Mentally Digesting Campbell's "On the NPC"

Not long ago, Courtney Campbell of Hack & Slash released his latest in a series of Dungeon Master Aids, On the NON-PLAYER CHARACTER [OtNPC]. Like the previous volumes in this series -- Interesting Treasure Generation and Tricks, Empty Rooms and Basic Trap Design -- OtNPC is a thoughtfully presented refinement/expansion of a pre-existing facet of the D&D game. OtNPC is fifty-eight pages and can be had in a soft-cover digest-sized version via Lulu (check out the link above). Old school illustrations by the author are sprinkled throughout the single-columned text and tables. Overall the interior of the booklet is faithful to an AD&D 1st Edition design aesthetic that is easy to read and evocative of that system.

OtNPC addresses an aspect of D&D that is usually left mechanically undefined: PC/NPC encounters and relations and how to objectively adjudicate them.

Rules-wary DMs take note: OtNPC utilizes known and standard systems to accomplish its ends. Morale, reaction rolls and attack throws are the essential backbone of OtNPC's innovations. Most usefully perhaps is how Campbell breaks down all PC/NPC relations into neat categories he calls Social Actions. In OtNPC the player character's bonds with NPCs can increase or decrease according to choices the players make in play.

Does it create more work for the DM? Well, if you're not one who "tracks" PC/NPC developments from session to session, then you will likely find the mechanical aspects of OtNPC to be a chore. Really what it all amounts to are 
  • a few key words that quantify an NPC's behavior
  • a notation reflecting the NPC's precise relationship to the PCs (eg. acquaintance
Does it create more fuss at the table? An extra table ("Social Action Reference") that you might want to clip to your screen. Your players might want to look over these rules, but it's not necessary. They could be entirely in the dark regarding the contents of OtNPC and the system would still function just fine, though they might notice that their actions have logical social consequences if that hadn't been the norm beforehand.

Does it make role-playing too mechanical? NO. It translates player choices into an objective framework in much the same way that ALL the other systems under D&D's hood do. But it does force the players to play well in an area of the game that is traditionally dominated by the DM's whimsy. Campbell apparently believes that NPCs should operate according to their unique personae rather than simply serve some story-based interest of the DM, and I have to agree. The DM's job should be to set out the pieces and adjudicate the actions of the players. It's all about the emergent narrative.

Is it system-specific? Nope. These rules could be applied to any version of D&D or its various retro-clones. 

I think this booklet is remarkable. It offers definition to an important area of D&D that (IMO) was asking for development. I'm anxious to test these rules out ASAP -- not only to make NPC encounters more interesting, but also to watch how OtNPC affects the overall flow of the campaign.


Community Project: D30 Table of Magical Gems Found in the Eye Sockets of Animated Skeletons


Just what it sounds like. I imagine that many temples and secretive arch-mages would amp up their skeletal guardians by fastening magically charged gemstones into their otherwise empty and non-functional eye-sockets.* Some might have a pair, others only a single crystal eye, and a few might have two unlike gems with synergistic powers.

The more precious the stone, the greater the magic that it would carry. Because wizards and priests like to protect their investments. Color could be used to reflect the type of magic contained within:

  • RED - Destruction, Fire, Anger
  • BLACK - Necromancy, death
  • PURPLE - Transformation (eg. petrifying gaze attack; polymorph)
  • BLUE - Illusion
  • YELLOW - Madness, Confusion, Disorientation
  • ROSE - Charm, Enchantment
  • GREEN - Contamination, Poison
  • You invent the others! Stripes, flecks or other color variations could be interesting.

DM's Note: Among any group of five or more animated skeletons there is a 50% chance that one of them will be carrying at least one gem. Roll 1d6 (1,2=One gem; 3-4=Two gems of same type; 5.6=Two gems of differing type).

  1. ...
  2. ...
  3. ...
  4. ...
  5. ...
  6. ...
  7. ...
  8. ...
  9. ...
  10. ...
  11. ...
  12. ...
  13. ...
  14. ...
  15. ...
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  18. ...
  19. ...
  20. ...
  21. ...
  22. ...
  23. ...
  24. ...
  25. ...
  26. ...
  27. ...
  28. ...
  29. ...
  30. ...
Comment below with your entry. You can specify the result number if you wish. Indicate what moniker I should credit your work to in your comment or by e-mail: 



[PETTY GODS] Art Call: Atanuwe, the Nine-Legged Nag-Lord

I've mentioned Atanuwe before. He's that nine-legged unicorn, favored creation of His Atrocity, the Jale God. Atanuwe's name may be translated as "primal nonsense" -- a phrase that reflects the Nag's erratic behavior and base-chaotic tendencies. Attended by the coven of witch-wives who mothered his seventeen grotesque children -- the crass and criminal atacorns who are forbidden entry into most civilized towns and cities.

