Tuesday 20 March 2018

[REVIEW] Halls of the Minotaur

DCC #35A: Halls of the Minotaur (2006)
by Harley Stroh
Published by Goodman Games
0-level funnel

Halls of the Minotaur
We knew we were royally fucked one minute into the game, in round one of our first encounter. Two PCs had just gone down in combat, and it was clear we were both outnumbered and outclassed by our enemies. We had miscalculated the odds, and were on a suicide mission right from the first step. One of my characters had a Strength of 3, and another was a hobbit haberdasher with a pair of sharp scissors; our opponents had real weapons, including crossbows, and they were dug in in an ambush among the bushes. Then it happened. In the face of certain death, you might as well give it your best shot, and go all out. We rushed them out of sheer desperation and hacked at them until they went down and we won. Then we won and won again while expecting the worst, usually at terrible costs, but we got better and won some more. And we killed the minotaur.

This combination of overwhelming odds and reckless heroism is the addictive idea Goodman Games had hit on with what would eventually become the DCC “funnel” concept, pitching a handful of zero-level nobodies into the meat grinder and seeing what comes out at the other end: ideally, a few battered heroes, and lots of bloody paste. The play style is one way to achieve an approximation of the low-level D&D experience under 3rd edition rules, and it has been canonised in the DCC RPG as an element of the character creation process. DCC’s power level is a kind of compromise between the 3e and old D&D approach – the characters are fragile, but there are mechanisms and extra abilities to compensate for that weakness, including a post-battle body recovery rule (essentially a saving throw against actually buying the farm). In this review, I am looking at one of the early examples of these “grinder” modules; it was originally made for 3.5, while we played it at a convention DCC game, with six players running three zero-level characters each. The review will also contrast how the module reads vs. how it was run by our GM.

As mentioned above, Halls of the Minotaur pits a bunch of hapless villagers against a marauding minotaur and its underlings. The action begins in a monster-infested forest, before it moves into a dungeon dug into a steep cliff, then a citadel on top of the cliff. Most of the keyed encounters begin as combat encounters – you move into a new area, fight a group of monsters (and if you are careless, deadly reinforcements), then you can check out the local details. Setpiece combats in cool locations – at a forest ambush site, before a demonic idol flanked by braziers, on a rope bridge, etc. – serve as the key attraction. The module has an element of infiltration/stealth that can make the combat situations (the preparedness and grouping of enemies) easier or harder, and the PCs will need all the advantages they can wrest from their environment. There is also an element of non-linearity that is almost real and feels real for about half of the adventure, but turns out to be largely illusory (there are a few branches and alternate routes early on, but the true way through most of the place is one way only, and the rest are blocked off by increasingly contrived ways).

As a typical feature of the early DCC modules, the room descriptions often give you the kind of wacky, imaginative room ideas you’d get in the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks – say, a dragon’s head rising out of an underground river, or a throne room concealing a deadly ambush, or fighting your way through the dungeon to emerge in a castle on top of the cliff – but they are somehow never actually as wild and out there when you interact with them. Likewise, the environment has layers of history and some really decent visuals, but again, it doesn’t amount to much, since it is a series of kobold battles in a fancier than average dungeon environment.

Or is it? This was an adventure that had gained a lot in the telling. Around the table – and remember, this was a casual convention pickup game – it felt real. Fairly standard areas took on a character they didn’t have in the text I read later. The desperation of the action – whose unfairness had turned us into crafty, vicious little opportunists – imbued the game with authenticity and a sense of working against time. Little touches to make the environment more mysterious – like turning some fairly standard kobolds into strange beastmen, or refining  standard encounters into indecipherable enigmas – gave it a touch of fantasy that had gone beyond the standard D&D playbook. That is to say, a good GM can do much with the material even with a fairly light touch; but also, this is a module with more untapped potential than it seems to have on first sight. It really did play better than it reads – had I come across it when I was still trying to find gems in DCC’s 3.5 module library in vain, I might not have seen the gem in the rough.

Which is not to say Halls of the Minotaur is a great module. It is a decentish one with typical design issues of its time and publisher. It always feels like the encounters are overwritten – much boxed text and followup writing are expended to say relatively little (developments in the old-school scene since 2006 have been massive in this respect). The 3.5 stat blocks are cumbersome, using mechanically complex methods to express interesting, but relatively simple ideas. I have already mentioned the other stuff. It is 12-16 decent pages lurking in a 32-page package (although with a Doug Kovacs cover and great illustrations by Stefan Poag). However, if you don’t mind giving it a thorough read and some thought to adapt it for yourself, the good stuff is more than enough to carry a fun, action-packed adventure.

