Welcome to the second issue of The Glatisant! A special shout-out to my supporters on Patreon who keep this enterprise going. If you haven’t subscribed to this newsletter, you can click the button below and get it sent directly to your email inbox whenever a new one drops.
First of all, Sam Mameli has release a large assortment of fully illustrated NPC (or PC) sheets for you to drop into your game. Support him on Patreon to keep the portraits flowing.
Cecil Howe has released a heavily discounted bundle ($3.00 down from $55.00!) for those staying home during the current outbreak. You get Do Not Let Us Die In The Dark Night Of This Cold Winter, A Guidebook to The Forest Hymn and Picnic, the fantastic Hex Kit mapmaking app, and three tilesets for Hex Kit!
Every campaign needs a great opening to throw the players into the world and get them engaged. Here’s 20 very strange cold openings from The Manse. Let’s roll one:
 Each player takes control of a single girl in the sultan's grand harem. You have weapons stowed away in the rare occasions they are necessary; one has a shiv, the other a blackjack, the third a poison berry, the fourth a wand with one charge, the fifth a hidden mini-crossbow with a single bolt, etc. One night while preparing to kill the brutish sultan, you hear a window of the palace get knocked open. The guard in the room is dead. Somebody else is creeping through the halls.
Emmy Allen gets interviewed on Refereeing and Reflections, where she goes into her principles of RPG design and explains what she was trying to accomplish with her modern fantasy RPG Esoteric Enterprises.
Patrick Stuart gets interviewed on the podcast Udda Ting about the creation of his masterpiece Veins of the Earth. The first couple of minutes are in Swedish, but the interview itself is in English. Patrick’s book recommendations were particularly great.
Speaking of Patrick, the deluxe, improved reprint of Deep Carbon Observatory is live on Kickstarter. It’s been doing extremely well and is on its way to crack the BLOATED OVERREACH EDITION stretch goal.
Jim Davis from the highly successful YouTube channel WebDM gets interviewed about his first time trying to run OD&D. He’s best known as a advice sage for 5e D&D, but he’s been immersed in the OSR blog scene for years.
While we’re at it, here’s a WebDM video explaining how to use elements of older D&D in newer editions. Videos like this are great, since they expose a huge audience to how the OSR playstyle works.
Vi over at Collabs Without Permission is making increasingly over-the-top reviews of OSR products and I’m into it. Here’s one that he did of Luka Rejek’s upcoming module Longwinter (which can currently only be found on the WizardThiefFighter patreon).
Luka has also recently built upon his previous article by enumerating all the different jobs that players might have at the table.
Players perform multiple tasks during a roleplaytime session. Traditionally many systems bundle them together with the roles of referee (game master or what have you) and runner (player, protagonist). Often this means that the referee is tasked with much more work than the other players, which can lead to exhaustion, burnout, and failed roleplaying groups. It’s also a big reason why many players avoid refereeing sessions. By unpacking the tasks and talking about them it might be easier to divide the labor fairly.
On Beyond Fomalhaut, Melan reviews Courtney Campbell’s On Downtime and Demesnes (available on DriveThruRPG here).
…the book covers all the varied situations that may come up during downtime. This is a comprehensive work, in that it offers either a procedure, a random idea generator, or at least basic advice for most things that could reasonably come up in a realistic game situation. Healing from sustained injuries – there are guidelines for that. Earning an income – here is a way to handle it. Amassing a library of exotic books for future benefit – yes. Hiring specialists or launching the career of a secondary character to step in the main PC’s footsteps – it is there. Investment in mercantile ventures? Mining? Clearing terrain? Building stuff? Breeding bizarre monstrosities to terrorise the land? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.
At Mazirian’s Garden (which I’ve only just realized is a Dying Earth reference) Ben Laurence has also been building a series of downtime activities. One I particularly enjoyed was this post that focuses on building an institution. Institutions allow you party to operate in the world at a grander scale than a D&D party typically does, and gets players more invested in the setting.
Here are some examples from my home games. One party worked to enhance the fortunes of one of the lowlier hanging merchants of the White Jungle, lifting his fortunes against his overweening rivals. Another party cooked up the more ambitious long-term scheme, yet to be acted on, of restoring the hanging pagodas to their former grandeur as a carnivalesque tourist attraction for the jaded Zyanese. For a little while one group was running a printshop (yes, that one) and employing a gang of street urchins, a la the Baker Street Irregulars. One of the longest running characters, who is a dancer, recently started up a dancing troupe with growing renown, another started a heretical new religion before departing on a vessel sailing the Oneiric Seas, and a third is currently in the process of building a monastery to MANA-YOOD SUSHAI, the Slumbering God.
