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Carl Bussler
Photo. Video. Daddy-O
Photo. Video. Daddy-O


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Thoughts over the weekend on the Precipice setting project...

Doors in the levels beneath the town of Precipice are special. If your party encounters a door, it's an event. They are not simply wood doors that might be locked or trapped, but they have significance. They may even have personalities.

Since part of the goal of the setting is to get to the bottom, I feel this makes the journey more interesting.

I have 2 possible routes to take with doors.

First, I can create random tables to help GM's generate doors on the fly (size, material, trapped, guarded, cyphered, alignment or personality, desires, voice, etc.)

Or, I simply create a list of doors that could be encountered randomly throughout the levels. You roll on the Encounter table, and if DOOR is rolled, you roll on Table: Doors to see what's in front of you. Or above you. Or, strangely, in the middle of the room.

In a way, I see these doors like NPC's. They can be bashed or picked like more common doors, but may also be open to parlay.


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Shipping these up to NY on Monday for fulfillment.

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I'm going to further develop the ideas explored in Black Powder, Black Magic Vol.4 and Brimstone, but I'll be using a different rules-system, and the concept for adventuring in those mines will be different.

I really enjoyed building the vertical dungeon/hexcrawl in Vol.4, and I'm going to further develop that into 7 levels beneath the town of Precipice.

I ask anybody reading this to vote on which concept they prefer. Here is some introductory text for each one...

1. I should have reached Fort Mifflin 3 days ago, but no matter which trail I take, and no matter my diligence in reading the sun or the stars, I inevitably find myself wandering back into the town of Precipice. It’s not on my map, and the townsfolk just chuckle or shrug their shoulders when I ask for directions to anywhere but here.

That’s because there is nowhere else but here. I’m trapped. We’re all trapped.

According to Ophelia at The Gallows saloon, this place was crafted by a sorcerous outlaw to capture a posse comprised of vengeful brothers. Unfortunately, this arcane bear-trap is indiscriminate, and for years, I’m told, people fall into its unrelenting jaws.

But, rumors float through town that there is a way out, that the posse delved deep beneath Precipice through ancient mines and caverns, and found a back-door to home. Others dismiss this as wishful thinking, and claim the posse is long dead.

It’s those folk who’ve decided to make the most of this strange land, and go about business as usual. Fortunately, there are others like me who are willing to brave the depths in search of a way out. My six-gun is loaded, and tomorrow we descend.

2. You awake in darkness. Confined. The smell of damp earth and fresh pine surrounds you. You can’t draw from memory the reason for your predicament, but scraping sounds from above demand your attention. Your heart races. The scraping becomes creaking, and as boards are peeled away, and man with a shovel stands over your, starlight beyond.

“Welcome back,” he says, reaching down to pull you from a shallow grave.

Once free of the crude coffin, you look about and see a grassy field, with wooden grave markers scattered about with no thought to their placement.

“Where am I,” you ask, as glimpses of your final moments eek into your mind.

“Neither here nor there,” states the grave-tender as spikes his shovel into the soft earth. He then points to a town beneath the hill. “There lies Precipice. You might also know it as Purgatory.”

Ask questions. Make constructive statements.

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I typically take the summer off from Stormlord Publishing projects, but now that summer is done, I'm back.

+Eric Hoffman has written The Brimstone Census and Fire Insurance Atlas, and I'm putting it into layout. Editing, maps, and proofreading are up next.

The Census contains details on locations, NPC's, and parlance of Brimstone, plus a short adventure set in Brimstone.

No ETA on when we'll have it printed and ready for sale, but it shouldn't be too long. It will be the same format as all our Black Powder, Black Magic zines, and is written for #DCCRPG.

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I spent time on Monday putting our local play notes on the Gunslinger into a document. We had a good time running around Precipice (aka Brimstone) with 5th edition.

The archetypes of Bounty Hunter, Gun Whisperer, and Sharpshooter are mild modifications / combinations of existing archetypes from the PHB and UA.

Design Consideration:

Characters enter the purgatory of Brimstone (or Precipe as I may rename it), because they died. I think every character needs to die some horrible death. They can't die in their sleep.

Either it's a gunshot from bandits, poisoned by a rival, drowned, beheaded, mutilated by a bear... you get the idea.

What if characters arrive in Brimstone (Precipice) bearing the scars and wounds of their untimely demise? Perhaps they can't be healed. They might have some impact on the character's Personality Trait, Ideal, Bond, Flaw, etc.

Drowned in a river heading west? Fear of water. Skins always wet. Coughs up water when nervous.

Hanged by the Marshall? Neck tilts to one side, and rope bruises around the neck. Talks with a raspy voice.

Gut shot during a card game? Go ahead and drink, but it leaks out.

Scalped by natives? Cant find your scalp, and long to recover it.

Anyway, just something else to add to the pile of notes. Sometimes these things seem interesting, but just add bloat and don't have any particular impact on play.

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How was everyone's summer?

For me, it was one of the best in a long time.

Now that it's nearly over, school is about to start, and the weather is changing, I'm delving through my notes on the Sixguns & Sorcery playtest I was writing in the spring.

