Monday, 24 January 2011

Launching a New Fanzine!

I am launching a new fanzine, to be called 'Unknown Sagas', that will cover Swords & Wizardry: White Box. I aim to publish this fanzine quarterly, at least for the moment, and it will be produced in the digest-sized format, to match the newest release of the White Box rules, which are impending. This magazine will be distributed for free in PDF format, and a hardcopy version will be available through Lulu at cost – this will be a free fanzine, just as in the earliest days of OD&DITIES.

Now, naturally, such a fanzine is nothing without submissions, so I'm calling for writers and artists! No submission restrictions on content, this fanzine is to be by the fans and for the fans; that's the whole idea of a fanzine. I'll take spells, monsters, adventures, house rules, classes, rants, poems, campaign write-ups, short stories, anything in fact that the readers wish to send in! The rules system used in any article should be 'White Box', naturally, and submissions, ideas, questions and comments should be in Word, Open Office or rtf format, to

I'm still working on the novel at the same time, of course; having three new projects in the fire will make life interesting. The first book, 'The Forgotten Tomb', will be out in April-May, more details to follow in the coming months on this. All I will say right now is that it is intended as very much in the spirit of the OSR – my intent from moment one was to write a series of 'OSR' books, in this case especially inspired by White Box.

I'm consolidating down by blogs to one to make my life a little easier – so my online home is now; there you can follow progress on the magazine, progress on my campaign, progress on the book, and my progression into insanity!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Gather Ye Materials: Swords & Wizardry

Before I actually start creating the campaign (which I hope to start in around four months from now, so plenty of lead time for prep work), I'm going to go over the sources I'll be using. This boils down to Swords & Wizardry itself, the Strategic Review, Dungeoneer, and other miscellaneous sources. Starting with Swords & Wizardry, then...

OK, so here I have the basic rules set for the campaign. Three classes – Fighting-Man, Magic-User and Cleric, and four races – Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits. (Yes, I know the book calls them halflings. But they are Hobbits, darn it. Christopher Tolkien can sue me if he wants.) It seems a sensible idea to work on the principle that these will be the major classes and races of the campaign; so at least 95% of the classed NPCs encountered will be of the races and classes from this book.

One house rule I make right from the start. Instead of advancing as a hybrid, Elves choose either Fighter or Magic-User as a class, and advance as appropriate. A bit AD&D of me, I know, but it solves the 'Elves are awesome at first level' problem. (This further suggests the possibility that the Elves of this setting are divided into two different groups with two different traditions, but I'll shelve that for later.)

licking right to the back, there is the appendix with the Thief and Monk classes. Monks – no. This is a fantasied Occidental setting, and there were no 'hi-yah' kung-fu monks in Western Europe. It's not as if he's going to sit around copying manuscripts. The Thief is a harder sell. I must admit, I kinda agree with the school that suggests the Thief is an unnecessary addition – having said that, however, a lot of my players like playing Thieves. So the thief is in. I'll go with the Traditional Thief, and allow Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits to select it as a class. Already this greatly expands the number of options...

onsters and magic are nothing to particularly write home about. I intend to make greater use of the creatures from Dungoneer and the Strategic Review – but D& S&W isn't the same without the usual suspects making an appearance. Happy with the spell list as it stands, as well, so I don't plan to make any changes at this point. No need to reinvent the wheel at this stage. The idea is to run a fairly classic-styled campaign, after all.

Tomorrow: The Strategic Review!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Partying like it's 1976!

The year is 1976, and Dungeons & 'Swords & Wizardry' has just been released. Now comes an entry into the realms of myth and adventure!

I've been thinking a lot about my next campaign, and my initial idea is to go back, a long way back, right to the dawn of the hobby. Which essentially means drawing a line in June 1976 and shouting, “None shall pass”. What is special about that month? The publication of the last issue of the Strategic Review. I'm using Swords & Wizardry simply because I want to go right back to the beginning in one handy rulebook...and will be using the 'Core Rules' rather than 'White Box' edition, effectively to simulate Supplement 1.

So my personal canon is:
Swords & Wizardry, Core Rules (Standing in for Supplement 1)
The seven issues of the Strategic Review
A few issues of Liaisons Dangereuses
Dungeoneer, Issues 1- 6 (I would only use the first three issues from 1976, but the only version I have is the Judges Guild re-release, and no-one is selling Dungeoneer pdfs.)

What sparked this off was reading a rediscovered Gygax piece about creating a campaign, written back in 1975 – and I intend to follow it to the letter. So there will be a megadungeon where the bulk of the adventuring takes place, a home base town/city for the PCs, and a wilderness map upon which they are placed. I'll be talking about the article over the next few posts, but you can read it here.

If anyone has any other thoughts for material I should use based on this 1976 and back idea – any fanzines, etc – please let me know! Any material I can add will be of interest...

Bringing back the blog...

I've been thinking about this one for a little while, and I'm going to resume blogging here, as well as the 'Dusty Vault'. The Vault is where I intend to keep my reviews, but here's where I'll hang my hat on other things...

