Bundle of Holding OSR+4: boxed set and special goodies

Hey, do you know about the Bundle of Holding +4? The lineup is terrific and I’d totally go to the gig.

screenshot-2016-11-06-at-09-44-36 We are talking about Stuart + Finch + Kaiser + Dyson + One Page Dungeon Collective for less than nine bucks instead of $42.50, which is already terrific and totally rocks.

But there’s more.

The bonus collection is St.Andre, Maliszewski, McGrogan, Kutalik and me. More than 70 dollars worth of games, and all you have to pay is about twenty bucks. Go get it!

I kind of freaked out a little bit when I was told the lineup. It’s a whole lot of directly straight-away playable material, from map packs and one page dungeons to glorious OSR Third Wave campaign settings that will keep you gaming for a long, long while.

Also, as a completely volunteered extra perk, I’m going to make a custom boxed set. The boxed set will be shipped to the highest contributor. This is the kind of box set I make:


It won’t necessarily be a Chthonic Codex box though. Other participant designers approved the production of a box! It will be a  custom, one-off item.

There will be only one. It might be yours.

And, on top, it’s going to have goodies inside. Contents are not finalized, probably print version of the books, maybe handouts, possibly some maps.


If you pay to get the Bonus Collection, submit a 30-words-or-less statement about why you like one (or more) of these titles on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook. We will select the best, and the winner will get goodies too. Use the tag #OSRBundlePlus4

The real keystone for all of this though is the charity we can support together: Doctors Without Borders.


Doctors Without Borders brings healing where there’s none, providing healthcare for war-torn regions and for endemic diseases in countries with insufficient access to public healthcare.

Doctors Without Borders does the good job.

Even if you have all the OSR goodies in this offer, please go to their site and donate to them. They help people that otherwise would have nobody else. Even a few bucks are a bucket of help.

Or, you know, you could just get the Bundle of Holding +4, which combines the donation with some sweet, heavily discounted OSR books.

Chthonic Cartography and a Host of Handouts

I love alliteration. Ok, in the title, strictly speaking, Chthonic and Cartography do not start with the same sound.


The point is that I’m putting together some special content for the boxed sets. Because you awesome people deserve MORE. At the moment the list is not final, but it’s composed of:

  • Pocketmod Character Sheets for AFG and OSR. They’re not final but almost. They will be updated. Download links: AFGOSR
  • An Academy of Apprentices. Twelve pregens. Yes, I decided that Academy is the collective noun for Apprentice. They are statted for AFG but it should not be a problem using them in OSR games if your DM is a bit flexible. Not final yet.
  • Scroll Scraps because sometimes you want an adventure hook and what’s best than picking a bit of paper at random and, without looking at it, hand it over to a player saying “Well, you got lost and, of all places, you ended up in the library. I know, your character is not used to studying, but you found an interesting scrap of scroll nonetheless and you suspect nobody’s going to miss it”. The fragments say things like “there’s an idol of gold in a temple under the Harga volcano”.
  • Chthonic Cartography. I already posted a map, but I thought that adding the map used for the playtest was mo’better. Not that any map of the Hypogea is more or less true than any other (hint: the place does not exist) but I enjoyed a lot this map. Of all the things, you might not want to pass this on to players. But really, it’s also in the box so that you have an example of what can be done with CHTHONOTRON. Click the image to download.



There should be another thing at least, but it’s a bit of a surprise. It might have something to do with goats. Baaaaaaaaaaaa.


A post of good news (Which is good, especially after the last tragic update).

First of all, look at the boxed set (the prototype is in the back):

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And a stack of boxed sets with some sharp’n’fancy Gamescience dice (and small stacks of Codex in the back):

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Boxmaking is going well. I was concerned that the printing process would make the covers weirdly different. The process is manual and incredibly finicky: it involves manually cleaning, inking and removing excess ink with a light rag from the plate for each impression. It means making about 4-5 copies per hour, and throwing away one or two per hour (yeah, I love that). Consistent editioning is hard – and I was concerned it would create weirdly different boxes, but they’re consistent enough. Gluing them by hand is not the easiest thing either.

As I write there are still 5 boxed sets available: due to legal requirements of limited edition prints, I can’t really make more than originally advertised.

