Godsbarrow Tabletop RPGs

Making good progress on the manuscript for The Unlucky Isles

I’ve finished my first draft of half the countries in The Unlucky Isles!

I also have about 60% of each of the other three countries written up, awaiting all the new material and restructuring I’ve done with the first three, as well as a good chunk of the introductory elements.

It’s clocking in at around 20,000 words so far, which is already more than I expected when I started this book.

When I was planning to lay it out in my word processing software, include a few pieces of royalty-free historical artwork, and convert it into a PDF, I was a lot closer to done. But I’m going a slightly more involved route — and that’s given me time to slow down and really consider what I want to see in a setting book like this.

Which in turn has meant writing a lot of new material, restructuring more of the existing material than I expected, and doing a deeper dive into each country — while, I hope, still striking the balance between depth and conciseness that works best in a regional gazetteer like this one.

I’m also just plain having fun. Rounding out the corners of these places with “sensory snapshots,” notes about cuisine and names, and all the details that bring a fantasy nation and its people to life has been a blast. I’m learning about Godsbarrow as I write about it, which brings me joy — and I’m working to share that joy with you in a useful, gameable way.

Want to be notified as soon as The Unlucky Isles is published?

My friend and former partner in crime at Gnome Stew and Engine Publishing, Matt Neagley, asked what the best way was to find out when The Unlucky Isles is published, and that’s a great question with an easy answer.

On the Halfbeard Press publisher page [affiliate link] on DriveThruRPG, on the left side of the page, you’ll see a spot that says “Check this to follow Halfbeard Press” with a little checkbox next to it.

Check that box, make sure you don’t have publisher emails turned off globally on DTRPG, and you’ll get an email whenever Halfbeard Press puts out a product — starting with The Unlucky Isles.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Godsbarrow Tabletop RPGs

Getting back into publishing: Halfbeard Press

After spending 15 months developing Godsbarrow, getting to actually start up a campaign in this setting was the spark I needed to convince me to give publishing another shot.

Today I founded Halfbeard Press, the company I’ll be using to publish Godsbarrow material.

Halfbeard Press has a logo, an incredibly spartan website, a (currently empty) DriveThruRPG publisher page [paid link], and a plan: I’m about 50% done writing its first product, a gazetteer of the Unlucky Isles.

Feel the hand-coded-in-Notepad energy!

Many, many thanks to my wife, Alysia, my kiddo, Lark, and my friends Alice, John, Reagan, and Renee, who consulted on numerous iterations of the logo and made it so much better than my first draft (with special thanks to Reagan for suggesting the half-beard be on the left, and merged with part of the H).

I don’t regret selling Engine Publishing in 2019. It was the right choice. But I have missed publishing (or aspects of it, anyway), and I always suspected I’d be giving it another shot at some point.

Like Yore, which is more personal, barebones, and eclectic than my more focused ventures (Treasure Tables, Gnome Stew, Engine Publishing), I’m taking a smaller, quieter approach with Halfbeard Press.

I’m trying to do as much of it as I can myself, even the parts of it (cough cough graphic design) where I’m, at best, a clumsy dabbler with decent ideas. I’m not taking out thousands of dollars in loans to fund upfront publishing costs (as I did for Engine Publishing books). I don’t have a marketing budget, or an established readership like the gnomes had when we published Eureka [paid link] back in 2010.

Hell, this might not work out at all. Like Engine Publishing back in 2009, this venture is far from being a sure thing. But no matter what happens, I’m excited to be working on a short book about a campaign setting I love.

As soon as I have more to share about the Unlucky Isles gazetteer, and Halfbeard Press, you’ll hear about it here!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Tabletop RPGs

Free and PWYW RPG products on DriveThruRPG that I enjoy

As of this writing, there are 7,597 free and pay-what-you-want (PWYW) PDFs on DriveThruRPG, and depending on when you’re reading this there are probably many more than that. That’s a daunting number, and there’s a lot of free stuff that frankly looks like pretty weak sauce. It’s hard to know where to start.[1]

I thought it would be useful to create a curated list of the free DTRPG products there that I like (which I also do for RPG books on Lulu, where the problem is searchability rather than volume), so I started one. I spent several hours going through the entire category — all 7,500+ products — and then several more hours going back for more organic searches, as well as checking out suggestions from folks online (thank you!).

