Frostgrave: A Review

Warhammer looks like such a cool game, and I’m sure it is. There is a certain amount of mystery for me in what a game of Warhammer looks like, whether you’re talking about Age of Sigmar, 40K or any other number of different extensions of the universe there are out there. As a fledgling war gamer it can be completely overwhelming to start looking at the information available for the WH universe.

Questions swirl around me in do we want to play fantasy or science fiction (with a definite fantasy bend)? what types of units do I need? Maybe I just start with humans, they’re always a good way to start a new game, right? What do you mean there are multiple types of Space Marines? They are on what rule set? How much money do i need to sink into the minis? What are the paint schemes I have to paint to? What do you mean orange with green and purple is an illegal color scheme for Blood Angels? Do I really have to spend at least $800 to really have a force to bring to the table?

Photo by Andrew Neel on

Are you confused yet? I know I was. And frustrated to boot. Beyond this you have to buy so many different books and knowing which ones to buy next to impossible. Now I know there are people that will tell you that all you need to do is go to your LFGS and talk to some people and they will help you get started. As a gamer I am plagued with the detriment of being an introvert and the thought of going to a gaming store and asking for help from people who know the game inside and out without a modicum of understanding scares the shit out of me. So after realizing Warhammer was not for me I found another game that I will let you in on. Oh and you really only need one book (MSRP $35 USD, though you will regularly find it for as little as $20 – $25 USD and used copies are out there as well) and then everything else can be as free or expensive as you want it to be from there as you dip your toes in or throw yourself off the deep end.

Enter the skirmish wargame Frostgrave: Second Edition: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City (PDF from DrivethruRPG, Book from Amazon or direct from Osprey Games), written by Joseph A. McCullough and published by Osprey Publishing.

This game is a fast paced race to the treasure against (or with) your friends. One of the best parts of the game is it has a simple enough rule system that even if you miss half of the more intricate rules your first few times through play, you can always pick them up as you go and you will start to see the depth of play that can be achieved from such simple rules. The game is based around D20 resolution where you are fighting against opposing war band/s of wizards controlled by your friend/s. This is accompanied by an extremely satisfying spell selection process where you use schools of magic to determine your starting wizards spell selection.

You and your friends delve into a frozen waste of a ruined city encountering roaming beast that have reclaimed the once great seat of magical power that was the city of Felstad. The terrain can be as simple as throwing some books and junk on a table to represent different sites in the fallen city. Or you can purchase, print or otherwise create your own unique terrain from scratch. Here is a picture of my groups current set up for Frostgrave, this is in no way a static terrain set, but it is showcasing most of the materials we have currently for our games.

Many of the terrain pieces my group utilizes for our games of Frostgrave.

Being a skirmish level game no party should ever have more than 10 (though the party who summons zombies, demons and constructs may break the rule if they can get away with it!) So building a war band consists of a simple few table with a couple small restrictions, like only 4 of the more powerful units may be used at any given time to flesh out your party or your amount of starting gold. Within these restrictions you will find that after the first game you may in fact have more than enough resources to start building upon and replacing all of those cheap units that you started with.

Oh yeah, did I mention this game has a campaign aspect that makes it feel almost as much like a better version of D&D than well D&D itself? Yeah so keep your wizards alive and get the loot of the table and you get to roll on some more random tables to discover what rewards await your party after the last treasure is removed from the board. This along with creating a home base for your wizard gives the game so much depth and replay value.

So what brings up this topic of Frostgrave? Well after about a year hiatus, my group was able to get back together and create new war bands last night. We threw down in a co-op game where we fought off doves of enemies and grabbed all the treasure we could. What oh yeah co-op, thats right you heard it, we have modified the rules (slightly) to play cooperative. I created a band of quick thieves to grab all the treasure, while one friend created a tanky force to be dealt with in melee and then our third wizard deals with ranged attacks on the board. Each turn we automatically add uncontrolled monsters to make sure we are not too bored. Though with full war band strength we did not have too much in the way of troubles with the scenario. Post battle we split gold, items and even experience. Working together makes it feel even more like a TTRPG in that aspect.

