Cover Art for Chthonic Codex (or at least probably, I’m confused)

Cover art is required to be awesome but sometimes it’s so awesome it’s annoying as you’d like to use it again and again but since it’s tied to a particular product you really can’t use it more than once or else people get confused. Unless you want to confuse potential buyers, just don’t.

Why opening with such a confusing paragraph?

Because I’m confused.

Because I acquired “Creation of a Better Human” by Claire Maclean, pictured below. And I love it to bits. I worked with Claire already for AFG, where she did a darn good job with idols and characters.


And I want CoaBH to be a cover for a book on wizards that might never be completed. Said book (let’s call it Project G) might or might not end up being merged with the Chthonic Codex as they are really close in spirit and setting, if not in at-the-table-target-user: the Codex  is aimed at GMs, while Project P at people that want spellcasters to be awesome-r.

But the Codex is an in-game book as well, mostly written in-character by the Grand Sorcerer of the Fire Valley Deleterios XIII for the benefit of other Savants of the Fire Valley and he was exactly the kind of person that would write and collate an omnibus version of Fire Valley related arcana.

So, there you go. I decided. Project G will fold in the Chthonic Codex.

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Adventure Fantasy Game: SOLD OUT! and another AFG-R7 illustration

Adventure Fantasy Game is sold out. Gone. I thought it would take me a couple of years to sell the first print run, but it took six months. I might have one or two copies in a pristine state kicking about, but I’m not sure.

If you are interested in a copy email me and I’ll let you know If I can find one. Obviously the PDF is still available, and it’s possible to preorder the new release from the website.

The good news is that AFG-R7 (AFG seventh revision) needs only a little bit of layout TLC before shipping. R7 will be laid out on a handier A5 instead of A4, with new illustrations made by Chris Stanley, the illustrator of the upcoming Chthonic Codex. Like the one below, gracing the new MOSTROTRON pages.


The page count is now at 108 pages instead of 64, due to the smaller page size and the much improved layout.  Except for corrections content is going to be essentially the same, with a few additions like the Way of the Arts, improved Starting Equipment tables and potentially more. Potentially because I don’t want AFG to become a Big Game: I’d rather keep it sleek and relegate additional content to this blog and other books.

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Free PDF: Burgs & Bailiffs!

Edit: collaborate to the second issue!

Edit: new alternate cover!

Edit: Burgs & Bailiffs is available on Lulu for 1.95£!

Like the taxman, famine, war, or the Black Death, good things come to those that can wait.

Grim up your medieval RPG!

Bring the worst of the Middle Ages to your Game!

Abuse these Player Characters!

Burgs & Bailiffs is a collaborative project aiming to help you, discerning GM, make your Medieval Fantasy grimmer and more medieval. Warfare, Law, Medicine, Food, Cities from a more verosimile perspective.


Alternate Cover


Get Burgs & Bailiffs and unleash it on your PCs!

100% not peer reviewed!

Download text, coveralternate cover, or a single handy archive.

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RPG shelf, part 2

Follows part 1 here.

As I went to the basement I also took pictures of some boardgames, mostly because they occupy the same space.

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Next to a tentacle-rapey box of Windows NT I must have obtained through an old client, some good boardgames. The two boxed still in their (opened) wrapping are Ogre Deluxe and GEV Deluxe. I love them to bits.

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Yeah, boardgames.

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Euro and USian boardgames pacifically coexhiston the same shelf here.

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Then I noticed that a bunch of my games was mixed with related stuff, so I went for some context. Stuff on design, writing, game design and game writing. And hintbooks for games. Why are Might & MAgic Collection, Iron Heroes, Magic Item Compendium and Type 4 there? Because in their own way they are brilliantly designed for a given audience and objective. MM4 rocks, by the way. Why is Keep on the Shadowfell there? Because it’s the worst designed piece of shit I’ve ever read. Everybody at the table gave up less than halfway through because of the sheer disgust. I wish I was kidding.
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More game/design stuff, over politics and some spillover from the warfare shelf. They inform my campaign settings.

