Friday, September 28, 2012

Open Friday: Awesome Homebrews

One of the best things about the old school renaissance is its diversity: there are a huge number of folks out there doing all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff in their home campaigns. Precisely because there are so many, it's pretty much impossible to keep track of them all. That's why I'm making it a point today to direct your attention to a handful of people who've done awesome work in either presenting material from their homebrew setting or rules hacks they've made (or both). That they have all taken their games in such different direction is, to me, a feature rather than a bug (to borrow an overused phrase).

A lot of this stuff isn't what I would do, but, then, that's the point. Gaming awesomeness comes in a variety of forms and I want to highlight a few terrific examples of it. In the comments below, feel free to include links to examples of what you think are great presentations of homebrew setting information and/or houserules.

In Places Deep: Evan Elkins uses his blog to present not one but three different campaign settings -- Cuccagna ("The Tempest as written by Jack Vance"), The Dark Country (a Hammer Horror-inspired setting and home to Nightwick Abbey, "the Amityville Horror of megadungeons"), and Uz (a science fantasy in Earth's far future)

Legacy of the Bieth: Humza Kazmi has come up with a setting that combines a vaguely Abbasid/Almoravid era North Africa with the feel of a spaghetti western. If that's not one of the more awesome campaign pitches I've ever heard, I don't know what is.

Mutants and Magic: Paul Schaefer's Gamma Red Death World is set on Earth in the late 19th century after an alien invasion. This is a fairly new setting, so it's still being detailed, but I really like what I've seen so far.

People them with Monsters: Jeremy Deram presents Outland, which he describes as a "semi-gonzo kitchen sink setting." Outland was originally a D&D setting but has since migrated over to Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game. You can see Jeremy's house rules on the site, as well as his excellent DCC RPG resources.

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: Jack Shear's The World Between Setting is a Gothic fantasy that borrows from literature, folklore, fantasy, and horror. It's one of my favorite homebrew settings these days and strikes me as what Ravenloft could have/should have been.

The Wisdom Frog Croaks: Reynaldo Madrinan presents his Barovania setting, which, as you might guess from its name, is Ravenloft crossed with Japanese video games. It's not quite my cup of tea, but there's no denying that it's quite imaginative. Plus, I suspect my 12 year-old daughter would love it.

Untimately: Brendan S presents his Pahvelorn setting, as well as heaps of amazing OD&D rules variants and extremely useful resources, such as OD&D equipment post from this past summer.

Wampus Country: Describing Erik Jensen's Wampus Country setting is difficult, but if you were to think "D&D crossed with Oregon Trail," with lots of fairy tale stuff thrown in, you wouldn't be too far off.

I have lots more links like these to share and I will in future posts, but, as I said above, I'd like you to do the same in the comments below. Share links to the awesome old school homebrew settings and rules you've encountered on the web!


  1. I got the City and its world from Weird Adventures over at my blog.

  2. Hill Cantons Compendium here on the variant business:

    And the campaign proper:

  3. Here's mine:

  4. Great list James! Here are my posts on Anglia & Castle Nicodemus:

    And here is Grot:

  5. Thanks for posting this, James. A blog as big as yours can do a lot to spread the love to current projects too, and those in the list I know seem to me to be more than worthy of more attention.

    I'll nominate Wermspittle at Hereticwerks in case no one else does, but Riskail is outstanding too, and there are various better hidden projects. Hw is a great lesser-discovered jewel in the OSR - when you visit, check out the list of worlds and settings in the sidebar. It's more a cosmos, and often suggests a cosmology.

    Once again, thanks for the support.

  6. Oh dang, thanks James!

    Barovania satisfies my inner 12 year old, so its only fitting, really.

  7. Beedo's Black City at Dreams in the Lich House. Vikings at the mountains of madness.

  8. The HMS Apollyon (run by Gustie L.) is another example of a fantastically inventive setting. It is a giant haunted ocean liner, a ship as megadungeon.

    Someone on Google Plus described it as:

    "Like Metamorphosis Alpha adrift on the River Styx."

  9. I got Dust (alt-history Great Depression American using American folklore monsters)

    One the eve of Revolution (Fantasy Haitian Revolution)

    Mothership (based on the myths and lyrics surrounding Parliament/Funkadelic, Sun Ra etc.)

    Wrestleworld (wrestling game using od&d based mechanics)

  10. Thanks for posting this list, it is nice to see some robust works.

  11. Not yet, sadly

  12. Don't forget Scott of Huge Ruined Pile. His Dwarf-Land and Wilderlands of Darkling Sorcery are great.

    Also, check out Planet Algol.

  13. Disqus seems to have stripped my links...

  14. It probably doesn't count as a "homebrew" since it is set in 17th century France, but I vote for Black Vulmea (Mike)'s Flashing Blades campaign, Le Ballet de l'Acier. It is a richly detailed historical sandbox, or, as Mike puts it, a social megadungeon. His campaign is one of the best examples I know of a "straight" historical (non-fantasy) setting with a definite old school vibe.

  15. Gusty is great. I would also like to mention he recently released a free pdf adventure, Obelisk of Forgotten Memories for the AES setting. Great stuff.

  16. Thanks guys - glad to see my stuff is well liked. AS to homebrews I must say Pahvelorn and Wampus are both great. There's so many good ideas now though and I feel like it's all feeding on itself and getting better and better. I know my projects are inspired by many of the other homebrew projects, and I think it's a real community effort.

  17. I hesitate to embarrass myself here, given the impressive company.

    This is more of an adventure path than setting, but it's essentially Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now meets Ninja Scroll.

    And I just started posting my untested, houserules proposal. If I'm violating the OGL with this, someone please let me know.

  18. Not exactly OSR (well, sort of), but there's been some neat "microbrews" out in the last few years with an old school vibe, and these things are about the epitome of DIY. The obvious example is:

    * Microlite74 - A wafer thin remake of the classics.

    But other fascinating gems include:

    * Into The Odd - A ancient-future setting of weird wonders. System vaguely patterned after D&D mechanics, but kind of a skewed angle.

    * Bandits & Basilisks - Everyone fights, everyone casts spells. The only catch: Spells aren't fire and forget, you concoct them at cost over the course of days.

    * Searchers of the Unknown - Imagine PCs statted up the same as any old monster entries: That minimalist.

    * Tempora Mutantur - Something like Gamma World by way of Searchers of the Unknown.

  19. Melan's Fomalhaut is awesome, awesome stuff
    As is Uz
    and Planet Algol
    Omega and Sword and Sorcery Greyhawk is also great .
    I'm admittedly a S&S junkie and these guys provide some really inspiring and imaginative stuff .

  20. I need to run my post-soviet bollymecha setting Tartary on g+ to really get it off the ground.

    Ian Johnson's Bleaklands looks really interesting and his sorcerers are hella creative. I'll shortly be playing in William Broom's Night-Haunted Hogwarts (post harry, post apocalyptic Rowlingverse). But Trey Causey's Weird Adventures is a class act.

  21. I'll self-nominate Gamma World War which pits the remnants of humanity vs. mutants vs. extra terrestrial invaders for the fate of the Earth!

  22. That is a really awesome idea for a setting.

  23. Here's something I would like to have done:

  24. Thanks, now to do some reading.

  25. Wonderful links in the blogpost and the comments. I especially dig the Mothership.


  27. I heard that the Chronicles of Amherth setting by Small Niche Games started out as a home brew campaign that the author decided to publish.


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