Bearded Devil is one of my favorite blogs, mostly for the maps and world building for Jonathan Newell’s campaign set in the city of Hex. His most recent blog post shows off a map he made of the world surrounding Hex, and it’s amazing. Also check out his recent setting book Genial Jack, which I hear is good.
Noise Sans Signal takes some inspiration from the map above to speculate on the nature of Doppelganger language.
With ability to transform, the doppelganger language is doppelganger themselves, they 'speak' by changing their body or, more often, the parts of their body, to convey a meaning in the way other people create specific tremblings in air or draw certain lines to communicate. Early DG language was, probably, quite literal – change to a wolf-creature if you 'speak' about wolves – but later it became both more symbolic and much more complex, including shifts in colour, texture, scents, temperature, audible and visual range capabilities to a degree, as well as shape, form and appearance, using the whole world as their language components.
At Swamp of Monsters, we have THE NIGHT PALACE OF MALICE ASTARION, a huge, nightmarish fairytale castle packed with weird encounters and monsters. I love skimming through this for inspiration.
43 Door is ajar, horrible squelching sound from inside. TORTURE RACKS!! A slavering torturer hacks at a pile of meat! He’s hostile and totally nuts, as soon as he hears you he comes at you, wielding an entire iron maiden.
IRON MAIDEN TORTURE GUY
AC 11 HP 60
IRON MAIDEN +6 2d8+4 and trapped in the iron maiden, make an Acrobatics or Athletics check DC 13 to escape, and at the start of each turn take another 1d8+2 damage, and he can keep swinging the iron maiden at other guys while you’re trapped
There’s a new D&D game in the works: Baldur’s Gate 3. I never played the original 2 games, but it looks pretty entertaining. The opening cut scene is fun just to see some classic D&D tropes brought to life.
Spice up your Wizards! Papers and Pencils has a list of 100 Reasons The Wizard is More Than They Seem.
This wizard is the absolute best dancer in all the world. No one can out-dance them. No one.
This wizard has planted seeds under their skin, which grow into little plants fed by a wizard’s blood. They can be plucked for all manner of alchemical, medicinal, and recreation purposes.
Any weapon which strikes this wizard transforms itself into a harmless object. A sword that would pierce their body might poof into a length of rope, a flower, or a pillow. This works for fists as well, so if you don’t want your hand replaced with a teddy bear, it would not be advisable to punch them.
While you’re rolling up some wizards, you might as well figure out What the Wizard Police Are Dealing With Today. Let’s roll one up now.
It’s a: Monster With Some Incorrect Property Claims
And it’s: MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE!
And just to make matters worse: It’s Evolving Faster Than We Can Adapt
But at least we have: A Hydra! Wait, No… That’s a Bad Thing.
Mark Brown’s Game Maker’s Toolkit is a YouTube channel intended for video game creators, but as you’d expect a lot of the advice is applicable to Dungeon Masters. In this video, he looks at the ways that you can communicate backstory and lore just through environment design.
This blog post at Delta’s D&D Hotspot is interesting from a historical perspective. It examines Gygax’s evolving attitudes towards wandering monsters and the often contradictory way that he would encourage and discourage house ruling.
The very same topic came up in my recent livestream where I started reading my way through the whole AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide.
I’ve become interested recently in the INQ28 Warhammer scene, especially the way that their painting style captures the feeling of the “grim darkness of the distant future” rather than the very clean and bright style you typically see on 40K box art. This tutorial is great for seeing how to get that look.
And this one is great for getting the “Blanchitsu” look that emulates the paintings of John Blanche.
Richard’s Dystopian Pokeverse has come up with a supremely wonderful and absurd way of dealing with scifi guns:
Name a cheese – that’s the noise the gun makes when fired. Stats follow from the implications.
So a Cheddar is a slow-repeating machine gun, like a Tommygun. A Brie is a railgun with an ultra-fast rate of fire. Emperor Ming’s guards carry Gorgonzolas: freaky purple deathray blasts, weird electrical kirbykrackle around the muzzle.
Rystic Studies, the best Magic: The Gathering-focused YouTube channel, has a documentary on the work of Seb McKinnon, one of my favorite fantasy artists.
RP Archive, a new crafting-focused YouTube channel, has come up with a great system for making modular terrain for DnD. Basically everything is made out of stair-shaped chunks that can be combined together to make all sorts of different structures. His channel features a few more videos going into how to make these and paint them.
In a super-nostalgic flashback, here’s a thread from G+, where Scrap Princess asks “What are assumptions about how to play an """"OSR"""" adventure that you think might not be commonly held as desired?” And gets answers from many of the big OSR and OSR-adjacent writers working today.
Finally, I recently did a collaboration with the channel Dungeon Craft, where we each made a video commenting on one of the other channel’s older videos. Here’s my video commenting on Dungeon Craft:
And here’s his video commenting on Questing Beast:
That’s it! See you next time in issue #3.