The Village: Prayers

"Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it." 

In our uncaring, hyperborean waste, divine healing doesn’t exist. However, characters can cry out for a blessing prior to a battle, offering up sacrifices in the hopes of currying a god’s favor. With a successful spellcheck the character is granted bonus hit dice to distribute to amongst allies as they choose. 

Actual bonus hit points are not determined until battle is joined. The hit points are temporary and any remaining points are lost at the end of the battle.      

The whims of the god & the PCs' goals ...

Spell check







Failure and worse!


3 dice




5 dice

1 die



7 dice

2 dice

1 die


10 dice

4 dice

2 dice


15 dice

8 dice

3 dice

Any character can beseech a god, rolling a 1d10 + Personality modifier. War bands can improve their odds by offering up sacrifices, which can be in blood, treasure, or both.

Sacrifice bonus


Item value


Sheep or cow

50 gp


Enemy warrior 

500 gp


Enemy warlord or champion

5,000 gp


Enemy king

10,000 gp


Enemy emperor or god-king

100,000 gp


So far this is all arbitrary and needs to be sussed out at the table. 

Clerics, as we know them, aren't a class at character creation. But my plan is for a custom Luck Auger table, where some of the results are having been chosen or blessed by a specific god. 

Thanks for letting me daydream out loud, friends! 


The Village: Thieving Skills

Many characters learn certain illicit skills that serve them well as reavers. What you favor is initially determined by what you are good at. At 0-level, pick one skill for each point of ability score modifier in Agility, Personality, or Intelligence. 


Climb sheer surfaces

Sneak silently 

Hide in shadows 

Pick Pocket

Pick Lock 

Disable / Set Trap 


Read Lost Languages

Find Trap 


Ambush (formerly Backstab)

Bluff (formerly Disguise self)

Skill Bonus by level














The trickiest sell is Ambush subbing in for DCC's Backstab. Here's my thought process --- ambushing something (a deer, person, or fiend) requires enormous force of will. You spot the target, sit and sit and sit and wait, until it presents the perfect opportunity. 

Strike early and it's just an attack. But if you have the patience and willpower to wait for just the right moment ... that's the DCC backstab crit.  

Another change would be to reframe Hide in Shadows / Sneak Silently as things anyone can attempt, but with two tracks, with one strongly favoring those that chose it as a skill.

The Village


The conceit of the DCC game is that the PCs are liberated by their 0-level adventure. They shake free of the shackles of their former, humble lives, and set out for the wider world as Adventurers

This presupposes a certain sort of world, where survival is viable for small groups of wanderers, I.e. our usual RPG settings. But DCC is home to thousand insane worlds, some less welcoming than others. 

The Village falls in with the latter. A place where rival bands hope to enslave you, unknown monsters lurk in the dark forests and mist-shrouded moors, and magic is baleful and strange.

The size of the village is finite, and every member of the hamlet is a potential PC. And so, when you lose three characters to your 0-level adventure, your pitiful hamlet is now bereft of its baker, gong farmer, and armorer. 

Rather than abandoning kith and kin when you hit first level, you return home in the hopes of using those bloodied treasures to some advantage. We root our PCs in a sense of place, with the shared goal of survival. 

Cap the levels at 5, start off every PC as a warrior with handful of thief skills, and hide magic in the ruins crushed beneath a hyperborean glacier. Beowulf meets Viking Crawl, and the first 10 pages of every Conan comic reboot. We'll see if I can get anyone to play. 

You’re no hero. 

You’re are a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen, 

a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets ...

… and your Village's only hope for survival.


Spawn of Cyclops Con Third-Party Publisher Reference for Gather.Town

Gather.Town uses iframes to embed websites. When a con-goer comes across your shop icon, they are prompted to interact by pressing X, opening a window within Gather.Town.

Original G.T documentation embedding for websites can be found here:


Important bits:

-The page needs to be HTTPS

-Some specific websites block being embedded in iframes. If it is blocked, the website administrator needs to change the permissions.

Unfortunately, DriveThruRPG works to block iframes. Same with Instagram and Facebook.

However, there is a simple work around to direct attendees to your offerings on DriveThruRPG:

1. You will need an https landing page. Blogger / blogspot will do, or a google doc, or your own website.

2. Select and post links to your products. Be sure that each link includes
This instructs the browser to open a new tab, outside of the Gather.Town frame, sending the viewer directly to your publisher page on DriveThruRPG.