This turned out to be a fun project, and what shook out was two lists, one for RPGs and one for supplements. Together, these two lists represent roughly 3% of the free/PWYW products available on DTRPG.[2]

What’s on the lists?

I like and recommend everything that appears below, and I extra-super-duper-like the starred entries. If you’re curious why I like something, I eventually rate and comment on every gaming book I own; here are my RPGGeek ratings.

Both lists are in alphabetical order. In general, neither includes previews, quickstarts, micro-supplements (d100 Fantasy Roofing Tile Materials, et al), character sheets, or the like.[3] If you have a suggestion for either list, let me know in the comments (and thank you!). (Lists updated: June 29, 2018.)

Free and PWYW RPGs

These are all affiliate (paid) links. Using them helps support Yore, at no cost to you.

  1. Atomic Highway
  2. * Babes in the Wood
  3. Basic Fantasy RPG 3rd Edition
  4. Blood & Treasure Complete
  5. BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules
  6. * Cepheus Engine System Reference Document
  7. Dark Dungeons
  8. * Dead Friend: A Game of Necromancy
  9. Delving Deeper: The Adventurer’s Handbook, The Referee’s Guide, and The Monster & Treasure Reference
  10. * Dog Eat Dog
  11. Dragon Warriors
  12. Encounter Critical
  13. English Eerie
  14. * ESCAPE Short-Play RPG
  15. * Exemplars & Eidolons
  16. Fate Accelerated Edition
  17. * Fate Core
  18. Fleshscape
  19. Forthright Open Roleplay
  20. * Galatea’s Mirror
  21. 44: A Game of Automatic Fear
  22. Godbound
  23. High Moon: The Great Werewolf Robbery
  24. Ironsworn
  25. The House Always Wins
  26. King Arthur Pendragon, 1st Edition
  27. * Labyrinth Lord: Revised Edition
  28. Maze Rats
  29. Mini Six, Bare Bones Edition
  30. Mutant Future, Revised Edition
  31. The Nightmares Underneath
  32. * Old School hack
  33. OSRIC Pocket SRD
  34. * The Petal Hack
  35. * Pokéthulhu Adventure Game (3rd Edition)
  36. The Pool
  37. Queer Messes
  38. * Risus: The Anything RPG
  39. The Role With It System
  40. * Seppuku: Fury of the Samurai
  41. Shamblington
  42. Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
  43. Sixtacular SRD
  44. Songbirds
  45. Spirit of the Century
  46. * Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
  47. * Swords & Wizardry Complete
  48. Swords & Wizardry Core
  49. * Talislanta Campaign handbook, 2nd Edition and The Chronicles of Talislanta, 5th Edition, plus all the other free Talislanta products[4]
  50. * Tenocha: Heroic Adventures
  51. 13th Age System Reference Document
  52. * Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying
  53. * Troika!
  54. ViewScream
  55. The Void
  56. White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game
  57. White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying
  58. Worlds Apart

Free and PWYW supplements

On this list, the system (or broad “mechanics umbrella,” like OSR) appears in parentheses after each supplement.

These are all affiliate (paid) links. Using them helps support Yore, at no cost to you.

