Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Friday, 26 January 2018

Friday Filler: An OSR Miscellany

Tim Shorts—via Gothridge Manor or GM Games—is one of any number of small press publishers who are garnering support for their output via Patreon. Many similar publishers put podcasts funded via Patreon, for example, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias and the GROGNARD Files, but GM Games provides support for use with Swords & Wizardry Light, but there is no reason that this support would not work with the more recent Swords & Wizardry Continual Light or other retroclones.

The end of the year for 2017 package for GM Games comes in a digest-sized envelope. Inside there are four types of item, each of which is handily sized and easy to bring to the table and drop into an ongoing game.

The first of the four items actually consist of two items—or rather two Character Records for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. Now the character presented at the end of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is bland at best, but awful at worst. Done on heavy paper, those presented here are little pamphlets just four pages in length. There is room on the front for a player character’s name and then the stats, Class and Race abilities, Saving Throw, Base Hit Bonus, Armour Class, Spells, and equipment on the inside pages. There is probably not quite enough space in the boxes given for this information unless the character’s player has small writing. Pleasingly on the back page there is an Experience chart for the character where a player can tick off the number of adventures that have been played. Overall, these character sheets are a bit cramped, but they are charming and if there is ever a Swords & Wizardry Continual Light Whitebox Set, then they—or something like it—should be in the box.


The second of the four items is an NPC Card. The NPC Cards series presents NPCs on a single A6-sized laminated card in full colour. The NPC this time around is ‘Harker, Goblin Warrior’. A two Hit Dice creature, Harker is a big goblin who wields his grandfather’s sword, Arm Eater, his father’s goblin armour, and his own Imp Helm—actually an Imp’s horn atop an iron cap, which regenerates Hit Points for him. Harker is perhaps best described as cunning, preferring to pick and choose his fights. Although nicely presented, the NPC himself, Harker, is not all that interesting and really it should be suggesting ways to use this NPC in way that is interesting for the players and their characters—that is, interesting enough for the players and their characters not to simply kill the NPC.


The third of the four items is a Micro-Location. Micro-Location #19, ‘Oubliette’, is also in full colour and comes on a laminated card, roughly six inches by three-and-three-quarter inches. It describes a pit, twenty feet deep, and an adjoining room. Both are shown in cross section. The location is both small in size and small in scope. Both the cross section and the illustration are nicely done. The monster is more of a trap than a monster, but no less deadly, and the given magic item is of limited use, but useful nevertheless. Overall, this location is easy to drop into most settings, whether that is in a dungeon, the ruins of a castle or manor house, and so on. 


The fourth of the four items is a Micro-Adventure. These are where GM Games began with its Patreon output and ‘Iron Crawlers’ is Micro-Adventure #70. It is written for use with Swords & Wizardry Continual Light and has a simple plot, fairly mundane opponents, and actually, a down-at-heel charm. It opens with the player characters being hired by Sir Carl the Swindler to recover his signet ring, which he lost to a local gang of ruffians known as the Iron Crawlers, in a game of cards. Despite his reputation, Sir Carl the Swindler has the money to pay the party. The gang has its headquarters in the cellar of a burnt-out manor house and the player characters will have to break in and confront the gang. Essentially a mini-dungeon with just ten locations, everything is decently described and the NPCs are fleshed out enough for the Dungeon Master to portray them. The members of gang—variously described as the Iron Crawlers and the Iron Mongers—will protect themselves, but will not necessarily attack. If they do, they may not use lethal force. It should be pointed out that the members of the Iron Crawlers gang are strictly small time and greedy rather than necessarily evil.

‘Iron Crawlers’ comes on an orange-brown stiff paper pamphlet with a large map of the ten-location dungeon, or cellar, on the inside. The production values are not quite as high as on the NPC Card and the Micro-Location cards, but overall, ‘Iron Crawlers’ is good adventure to bring out in an urban location. It has a grim and gritty feel which means that it would work best in a Low Fantasy setting rather than a High Fantasy setting. So with some adjustment, it would work well with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay as well as the Zweihänder Grim & Perilous RPG, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and Lankhmar: City of Thieves for use with Savage Worlds, among many options.


So if you are running for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light, then the character sheets in this selection would be a nice addition to your game. The NPC Card is attractive, but perhaps a bit underwritten, whereas Micro-Location #19, ‘Oubliette’ is perhaps a little overwritten, but does not suffer for it. Iron Crawlers – Micro-Adventure #70 is a good little adventure and really easy to use with very little preparation and should provide a session’s worth of decent play. Overall, this is a solid package and an entertaining medley of Old School Renaissance goodness.