7/09/2018

If thou gaze long into the Phlogiston...

...the Phlogiston will also gaze into thee.

We have been lost again in the Phlogiston, wandering its insubstantial avenues, contemplating its insane landscapes, listening to its cacophonous sounds. We lost hope of finding our way back to the material plane.

But we're back!

As cold as stone we were...

And this time the journey through the Phlogiston has borne fruit: we have met more travellers, who have agreed to collaborate on this second volume. Daniel J. Bishop aka ravencrowking, an illustrious role-playing writer, has corrected the English version; José Luiz Cardoso has contributed an amazing article to "humanize" the demihuman classess; and Cristina Charneco joins Valen as an illustrator, with some incredible drawings for two of the articles.

The Stone Heir is the main course of this volume. In this level 1 adventure, the characters will receive an unusual commission: to recover the petrified body of the heir to the Marquisate of Malparida, Martial the Bold, famous for his love of hunting, which he took too far when trying to hunt a basilisk. As in all the great adventures of Gabriel García-Soto alias Velasco, nothing is what it seems....

But there's more, much more! The central theme of this volume is a mystery that held us in its grip: what happens between the end of a funnel and the first Level 1 adventure? How do a lot of pathetic peasants turn into a lot of unscrupulous mercenaries, bag cutters, holy men and sorcerers?

Level up!

And to explore it, it includes another adventure of the talented Gabriel, Pigs from the Pit, during which the brand new level 1 adventurers will test their new powers and abilities for the most powerful reason: to defend their hard-won treasures.

And that's it? Not at all! To develop and deepen the proposed theme, we have seasoned this mega volume with four articles:

- Girl, you'll be woman soon. You want to further personalize your character and explore the process that has led him to become a competent adventurer, why does a halfling leave a warm home and when does a gongfarmer learn to unleash the deadly energies of magic? Here you will find answers to these and other fundamental questions.

- Adventuring ties. Okay, barely surviving the funnel creates tight bonds, but there comes a time when the adventurous group needs replacements, and the "I was just passing through" is no longer acceptable. Find here a thousand and one (well, there are fewer) organizations of adventurers and the reason they have to stay together.

- Starter equipment for level 0. Wait, don't go into the dungeon yet! With these optional rules you can trade in that wheel of cheese for something really useful to survive the massacre. And nothing prevents you from using them to more accurately reflect a pseudo-medieval economy, either.

- Sword and Sorcery classes for DCC. Finally, more options for your new characters: Do you think, like many of us, that semihuman classes don't fit into a Sword and Wizardry campaign, but do you miss the skills they bring? +Tzi José Luiz from the Tower of the lonely GM blog to the rescue! In this article he masterfully adapts these classes, creating from them three new ones very influenced by the seminal works of the genre.

Can you possibly find the three editors amongst the rabble?

We know, you want it now, don't you? It's your lucky day (or week)! The second volume of The Phlogiston Books, which also premieres a new format (American Letter, 56 pages), will be available this Friday the 13th, on DriveThruRPG, both in PDF (Phlogiston Document Format) and POD.

Unintentional homage amidst the pages of TPBII to Friday the 13th. Wait, or was it The Evil Dead....?

9/20/2016

The Phlogiston Books, Volume I

No, we haven't been floating in the Phlogiston, we've become Other Selves.

The Phlogiston Books, Volume I (TPBI), or as its subtitle says, A compilation of arcane material for the DCC RPG, was nearly ready some months ago, but we delayed its publication when we started the highly succesful fundraiser for the Spanish edition of DCC RPG. Now, we can proudly announce that TPBI is ready and will be available on October 1st!

Never underestimate a cow

So, what the heck is TPBI? This first issue of The Phlogiston Books is an anthology of game aids, house rules, and adventures for the DCC RPG, gleaned form the various planes of the multiverse.

Some of the articles in this volume deal with one of the most dangerous environments that a party of daring adventurers can face: the countryside. We thus vindicate this setting, its dwellers, and its huge potential in a new and exciting genre that we've dubbed as "Rural fantasy".

The Gallows Tree, a new patron

In its esoteric pages you'll find...

  • a new patron, The Gallows Tree, to whom the wizards and elves of humble origins can sell their souls in exchange of scraps of power
  • how to bring superstition to your game table... and make it work
  • rules to create animals like wolves, tigers, bears and even more bloodthirsty and raging beasts like goats or geese
  • a table of disturbing rural encounters
  • a 0-level adventure set in the most noble hamlet of Humiliatown: Beaten copper
So sharpen your sword and memorize your spells, 'cause otherwise you could end up dead, or even worse: hanging from the Gallows Tree.


A new "house rule": superstition

But that's not it! The second printing of The Vertical Halls, the first product from the twisted minds of Phlogiston Books, is again available in DrivethruRPG! It's almost identical to the first printing, we've just fixed some typos. Look at the printing proofs in all their glory!