Now where was I, oh yes reviewing Frostgrave. Look if you’ve made it this far into the post, you have any inkling of desire to dip your toes into wargaming then I will just tell you that you need to get this game. The cost of barrier to entry is so small with needing nothing to play except stuff you probably have lying around in board games or simply printing out some paper miniatures and paper terrain to drop on the table.

So stop reading, but the book search up a couple videos on YouTube about how to play and there you go, I recommend Bricks and Blocks Gaming, Guerrilla Miniatures Games or Watch it played.

Grab the book, some junk lying around the house and a friend to play with. You will not be sorry. Or you can always play Solo, yeah there are (official) rules for that too in the Perilous Dark supplement if you’re here for that.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Master, hoarder collector of fine games

I was the Dungeon Hero…

Now I’m just another set of remains to be found by the next adventurer. Binglo the Halfling made it to adventure hook 68 of the first Adventure created for Dungeon Hero, Castle Charon, which is included in Volume 1.

This quick to play game is the perfect thing for a quick morning delve into a dungeon or a quick game before your group arrives for game night. With a simple resolution mechanic, Dungeon Hero can be played in about 15-20 minutes. You roll a few dice based on your relevant traits. The list of traits is up to you to decide for your character, and need not be anything more than a set of skills and equipment that you may set out with on your adventure. You assign these traits to dice values and when prompted you decide what is relevant and roll with those trait’s dice. Whether you beat the challenge or not you will advance (unless your pool of Resolve is fully depleted). You continue to play through using your skills of DMing to invent new ideas in the dungeon based on the prompts given in each entry.

This was the result of my run through Castle Charon… Binglo did not make it.

A few dice (upwards of 4 sets of polyhedral without the d20 may be needed), pen/pencil, a printed booklet and a little imagination are all that is needed to enjoy this game. It employs a simple 8 fold zine booklet style to make it simple to play, though there are PDFs available for screen use if you prefer to not use a printed booklet. The replay value of the game should be pretty good for at least two or three runs through (YMMV). The mechanic of rolling and advancing gives a fair amount of randomness but on subsequent plays you may find yourself in similar loops as past plays.

Look at all those dice! While not necessary it was easy enough to find two sets of dark dice and two sets of lighter colored dice to keep track of whether the dice were mine or the adversarial dice. Rolling four dice at a time felt good too!

All in all for the PWYW, with a suggested price of 3 dollars I feel that this was an easily enjoyable game, worth the couple of silver spent on it. It comes with the Dungeon Hero Core Rules and two adventures (Castle Charon and Fortress of the Frost Giant Jarl) Lone Spelunker also has a Volume 2 and Volume 3 for sale with the same model each volume coming with 3 new adventures to run through of varying themes. I would like to give a special mention to the game Fable on your Table by Lone Spelunker as well, which utilizes a similar resolution mechanic and provides a bunch of paper craft materials to print, color and play with for a longer style game with a bit more engagement required than Dungeon Hero, I have not played it but it does seem like a nice game to expand upon your Dungeon Hero experience if you find yourself really enjoying it.

The Portal at Hill House, a Play Through

Travis D. Hill and Lindi M. Farris-Hill bring us a game of cosmic horror, in a cute A6 booklet that comes in at 20 pages. Published by Press Pot Games give us an easy setup, a deck of cards, a d6, a pencil and paper are all that are needed to have an amazing adventure. I have tried a few journaling solo games before but usually fall short of finishing. I took the time out of my day today to play through this game. I honestly lost track of the time and found myself making things up that did not necessarily come from the book, but as a solo game, who cares! Besides I kickstarted this back in 2020 so its nice just to pull it off the shelf and finally give one of those old games some love, and I think it for sure gave me love back.

The game played quick and involved very little prep work, aside from drawing the blueprint of a house (a quick google search fixed that for me and I had a blueprint in seconds). Then I let my imagination run wild, the prompts from the cards were just enough to give me a little bit of a jump and then off I went. Now, I am not a prolific writer and I actually write this blog partially to help me grow my writing skills, so do not expect anything ground shaking here. I think it was a good exercise in what a journal game should be, cosmic horror looms ahead and you need to get your shit together to fix it or the world will be devoured.

Travis just released out a new version, The Mirror in Hill House, for two people and while I have not had a chance to look through it yet I believe that it could be something worth grabbing if you have someone who is also interested in this type of game. Plus it is made for playing on a shared google doc, now that is a game for the times!

