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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

On Writing, Part I

With the release of Sky ov Crimson Flame I've decided to take a little retrospective look into its development and the personal experience points I've gained (I'm at least at level 2...)

WARNING: If you haven't read Sky ov Crimson Flame there's a chance you'll catch a few spoilers!

Before the Owl Knight's Flight

As I've stated numerous times, Sky ov Crimson Flame is based on the first impromptu session of DCC-RPG I ever ran. There, late at night, in a darkened kitchen, with only a handful of friends; I spun a tale of prophecy, black magic, a horned moon rising and a crimson star falling. In that moment I was in my element!

You see for a few years prior I had been wanting to play a good fantasy RPG campaign, but I didn't want anything to do with 3rd/Pathfinder or (gods forbid) 4th edition; while at the same time I wanted something "new" that wasn't 1st or 2nd edition. That's when I stumbled across the OSR community via Google+ and an entire new world was open before my eyes. I looked at all the "new" retro clones, but it was DCC-RPG that struck a cord. A rockin' heavy metal cord that vibrated straight to my very core!

So to say I was excited to be playing an RPG again is an understatement and as I wove my story of evil resurrected, killing lowly 0-levels left and right, I had no idea that I would attempt, in the near future, to actually produce an adventure. Yet that's exactly what happen. Maybe it was all the 3rd party adventure materials I was buying or the community in general that appears so open and accepting.

In any case I began what I thought would be a simple project, maybe a little dungeon, just a couple of pages. After all, the first funnel was a small ruined keep with 3 rooms top (the players were two nervous to explore the rest of the keep, which of course I was making up as I went along). However, as I've learned time and time again, none of my projects end up being small endeavors.

So It Began...

The first draft had several titles as I slowly determine what the hell the actual story line would be. Devil's Moon Rising (eh...), Horned Moon Rising (meh...), Red Flame Resurrection (too on the nose...). That first draft was a meager 8 pages long and at the time I felt like I was really doing something! Go me! Then came the next draft.... and the next draft... and the next. The next thing I knew I was 8 drafts in and had an additional 8 more pages.

So what changed between drafts 1-8? A sense of grandiose ideas were forming in my monkey mind. More rooms! Nastier baddies! Things of epic portions were taking shape. Some of which stuck in the final version and some of which changed. Through play-testing several rooms were merged into one and the finale was re-worked again and again!

Changes & Developments

Concerning the Witch

In earlier drafts the witch was encountered by the second area:

Area 2 - A Keep in Ruin

50 yards away the Keep comes into view. A facade of stone, blacker than the night. Rotted vines cover the walls and hang off the mounded gargoyles that leer at you from above. Through the large archway in the front wall a great pyre can been seen. A figure dressed in nothing but a bloody stag skin and brandishing a strange dagger dances and chanting around the fire.

The figure dancing and chanting around the fire is a witch. The loan survivor of a cult dedicated to the necromancer Balrothharid. In her hands is the very dagger the necromancer once used. She is wearing a bloody stag skin and is otherwise nude.

This was due in part of that first session I ran. She was going to be very powerful, killing off several 0-levels in a grand battle right before the Crimson Star fell on the keep and caused the dead to rise, etc, etc. In a sense she was a red herring as the players were suppose to believe she's the end all be all early on when actually she's just a pawn. (Similar to the final version). Everything happen at a much more rapid pace at this point.

By the 8th draft the Witch was called the Head Priestess (later changed back) and, like in the final version, the PCs had to first journey through the bowels of the Ancient Keep in order to encounter her at the climax.

Concerning the Necromancer

For several drafts the Necromancer, Balrothhraiid, (who's name changed several times) was resurrected and encounter in a true old school fashion - a tomb. However the idea of him travelling across unknown worlds was present early on and in some cases there were multiple shades that attacked the PCs as they attempted to destroy the body of the Necromancer encased in crystal. Sound familiar readers of SoCF? Some of these elements were kept in one form or another.

For the longest time I had this idea of the Crimson Star causing worlds to collide and the structure of the Ancient Keep changing to its former glory as represented on another world. The flames would take shape of a greater structure and could be walked on. In the end that idea faded out pretty quickly as I just couldn't make it work. 

Concerning Game Mechanics

At first I had no idea what I was doing! I had only every really written screenplays (nothing you've seen believe me) and so to prepare I read the rulebook over again, cover to cover, and as many adventures as I could get my hands on, both official and 3rd party. Still I was unprepared and the only way in which I improved was by constantly writing, draft after draft. Am I great writer? Nah! I get excited and type too fast and the next thing I know I've written incoherent garbage that I don't even know exactly what I mean, but I kept at it and that's my only advice for anyone inspired to do the same. Never. Stop. Writing!

