Monday, October 18, 2021

And it shall be known as the Creature Cache!

In order to keep the books separate as entities (since the content is different) but still tie them together, Welbo helped me rename the new collection of monsters based on PD pulp illustrations (in BX only format, as opposed to the "dual-stat" format I used for the Creature Compendium).

Monday, October 11, 2021

It’s my 10 year Bloggiversary!

10 years ago today, I pulled the trigger on starting what I thought would be a humble little blog, with barely any readers.

A bunch of d30 posts turned into a book (the d30 DM Companion), some additional d30 posts turned into another book (the d30 Sandbox Companion), and that book turned me into a name in the OSR.

Thanks to all the people who shared my blog, bought my books, and reviewed my products. But mainly thank you to all those who read my blog, enjoy my posts, and encourage me to keep it coming!

It continues to be a privilege to be part of such a wonderful group of people.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Dungeon Master Information: Crime & Punishment

 From the upcoming release, Dragon Horde Zine, Volume 2, Issue 2: In Alley & Shadow.

Arrest & Trial

In a manorial system, the keeping of the peace generally falls under the jurisdiction of the sheriff, who is also responsible for collecting revenues, fines, and rents, executing writs, and guarding prisoners. However, the onus of law enforcement is placed upon the citizens, who are relied upon to maintain order and apprehend criminals.

The status and position of different groups affects their protections by law. For example, a noble and a peasant committing the same crime may be afforded different types of trials.

The major forms of trial include:

Trial by Exculpatory Oath and Compurgation. All but the most serious crimes are dealth with this way. The defendant establishes their innocence or non-liability by taking an oath and by getting a required number of persons (typically 12) to swear they believed the defendant’s oath. It is the jury’s responsibility to collect evidence in order to make the determination of guilt and assign punishment (if found guilty).

Trail by Ordeal. This is usually reserved for more serious crimes, peasants, persons of bad reputation, or those caught with stolen goods. Guilt or innocence is determined by subjecting the accused to a painful, (and often quite dangerous) experience. Many accused choose to admit guilt (even if they are innocent) in order to receive a lesser punishment.

Trial by Combat. When accusations are made in the absence of witnesses or a confession, the two parties at odds settle the dispute with single combat. The winner of the fight is proclaimed to be right.


Persons who are accused of particularly heinous crimes (e.g., homicide) or defy the laws of the realm (e.g., ignoring a summons to court, fleeing insteading of appearing to plead when charged with a crime, commiting treason, participating in rebellion), may be declared as an “outlaw” by a Writ of Outlawry. This writ places them outside the protection of the law, withdraws any legal protection for them, and legally empowers anyone to persecute or kill them. Furthermore, all of the outlaw’s possessions are seized by the courts.

Outlawry can be reversed in one of two ways:

Plead Error. The outlaw appears in court and declares they were erroniously declared an outlaw. 

Plead Pardon. The outlaw must first surrender to authorities, then present their plea to the court. If the outlawry is reversed or pardoned, the seized possessions will be returned (if possible).


Most communities believe that the best way to keep order is ensure that people fear the punishment given when a crime is committed. Therefore, many punishments may seem harsh, especially for lesser crimes. 

Trials by ordeal are their own punishment. The most common forms include:

Ordeal by Poison. The accused is given a posionous substance to eat or drink. If they survive, they are innocent.

Ordeal by Fire. The accused is required to walk nine paces in bare feet on nine red-hot plowshares or to walk nine paces while holding red-hot iron. In most cases, the accused is the bandaged for three days, then found guilty if the wounds fester or not guilty if they have healed. In some cases, there must be no sign at all of injury in order to be found not guilty.

Ordeal by Boiling Water. The accused plunges their hand in a kettle or pot of boiling water (sometimes oil or lead is used instead) to retrieve a stone. The assessment of the injury (i.e., the consequences of divine intervention or lack of it) determines guilt.

Ordeal by Cold Water. The accused has their hands and feet tied together, and is thrown into a body of water (or pit filled with water blessed by a priest). If the accused floats, the water “rejects” them so they are found guilty. The innocent sink.

The table below lists common crimes and their common punishment, though the specific punishment for a crime may change based on the standards of the community.