If you are using Blogger/Blogspot, Google makes this easy. When you enter a link, a window will pop up, asking if you'd like the link to open a new page. Obviously: Yes!

A sample landing page for an artist or publisher might look something like this:

Thanks for stopping by our booth! Check out our con specials on DriveThru RPG!
Also be sure to check out my DCC Adventure, Doom of the Savage Kings.


The raw text code for the above can be found and copy/pasted from here:



Through the Gather.Town interface, the above post would look like this, with all of the links opening into new windows:

If you're feeling sassy you can host links to all your titles with thumbnails and brief descriptions. Maybe you take photos of your DCC RPG adventures in milkcrates to give it that thumbed-through record store feel. Whatever. You're smart and cool. You can make it work.

If this doesn't make sense for any reason, let me know and we can create a single simple post, here, that will direct folks to your offerings on DriveThru or site X. A little 3pp directory of sorts.


Character as Class

The merits and flaws of Race as Class have been debated elsewhere.  The focus of the discussion is wrong.

This is no-one's fault: From the outset of our hobby, every PC and every NPC was depicted through the same lens. So it should come as no surprise that, 20 years later, every bartender is a retired fighter with the HP of a dragon, every village elder is secretly a powerful wizard, and every PC need a special hook to stand apart / above the crowd.

This is a consequence of our wargaming history. Our first PCs were Heroes advanced from Fighting Men. But per Appendix N, we should be looking at Character as Class.

Conan is not simply a level 6 Warrior. He's The Warrior. When he enters the tavern, people notice. When he fights, people die. There are other mercenaries, reavers and barbarians in the world, and many of these NPCs might threaten him in a fight, but there's only one Conan. Translated to the tabletop, only PCs have the capacity to become a Warrior. One hundred NPCs might train their entire lives, but no matter how deadly they become, they will never have the suite of abilities of the Warrior. It's not a job title, it's a destiny.

Other classes should be no different. PC Clerics aren't simply priests; they are holy men with the ability to work miracles. Fantasy Popes shouldn't be able to cast spells or heal, but the party Cleric can. You are the sole living instrument of a god. Followers flock wherever you wander, lords tremble in your presence, kings have you assassinated. You're not playing Friar Tuck, you're playing Jesus.

As a Wizard, you aren't the village elder. You're Merlin. Sure, per Appendix N, evil sorcerers exist to blast your PCs with a spell (or three), but just one Wizard has traded his soul to a devil in exchange for the ability to twist reality to his whim. Even if you wanted to retired to village elder-dom, devils and demons will be beating down your tower door with contracts in hand.

And even the Thief. Whereas cutpurses work the bazars, catburglers prowl the nights, safe crackers do their magic, and assassins stew their poisons, you alone have mastery of each discipline. There is no treasure that can't be stolen, no secret that can't be revealed, no regent safe from your blade.

Extrapolated to world design it becomes clear that PCs are an explicit threat to the social order. An avalanche of plot hooks follow, simply in response to characters being Appendix N PCs. Overlords despise you; exiled kings and queens are desperate to hire you. Like Beowulf, you are the only one capable of slaying monsters. Like Merlin, you decide who sits on the throne.

Blah, blah, blah. You get the idea. Character as Class.


Harley Wins D&D

It gets lost in the hubbub ever since Gen Con moved to Indianapolis, but each year the folks of TSR get together in a bar in Lake Geneva to decide the year's "Game Wizard," aka the coveted "I Won D&D" award. The last few years I've been slighted (the 2012 award went to +Jon Marr for the video where his giggling daughter was crushed to death beneath the DCC corebook; the year before went to +Erik Jensen for when he DM'd the game where his son turned a town of ghosts into giraffes). 

But this year, I think I'm in the running. 

Submitted on my behalf by a fifth grader in one of my playtest groups: 

You should be able to click to enlarge. Here's the translation from the caption:

"The sad moment when you realize you wasted all your ammunition on the first monster."

So what might the judges infer about my game?  
-D&D is largely interchangeable with DCC. 
-Ammunition is finite. When you get a chance, flaming ammo is better. 
-It looks like orcs have roughly 12 hp.  
-Orcs have weak swords. 
-It's okay to kill PCs with hordes of enemies.

I may accomplish nothing else of note, but I helped a 5th grader get excited about D&D. I win. 


'cause gamers are awesome

I attended GenghisCon this weekend as a special guest of the Denver Gamers Association. The event doubled as the kickoff to the Goodman Games convention season, aka the 2013 World Tour. Huge shout out to +Justin Suzuki , +Andy Collier and the rest of the DGA crew for throwing a seriously awesome event. 

