Designer’s corner: wuxia rules

I’ve got a long way to go before it’s done, but I’ve recently had a spurt of inspiration and energy for my wuxia/Chinese folklore supplement for old-school gaming, and I thought I’d post some of my thoughts on how it’s going to be organized, and what sort of stuff will likely find its way into the book.

First off, it’s completely China-focused. One of the things that was both baffling and annoying about the original Oriental Adventures book was its mish-mashing of Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian material, with a decided focus on the Japanese. There will be neither ninjas nor samurai in this book. That’s not to say it’s an historical game; far from it. But the influences will come solely from China.

Secondly, it draws inspiration from two sources; wuxia film and literature, and traditional Chinese mythology and folklore. In the same way that Gary Gygax took inspiration from European and Biblical folklore and literature for a lot of spells, magic items, and character classes, this book will draw from Chinese mythology and folklore. I’m also adding in a healthy dose of wuxia tropes and themes, most specifically in the introduction of rules for kung fu.

Building on a mechanic of the core Adventures Dark and Deep rules before it, this Chinese supplement will treat kung fu abilities as secondary skills (which in turn were inspired by Gary Gygax’s rules for skills written for the Castles and Crusades game), kung fu skills are learned in three stages. Each stage costs a set amount of experience points per level, with the amount of xp required decreasing if your character’s highest attribute is relevant to the skill in question. Once you “spend” the xp to learn that level of a particular kung fu style, they’re forever lost, but you can of course earn more xp to replace them. Spending them does require that the character find a teacher that is both able and willing to instruct the PC, naturally. Monks, by their nature, start off with a level in one kung fu style.

To take one example, “Dragon Foot Style” allows characters to kick enemies back one foot per point of strength, and gain damage bonuses if using pummeling to kick, plus other bonuses as they buy new levels in it. A lot of the kung fu rules lean heavily on unarmed combat (naturally), and the Adventures Dark and Deep unarmed combat rules, which I think are a lot easier than those in 1st edition, will be included as an appendix. Other styles allow characters to fight blind, do backflips to get behind enemies, and even levitate and climb walls. It’s intended to really capture some of the cool moves featured in some wuxia films.

The traditional “Tolkienesque” fantasy races don’t feature prominently in a mythic China setting, but two new races are included; shanxiao (monkey-men) and gou ren (dog-headed people). Every character class is covered, even if it’s a perfunctory “this class doesn’t exist in a mythic China setting”, such as paladins and druids. New classes include monks, wu (shamans, a sub-class of cleric), and fangshi (a sub-class of mage). Naturally there are tons of new spells for both classes.

So far, I’ve got 67 new spells (plus all the original spells that the wu and fangshi can also cast), 43 new magic items, and 85 new monsters, including the various sorts of elementals (including meta- and quasi-elementals) that one would naturally expect when one adds elemental planes of metal and wood. All that from just reading books on Chinese folklore. Naturally, there will be entries for Chinese-style weapons and armor, and everything will be fully compatible with Adventures Dark and Deep, and, by extension, most old-school RPGs (with maybe a few tweaks here and there for some rules).

All in all, I’m really pleased with the way the book is going. It seems new to me, and it’s definitely a change from the Japan-centric “oriental adventures” books that have come before. There will probably be a Kickstarter at some point to pay for art and editing, once the text is done. I’ll keep you posted.

New Adventure: Bitterbark’s Circus

Hot on the heels of the best-selling Adventures Dark and Deep™ GM’s Screen, BRW Games is proud to announce the release of Bitterbark’s Circus, an adventure locale designed for characters level 8-9.

Because it’s written for the Adventures Dark and Deep™ rules, it can be used with most Basic or Advanced-compatible rules almost as-is. And for those people who are playing games that don’t feature a jester character class, the entire class (including lots of new spells) is included as an appendix. Jesters feature prominently in the adventure, and it only seemed fair to include the whole class for GMs who want to use the adventure using other rules.

Bitterbark’s Circus describes a sinister circus which can be inserted into most RPG campaigns with little effort. The GM is given a variety of different ideas and options for inserting the adventure into an existing campaign, and the adventure is also linked to the Castle of the Mad Archmage™ megadungeon, via a magical gate in the lower levels of the fabled and deadly dungeon. But it is also perfectly fine as a stand-alone adventure, and can add a layer of creepy mystery to any game.

The adventure runs 30 pages and is available for $4.95 in pdf format. Buy it today; your players will thank you. Well, probably not, because it’s an eerie and deadly place, but they’ll still have fun.

Castle of the Mad Archmage switching to print bundle

As of December 1st, the three core Castle of the Mad Archmage™ books will only be available as a bundle.

Up until now, due to limitations in the OBS software, we weren’t able to offer the books in print as a bundle; you had to add each separately to your cart. As a result, from our sales reports we know that some of you only bought one or two of the three books in the series.

