Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Idol of the Orcs

Idol of the Orcs

By James C. Boney

A band of unusually organized orcs has taken to raiding farms and waylaying travelers near the local town. The characters must seek out the orc lair and rid the area of this menace, but things are not entirely as they seem. A sinister voice whispers instructions from the darkness; what demonic force lies at the heart of the labyrinthine orc lair?

This adventure is suitable for characters of 1st-3rd level and is intended for use with the LABYRINTH LORD fantasy role-playing game, but is easily used with all older editions of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG.

Buy it as a PDF here!

Buy in print here!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gaming and Ethnic Food

Gaming and food go so naturally together that we often take it for granted. I think the variation of the way this is expressed is mainly related to how much people want to prepare and/or spend ahead of time. I remember countless gaming sessions where I'd simply buy bags of chips and several 2 liter bottles of caffeinated soda. If I was feeling adventurous a frozen pizza might be on the menu.

Fortunately for some game groups (like James Raggi's) gamers do sometimes get some great food at the gaming table. So in the interest of throwing out one idea that's a little different, try making Indian food ahead of time. I direct you to my wife's blog.

She is from India, so most of these recipes are "authentic," but most are adapted to ingredients commonly found in the US. You will also find a few other things there, some influenced by me and some not, that are Americanized. All of these recipes are vegetarian.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brave Halfling Publishing ushers in the new Labyrinth Lord module branding...

Just a quick note to report that as part of the revamp to the Labyrinth Lord presentation, I designed a new branding appearance in consultation with John of Brave Halfling Publishing, which they've already begun to implement here.

The current compatibility logo remains available for the time being. However, this standard Labyrinth Lord dress is now available by request to publishers using the free Labyrinth Lord trademark license. It's purely optional, because some publishers may prefer their own branding, but we make this available in a continued effort to create a unified push to get more people playing old school games. Keep an eye out for further changes over the coming months!

Oh one last thing, we are releasing a module of our own within the next few weeks, called "Idol of the Orcs," by James C. Boney. It is an introductory module for characters of levels 1-3.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Keepin on keepin on...

I just got finished editing and creating maps for a very nice introductory Labyrinth Lord module, written by James C. Boney, who many people may know through his great work writing 1e compatible adventures that are published by Expeditious Retreat Press. Work continues on various other projects as well, some of which is creative while other work is administrative.

One thing I'm looking for right now is a person who is a fan of Labyrinth Lord to take the reins of a major community project. This role would be largely administrative, and is especially suited for someone who is active at conventions or understands how conventions work. I may need more than one person, too.

I've had chats with various people about the state of Goblinoid Games, and things have definitely gotten to the point that I need to start designating responsibilities elsewhere simply because I can't handle everything myself. I've taken things nearly as far as I can all by myself, and I particularly need dedicated community supporters to give me a hand to launch us to the next phase. So far Goblinoid Games is just getting to the point where we can take on paid freelance projects (by reinvesting 100% of sales), so at this time help with these things would be strictly on a volunteer basis (though free swag, free PDFs, and/or other free or reduced price product is certainly doable).

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Labyrinth Lord is not dead! (I promise!)

I was perusing the blogosphere when I came across a couple of troubling statements on this blog. Here are the relevant quotes:

"Labyrinth Lord is pretty much a single product with nothing new on the horizon. Why would I pick it up now when there's just oodles of stuff coming out of every quarter supporting Swords and Wizardry?"

"Labyrinth Lord looks, at first blush, to be a little dead on the vine."

"It's just that I'd like to see a Labyrinth Lord companion or something like that hit the shelves."

Before I comment on these quotes, I want to make it clear I'm not picking on the author in any way. I don't interpret the author as trying to be mean. In truth I've gotten a sense lately that Labyrinth Lord is viewed as sort of the stepchild of the retro-clone games. I think part of the reason for this is that there are many new people to the "Old-School Renaissance" scene, so they don't have any context. A year ago there was a great deal of buzz around Labyrinth Lord, and there continues to be in circles that don't include the usual blogs associated with the OSR. It's true that it has not enjoyed as much recent discussion as it used to, which I attribute to several reasons.

One reason is that interest in OD&D surged after Gary Gygax died. It wasn't long after that when Swords & Wizardry was released, so a lot of the energy emerging for OD&D went to S&W. Combine that with the
emergent popularity of James Maliszewski's blog (he plays and talks about S&W a lot), and S&W is effectively constantly advertised to a fairly large portion of the audience interested in old-school games, and many of those people became interested specifically because of an interest in OD&D.

So I think there are a variety of reasons why Labyrinth Lord might be viewed as less popular. I was out of the country much of last year and the first part of this year, very busy, and wasn't able to maintain the constant presence and pot-stirring needed to keep interest fresh, much less work on many LL projects.

