Light Fantasy Update

So, I’ve continued working on Light Fantasy, and I’ve now finished up to the end of the Treasure chapter – only two more chapters to go before I’ve finished the main text and I’m ready to start proofreading.

Unfortunately, one of those two chapters is the monsters chapter – which is likely to be the biggest chapter in the book. So I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in how the project is getting on; the latest work-in-progress is here.


New Project – Light Fantasy RPG

It’s been a while, but I have a new project in the works.

As should be obvious from the title of this post, the game is called Light Fantasy (I have to say that I was amazed that a bunch of searching didn’t find that name already in use for a tabletop RPG).

The game is a retroclone of the old B/X boxed sets of D&D. Obviously it’s not the first retroclone of those, so what am I doing that’s different? Well, the inspiration for the game came from three places.

Firstly I’ve been in quite a few discussions about the differences in setting and feel between the different editions of D&D, and I’ve been saying for a while that one of the things I really like about B/X and its associated adventures (B1-B5 and X1-X5) is that its setting is very different from that of other editions – even the otherwise very closely related BECMI and RC from which I derived Dark Dungeons. Other than a couple of ambiguous references, the rules and default setting of the B/X game doesn’t have planes. There are no alignment-themed outer planes that are homes to the gods and abodes of the dead. There are no demons or devils or devas or angels inspired by the religions that developed in the Middle East. There’s no Paracelsian elemental planes.

All of the other D&D editions have those things, but B/X doesn’t. What it has instead are alternate dimensions such as Averoigne and the Nightmare Dimension, and Lovecraftian creatures that come from those places. Instead of outer-planar creatures that are based on mythology you have extradimensional entities that are much more alien in nature. It also helps that the level cap on the game mean that it stops before you start getting to spells like Astral Spell, Plane Shift, Gate, and the like – so there’s no standard or simple way to visit other planes or other dimensions.

It gives the game a very different feel, and lets you have actual religions where the existence of gods and demons and even an afterlife are all matters of faith rather than something that someone with a Plane Shift spell can go an check on.

Secondly, I love crossover games that mix fantasy and sci-fi and a few times I’ve toyed with writing some kind of crossover game supplement for D&D – something like Dragonstar and that type of thing. My stumbling point for that always seems to be the metaphysics. Having a sci-fi or modern game just doesn’t sit well with plane-hopping and astral travel and the like; and any modern D&D crossover hits the issue of demons and the like being real in the setting. You either have to cut out a lot of the game or come up with unsatisfying explanations for how it’s fine. Having a basic game chassis derived from B/X that doesn’t have all that stuff gives me a great starting point for a sci-fi crossover, even if it never makes it past being a home campaign.

And thirdly I’ve been involved in discussions on recently about B/X involving the removal of problematic elements such as the colonialism and racial essentialism that pervade older (and less old) editions of D&D and there were some excellent suggestions made thast got me excited about actually putting out a game that incorporated them.

So that’s what led to this point – I’m in the process of writing Light Fantasy; a B/X retroclone that takes the old rules and feel and blends them with modern sensibilities about diversity and inclusion and modern attitudes to character and story (characters are assumed to be actual characters from the start to whom you will be attached rather than unamed adventures who have a 50/50 chance of dying to a goblin or a save-or-die trap the first time they set foot into a dungeon).

There’s a Work In Progress of the game so far (it’s still missing its monster and treasure chapters and has no artwork yet) that you can download here.

Cthangband Now On GitHub (also 6.8 release)

Cthangband has always had a somewhat weird license – the Angband License – which says it’s okay to do anything you want with either the source code or the executable providing you charge no money for it. While this isn’t an Open Source license (it actually predates the Open Source movement) that demands the source code be shared, it does allow for the source code to be shared.

In the “golden age” of Angband development we would normally share source code by uploading it to a couple of specific FTP sites, but since I came back to it with Cthangband 5.0 those sites are long gone.

So from Cthangband 5.0 to Cthangband 6.7 the source code has just been on my home computer (and my NAS back-up device).

However, with Cthangband 6.8, that’s changed. I’ve switched to using GitHub, and the full source code of Cthangband is available for anyone to download from there. Anyone can now download the source code to build it themselves or to fork it and make their own variant of it.

The precompiled versions will still be available from this website.

