What is Heroes & Other Worlds?

Heroes & Other Worlds is a game of adventure inspired by Metagaming's classic Melee/Wizard/TFT system combined with inspiration from the Moldvay edited basic game. The rules are easy to learn and use standard six sided dice. The system is simple, sensible and flexible in the spirit of classic role playing games from the early 80's. Become a Hero, Other Worlds await!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Not Necromancy...

I am indeed alive!  AN incredibly busy year of travel just got more crazy as the year ended. In between I continued to work and play-test a different magic system based on power words.  Sadly it was a lot of time and effort that did not come together as I hoped.

In a short take, what was fun for an experienced gamer was confusing and off putting for new or "lite" gamers.  Gaming is very much changing and to make it as enjoyable as possible to as many people as possible, there is an element of ease of play that takes precedence.

So to get Black Magic back on track and completed, I am going back to just include a fixed/preset spell list (like HOW)

That is not to say that "alternate magics" is not still an opportunity for BBM I want to create--it just means I can't make it work and serve the needs of a new player and an advanced player. Trying to do so is

1) Delaying Black Magic
2) Making me crazy

So the black ship is changing course to be spell list only so I can work to get it done.

When?--This year is the best I can provide for now.  Often my time is not my own (went from 2 trips scheduled in Q1 to 5 in the span of a day--and more are in discussion. So I write where I can when I can.

Appreciate your kind patience, I too want this done and out there as soon as possible!!

Keep the faith true believers, and happiest of New Year to you and yours!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Wizard's work continued: ANIMALIA

Artist Matt Cavotta
Following up on the post from last week, I though it would be good to provide a short and broad snapshot of how this Black Magic spell system could work.

First I'll start with the ANIMALIA spell concepts. There are two basic header columns to start. The first is a TYPE and the second column is the EFFECT.

The TYPE choice will be limited/ impacted by the sorcerer's IQ.  Insects and rodents require a low IQ to manipulate and it gets harder to effect (requiring higher sorcerer IQ) these animals as the Animalia types get smarter and or larger.

So the base ST of a spell is 1 ST to cast. Then it becomes more expensive with the spell shaping (range, time, power of effect).  You can cut the cost and time of casting by writing it all down in a scroll or spell book and then casting from it, but of course scrolls and spell books can be stolen or destroyed. That sort of arcane knowledge would be very valuable...the work continues.


Insect Calm
Rodent Enrage
Avian Shrink
Aquatic Grow
Bovine Banish
Reptile Summon
Canine Speak with
Feline Silence
Equine Control
Ursine Sense
Pachyderm See like
Simian Shape Of

Friday, August 2, 2019

Wizard's work

May or may not be actual photo from my writing and game room
Well I hope with your BLADES you have done a little FROSTCRAWLing. Behind the scenes I have been noodling the BLACK MAGIC.

Some very fine suggestions have been sent to me regarding looking at some unique magic systems that offer some creativity to spell casting.  Notably the ZERFS system, but I also looked at Fantasy Hero which sort mimics CHAMPIONS for Fantasy.

Herein lies the struggle though, as to my knowledge none of the "make your own spell" systems have had much traction.  Absolutely they have fans and are good and creative systems--yet with the standard set by D&D and its follow on clones--it seems more player friendly to simply pre-create the spell lists.

This has all been in my mental blender for months and I have read multiple RPG book magic systems to the point where my lovely wife is finding 4 or more RPG books open on the kitchen table at a time like place settings for warlocks.  Except it is just me jumping chair to chair reading them and scribbling notes.

In the end I think I have determined I like both concepts.  I think it is necessary to have a predefined list of ready made (common) spells.  I also like the creativity of the player in the moment giving rise to something unique--and thus memorable.

I can hear it now, "Okay fantasy heart breaker game dumb-ass nerd--how do you plan to do it?"

Glad you asked! (Though your manners could use a little refresh my friend!)

First I am looking at there being 3 broad schools of magic (working names not final):

Animal (spells targeting/effecting natural living creatures: growth, speed, healing, increased ST, etc)

Elemental (spells using & effecting water, fire, wind, earth, wood and metal)

Spectral (spells effecting the strange, undead and space/time like teleport, raise dead, speak to dead, mutations, etc.)