Things I'll be working on this weekend:

tattoos: Like permanent spells for individuals. Some can be acquired in town through a ritual tattooist. Other designs and rituals will need to be found and delivered to a skilled tattooist.

totems of the ancients: Activate to acquire spell benefits for the entire group. Duration varies, but effects typically linger for days or weeks. Perhaps if all totems on a level are activated, the effects become permanent.

magical tarot or playing cards: While the mundane versions can be found as complete decks, most people find only one of a suit. They are rare, and the higher cards are more powerful.

Anyway, as colder weather approaches, I'll be spending more time indoors, and more time on the computer.

Oh, I discovered the voice chat app called DISCORD over the summer. It was nearly flawless, and don't think I'll ever use Skype, Roll20's voice chat, or any other service unless they manage to surpass Discord's features and reliability.

Anyway, how's things at your end?


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Layout for the play-test document is underway, and you can get the TOC and Classes sections in this PDF:

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The rules are coming along, and I'll be sharing the Google Docs with you soon.

Below is the section on Favor, which is an attribute (along with STR, DEX, CON, etc.)

Again, it ties directly to the theme of redemption:


Higher spirits take interest in those who support their cause and wage war against the lesser spirits, more commonly known as demons. If characters complete level 10 of their class, they will have earned a place in the afterlife, and will transcend.

Some monsters, spells, and items have the ability to corrupt the spirits of men, and thus reduce their Favor. If Favor ever falls below 1, the character is instantly transformed into an Abomination.

Players may voluntarily call upon the Favor of the higher spirits to aid them. Reduce the character’s Favor by 1 point to gain Advantage on the next roll, or to re-roll the previous roll. This reduction is semi-permanent for all characters but the Devout, although it can be regained through exemplary actions.

Gaining Favor

Favor is gained through exceptional acts against the lesser spirits, such as achieving campaign goals, defeating important NPCs, clearing an entire level beneath Brimstone, or completing tasks from higher spirits. The Judge is free to determine when and how much is awarded, but a +1 to +3 reward is common. It is through these acts that a character’s Favor may increase beyond their starting total.

Favor cannot be regained while in the subterranean areas beneath Brimstone, unless the character spends at least 8 hours in a sanctified location. Any Favor due the character is restored once the character spends 8 hours on the surface.

The Devout instantly regains lost Favor in a sanctified location or upon reaching the surface.


Some magic items are classified as Relics, and require minimum levels of Favor in order to be used. If this requirement is not met, the Relic still functions as its mundane counterpart.

Relics may also have multiple requirements, with weaker abilities available to those with lower Favor, and the more powerful abilities available to those with greater Favor.

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So, David Baity is working on Dark Trails, and Mike Evans is working on High Noon.

I've begun work on Brimstone, an RPG.

Here are some initial ideas...


The town of Brimstone and the levels below it is purgatory. It’s Dante’s Inferno.

Teaser Copy

Every Friday at 1300 hours, a train pulls into Brimstone, delivering the next shipment of sinners. They believe they are here for a new start in life, but in truth, they are dead. This is limbo. Here lies redemption or damnation.

Some will never accept the truth, and will carry-on with their mundane routine, plying their trade, and existing as they did in life. These folk will laugh at the tales of monsters and magic as mere superstition.

Others will attempt to escape through the fog-shrouded mountains and gulches surrounding the town, but will, inevitably, find themselves wandering back into Brimstone.

True redemption lies deep beneath Brimstone, past the mines and beyond the tunnels. Only by facing and overcoming the horrors below, can one find peace.

(Note: The train arrival is a reference to Good Friday in the year 1300, when Dante and Virgil began their trip through Hell.)


The Gunslinger (fighter) - You live and die by the gun, whether to uphold the laws of men, or to defy them.
- Favor earned by destroying cultists.

The Devout (cleric) - Be you Catholic priest, Presbyterian minister, or Sioux shaman, your faith in a higher power guides you and compels you.
- Favor earned by cleansing corruption in others.

The Frontiersman (ranger)
- Favor earned by destroying corrupted fauna and flora.

The Magician (magic-user)
- Favor gained by destroying corrupted magic items.

The Prospector (thief)
- Gains favor by destroying demon ore/metal. This is done by exposing the ore to the sunlight of the surface. The ore is then free of corruption and can be fashioned into magic items.


Subordinate Spirits
Principle Spirits
Superior Spirits


Disapproval indicates how far from redemption a character is, and how susceptible a character may be to the charms of demons. This affects those of any religion or faith, even agnostics and atheists. The fact remains that spirits of lower and higher causes exist, and all men and women are pawns in their game.

All characters start with some level of Disapproval, as they are all sinners. Some will have more Disapproval than others, and this is determined by a random roll of the dice.

By confronting and overcoming the forces of evil, character can eliminate Disapproval and eventually gain Favor. Both Disapproval and Favor will impact character abilities, saving throws, and more.

When the maximum level of Disapproval is attained, the character is shackled to that level and is forever in the employ of the ruling spirit of that level.

When the maximum level of Favor is attained, the character is whisked-away to a harmonious afterlife.

Each character class has their own unique methods of attaining Disapproval and Favor. All classes earn Favor by destroying demon shrines.


Those in Brimstone have already ended their existence in the material world, but a character’s existence in this new reality can also be brought to an end.

If a character dies in or around Brimstone, they are immediately reincarnated in the material world.

If a character dies in any level beneath Brimstone, they are subject to the rules of that level. In most cases, the character will remain on that level for all eternity, suffering the effects of that particular level. It’s up to the Judge to decide if there is a means to rescue said character from his predicament.

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