In addition to that, the new printer delivered a few boxes of books:

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Yeah. Boxes of books. And here are the books:2014-08-01 13.33.20The new printer did a really good job, and quickly. Good, quick and not terribly expensive make me happy. I wish there was a way to show properly the matte finish on the KH and the Pergamino Barocco, because it looks really dope. I can see doing more business with them in the future. All the books are available at the webshop, and all come with PDFs. Of course, PDFs are also available.

The only thing that is not arrived yet is the printed Chthonic Codex – codex editions. That will require a few more days. Possibly next week.

Mysteries & Mystagogues: not your usual DM’s guide

Mysteries & Mystagogues is the Game Master’s guide for Chthonic Codex. It’s not really structured as a typical GM book. M&M is really an improv tool for running a Chthonic Codex game. This is a list of the contents:

There are two d66 adventure hook tables: one is a traditional event-shenanigan table, the other is structured as chains of events and consequences. A third table is simply a list of missing and urgently needed magical ingredients, so that your players can go bumble around looking for them. Often the PCs’ Master (their teacher) is central to the hook. But it might not. Masters are a mixture of stick and carrot, and usually are PCs’ patrons.

Then there are accomplishments: they are usable both in AFG and your Old School game of choice, and they’re supposed to be discovered in game, and when completed they give perks to characters: for example extra mana, special powers or a level (there are no XP in AFG). They work as hooks too.

Then there is what I would have called MYSTATRON had I been smart enough. It’s a generator of mysteric initiation rituals. It’s structured as a collection of nine d66 tables. It’s followed by a section of powers, usually gained trough initiation, but also in other ways mentioned in the book. MYSTATRON gives your players a structured serie of things to be found and done, and a guarantee of extra powers at the end. If they don’t die complete the initiation. A few times I was totally stuck with players rummaging in a lost library and, a quick roll of a few d66 on the first pages of MYSTATRON will give them a weird ritual to be carried out, with the relevant preparations. Basically, a few sessions of adventuring.

Then there’s a part of Laws of Reality. You know when you granny told you never let albinos spill salt, or never to lose goats at night, or never dance in a graveyard? She was right, and this section tells you what happens when you do that. It’s another way to do “magic” that is not magic. It works in parallel with other rules, and not only for spellcasters, and they are mostly based on the player’s knowledge, as they do not necessarily require magic powers! These should be rolled before the campaign starts, but don’t sweat it if you don’t.

Then there are four pages on the ritual of the Apotheosis of the Grand Sorcerer of the Valley of Fire.

CHTHONOTRON follows, with an extra section about pointcrawling in caves and canyons. It tells you how to make a chthonic pointcrawl to use in the game and populate it with catacombs, grottoes, chasms home to chthonic cods, forgotten squid settlement and their lost artifacts, shrines, monasteries, and goats. Lots of goats. GOOOOOATS.

After that, a section on the famous Hypogean treasures and curios, including the strange powers of the devouring idols. Not that any of them, like the Butyrous Sarcomancer or The Enemy ofTruth and Beauty, can do nasty things to your campaign. Some scrolls are thrown in the section too, because gaining knowledge is the biggest preoccupation characters should have. Well, beside staying alive. I mean, if their self-preservation is stronger than their thirst for knowledge, why would they study magic in a school under a desert scoured by flames? The scrolls are in because you need something interesting to put in scrolls, and you need a random table for it with results that are not “a spell” or “a treasure map”.

A small section on the value of truth follows. Tables with random names for characters and chthonic gods close the book. I added the tables because you need to give names for, you know, all these unexpected and unnamed NPCs and gods. It sucks when you can’t come up with a name for the assistant pharmacist and the god that lives in the chasm by the standing stones on that island, and I wanted the names to sound right for the campaign.

Mysteries & Mystagogues – PDF – 64 pages – 6$

CHTHONOTRON – a pictorial example

Chthonic Codex: Mysteries & Mystagogues features CHTHONOTRON, which is a pointcrawl generator for the Hypogea. Follow it and you have a serviceable campaign map for you Chthonic Codex campaign, or any similar mythic-caverns-underworld-crazy place with rivers and weird stuff.

So, this is the end result: a map showing canyons in blue, big caves are thick black, narrow caves are fine black. The marks are explained later2014-06-08 17.05.56How did I get there?

Repeatedly tossing 5 dice on the map and tracing a line through them. Starting with the first river:
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Then the second river, flowing into the first. That die went exactly on the other river randomly, when rivers intersect I recommend making them flow into each other, despite theoretically being able to flow over each other, being underground and stuff.2014-06-08 16.06.01And then repeatedly for the caves. First cave, that leads off map because one of the dice went off map:

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Then second cave and third cave.