So, speaking of 6.8, here’s what’s new (there’s very little change from 6.7, although I thought the level feeling bug was big enough to not wait for the next major version):

  • Fixed level always giving worst feeling for treasure regardless of how much treasure there actually is.
  • Swapped racial powers of Tcho-Tcho and Half-Ogre, since they make more sense the other way around.
  • Fixed bug where message for unsuccessfully tunneling into a vein got the type of vein wrong.

Cthangband 6.8 can be downloaded from here.

The GitHub repository is here.

Cthangband 6.7 Released

As if you couldn’t have guessed by the title, it’s another Cthangband release.

This new version fixes a variety of issues, but also contains a few other game changes both big and small. The complete list of changes is below:

  • Dead monsters no longer futilely try to flee in terror.
  • Fixed bug where if a player had multiple natural attacks they’d not stop making them when the monster was dead.
  • Fixed a bug where stumbling into a town while confused would mean you didn’t realise you’d visited it.
  • Even characters with poor item sensing can now sense artifacts.
  • Potentially offensively titled ‘Genocide’ spell (and its variants) renamed.
  • Fixed longstanding bug that stopped you running along the edge of a room (eventually!).
  • Monsters that steal gold will now drop it when killed.
  • Monsters will no longer try to summon help against other monsters if there isn’t room to do so.
  • Adjusted a few character history text fragments to make them more diverse and lose some sexism/racism.
  • Fixed bug where a monster breathing on another monster would fire a ball instead of a cone.
  • Fixed bug where a monster attacking another monster with a theft attack would continue attacking it after having blinked away.
  • Fixed wrong message being given when a monster breaks through an Elder Sign.
  • Fixed sanity checks not being fired when eldritch horrors come into view.
  • Fixed Channelers’ ability not working on scrolls of Rumour.
  • The chance of having your race changed through mutation has been reduced.
  • Priests have a patron deity (based on the realm of magic they choose), and they get increased favour with that god.
  • Sacrificing items to win the gods’ favour (at the temple) will give you benefits.
  • Manual and Journal are now both accessible from within stores (racial high scores moved from ‘h’ to ‘v’ to make room).
  • Exact dungeon offsets will vary from game to game (randomised on world creation).
  • Cleaned up formatting of skill display.
  • Small balance tweaks have been made to most classes; in particular Channelers and Druids have been given a bit of a boost.
  • ‘Mindcrafting’ powers have been renamed to ‘Mentalism’ powers, since the Mindcrafter class is no longer the only user of them.
  • The spell-using martial artist has now been renamed to ‘Monk’ and a mentalism-based martial artist (the ‘Mystic’) has been added.
  • Abilities screen now highlights abilities you have to make it easier to see at a glance.
  • Removed numerous annoying and useless wizard mode messages.
  • Huge amounts of behind-the-scenes code refactoring.
  • Fixed bug where monsters casting whirlpool on empty spaces would crash the game.
  • Last bits of confusion between ‘allies’ and ‘pets’ cleaned up.
  • The high score table now includes living characters from the three save slots.
  • Added documentation for how martial arts works.
  • When rolling stats, characters with too low a score in their class’s main ability score will be rerolled automatically.
  • Fixed two vaults that had invalid definitions.
  • Fixed occasional crash when placing a greater vault on a level.

The new version can be downloaded here.

Cthangband 6.6 Released

Another Cthangband release, this time – as you might expect from the title – it’s Cthangband 6.6.

As with 6.5, this is only a minor update with a few bug fixes and quality-of-life changes, not any major gameplay changes. A full list of the changes is below:

  • The ‘K’ command now recognises that rings and amulets with negative bonuses are worth destroying.
  • Being out and about at midnight might be really good or really bad depending on the date…
  • Fixed bug where quest info wasn’t properly reset between characters.
  • Added documentation about the different towns and the types of shop that can be found in them, as well as the services provided by each shop.
  • Changed the colour of a couple of townsfolk to avoid overlaps.
  • Renamed the group versions of the various novices to apprentices so they don’t get confused with the individual versions in the kill list and monster recall.
  • General stores now run an escort service.
  • Fixed lighting of town fortifications at night.
  • Corrected the spelling of Hlanith, which had been spelled wrongly for over two decades before I noticed!
  • Sunrise and sunset are now accurately(!) calculated, based on the date (assuming that the island is on the 51st parallel north).
  • Game time is now tracked properly, rather than just inferred from turn count.
  • Yig added to list of patrons, replacing Mordiggian.
  • You can now invoke the favour of Great Old Ones with a scroll even if you don’t have one as a patron.
  • Thresholds for boring levels decreased to reduce amount of re-rolling.
  • Fixed a few incorrect pluralisations of monster names.
  • Curses can now be removed at the temple.
  • Fixed bug where if you had *exactly* the right amount of gold for a shop service it would think you couldn’t afford it.
  • Fixed resting for the night/day recovering hit points but not mana.
  • Documentation about feelings updated to show the separate monster/treasure feelings.
  • Special levels now override the separate monster/treasure feelings.
  • Viva la slime molds!
  • Player skills now show a relative rating as well as an absolute percentage.
  • Changed a few UI text colours and symbols to make things easier to read against the textured backgrounds.
  • More behind-the-scenes code refactoring.

The new version can be downloaded from here.

Cthangband 6.5 Release

The title says it all really. I’ve packaged up and released version 6.5 of Cthangband.

If that means nothing to you, check out my Cthangband page for more details about the game.

Anyway, version 6.5 is just a routine update, with no major gameplay changes. There are a few minor tweaks and a few bugfixes, but the main difference in this new version is in the user interface. Version 6.5 has new background images and introduces ambient background music and sounds (don’t worry, you can easily turn those off it you don’t want them).

A full list of the changes in 6.5 is:

  • Fixed rounding error in character viewer where a Con of 6 was showing +0.5 hits per level rather than the -0.5 hits per level it actually gives.
  • The ‘Restoration’ service has been moved to the Alchemists.
  • The ‘Research an item’ service has been moved to the Magic Shop, to replace the Ritual of Recall (which has been removed).
  • Chosen Ones have been rebalanced (mostly a reduction in combat skills and hit points).
  • Fixed bug where tall but narrow levels caused LOS glitches near the bottom of them.
  • Base ability scores are now generated in a new manner on character creation.
  • Fixed bug where characters with the ‘other’ gender weren’t being given a height and weight.
  • Added atmospheric background music (don’t worry, you can turn it off if you don’t like it).
  • Added Amulet of Anti-Theft as a useful low-mid level item.
  • A Potion of New Life will now restore you to your original birth race as well as curing all mutations.
  • A new character based on the previous one will use the race the old character was born as rather than their race at the point of death (in case they had been polymorphed into a different race at any time).
  • Fixed rare hang condition when generating world map after character creation.
  • Replaced in-console splash screen with a proper one that includes game options, making them more visible.
  • Replaced most background textures.
  • Level feelings are now given separately for danger and treasure.
  • The slime molds are no longer revolting!
  • If players Word of Recall without ever having entered a dungeon, they will now end up on level 1 of the dungeon instead of returning to their starting town.
  • Kill count moved to end of monster description so that basic ‘what is it’ text comes first.
  • Corrected class documentation to properly include the Globe of Invulnerability spell on the various spell lists.
  • You no longer have to kill all the monsters in a multi-monster quest in one go. You can kill some, leave the level, then return later and kill the rest to finish the quest.
  • Wizard Bolt can no longer be reflected back on you by monsters.

Anyway, the new version can be found here.

Dark Dungeons X Available

I’m pleased to announce that Dark Dungeons X, the 10th anniversary edition of Dark Dungeons is now available at DriveThruRPG in both print and PDF format here.

When deciding to write a new edition of Dark Dungeons for its 10th anniversary, I took stock of the change in circumstances since I released the original game ten years ago.

At that time, the original edition that it was based on wasn’t available to buy except for extortionate prices second-hand on eBay. That unavailability was the impetus for me to write the game. However, a desire to emulate that original edition as closely as possible led me to write two games, not one.

Dark Dungeons was the version of the game designed for maximum fidelity to its source material, for those who wanted to replicate the experience of playing that source material without needing to pay inflated prices for a second-hand copy of that material. Darker Dungeons, on the other hand, was the game as I actually played it. While the rules for Darker Dungeons were more streamlined and consistent than those in the source material, this necessarily meant that they were less close to it.

So I had the two games. Dark Dungeons for those who wanted closer emulation, and Darker Dungeons for those who wanted improved rules.