Spanish and English editions, side by side

10/08/2015

Isbin Arcane Classification: The headless horseman

One the most interesting features of the DCC RPG license is that it's allowed the creation of many different settings and products that, in some cases (like the one this entry is about), wander off far from the original concept, the sword&sorcery theme. I've seen so far, perusing through the huge pile, a space milieu, a post-apocalyptic one, a gothic ambience...

Headless

(As usual... BEWARE, SPOILERS!)

The headless horseman is an adventure edited by Mount Parnassus Games, one of the last ones to join the 3rd party wild bunch. Oliver Korpilla, who I suspect is the man behind the publishing house, is the author; several artists contributed with illustrations. According to the credits page, this module also makes use of the Effect Engine system, borrowed from Mindjammer press, but I'm not sure where; it's true that the monsters and encounters are described following a curious and clear structure, maybe that's the aforementioned system. My masters don't own any book by that publisher, I'm afraid.

As the title insinuates, the adventurers will face the legendary headless horseman while they're passing through a small village. The first part of the adventure is a murder mystery, plus an abduction case. The hook, then, will probably be either "please find my daughter" or "hunt the abomination that killed my son" in exchange for some gold (I can't understand that human love for gold... give me written paper any day of the week).

The second part is a "seek and destroy" mission, with a final twist. The forest where this part takes place is outlined through a series of resources (encounters, places, monsters) rather than with a map, called a "living map". It's a clever way of showing a changing and mysterious environment.

The whole adventure is outlined in a very concise and structured way, with shadowed text boxes that remark the essential clues or NPCs. That's great; modules are usually a mess, full of information but badly distributed. It's also greatly written and narrated.

Both the theme and atmosphere makes this adventure a perfect match for Transylvanian adventures, the gothic setting for DCC RPG, and also for the incoming Halloween celebration (it can maybe be squeezed in a one-session game). The headless horseman is a powerful icon, and there's actually a great picture of it in the book.

Conan pirate
This is a Pirate Conan (3 out of 4) module. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good adventure, but I'm a being of sword&sorcery.

You can find it here.

9/30/2015

Isbin Arcane Classification: Crawl! No. 1

I found this publication at the bottom of the DCC 3rd party products pile, so I suspect that it was one of the first things that got the thumbs up from the Dark Master to be published under the "Compatible with DCC RPG" seal of approval.

crawl01.mock


When I was but a speck of dust in my home plane, 'zines were everywhere (the Phlogiston was not used then, kids [it means the Internet]), written by nearly everyone, typed and stapled manually, and then sent by mail or sold in comic-book shops or in even stranger places. So it's a comeback, then; even though you can get it from the Crawl! web page in physical form, it's also available as a magical simulacrum (a pdf).

The Reverend Dak and some of his home campaign players are the authors of both the written content and the art. He's got a small publishing house, Stray Couches Press. It's also worth of note that he accepts submissions for this fanzine, which nonetheless remain property of their creators. Reverend Dak, as you probably know, is nowadays helping Goodman Games with his editing skills.

I love it when humans are sincere; Dak states that this is "a fanzine published by fans for fans". It's a compilation of house rules, no more, and no less. And it's a very complete issue, I can tell you that; rules for a cleric- and thief-less campaign; a new patron (alas, the patron spells and spellburn are not on this issue); alternate rules for the common but sad time when a character arrives at death's gates; a quick guide to convert OSR spells to DCC; and a variant to the skill check system.

Crawl! No.1 brings DCC even closer to the source material by removing the cleric and proposing alternatives for handling the healing needs of a party; it also offers the possibility of ditching the thief, since adventures are generally known for their thieving capabilities. Needless to say, the demi-humans would also go over the board.

Van der Danderclanden, the new patron, stems from a great and amusing idea: your future self, a wizard of great power, travels back from the future to ensure that you follow the right path. I'd say that some of the invoke results seem a bit powerful, alongside with some of the taints.

Illos are quite good, even more considering that this an amateurish product. And my good masters own the black cover version, which resembles a small companion to the black DCC RPG manual. I'll put it next to it on the shelf.

Conan king
For all these reasons, I find this to be a King Conan (4 out of 4 ) issue. Leiber would proud of it.

You can find it here.

9/23/2015

Isbin Arcane Classification: Through the cotillion of hours


Purple Duck was one of the first publishers to take advantage of Goodman Games' license, and to date, Daniel Bishop is probably the most fecund 3rd-party writer for DCC, and one of the best. I thought you should know that, 'cause I'll be sorting all of his work, and I don't like to repeat myself, it robs me time from reading.

AL3

The booksellers asked me to tell you, dear reader, that this is plagued with SPOILERS.