Mayhemintentional maiming of another personexecution
Homicidethe deliberate killing of one person by anotherhanging (men) or burning at the stake (women)
Murdrumthe killing of a person in a secret mannerheavy fine on the community where the secret killing occurred
Burglaryentering property without consenthumiliation or torture
Robberytheft by forcehanging (men) or burning at the stake (women)
Petty Thefttheft with value up to 5spvaries, includes: fine of 10× value of stolen goods
Thefttheft with value from 5sp to 1gppublic beating or flogging, or mutilation
Frauddeceptive business practicescomparable to theft, based on number of infractions and total value
Full Theiverytheft with value of 1gp or morehanging from a tree or a gallows, or by banishment from the city and its environs
Possessionreceipt of stolen propertymutilation or execution
Poachingthe illegal hunting or capturing of wild animalshanging, castration, blinding, or being sewn into a deer skin and then hunted down by ferocious dogs
Usurylending money at unreasonably high rates of interestfines
Briberythe giving or offering of a bribefines
Forgerymaking, altering, use, or possession of a false writing to commit fraudnot generally regarded as a crime unless related to government (e.g., forging of a king's seal) in which case it may be treated as treason
Suppositioncreation of false documents, texts, books, and artifacts public humiliation
Coin Clippingshaving off a small portion of a precious metal coin for profitmutilation or execution
Vandalismdeliberate destruction of or damage to propertycomparable to theft, based on number of infractions and total value
Riotingoffense against public order involving three or more peoplemutilation or execution
Kidnappingabducting someone and holding them captivepublic torture and/or execution
Breach of the Peacedisorderly conduct, public drunkenness, common scoldfines or public humiliation (stocks or pillory)
Indecent Exposurepurposeful display of one's genitals in publicmutilation
Gossipingspreading rumorspublic humiliation (scold's bridle)
Cheatingacting dishonestly or unfairly, especially in gamespublic humiliation (stocks or pillory)
Adulterysexual intercourse between married person and non-spousepublic humiliation, mutilation (breast ripper), ordeal by fire, or drowning
Prostitutionengaging in sexual activity with someone for paymentpublic humiliation
Slanderfalse spoken statement damaging to one's reputationtongue cut out
Blasphemyspeaking sacrilegiously about sacred thingstorture (pear of anguish)
Defying the Churchacting in opposition to religious beliefs or ordersheretic's fork
Heresyholding beliefs contrary to religious doctrineordeal by fire, ordeal by hot water, or execution (burning at the stake)
Witchcraftthe practice of dark/forbidden magicordeal by cold water
Repeat Offensesmultiple offenses of a specific crimebeating, maiming, or hanging
Attacking Officialsmayhem against officials of church or stateexecution
Protestingthe public expression of disapproval of governmentexecution
Treasonbetraying one's countrybeheading (nobles) or drawing& quartering (commoners)
Rebellionviolent or open resistanceto government or rulerexecution

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Flash Lingo: A Thieves Cant Dictionary (Free Agnostic Fantasy Gaming Supplement)

"Flash Lingo: A Thieves Cant Dictionary" is the most comprehensive Thieves Cant glossary ever assembled. With over 2,200 entries, this volume has been compiled from historical resources and edited to specifically support fantasy role-playing games. More importantly, it is designed to bring the lexicon of Thieves Cant to life in your campaign world, as an aid for both players and DMs alike. It’s also just a damn enjoyable read!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Free B/X House Rule Download: Astrological Adjustments

One of the things I really appreciate about Welbo as an editor is that he always questions the usefulness of anything that I look at including into a book, especially rules-driven things (like the upcoming Fang, Faith, and Legerdemain rules supplement). Such is today's PDF download—a house rule for Astrological Adjustments for your classic tabletop roleplaying. 

It's not secret that many of us are enamored with Bruce Galloway's The Highest Level of All Fantasy Wargaming. What sold me on buying it from my local B. Dalton's in 1982 was that it included astrological adjustments for ability scores. "What a concept!" I thought to myself. 

Though I've never used in my D&D gaming, I always intended to. Which is why I was looking at including it in Fang, Faith, and Legerdemain. But, thanks to Welbo, I realized it was just fluff—a page in the book I could use for something truthfully more useful. (Still working on what that is, but it's looking like it's going to be Character Background stuff.) 

Anyway, so it doesn't go to waste, here it is for your downloading pleasure!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

An Overview of All the Upcoming New Big Dragon Releases

All of the following projects are production-ready, except for some final test prints and some final editing/proofing polish. The goal is to release them in September (probably late September, maybe early October). Right now, this is the plan... the initial print release will be as an "all or none" bundle pre-order through the New Big Dragon square storefront, with PDF copies included, with individual sales (including PDF only options) will follow in the weeks after the initial bundles ship. (It's kind of like doing a Kickstarter, without having to do a Kickstarter—too much damn hassle and cost associated with it.)

All of the following are specifically designed for B/X rulesets (and similar).

Old School Adventures™ Accessory RS1
Fang, Faith, and Legerdemain

This is sort of an abridged DMG for BX, with alternate and supplementary rules, including character information, weapons & armor details, supplementary combat options, expanded monster information, and more!


Old School Adventures™ Module BX1
Adventurers Wanted

This campaign module combines 5 separate adventurers run over recent years at NTRPGCon, written by Richard LeBlanc and legendary D&D contributor and author Steve Marsh. Direct sale print copies feature an old-school "separate cover" map in classic blue and magenta. 

"Rock Sorenson, an adventure broker based in the city of Drekka, is seeking would-be heroes for a mission that will lead to a path of adventure that takes them from wide-eyed novices to established heroes!"