On the left, a corner of my Perl shelf, not pictured as full of books fully unrelated with gaming.

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A bunch of d20 stuff. I ran Arcana Evolved/Unearthed for years in a setting that became the Western League and a d20 Greyhawk campaign for 9 years, its end described at point 16 here. I stopped playing it because some of may players made it about playing against the game system to optimize builds rather than playing, you know, adventurers.

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I love boxed sets. Two copies of Tales of the Lance because a dude never returned mine at a convention, and then vanished.

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A bunch of Kaos and Rune (Italian RPG magazines from the ’90s), some 1st Edition handbooks, PDF printouts and a bunch of Mythus and Lejendary Adventures material.

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Non WotC d20, Martelli da guerra (Italian WHFRP, 1st edition), MERP, a bunch fo stuff you can read from the picture and, on the far right, early Das Schwarze Auge and Kata Kumbas.

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Killer, some Miguel Angel Martin comics, Dragon Magazines. I have all copies since 230 and a bunch of the old ones. At the end it got so bad I’m glad it died. Some Dungeons too.

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More Kaos, More Dragon.

Ok, I’m done here in Milan. Part 3 will be about the Glasgwegian RPG shelf.

RPG shelf, part 1

Blah pictures blah meme blah RPG shelf blah blah. This is part of what I keep at my parent’s in Milan. Sorry for the crappy pictures.

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OSR stuff in big format. Fight On! issues and Kata Kumbas live there but at the moment they’re scattered around my parent’s. Binders on the right are either printouts of websites or character sheets. The wrapped book by the black box is Quest of the Ancients, an OSR gem. Moldvay was bought in that state of disrepair.

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GURPS. A handful are scattered around my room, else they would fill the space completely. On top it’s GURPS lite and some characters.

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My incomplete Greyhawk collection, novels on the left topped by the tiny AD&D reprints. Adventures on the right, including Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. Sadly I don’t own Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth but I have Realms of Horror. I know, it doesn’t count.

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Miscellaneous A5/digest, cables, postcards, dice, junk, and more OSR stuff in small format.

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Wargames and military history. The Anabasis and Sun Tsu on top, where they ought to be.

On age and time pressure in domain games. Or: the OSR Lurgie Table

Getting old kind of sucks and life’s most annoying way to let you know you’re getting old is to make your body fall apart. Age in D&D traditionally means falling stats. Stats falling with time gives players a sense of urgency, especially during domain play. It’s fine to spend a few years breeding horses, raising kids, researching spells and skill at arms and blogging, except when you’re not happy about time passing.

Every winter after the 1d6+30th each PC follows the following steps:

  1. Roll on the Lurgie table. The stat in the second column drops by one permanently because of the condition in the third column.
  2. Roll a d6:
    1. On a 4 or more, get back to step 1. I know, it sucks, but the alternative to age is an early death.
    2. On a 3 or less, you’re happy with not getting even worse.
  3. Roll two dice:
    1. If the result is equal or over your Physique or Constitution or 12, you get the serious lurgie: roll again on the Lurgie table to find which one. That stat takes 1d6 damage, but you recover 1 point per month. A medic can roll on medicine to halve the damage (round up).
    2. if the result is under your Physique or Constitution, you’ll probably see the next spring unless you starve or the orcs/them foreigners get you.

If at any point any of your stats is 2 or less, you’re bedridden. At 0 you’re DEAD. If your hits get to 0, you’re bedridden, under 0 you’re DEAD.

This is the Lurgie table for AFG.

1d6 stat affected condition
1 physique consumption/stroke
2 craft drink/senility
3 spirit evil eye/nerves
4 take 1 negative additional hit palsy/tremors
5MORE NO LOSS you’re fine!

And this is the Lurgie table for D&D and other OSR games. In these games the stat loss is secure instead of having a 50% chance because it has twice as many stats compared to AFG. There’s no direct hit point loss but a drop in Constitution will lower your HP.

1d6 stat affected condition
1 Strength stroke
2 Intelligence senility
3 Wisdom nerves
4 Dexterity palsy
5 Constitution consumption
6 Charisma evil eye

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Portals: from here to there in no time at all

Travel in the Middle Ages was full of dangers and uncertainty. On the other hand magical portals can make travel much quicker and safer.