But, no worries, things are picking up. Now to address some factual mistakes. Labyrinth Lord has enjoyed a great deal of professional support from Brave Halfling Publishing, and will continue to do so. We are constantly working to improve the look of Labyrinth Lord, and you will see some big changes starting soon, climaxing this fall. In addition to BHP,
Prime Requisite Games is putting out beautiful material in support of Labyrinth Lord. Goblinoid Games currently publishes the Scribe of Orcus, which contains support for Labyrinth Lord. We've released other support materials, including the Monster Listing, Original Edition Characters, and the Tomb of Sigyfel. Not to mention a German edition of Labyrinth Lord.

In addition, another companion book (besides Original Edition Characters) is in playtest, called Advanced Edition Characters. We have two modules on the way, already received from freelancers and ready for editing. Brave Halfling Publishing has an aggressive release schedule as well. Things are going full speed ahead for 2009/2010, with another "secret" project about 70% written that should see release before the end of 2009. Through one route or another Labyrinth Lord will go back into commercial distribution, probably in the fall, to move forward with our intentions of establishing it in the "real world."

Now, personally, I believe there is always room for great games, which is why I do not perceive Labyrinth Lord to be in competition with Swords & Wizardry. Nonetheless, I'd like to answer the question above, "Why should I pick up Labyrinth Lord...?"

Depending on your interests, here's why:

1) Labyrinth Lord has wide penetration in terms of name recognition, to an audience even outside the typical forums and bloggers. It was in distribution briefly (our agent went out of business) which slowed us down, but we'll get back out there soon.

2) Labyrinth Lord emulates the Moldvay rules, as many people know. So if you are a fan of that rules set, core Labyrinth Lord is for you.

3) Labyrinth Lord + Original Edition Characters (a player's handbook) actually gives you the "feel" and rules emulation of Oe much more accurately than any other retro-clone out there to date.

4) Labyrinth Lord + Advanced Edition Characters (coming out later this summer) will provide the game feel of "advanced" games for people who prefer that style of play.

So in short, you should take a look at Labyrinth Lord because it is currently the most flexible, widely appealing retro-clone out there. It enjoys great support from multiple publishers, which will only increase over the coming months and years. It will be aggressively pushed beyond the internet, thus increasing its use to a wider audience. We have more plans ahead for community building.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Welcome to Fugilroag

The popularity of megalabyrinths waxes and wanes through the gaming community. But for a while now I've been thinking of a megalabyrinth Labyrinth Lord community project. It is not necessarily geared toward formal publication, although at some point it could be. For now I am kick starting a collaborative "world" to promote some of the best concepts of the megalabyrinth in a flexible community-based format. The text of what I have so far as the "seed" follows. Visit my forums for discussion, maps, and other information.

Copyright 2009, Daniel Proctor

Demi-Plane of the Underworld

Fugilroag is at its heart a classic megalabyrinth with a base town. However, there is a twist. I wanted to create a megadungeon project for the Labyrinth Lord community that is conducive to group development, and that is infinitely flexible. That means nothing one person creates can invalidate someone else’s creation, it is infinitely expandable, and can accommodate characters of all levels. No one section will be dependent on the completion of another, so everyone can develop it at their own pace. Read on to see how we accomplish this.

Welcome to Fugilroag
Fugilroag is a small demi-plane. Its main section is the large Fugilroag cave, which is approximately 32 miles by 42 miles. Fugilroag interacts with other planes through a seemingly infinite system of transient passages that appear and disappear on the cavern walls. Some passages have been present so long they seem to be permanent, while others may last but a few hours, days, or weeks. There are small populations of humans and halflings that are permanent to the cave. Members of other races sometimes arrive, but often do not establish themselves. Many people live on family farms, but there are two small villages. Cave Port is a fishing port, and is the center for that economy. The village of Fugilroag is a farming center, and trade goods constantly travel between these villages. The approximate total population is 1,500 for the entire cavern, with members distributed among the communities and farms. There is a militia composed of 70 young men, divided into sectors throughout the cavern to keep watch for creatures that might emerge from the caves. While most residents are farmers or fisherman, a few misguided youths take to adventuring caverns, and are often never seen again.

The following discussion illustrates how the transient caverns work. On a Material Plane, adventurers may be wandering the underworld only to find an opening to a vast cavern with a mushroom forest. Somewhere else, perhaps adventurers are on a raft on an underground river, which opens into a placid subterranean lake. In each case, they find themselves in Fugilroag, and most often the passage behind them is gone. As a general rule, though not always, when a passage opens that delivers creatures, it disappears immediately.

Other passages open, leading to new unexplored tunnels. Some may be natural caverns, others clearly constructed. Some are small labyrinths; others may be sprawling underground complexes. Some are barren of life while others are filled with totally alien creatures and devices. Most are isolated, that is, they do not lead to another world. However, there are exceptions. Although a few natives sometimes decide to explore these tunnels, there is always a transient population of visitors who explores the tunnels hoping to find their way home. The locals are extremely suspicious of visitors, but do take them in for their precious money, which is scarce locally. Most visitors are never truly made to feel welcome.