The module credits its playtesters.

Rating: *** / *****

Saturday 10 March 2018

[ZINE] Echoes From Fomalhaut #01 (NOW AVAILABLE!)

Beware the Beekeeper!

I am proud to announce the publication of the first issue of Echoes From Fomalhaut, my old-school fanzine. After a long time on the drawing board, the print version is available from the Shop.

Echoes From Fomalhaut is an old-school RPG zine focused on adventures and game-relevant, GM-friendly campaign materials. Each issue is planned to feature a larger adventure module, accompanied by shorter scenarios, city states, and other things useful and interesting in a campaign. Rules-related material will be limited to a few pieces of interest. A long time ago, Judges Guild’s campaign instalments established the general idea, and that’s the road I intend to follow. A small city-state? An interesting wilderness area? An island ruled by a society of assassins? Guidelines for magical pools? That kind of stuff.

The philosophy of the zine is to follow the “Creativity aid, not creativity replacement” motto, and to treat its materials as departure points – to inspire GMs without restraining them by spelling out every mystery and filling in every blank.

The content will feature both vanilla and weird fantasy, mostly drawn from our home games, with occasional contributions by guest authors from the Hungarian old-school scene. Most of the articles will follow AD&D (well, OSRIC) conventions, but remain compatible with most OSR systems – and there will be detours.

An average issue is expected to run 32-40 pages plus the cover. The print edition, produced in the A5 format, is set to ship with larger extras like fold-out maps or what have you; the PDF edition will include these as downloadables.


I have always wanted to publish homemade game materials, an idea that has grown on me ever since I fell in love with the rough charm of Judge Guild instalments. I released my first PDF adventure in 2001, and the first printed one in 2003 (through my E.M.D.T. – First Hungarian d20 Society label – the first issue of Echoes is E.M.D.T. 46). Over the years, I have mostly stuck to free PDF releases and community fanzines (with the occasional detour, like the Helvéczia boxed set), but something has always been missing. This is an opportunity to fix that. Finally.

The print edition is now available for order. A PDF/POD version will be published through RPGNow with a delay of a few months.

How much?
A print issue sells for $8.00 plus priority shipping ($3.5 to Europe, $4 to the US and worldwide). The price for the PDF edition is expected to be set around $5. POD is still TBD. All buyers of the print edition will receive a free copy of the PDF edition at the date of its publication.

This is slightly above the average in zine pricing (I did an Excel comparison of 39 OSR and indie zines, and they come out at $11.44 for print/worldwide), but gives you some 14,800 words worth of content per issue (not including the OGL and front/end matter), pays for the commissioned artwork, and Hungary’s prestigiously large tax wedge. I will also spend the proceeds on future publishing projects.

What else?

Since set up a sole proprietorship to make this thing work, I am planning to republish some of my older adventure modules with new artwork in a reader-friendly format. The first such module is planned to become available in May, to be followed by Echoes From Fomalhaut #02 in early Summer. In due time, once I have tested out how publishing works, I would also like to try my hands at a few larger projects. But first things first...

Assembling Installments

[ZINE] Catalogue

Echoes From Fomalhaut #08: Welcome to Castle Sullogh

Welcome to Castle Sullogh
A 52-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with cover art by Stefan Poag, and illustrations by Denis McCarthy, Graphite Prime, and the Dead Victorians. This issue contains...

Yrrtwano’s Repose: The great hunter Lord Yrrtwano sleeps uneasy under the ruined husk of Varorlum Manor – if you dare disturb his rest, his enchanted horn may be yours! Dungeon module for 3rd to 4th level characters, 15 keyed loations.

You Meet in a Tavern…: and then what? Start campaigns with a bang using a tried and true cliché!

Castle Sullogh: A fabled castle reputed to be as old as mankind has lived on the Isle of Erillion (and perhaps older), now ruined but not at all abandoned. Four levels with 55 keyed areas containing challenges for 5th to 9th level characters, including a strange museum created by a famous adventuress, a tower of three powerful witches, and an old mystery. Beware the sullogh!

Thasan: Beyond the City of Vultures: Hex-crawl guide to the strange lands of Thasan surrounding the sinful city, describing its burning wastelands, glittering seas, ruined cities and bizarre phantasms in 103 keyed locations.

Two map sheets: one with a map of Castle Sullogh, one with the lands of Thasan – and a separate sheet with a colour player’s hex map of the Isle of Erillion!

