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!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

And the rains came

Hello friends.  Sorry for my lengthy absence...in short this has been my most challenging and difficult year on the planet thus far.

I want to make it clear from the start of this, I am not seeking sympathy and I know as surely as the sun rises today--my troubles and struggles this year may look like a walk in the park compared to your own struggles and issues.   I am not trying to compare or give a woe is me accounting--its simply been extremely challenging year at every level personally and professionally, and is the reason why I have not been active in publishing.

In my real job, the company is having an incredible year, and my average week is 50+ hours when I am in town--not adding the 2 hr commute daily. Also our success has meant an extreme amount of travel so not much free time/ free mind to game, create or write.

July my emergency surgery took me out of action for a bit--but I was still on the phone and email while recovering becuase the work never stops. Being screamed at on the phone by the VP of another company the day after surgery was a special kind of experience. The phrase 'I know you are in the hospital, but I need right now..." still lingers in my mind.

We purchased a new car for my wife in June replacing her 15 year old vehicle. 2 months later in August, she was then hit by another driver. Praise God she is recovering nicely--but it totaled the vehicle so I spent seven weeks working through insurances and rental cars and trying to find an exact duplicate replacement vehicle for my wife in my "spare time" etc.  (PS--I did do it, and it was much harder to do than you would think!)

Then additional difficult and serious medical new befell other family members in the last 2 months...and to cap off the year my wife an I are moving in November--but my travel and work schedule remain elevated until December.

And then the Presidential election? Good Lord this is the best American offer?...I want my pain meds back so I can sleep until 2020...ugh

So that is a small summary of 2016 and why  I've had little time to devote to writing and publishing. For those experiencing similar difficulties I can only say--FIGHT ON!!  You are only beat when you quit or give up--and Lord knows that sometimes looks appealing--but trust me on this, FIGHT ON!

In the end I've been provided with a unique opportunity to determine how much can I do, how much can I handle and can I be a better man despite all the setbacks.  I'm a Christian and I do believe God has reasons for what He does even if I am not wise enough to figure it out--and in the end maybe it really isn't about "me " at all except in how I can better help others.

There is most assuredly more HOW stuff coming (and Blades--and a deep secret project I've never talked about publicly yet)--I just need the time and uninterrupted ability to clearly write, gather it together and make it worth putting out.

As always I am thankful for your patience and support.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Of clerics & crosses

Lots of discussion about religion based classes and abilities ala D&D clerics and paladins. I have been asked about creating special rules or spell lists to facilitate religious based classes so I thought I would comment briefly.

The original TFT system and all of the off shoots like GURPS or HOW, do not follow the D&D class system nor specifically the "cleric/paladin" class conceptions. These types of conceptions are left to the referee/players to work out and use if they wish. 

The system is set up so that there are only two broad character concept generalizations: warriors and wizards. What type of warrior or wizard you make (barbarian, archer, ranger, druid, illusionist, necromancer, cleric) is left to you the player to conceive and develop. YOU have the FREEDOM to conceive of a spell casting barbarian, wizard duelist, or paladin as you wish

Religion or gods specifically are not a determining factor/limitation to any character skills/spells--unless you the referee/player want them to be. 

A referee could say "these spells are only available to to players who are followers of this god" in their setting...or could say a "warrior who serves this god gets access to these spells at a cost of 1 instead of 2 pts. at creation"   One could even go so far as to take specific spells and make them "blessings" for followers--an inborn or gifted ability such as "followers of this god can cure light wounds like the spell, no casting needed-just pay EN cost"

Creating a "religious class" is possible within the current rules. Turn the undead with a religious relic/holy symbol? --anyone can unless you as a referee decide to limit who can and who cannot.  "Followers of the light bringer can turn undead with a blessed torch --but to all others it is a ordinary torch."  

The spells typical of a cleric class are there for blessing, protecting, etc. but in HOW they are available (potentially) to anyone. You can decide to make them only available to followers of certain religions--if you choose to make it that way.

Unlike a more stringent class based system HOW is a wide open tool box. You get to decide for your game world if you want to create a special religious sect or cult with access to certain spells as you desire.

Want to turn the Bless spell into a native ability for all followers of a specific god?  Want to make the Curse spell an "evil eye" for followers of a certain god? In HOW you have the FREEDOM to do so!