"Atanuwe" by Eleanor Ferron
REQUEST: I'm looking for a b/w 300dpi picture of Atanuwe based on my concept below.

In terms of style I'm looking for something tarot-esque. Instead of that grenade in his right hand he should be holding a faceted jewel shaped like an egg. The mace in the left hand is cool.

If you're interested in taking this on, comment below.
You retain ownership of your image, which will appear in PETTY GODS.

Eiglophian Lodge Imprint & Schedule

FIRSTLY, let me apologize to anybody/everbody regarding my crappy response time to e-mails. I let your messages fester, read but unanswered in my inbox/crisper. I will work on that this weekend.

* * *

Here's the logo for Eiglophian Lodge, my "imprint" for PETTY GODS and future projects:

Abbreviation: EGL

Publishing Schedule:

  • Cryptcrawler Fanzine Omnibus, edited by GG [EGL 001 // September 1993]
  • Arcane Lore, edited by GG [EGL 002 // March 2005]
  • Vancian Magic Supplement, by Vance et al, edited by GG [EGL 003 // March 2013] 
  • Petty Gods Booklet 1, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 004XPG-1 // August 2013]
  • Petty Gods Booklet 2, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 005XPG-2 // Winter 2013]
  • Petty Gods Booklet 3, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 006XPG-3 // Spring 2014]
  • Wormwood, by Gavin Norman and GG [EGL 007 // Spring 2014]
  • Petty Gods Booklet 4, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 008XPG-4 // Summer 2014]
  • Petty Gods Booklet 5, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 009XPG-5 // Summer 2014]
  • Petty Gods Booklet 6, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 010XPG-6 // Summer 2014]
  • PETTY GODS Hardcover Cyclopedia, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 011XPG-7 // Summer 2014]
  • Underworld Lore Booklet, by the OSR, edited by GG and Matthew Schmeer [EGL 012 // Winter 2014]


Kickstarter is a Dragon

...And dragons must be approached with utmost precaution. 

At least that's what every novel/movie/D&D game has taught me?

If ever I use Kickstarter to publish books, I will (1) have the text written and (2) use the kickstarter to fund the artwork and pay the printers. Any approach lacking the full ass of this method is probably inviting the FAIL.


[PETTY GODS] XPG-1 Cover (Revised)

Latest OSR Products That Tickle Our Imagination Glands

Oh such a fine bevy of trans/old school gaming stuff for the brain and table these last few weeks! Anyone who thought the "OSR is dead" might want to exhume the coffin and see what's festering around here of late.

  1. Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG - Jeff Easley Edition: I cut my Dunegon Master teeth on 2nd Edition AD&D. Easley's sinewy, vividly colored art was part of what drew me to the game itself, and I still find it intoxicating to the old 'magination glands. I have the 2nd print of the standard edition of DCC (there's an added index which makes it somewhat superior to the 1st run), but I figure having a second copy around will be quite useful, what with the gobs of spell tables that make up 3/5 of the total text. [My gf (who is a tablegamer as well) is gifting me this for my 35th birthday.]
  2. Judges Guild's City State of the Sea-Kings: A new Wilderlands gazetteer, and quite swankly designed at that! Featuring the cartographic work of Rob Conley (of Bat in the Attic). A lot of useful stuff for $39.95, really. Can't wait to learn more about the setting.
  3. Gavin Norman's Theorems & Thaumaturgy (hardcover): The free pdf is good enough to warrant a hardback purchase. I'm told a sequel to Theorems is in the works. There's more than enough magic in this first book to alter the occult flavor of your campaigns. Especially note the Vivimancy material -- I'm writing it into the Hexmoor campaign and will make an eldritch report of it.
  4. LotFP's Rules & Magic (A5 hardcover): Raggi has been consistently putting out some of the best fantasy RPG hardbacks on the market, and I admire some of the innovations he adds to old school gaming in the LotFP RPG. 
  5. NĂºmenor prop map: So maybe this isn't OSR specifically, but just look at it.
  6. LotFP's Qelong by Kenneth Hite: Melee in a dark fantasy Malay! 'Nuff said.
  7. Courtney Campbell's On the Non-Player Character: Looks to be a hugely useful resource for the Referee (and another must-have!)


Dice Porn at San Diego ComicCon

Dice scoops?


[Update] Beyond the Black Rainbow Official Soundtrack

(Thanks to KW for pointing this out!)

Death Waltz Recording Co. will be putting this out as vinyl and digital later this year according to a posting (anyone got a bead on this? I failed to find it on the Google).