Most of the post was written as the players I told you about before started toying with a portal in the Uplands, and I had to come up with destinations. Then I started working on it, then Albert from Underworld Kingdom/World of Ortix joined in, then we decided that maybe, just maybe, there’s enough to be written to fill a small booklet. So there you go, two of the worst procrastinators of the OSR (we are getting better though! Albert is actually finishing a lot of material nowadays and I’m, well, trust me) joined forces to bring you swag. So here you’ll see a really really brief treatment of the topic and a small excerpt of the final content.

Anyway, bridges and fords might be washed away, roads might be blocked by fallen trees or brigands[*], forcing travelers to take long detours. Portals on the other hand warp space and time, pin it on a physical aperture due to sympathetic magic principles while negating the illusion of distance between two places and allowing to step through the stabilized warp. Or something equally silly.

My formative experience with portals was made under Waterdeep in a videogame called Eye of the Beholder, which lets you trample around what might or might not be a much much smaller (and actually completely unrelated) version of of the Undermountain until you die or you slay the titular monster. So, if you see something like this:

You only need to open it with the appropriate key to make it go all crazy like this (please ignore the different stone background):

beholder portal open

And then open (again, different stone background):

beholder portal fully openThen you can have a stroll on these freaky stepping stones on the black abyss with not even a single little star and reach the other side, which can be very close or very very far away. YES, no brigands on the way, took only two hours, the slaughter of a goblin tribe and 2000gp to buy the key off a shady dude in town instead of three weeks on riding across the wilderness under the rain. I told you it would be convenient.

Anyway, there are three important concepts about portals: structure, destination and opening. The book will treat them more extensively, but you can have some small excerpts first.


The structure is how a portal appears. The portals in the pictures above look like number 1 in the table below. Roll 1d6.

  1. a wall with an ornate (gilded, carved etc.) basrelief or friese of a gate or door.
  2. a door. it looks like an ordinary door and works like a door. If properly opened it swings open on the destination.
  3. only a marked location. When opened a flight of stairs opens, leading down.
  4. a huge mouth with humongous fangs. Or maybe it’s a real mouth?
  5. a big stone/wooden/bone/crystal/metal/whatever arc.
  6. a well or pit in the ground, when opened filled with a rainbow mist.


The destination might be somewhere in your campaign 1d1000 miles away. Or 1d1000*1d1000 miles away. Or some other random place. Either decide or roll 1d10 on the table below.

  1. an hidden treasure room. Unfortunately, the magical passage closes after passing through it and probably there’s no other way to exit the room, maybe except some hidden passages or thin walls.
  2. a tower in a city made of brass, surrounded by a sea of flames.
  3. a beach of an island in the Aegean sea. There is a sheep pen close by, vineyards and olive trees. You can see a cave in the cliffside as well, with 1d6 hungry cyclops (LVL 13 giants) living inside.
  4. underwater, 100 yards away from a castle made of red coral, 3d6*10 mer-people lead by the King of the Waves (LVL 4+1d6 multiclass fighter/cleric/mage)
  5. the private quarters of a lich.
  6. the realm of a demon prince
  7. a desolate and forgotten mountain stronghold
  8. a dragon’s lair (there’s 75% chance that a dragon is present, guarding the treasure)
  9. an ancient graveyard or subterranean tomb complex
  10. a dungeon, level 1d10.