In closing I will give you my play through in its base form, just what i wrote while playing, unedited. Each room has three cards listed, those are what the game uses to prompt you for each room. for more details get the game it’s only a few bucks on Itch, or is available for purchase in physical on Press Pot Games official site. While your there take a look at the rest of the games available there are a bunch there and for the price a few small games to play solo or with one other person can be a great way to pass a few hours of time (or so I am just now finding out.)

Hill House

The house looms ahead of me on the hilltop, the lush green forest behind and around it seems to become dull as I look on at the two story house, whose cream colored siding is showing clear signs of decay, the bright forest green shutters appear to have been recently repainted, as if that could hide what it truly hides inside. This house could be from colonial times, as old as our country, though the feeling it radiates is much older and precedes written history.


5 Hearts – Parchment

Ace Clubs – Regulus

6 Diamonds – Flame of Fhu

I approach the front porch, the door looms in front of me slightly ajar. Something pulls at me to open the door. There is something calling to me, why would the rift want me to enter? I must find the tools necessary to close it, but if the tools are here why would it want me in to enter?

1 The Foyer

QH – 3C – AD

A deck of playing cards, burned, lay littered on the floor of the foyer, they form the outline of a human, drawing their outline like chalk at a murder scene. There is no body thought he floor below is also scorched as if the body did burn here but was removed by someone, or something. Stepping around the gruesome scene I make my way towards the living room that appears before me once I pull my eyes away.

2 Living Room

KH – AC – 8D

The item called to me, It almost had a glow to it, in the waning light of the sunset coming through the windows, the lacy drapes letting in the last few pieces of light. The rot of wood and plaster clung in my nose making me sick as I crossed the creaking floor, watching carefully for spots that might collapse on me. I had found the first piece, I took the Regulus off of the table by the window and rolled it in my hands. It was cool and smooth in many spots but lumpy and malformed in others. The piece of metal glowed with a light I could not explain. It was not simply a reflection of the dying sun’s light, it was something more. I lifted it and as the light continued to fade from the window I felt ready to leave this putrid space. I did not know that wood and plaster could give this smell.

3 Kitchen

6H – 10C – JD

Holding the Regulus up above my head I enter the kitchen and feel a cool wind blow past me. There is a smell coming from the refrigerator that I cannot place.  Incredibly the sliding glass door is busted open, the desk in the corner has papers strewn about. After looking through the papers for a clue, I found no clues to my query.  I make my way towards the fridge, thinking I should open it and see what the smell is. As I get closer I cannot bring myself to do it. I backtrack through the house into the foyer where I look up the staircase to the second floor.

4 Staircase

3H – JC – 7D

The walls of the staircase are yellow with time, the paper peeling off and showing the plaster beneath. Stains litter the walls, obviously water seeping in from outside for many years has caused this. A wet looking yellow fungus covers the ceiling from the corner of the stairwell to most of the ceiling high above, as I slowly walk upward around the stairs I see in the center of the landing is a set of stones erected to mimic some ancient calendar or perhaps a circle of summoning that has called the beast from the great beyond. It is unclear which of these explanations truly encompasses their purpose here. Careful as to not disturb them I make my way to the next doorway on the left.

5 Library

5H – KC – 10D

The ceiling seems to extend up forever here, no light comes through, a stone this one 100 feet high stands in the center, a pool of water around it, as if the stone has warped the floor and made a sunken set of boards for the water to pool into. Attached to the stone is a piece of parchment.  Upon seeing this I know I must get to it itmust have what I need to seal this rip in space and time, before the beasts front he other realm pour forth and swallow up the Earth.

I wade into the water, the room opening up to reveal a much larger space than could be possible in the footprint of the house. Up to my waist I approach the stone, the parchment sitting still upon the monolith.  As I take it I feel a warmth in my hand as writing appears upon it, some language I cannot parse. But I know this is needed to complete the closing. But what else is there I could possibly need? I must continue my search and I make my back across the vastness of the room. It continues to grow as I close in on the door. I struggle but make it and close the door behind me.