Old School Adventures™ Accessory CCSB
Creature Compendium Special Edition Boxed Set
This a digest-sized, 4-book boxed set. Each book includes 45 new monsters based on images culled from public domain pulp magazine resources. A couple of the books include some supporting information for the creatures; for example,  book 3 includes 7 new animal-related MU spells and book 4 includes 7 new BXΨ (Basic Psionics) disciplines.

Dragon Horde, Volumen 2, Issue 2
In Alley & Shadow

This is a digest-sized thief-themed zine (similar in format and content to 2019's Wherein Evil Lies).


Monday, June 28, 2021

B/X Thieves Guild Info — Guild Organization

This is the 5th of my posts for a B/X thieves’ guild reference I'm working on. Today is a long one, with the entire section for Guild Organization (minus the section on Association with Other Guilds that I posted the other day.

Guild Organization

Guild Structure

There is no single structure which all thieves’ guilds will follow. There are major models to which the majority of thieves’ guilds will ascribe, but they are certainly not limited to the ones that follow.

Centralist. A guild organized by this principle is characterized by a powerful and dominant leader with whom the loyalty of the entire organization lies. All decisions ultimately lie in the hands of the guildmaster. In this structure, the identity of the guildmaster is almost always known to all members. 

Cohesive. The cohesive guild structure is characterized by a central authority and organization, with room for senior leadership (under the guildmaster) to make some important decisions on their own. It is possible that a this type of guild uses a “blind ladder” where the identity of the “higher ups” are not known to lower level guild members, and orders “trickle down” from above.

Factioned. A factioned guild operates as a central body, but dominant figures within the guild maintain ownership of certain aspects of guild operations. They act under their own discretion in those areas, and try not to intrude on the affairs of aspects under the ownership of other guild figures. These factions are sometimes referred to as “sects.”

Guild Leadership

Guild leadership will vary based on guild structure. Following are the most common models for guild leadership.

Guildmaster. This is, by far, the most common form of leadership. This responsibility generally falls to the highest level thief in the guild. Centralist organizations are predominantly led by a guildmaster.

Council. In this model, guild leadership is in the hands of a select number of individuals who, when necessary, replace or expand its members from the senior ranks of the guild. Council leadership is common in cohesive and factioned structures. 

Democracy. Though this type of leadership is rare in thieves’ guilds, it is not unheard of. Democratic guild elections are typically plagued by bribery, corruption, and all manner of fixing and election rigging.  

The Guildhouse

There are four important considerations common to the guildhouse (or guildhall) for almost every thieves’s guild.

Location/Cover. It is of utmost importance that the location of the guildhouse remain secret to non-guildmembers. A small guild may need no more than a backroom somewhere, but larger guilds will need something far larger and more strongly protected.

Contents. The contents of a guildhouse will vary based on the physical needs of the guild. For example, guilds operating a substantial forgery or alchemy rackets will need facilities and equipment dedicated to those concerns, in addition to standard needs (like meeting rooms, lodging, etc.).

Protection. A guildhouse will almost always have guards on duty (and the ability to summon more quickly), as well as plenty of locks (to which only members have keys), traps, and other forms of protection (guard dogs/monsters, magical wards, etc.).

Attitude toward Non-guildmember Thieves

The guild will definitely have an opinion on non-guildmembers operating in its territories. This may be scripted or determined by a 2d6 roll on the table below.

Membership Terms

Membership terms may vary from guild to guild. The following terms are meant only as a guideline.

Recruitment & Resignation. Wether or a not a thief is required to join the guild operating in a specific area will depend on the guild’s view of non-guildmember thieves (as above). Recruitment, therefore, will vary from simple to solicitation to downright violence. Resigning from a guild is not usually an option, as it means the guild’s secrets go along with the former member. Guildmembers seeking to sever their ties with a guild may need to use deception to do so (e.g., faking their own death). Membership in multiple guilds is particularly frowned upon. 

Tithing. The standard tithing for a member (regardless of level) is 50sp/month, plus a 10% take for jobs approved in advance by the guild or 20% for those not approved ahead of time by the guild. If the guildmember goes 3 months without pulling a job, the tithing requirement increases to 100sp/month.

Secrecy. This is equally important as tithing, usually requiring an oath of loyalty. If the oath is broken, punishment will vary based on the attitudes of guild leadership, and may be as extreme as death.

Information. Guildmembers are expected to provide the guild with information about their own plans. They are also expected to gather and feed general information back to the guild that may help in other endeavors. The latter will help assure the guildmember remains in good stand with the guild. 

Other Limitations & Expectations. Guildmembers will be given explicit instructions relating to the territories in which they may operate and the activities in which they may engage. They may also be expected to do legwork for upcoming jobs or participate in other guild activities and rackets. Additionally, traveling thieves (e.g., those that spend the majority of their time adventuring) are expected to remain members of the guild, and are not permitted to become Guildmaster.