the wonder of role-playing games: reviews, solo rpgs, old-school & narrative games

05 Oct 2017

Friday Grab Bag: Patreon, Microlite 2017, Womp Rats, RPG Book Layout and Writing, Game Mastering Tips

The patreon for this blog is live, great advice on Game Mastering, tons of free games and supplements (Microlite, Star Wars hacks, Celtic 5e game, story games), crowdfunding for science fantasy and Japanese monster books, etc.

Bookkeeping Notes: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no extra cost to you. But please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them.

Patreon Is Live

You Can Now Support This Blog via Patreon. Pledges start at $0.50 per blog post.

I’ve been writing for several years, always as a way share my love for role-playing games. Researching and writing blog posts costs a lot of time. For the weekly posts and my resources lists, I spend too much time on social media to find new stuff. For my reviews, I need to read the material, write notes, maybe playtest, and write the damn blog article.
For example, this blog post was around ~ 2 hours to put it on (digital) paper.
I love it, don’t get me wrong. But it saps quite some time. I get a bit of money with the affiliate links, but it doesn’t support my expenses in any way. So if you would like to help me out, you can head over to patreon.

For an example of my reviews, you can check my latest article: Grim Fantasy with Blood and Bone.

(And I feel like a fraud for asking you to give me money but I feel the fear and do it anyway! Impostor Syndrome, shoo!)

Thank you!

The first awesome supporters are: David Schirduan, Ray Otus, Steve Christensen, Steve C., Marius Enge Bøe, Mendel Schmiedekamp, Diogo Nogueira and Stuart Lloyd.

Here is a bit about Steve C. from The Borderland:

The Borderlands blog primarily has my maps, handy GM sheets, house rules and such, but it is also the online home of my Hog Town Games indie publishing project, based in Toronto, Canada. The main focus of Hog Town Games is Dice Roll Zine, a traditional amateur print zine for OSR games that is also offered in PDF format. Dice Roll Zine #1 was just released for the Fall of 2017. Future issues will be released 3 to 4 times a year, and feature gaming material written by me and artwork created by some of the best OSR-inspired artists.

Diogo Nogueira also has a blog called Old Skulling. He is the designer behind the excellent Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells, an old school Sword & Sorcery game. I wrote about it here and I heartily recommend it. The game and its companion piece, the Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells - Addendum are PWYW on DrivethruRPG.

D&D Related (Old School & 5e)

Free Random Dungeon Creation Kit by Michael Raston is a compiled collection of tables and tools for running/prepping games.

New Old School Stuff - Sept 29th Edition by Shane Ward lists new releases on Onebookshelf (contains affiliate links like this blog).

Here is an outstanding article by Courtney Campbell from 2011: On a Guide for New Dungeon Masters. You can listen to it with Blogs on Tape.

Impact by Arnold K. teaches you some insights on how to create meaningful encounters.

And here is Matthew Colville with The Map Is Not The Territory. (I always liked Alfred Korzybski’s idea.)
TL;DR: It’s your game, make it yours. The rulebook/rules can inform your game, but they are not your game.

How to Grow as a DM by Ben Milton is a short video (~ 5 min.).
TL;DR: It’s not enough to read/watch the advice, you need to play. Yes, find the advice, but see what works for you. And practice.

BX Space – Dungeon Adventures in Outer Space Science Fantasy is a “set of rules that bolt onto classic rules and known rules and which allow Space Masters to run dungeon adventures in outer space.” There will be a PDF in the future under the OGL rules. Neat!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Stars Without Number in One Place is an introduction to SWN newies and a resources list.

Free Games, Tools, and Supplements

The Microlite20 RPG Collection (2017 Edition) (PWYW) is available. More info here. This set contains dozens of minimalist D&D games.

No Taverns Is a New Twitter Bot That Spits out Adventure Hooks and Prompts!

The WATER HACK, “inspired from the Black Hack. It’s post-apocalyptic but more on (sic) a nightmarish/parody/nonsensical manner.”

Tina Trillitzsch recommends The Hell Tithe as a freeform GMed narrative game using Archipelago resolution cards. The author is indie aficionado Jason Morningstar of Fiasco fame.

WOMP RATS is a small set of Star Wars tables for the amazing old school game Maze Rats. (note: broken link)

The Blood Pharaoh is a free adventure for Swords & Wizardry mid-level characters.

Alas, I am not into Tékumel, but did you know that there was a free 172-page Tékumel RPG available here? (edit:fixed link) Thanks, Gianni Vacca.

Erik Tenkar endorses The Mithgarthr RPG, a 190-pages “5e [game] with some OSR roots and celtic and germanic ties”.
Direct link to the PWYW No-Art Version - this is the full game but without digital bookmarks and artwork.
And here is the complete Mithgarthr RPG Core Rulebook version which you can buy as a PDF for $19.99.


Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Bundle - no affiliate link - contains an eclectic mix of different games and supplements. You can find stuff for The Black Hack, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Blood and Bronze, Pathfinder, D&D 5e, Delta Green, old school D&D, Ponyfinder, and music tracks.

The proceeds for this bundle will be going entirely to GlobalGiving’s Puerto Rico and Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund.

Narrative Games

Oh my god! A Veronica-Mars inspired GM-less game? Count me in! Teen Noir is available for $2. You can even sneak a peek into the free Quickstart. More info by the author here.

I’m not into Fate anymore (and is that even a narrative game?) but you might want to look at Special Cases in Fate by David Wood. It is “a document of tips for Fate GMs and players, teaching in the ways that Fate does things from the point of view of most other games.”


Tschai: Planet of Adventure RPG looks hawt. It is a Powered-by-the-Apocalypse game for Vancian science fantasy. The PDF is available for 10 €. The art inspires me to play this. The setting comes from the French comic adaption of Jack Vance’s work. The creators want to adapt the setting to Dungeon World and translate it into English.

The Book of the Hakutaku: a Bestiary of Japanese Monsters - who doesn’t want yokai (ghosts, spirits & monsters of traditional Japanese folklore) in her game? Pledges start at $10.

I Want to Create an RPG Book

One of my patreon goals is to write and layout a role-playing game. I use Linux and want tools that are free/open-source. Others often recommend Adobe InDesign for professional work. But it is expensive and hard to use on Linux.
On G+ I asked: Does Anyone Actually Use Free/Open Source Tools for PDF and Print Layout?.

Google Docs is an option, but it is limited. LibreOffice makes a good impression for basic layout, too.

It seems that a lot of people use Scribus which has a steep learning curve. There are some youtube tutorials available, but damn, that program looks so complicated.

Some use LaTex which is equally confusing for a newbie.

What would be a low-barrier process that makes it easy to create a passable looking RPG PDF? A game is also an instruction manual. The PDF should be able to display boxes, side text or footnotes, and have some illustrations.
I don’t know anything about typesetting and print layout. I know that there are books for it but haven’t read them yet.

I would like to have a beginner-friendly tutorial that teaches me the following:

  • how to use free tools to write a text and layout it as a PDF
  • explains basic concepts of typesetting/layout for print and PDF
  • (bonus) how to create .epub and .mobi
  • gives you one or more templates to work from, so you can get started right away

When I reach my first patreon goal, I will find a way to do that and share it for free.

Meanwhile, here are two related articles:

Thanks for reading my blog! Would you like to support me on patreon?