6 Nursery

10H – 9C – KD

The entrance to the nursery is blown wide open, I enter and see that a window here has burst open and glass from it has been strewn across the floor and some pieces even stick in the walls around the room.  What once was a nursery so full of life and color now lies in ruins, a crib tipped over, diapers scattered across the floor and swollen from water that has gathered here over what feels like centuries. The walls that once were bright and painted are peeled and bare, only the dull gray showing now. I leave with haste. This is an insignificant place and lends me no help in my cause.

7 Bathroom

8H – 8C – 3D

The bathroom doors opens with a creak and beyond I see a grand bookshelf, the true library awaits. Books of jokes and humor fill the shelf, colorful bindings that show a rainbow of color reflecting back from the light of the Regulus, the colors swirl in my eyes and draw me deeper into the room, I remain mesmerized looking at the shelves full of so many books of potty humor. I flip through a few and before I know it more time than I realized has passed. But now I must forge on, the rest of the ritual calls to me, the noises from outside, once a dull hum, have grown, now it is a constant noise that invades my ears. I leave the bathroom holding the Regulus in one hand and the parchment glowing red with unknown runes. I peek out and look to the last door in the hall, it must be in here…

8 Master Bedroom

AH – QC – 6D

As the door opens i sense a complete silence from within, the room ahead of me has none of the drone that has been growing since I found this cursed Hill House. It is as if a switch has turned all sound off here, a tension hangs in the air, stepping slowly into the room I lift the Regulus above my head trying to shed light into the dark room.  All light has faded outside, a door ahead of me is larger than any door that should be in this house, I approach it not even my footsteps on the wooden floor release noise to my ears.

I creep towards the door and place my hand on the knob, it is large, and cold to the touch, I pull my hand away before replacing it and forcing myself to turn the handle.

On the other side of the door is a large stone room, this is not part of the house it is a grand hall and the voice of a child giggles as I enter and approach the object that I need to complete the ritual. A fire blue and cold burns in a brazer in the middle of this vast room. A Large throne sits across on the far side, it sits empty, perhaps the creature who normally occupies it has been called away to pull a world into its maw. 

I dip the Regulus into the blue flame It ignites and burns with the light of a thousand suns the giggling stops and in its place is a scream that rings out through the immense hall.

The parchment previously rolled and tucked into the back pocket of my jeans slides out and a chanting explodes from the very walls of the room. As the voices chant the runes turn from red to blue. I know my time is limited and I turn and run back towards the doorway I came through, it has grown larger still and it is slowly closing. I pick up my pace and sprint at the doorway, only to have it close violently on my hand as I squeeze through the opening. 

Pain washes over me as everything turns to white then the inky black that almost appears red as I lose consciousness. 

The Hill House let me live this time and I stopped the creature from swallowing all of mankind as we know it. But I am changed, no not just the fact that I am missing my hand. I am missing much more than just my hand. I am missing some part of me that was taken that day wandering those impossible rooms of the Hill House did something to me. I do not know if I’ll ever truly be able to return to the world I knew before. I see those around me and I hear them bauble on. They get me things and read to me, put the cup to my mouth with the straw and I sip. It is an automatic response though, I will never know how they came to find me in that place. Nor will I ever be able to ask for myself. But the world will go on, at least for now…

Mechanical appendix, thanks Luka for the suggestion.

Incase your confused about the stuff that happened here is a brief breakdown of the mechanics at work here.

You draw a card from each deck (separated by suit) there are prompts for each card in the book and then put them together. If something didn’t fully fit I just made it work. Like a 100ft tall stone slab in the upstairs library room of this house, lol so I expanded the room like a good cosmic horror story should have. Each item you need to find is represented by the 1-6 of the heart, clubs and diamonds suit decks (roll a d6 at the start to decide which you are going for in each deck), when you pull those you get one of the three pieces to close the rift. 6ou are given a lot of leeway to do as you will, plus it’s solo so bend and break the rules as necessary as long as it doesn’t break the game.

The last mechanic I didn’t include in my write up was the spades deck that you draw after each turn you are trying to beat the deck, if it runs out you lose. The Face cards draw extra cards and speed up the game.

School’s back in session… A Tomb review.

It’s been a few months since school got back up and running. And let me tell you it has sucked all of my time, energy and will to be productive. Seriously, just raked and mowed my lawn for the first time since middle of August, it was getting long and snow is soon around the corner for us in the great Northeast. Seriously I’m writing this from the last baseball of my kids season and it’s wicked cold.

