Friday, November 30, 2012


The following is the first part review of Heroes & Other Worlds by Robert Saint JohnThe second part will come after play testing an adventure or twoThen Pt 2 will provide more insight into actual game play and his thoughts on them.  Thanks RSJ for taking time to craft this first review of Heroes & Other Worlds!

Mini-review for Heroes & Other Worlds - Pt 1

I don't have a general gaming blog, but I wanted to share my initial thoughts about Christopher Brandon's new game Heroes & Other Worlds. This is only based on two read-throughs, one quick and one leisurely, and I'll follow up with a lengthier review (probably on RPGGeek and RPGnet) after I get some play time in on it this weekend.

Short version: a worthy successor to The Fantasy Trip, but introduces some smart and unique twists that make it much more than a clone. Much more fleshed out than Legends of the Ancient World and Dragons of Underearth, and somehow captures the spirit of the Moldvay Basic Set. At 120 digest-sized pages, a surprisingly complete game that is well-organized, slickly presented and will appeal to fantasy gamers old and new.

Details: Although I referred to it in yesterday's post as a retro-clone of my personal favorite FRPG, Metagaming's The Fantasy Trip (1980), Heroes & Other Worlds (HOW) is more like the "missing link" between TFT and GURPS that never existed. It's completely compatible with TFT and its weird offspring Dragons of Underearth, and Dark City Games' more recent Legends of the Ancient World (and, as a result, compatible with all those programmed modules from both Metagaming and DCG). Heroes are either Adventurers or Wizards (with a flexible blurry line between them), and character generation is a breeze with a point-buy system to build the attributes of Strength, Dexterity and IQ. Based off the attributes, players choose spells and skills. XP is gained during adventuring to be spent later. Combat and task resolution is basically 3D6, roll-under attribute.

Where HOW diverges from its predecessors is the introduction of a fourth attribute representing health/fatigue, Endurance. Similar approaches have been adopted by TFT players over the years as a house rule (for various reasons), and Steve Jackson did something similar with Health for GURPS. Only Heroes have Endurance, monsters and NPCs do not. Endurance basically stacks on top of Strength and is depleted through damage or spell-casting. When Endurance is gone, damage starts hitting Strength, but Endurance points are recovered much more quickly than Strength.

Another notable divergence in HOW is that Heroes do not improve attributes over time. XP is applied to improving Skills and Spells, much like in Traveller. Choose those initial attributes wisely! And realize that as the adventures and monsters become more challenging, NPC hirelings (well-detailed in HOW) are going to be essential.

Combat, weapons and armor are much like they were in the other games, but not necessarily so dependent on the use of counters/miniatures and a map.

That's the first half of the book, basically a Players Guide, including 3 pages of Skills, 15 pages of Spells (IQ8-IQ18), and plenty of examples throughout. The rest of the book is Referee Resources, with 20 pages of Terrors (monsters), Treasures and Magic items, a solitaire adventure (Dark City's "Orcs of the High Mountains"), guidelines for building and stocking dungeons (with optional random tables), a 7 page sample refereed dungeon, tables of weapons and equipment, and very compact character sheets (like TFT, a 3x5 index card will do just fine). The entire book (POD from Lulu) is digest-sized, very nicely laid out, and illustrated profusely with art that ranges from very good to excellent. Fans of the original TFT are in for quite a treat when they see some of these illustrations, and I'll leave it at that.

Verdict: $15 PDF, $20 paperback. Pricier but comparable in almost every way to the Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox Rules. A great introduction to adventure gaming, but especially appealing to players like me who thought TFT was a more "logical" approach to fantasy gaming than OD&D, and never quite got over the fact that TFT met a premature demise.

More info:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

UPDATE: Now Available!

UPDATE: get 30% off HOW on Lulu using the promo code DELIRITAS this weekend only!

It is done, commence quaffing of beer to toast the release of Heroes & Other Worlds.

 Thanks very much to those who have supported this effort over the year with their feedback, enthusiasm, and comments.  I am especially indebted to my lovely wife and to Mr. Beau Chambers for his eagle eyed editing and efforts to make the game great. I's also like to give special thanks to the fine folks at Dark City Games for allowing one of their programmed adventures to be included in the rules book.

If you are interested in purchasing your own copy of Heroes & Other Worlds, follow the link below to purchase:

You can use the coupon code NOVBOOKS12 to get a 20% discount through the end of the month! 

Now that Heroes & Other Worlds is done I plan on enjoying the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday! I next plan on creating a zero issue of The Cauldron as a free download PDF, a holiday gift from me to you.

