Tuesday, December 15, 2020

December Update and Ongoing Projects

So rather then work on the various projects and posts I have planned for All Dead Generations, I decided to prepare a series of ambitious projects:

Equitone - Our Lady of Situations

CRAWL -- A codification of the OD&D based ruleset I’ve been using for the past several years. Is CARAWL a retroclone? Sorta? Is CRAWL a heartbreaker? Maybe? Is CRAWL an effort to center exploration and with mechanics and playstyle? Absolutely!

The Growly Hoot is an ornery varmit

Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier -- An introductory adventure for CRAWL (or maybe the 1981 Moldvay Basic Set) about plundering the crashed tomb fortresses of the Empyreans (Space Elves) while surviving a Low Western infused wilderness.

I’m doing all my own writing, art and layout for these projects, but I’ve made it 60% through a Quickstart for CRAWL (30% through the longer Rules with explanatory essays similar to All Dead Generations), and 80% of Tomb Robbers is writing, illustrated and laid out (but not edited).

Star Spire

In preparation I’ve produced a Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier mini-adventure, a small, newly crashed, crystal tomb ripe for plundering -- the Star Spire

STAR SPIRE is here if you want to buy it for $1 Dollar.

Producing another One Page Dungeon (or one that could be crammed into one page if one really tried) is always an interesting experience, an exercise in limiting oneself to the bare necessities for the thing to work. Yet working on these other projects has been good -- I’ve taught myself the basics of Affinity Publisher to better produce these works, and improved my art production flow. None of this was especially hard, but it took a couple months of practice. With these projects getting near finishing, this OPD and Prison, I think I can offer some thoughts on producing more polished RPG content then needed for a blog post without outside help:

1) Have a complete vision of the product you want to make, but as always beware of scope.
1a) You will not be making a 300 page megadungeon in a month. Doing everything yourself makes project management easier, but you’re also doing everything yourself.

2) Make whatever you want, whatever you’d play and what intrigues you! Trying to please the market will likely result in a worse product then something that pleases you.

3) Write the whole thing before doing the layout and art.

4) Do the art as you do the layout so you’ll know what you need to fit where.

5) Limit the number of fonts you chose, read some advice on layout: Practical Typography and this piece of Grid Layout for example.

6) Have an editor, for a longer product you’ll want to hire someone and pay them fairly.

7) Don’t worry about it being perfect - it won’t be, but you will get better.

8) Don’t expect to make much money, the small press RPG market is tiny.


  1. Looking forward to CRAWL. I've been looking through various old school rulesets (Labyrinth Lord, White Hack, a smattering of OD&D), trying to find one that's easy for players to grok and has mechanics that support the style of play. How does CRAWL differ from the OD&D hack you made for HMS Apollyon. In particular, I'm wondering if and or how your rules for exploration in a cramped ship differ from the open wilderness. Glad to see you're staying busy!

  2. CRAWL is largely the OD&D hack I used for the Apollyon,but it also includes the non-combat rules, which I attempt to center. It's built around the Exploration Turn and use of the Exploration/Encounter die to generate a consistent tension. It also actually includes character generation, non-Vancian Cleric, and downtime rules.

    It doesn't include wilderness rules though, because it's a dungeon crawling game, I may have to think about them some time, but currently it's not a goal - or if it is one it's a setting/adventure specific concern. Generally that's the approach I'm taking, CRAWL is a skeleton to hang setting and adventure design off of with additional subclasses, spells and things like wilderness travel rules more appropriate there.

  3. Did you draw that owlbear, err, growly hoot? Very nice!

    1. Yes, I've been doing all my own art these days. Slows production down a bit but it's gratifying.


Old Games

Let’s talk about old tabletop roleplaying games - specifically the kind of games played in the 1980’s and recently depicted in the nostalgia...