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Adam Dray

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It's been a loooong time since I posted!

I'm still running games in the City of Brass, only I stopped running the "poor squatters" campaign due to waning interest after the election (too close to home?) and after my gaming venue changed its schedule from biweekly Wednesdays to less convenient monthly Sundays.

Now I'm running a dungeon crawl campaign set under the City of Brass (also known as Mirrorrim) and I've converted the 90-page player's guide that I share with my group into a FREE 60-page Player's Guide to Mirrorrim: The City of Brass (Free Preview Edition), which is now available on DriveThruRPG.

Download it today!

This preview contains player-focused teasers for the setting, but a creative game master could use what is here to build their own campaign and dungeons. Much of the content is system-agnostic, but the racial options are OGL 5.0-compatible.

MIRRORRIM is a huge, ancient desert city-state built on top of a megadungeon.

Mirrorrim contains thousands of years of secrets and wonders, buried beneath the city streets in sealed-off caverns and tunnels—the city’s “megadungeon.” As dungeon explorers, you’re in grave danger. First and foremost, the city’s government forbids you to enter this dungeon. After that, you’re in danger from the monsters and traps that fill the dungeon’s halls. (And fear of those monsters escaping is why the city forbids you from tampering with the dungeon.)

Inside the book, you'll find 57 pages of content focusing on the setting and character-generation options:

* A map of the city (peek at the preview here).

* The city of Mirrorrim, its legal system, and points of interest.

* Short descriptions of the better-known dungeons and the laws that try to keep you out.

* Organizations that your character might interact with.

* A brief treatment of how magic is different in this world.

* A little talk about modern and ancient languages.

* A list of unique names for Mirrorrim characters.

* Information on the 14 racial options in the setting, with complete write-ups for the new ones.

* Discussions of class options and how they fit into the setting.


Some of the best stuff in here lies in the unique takes on races, even the usually-familiar ones.

Elves live less than 30 years and make pilgrimages to the Great Tree to store and retrieve racial memories. Dwarves are literally made of stone. Gnomes see into the spirit world. Halflings are a survivor slave race who have evolved to eat less, take up less space.

You can play Djinni: air elementals enslaved to a magic lamp. Or mean-spirited Efrit fire elementals. Gnolls are PC races, and they're shrewd, socially clever "pack" people who function well in cities. Ratlings are small rat humanoids, surprisingly well cultured and impeccably dressed.

Want really weird? Gargoyles are living statues from a local neighborhood, who have come to life, but still feel a pull to that part of the city. Flamenku are flamingo kenku from the desert who get their nutrition from a weird, blue algae.

Even humans come in two varieties in Mirrorrim: Commoner and Noble.

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So I wrote The Knack Hack, a supplement for THE BLACK HACK. It adds three skill-like systems to TBH:

KNACKS are things you're good at. Like, "I might be strong, but I'm really good at lifting things." Or, "I might not be that dextrous, but I'm particularly good at picking locks." Advantage on a stat check in very limited circumstances.

SKILLS are the traditional skill system. They give you a small bonus to various things you want to do better, like Tracking or Climbing or Knowing Arcana.

BACKGROUNDS are a borrow from the 13th Age RPG. A background is a little backstory sentence, and any kind of skills or knacks that could possibly go with it. "I was a lieutenant in the Black Guard, an organized crime group in The City of Brass, so I should be good at intimidating people." Advantage on stat checks in any circumstances relevant to your background.

(Advantage/Disadvantage are part of The Black Hack, and work just like 5e.)


So here's my question:

Is there room in OSR for systems like these, or does violating "player skill, not character abilities" in even a little way make the game too modern, not OSR enough?

Certainly the skill system (more like 3e or modern D&D editions, though it's still the very elegant roll under this number system from The Black Hack) seems to be NOT OSR.

The background system is so storygamey that I will just concede that OSR purists won't like it. That's okay.

But the knacks are really small things. You get just one particular specialty under one of the six stats, and gain Advantage when you hit that trigger. Is that small enough that it still fits into OSR?