Baklin: Jewel of the Seas

Baklin: Jewel of the Seas
A 72-page setting guide and adventure module for low to mid-level player characters, Baklin: Jewel of the Seas describes a medium-sized merchant city, including its rulers, criminal underworld, establishments, and three-level Undercity. Baklin is meant as both a campaign hub a party can depart from and return to (with numerous hooks for wilderness adventures), and as a complex adventure location of its own. It can be used along with the materials published for the Isle of Erillion mini-setting (Echoes #02–05), or it can double as almost any neutral-aligned port town in your own setting.

In any case, Baklin is meant to be played: it is focused on city intrigue, exploration, and dungeon crawling. Go shopping for great deals in port or at the stores of the reclusive Masters’ Guild; be careful not to fall afoul of the Sea Laws or anger the Knights of Yolanthus Kar; discover what lurks in the Tower of Gulls; and brave the Shrine of Roxana and the Thrones of Judgement!

This is two identical-length modules in one: a city guide with 39 major locations and a dungeon setting with 112 keyed areas, connected and bound together via multiple secret entrances, plot threads, and NPC agendas.

“Oh Baklin, Jewel of the Seas, great gateway of Erillion! Minstrels sing of its wealth and marine power; and of the refinement and taste of its magnates and nobility. Minstrels of all kinds, of course, are prone to grandiloquence; and perhaps Baklin is neither as mighty nor as fair as the ballads claim. And yet, there is reason the minstrels sing so, for Baklin has wealthy patrons, its fleet is not inconsiderable – and are its streets not the loveliest within so many weeks of travel? Indeed, those who brave the high seas often believe so… and they will gladly pay for a song to remember their visit. This booklet presents a complete city supplements describing the streets, personalities, and conflicts of a bustling port town, from the heights of power to the deepest undercellars. In Baklin, all streets lead to adventure – and a single life would not be enough to complete all of them.”

This supplement has been illustrated by Denis McCarthy (who also did the cover), Stefan Poag, Graphite Prime, Jerry Boucher, and the Dead Victorians.

Trail of the Sea Demon

Trail of the Sea Demon
Trail of the Sea Demon is a 32-page collection of three loosely connected weird fantasy scenarios for 3rd to 5th level characters. These mini-adventures revolve around a secretive mystery-religion, and the hidden paths which lead to it in a fantastic, labyrinthine city. They can be inserted into any gloomy fantasy metropolis, and may be smoothly integrated into an ongoing campaign. The three scenarios are:

The House of Rogat Demazien: The mysterious sculptor and magician is out of town, and his house lies unguarded. What treasures and dangers are to be found in the Beggars’ Quarter, and where does it all lead to? 37 keyed areas.

Temple of the Sea Demon: Hidden somewhere in the city, a strange temple awaits. Who will outwit the secretive priests and magical guardians to claim its treasures, and who will risk the wrath of the Sea Demon doing so? 19 keyed areas.

Shadow Court: a true bazaar of the bizarre where shadowy merchants mingle with those looking for exotic wares – and deceit lurks around every corner. Yet why does nobody here speak of the abandoned garden shrine and its nightly visitors? 20 keyed areas, and the strange merchants of Shadow Court are revealed in this module!

“The Temple has stood in an abandoned plaza since time immemorial. It is part of the city, but no known street or alleyway leads to it. Only those who wait for the appointed time can embark on a pilgrimage of shadows and dreams to walk new ways through the silent and dark city. It is said that only a select few know the way except for the fanatical priests who worship the destructive powers of the sea. Those who have sought the Sea Demon’s advice seek it rarely; those who seek its riches have never returned to tell the tale. But now, the city’s past may grant a key to solve an occult mystery… Trail of the Sea Demon is a collection of three short adventures concerning the way to the Sea Demon’s sinister temple, the secrets and perils that await therein, and what may follow afterwards.”

Originally published in Fight On! magazine, these adventures have been revised and expanded based on further play, and presented in an accessible, user-friendly format in the current edition, with new illustrations by Peter Mullen (whose cover is one for the ages), Graphite Prime, Jerry Boucher, and Stefan Poag.

In the Shadow of the City-God

In the Shadow of the
A 32-page adventure module for 3rd to 4th level player characters, In the Shadow of the City-God combines urban intrigue, cloak-and-dagger action, and dungeon crawling in a single package. Visit Mur, a city-state worshipped and forever constructed by its citizens as a living god, and discover the secrets the scheming noble families do not want you to know. Inspired by Shakespeare and the bloody renaissance authors who had preceded him, Mur is one of the great charismatic locations in fantasy RPGs, and an excellent place to set your own adventures – after you have played this one. Visit Mur’s sights, and descend into three dungeons crisscrossing its convoluted undercity. Also included is The Valley of the Skull, a wilderness adventure taking you to a lost world designed by a mad emperor, and a fold-out player’s map of the city of Mur.

