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!

Sunday, June 13, 2021


 A rough collection of notes, lists and scribbles of ideas is slowly taking some sort of shape.   O.G.R.E. stands for Occultists, Grunts, Rogues and Ecclesiastics. It uses only d20 dice but is not a standard d20 system.

Character creation is fast and simple.  In essence you roll (or choose) your background, roll some characteristics
and then pick a class. This will be a heavy and broad class based system. Lots of different specialized classes that provide certain abilities and spells are predetermined/fixed by class. No attributes to roll up-- characters of class are considered to be pretty much the same.

Combat is quick and damage is fixed based on class or modified slightly by specialized ability.

Inspirations are drawn broadly from Roguelike computer games, Car Wars, Knave, Tiny Dungeon and the usual RPG suspects. 

I would also intend O.G.R.E. to be more of an open source game you could make/publish your own adventures and additions--though I am considering imposing a page limit. Maybe 12 or 24, the key is keeping things for the system quick to digest, simple to get into and very focused on a specific topic.  

I want the rules to be short and playable. Then optional topic add-ons like Dungeons, Barrow mounds, Mountains, Demi-Humans, Cities and more. Bolt on or delve into topics you want, ignore the stuff you don't care about. 

One more idea and draft in progress...

Monday, May 31, 2021

Hello, its been awhile


No doubt, like yourself, a lot has happened in the last year--and not all of it good. Wherever you would in an ideal situation like or want to go, life has a way of guiding you to different places. So here I am a year later, still struggling through things, like you are, without a lot of time for creative focused writing or even time to game.  

Okay all the being said, where do things stand.  Well not too much further from where they were.  I have scribbled notes for:

--a word based magic system: Each word used to cast a spell takes 1 ST. Fire (1d6) is 1 ST to create-Throw is another 1 ST--- then you modify it further based on longer range or more damage or length of effect (per turn).

You can know a number of power based on your IQ--so this gives the player the ability to craft spells or get creative with them.  Good for an experienced player to shape spells in concert with the experienced Referee--but hell for a new player/ new referee to sort out and causes game delay. When you have to stop and--discuss---the spell cost or player spell concept vs what Referee thinks it should be?  Kind of derails and leads to potential rules lawyer paralysis. No quicker way for me to walk away from a gem then pedantic arguments over gaming a system.

Magic and Miracles--philosophy: I wrestle with the idea of clerics v wizard but feel there needs to be basic philosophic difference between the two to create a "WHY?" they are different beyond--this one learned a spell--and this one follows a god.  For me it comes down to magic is selfish (protect yourself, material gain, your won power)vs. miracles are selfless (protect others, provide guidance, heal/feed/rest).  Now how to rule that conundrum mechanically and does it make sense in a world with pantheist beliefs based on human foibles? It may not exactly. I have some thoughts on how to make it work mechanically and it could be as simple as the god provides a limited set of power words that serve them/their aspects. The level of a clerics devotion influences the ST cost of casting. 

Beyond this--I am intrigued with MOTHERSHIP RPG and have an adventure outline kicking around as well as some scribbles for a d20 system called OGR.

I hope all is well with you and yours--I am still alive and kicking, I continue wander through challenges one step at a time, ever forward and appreciate your patience as I make my way.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The Void

Void, the spaces between galaxy filaments that contain no galaxies. Void, a pore that remains unoccupied in a composite material. Void, synonym for vacuum, a space containing no matter.

In Black Magic, the void is the mutating, magical, unliving force that creates the power of spells in this setting. Maybe it is sentient in a way a human cannot understand. It is not necessarily malevolent; it simply does not care. All that is known about the void for sure is, it can grant powers and it is always hungry.

The void thrives and grows by consuming the light and life of everything it can touch. By feeding the void—whether by chance, unfathomable sentient decision making, or simply as an excretion from being fed it gives strange abilities to those who know how to feed it.

Pulling beings from distant planets, or strange dimensions, filling the space between worlds and hungrily gnawing on the edges of your own world, the void takes away life in equal portion to the strange powers it grants.

For me, (YMMV)  I want my games to have some reason for what happens. Most fantasy games just have magic because 'the world is magical"  Some have "life pays for life" and though life force or blood or health or fatigue spells happen. That's part way to my thinking that there needs to be some sort of player give (a painful payment) to be able to take (cast a spell).

That;s good enough, but for me I wanted an actual force that is consuming the payment.Now here is where "pacts" with strange or demonic beings come into play. Black Magic does allow some sort of servant pact like that to gain access to powers--but what about"the guy behind the guy?"

Here in Black Magic, I wanted (needed) something that corrupts but is incorruptible and cannot be reasoned with.  It is just sort of there, everywhere around you. Something you know but is unknowable. The night, the dark of your room, the deep black of caves under mountain.  That strange feeling that something is moving around your but you cannot see it--but you sense it is there--and it is not at all kind. It is as primal a force that has haunted humanity from the beginning of time, FEAR OF THE DARK.