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And so on. Then I thickened the first caves (they be biiig caves), added more caves, thickened the rivers.

Then I added marks to show distances: but since in this setting you usually walk everywhere, they are marked in time instead of distance. And since I wanted finer granularity in some places, I used marks of different colours: the distance between two black marks is 1 hour, between a green and a black or two greens is 20 minutes. This different granularity is not in the book but it’s a very tiny yet useful hack.

The next step is to populate the caves with the Chthonic Contents section of CHTHONOTRON. I’ll leave that up for later, in another post.


Whitebox for Chthonic Codex: pretend Q&A and mo’better box pictures!

Hey Paolo, how’s Chthonic Codex doin’?

Progress! I just put together the second last test box, using a bad test print I had lying around.



What’s wrong with the lid? and why did you order the boxes?

The plate got scratched. And was done for a deeper lid, the new lid is slimmer, so the new plate will have to be etched based on the new box. No biggie, heh. I ordered the boxes from a local supplier as I was not happy with going for a fully handcrafted boxed set. Well I was happy with them, but maybe the customers would not be completely happy.

What’s inside?

Glad you asked!

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Dice for scale. They’re a mixture of Gamescience, Citadel/GW and Chessex. And now, with the contents out. Also, ruler for scale.

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AFG is inserted in lieu of Mysteries and Mystagogues (AFG is almost twice the pagecount of CC:MM, btw), as I do not have yet a CC:MM book with the real cover. I got feedback from the first reviewer/proofreader though, so we are very close to printing a big stack of them.

What’s that thing??

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Oh, it’s a foam insert. I carved a big slot for dice, so they do not rattle around the box. The boxes will be shipped with no dice, and with no slots in the padding. You can carve it in whatever shape you need to hold index cards, dice, pencils, votive images, whatevs, or remove it to keep more handbooks in it, like AFG or S&W Whitebox or even, I dare to say, D&D.

Why do CC:CC and CC:AA look different?

That CC:CC is from Lulu, gloss cover. The one on the right is from Clydeside Press, my local printer, and looks odd because it’s unfinished. The shipped versions will have a matte finish (like AFG-R8 above)

Sup with Mysteries & Mystagogues?

Work continued even while I was in Japan, because bullet trains make for good offices and, while they’re fast, Japan is a very long country. I only need to transcribe stuff in, finish the layout (too many herons, not enough axolotls) and bring it to the printer.

Spiritsmiths of the Harga Forge

How great it is to be a troll!
My mouth is full of all the food
Wolf, deer, cow, grouse, cheese, bear, goat, man!
Teeth chew, throat gasps, goes down my gut
Be glad, full tum, get food eat yum!

How great it is to be a troll!
From earth dug out, down here I’m stuck
First dig and smith, then hoard and gloat!
Dig down, dig more, break stones, find ore
Smith gold, work steel, for pride and blood!

How great it is to be a troll!
Time lies, new stuff breaks down and fails
Down here we build the same old things!
More earth, we know, it grows down there
Old hills are gone? More hills we’ll get!

Level 5 – Spite of Progress – a spiritsmith, when hitting a complex mechanical device (at least as complex as a bicycle, a hand blender or a lock), damages it enough that it needs 1d6+1 days of repair to be working again.

This is how the AFG Spiritsmithing spell tradition gets adapted for Chthonic Codex. The Harga Forge and the Court of the Troll Queen (featured in the adventure in the back of AFG) are but a few hundred miles away from the Valley of Fire, and there is no doubt that contacts happened at some point between the Court and the Schools. Sadly the only pertaining codex fragment found is the above.

The second volume of the Chthonic Codex should be ready in time. This means it gets wrapped up either this weekend or the coming week, for a release the first of February. Both PDF and Print+PDF will be immediately available, but the printing itself will happen a couple of weeks after (why? I have a mental schedule and possibly a broken rib).

Whitebox for Chthonic Codex

Today I finally went to the print studio, took the acetate print, went to the photo exposition room, exposed, etched, dried, filed the plate.

Then printed two proofs.

And it was bad. Like, the first few prints are never good. The plate needs to smooth out a bit and inking is always finicky (that’s the reasons for the spots and the strips).

But this looks reasonable:


I’m going to print 33 and then, as the law demands, deface the plate.

More details here, orders at the shop.