“Mur’s fortunes have been built on tear salt, and merchants from distant lands travel to the city for this healing elixir. There are two tear salt springs in town, owned by two rival patrician families: the Falconi and the Capullo. Mur’s laws forbid open conflict, and like most crimes against citizens, the punishment for breaking the peace is severe: live entombment within the living city’s ever-growing walls! Nevertheless, cloak-and-dagger intrigue always claims new victims, and discord between the two families has now escalated into almost open warfare after the elderly Ercol Falconi’s young wife has disappeared. Time is ticking away, and only a bold company of outsiders can resolve the feuds and discover the masterminds behind it all… under the watchful eyes of the City-God!”

This module by Istvan Boldog-Bernad has been translated into the English, with illustrations by Denis McCarthy (who also did the cover), Stefan Poag, and the Dead Victorians.

Bryce Lynch, Ten Foot Pole: "I’m ending this review early to go pass out. It’s the day after election, I’ve been ignoring all of the news channels and instead drinking."

Echoes From Fomalhaut #07: From Beneath the Glacier

From Beneath
the Glacier
A 40-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with cover art by Matthew Ray, and illustrations by Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, Graphite Prime and the Dead Victorians. This issue contains...

From Beneath the Glacier: Venture into the ice caves underneath a melting glacier, and discover the source of the nighttime raids on the mountain valleys. Dungeon module for 5th to 7th level characters, 21 keyed loations.

The Hecatomb of Morthevole: Morthevole has skeletons in the basement, and he needs to have them cleared out. Fun side job soon turns into horrible slaughterfest. Mini-dungeon for 2nd to 4th level adventurers (or plucky first-levelers!), 12 keyed locations.

The Tomb of Ali Shulwar: An article presenting one of the major Underworld complexes beneath the City of Vultures. Two entrance levels, three main levels and multiple sub-levels, from the hideouts of fantastic conspiracies to locked-away secrets and an enchanted forest beneath the face of the earth! 4th to 6th level (mostly), 66 keyed areas.

The White Hand: Crime-fighting vigilante organisation or armed thugs carrying out extrajudicial killings? Or something much worse? Look behind the face of this secret society and those who seek to control its every movement in this article.

Bryce Lynch, Ten Foot Pole: "The preview, at ten pages, shows you sixteen of the glacier rooms as well as the map. It’s a great preview."

Castle Xyntillan

Castle Xyntillan
“The immense, rambling complex of Castle Xyntillan has stood in its mountain valley for many years. Built over several generations, it has now been deserted by its former owners, and left to time and the elements. However, that is not the end of the story, for Xyntillan’s fabulous treasures and Machiavellian deathtraps continue to fascinate the fortune-seekers of a dozen lands – and never mind the ghost stories!”

A 132-page hardcover describing the three massive levels of the eponymous funhouse megadungeon, Castle Xyntillan has been designed for the Swords&Wizardry game, and is suitable for 1st to 6th level characters. Built on surrealism and dream logic, Castle Xyntillan has been designed to be versatile, open-ended, complex, and accessible - and always a bit mysterious. From the soaring tower of the Donjon to the inky depths of the Oubliette (and beyond), this module should provide ample opportunities for exploration, confrontation, and subterfuge. Whether you would like a dungeon for one-off expeditions and convention play, or repeated forays and full campaigns, this book should suit the demands of your campaign!

With cover art by Peter Mullen, and interior illustrations by Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, Peter Mullen (again) and The Dead Victorians, Castle Xyntillan ships with four map sheets featuring GM’s and player’s cartography of the labyrinthine complex (the work of Robert S. Conley).

Grodog, From Kuroth's Quill (part 1, part 2): "Castle Xyntillan is a brilliant product, and it achieves what I wish T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil had turned out to be---a living, breathing large-scale adventuring environment with a distinct flavor of its own that calls out to me to fill it out further!"

James Mishler, Adventures in Gaming: "Castle Xyntillan goes a step beyond mere homage, and creates a new pinnacle from which to measure "Fun-house Dungeons." It is the Ultimate Gothic Fun-house Dungeon; it is an instant classic. It is the kind of game book that you can lose yourself in for hours, as you trace all the interconnected characters and situations presented in the adventure. It is so thorough -- and yet, still so eminently and easily playable -- that one must assume that Gabor Lux discovered some lost classic of Gothic horror and cribbed off of it to create this huge, ruined pile of awesomeness."