And speaking of which...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Returning to Slumber...

Well, a few months ago I made a big relaunch of OD&DITIES, and managed to get out three issues of the magazine before deciding – reluctantly – to pull it back again for a while. Its only fair that I explain why…

When I re-started OD&DITIES, I had the idea that I would write the first issue all myself, 75% of the second issue, and 50% of the third, and would subsequently write 25-50% of the magazine myself, meaning around 2,500 – 5,000 words per month, a level I thought I could sustainably maintain. (Some of this would be elements like the Editorial, of course.) A normal issue of OD&DITIES was running at 10,000 – 11,000 words a month, and to be honest, I didn’t think I could do that much myself in the course of a single calendar month. Certainly not with room for any other projects.

Sales were the other factor. I had decided to budget for around $100-150 for each issue of OD&DITIES, and figured that I could afford to run it at a slight loss or break-even. I didn’t think a profit was ever on the cards – if sales had been better, then I would have increased the size of the magazine. Sales for Issue 13 were very good – we were top-rated on RPGNow for nineteen days, and more than a hundred issues were sold. Fourteen was less successful, selling around eighty, and Fifteen was down in the fifties. I had expected that lose around 20% of the readership after Thirteen (novelty wearing off, not being what they expected, etc.), but this plummet was a bad sign.

And the contributors I had hoped for simply did not materialise. I had one excellent article in issue 14, and of course my good friend Mr. B, but that was all. Fifteen was all my own work, and I was beginning to burn out. To the point that for Sixteen, I was struggling to come up with article ideas that met with my standards for quality. The deadline for Sixteen passed and I hadn’t done any serious work on it, and hoped that by bringing in a friend I might turn things around a bit…but again, this led to nothing.

So at present, there it stands. There are a lot of excellent magazines in the field at the present – Fight On!, Knockspell, Nod, Oubliette, and so forth, and I suspect that if I was to continue OD&DITIES, I would end up having to do the bulk of each issue myself…

Am I totally out of the game? Not in the slightest. I have a few ideas for future products that I might have a go at, probably Labyrinth Lord-related, maybe towards the end of the year. As with all things, they key is to do this for the love of the game. If it begins to affect that, then stop at once and get back to your roots. (One of those products is A Thousand Monkeys: Publishing a Fanzine!)

One thing I am doing is launching a new blog, Tales from the Dusty Valut, which is going to principally cover reviews of OSR products, something that is rather lacking at present. I’ve got dozens of books on my shelves that have not ever been reviewed…I hope to correct that.

I guess that’s about all for the moment…

Will OD&DITIES come back? Well, I didn’t think it would the first time…and never say never again…

Richard Tongue
Editor Emeritus (Again),

Monday, 24 May 2010


OD&DITIES has now been running for three months, and I think we've put out some pretty good material. However, I'm forced to state that sales have not been as good as hoped. There was an initial amazing run with Issue 13, which sold over a hundred copies (!), but subsequent issues have fallen far short of that total. In addition, I'm having increasing difficulty putting together the issues; we're just not getting in the submissions I had hoped for.

As a result, OD&DITIES is switching, at least for the time being, to a bi-monthly format; the next issue, number 16, will therefore launch now on June 24th. In addition, the Editorial staff has now increased in size to two – Mark Berryman is to join the magazine as an Editor, effective immediately – I'm bumping myself up to Publisher. Don't worry – the magazine is still in safe hands, and is still going to carry on. Mark'll be introducing himself on the blog shortly.


Saturday, 24 April 2010

OD&DITIES Issue 15!

The third issue of the OD&DITIES relaunch, Issue 15, is now on sale. I'm pretty excited about this one, and not just because – gas leaks and builders notwithstanding – OD&DITIES is somehow keeping to the schedule! As before, this issue is 25 pages long (plus one page for the obligatory OGL), and takes as its theme 'Elemental Magic'. This issue is special for two other reasons, as well – our first guest article, by Dale Cameron, and our first colour cover, by Steve Robertson.

So, what's in the box? Well, the meat of the issue is based around the Elements, and that is where a lot of the 'crunch' is concentrated. A new character class for Labyrinth Lord, the Elementalist, and one that is somewhat different to many of the other magic-wielding classes, as the class is heavily dependent on changing the nature of his environment, as well as summoning Elementals to do his bidding, of course...

This issue's contents, in total...,

A Touch of Class: The Elementalist (With six pages of spells!)
Walking the Dusty Trail (Preparing realistic encounters for the road.)
Resurrection: To Die, or Not to Die (An in-depth look at resurrection in Labyrinth Lord.)
Alternate Alignments (A new look at alignments, from an Elemental point of view.)
Elemental Beasts (Three pages of new Elemental creatures, and a brief look at the Quasi-Planes.)
'X' Marks the Spot (Preparing Treasure Maps on the fly.)
Mr. B's Last Word (As Always!)

The issue is available at:

Issue 16, on 'Lost Worlds' will be launched on May 24th.