Don't be afraid of your freedom and in all cases do what is right for you, your players and your game to make it fun! 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Inquiry into Gaming #2: Exploration

illustration by Noobaka
Thank you for your great comments and thoughts on Inquiry #1. I hesitated to jump in as I did not want to influence comments--but I sure did love seeing so many great thoughts. Now on to random inquiry #2

At the core of what makes playing an RPG different from other games are 4 central concepts
1) the lack of pre-defined endgame
2) the lack of singular victor
3) the shared success or failure of an adventure by the group as a while
4) One person creates and referees the game

Do these unique game concepts create an insurmountable barrier for potential players?

If I were to explain monopoly or poker to someone--the basics are the person with he most $ wins.  If you have no money you lose. The dice rolls or cards dealt will influence your choices-but it is you against everyone else--the person with the most stuff wins.

The all or nothing mechanic is also true of a game like Risk--you lose your countries, you are out of the game, the person with the most countries (all of them) wins.

Pretty basic stuff, and overly simplified, but pretty clear to on what my goal is as a player. We all start on equal footing and then based on my skill--and the luck of the draw or roll I work to beat all of my opponents.  We are in competition against each other--and only one of us can and will win.

This is a more difficult thing to try to do for an RPG:.  
-We are not in competition against each other (usually)
-We each have varying abilities/skills/spells/powers
-There is no victory condition, beyond completing the adventure--but the game never truly ends
-If your character is killed.   You can make a new one and get back into the game.
-One person creates the adventures, manages the game experience and acts as the antagonists and narrator describing the scenes--and a bad one can ruin the game completely.
You can't explain it as the person with the most: gold (?)  Hit Points (?) Magic Items (?) wins--because success isn't just about individual achievement. It's about survival--both personal and group as well as completing the mission/adventure. A player may have an individual goal but achieving it at the loss of companions,  and instead to finishing the mission, can destroy the game experience and swiftly end your session-as well as your place at the table for good.

Okay so what's my point?
I am not sure--except to say as RPG's are so unlike the usual gaming experience--it is unreasonable to expect a mass market player base.

It takes unique individuals who want to experience a theater of the mind game/story game in which there are no easy/clear answers.  They are thrust into strange and difficult situations in which their own wits, some dice rolls and some scribbled stats/skills/spells on a piece of paper represent their arsenal against the unknown.

Further, It takes a unique individual to dream worlds and create them not only for their own enjoyment, but to inspire and to befuddle a group of potential interlopers ready to break stuff and set about exploring this unknown land. Worse than just spending time creating? You then have to bring it to life--verbally--and you have to referee not only the game in process but act as referee between players if they come into conflict.  All the while being impartial and allowing the players to have the flexibility to explore that strange hole in the wall, sound in the well, or misty mountain in the distance that you had no intention of them exploring.  Flexible, impartial, creative and colorful is a tall order and a rare skill set.

But key to all of that? For me in RPG's it is all about exploration: There are strange caves in the Borderlands, and old underground temple in the jungles of Parwu, a lost dwarf mine in the Hills of Greth, the rat cult growing in the sewers beneath Dolon, the lonely abandoned tower of the Elf Lord on the frontier, the crypt of the necrogazer, exploring the ruins of Dothar Keep or setting sail to the Dread Islands.

It's a unique type of game that posits exploration of the unknown as a key and central game concept. The reasons for exploring may be different: ship wrecked, recover an artifact, find loot, rescue a person, defend a city, destroy evil--but the central concept is that the player will have to go into an area/location that is totally unknown to them, risking life and limb with boon companions to achieve a mission/adventure goal.

Now to me? THAT is exactly my jam--sign me up every weekend I am good to go!

To many though, I am not sure it holds much interest.  It takes time, it takes working together, it takes suspension of disbelief, it takes active participation and it takes some mental creativity on the part of all involved to make the dream real.

If I take someone and describe "a group of five man sized, yellow-eyed, slavering, brown tusk toothed creatures holding stone axes and spears, making menacing gestures and noises approaches--what do you do?"  Not many will want to stick around or even enjoy that sort of thing.  But like the explorers of old--we few, we happy few--find those encounters and explorations to be best gaming experience money and time can buy.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Inquiry into gaming #1

Intermittently I'd like to discuss in a larger sense gaming--and it may be rambling. Why do we enjoy gaming?  What is it about adventure games or roleplaying games in particular? While roleplaying game online are on consoles are huge businesses raking up hundreds of millions globally--the dowdy old pen and paper based tabletop games are still far more satisfying and interesting to me. Why?