Bryce Lynch, Ten Foot Pole: "A perfect OD&D product, with whimsy and wonder without going off in to Funhouse territory."

The Byzantine, Espharel: "The content inside doesn't disappoint. It oozes flavor, and there's no shortage of ideas I've already stolen. Joseph Manola, in the ever-useful post 'Conceptual Density', asks how many actual ideas there are on each page. For my money, Castle Xyntillan maintains a solid rate of at least one per page. (...) The real draw here, especially for analysis, is the layout."

Echoes From Fomalhaut #06: The Gallery of Rising Tombs

The Gallery of Rising Tombs
A 44-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with cover art by Stefan Poag, and illustrations by Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, and the Dead Victorians. This issue contains...

The Wandering Glade: A wilderness module for (mostly) 4th to 6th level characters, describing an enchanted forest that may be found in different corners of the land, and hides lost treasures and the mysteries of bygone eras. For some, the challenge is getting in… and for some, it is getting out in one piece! 26+13 keyed locations.

The City of Vultures: Visit the decaying metropolis of the City of Vultures, domain of the great Mirvander Khan, where every street conceals a lure for the unwary, and where fabulous wealth and grinding poverty exist side by side! This primer introduces the City and its subjugated rivals, its coterie of gods and mystery cults, its peculiar customs, and the conspiracies which lurk behind the façade of its crumbling buildings.

The Gallery of Rising Tombs: An article presenting one of the four great Underworld complexes beneath the City of Vultures. Three entrance levels and numerous sub-levels combine for dungeoneering over 81 keyed areas; from a seedy caravanserai to the under-temple of the rat god, the domain of a damned warrior yearning for his lost love, and more! Characters level 4 to 6 (but sufficiently open-ended to accommodate greater power differences).

The Armoury: A storehouse of 30 enchanted weapons. Confound your foes with The Sword of Barriers, master the treacherous Axe of Many Runes, or take up the choice of champions, mighty Frogbringer!

Also... a double-sided players' map of the City of Vultures, as well as the arid lands of Thasan!

The Nocturnal Table

The Nocturnal Table
A 60-page game aid dedicated to city-based adventures, lavishly illustrated by Matthew Ray (cover), Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag and Denis McCarthy. This is a game aid designed for regular table use, and formatted to be comfortable and accessible, offering a handy guide to design and run adventure scenarios in a large, sinful city filled with action and intrigue.

“The City is a maze. A labyrinth of alleyways, plazas, shortcuts and hidden thoroughfares, it isn’t any less treacherous to navigate than a dungeon. At least during the day, the worst one can expect is a greedy patrol of guards eager for a shakedown, or a thief in the crowd, ready to make a grab and run for it. At night, the sensible and the timid hurry home and bolt their doors. Ecstatic revellers, madmen, assassins, religious fanatics, thrill-seekers, enigmatic apparitions and tiger-headed opium nightmares prowl the streets. And the guards are still not helping. The Nocturnal Table is a supplement intended to bring you this city by way of an encounter system, random inspiration tables, NPC and monster statistics, as well as a giant nighttime random encounter table, whose three hundred entries can serve as interludes as well as springboards for complicated investigative scenarios and fantastic conspiracies.”

At the core of The Nocturnal Table is a 300-entry table of random encounters and odd events you can run into at night in a busy fantasy metropolis. From a patrol of guards carrying a slain comrade, to a sinister beggar-catcher soliciting the aid of dishonest adventurers, or a skeleton covered in grey ooze, its eyes glittering gemstones shambling towards the party, all the wonder and menace of a city-crawl are at hand. But that is not all. With The Nocturnal Table, you can…
  • ...create general encounters with the aid of a comprehensive encounter system…
  • …generate merchants selling strange and fantastic goods (as seen in Echoes From Fomalhaut #01)…
  • …find out what’s in their pockets…
  • …generate local colour on the fly…
  • …stock warehouses with exotic goods to plunder…
  • …and set up secret meetings and investigation sites!
Guidelines are also offered to re-use the encounters and chart contents for the construction of bizarre plotlines and sinister conspiracies which rule from the shadows… while the City sleeps. All that, and more are at your disposal in… The Nocturnal Table!