I ran three DCC games (playtests for future releases) Saturday and Sunday. Players got clever, I flipped them off (this is turning into a "thing") and intelligent play trumped devious design nearly every time. But that's par for the course; it wasn't until Sunday game that things got memorable.

Sunday morning games are usually your drop slot – when it is a 3-in-6 chance that no one shows and you get to go back to bed. But this morning's DCC gamers proved more determined than most and we sat 7 at a game intended for 6.

And guided by the light of Brother Leo and the twisted machinations of Manse the Black, the PCs dominated some DCC: 

Wendy kicking ass. She's playing a bar bar bar bar bear eee ann 

Child-demon-witches were slain; a universe egg was accidentally cracked opened; Mary the Barbarian killed the party's own wizard (later resurrected as a nascent god); a wicked army was routed by an incredibly determined barbarian, her lover and a thief; and the world's largest thaumaturgic circle succeeded in suckering away the PCs long enough for the bad guys to kidnap the slain-wizard-turned-godling. 

BUT, just as victory was in the PCs' grasp, fate's fell hand played its trump card: the gaming convention fire alarm ...

Fire trucks showed up, guys with hoses ushered us out. Game over. 

But this is where the smaller local con got to shine. Had we been at GenCon, it would have been lights out, thank you for your $5, please go to the next hotel. But not GenghisCon. No effing way. Instead we all grab our PCs, a fistful of dice and a battlemap and finish the game here:

Wendy's PC has now become a pillar of flame. She died.

... on the frickin' lawn cause gamers are just that awesome. Game on. 

+Doug Keester 's wizard, turned nascent god / blank moral slate takes the opportunity to indulge in the philosophy of "do what thou wilt", and decides that that is the whole of the law.  The Wizard transformes Mary the Barbarian into a screaming pillar of fire, deep freezes Merrick the Gambler, scorches someone else (Brother Leo, maybe?) and was well on his way to becoming Master of the Universe, until he was tackled off the top of the ziggurat by Bob the Unknown Warrior, landing at the bottom with ONE HIT POINT, only to be felled by a well-placed dart, hurled by Brother Leo. 

Cause yeah, we do this shit in our heads. And because gamers are awesome.

#DCCRPG #Genghiscon #DGA


First, let 'em Die

Repost, cause I'm an idiot:

This weekend I ran a DCC RPG game for two fourth graders and one dad. As mentioned on G+, my original thought was to not kill any of the PCs. Instead, at 0 HP they'd fall unconscious. Later, they'd be recovered by their comrades, and continue on.

After all, I wanted them to have "fun" right? I'm trying to create life-long gamers, here. 

Well meaning, but very, VERY ass-backwards. 

Fortunately the players' actions forced my hand:

  • Beset by a veritable tide of bristling black spiders, Zero the Dwarf leaped into their midst. The tide washed over him, the rest of the PCs bolted, and Zero was never seen again. 
  • Parlaying with brigands atop a cliff, Zero Mk II decided to break off negotiations with a magic missile cast at melee range. Zero lost initiative and the brigands charged, pitching Zero to his rocky doom some 50' below.
  • Deep beneath the brigand's ruined tower, Jazee the Slave opted to take a stand against a horde of oncoming brigands, with predictable results. 
Each time, the group took a five minute break and had a slice of pizza while I helped the player roll up a new character. (By the end of the session, he could do it solo.) 

The same player lost three characters during our session. Not once did his interest flag. The deaths weren't arbitrary or due to DM fiat – the player made his own decisions and they went poorly. As a result, he grew more focused and (slowly) more cautious with each new PC.

But what if, per my original plan, he had only blacked out, to be revived by his companions at the end of the scene? 

What a boring, trivial game – utterly devoid of player agency, consequence, or reward – that would have been. 

Instead, death was the great motivator. Remove death and what would we have had? Why even act at all? The results would all be the same. 

So, yeah. Thank you Zero, Zero Mk II, Jazee, and finally, Golgoth*. Lesson learned.

Want to convert kids into lifelong gamers? Kill them (rather, let them die) early and often. 


(*Even his names got better.) 


Halloween, check

Before the shave: 

In  retrospect, I should have been leaning back, not forward, and wearing a light colored shirt, so that the beard would stand out. 

But alas, to Heather's dismay, I've shaved. 



Oh hell yeah

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