To open a portal you need a key. As Planescape and myths teach us, keys can be whatever. It’s usually somehow related to the circumstances of the portal-building. Roll on all the following tables first, then join the dots and feel free to ignore those that don’t fit your game:

the key is… (roll 1d6)

  1. a physical object, touching the portal. 2-in-6 of needing a specific object, for example the sword of the High King. Examples: roll 1d6:
    1. a key
    2. a jewel
    3. a stone
    4. a weapon
    5. water
    6. a stone
  2. something physical, but with metaphysical connections, touching the portal. Examples: roll 1d6:
    1. blood of a sorcerer
    2. blood, sweat and tears of the builder
    3. dragon breath (bottled is fine too)
    4. ectoplasm
    5. mana tar
    6. holy water
  3. an emotion or feeling, truly felt within close distance. Examples: roll 1d6:
    1. anger
    2. lust
    3. hunger
    4. despair
    5. terror
    6. pining
  4. a specific time. Examples: roll 1d6:
    1. twilight
    2. a specific time of the day
    3. when the stars are right (a specific moment of the year, like an equinox, solstice or 4:30AM 12 days before the last day of autumn)
    4. some astronomical alignment or opposition
    5. an eclipse
    6. 1d100 hours/days/weeks/months/years after it opened last time, reroll every time
  5. a sacrifice, right under the portal. Examples: roll 1d6:
    1. a burnt offering of food
    2. an animal slain, blood sprayed on the portal
    3. a weapon blade must be broken
    4. a gem must be shattered
    5. fasting for 1d6 days
    6. mutilation of a small but significant body appendage, roll a d6:
      1. ear
      2. eye
      3. nose
      4. tongue
      5. a finger
      6. any will do, like hair, a wart or nails
  6. an action must be carried out in front of the portal. Roll 1d6:
    1. a specific magic glyph must be traced on the portal
    2. 1d6+1 people must have a specific kind of steamy hot kinky ritual sex around the portal
    3. a specific magical/mystical ritual must be celebrated in front of the portal to open it
    4. the password must be (1d4)
      1. shouted
      2. spoken
      3. sung
      4. traced on the portal
    5. a prayer must be (1d3)
      1. sung
      2. spoken
      3. silently recited
    6. a spell must be cast. Roll 1d6:
      1. a unique spell designed specifically to open this portal
      2. Knock or equivalent
      3. an elemental-based spell cast on the portal, element depending on the “related to” result
      4. any demonic/necromancy spell
      5. any clerical or theurgic spell
      6. any spell but it must be cast directly on portal (like trying to heal it)
  7. an event, happening somewhere relatively close to the portal (a few hundred miles, or in the same part of the continent). Roll 1d6:
    1. the death of the king of the land or something equally pretentious
    2. a cockatrice hatches from a cock’s egg
    3. the last copy of a spell is burnt
    4. the first lightning from a nearby summer storm
    5. a star falls
    6. famine strikes the land
  8. two keys are needed to open the portal, either both keys at the same end or one at each end. Roll twice on this table. Reroll results if for some reason make the portal impossible to open. If rolled more than once, keep on adding keys.
  9. This portal can be used with different keys (2d6). 2-in-6 chance of different keys leading to different locations.
  10. Some part of the portal that is currently missing. It may be a part of the sculpture, a missing gem in the portal’s decoration or something similar. If you want to be fancy and love in-jokes, the key is the keystone of the arch (or equivalent) which at the moment is collapsed on the ground.

and it’s related to… (roll 1d6)

  1. one of the two sides, 50% chance each.  2-in-6: the link is one way only toward the relevant side. 2-in-6: the key can instead open d6-in-6 portals to the same side as well, but always one-way only and always toward the same end. Example: a wooden ring made from the tree that stood where one of the portals stands.
  2. both ends. Example: the portals’ architraves are made from the same stone block, the key is a small leather pouch containing the stone powder created when the architraves were sawn off.
  3. something else. Possibly something off-world that the PC will find, like magnetic cards. Whatever.
  4. well, there are two keys, each one-way only. Roll twice.
  5. and more. nothing specific, actually anything like that will do.

Handbound: Harn Pottage

I’m not familiar with Harn. But all I’ve seen of it is of very high quality.

Anyway, a friend of mine is really into Harn. So I printed and bound Harn Pottage volumes 1, 2 and 3 in a single book, covered them in the Free RPG Day 2012 Harn map…


Coptic stitch, sewn headbands…



And an 8 threads braid wrapping around it instead of a latch, splitting in two for ease of closing.


Possibly the flashiest edition of all Harn Pottages. It’s not perfect but I’m really happy with the result.

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