Echoes From Fomalhaut #05: The Enchantment of Vashundara

The Enchantment of Vashundara
A 40-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with cover art and illustrations by Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, and the Dead Victorians. This issue contains... 

The Enchantment of Vashundara: An otherworldly adventure module for 3rd to 4th level PCs. Explore the fabulous palace of a god in peril, brave its dangers and outwit the invaders who have seized it for their own evil purposes… or die trying. 21 keyed locations. 

The Divided Town of Tirwas: Once an overgrown village governed by communal customs, and now a small town divided among a group of feudal Landlords, Tirwas is a place of perpetual tension. Can it be changed for the good, or can its hidden conflicts be exploited for personal gain? The answer lies in your scenarios, and your players’ decisions. 18 keyed locations. 

Plunder of the Stone Sacks: Formerly a set of communal shelters under the town of Tirwas, now a half-abandoned set of storerooms and a repository of discarded things. A dungeon module for 3rd to 5th level characters, 45 keyed locations. 

All is Well in Sleepy Haven: An idyllic, quiet little coastal town – an ideal springboard for adventures on the high seas, or in the monster-haunted wilderness. Or does something more insidious lurk in this friendly community? Is Sleepy Haven’s peace and quiet a comfortable illusion? You be the Judge. 8 keyed locations.

The Lost Valley of Kishar

The Lost Valley of Kishar
A 32-page adventure module for 6th to 8th level player characters, The Lost Valley of Kishar is a wilderness scenario with multiple mini-dungeons spread out over 28 keyed locations. Venture into a lost world of savage beasts and ancient sorceries – and discover an old mystery from beyond the stars! Whether you have come for the strange fruits of an enchanted tree, in pursuit of a great winged ape, the gold of a lost temple or a magic mirror, glory and death await in equal measure in… The Lost Valley of Kishar!

“Somewhere, only a few days’ travel from a busy trade route, there lies a valley surrounded by untamed wilderness. It is surrounded by cliffs forming the shape a ring, unnaturally steep and tall, as if they had been wrought by human hand. No one remembers who had originally erected the ruins standing within the valley, and who had nurtured the wondrous tree which had once drawn pilgrims from distant lands. Kishar’s priestesses have been long forgotten – but the tree’s blessed radiance persists. As if under an odd compulsion, all manner of beasts have been drawn to the valley, and in time, there emerged others. Those who came from far beyond human imagination, and were already here before the first priestesses…”

This module by Gabor Csomos was originally written for a 2018 adventure writing contest, where it won first place. This edition has been translated into the English, with illustrations by Peter Mullen (who also did the cover), Stefan Poag, and Denis McCarthy.


Edgewise, Artifacts and Relics: "There are a lot of different genre elements that manage to hang together well - winged apes, science fantasy, liches and curses - it's all there. And the organization is tight; Lost Valley gets in and out in 36 pages. It's not dry and it never overstays its welcome, and its all digestible enough for a GM to quickly get the big picture."
Jeremy, OSR News and Reviews: "The Lost Valley of Kishar represents both the best and worst of the OSR. It's clearly a labor of love, but at the same time, also really pretentious, cliched, and overpriced. Most importantly, there's really no legitimate reason for the players to get involved, as there is really no reward, just misery tourism. But that's something much of the OSR seems to love for some reason, so YMMV. "
Bryce Lynch, Ten Foot Pole: "I might liken it to an older Judges Guild product, like Dark Tower. You have to fight the text a little to get the big picture of whats going on and that makes immediate understanding suffer. But, in both cases, the content is worth it. (...) Still, it’s a pretty good lost valley adventure. Lots going on. The setups are understandable, easy for the DM to grok. They interact with each other. It’s got a lot of tough shit running around to overcome. (And may be a little light on the treasure for a 1E game …) It’s also taken the single-column format about as far as it can go. I don’t think you could make some of the encounters any longer and preserve usability. "

Echoes From Fomalhaut #04: Revenge of the Frogs

Revenge of the Frogs
A 40-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with cover art by Matthew Ray, and illustrations by Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, and Andrew Walter. This issue contains... 

The Technological Table: Destructive futuristic weapons and sinister technological artifacts from Fomalhaut’s fallen utopias and underworld realms. 

Revenge of the Frogs: A wilderness adventure module for 3rd to 5th level PCs. Certain doom awaits the dying port town of Silvash, and its only chance of survival lies in the marshlands, a place of bizarre inhabitants, labyrinthine waterways, and lots and lots of… well, let’s not spoil it. 16 keyed locations.