I have spent time trying to come up with reasons why--and though I am sure my thoughts and reasons may not be the same as your own--I'd like to share mine and hope you will share yours as well. I don't think there is a "one answer to rule them all" goal here, rather perhaps by sharing our own insights we can better understand-why we play, what about them brings so much enjoyment, why are they still relevant in our own lives--and why do so few other people have much interest in the table based games.

As I have been recovering I hooked up my old Nintendo and in a fit of nostalgia began to explore Hyrule once more in The Legend of Zelda. Having not played it since 1987 I had no specific memory of getting through the game and its dungeons but it all slowly came back upon re-entering Hyrule.

It hit me during play, and I do no claim this to be an original thought by any means, that The Legend of Zelda is just a wonderful hexcrawl.  You go across the terrain, you randomly encounter foes, you find some dungeons to uncover unique and powerful artifacts--and eventually amass power and experience to defeat the big baddie. Yet before Zelda, the Ultima's, Wizardry and Bard's tales games certainly had various dungeons and overland "hexploration" as well.  Yet the previous games were both more regimented/turn based and the platform/ systems they appeared on where less accessible (PC more adult/expensive) then the NES (cheaper/hooked up to a TV in the family room.) I think because of this delivery difference, most people would be easily able to have heard of Zelda, while Ultima, Wizardy, and Bard's Tale would be far less familiar--if at all.

 I tested my own lovely wife and she KNEW Zelda having played it herself as a young girl--but the other 3? I got that look when you ask about trying to find some obscure RPG book you left of reading downstairs, that she kindly put away somewhere but has no idea which specific book with a dragon or sword wielding savage I could possibly be tasking her to remember was shevled.

Second, Zelda has you controlling just one character--Link--the others had you controlling a party of 4 or more differing characters, generating names, all of their stats, picking classes and equipment.  With the Legend of Zelda--there is just Link. You start with 3 life and  the adventure begins. In fact speaking of equipment below is the TOTAL list of 26 equipment items in the Legend of Zelda:

Blue Ring
Red Ring
Wooden Sword
White Sword
Magical Sword
Small Shield
Magical Shield
Magical Boomerang
Book of Magic
Magical Rod
Silver Arrow
Heart Container
Blue Candle
Red Candle
Power Bracelet
Magical Key
Life Potion
2nd Potion

By comparison, just the arms & Armor list of 1985's Ultima 4 is 22 items on its own.

Yes the style of game is different, the level of detail is different and we can get into further discussions about verisimilitude differences in the games influencing the overall design....but that isn't really my goal or point.

I guess what I am driving at is the Legend of Zelda manages to deliver an extremely memorable and brilliant RPG experience--simply.  Zelda is extremely easy to pick up and play as well as one inviting you to get right into exploring and discovering.  Not that the Ultima's and wizardry are any less good--just that their design is more "detailed/hard core" and that complication making them appealing to a more narrow/specialized taste.

I am not inferring a "mass market" game is a better game by any means, only that removing barriers to entry can(potentially) increase the number of people both playing and overall enjoying this style of gaming (adventure/rpg). 

In the immediate gratification/ on demand App age,  is the pen & paper game simply an interesting artifact? Is it the effort to explore/create simpler designs a futile endeavor?  If not what are the basic elements necessary to impart a fun experience without over burdening players? 

This is where I leave off for now.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hardcover Heroes

I have had requests for a Hard Cover version of the Heroes & Other Worlds Core book, so I have made one available. Above is the cover piece, the back cover is the same as the current paperback. There is no content difference between the paper back or the hard back version. Currently Lulu has a coupon which may or may not work for you depending upon where you are in the world.

Enter code MAYMON27 at checkout and save 27% on all print books. This offer ends Monday, May 30th at midnight. Remember, coupon codes are CASE-SENSITIVE.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

In praise of Raedwald

Lee Reynoldson's Raedwald is a vastly under appreciated work. Yes I am very biased in my assessment--but I hope this recent post by Jeff V. may shed some light on it for you and possibly help the work gain more interest and better yet--more people playing!   There really isn't another current campaign setting like it that I am aware of and it is a shame more folks are not diving deep into this Other World...read on and see an unvarnished review of sort of Raedwald; Thanks Jeff V. for the support and for sharing your thoughts. Lee's work truly deserves to be more widely read, played and appreciated:

 First, a little personal background. I'm not a fan of "gritty" fantasy. I play Fantasy RPGs to ESCAPE from "grit," not wallow in it, and while we all know the dark ages were nasty, brutish, and short, that's never been something I wanted to spend hours playing at on the gaming table.