So the void represents that. The absence of light, the absence of life, that moving living inky blackness that owns the world for 8+ hours a day. By feeding the void you can gain some strange weird abilities or powers. Feeding the void unlocks things humans were not meant to know or see, and you allow them entry into your world. The void eats away at the barriers that keep our worlds or dimensions separate.

Feeding the void makes it stronger, hungrier for more and in doing so, for the strange spells and abilities it grants-- you are robbing your world of light and life until with enough power the void simply becomes a massive black hole draining your whole galaxy of light and life.

...and that's the reasoning behind the void being the power behind magic in Black Magic.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

And now for something sort of different...DIE 20!

Blame the stay at home order if you like.  Well you cannot blame it for what this is. I guess the social distancing and stay at home order gave me uninterrupted time to think.

I have very much enjoyed reading streamlined games like Microlite, Searchers of the Unknown, Knave, Maze Rats, the Black Hack, Tiny Dungeons and Swords & Six-Siders. 

Part of the appeal are the quick play mechanics and simplified rules which let you quickly create and go after the action.  For anyone that has read this kind of game before it is intuitive and easy to understand. 

For a number of years, in the background, I have tinkered away on something similar/inspired by these other games.  Somehow this week it all sort of crystallized and become DIE 20!  Now that thing is here as a 1 page brochure for you to download and play.

DIE 20! is a spin on what's come before and the brochure format level 1 rules give you a feel for the simple and quick game system.  Culling the core down to a double sided brochure to cover Level 1 characters was quite a challenge. Thanks to some constructive criticism, eagle eye edits and suggestions from my lovely wife, Jeffery Vandine, Marc Tabyanan and Bill Burdick--the level 1 intro to DIE 20! is now ready for public consumption.

In addition, there is a Level 1 adventure available for download to give the game a spin. It is a reworking of a 1 pg dungeon by Daniel F. Walthall.

So is here more beyond the brochure?  Indeed there is!  There are demi-human races. At Level 2 you get to pick a specialized class like Ranger, Cavalier, Cleric, Necromancer, Ranger, Assassin etc. More spells, more monsters, more bits and bobs that add on to the range of options but maintain the simplified rule set. I am still construcitng and tinkering so let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 19, 2020


Genndy Tartakovsky is a freaking genius.

Samurai Jack is such an incredible work of philosophy, action, art and story telling that nothing else animated (save the recently redone Star Blazers series 2199 and 2202) has grabbed me and made me want to binge every episode.

Well Mr. Tartakovsky has a new series on Adult Swim (I just discovered) called PRIMAL.

For anyone playing BLADES it is filled with inspirational content and I want to write up a whole supplement for BLADES set in this sort of PRIMAL setting.

There are so many scenes that recall CONAN to me within PRIMAL that my poor mind was just gobsmacked by inspiration and entranced by the animation.  I binged all 5 episodes last night and am still mentally swimming in the PRIMAL landscapes Mr. Tartakovsky and team have created.

Oh and one other note--THERE IS NO DIALOGUE. 100 animated minutes within 5 episodes and outside of grunts, growls, roars and yowls--NO DIALOGUE and it is an EPIC STORY because of it.

The music and sound are so critical to pulling off a story like this. The mood, the rise and fall of action and the intensity created are so well done through the visuals and sound and music that it all bleeds into your spirit simultaneously.

Most movies and studios never achieve this same level of spirit or involvement--so doing it through an animated story with no dialogue but music and sound is an unbelievable achievement.

Did I say Tartakovsky is a genius? Sorry I meant supra-genius.

Judge for yourself.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Adversity = Opportunity

Due to COVID 19 concerns my final business trip (for the next few weeks) occurred this past week. In short I saw things I have not seen since 9/11 including aircraft less than half full.  At the local airport where TSA lines are many and always long-- absolutely NO ONE was waiting--there were no lines! I had to take pictures as I do not know if I will something that odd ever again. In addition my office is currently having everyone work from home for the next few weeks. I am blessed and lucky enough to be able to do my job remotely so will be home for a couple weeks.

Now despite the challenges and difficulties that are going to be upcoming for the next few weeks managing business via emails+calls, it is also an opportunity for me to try and finish all the spells for Black Magic game book.

I am my own worst critic in that, there are "enough" spells to make the book work as is.  Even so, I am not happy as I know I can do more and add more interesting spells so that you do not need to own any other spell books. You could work right from the Black Magic book and (ideally) be happy. 

Now of course I'd love it if you bought other stuff I make (and thanks VERY MUCH for doing so!), but I hope you do it because you like it and want it--not because I short changed you when you invested in the original work.

Adding on to a game is a choice you make because you like it, not one I should force you into because I short changed you in the original work.

Shakespeare wrote King Leer while quarantined, so if he can produce a masterpiece in a time of quarantine I am hopeful my little scribbles can simply be completed during our own difficult times.

My sincerest best wishes for good health to you and yours during this challenging time. I hope you too find some silver lining during a difficult period of time.   Turn these challenges and obstacles into new and unexpected ways of continuing your own journey.

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.