Arfel: City State of the Charnel God: Dominated by a great temple-complex that forms a vast necropolis, death looms over Arfel like a funereal shroud. Yet beyond the haunts of the veiled priests and the silent palaces of a reclusive aristocracy, the alleyways are busy both day and night, and adventure awaits those who would explore the city’s mysteries. 20 keyed locations.

Erillion, West: an article describing the western half of the Isle of Erillion, from lost places of pilgrimage to brooding manor houses, and lowly bandits’ nests to sites of high wizardry. 
Also... a detailed fold-out players’ map of the City State of Arfel!

Echoes From Fomalhaut #03: Blood, Death, and Tourism

Blood, Death, and Tourism
A 44-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with artwork by Stefan Poag, Denis McCarthy, and more. This issue contains... 

The Great Wheel: A mighty 50’ wheel rolls through the wastelands of Fomalhaut, destroying all in its path, and followed by a ragged host of raiders, fanatics, desperate camp followers and wily opportunists. What purpose drives this great device, and who are its followers? 

Terror on Tridentfish Island: A 3rd to 5th level sword&sorcery module set on a formerly wealthy resort island, dotted with ruined pleasure palaces, enigmatic caverns, and the relics of a bygone age. 17 keyed locations plus two mini-dungeons. 

Monsters of Wizardry: a collection of monsters adapted from the excellent CRPG, Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant. 

Erillion, East: an article describing the eastern half of the Isle of Erillion, from the city of Baklin to the island kingdoms of the Northmen, and from gloomy highlands to enchanted forests. 

Also... a detailed fold-out GM’s map of the Isle of Erillion!


Pookie, Reviews From R'lyeh: "Overall, Echoes From Fomalhaut #03: Blood, Death, and Tourism pulls away from the ‘vanila’ fantasy of previous issue and in doing begins to give the fanzine more of a focus, more of an identity, and more of a reason to want to read future issues. That can only bode well for future issues."

Echoes From Fomalhaut #02: Gont, Nest of Spies

Gont, Nest of Spies
A 44-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with artwork by Denis McCarthy, Matthew J. Finch, Stefan Poag, Andrew Walter and more. This issue contains...

The Four Wives of Xantun: fantasy scenario in the Dreamlands for 2nd to 4th level characters – what haunts the city-state of Hlanith, what does it have to do with lost love, and what is it about those flowers?

A Guide to Erillion: an introduction to the Isle of Erillion, a vanilla fantasy mini-campaign setting.

Eldritch Experiments: what happens when the PCs find an abandoned laboratory and start experimenting?

Does Energy Drain Suck? (and what to do about it)

Gont, Nest of Spies: all is not what it seems in the port town of Gont. Features adventure hooks, 21 keyed locations, treacherous NPCs and a lot of ways to get into trouble.

Down the Smugglers’ Walk: the tunnels and dungeons beneath Gont, and the secrets they harbour. 40 keyed locations from underground fighting rings to gateways to other worlds!

The Swine Lord: a small wilderness scenario for 4th to 6th level characters, featuring a valley with an unwholesome reputation, and those who aren’t bothered by it. 11 keyed locations.

Also... a fold-out players’ map of the Isle of Erillion, and of the town of Gont!

Pookie, Reviews From R'lyeh: "Echoes From Fomalhaut #02: Gont, Nest of Spies is certainly lives up to the author’s aim of it being designed to present ‘good vanilla’, that is, standard fantasy, but with a heart. It presents good material in the main, but it feels just slightly bland, as if there should be stronger hook or reason for a gamer to want to use that material."

The Barbarian King

The Barbarian King
A 20-page adventure module for 4th to 6th level player characters, The Barbarian King pits the company against the ruined empire of the mountain barbarians... and the evil that still slumbers therein! This gloomy wilderness and dungeon scenario features deals with malevolent and ultra-powerful spirits, the burial places of a now defeated people, shadowy hosts and deadly traps. 

First published in 2002 as a standalone mini-module and in 2011 in an expanded version in Fight On! magazine, The Barbarian King has seen quite a lot of play in those sixteen years (and held up rather well at the table). It has been disassembled, reassembled, bootlegged on the DM’s Guild (no kidding) and put back together again. This edition has been re-edited for easy use, and includes illustrations by Matthew Ray (who also did the cover art), Stefan Poag and Denis McCarthy.