The three books are the Adventure Book (also available for Pathfinder), the Map Book, and the Illustration Book.

If you’ve only purchased one or two of the three, and you’d like to get the ones you missed for whatever reason, now’s the time to pull the trigger. Once December hits, you’ll only be able to purchase the books in the three-book bundle, as we had originally wanted to do when they were first released. They are intended to form a coherent whole, and we feel that not having all three robs you of some of the experience.

I cannot thank you enough for helping to support Castle of the Mad Archmage™ this year. The astounding success of the megadungeon has truly astounded me. And I can tell you that there are some expansions coming soon to help you get even more megadungeon goodness into your game. Because it wasn’t big enough already…

So bottom line, if you’ve held off getting one or two of the books in the series for whatever reason, now’s the time to “even out” your collection. Starting next month, they’ll only be available together (and that goes for print and pdf, I should mention).

Many thanks, and for those of you in the United States, have a great Thanksgiving.

Call for Submissions

It’s that time of year again – BRW Games is looking for authors who think they have what it takes to get published.

At the moment, we’re looking for RPG adventure modules that aren’t tied to any particular campaign setting, either using the AD&D 1st Edition/compatible or D&D 5th Edition systems. We are not looking for settings or rules supplements. Submissions should not have been previously published elsewhere, but we can make exceptions in special cases. Please contact us with details.

Please do not send in proposals or multi-adventure series. We are looking for finished self-contained adventures, but that doesn’t mean they need to be able to be wrapped up in a single session – longer adventures are okay. Plot-driven, location-based, and sandbox styles are all acceptable. You do not need to have polished cartography, but preference will be given to submissions that have been playtested more than once.

Please send your submissions to joseph@brwgames.com. If we like what we see, we will contact you with rates and terms. Good luck!

Dexcon/OSWARP

Just wanted to put out a quick “thank you” to everyone who bought Adventures Dark and Deep and Castle of the Mad Archmage at this weekend’s Dexcon/OSWARP convention. Everyone should have gotten their download codes for the pdf versions of the books by now – if you haven’t, check your spam filter. They do tend to get flagged as spam for some reason.

Thanks!

I just wanted to extend a big “thank you” to everyone who participated in this past weekend’s Midsummer Madness Sale. Thanks to you, we got a big shot in the arm which will set us up to do some pretty amazing things later this year and in 2015.

Unfortunately, I can’t say what those amazing things are quite yet, but believe me… they’re going to be amazing!

Midsummer Madness Sale Happening Now – 30% off Everything!

It’s here!

From June 20-22, BRW Games is having a sale, with 30% off all of our titles. That’s pdf and hardcopy. Rulebooks and adventures. Supplements and novels. Everything.

If you’ve been holding off getting Castle of the Mad Archmage, now’s your chance. You can get it for under $14 in pdf, and under $25 in hard copy. See the 13+ level megadungeon in all its glory!

If you’ve been curious about Adventures Dark and Deep, now’s the time to strike. You can get it for under $25 in pdf, and under $50 in hard copy. The answer to “What might the game have looked like if Gary Gygax been allowed to keep developing it?” can be yours.

But the madness will end soon. Sunday evening. So get them while you can – no telling if We’ll ever do a sale again. It’s an experiment.

Click here for the sale!

Swords of the Damned 2nd Printing Now Available

A few months ago, BRW Games published the first novel based on Adventures Dark and Deep, called Swords of the Damned, by Richard Tongue. Unfortunately, as some readers pointed out, it was somewhat lacking in proof-reading, and contained numerous errors.

I’m pleased to say that a second printing is now available, which hopefully rectifies this situation. It’s been gone-through by our own Mollie Carson-Vollath, she who edited the ADD rulebooks, and I think you’ll find that the new edition is of a much higher quality.

For the next few days, the new edition will be available for only $6.95, which is more than 20% off the regular price.

Midsummer Madness is Coming, June 20-22

We don’t do sales. We’ve never done sales. But now, We’re about to do a sale.

Midsummer Madness is upon us!

In conjunction with both Free RPG Day and the Summer Solstice, all BRW Games products will be available for 30% off from Friday June 20 through Sunday June 22.

What does this mean?

It means you can get all three Castle of the Mad Archmage books for less than 14 bucks in pdf. Under $25 in hard copy (under $32 if you go hardcover). And that goes for the old-school version as well as the new Pathfinder edition.

It means you can get all three of the core rulebooks for Adventures Dark and Deep for less than 25 bucks in pdf. Under $50 in hard copy (under $70 if you want to go hardcover). And if you need some spare Players Manuals for your table, this is the perfect time to stock up on ’em.

But its only for the three days around the Summer Solstice. Once the Stars are No Longer Right, you’re back to paying bust-out retail for another year at least. No idea if I’ll do this next year.

Personally, I think it’s a pretty good deal. Spread the word, tell your friends! If you’ve been wondering what folks are talking about, now’s the time to find out.