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.
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!
In my hobby today I use so much tech, it’s like I was born and raised in Silicon Valley or something. Desktop publishing was the boon of the 90s while teetering on the edge of the always connected internet age. Now digital is everywhere, it is everything, it is the tools I use daily – you probably do too.
One of my favorite aspects of RPGs are deeply nested random tables which create a staggering array of combinations while yielding unexpected results. The best of these can take a good deal of dice rolling, note taking, and inspired interpretation. Not really a tool that can be used “in game”, but that all changes when we go digital.
Behold the power of: =index(Lookup!Y3:Y32,match(RANDBETWEEN(1,30),Lookup!$K3:$K32,0))
What is this strange gibberish you say? Simply the logical power of a digital array (spread sheet) that provides instantaneous lookup against random entry (dice rolls) from a given table.
Want to know something special about a city – push a button:
Maybe you need an NPC for that city – push a button:
Or maybe you have favorite tables you’d like to convert to a digital solution, for instant generation from nearly anywhere. Here’s a Google Sheet sample that you can study and build your own thing. Doesn’t make sense? Ping me and I’ll walk you through it, we’ll record a video of that and post it here.
My cousin Christopher taught me how to play D&D, he gave me the context to digest the text. Without that starting point I would have been lost. I imagine that today this is still the case for new comers to the hobby.
Last year (?) in my exploration of the OSR RPGs of today I stumbled on the concept of solo RPGs. This looked like a good way to explore the roots of my hobby without the complexity of organizing a face-to-face game.
Selecting Ruins of the Undercity for my first effort I was surprised to read that I would use whatever core rules I desired to play this game. As I wanted an experience as closely aligned with how the game was original played, I selected the 3 little brown books that started it all.
So I set about drafting a summary of these rules that would allow me to better understand the core mechanics and refer to easily during play. 12 little pages that I should now print on brown paper (which I’m very proud of) you can find them here.
I haven’t yet returned to Ruins of the Undercity, or my exploration of solo RPGs, perhaps one day.