Back in ’78

…Motorhead toured England, but more importantly for me White Dwarf No. 9 was published. This issue of a “new” bi-annual British tabletop game magazine included (as far as I can tell) the first ever dungeon published in a periodical: The Lichway by Albie Fiore. The Dragon magazine would follow suit a few months later in the a US. However, that dungeon offering would pale in comparisons to the White Dwarf material.

Fiore’s Lichway is a remarkable piece of work: multiple factions in a strange environment, well scaled for low level play, while offering useful awards, and a challenging puzzle. More importantly this a is an excellent example of how the game was played in earliest days. I knew that when I first glanced at the hand drawn map I had to run this this dungeon and share it with as many people as possible.

To that end I spun up a roll20 session: importing the map, laying out the dynamic lighting, sketching in a few key details for the rooms, adding monster tokens, and preparing both DM & PC handouts. For about a month a group of old school enthusiasts have on a near weekly basis to plunge the depths of the lichway. As the DM I have greatly enjoyed the process of studying the dungeon and considering the best way to present it to my players.

The bigger challenge has been how to share this with a broader audience. 1) the roll20 marketplace is a bit complex to setup and doesn’t fit with my personal model of “free” content. 2) could invite other DMs to use my existing roll20, but that could restrict the number of games and could result in unintended changes to the roll20 module. 3) publish an asset pack that would allow other DMs to setup their own lichway session, you can get that asset pack here.

What’s included:

  • a player map, with the room numbers removed
  • PC handouts for a boat, inscription, and demon
  • DM handouts covering an introduction, wandering monster table, a monster index, and an NPC index
  • a collection of VTT tokens to support online play, these sourced from game-icons.net

What’s not included – the dungeon key from White Dwarf No. 9. Hopefully that shouldn’t prove too difficult to locate on the internet.

Some notes about running the dungeon:

  • the interior of the dungeon does not include grid marks, which may be confusing for some players
  • the hand drawn nature of the grid makes alignment within roll20 challenging, I would suggest close enough is good enough
  • use tokens on the GM layer to indicate areas with strong or weak dronesong
  • the wandering monster table is my own creation, as the original key calls only for wandering monsters outside the the temple
  • the key itself is leaves plenty of room for DM interpretation & improv moments – go for it!

I’ll ask some of my players to leave their thoughts on the lichway here. I’d also be interested to hear your own group’s experience in playing this classic.

January 2021 Update

Have just finished laying out Albie Fiore’s “The Lichway” in Dungeon Scrawl. Dungeon Scrawl is an excellent online map making tool. Features include infinite canvas, infinite layers, and tools designed for dungeon mapping. Circles & arches are a bit tough but a creative approach can yield some useful result.

Zip package linked above provides a new player map suitable for use in your favorite Virtual Tabletop.

Many of the art assets here are sourced from https://2minutetabletop.com/, not affiliated w/ this blog…

Rasping Sand

A low tide – Carmel, California. The visuals I associate with the Rasp of Sand setting.

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).

Adventure!

Unknown landscape & forgotten Prisma filter

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.

Print run for DunDraCon 2019 – end of an era…

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!

You can download a copy of this pamphlet here.