated with the push of a button, which you can find here for your own use. I’ve also created a family & heir character sheet which might be helpful to understand how these two elements go together.
This does not include the artifact grade treasures, loot tables, monster appendix, or spell pearl details. To really play this setting you’ll need the book itself and you’ll be supporting the Indie RPG scene.
Our group has had good fun with A Rasp of Sand, after the 3rd generation they are making their final descent to level 5. Maybe a few of my regular players will chime in here about their experience with this setting.
My only critique is that A Rasp of Sand was designed for play with Knave, which I find to be a bit too light for my tastes in a fantasy rpg. It may be I just don’t understand the finer points of the 7 page rules. I expect that Rasp of Sand could be played with just about any rule set by relying on the heir stat generation and capacity to gain levels while in the dungeon (i.e. +1 to 3 different stats per level).
My return to RPGs in 2012 started w/ Dungeon Crawl Classics, struck out into the OSR frontier, explored three little brown books, revisited “blue box”, and have generally been rambling around the DIY indie scene. All this I’ve done as both a DM & a PC. There have been successes and failures on both sides of the screen.
I recently joined an Old School Essential (OSE) campaign run by Jason Hobbs. Part of the introduction to the campaign was a review of Jason’s house rules, those variants & rulings Jason uses in his game. This reminded of a similar compilation of my own.
I’ve re-organized my own house rules, which I consider a living document. Sharing those here as an example of the concepts that I find interesting or helpful in a game like Dungeons & Dragons.
It was 2000 and something and Too Fat Lardies had broken onto the miniature wargaming scene. They brought with them a simpler approach to the rule mechanics, focusing on degrading morale and leadership qualities, along with a passion for the history before the game.
One of the first sets our group settled on was Dux Britanniarum, a dark ages rule set with an abstracted campaign system. Perfect for our group! But like many things we quickly become distracted by the next shinny thing on the horizon, rinse and repeat.
I’ve been waiting to go back to Dux Britanniarum, perhaps someday I will. Fortunately in those heady days of collecting and painting a new scale I also prepared a quick reference sheet, available here.
Too Fat Lardies’ rulebooks tend to read a bit like historical essays. They meander a bit from subject to subject, key points buried in abstracted sections. Far different from the technical manual approach that I associate with the US tradition.
This quick reference should be helpful when finally returning to Dux Britanniarum.
Last year I was inspired by some one page adventure work going on in one of the OSR fragments. There was much talk about ‘zines, booklets, and pamphlets. One of the best ideas from Cody M. was a single sheet pamphlet folded into thirds, that kind of thing you might find at a county park.
I had been pondering a ‘zine and settled on this 1 page pamphlet format as a focused delivery. My friends Peter & Nils coined this pamphlet an “adventure trail-head”. Perfect! Gather you paper, pencils, and dice – set a course for adventure.
The concept here is to provide a jumping off point for the GM of any table top role-playing game. The setting itself is cribbed from some AD&D 1e adventures notes I compiled in the early 90s – distilled down to a few key ideas, with some loaded questions for the GM or PCs to drive the fiction forward.
One final bit of graphic design shenanigans is a game board for some tavern gambling. A game within a game!
For those not familiar with To the Strongest – it is a British rule set published in 2015 – covering ancient through medieval wargaming. This game is a played on a grid, uses playing cards instead of dice, and very well suited to Table Top Simulator.
I’ve played a bit of To the Strongest on the physical tabletop, struggled with some of the basic concepts, and wrestled with army lists that assume some basic knowledge of the rules. All difficult points when learning a game. Settling into the 1066 tournament with group of seasoned players was a challenge. Falling back on my go to strategy of creating reference materials I refined the quick reference sheet for clarity & made reference materials out of the army lists themselves.
Post script – there are To the Strongest modules in development for Table Top Simulator to cover the Italian Wars & War of the Roses. So if you fancy a game in any of these eras (1066, Italian Wars, WotR) hit me up, I’ll show you the ropes.