Talking About Games reviews

A few weeks ago, Abraham Zetina of the Talking About Games YouTube channel asked for some review copies of the Adventures Dark and Deep books.

I dutifully sent along the pdfs, and he’s come out with a series of very nice, in-depth reviews of the three core rulebooks. He’s got quite a number of other informative and interesting videos on the channel as well; I recommend checking it out.

In the meantime, here are the three reviews collected in one place for easy viewing…

Christmas in July Sale

Right now, all BRW Games titles are on deep discount over at RPGNow.com.

But probably the best deals of the bunch are:

Adventures Dark and Deep Deluxe Hardcover Bundle, $99.95

Castle of the Mad Archmage Hardcover Bundle, $44.95

That’s crazy low. In fact, I’m pretty sure I screwed up the pricing when I set the titles up for the sale, so if you were on the fence about checking out anything in the catalog, now’s the time because it’s very likely they will never, ever be this cheap again.

Now Available: Castle of the Mad Archmage Level 3E expansion

The first fourteen levels were only the beginning!

Confound your players with a whole new level to add to your Castle of the Mad Archmage™ adventure. Level Three East describes the wonders of the Mad Archmage’s own museum, which contains curiosities and treasures from all over the multiverse, and the challenges of the Watery Caves, which are a series of living caves connected by an underground river.

This module features 74 new encounter areas and 6 new monsters, a full two-page map, plus new magic items, new rumors, an explanation of how this module fits into the whole Castle structure, and the impact it will have on the inhabitants of the central third level of the dungeon. There are also tips for game masters who would like to run this level as a stand-alone adventure.

Levels in the dungeon roughly comport to suitable character levels, to this module is best suited for PCs of approximately 3rd level. However, there are (intentionally) some encounters that only more powerful characters can expect to handle.

Note: This is an expansion of the original Castle of the Mad Archmage™ megadungeon adventure. Although it can be run on its own, you will greatly add to your enjoyment of the module if you also have the original Castle.

Castle of the Mad Archmage is written using the Adventures Dark and Deep™ rules, and is compatible with most Old School type rules with little or no conversion needed.

Click Here to Buy The Museum and the Watery Caves: Level Three East

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.

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.

Q&A: Verbal Patter

A player was going through the Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual and asked the following:

Regarding the Jester’s and Bard’s verbal patter skills, how do you reconcile them with the fact that all players should be able to try to befuddle a group or try to have them distrust someone through pure dialog with the DM? 

My answer: I generally play it by ear (heh).

Ahem. Seriously, I tend to encourage the players to try their verbal patter on me (as GM) and then roll. If their actual attempts were lame, but they made the roll, then they succeeded anyway. If they were genuinely good at the table, I might give them a bonus to the roll, so if it was a mediocre roll, they might still succeed.

Alternatively,  it would be the case that if someone who did not have verbal patter as a class skill did a lousy job of trying to actual befuddle me at the table, they’d fail. If they did a great job, they’d probably succeed. They just wouldn’t have the chance to succeed on a die roll even when they do a bad job at the table.

Hope that helps!