The sun is deceiving, it’s only 51°F out and the wind is howling at 15 mph which makes it feel like 47°F, oh and the sun is going down…

Now I have not been completely removed from the world of RPGs and while I thought I was going to start a series on Solo RPGs that has not happened. I have had very little time to think about playing let alone reading new systems or thinking about reviewing them. However, I had a chance to take a peak at Perplexingruins‘ new small form game Tomb. And let me tell you I am happy with it!

Used with permission, Perplexingruins

I read the short form game and loved the ease of rules for it. I even made my players roll up some characters to see how it would go, then I ran them through a cute little one page adventure by Josh Burnett, The Burial Mound of Gilliard Wolfclan.

The adventure was quick and painless to learn enough about to run it in about 5 minutes. Character creation in Tomb took about 5 minutes and with only a few rules needed to understand the game, my players and I were off in record time!

My players are used to DnD 5e, B/X (well OSE) as well as some OSR games like Maze Rats (I’m getting them more I got them). One of my players previously played a PbtA game with me (specifically we played a 4 shot of Uncharted Worlds).

They absolutely loved the speed in which they could make characters. After they rolled for stuff I allowed them to their swap gear around so they could make their own classes based on equipment. Tomb is a classless game and the feel of your character really comes from the incantations (the magic system in the game) and the gear. *Chef’s kiss* this is something I’ve really come to enjoy from a rules light game.

Incantations are a wonderful freeform way in which to run magic. A single word entry that is rolled randomly (although as with any game you could let them pick  for more “class” control if you so choose). For incantations each if the players rolled and all ended up with Mind, so I allowed them to choose two of them to reroll for new ones. They loved the ability to interpret what the word meant in their use of the spell.

We did question how many times they could use an incantation word. I allowed them to use it as many times as they didn’t fail and lose it. I stole the list if complications from the wizard playbook in Dungeon World to help with complications and the players seemed pretty pleased with those options.

I added devil’s bargains to the game to add +1 on a roll. They loved the additional narrative power that the other players could add to the game. Oh and since I haven’t me ruined it yet the resolution mechanics are a very simple 2d6 roll resolving like a PbtA game with <6 fail, 7-9 success with complication and 10+ full success. Damage in combat was filed out by a weapon specific dice as you would expect, like a d4 dagger,  d8 long sword, etc.

Character advancement is heavily inspired by Maze Rats. You get a point for completing stuff by session and you can pick to advance a skill, stat or HP. I let them do each for the conclusion in the second session if their 2 shot game we played.

Adding rules was easy and did not change the feeling of the rules light nature of the game. I would propose something as we played and the players would agree and we would move on with the ruling.

After reading the ruleset I was excited to take this to school and use with my middle school students, after running a game and getting so much fun out of the game, I am now even more excited to play this game with the students, there are just enough rules to keep them focused but not so many as to stifle or stop their creativity! The rules are free on Itch, a physical copy can be obtained from Perplexingruines’ webstore.

I hope to start writing more frequently again, though I can’t say I’ll promise anything for sure. Let’s try to make it every other week for now and see how we do with that.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Master


First off, all I can say is fuck those dudes. Seriously, making a list of TTRPG publishers who care about the world and the people living in it and advising people not to play them? Who the hell are these fascists?

I made the mistake of hopping on twitter this morning and found a post about this RedList crap and just decided I needed to get a quick explosion of uncool out to the world, or at least the small subset of the world who will see this.

The list tells its readers to not play Mörk Borg because they reserve the rights to not allow printing of material based on their IP that would be racist. That is totally a reason to not play a game… (yeah to be abundantly clear this is sarcasm, I feel I should really let it be known since this is a written medium). This is only a single example of the atrocities on this list.

This is a steaming pile of horseshit and anyone who actually believes that this is okay is welcome to not read my blog. Calling out companies for following their beliefs and supporting human rights movements is definitely not okay in my book.

Sure you may not like their cause, but can you just sit back and be a fascist in your own living room without having to spill your drivel all over RPG forums?

When did it become okay to open up your mouth and say “don’t support these guys because they won’t let me be racist?” Seems like a pretty narrow view of the world.