Cavern Basics
The most abundant life in the greater cavern is various fungi, including moss, mold, and mushrooms. Various insects are present as well, though they most commonly occupy wastes. The cavern itself is subject to slight seasonal variation in temperature and humidity. The cavern is illuminated by phosphorescent molds and lichens on the walls and ceiling, in a cycle that corresponds to the seasons. In the winter the light is dim, and in the middle of the winter it is completely dark for four weeks. The light produced increases through spring and summer, and for a like period in the summer it is always as bright as normal day. However, the light has a greenish-blue tinge and does not support photosynthesis. It rarely ever reaches freezing in the cavern; it is never hot. During the “winter,” when it’s coldest, the humidity is lower. In the summer it becomes very humid and often fog enshrouded, with “rain clouds” that form in the uppermost part of the cavern, so that rain does occur.

Food and Economy
Monetary wealth is highly coveted, since metal coinage only finds its way to Fugilroag via the travelers who become stranded. Most of the time commerce is conducted strictly through barter, and rarely will people exchange goods for the few metal coins they’ve acquired. There are various industries in Fugilroag, many of which are typical to small towns, but may take on a unique character here. There are brewers who make ale from moss and mushrooms or wine from the fluids of bizarre subterranean beetles. Tailors weave cloth from various soft lichens, and so on.

The following agriculture is most common:

Mushroom farming: There is a great diversity of mushroom types in Fugilroag. Grand, fast-growing mushroom forests provide a dense type of mushroom used for “lumber,” firewood, and paper making. There are dozens of edible mushroom types, both wild and domesticated. Mushroom farmers often specialize in one or a few types, growing them either in fields or underground pits.

Moss farming: Moss forms the staple diet in the cavern. Fortunately, there are a few fast-growing nutritious types that taste respectable and are often used in stews, stuffed mushrooms, and other meals.

Animal husbandry: The most common farm-raised animal is the chicken. However, there are a few “native” animal types, all cave dwellers, that may originate in Fugilroag or they may have wandered in centuries ago from transient passageways. The following animal types are the most common of these, but several other less abundant and more exotic types exist:

Cave bison: These diminutive, eyeless descendents of bison forage on the ubiquitous moss available in the greater Fugilroag cavern. The bison reach no taller than three feet high, and are covered in thick, shaggy bone-white fur.

Mole Rabbit: These hairless, eyeless, pale rabbits are burrowers, living almost completely under the soil. They eat mostly moss and insects, and reach up to two feet long. They are farmed both for their meat and the supple leather that may be produced from their skin.

Bearer Ant: Perhaps one of the most exotic of the more common farmed animals is the bearer ant. These docile, one-foot long ants are covered in tawny black fur. They are raised primarily for the eggs the queen produces. Queens can be up to six feet long and produce as many as thirty, 8” diameter eggs per day. The eggs are leathery and typically stabbed to drain the milky contents, or eggs may be boiled and peeled. This ant has clearly been domesticated a long time, and is completely dependent on human care to survive. Common workers are discarded or sold as pets, but kings are coveted and traded among farmers so as to maintain the various herds.

Fishing: Fishing is an important component to the Fugilroag economy. In the greater Fugilroag cavern there is large fresh water lake that is home to many cave-adapted creatures. The most prized is the blind white trout that lives in the colder, deeper parts of the lake. Most abundant are the 2” long white cave shrimp that are netted near the cavern walls as they feed on molds and slimes. Finally, spiny white cave eels are netted by the swarm and form a less desirable, but abundant, protein source. Other less common fish are often caught and go to market, but are expensive delicacies. Fishing is a dangerous enterprise, for no one can know what creatures may inhabit the lake, brought in from underwater passages.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Scribe of Orcus, Vol. 1 Issue 5...now available!

The Scribe of Orcus is a periodical produced by Goblinoid Games to support "retro-clone" game systems, and to provide "compatible" material for various old-school RPGs. These systems include (but are not limited to) Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, "First Edition," 4C System, and GORE. Most issues of the Scribe of Orcus will vary from 5 to 10 pages, and will focus on solid gaming text.

This issue of the Scribe of Orcus brings you 9 full pages of mutant mayhem!

Mutant Future Factions 3: The Steel Clad, by Ryan Denison
This mysterious faction terrorizes villagers as their members raid the wasteland, adorned in power armor that makes them a force to be feared.

The Saharan Archipelago by Derek Holland, 24 new Mutant Future creatures. Take a tour of the fauna from the Saharan Archipelago, a dangerous and exotic place full of never before seen mutants!

Buy it here