If you purchase the game and take time to review it just let me know!  I hope you will enjoy the game and I look forward to seeing where and how far this little journey takes us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


As Heroes & Other Worlds gets set for release, I thought I'd take a post to say a bit about what it is and is not.

It is inspired by Melee/Wizard/ TFT system as well as by the Moldvay edition D&D Basic Rules book.
So what does that mean exactly in terms of the game?

1) Only d6 are used
2) There are two broad scope character classes: Adventurers & Wizards
3) Each Hero has 4 attributes and tests are made by rolling 3d6 versus your attribute. Roll equal to or lower and you succeed, roll over and you fail. No AC or charts.
4) You build your character, both attributes and selection of skills/spells.
5) Combat can be played tactically using a map (squares or hexes), but it is not necessary.
6) Armor hinders the Dexterity of the wearer and subtracts from damage done to the wearer.
7) The basic tropes of dungeon creation, exploration, creature catalog and treasure tables are all included.

If I had to compare it to something, I would not say TFT. Instead an idealized Dragons of Underearth by way of Moldvay D&D.

Now I know some people say they dislike skills based systems, and I can't help but wonder why.  If you play D&D, you are playing a skill based system already.  The various classes or race based classes with special abilities are really just light skill systems.  Indeed they are often presented in a different wrapper, but they are skill based just the same.

What HOW endeavors to do is to be a sensible and simple game system.  Where TFT and later GURPS took a detailed/simulation system path, HOW seeks to retain the original simple resolution but adding a Moldvian sense to game play.

How well it succeeds will be up to players to decide.  TFT/GURPS players may not find it crunchy enough while D&D players may find it not d20 enough.  Even so I really enjoy it and hope others will as well.

So the HOW Rules book comes out and then what?

Well first, I am happy to say HOW has the support of Dark City Games. The systems are compatible and they are allowing inclusion of one of their short programmed adventure in the rules book.  More importantly for the HOW player, this also means a tremendous amount of programmed adventures are immediately available to support playing the game at launch.

This will act as a sort of  Expert Rules book for HOW. It will include a few additional character options such as faults and favors.  It will include more spells, more treasures, more creatures and wilderness/ hexplore rules and charts. A simple sample Hexplore will also be included.

This will be a (ideally) quarterly 'zine to support HOW.  I will take player submissions as well as creating original content.  Dark City Games has already discussed including additional sample programmed adventures, and any optional rules for HOW going forward will be done via The Cauldron.

This will be a programmed adventure I write inspired by Death Test adventures.

All of this is done without a single Kick Starter except my own gumption and the frequent and kind aid of some very generous souls: my wife, editor Pastor Beau, artists Richard Luschek and Luigi "Artkid" Castellani and the fine folks at Dark City Games.

I hope to make Heroes & Other Worlds available for purchase via tomorrow.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Almost ready

Well my print test book arrived this week!  Damn I can't believe Heroes & Other Worlds is almost ready for release, because then I can finally get back to playing it!

I have some tweaks and minor additions to do, but at this point I think Sunday night it will be available to purchase on

Warm up your D6's and put away the rest of your dice because it's almost ready!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Heroes & Other Worlds

creation complete
print and approval commence
restless and eager

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Heroes Progress

My wife kindly went through the near final HOW rule book...and it's going to take me longer to get the edits done then I had anticipated.  Thankfully the edits are not major, but inconsistent spacing is a plague which I am seeking to cure.  I am thankful to Pastor Beau for his eagle eye and intensive major editing just as I am thankful to my wife for adding a little more polish to the final product.  I am trying to get the edits done this weekend, but completitng by 11/17 seems most likely.

Then a print test, final review...and then it goes up for sale!

Thanks for your patience!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Final Approach

The final polish editing and adjustments are underway for my Melee/Wizard/TFT inspired adventure game Heroes & Other Worlds.

Layout should take place this weekend and then a print test next week!  It feels like an idea of what could have been regarding these rules has long haunted me over the years.  I really wanted to like TFT more and wanted to love GURPS, yet it all became so overly detailed it lost me.  Maybe you felt that way too.

So inspired by Melee & Wizard & the Moldvay Basic Rules Book I have labored months to produce Heroes & Other Worlds.

No Kick Starter, no funding goals, and it's not another OGL game.  It may never garner any more players than those that gather at my own humble table with a handful of d6, but if you feel inclined to spend your time reading and even playing a non d20 fantasy game, I sure hope you find your time well spent playing Heroes & Other Worlds.

I'll let you know when its available, should be (if everything goes right) sometime during the week of 11/12.