Please why don’t you add Halfling’s Hoard to the Red List now and someday please don’t play the game that I eventually write because there is no room for that shit in my world view. Everyone should be loved and allowed to love whom they want. No person should feel belittled because you don’t agree with what they believe. Yes, I see the irony in my statement, and no I do not take it back. Go sit in your garage with your confederate flags and swastikas and stay out of my space, no one needs to be subjected to your hate.

Photo by Nothing Ahead on

All are welcome in my neck of the woods unless you are unwilling to let others live their best life.

Seriously though I hope that if you feel this hate running through you then you have an experience that opens your eyes to the real world for what it is and leave the hate behind. We are much happier on this side of the fence, please do join us after the hate fades. We are inclusive and will welcome you in.

This is a short one because I don’t want to give them any more press than they already have gotten. I will not link to the post about this and I hope everyone who reads this is inspired to get on the RedList because it means we are doing the right thing.

Derek Bizier, The Halfling Master

Wormskin Questions, Updates and things to come

I was asked a few questions about my Wormskin post this past week that I feel I should address. Then stay tuned for a quick update on a new section I will be bringing to you.

First: But why would I buy this instead of waiting for the big Kickstarter that will inevitably come from Necrotic Gnome?

Answer: We’ll you don’t need to buy these pieces, because undoubtedly the product you back as a Kickstarter down the road will be a much more concise, put together, full and far reaching for the entirety of the Dolmenwood universe. Anyone looking to get access to a lot of this stuff can easily pump into the Necrotic Gnome Patreon and get a large portion of this material plus so much more for only a few dollars a month. But with that said there is something nice about looking at the source material.

I have enjoyed flipping through these tomes and love the simplicity in which they were created. There is also a nice progression you get to see as the issues progress. The Abbey of St. Clewd is a wonderful little adventure that could be slotted into any adventure and while I do not know if that will be available after in the new Dolmenwood materials, I am glad I have it to throw at my players in the future.

Now I’m not sure that I’ve really solidified my place on this stage of showing that The Wormskin Zines are totally worth the purchase, and… well I’m not sure that that was really my goal. I think they are great reference material and if you are really curious about what is actually contained in the 8 zines feel free to check out Question Beast’s videos as Ben showcases all of the finer points.

So in closing should you go out and spend the $80 USD on this? Yeah probably, but if you are hesitant at all, then maybe just check out the Patreon instead for all for the most up to date information available straight from the source, most of which is completely usable in your campaign today! You will know if your FOMO needs you to get this today before it is gone forever.

Second: Why didn’t you mention The Weird that Befell Drigbolton?

Answer: Frankly because I had not really thought about including it. However, that should not say that I do not love this book! It is totally worth it to get this adventure! I got to play through this as a player and let me tell you it was lovely, scary and oh so freaky. Here is just the tip of the iceberg on what is contained within…

Weird otherworldly beasts! A clock to race against before the world completely implodes on itself! Animated Meats? A hex crawl based around a quaint little Hamlet known as Drigbolton. A lake filled with jelly. A setting that can be slotted into any old campaign you may be running. And yeah I did say animated meats. Seriously though animated meats, you have got to see this!

It is worth checking out. Wormskin is not required, though it can be used to enhance the game greatly with all of the additional resources available within, maybe if you’re still on the fence grab this adventure and run through it. I do not know if this will still be available after the Dolmenwood Kickstarter or if it will be recreated for the Kickstarter? But either way It is worth a flip now and fits perfectly into any fantasy OSE style game you may be playing right now

Now onto more important things… Or well at least new things.

I have completed my affiliate program signup with DriveThruRPG, so now you can shop through my affiliate link HERE, or just about any link that takes you to DriveThruRPG from my site. I get a little bit of a percent of each sale that is made through my link clicks, and that cash will be used to purchase other pieces of work for me to look at and bring to you here in the blog. So should you feel like you would like to order something and help me out at no additional cost to you then please do not fret buying through the links around my pages. And hey, seriously thanks if you do.

Next order of business is the outlook of the future of what I will be writing about. Since the beginning of the pandemic (and some before that even) I have looked into a read through many solo RPGs. I have a few that are my favorite, and then some that I think are not worth the time getting through. So with that said I plan on starting a segment where I will be talking about Solo RPGs, maybe one every other week, or so? I’ll add a catchy little title to the beginning of each blog post so you know what’s coming.