In BLACK MAGIC a Sorcerer can learn and use spells from all 3 schools--BUT One spell school is advantaged when rolled to cast, one is normal and one is disadvantaged when rolled to cast.

A Mercenary could learn a spell from any school, but all rolls are always done (regardless of school) as disadvantaged.

Within each school is a list of common spells, plus a list of power words or power symbols for a sorcerer to get creative with in conjuring their own unique spells.  The cost of casting a unique spell is based on a combination of power words used and desired effect (time/range/power)

I am working to make this as EASY and fast playable as possible and not devolving figuring out the cost to cast a spell "on the fly" into a Squad Leader consultation of charts, tables and modifiers. I know that some of you LOVE that idea, bless your hearts, but that's not what I am making.

So for better or worse, that's where the magic system currently stands in structure. Filling in the details is the challenge, but nothing good came from anything easy--so the work continues.

As always your feedback is welcome--even if you think I am way off base, that's no problem

Side note: My lovely wife is working on her own covers for both BLADES book and for BLACK MAGIC book--and has a unique idea for a cover for the eventual "one book to rule them all" BLADE + BLACK MAGIC hardback

When Black Magic is finished and up for purchase then both of her covers (BLADES book + BLACK MAGIC book) will be made available simultaneously.

Monday, May 20, 2019


Chris McGill
And like that, the pocketbook Frostcrawl guide is gone for now.   I may offer a different version sometime in the future but for now, you can still download Frostcrawl as a free PDF! I do intend to include Frostcrawl in the hardback combined version of Blades & Black Magic.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


Now is your chance to purchase a printed pocketbook version of the freely available FROSTCRAWL PDF. This is made available at print production cost, I make absolutely NO profit/money from your purchase.  Keeping my word to make FROSTCRAWL free to you as a thanks for your patience and support!

Sorry, this opportunity has expired you can still download the PDF of Frostcrawl for free!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

FROSTCRAWL Updates (again)

Thanks to some kind feedback, I have gone through and tried to fix some wonky text issues as well as adding a terrain key.

Hopefully these are minor but important improvements, thanks to Jeff V and to Pastor Beau for the constructive criticism and for providing editing opportunities to improve FROSTCRAWL!

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Frostcrawl is a hexcrawl for use with Heroes & Other Worlds or Blades & Black Magic.  The map coves 441 hexes to explore, and I put in an entry of some sort for all 441 hexes.

NEXT WEEKEND: I will make a pocket book version of FROSTCRAWL available to order at cost, it will only be available next weekend so set your reminder!! (Pocketbook size is the same as the BLADES rule book)

Frostcrawl is my small way of saying THANK YOU for supporting this one knucklehead endeavor and sticking with me while life kept throwing curve balls.  My hope is Frostcrawl is a solid base hit, and not a foul tip!

Next up, I'm working to complete the BLACK MAGIC book!

Saturday, May 11, 2019



Tomorrow I will release the free PDF of FROSTCRAWL: A hexcrawl for use with Heroes & Other Worlds and Blades & Black Magic.

The PDF will be standard US page size 8.5x11

The following weekend you will have a chance to purchase at cost a pocketbook  sized (Think BLADES book sized) version of FROSTCRAWL.

I plan to make it only available for purchase (at cost) next weekend. The PDF will always be available.

I may fold FROSTCRAWL into the combined BBM hardback book when that is complete.

I might also do a limited boxed set with 3 pocket books: BLADES+ BLACK MAGIC+FROSTCRAWL--but there si a lot to do between now and the future.

In the meantime, it is done and I will see you tomorrow!

A sense of wonder and survival

Nothing too important here, just a morning philosophical ramble.

Gamers, like people, are as different as leaves on a tree. We may all come from a similar set of "game tree" roots, but the branches go all over and the leaves grow out from there.  In other words, I think we are all sort of similar but through our own experiences, likes and dislikes, we kind of branch out.