Now for your reading pleasure I present the FIRST DRAFT of Sky ov Crimson Flame. From reading it and comparing it to the final print version you can gather some knowledge of the inner workings of my brain, or maybe just get a kick out of how simple it was in the beginning. Hell, I don't know! This is literally the brain dump version that I haven't even read and I'm sure is chalk full of errors and terrible ideas. So enjoy!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sky ov Crimson Flame Pre-Orders

That's right! Owl Knight Publishing is accepting pre-orders for its launch title Sky ov Crimson Flame. You can hit any of the links here on the page or visit the Kickstarter page and order!

If you're interested in whole sell orders please drop me a line at thorinthompson AT gmail DOT com.


Monday, December 19, 2016

DCC-Dune: Swordhands

The Sword of this Dune-a-fied setting is very much like the Warrior class of DCC-RPG. There are certain changes and flavour text to get it a science fiction vibe, but ultimately that will come in to play through the scifi weapons and adventures.

Shielding Fighting (or Dueling) is quintessential to Dune and I will finally go into detail about it further below!


You are a skilled warrior bound by a sworn oath to protect and serve your House. There is no melee weapon with which you are not skilled. You may be a royal guard, an instructor to the heir, the commander of a garrison, or perhaps all three.

After the invention of the personal shield the use of projectiles became rather futile. Master Assassins became the currency on which disputes were settled and masters of the sword became the necessity for which the noble families were protected. All Swordhands learn their trade on the harsh planet of Hizaal. There after a lifetime of trials the trainees, if they survive, leave the planetary school as adepts skilled in all manor of melee weapons and hand-to-hand combat techniques to join the Noble-house of their home world.

Swordhands serve their houses with the utter most loyalty; however, there have been reported instances of swordhands going rogue. These few often become sell swords and are known to be extremely dangerous.

Hit points: A swordhand gains 1d12 hit points at each level.

Weapon training: A swordhand is trained in the use of all weapons and if using a melee weapon of any kind the swordhand’s initiative and deed dice are both raised +1d.

Alignment: A swordhand is usually always of the same alignment of the Noble-house they serve.

Attack modifier: (Same as DCC Warrior class)

Mighty Deeds of Arms: (Same as DCC Warrior class)

Shield Fighting: See below...

Critical hits: (Same as DCC Warrior class)

Initiative: A swordhand adds his class level to his initiative rolls.

Luck: At first level, a swordhand’s Luck modifier applies to attack rolls with one specific kind of weapon. This is the weapon they were most superior with on Hizaal. It must be chosen at first level and the modifier is fixed at its starting value – neither the weapon nor the modifier changes over the course of the swordhand’s career.

Action dice: A swordhand always uses his action dice for attacks. At 5th level, a warrior gains a second attack each round with his second action die.

Languages: Common, House’s secret battle language, plus 1 additional language for every +1 Intelligence modifier.

Crit Die/ Table
Threat Range
Action Dice
Deed Die

Title (Lawful)
Title (Neutral)
Title (Chaotic)

Shield Dueling
Shield Dueling is a fairly new style of fencing designed to take advantage of the slight vulnerability of the personal shield. With the careful precision of a slow moving object, usually that of a dagger, an attacker can penetrate an opponent's shield. Prolonged shield dueling however is extremely dangerous as the increased friction between the two phase-fields can cause a Phlogiston Disturbance!

To make a precise strike during a shield duel, the attacker must land a successful attack roll when his or her’s Precision is equal to or greater than his or her’s opponent’s current AC.

Below are the basic rules by which the art of Shield Dueling is accomplished:

  1. Both fighting players set a d20 in front of their person. This d20 represents their Prescision. At the start of the duel both fighters set their d20 to 10.
  2. Both fighters roll for initiative. Whomever wins the initiative attacks first and sets their precision tracker to 11.
  3. The attacker rolls his action die (usually 1d20) and adds their attack bonus plus their Agility modifier. If the roll is equal to or above the defender’s AC the attack lands and the attacker raises their precision die by a number equal to their Agility modifier. If the attack was a miss the attacker lowers their precision die by a number equal to their Agility modifier.
  4. The defender now rolls to attack following the rules above.
  5. If an attacker fumbles their roll they must roll on the Fumble Table (DCC-RPG p. XX) and lower their precision tracker while their opponent raises theirs.
  6. If an attacker rolls a critical they score an automatic hit through the shield which wounds their opponent.
  7. The Judge rolls a percentage die to determine if the shield duel has resulted in a Phlogiston Disturbance! This is a 2% cumulative chance each round.
  8. Both opponents re-roll initiative and begin the second round of fighting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Post Kickstarter Update #1

It's been quite a while since I last posted an update here (many of my updates currently have been posted through Kickstarter). So today I will combined all those updates into one long post!