I will focus on both Solos I’ve read and think would be fun, as well as ones I have played and enjoyed myself. What I will not be doing is bashing any Solos I have read and not liked, whether through play or just reading, because I don’t think that is fair, I may call on some of these to talk about mechanics that i enjoyed from them but ultimately I want my blog to be a happy place to read from and not a negative space. So If your Solo game makes it here congrats you have won the opportunity for this RPG geek to write a bit about it and alternatively if your game does not make this space, you should not be upset, because you don’t know if I didn’t like it or if I just never got to it.

I find that if i want to rad good things about a game I can always find them, and when someone writes about those great games they usually give any downfalls that they can see too. You will find that here, and I will be honest but kind about doing so when it is necessary.

Well there is a thousand words written, and I hope you enjoyed them. I do plan on another post this week so keep up to date by signing up for the mailing list below or following the blog if you’ve enjoyed what was written here or elsewhere in the past.

Thanks again as always,

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Master

Wormskin and Why It’s Worth Your Cheddar.

Gavin Norman has written a brilliant world for adventurers to visit. It is contained within 8 zine style book that can be purchased (at the time of this writing) as a bundle of pdfs for around $55.00 dollars or physical copies for $80.00.

There now that the heavy hitting numbers are out of the way I’d like to take some time to discuss why this product is so we’ll, good. But before we get into those details let me tell you that this will not be available for long.

Necrotic Gnome, you know the dude Gavin Norman who recently shook up the whole if the OSR with his rewriting of the B/X rules known as Old School Essentials wrote this fantasy setting with a twist that strays from the usual Tolkienesque fantasy many of us are so used to. Well anyway he wrote this series of books and is currently rewriting them into a single (set of) setting book(s). With the release of this upcoming book it is rumored that the Workskin zines will no longer be available.

These will be collector items at some point. Now say what you will about POD products, but these books are worth their weight in art (not sure if that’s really a phrase but who cares?) Here are the front and back covers to show you.

The setting called Dolmenwood is reminiscent of old fairy tales and Arthurian legend . There are ample goatmen, moss dwarfs, summerstones, eldritch horrors, drune, witches, and hex crawling for anyone’s campaign. The material can be used as is in most ORS systems, though they are written with B/X in mind or OSE since that is really what these were made for.

Ranging from a mere 40 pages up to 75ish pages these books will give you a large amount of material to work with. Whether you want to drop in a strange town, or a new race of root beasts in your enchanted forest, these book can do it for you.

So if you want to wait for the books to come out in a form factor that matches all of your OSE stuff you could wait, but the new books may not actually contain all of the flavor that these original workings of Dolmenwood does.

Gavin has gone in a slightly different art direction as well, and while beautiful in its own right there is something cunning about these Wormskin Zines, for a sneak peek at the books being created you can stop by Patreon and support Gavin’s work.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Master

Secret Projects, New Logo and More…

So welcome back my dear readers, today I wanted to talk quickly about a few secret projects… Or rather talk about what’s going on in my head as I work on secret projects, because you know, they are secret!

But first here is a look at the new logo!

Drew Cochran of Epic of Dreams fame worked with me on getting this put together. I love what he has done! And yes that is a likeness of me, way to add that personal touch Drew. High res finalized files are incoming! He has been in the back end helping me get all of this going and I feel like he needs a huge shout out for being a great friend and muse in my journey as a RPG guy putting my stuff into the world. So thanks Drew!

In other news I am working on becoming an affiliate with DriveThru to help fund my ability to receive new content from them to bring more reviews, news and other content here to this blog.

Now onto the secret projects…

I am currently working on 3 secret projects across the internet with many cool people in the RPG community. I had a bit of a slump for about three months. Covid, life, work, friends, family, etc. have gotten in the way of my creative ability to well… create.

I have recently had a flash and have had some excitement return to my creative flow. That coupled with my recent blog activity have given me to go power I needed to pick it back up. So I am writing, slowly and picking up a bit of steam for one of the bigger projects.

Is this what a writer’s block looks like?