The "Campaign Agnostic" Symbol

Some people are addicted to crack. I like game books.
Raven Crowking is working on a series of DCC campaign add-ons. He calls them campaign elements, which is as good as any term used to describe things that can be dropped into an existing campaign so as to appear that they have always been there. "Things" could mean ideas, locales, cults, societies, monsters, artifacts.

In other words, these elements would be campaign setting agnostic and thus easily painted into a "persistent" world.

Here's a short list of OSR products that fit the bill:

An enterprising DM could take advantage of all this mutually-inclusive material as he conceives the campaign environment. An aspect of the Jale God (Petty Gods) could be roaming Stonehell, which is located many days' travel north of the Barrowmaze -- a region watched over by the Vivimancer Auglave (Theorems & Thaumaturgy). Etc.

Maybe a label for such works is appropriate? How about...

"Campaign agnostic"

This symbol was created by Gorgonmilk 
and it is in thee Public Domain, 
Free to Use and Distribute and Stuff.

[For Sale] Marvel Sci Fi Oversized Editions (Lot of 4)

All proceeds of these sales will go directly to Gorgonmilk's rent and electric bills.

Contact me if you are interested: flowthrakeATgmailDOTcom

You need a PayPal account to purchase these.

Shipping and Handling is either USPS or FedEx -- choose the carrier and the method and we will add it to the cost of the item(s).

FOR SALE: Four (4) Marvel Treasury editions: Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

CONDITION: Very Good+ (bindings are intact, no pages missing, no writing on exterior or interior). 

PRICE: $40 US + Shipping and Handling


Q: Who created Grandpa Toadflap?

He was one among a number of gods sent to me. I neglected to attach the author's name to his txt file. Apologies.


Thanks for the Sharp Things

I requested some dagger drawings for PG yesterday and the response was great. Thanks to everybody who contributed!


Vintage English Program(me) on Fantasy RPGs

Draw me a dagger?

Draw a Dagger for PETTY GODS

Seriously! In layout mode atm and I need a dagger graphic.

  • Black ink on white background 
  • 300dpi
  • looks like something a devoted follower might carry
  • obvs you get full credit in the booklet
  • also you own the graphic
E-mail: flowthrakeATgmailDOTcom



I'm in the midst of layout for the first XPG booklet, and I'm pleased with how it's coming along. To whet your appetite, here's Paul Gallagher's masterful take on Crom, a god of northern barbarian types. You may have heard of him before.

James Mishler wrote up the stats and some great text for this entry. I feel that these guys (Paul, James and Crom) add a lot of flavor and nerdy interest to a booklet that is chock full of interesting nerdy flavors. If Cthulhu and Arioch deserved the D&D treatment back in DEITIES & DEMI-GODS, surely this famous barbarian patron is long overdue for the same.

If someone was inclined to write up a decent treatment for Mitra (the Hyborian version), I wouldn't mind seeing him in a later volume of XPG. Contact me and we can discuss the particulars.


PETTY GODS: Open Call for Letters to the Editors, Classifieds, Cartoons

I'm opening a page or two to a letters section and several more to advertisements and classifieds in the back of each PG booklet. (This is in addition to a credits page containing links to contributors' blogs/sites.) Some cartoons (or ideas for cartoons) would also be welcome. If we have enough for an ongoing section we'll call it LITTLE MIRTH.

Have some ad material you'd like to see in PG? Looking for back issues of The Dragon? Question for editors Greg and Matt? Send 'em this way: 

flowthrake AT gmail DOT com


[What's My Motivation?] Loyalty Points & Experience

Abstract: Loyalty Points (LP) are a player owned-and-operated representation of a character's true "devotion" to specific campaign elements.

For example, Alaric the Cleric of Hoon has at least one point invested in the Cult of Hoon -- less than this would mean he could draw no spiritual powers from his deity.

Or the warrioress Ysari, who has invested an LP into the philosophy of Xoanism, which requires her to carry the child of a satyr every three years until her womb shrivels.

The benefits of using LP (every player begins the game with 3 points to invest at his/her leisure) are 

  • "social" in the sense that it creates more connections with the campaign's NPCs and powers
  • but also beneficial in a practical sense -- for every LP invested, a PC gains a 5% bonus to all accumulated XP -- NOTE that only 2 LP may be invested into a single element at any point in the character's career.
  • additional LP could be accumulated at a rate of 1 for every four Experience Levels
Loyalty also benefits the Referee. PCs who are bound to specific ethoi are usually restricted from certain behaviors -- thus making their choices in play slightly more predictable. The paladin (as traditionally represented in D&D play) is a perfect example of this principle. His behavior is utterly bound by his deep belief, at the risk of losing touch with his deity (and thus his granted powers).

And that's pretty much it. Just a simple tweak, but I think it will play out nicely.