However, ten years later the situation has changed. The original edition that Dark Dungeons was based on is now cheaply available in both electronic and print formats. This makes the older Dark Dungeons mostly redundant – since if you want a high fidelity copy of the original rules you can just use those original rules now.

Therefore, when planning Dark Dungeons X, I made the decision that I would use the improved Darker Dungeons rules as a basis for the new edition rather than the Dark Dungeons rules. Since there’s no reason to slavishly copy the original game because those who want that can just buy the original game now I might as well use the improved rules for those who would rather have that.

So that’s what Dark Dungeons X has. It’s based on Darker Dungeons, freshly edited and reformated (I’m the first to admit that the first printing of Darker Dungeons was badly edited – that’s why I never put it up on DriveThruRPG: while I was happy with the rules, I was never happy that the book itself was edited and formatted to an acceptable standard), and with “Developer Commentary” side-bars explaining how the game differs from its source material and why I made the decisions I did when writing it.

But I am more than happy with Dark Dungeons X, and it is now available at DriveThruRPG in both print and PDF format here.

Cthangband 6.4 Released

While I’ve been waiting for the printer to approve the manuscript for new 10th anniversary edition of Dark Dungeons, I’ve been bug-fixing Cthangband.

The latest version (6.3) had a few bugs in it, and since I have big plans for version 7.0 I decided that I should just release a quick bugfix version rather than wait until 7.0 is ready.

So I’ve done just that. Cthangband 6.4 has very little change from 6.3, but it fixes a few bugs that really needed to be fixed rather than being able to wait for the next full version.

Specifically, the changes are:

  • The buildings in Kadath are now ruined rather than merely empty lots.
  • Replaced paper texture used for character sheet and journal with one that makes the text more readable.
  • Fixed bug where the known abilities of non-random artifacts weren’t showing in the journal.
  • Fixed a handful of minor mistakes in the documentation.
  • Fixed bug where Tarot Draw spell was drawing multiple cards.
  • Fixed program hanging due to invalid quest target being unable to be placed when the Demon Spire is entered for the first time.
  • Fixed bug where using ‘s’ to sell items would sometimes automatically sell a whole stack rather than letting you choose how many to sell.
  • Fixed crash when pack overflows after taking off an item or splitting a stack of items.
  • Fixed crash when recalling from wilderness outside a town into a dungeon.

As you can see from that list, there’s very little in the way of anything new – just the change to Kadath (and even that’s just a minor cosmetic change with no effect on gameplay). The main thing it does is fix the bugs that had been found in 6.2 and 6.3.

The new version can be found here.

Dark Dungeons X Finished

Back in December, I mentioned that I was going to start working on a new edition of Dark Dungeons.

Well, I’ve spent the last four months doing exactly that, and I’m pleased to announce that the new edition is finished.

I’m calling it “Dark Dungeons X”. The ‘X’ standing for both 10 (because it’s the 10th anniversary edition) and ‘Expanded’ because this new edition includes material from both the original Dark Dungeons and also Darker Dungeons.

The changes to this edition, when compared to the previous edition, are:

  • New and improved layout – the book is now around 410 pages rather than 320 pages, but that is because I’ve moved away from the cramped three-column layout and used more modern design. However, I’ve kept the feel of the book as close to the original as I can, design changes notwithstanding.
  • The rule changes for Darker Dungeons are included in the text. Darker Dungeons is the game as played at my table, and now that the original game that Dark Dungeons was based on is available to buy as a PDF once more (which wasn’t the case when Dark Dungeons came out) there seems little point in releasing a new edition of Dark Dungeons that slavishly follows it.
  • There are a couple of new additions to the game over and above those added in Darker Dungeons – the Clockwork race, and the Warlord fighter variant, for example. Also the Immortals rules have been given a major expansion to make them more of a blend between the two sets of Immortals rules from the original game and I’ve added values for magic items.
  • I’ve added a whole bunch of “Developer Commentary” sidebars to the game. These explain the reasoning and intent behind the various rules and rules changes in a more personal manner rather than the impartial “rules voice” used in the text itself.
  • A switch from the old Lulu print-on-demand to a print-on-demand available directly through DriveThruRPG.

Having said that Dark Dungeons X is finished, it is going through a final period of proofreading and checking – and will be uploaded to DriveThruRPG (for both PDF and print-on-demand) in a couple of weeks time.