I ordered Cauldron Issue # 0 on-line, it’s Chris Brandon’s “Zine” to support his excellent “Hero’s and Other Worlds” rule set. It was less than seven bucks I think, and since I enjoy his work, it was a no-brainer for me to buy it the minute I found out about it. It showed up in the mail shortly after I ordered it, it was slick and sweet. Physically its gorgeous, a digest size, heavy stock, gloss cover and 34 pages of gaming awesomeness inside. Pages 1-3, cover page, table of contents, and introduction. Pages 33-34, Ad page for “Heros and Other Worlds” and links for support/blogs. The rest is all gaming content, except for pages 14 and 22, which like page 33 are ad pages for the game.
Pages 4-8 comprise a stripped down, condensed version of the “Heros and Other Worlds” rule set that can be played for a test drive of his game without having to purchase the rules. It’s quite a concise breakdown of his game, if you try it out using these rules, chances are you will want to buy the full version. (I recommend you do, to help support a very talented and up and coming game designer!)
Page 9 has 5 pre-generated characters, with full stats and equipment lists. They are useable for the adventures presented later in the zine. I am not sure that they are starting characters as they seem to have more equipment than I have been able to purchase when creating a character using the starting coin in the rules. But they are very complete and can be easily copied over to an index card for play. For what it’s worth, I like the fact that when you create a character using the rules, the prices of equipment vs. the amount of coin you start with very much limits what equipment/weapons you have access to as a starting character. It forces you to go out to explore and find some more coin, just to get the basic weapons and equipment you want, solid game design in my humble opinion.
Pages 10-13 “Filthy Lucre” This looks like it will be a regular feature in the zine, a small scenario based on the idea that the PC’s are mercenary types, out to earn some cold hard coin. It is a wilderness adventure named “Blood Harvest” where PC’s are hired by the village of Bruen to bring in a bandit, dead or alive, who has been terrorizing the local farmers. There are also some wolves causing problems in the area and their pelts are worth some coin too. Like I said earlier, starting PC’s will want coin anyway they can get it, and this is a scenario where they can get some. No maps for this, but plenty of descriptions and stats a GM will need to play it out.
Pages 15-18 “Belief and Believers” looks to be another regular feature focusing on the spiritual realm, religion pantheons, etc. “Veneration of the Ancients” has some fun stuff in it, its a generic way of worshipping the dead, both in good and bad ways. The Bone Collectors and the Black Hands are more than worth the price of admission.
Pages 19-20 “Faculties and Staff” another regular feature, presents new magic, sorcerers, wizards etc. “The grimoire of Shadows” is described in this issue. An ancient book of spells with many missing pages. The search for these missing pages has given rise to the Council of Shadows, and those who seek such knowledge are called Seekers of Shadows. In just two single digest size pages, Chris manages to create epic campaign ideas! Six new “Shadow” spells are included in this section. Fantastic stuff for just two pages!
Page 21 “Tooth & Claw” yet another regular feature, highlights a new monster or monsters? Presented are “Frost Walkers” Undead cold themed zombies…..whats not to love about these guys!
Pages 23-29 “Rising of the Wickerman” an adventure for 4 to 6 characters. I grinned from ear to ear when I saw this, this is a “Pocket Full of Peril” adventure that Chris had created a while back ago based on one of my vertical style maps. It was an awesome concept then, and it still is, ported over to his new rule set. I am biased as he used one of my maps, but even so, I felt so honored to see one of my maps in such a well produced zine. I did not know he chose my map to use and publish, so this was an amazingly, wonderful surprise for me. (Like I said I am biased..:) I remember when Chris turned that map into the original “Pocket Full of Peril”. He took that map and created something from it that was much better than anything I ever envisioned as I was drawing it.
On a more personal note: This is one of the things that I enjoy so much about blogging in the OSR blog-o-sphere. I am always amazed when anyone choses to use one of my maps, and makes it so much more than I ever imagined. Everything I post here on this blog is free to be used by anyone, because there are so many of you out there that can create such cool new things from my simple drawings. All I ask for is credit for the image (Which Chris in Cauldron # 0 gave me way more credit than he needed to, and I appreciate that)
Finishing this out now, I am looking forward to “Cauldron # 1” Chris does incredible work, he is a machine the way he turns out new stuff, I am in awe of how he manages to do it. Like Dyson Logos, he is a workhorse. I suggest you watch this guy as he keeps moving forward, he does high quality game design with a passion. If I was as dedicated to creating new game materials as Chris is, I’d have a 1000 maps on this blog by now!
If you haven’t picked up a copy of “Heros and Other Worlds” yet, grab a copy of this zine. It’s a little cheaper, it gives a stripped down, yet very playable version of the rules, pre-generated PC’s and some adventures to get you started…..a bargain at any price!
Quick Update: As I was writing this post last night, I forgot to mention pages 30-32 , Chris presents some guidelines for converting character stats for his rule set.