Monday, October 5, 2015

New Big Dragon Games Unlimited to publish a fifth edition adventure module written by Steve Marsh


New Big Dragon Games Unlimited to publish
a fifth edition adventure module written by Steve Marsh

Dallas, Texas — October 5, 2015: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited is proud to announce the upcoming release of its first fifth edition adventure module, Steve Marsh's Shattered Norns #1: Into the Shadows.

The book will be the first fifth edition product published by New Big Dragon, publisher of many popular OSR resources, including the d30 DM Companion and the d30 Sandbox Companion. It is also the first formally published version of the Shattered Norns material, developed and written by RPG industry legend Stephen R. Marsh.

Mr. Marsh is best-known for his contributions to the Expert rulebook for the classic edition of the world's original fantasy roleplaying game, as well as the concept of the game's dual-axis alignment system, and the introduction of the planes of existence to tabletop gaming.

Shattered Norns, as a setting, deals with a world that was in the process of being created when it was torn apart by magic and treachery—a world still in formation when it was shattered by an incursion of chaos from outside the universe as it is commonly known, born by an intrusion of abominations.

The intent of the Into the Shadows adventure is to introduce characters to one corner of the world and provide them with a base for additional adventure hooks and experiences. For players, it not only acts to introduce the Shattered Norns setting, but also introduces Mr. Marsh's vision of the Shadow Plane and guidelines for adventuring "in shadow."

The world of Shattered Norns, and the Shadow Plane setting of the Into the Shadows adventure, sees the culmination of a great deal of Mr. Marsh's work. The setting has its roots in the 1970s, even predating the period he spent working directly for the company who published the world's original fantasy role-playing game. Star Strands, the original version of the setting, ended up in the infamous bonfire of 1985, when leadership of that company changed hands. In 1992, Mr. Marsh was reworking the material when tragedy befell his life, seeing him bury three children over the period of five years. Though the setting saw some ongoing development from the late 1990s and beyond, his daughter's participation in the “Next” playtesting beginning in 2012 provided Mr. Marsh the opportunity to fully resurrect his material.

Over the last decade or so, much of the Shattered Norns setting material has been published to Mr. Marsh's personal web site, has been used at convention games refereed by Mr. Marsh, and has been issued in collector copies printed, bound and signed by the author. However, this will be the first time any of the material will be available in a formally published edition.

In addition to the material directly related to the adventure, the 48-page book will include listings for more than 20 new monsters penned by Mr. Marsh, as well as information on adventuring in the Plane of Shadow.

Official release dates for electronic and print versions of the book have yet to be determined.

The official Shattered Norns Facebook page is located here >>

The official Shattered Norns Google+ community is located here >>

Monday, September 28, 2015

Expanding the Psionic Monster Mythos

In developing the monster section of the Basic Psionics Handbook, Welbo and I spent a lot of time thinking through which creatures would and would not be including in the monster section. There were a few factors that drove us in this regard:
1. All of the classic "iconic" psionic creatures must be included (and those that aren't OGL'ed must have the serial numbers filed off).

2. The opportunity should be seized to expand the influences of the area spanning the Middle to Far East.

3. Anything new that was added should feel consistent with Moldvay/Cook/Marsh.

Though we have settled on the names "astral gith" and "limbo gith" for... well, the gith-you-know-whats, Welbo and I are still reworking a couple of the other names (e.g., last night it occurred to me it would be cool to nickname the tentacle-mouth thing we all know and love as the "thid", but no group editorial decision has approved this yet). Many others are already OGL (aboleth, brain mole, intellect devourer, neothelid, et al.), so it was just a matter of converting it while making sure it fell in line with the new system and the overall vibe of BX.

We've done this both with iconic creatures and the addition of new ones. For example, the baku was re-imagined less as the elephantine creature with mixed psionic abilities, and made more like a wooly tapir that devours dreams (owing to its Chinese roots). There's also the addition of the aqlghoul, a Persian inspired ghul, that not only possesses the undead immunities, but is psionically immune as well (even though it can use psionic abilities).

If you've been following the development of this project for a while, then you're likely familiar with the story of the psionic rhino. This is likely the most BX of the creatures in the book (and why shouldn't it be, I worked directly with Steve Marsh develop the final entry). The section also sees the addition of a few more low level psionic creatures as well (including the albino toadstool and the hive-mite, as well as a conversion of the dromite—a humanoid race that feels very BX to me, even though it wasn't introduced until 3.5e). I've also created a psionic human-headed spider, the nightspinner. How has there been no iconic psionic spider before now? (BTW, this creature is going to be one of several bridges to the material I am developing for a tentative Basic Atlas of the Planes, which likely won't be finished until late next year).

Okay, to wrap this up, the illustrations are progressing, and I have only 5 spot illustrations left for the monster section, then about a dozen or so more to finish out the book. We could see the release of this by mid-October (fingers crossed).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

More art you've probably already seen
for the Basic Psionics Handbook...

This is stuff I've been posting to Google+, but I know some folks don't get around those parts much. Also, it's nice to see this as a collection like this; it starts to help you get a vibe for how the interior of the book will feel, and what it will contain.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Art you've already seen for the Basic Psionics Handbook

I've been too busy the past week to deal with a proper new blog post, and I'm tired of looking at the illustration from the last post, so I'm just posting a collection of the art I've been working on for the Basic Psionics Handbook. It's stuff that's all been posted previously (mostly to Google+), but I thought looking at it as a group would be nice (considering that I think front-to-back, the BSH will be one of my favorite NBD books to have illustrated so far).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

CX1: Character Class Codex Update

Because I know people will ask, there will still be an animal classes book. It will be CX2: Animal Class Codex. I do not have a date on it, but will likely be the early part of 2016. Today, I will be discussing the Character Class Codex (CX1) only.