On Writing

Before launching the Kickstarter my 0-level funnel Sky ov Crimson Flame was 100% written and ready to go to the printers upon the completion of the campaign and a few remain art pieces. That was before I had even really considered the first 3 stretch goals would be reached followed by the final stretch goal of a newly written 1st level mini-campaign called Blights ov the Eastern Forest. As of this writing it's been a little over 1 month since the Kickstarter was funded and in that month I'd say 90% (or so) of the new adventure is fully written and laid out in Adobe Indesign.

The Eastern Forest adventure setting will consist of 6 different locations with a bestiary of creatures that can be randomly encountered whilst traversing the forest. 5 of the locations will be written by yours truly and 1 is a collaborative piece written by +Clint Bohaty of +Order of the Quill. His current area outline sounds really awesome and I'm really excited to be fleshing out the sordid history of the Eastern Forest with him.

I foresee all the written material for Blights ov the Eastern Forest to be finished within the next two weeks.

On Art

Both adventures are going to feature a lot of artwork from the likes of OSR faves and newcomers alike. Here are some of the most current pieces I've commissioned from +Stefan Poag, each of which were stretch goals for Sky ov Crimson Flame.

0-level Character Sheet Border

Random Item Table Border

Nexus Event Table Border

That's it for now friends. In the coming weeks I will have new artwork and further details on each of 6 locations found throughout the dreaded Eastern Forest!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Sky ov Crimson Flame -- Kicktraq Mini

To say Sky ov Crimson Flame (SovCF)was successful might be an understatement. I still can't believe it took off the way it did and I have at least 420+ people to thank. Our gaming community is amazing and throughout the creation of this adventure I have met a lot of great people through the magic of the interwebs! If nothing else was successful that would have been enough.

What's Next?

Right now I've got three artists working on new and old pieces for the adventure and I'm currently talking to three others for the follow up mini-campaign Blights of the Eastern Forest (BotEF) that was unlocked via Kickstarter.

In SovCF your party travels from the village of Reed through the Eastern Forest and to the Ancient Keep (wherein most of the adventure then takes place). With Blights of the Eastern Forest the survivors of the funnel can then go adventuring for glory and fame as they restore the balance from Chaos to Law.
My idea is to have a mini map of the forest that features highlighted locations that will then be described in further detail. Some of them may be mini dungeon crawls, puzzles or just a mini boss fight of sorts. Along with the new areas the adventure will also feature a random encounters table of creatures found within the blighted woods. New artwork will of course accompany the pages through-out.
As of right now I'm about 4,000+ words in possibly another 6,000 to go!

New Art

The most recent piece I've received for SovCF is the one below by +Nicolò Maioli.

I think this might be my new favorite piece! Well folks that's it for this update. If you backed the Kickstarter a thousand thank yous! If you didn't, well you'll just have to want a couple months to get a copy!

- Cheers!
- Thorin

Monday, September 19, 2016

Let the Ceremony Commence!

Tonight, a thunderous boom ripples across the land as a Crimson Star ignites in the eastern sky just above the Horned Moon rising. Strange ululations cry out as fleeting shadows ride across the wind. Who will unravel the mystery and brave the bowels of that foul Keep where surely unspeakable horrors must await!

YES! it has finally begun! Months of toll and torment and typing until blood spurts from my finger tips (okay I may be exaggerating) has finally come to this! Sky ov Crimson Flame, my 0-level adventure for DCCRPG, is now live on Kickstarter!

This has been a long time in the making and I'm pretty proud of what I've achieved. However, I'm just the writer and there are plenty of people who have helped me out along the way. First I have to thank +Stefan Poag for his amazing cover art. When I first saw the final piece it really cemented in my head that "Hey, this is really a thing! This is real!" The piece truly captures the chaos and zaniness (that's a word right?) of the adventure.

+Nicolò Maioli and +Jordyn Boci have both delivered excellent pieces as well that highlight the creatures and characters met throughout the adventure. +Harley Stroh and +Jon Hershberger have both provided me with powerful insight into the wild world of self publishing. Of course I can't forget all the play testers who sacrificed braved characters in order for me to get a better grasp on the adventure. Their deaths will be remembered! Many of you reading this have probably provided insight and encouragement and I thank thee here and now! The Dark Lord himself +Joseph Goodman has blessed this adventure and many thanks to him too!

Now my pretty ones! Go out and spread this chaos to all corners of the land! Let it be known that evil is a foot and must be snuffed out! The flight of Owl Knight Publishing begins here, now, today!