For any Americans out there, Happy Thanksgiving!
DriveThruRPG.com is now running their big annual Thanksgiving sale, with deep discounts and even deeper ones hinted at for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Web has responded with various calls for good sale links or recommended sale items. Looking over my DriveThru pages, here are a variety of items that I've either picked up recently and would recommend now that they're on sale, or items that I’m strongly thinking of buying now while they’re cheaper. [Please note that the URLs here are affiliate links]. Some are big-ticket items and some are fun little things that pack a whallop but cost a few bucks.
FIRST - I’d be silly not to plug my own product on sale! BRAZEN BACKGROUNDS: Character Backgrounds for Bronze-Age Settings is on sale for a bit over 3 bucks. Released earlier this year, it’s already gone Copper seller (thanks so much folks…tbh, this is why I’m able to think seriously about paying for a number of other gaming products this Fall ;-). It is suitable not only for Bronze Age settings but (with minimal tweaking) for many sword-&-sorcery or low-magic settings. The DriveThru publisher page tells me that over 80 people have it a wishlist; if it looks appealing, please consider snagging it while it’s even cheaper than usual. The product page includes a customer's link to a very postive and quite informative review podcast.
Enough about my stuff - other things that have caught my eye are:
GAZ1 - The Grand Duchy of Karameikos. This was on my shelf years ago as a teen, so there’s a nostalgia factor here, but I’m also currently running an old TSR module set in Karameikos and I think a bit more background would help (though I’m very much ripping and cutting to make things my own - our Karameikos is an ancient, Iron Age land closer to Scythia than the medieval Slavic land imagined here). I remember this being lots of fun in years past and look forward to ransacking it for ideas again.
An Echo, Resounding from Sine Nomine: Ok, this one is apparently not part of the big sale, but I’ve been hankering after it for awhile. This "sourcebook for lordship and war" contains the eminent Kevin Crawford’s methods for simple, abstract domain-level play including domain management, mass combat, and heroic abilities suited to those activities.
What IS on sale and possibly entering my shopping cart is Crawford’s Sixteen Sorrows: A Handbook of Calamities, apparently a set of random tables for quickly generating problems, threats, and plots. I hear very positive things about it from the few voices talking about this one online. Although I’m fairly comfortable coming up with things like problems, threats, conspiracies, etc. when I have time to reflect, I find that for pickup games or when responding to players going off-map, it helps to have some nice material to joggle the brain into action like this.
Of course, another way to do so is with pre-written adventures. I like having things laid out for me when I’m in a rush, but I also don’t want to waste time with the chaff on the market, so I tend to want some pretty good stuff from a module. Here’s what I’m thinking of this time around:
Two possible candidates currently on sale from the Advanced Adventures line particularly catch my eye: Stonesky Delve & Shrine of the Sightless Sisters. There are many others, but these are both quite well-reviewed and look to fit a useful niche in my modules stable.
Moving over to old TSR modules, I recently bought and am currently running in play-by-post the sprawling, quite good B10, Night’s Dark Terror. Part sandbox, part plot-driven module, this turns out to be really enjoyable if one is willing to make a few personal modifications and make the structure serve YOU instead of the other way ‘round. With that caveat, this is highly recommended. It has lots of room for making its Karameikan sandbox your own and weaving in other content, or taking out bits you don’t want to run.
XI - The Isle of Dread. No intro needed, I imagine…this was in my Mentzer Expert-level Blue Box back in the day, so nostalgia is a huge pull here. Do I plan to run it soon? Probably not…though I can see GMing as my kids run all over the Isle someday. Who am I kidding? This is mainly a nostalgia purchase, which makes ‘wait until a big sale’ the right answer.
Megadungeons by Greg Gillespie: Barrowmaze Complete and Forbidden Caverns of Archaia. (Note separate OSR and 5e versions exist). Two huge, sprawling, themed, very well-produced, gorgeously illustrated, fairly expensive megadungeons. If you want to run a megadungeon, either one should be a great buy. If you don’t want to or don’t have time/group space to run a megadungeon, these are still useful because of their structure - instead of one giant sprawling complex, each is broken up into smaller segments that are geographically nearby or connected (a field of burial mounds with connected tunnels beneath in one case, a series of canyons with a ruined city and separate dungeons in the cliffs in the other). This means that even though I have no serious megadungeon plans, these offer a library of lairs, dungeons, barrows and other individual sites I can pilfer for one-shots and side-missions even if we never use the megadungeons strictly as written. I splurged and bought .pdfs of these both in recent months. While I don’t regret the purchase, it would have been really nice to pick both useful long-term resources up at the deep sale price now available…hint hint. :-)
Old School Essentials Rules Tome: I don’t plan to run it anytime soon, as I’m currently working with OD&D/Swords & Wizardry variants or oddball, small, delightful games like Knave or Into the Odd. But the odds are really good that at some point I’ll want an up-to-date B/X text to run. In that case, this one seems like the obvious choice.
CRUSH the Rebellion: years ago I was into Dungeon World and the narrative games movement for a while, before reflections on that experience led me off into the mysterious land of old-school rules. For years, I’ve still had my eye on this narrative-influenced game, which looks wonderful to run for a little bit as a stand-alone. In a sinister space empire suited for Star Wars, 40K, or Dune, players are COMPETING as rival agents and officials of a dark galactic emperor. It just looks ridiculous and awesome and for a few bucks, I’m planning to pick it up at last in this sale. It looks like the kind of thing well-suited for one-offs and quick play; my understanding is that you construct the specifics of the setting as you play each time. Probably a great party game for uber-geeks.
Happy gaming, all!