So all of that said I am moving past my block and working away at some content that I hope to be able to talk about here in the future. Until then please keep reading, tell your friends who are excited at all about RPGs or wargames. I think I’m going to be trying to expand my posts per week to two soon. The Halfling’s Hoard is a growing project and I want to take you and yours along for the ride.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Master

Random Encounter Tables

As I look into the future of tabletop gaming I see more and more random tables being produced. Is this a shift in play style back to the old ways or is this something new and cutting edge?

set of colorful dices on desk with pencils and toys

Photo by Will Wright on

The vein of books, that derive full adventures from random tables, is not new to the hobby of table top gaming. We can look back to the days of B/X with B1 In Search of the Unknown, who’s main design feature was a dungeon that each room entered was rolled for it’s contents. Each room description had a spot to write in your own encounter and treasure. This first release has not been remembered or idolized nearly as much as the highly popularized B2 Keep on the Borderlands, which employed many of the same table rolling for encounters, the caves of chaos were exactly a chaotic mess of encounters that had roaming bands of kobolds, orcs or other mythical beasts ready to leap out of seemingly nowhere, at least no where that made any sense.This leads us to have to look at dungeon ecology.

Dungeon ecology deals with  what exactly is there, lets say that the little old lady down the road is having rat problems in her basement, you would not want a random encounter table to add a dragon upon entering the room.

This leads to a point that a random table should not be all encompassing and kitchen sinkish. Here is where the new school of dungeon design really shines. Most adventures in the modern RPG scene that include random tables, will theme the tables to the adventure…

Wait they did this in old school too?

Turns out that this is not so much of a brand new idea, one can look as far back as say the Against the Giants campaign from AD&D 1E.  The tables provided allowed a referee to roll and see if there way anything that would pop up and the tables were themed to the module it was contained in, so lots of Giants and things that were relatable to the dungeon at hand.

The idea of a targeted experience based on the module or adventure being run has not necessarily changed since the dawn of RPGs.  New school games like A Packet of Particular Peaks have really taken that base idea and extended it however, with modern design features, to a new realm that shows a much cleaner layout design, but that is a movement all of its own design. (See what I did there?)

So whether it is planning out a world to play in or you are just looking for a cohesive one shot to run your players through, keep random tables in mind for that next adventure, but please be mindful of what you include on that list. No one needs a Dragon appearing in the basement where your party is supposed to be fight rats, unless the old lady was lying and she was really hiding the dragon from the town because she is building up its power to destroy the world…  wait maybe thats an idea for another time.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Master


P.S. As I await the official announcement for the remaster of the Gardens of Ynn, I look at games like Maze Rats, The Stygian Library and To Elfland and Back. These books all keep dungeon ecology in mind while allowing for a new play experience every time you delve into their worlds. I do not make any money off of these links as I do not currently have an affiliate account with any of these sites, so please feel free to visit and give your patronage to each and every one of these great creators.

BattleTech where have I been?

So I recently stumbled across BattleTech. And my mind was blown! A hex miniatures game that gets down and dirty with all the parts of a giant Mech machine? My buddies and I can sit and toss lasers, machine gun fire and oh yeah cluster bombs at each other without tape measures?

Now don’t get me wrong I love measuring out spaces between our wizards in the frozen domain of Frostgrave. Slinging spells and watching the puny humans fall to the ground. But this is a new level of excitement.

The problem of course is that the “advanced starter set” called BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat, is sold out currently and the only cookies I can find are from jerks who bought them all up and are selling for 4 times the original MSRP.

No thank you!

So I did manage to find the starter box with two mechs and some cardboard standees. It was a lot of fun, in my first game I managed to win in the second round as a well placed headshot killed my Griffin. Oh and I played it solo because it makes sense to do so!

Robit Battle

The turns were quick once I got it all figured out and I managed to play a second game in very short order adding a Locust to each side, which extended the game for an additional hour or so. Which I manage to do in between making my 4 year old breakfast and getting us ready for the day ahead. Nothing better than early morning gaming!

My plans going forward are adding to my friends 3D printer que a few mechs to play with and getting myself a copy of the advanced combat book. Well play it by ear and see how it goes. I’ll make sure to include updates on our adventures, maybe we will get into a good rhythm with this game and start a campaign!

Until next time,

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Master