So, as a result, I studiously ignored Lee Reynoldson's offering of "Raedwald" for HOW. I figured there were things I was more interested in (you know, things in the "high fantasy" genre) that were much more worth my time and money. Low fantasy in the worst part of the Saxon dark ages? Simply not my cup of tea!

Well, I can be the bigger man here, and simply admit flat out I was wrong. A couple of weeks ago, I had a few extra dollars burning a hole in my pocket, and Lulu was offering free shipping (and I do prefer print copies of my RPG stuff when I can get them), so I decided, "Oh, what the heck!" and ordered it.

I must say, I was simply blown away. This may be the best single fantasy campaign supplement I've read in the past four or five years. It absolutely destroys even things like Morgansfort and Chaotic Caves that have been done for HOW! Frankly, even if I never play in the Raedwald world (and, blasphemous as it sounds to people like me who prefer our fantasy "high" and our grit "low," I can DEFINITELY see myself playing in a Raedwald campaign), the presentation of the society and its relationships, the political intrigue, and the whole concept of a "wolfshead" campaign is so well done that I can easily see it informing (and very much IMPROVING) my concept for the more barbarian societies in my normal campaign setting. To sum up, Raedwald is a triumph among campaign source books and I think it may be the best gaming dollars I've spent so far this year (since I already own everything else HOW there is...).

To C.R. Brandon and Lee Reynoldson, all I can say is both "Bravo!" and "More!" And for any of the rest of you who either felt like I did about "low/gritty fantasy," or who simply haven't had the occasion or opportunity to check out Raedwald, don't walk, but run to your computer (or FLGS if you're fortunate enough to have one of those) and get a copy as soon as you can. It truly is amazing!

 Interested in picking up Raedwald? LuLu has a code MAYSHIP15 to save 15% on all print books PLUS get free mail shipping.

On a separate HOW note--travel every other week has kept my ability to write  next to nothing.--I jot down note as I can to develop but serious writing time eludes me currently.  I may simply have to publish the SWORDS OF DOOM BOOK and then hit the SPELLS OF DOOM (SORCERY OF DOOM?) Magic book at a later time rather than both at once.  That is TBD. In the meantime here is another little doom tune from Windhand...

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Inspiration can come from many places.  Working away on spreadsheets and reports I had an earbud in while at the office and was listening to a channel on Pandora.  Randomly a song started that led to a whole host of music that I don't typically listen too. It's known as Doom metal, sludge, and stoner metal. Bands like The Sword, Witchcraft, Windhand, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Witch and of course Black Sabbath.

Anyway the sludge guitars and long tracks really inspired me to look at Blades & Black Magic in a bit of a different light as well as inspiring more spells to be created and hopefully a better "game world" to experience.  In fact the heavy feel has led me to sort of thinking of the work as 3 separate parts: Swords of Doom, Spells of Doom and Lords of Doom.

Swords of Doom would be the core rules and Mercenary class--it includes all the character creation, skills, combat rules, and equipment. In addition it will include some quick start Archetypes like Thief, Barbarian, Ranger, etc. These will be full stated, skilled, equipped archetypes so you could copy it onto a sheet and be ready to play. For the Lord of Doom (referee) these could be easy NPC's to use as well.

Spells of Doom would be the Sorcerer class and contain all the magic spells as well as usable Archetypes such as Druid, Witch, Necromancer and Shaman pre-made with stats, skills, spells, equipment so you could copy it down and start playing. Again it provides an instant NPC stash for the Lord of Doom as well to use.

Don't worry the full and normal character creation (choice of attribute and skills/spells) is still included! The Archetypes are meant as a quick hook for those wanting/needing a "class" idea for their character.

Lords of Doom would be the referee book with a look at the world, creatures, random tables for generating ideas and adventures.

I am also working on including hit locations and feats/favors as well.

I am seriously looking at these being in a smaller paperback book size-kind of lock the old paper backs the we all read, re-read, and dog eared back in the 70's and 80's.   Small, portable, and suitably unimposing from a "want to try this game?" perspective.

So the works is clicking along by fits and starts but now it has a different sort of inspiration and tone. It may change again before it is all done, but for now this is where I am headed. Thanks for coming along fellow adventurer, enjoy some traveling music.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Buried (not dead and)

Hello fellow adventurers.