  1. * Advanced Edition Companion (Labyrinth Lord)
  2. * Augmented Reality, The Holistic City Kit For Cyberpunk Games (universal)
  3. Bad Myrmidon (OSR)
  4. Big List of RPG Plots (universal)
  5. Blackmarsh (OSR)
  6. Black Pudding zine (OSR)
  7. BLUEHOLME The Necropolis of Nuromen (OSR)
  8. Book of Knights (Pendragon)
  9. Book 0: Introduction to Traveller (Mongoose Traveller)
  10. Broken System zine (OSR)
  11. B/X Essentials Core Rules and the other entries in the B/X Essentials line (OSR)
  12. Cities: Shadepoint (universal/OSR)
  13. Codex fanzine (various)
  14. * Convicts & Cthulhu (Call of Cthulhu)
  15. Convicts & Cthulhu: Ticket of Leave zine (Call of Cthulhu)
  16. Creature Compendium (OSR)
  17. Deluge (universal)
  18. * Escape from the Astral Spellhold
  19. * Fate Adventures & Worlds line — there are over 30 of these, all with excellent production values, but my favorites are Aether Sea, Behind the Walls, Blood on the Trail, Ghost Planets, and Straw Boss (Fate)
  20. Fate System Toolkit (Fate)
  21. * Fiasco playsets — there are over 25 playsets, but my favorite is Touring Rock Band (Fiasco)
  22. From the Vats (OSR)
  23. Frontier Explorer magazine (Star Frontiers/universal)
  24. Fundamentals of Tabletop Roleplaying (universal)
  25. The Game Master (universal)
  26. The Grey Knight (Pendragon)
  27. * The Gyre (Mutant Future)
  28. Hill Cantons Compendium II (OSR)
  29. Home by Dark playsets — try Them as a starting point (Home by Dark)
  30. How to Hexcrawl (OSR)
  31. * In the Shadow of Mount Rotten (OSR)
  32. Irradiated Freaks (Atomic Highway)
  33. * Kaldor Kingdom Sampler (Harn)
  34. * Lesserton & Mor and the Player’s Guide (OSR)
  35. A Magical Medieval Society: City Guide (universal)
  36. The Marriage of Count Roderick (Pendragon)
  37. Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad zine (OSR)
  38. The Metamorphica (OSR)
  39. * Murcanto’s Lair (OSR)
  40. My Life as the GM (My Life with Master)
  41. Narcosa (OSR)
  42. The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe Edition (OSR)
  43. * Petty Gods: Revised and Expanded Edition (OSR)
  44. * Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer (Dungeon World)
  45. * Proteus Sinking (OSR)
  46. * Ptolus: A Player’s Guide (Ptolus)
  47. Realm of the Technomancer (Labyrinth Lord/Mutant Future)
  48. Risus: Ring of Thieves and Toast of the Town (Risus)
  49. Roll XX and Roll XX: Double Damage (OSR)
  50. The Sandbox zine (OSR)
  51. Situations for Tabletop Roleplaying (universal)
  52. Skull Mountain (Labyrinth Lord)
  53. SlaughterGrid (OSR)
  54. Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine (OSR)
  55. Star Frontiersman magazine (Star Frontiers)
  56. Sword Breaker zine (Dungeon World)
  57. Tales of Gothic Earth (OSR)
  58. * Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque I, plus volume II and volume III (OSR)
  59. * Tenocha: Setting Guide (Tenocha)
  60. Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (OSR)
  61. * 2017 Gongfarmer’s Almanac, Vol. 1-8 and older single issues (DCC RPG)
  62. * Two OSR Dungeon Crawls (OSR)
  63. Uresia: Lore and Curiosities (universal)
  64. Welcome to Dolmenwood (OSR)
  65. Wheel of Evil (Labyrinth Lord)
  66. White Box Omnibus (Swords & Wizardry)
  67. White Star Companion (White Star)
  68. * The World Wide Wrestling Roleplaying Game: Expanded Universe (World Wide Wrestling)
  69. Wrack & Rune (Labyrinth Lord)
  70. Yngarr zine (OSR)

Happy gaming!

[1] Fun fact: When you sort the free/PWYW category by Highest Rated, which sounds like a useful filter, the first product rated less than five stars doesn’t appear until entry 2,462 of 7,597 (as of this writing).

[2] This percentage takes into account not only the raw number of entries on the list, but those that include multiple products (issues of a zine, Fiasco playsets, etc.).

[3] I like all of those things, but if someone is looking for recommendations for cool stuff to check out, I’m not going to recommend a character sheet. This kind of support material is great, and I love that so much of it is on DTRPG.

[4] Talislanta creator Stephan Michael Sechi generously makes virtually the entire Talislanta line available for free, but not all of it is on DTRPG. (I hope he’ll eventually migrate it all there.)

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.