This adventure, or "Adventure locale" as Purple duck calls them, takes place in the dream lands. It is called a "locale" because it's circumscribed to a place, the palace of Somnos, the dreaming god. And the hook is as easy as it's effective: the PCs are dreaming, and they all are invited to join Somnos' ball. If they get to him, they know that he'll be able to grant them a wish.

As you may imagine, things can be a little different in the dream lands. To start with, Somnos' mansion is full of dream analogues of the PCs, and depending on the mask they wear, their attitude and effects on the PCs can be completely different. This is both entertaining and evocative. There are some rules there concerning what happens to the analogues when PCs move around that seemed a bit confusing, but it's a small thing.

To follow with, the PCs won't get much time to visit the palace; there's a "time limit" that hinges on the way the PCs move around the mansion. The "physical" representation of this is the sound of a chime; when it happens 12 times, the PCs awake and the visit is over... for the time being. Yes, this is a recurrent dream, and it can be completed or attempted another time at a later occasion. Nice mechanic, easy and convenient.

Inside the mansion, they'll find a series of rooms full of oddities that manage to evoke a dreaming imagery, I can assure you that. Here Bishop makes good use of Lovecraft's legacy, in particular from his dreamlands stories, with some "easter eggs" concerning characters and details from said stories. The rooms pose puzzles or hide traps, and are basically in the PCs' way to get to the place where Somnos lies. And careful what you wish, it may become true... or make Somnos blast you out of existence.

And yes, Somnos can become a PC patron. And seeing how you humans love sleeping, I'm sure that he's a very popular patron indeed...

Illos (cover and interior) are by Scott Ackerman. His style is very personal, and I really think that it fits perfectly the mood. Ackerman's work is distorted, wavy, with clean black lines.

Dreams and dream-quests are a common theme in fantasy literature, but I don't think they're used well enough. This adventure manages to do that.

Conan king
This a King Conan (4 out of 4 ) adventure. The Appendix-o'-meter almost exploded.

You can find it here.

9/18/2015

Isbin Arcane Classification

The clutter here, at Phlogiston Books, is reaching epic proportions, so now that the Geometrist is gone, we've decided to summon and bind a professional bookseller/librarian to organize our collection: Isbin.

Our brand new librarian 
Our brand new librarian

Isbin is a cross of Don Quixote and the Ank-Morpork librarian, with a streak of Igor. It loves books and continuously craves to read more, so we'll pay it exactly with that: all the DCC RPG products to date; yes, we have them all (how could we be the proud booksellers we are, otherwise?).

After knowing that some people organize their libraries and book collections according to this or that standard, Isbin's come up with a classification of its own: the Isbin Arcane Classification, or IAC for short. In the following weeks (...or months), it'll be classifying all the books, following these guidelines:

  • Alphabetical order

  • Publisher

  • Type of product (adventure/setting/fanzine/other)

But... Isbin's a creature from an elemental plane, born of raw energy, primordial and wild (but very well-behaved). It needs to "vent that steam", giving its opinion about what it's reading. Since it's an admirer of (surprise!) the Appendix N, it'll "grade" the works according to its Appendix-o'-meter (from less to more awesomeness):
Conan thief
Conan when he was a thief. Grade 1.

Conan mercenary
Conan as a mercenary. Grade 2.

Conan pirate
Conan during his time as a pirate. Grade 3.

Conan king
King Conan. Grade 4.

And, of course, a short treatise outlining the book's contents as well as its main appeals (or lack of them... which we find hard to happen, both the official and the 3rd party products are great).

Along with this, all of the titles will be mystically tagged (=under categories in the blog), so just by thinking about a broad category, you'll be able to access to the information (=by clicking on the category).

And, did we tell you that Isbin can dust the floors and shelves with no effort, as well?

9/09/2015

The Multicultural Halls

It's been a while since we gave away something (since the only time we did it, actually), so here we go again! In this occasion, though, it'll be a draw; there's already enough competition and strife in this world.

Flying laser-shooting skulls. 'Nuff said. 
Flying laser-shooting skulls. 'Nuff said.

Here's the deal: we've got a copy of The Emerald Enchanter, one of the first adventures published for DCC (written by Joseph Goodman), and we'll raffle it amongst those who send us their adaptation of The Vertical Halls to their d20 system of choice. Or any system, really; we know for sure that the CEO of Vorpalia, the creators of Instant Dungeon, runs a Dungeon World version of it. It'd be great to see the Halls in a D&D5 garb, or in a Pathfinder attire, even an Adventures in the East Mark apparel or, of course, any retroclon skin: Swords&Wizardry, LotFP, Castles&Crusades...

We're in no hurry; let's choose Halloween's eve as the deadline for this. And after lady Luck chooses a winner, we'll publish all the adaptations we received.

(Of course, we'd send the adventure anywhere in the world, so yes, dear Australian friends, you're also in!)

Don't be shy! Send them in!