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

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