Yes I know it's been very quiet on the gaming front of my life for quite some time--at least publicly.  Frankly my real world job for the last year and half has eaten up all my time and energy. 50+ hours a week every week, lots of travel to and from customers, and its been quite literally like this for 15+ months with no end in sight.  While the real world job and company are doing quite nicely given the difficult economy, my personal time and ability to be creative and have time to write --well that's severely curtailed.

I want to write more, I have more to write and have in fits and starts I have written more.  The basic rules of Blades & Black magic are done.  I still have 60+ spells written (I want to hit 80+) and have 5 different "cultures" synopsis done.

I am looking to still add "favors" (like feats) into B&BM maybe 6 each as part of a "cultural"  background  or I can see a combined list of 36 and you roll d66 to get 1 at thee time of character creation.

I have considered releasing just the basic rules and spells (sans creatures/cultures) as a "players book" and then doing the cultures, creatures and random encounter charts as a later "Referee book" but at this point given my schedule issues (spent all last week on the road for business-more trips coming soon) I am not sure how big a gap would occur between releases.

And then...there is still Cauldron issue 2 which I really want to get done this month. I think I have enough to make it worth while--but certainly don't want to release something crappy just to say at least I did something. I also want to do a city book--maybe just a special Cauldron issue section-where you get tables to help create  a village, town or city and the business inside it. Deal a bit with law and order in the city a well. Then there is the thief pursuits stuff I want to do inspired by  the old Thieves Guild RPG stuff I have.  Long term once B&BM and the revised HOW come out-The Cauldron will be the "bits & bobs" way for me to do small adventures, interesting add-ons, and other stuff that does not require a full specialized book to create.

So, I apologize that it is taking so long to get something new completed and out the door. This is still very much a game I love, continue to support and write, but the real world needs and commitments to family and my real world job are dominating my time currently.  I hope in the end when new releases shake out you will find them worth the wait.  As always I am very  grateful for your continued interest and support.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


To follow up on the streamlined skill idea of BBM I graphed the expected numerical range differences based on the different levels.

Inexperienced--4 dice/attribute
Trained-3 dice/ attribute
Expert-4 dice/attribute--but only use 3 lowest dice rolled

Marek suggested for Inexperienced using 4 dice but only using 3 highest rolled. 

Looking at the results? I would still prefer 4dice/attribute but let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What I'm working on

Hello and a belated Happy New Year to you!

Well last year was a DUD in terms of new HOW stuff, and as personally disappointing as that was to me I am working to make 2016 much better.  Developing Blades & Black Magic is taking quite awhile as developing a world to play in takes a bit of time.  Then I have to decide what to add or leave out.

For example, I have worked on a "city" generator. It is a series of d6 charts that let you flesh out a city.  Like any random table exercise, things sometimes seem not to "connect" but I have always liked the oddities and variety of such things.  So I am not sure if it goes into BBM or maybe it is a better fit in a Cauldron issue--along with a sample city.

In addition--I am looking at adding "abilities".  Think of them as favors or feats or that sort of thing.  Again--not sure if I add it into BBM as a part of character creation--or save it for Cauldron as a test/optional rule.

Last, as the BBM rules are just a bit different--I am thinking of making the setting/world rules a separate Gazetteer--as well as including it all in BBM.  So if you are playing HOW and just want a setting? You got it.  Want the whole thing? You can have that too.

So what's different in BBM?

Skills have three levels: Inexperienced, Trained and Expert.  No bonuses/pluses.

Inexperienced rolls: 4/attribute-all skills start here
Trained rolls: 3/ attribute
Expert rolls 4/attribute--but only uses the lowest 3 rolled

Why change? I wanted a simplified clean system that would allow someone to jump in quickly. Also there is no EN attirbute in BBM.  Don't like it? No worries, just play straight up HOW rules! All the stats, magic, weapons, damage etc. and are completely compatible and really the same.

Want a basic conversion back and forth?

HOW skill +1 to +3 equals Trained in BBM
HOW skill +4 to +6 equals Expert in BBM

Magic--BBM adds ward magic and circle magic--and all magic in BBM taxes ST--there is no EN in BBM!

I transported my own HOW players into Rodinia and wizards suddenly having spells not work because they require blood/ST to work was quite fun--at least for me!

Last but certainly not least, Art Kid Luigi is working on new illustrations I will use in BBM so the work continues!