On a side note, the Basic Psionics Handbook is moving into final editing stages, and I will be starting the illustrations for it soon. Don't want to share target release dates yet for fear of getting ahead of myself (there is, after all, that yet-to-be-announced 5e project that's getting juggled in there too). I would like for the Basic Psionics Handbook and the Character Class Codex to release at the same time so people don't have to wait on the other in order to order. That will likely be the determining factor for release date.

Okay, 'nuff housekeeping, now on to the nitty gritty...

Right now, the Character Class Codex is clocking in at 92 pages, and the content list looks something like this.

Alchemist: more of an NPC; includes descriptions for 60 potions, and information about hiring them to create potions

Archer-Rogue: follows the Robin Hood archetype (prev. shared on blog)

Bard (Version I): mixes Norse skald, Celtic bard and French jongleur; BX-only, w/ thieve's abilities and MU spells in addition to charm and lore skills

Bard (Version II): out of Welsh tradition; has druidic spellcasting (uses AEC) in addition to charm and lore abilities

Beastmaster: pretty self-explanatory (prev. shared on blog)

Bogatyr: Russian-inspired knight-errant with ability to grow to giant size (prev. shared on blog)

Challenger: a fighter class that gets better in melee the longer he fights a single opponent; also gains a sworn with each level

Dragi: class adaptation of dragon-headed spellcasters from the Creature Compendium; includes 2 new dragi spells

Elves: includes drow, gray, shadow, wild, wood and half-elf; the shadow elf includes 20 new shadow-elf-specific spells

Florentine: a two-fisted fighter class

Gnomes: includes 3 types, the grey gnome (miner/fighter/illusionists), the brown gnome (miner/thief/illusionists), and the green gnome (live in trees and use druidic magic); the first two have limited magical abilities (dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation) but no learned spells; the latter includes information for all of its 42 druid-like spells, about a dozen of which are new

Half-Orc: I'm using this to fill in the BX need for an assassin (but using a race class to do it); the half-orc also has an intimidation melee ability

Kineticist: a telekinetic psionicist with ability to use some attack/defense modes (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Martial Acrobat: an acrobat that is not a thief, but instead using tumbling and agility to deflect, evade, and attack

Metathurge: my take on the incantatrix (a spellcaster that focuses on affecting magic itself); still working on this, but will include about a dozen new spells

Ranger: the BX-only ranger I shared on the blog the other day

Runecasters: human and dwarven; introduces a new magic approach built around the runecasting; includes (spell) descriptions for 43 runes

Sauteur: a mystical combatant w/ psychoportative powers (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Savant (Version I): a clairsentient combatant (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Savant (Version II): a traditional intellectual savant; at lower levels has detection and comprehension skills; starts gaining both cleric and MU spells as mid-level

Scribe: more of an NPC type; includes costs for hiring the scribe for specific duties

Shapeshifters: 2 types... the polymorpher (able to polymorph into any type of creature) and the manimal (able to polymorph into only normal or giant animals, but not fantastic creatures)

Skald: a bardic fighter; includes a new approach to magic through the use of songs; includes (spell) descriptions for 42 songs

Spy: has most of a thief's abilities, plus escape, bluff and disguise

Steppe Shamans: 2 types (white and black); adapted from Valley of the Five Fires, but tweaked to be more BX-specific (e.g., spell durations); includes the 38 spell descriptions from the module (tweaked to BX)

Telepath: a telepathic psionicist with ability to use some attack/defense modes (uses Basic Psionics rules)

Tinkers: 2 types (human and dwarven); still working on this, but planning on giving them "contraptions" instead of spells (with requirements for materials and construction time); also function for lock-picking, trap-finding, etc.

Varlet: a deceiver based on the mentalist (TV show) archetype (prev. shared on blog)

Völva: adapted from Dragon Horde Zine #2 to be more BX-specific; includes the 20 new spells that were appeared in the zine

Warslinger: the halfling sling-master combatant (already shared on the blog)

Wenwet: an Egyptian inspired spellcaster; part priest, part MU; spells come from both lists but focus on transformation

Woodland Races: centaurs (fighters), fauns (charm and illusory magic), and satyrs (charm magic, no illusions)

There will likely be a couple of additional appendix items: one with new psionic disciplines (not included in Basic Psionics Handbook), and one with some new spells. There are a couple of other appendices I'm considering, but want to reserve sharing those yet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New BX/LL Character Class: (Halfling) Warslinger

Okay, so the second week of "New BX/LL Classes Week" is in full swing. Today continues with the warslinger. This is an old-school adaptation of one of the few later edition prestige classes that I find "fun enough" to be old school--the Warsling Sniper (simplified by me to "warslinger").

Again, I've gone ahead and made this a downloadable PDF. Unlike some of the other classes I've done that are sprawling, multi-page affairs, all of the new classes this week have been contained on a single page. That's one of the reasons you're seeing them as PDFs rather than text content with JPG snapshots of the class tables. And--oooh... today you get an illustration on the page!

Anyway, here you go...

Click here to download a free PDF of the
Warslinger BX/LL Character Class page from MediaFire.