I modeled the knack system after the abilities on the Thief class, actually. A Thief character gains Advantage on rolls to climb walls, be stealthy, and do other thiefy things. So it's not like The Black Hack doesn't already have this system in place. I just extended it slightly for other characters...


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I am now officially a publisher!

The Knack Hack is a supplement that offers three different skill systems to The Black Hack (by +David Black). It's available for $1 on

To help +John Payne:

Anyone ever seen a d12 with sides: 3,5,6,7,9,9,9,9,9,9,9,D ?

Where's it from?

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Come to Camp Nerdly, an annual gathering friends old and new. We bed down in rustic cabins in the woods, cook all of our own meals, and game all weekend. Everyone helps, everyone shares in creating the fun.
Haven't applied to Camp Nerdly yet?

Did you know that Camp Nerdly has a scholarship this year? We can help you come to camp!

Just check a few boxes at the end of the form, and we'll do our best to get you to camp. (Checking those boxes will NOT count against you. People make Nerdly awesome, not money, and we do what we can to get people there.)

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Look! Free story!

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Like civic duty AND making games? I have just the thing for you. Share widely!

"A civic game is any game that, in some way, aims to promote or enhance people’s ability to engage with the social and political world around them. Civics can be about working with and within formal structures of government, but it can also be about reforming or opposing injustice, or about being a member of a community in other ways. We welcome games that address any aspect of civics, including:

Personal: having moral integrity, taking responsibility for one’s actions, reflecting on one’s personal morality

Communal: openness to dialogue, communal service (e.g., charitable work, helping neighbors), involvement in community organizations (e.g., religious institutions, social clubs)

Political: engagement with or challenge to formal political structures (e.g., advocacy, protest, running for office, voting, revolution)
There are many ways that a game could address one or more of these themes. For this contest, we’re interested in seeing examples across three categories of games, that we’re calling awareness-raising, skill-building, and inherently political. We plan to pick a winner in each category."

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Look! Preorders for "carry. a game about war." Revised Edition, with awesome play aids.
Proof of the Squad Card play aid for carry. a game about war. Revised Edition. Already made some visual tweaks and ordered a new proof - primary change is that I figured out a better use for the Burden area.

A deck of these (15 cards) is included gratis in each preorder of the new revised edition in print, and will be a $5 extra after the preorder closes. Also, 20% of preorder sales will go to the National Immigration Law Center!

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Weird Races

In the City of Brass, there are some weird races.

I mean even the "normal" races aren't normal. Halflings are a slave race. Elves (and, to some extent, Half-Elves) are mayflies. Dwarves are carved, not born. Gnomes see into the spirit world. Half-orcs are half-human, half-giant-ant.

You can play a Tiefling or an Aasimar, too. At first, I thought they were demons and angels, but then I realized that they're really Efrit and Genii. Or maybe I should just allow Genasi. The jury is still out, and we have a couple tiefling PCs already.

You can play a Dragonborn, but they're not really dragons. Instead, their origins come from the giant veiled chameleons that live in the desert. They're bipedal, and they have a prehensile tail, a sticky tongue, skin that changes colors (though not as well as their animal brethren).

You can play a Warforged (Eberron), sorta. You're not forged for war at all. You were a statue in a courtyard or a gargoyle on a rooftop and some spirit took over you. Now you're a "living" statue made of stone or brass or wood. That is, you're still a Construct.

You can play an Aarakocra, but they look like flamingos, not hawks or vultures. Pink and orange and skinny little humanoid legs.

You can play a Dark Elf, but not a Drow. I mean that you don't have dark skin and worship Lolth. Instead, you're an deep-underground albino who just hates the harsh desert sun and you have all the usual problems other Elves have.

No, you can't play a Changeling or Shifter (Eberron), Goliath (Elemental Evil), Minotaur (Waterborne Adventures), or Revenant (Gothic Heroes).

I'm not sure about Eladrin (DMG) yet.


What should I do with Humans?

Received the Razor Coast bundle from +D.j. Chadwick, safe and sound, and fast.

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