From the outset then, whatever I like + do is different from you and how you do it..and frankly that's great. So, in advance, my goal is not to say if you like GAME X and not mine you suck.  That's never me nor do I to get strident about stuff like that. Please like what you like and ignore the stuff you don't.

With that preamble out of the way, let me talk about characters in HOW/BLADES and B/X fits here too.  The rules of these games are a framework and guideline, giving you a basic understanding of how to create a character, play the game and provides the necessary core elements to build a game from.  The basic information needed for both Players and Referee are contained in one book. (Yes the Black Magic (wizard/spells) portion of BBM is still in work.)

Second these rule sets are slim.  I have talked before about my dislike of the college text book "standard" size now of multiple rule books now that seldom excite me.  Why? There is little creative imagination needed or required. Every element is now hyper detailed to create an assortment of rule breaks/ game advantages just for your character. Through all the backgrounds, special abilities, birth order, homelands and clans you have a detailed and developed character with a big back story.

It has turned character creation into its own "pre-adventure" session needing an hour or two to get everyone done. Additionally, after investing that much time into making 1 character, you probably have an expectation that it will be nigh invulnerable! The Referee in these games (in a separate book mind you) is instructed how to make fights and threats even or fair to insure characters survive.  I think of this all as something akin to a Disney ride. You get in and while it may feel dangerous here and there, you are totally safe.

That's not true for HOW/BBM/BECMI. I may have a dwarf fighter and he will have a couple abilities or skills in HOW or BECMI. Probably take about 20 or 30 minutes to create at most. Then its up to me as the player to make that character come to life!  The character sheet provides the basic mechanical framework for what the character can do and how well they can mechanically do it in the game system, nothing more. Only through play and adventures do I as the Player begin to develop the character, create a personality and create an attachment.  Frankly, because these games are lethal, I may not have too long to be attached anyway!

Also, since these characters can fit all relevant information on a notecard or a bookmark, it is kind of understood this character's life may be nasty, brutish and short.  There is no sense, nor expectations, that a fight or experience will be fair in HOW/BBM/BECMI.  Pick a fight with an ogre? Go traipsing down the dark and overgrown steps of the mad kings tomb? Enter an ancient wizards laboratory hidden in Mount Charon? You are likely to get stomped. 

That is how it should be! The reason now one else has gone in to tackle the ogre stealing the town's goats, nor go to loot the mad king's tomb, nor gone to fetch the wizard crown out of Mount Charon is because it IS dangerous, likely to fail and likely to get you STOMPED.  Your character is one of the brave (or foolhardy or greedy or insane) to have a go.

Ladies and gentlemen, going out to loot forbidden vampire tombs, conquering kingdoms and slaying dragons should be dangerous as hell and likely to lead to an early grave. Otherwise EVERYONE would be out doing it!

Now do you need a 400 page player guide covering every potential skill, feat, advantage or disadvantage possible to min/max your character build to take on these threats? Negative ghost rider.  (I mean if you do really NEED that? Cool, there are a dozen games out there to meet your need!) All you really need are the mechanical basics to try things in game and an understanding of how difficult your choices may be. 

For example in HOW, if I a Player's dwarf wants to slam dunk a boulder on dour ogre's head? I allow Players to make a nigh impossible roll (must roll a 3 on 3d6) IF they can explain HOW they intend to do it! No fancy feats or advantages, just explain it and let the dice decide.

What this all boils down to is: the fewer structured rules, the more sense of wonder, freedom and possibility a game can provide to your the Referee and to the Players.

I think often the massive tomes and ranges of feats, advantages and disadvantages--in their wish/drive to try and help you create unique or wondrous characters--they actually end up creating tiny little ivory towers. These make you within the tower "feel special" but actually it walls you off and removes you from the game.  Instead of starting out fairly similar (A fighter is similar except stats/weapons/skills) and then during play creating a unique nature for your character that comes from those near misses, foes conquered and tombs looted. 

Those are the things, the adventures undertaken and battles survived that make a character more than a handful of stats and skills on a page. Random creation charts and multi-page character sheets to be filled out can't do that, the play is the thing.