  • Bryce Lynch (2011 version): "This is a decent adventure; I was pretty happy with it."
  • Bryce Lynch (2018 version)"It’s got a GREAT vibe going on, and Gabor takes things just a little bit further than usual for an adventure, thinking about things just enough more to make things make sense. It’s a good adventure."
  • Prince of Nothing: "Barbarian King is a module with a feel so classic it should have been written with a typewriter and printed on cheap paper."
Echoes From Fomalhaut #01: Beware the Beekeeper!

Beware the Beekeeper!
A 40-page fanzine featuring adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school RPG rules, with artwork by Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, and past masters. This issue contains...

Bazaar of the Bizarre: a 1d100 table to generate strange merchants, with caravan guidelines.

The Rules of the Game: sets out the conventions followed in the zine.

The Singing Caverns: a two-level cavern system with 49 keyed areas, inhabited by orcs, bandits, and the mysteries of a bygone age. 2nd to 4th level.

Philtres & Dusts: a sampler of magical potions and dusts.

Red Mound: a mysterious adventure location found in the wastelands.

Morale & Men: a simple, fun set of follower and morale rules, written by two guest-authors.

The Mysterious Manor: the dilapidated manor house of an extinct noble family, now with new occupants... or is there more to it? 23 keyed areas, 2nd to 4th level.

Also... an unkeyed city map! (extra fold-out supplement)

  • Steve C, Google+"This is a great example of what I love about RPG zines and the DIY OSR community: creator-written and published gaming material with a unique flavor and feel to it."
  • Pookie, Reviews From R'lyeh: "In setting out to offer ‘good vanilla’, that is, standard fantasy, but with a heart, the issue has certainly achieved that. (...) Echoes From Fomalhaut #01: Beware the Beekeeper! is an assured first issue whose teething problems will be easy to overcome for the second issue."
  • Vorpal Mace: "Don't let the small size fool you: this baby is jam-packed with actually useful articles."
  • Ynas Midgard: "Gábor aims for "good vanilla", and it is indeed some very sweet vanilla."
  • Bryce Lynch: "Terse writing, interesting encounters and a good map all combine to create a delightful little complex to explore … reminding me more than a bit of Thracia. Could there be a higher compliment?"
  • Ben L.: "While I have more nuanced things to say below, the basic message is: it's packed to the gills with fantastic stuff. It has the spirit of the best early Judge's Guild stuff and a quirky sword & sorcery flavor. If you like that sort of thing you would be a fool not to buy it."
  • Plus One Longsword: "Echoes From Fomalhaut has a lot to offer those ready to delve into its fun, and unique content. Multiple adventures with a surprising amount of care and consideration put into them, as well as useful tables and great art, this zine rolled a natural 20 for sure. I thought this to be a great first installment to a successful zine."
Yes, there is a downloadable sample!

You can buy these items at my Bigcartel store. They are also sold as PDFs on RPGNow with a delay of a few months.
Please note that your print order also makes you eligible for free PDF copies of your ordered items when they become available (should be a few months after the print edition). PDFs will be delivered via RPGNow to your regular e-mail address, unless you request otherwise.

How shipping works

I try to ship orders within a few days of receipt. I ship via the Hungarian Post, priority mail (there are no major price differences between priority and regular). As of 2019, I have switched to a flat $6.50 fee for worldwide, and $5.40 for European customers. (See the explanation here.) The most cost-conscious solution is to place order for two to five products at once.

I package every zine in an envelope. For larger orders, I am packing the items in a larger, sturdier envelope. If you’d place a bulk order, we’ll probably need a cardboard box. Based on preliminary test mailings, priority mail takes a few days to reach most European addresses, and approximately 10-12 days to arrive in the USA. If your package arrives damaged, please contact me at beyond.fomalhaut [at] gmail.com with a photo of the damage.

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Thank you for your understanding. Happiness, like the GDPR, is mandatory.

Thank You For Your Purchase!

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Thank you for your payment. Your transaction has been completed, and a receipt for your purchase has been emailed to you. You may log into your account at www.paypal.com to view details of this transaction.

I try to ship orders within a few days of receipt. Based on preliminary test mailings, priority mail takes a few days to reach European addresses, and 9-12 days to arrive in the USA. If your package arrives damaged, please contact me at beyond.fomalhaut@gmail.com with a photo of the damage.

Please note that your print order also makes you eligible for free PDF copies of your ordered items when they become available (should be a few months after the print edition). PDFs will be delivered via RPGNow to your regular e-mail address, unless you request otherwise.

* * *

(If you have come here from some other direction, you suddenly feel a sharp pain and hear maniacal laughter before it all grows dark. Too late, you realise you have made a mistake trusting that link. Your lifeless body falls on the floor of the deathtrap dungeon.)