Review: Five Torches Deep

When I first learned of Five Torches Deep, it was seeing their kickstarter launch just as I was preparing to release Into the Unknown and I was wondering just how much overlap there was going to be between this 'O5R' game and my own. After reading  Robot Goblin's comparative review of both systems, I decided to pick up the pdf and do a review of it myself. I will of course be comparing it to Into the Unknown as well, but will leave that for a follow-up post. Without further ado, let's go: tl;dr - a "whitebox" style  adaption of 5e. Even slimmer than whitebox, it is missing essential parts for running a full game, but wins out with superb layout and usability at the game table. Presentation & First Impressions: Five Torches Deep (hereafter 5TD) is a 5e-inspired OSR system in a mere 49 pages. Despite its short page count, it doesn't skimp on rich full color art, makes generous use of whitespace, has large fonts and a dedication to smal

A short review of "5e-ish retroclones" by Robot Goblin

Robot Goblin has posted a short review of three old school games with modern mechanics. Games as gateway drugs: Five Torches Deep, King of Dungeons, and Into the Unknown. I am slightly peeved that 5TD gets full credit for "every class, and all core rules fit on a single spread or page" when I've sweated blood, sweat and keyboard-ink to achieve the same for ItU (if I hadn't been so slow to produce the thing, I could have claimed credit ahead of Necrotic Gnome for this!). But mostly I am glad to see someone else recognise the effort I put into book 4.  "But Book 4: Running the Game is worth the price of admission, even if you ditched everything else. I think it may be the cleanest, most interesting guide to running a game I’ve ever read and incorporates outside thinking like Fronts from Dungeon World. Its sections on dungeon and hex crawls are short and solid as a beer keg." It was definitely the hardest to write of the five. In the other

Zak, Raggi, Drivethrurpg & Drawing Lines

update 31/01-24 - I have, upon actual investigation, since changed my belief concerning Zak's guilt. See  this post  for more. Normally, I would simply not comment on these things, but as I am now publishing my stuff on DriveThruRPG, I felt compelled to write something. Quick recap of what went before: Zak Smith wrote a blog about OSR stuff and was a pillar of that community. He also wrote some award-winning OSR products and consulted on D&D's 5th edition. He was always an asshole, but tolerated by many for his talents. Then earlier in the year, it transpired that he was also  the kind of asshole who serially abuses women . Pretty much everyone in the RPG community disowned him, DriveThruRPG banned his titles and James Raggi, who owns the Lamentations of the Flame Princess  publishing outfit that produced a lot of Zak's work, ended his working relationship with him in a "I'm sorry I had to do this" manner. Then at GenCon, Raggi published an adven

Alternate Oerths - Mythic Greyhawk: Wizardry & the Circle of Eight

I mentioned in the introduction to Mythic Greyhawk that: The occult workings and experiments of the eccentric scholars, alchemists and mystic savants called "wizards" can somehow tame Chaos and produce so-called "arcane magic". But how controlled is it really? And who can say how tainted they become? Godly and Law-abiding people do not meddle with such forces. Witch hunts are rare, but wizards mostly stand outside the social ladder on the fringe of society, somewhere between shunned and exiled. A contributing factor to this is the fact that Alignment Language is a thing in Mythic Greyhawk and wizards are in the disreputable position of having to learn Chaotic and Neutral in order to cast their spells. Archetypical member of the Circle of Eight But a large part of the distrust of wizards is historical: It was wizards who catastrophically wiped out the two biggest empire in human history (not to mention sinking the Isles of Woe, creating the Bright

Alternate Oerths - Mythic Greyhawk: Religion & Cosmos

I find that I am enjoying chronicling Mythic Greyhawk more than I anticipated. Much of it are impressions from way back when, but some of it is also new discovery from taking a closer look. One thing I like about exploring a non-homebrew setting like this is the sense of exploring an independently existent world. The fact that others have studied the same world, albeit through a different prism than my 'Mythic' one, renders a feeling that somehow Greyhawk exists 'out there' to be explored. My interpretations don't feel like creating either. It is more of a - "when looking through this mythic prism, what is Greyhawk really like?" I study the lay of the land, observe and mull until Mythic Greyhawk reveals itself to me. And putting all this into writing is like a refinement process. Greyhawk stands out much more vididly and alive to my inner vision now than before I started. It's been fun.  With that said, let's talk about religion, metaphy

Alternate Oerths - Mythic Greyhawk: History, Kingdoms & Cultures

History In most cases, I refer to the  Oerth Journal #1  timeline for details when there are gaps to fill. Oerth is very ancient. Lots of eldritch races lived in the pre-history before the elves began to float to the top some 10-30k years ago. There was a 4e-style Dawn War at some point, before the Gods of Law and the Elemental/Demonic Forces of Chaos (I am undecided on this), where the cosmic status quo was established and started the current Aeon. The elves began to assert themselves sometime in the aftermath of this. Anything before that is unknown even to elves and is basically 'eldritch'. Leave blank to fill in with whatever zany stuff you want. Known Examples: Wind Dukes of Aqaa, The City of Gods. "Prior" to all that was also a 'Mythic' Aeon - Time wasn't quite linear back then, so in many ways this is a lot closer to the present Aeon than other Aeons that exist in linear time. The Dawn War is somehow mixed into this, even though it happens i

Alternate Oerths - Mythic Greyhawk: Introduction

This is the first entry in a series on Mythic Greyhawk. Upcoming entries will include Religion & Cosmos and History, Kingdoms & Cultures and what else I end up thinking of. One of my favorite GH illustrations. A baroque wizard sitting on an owlish griffon on top a ruin with an adventurous landscape in the background - somehow the image still has an earthy naturalistic character. All very Greyhawk. M ythic Greyhawk takes the Greyhawk Folio as its base (and looks at the boxed set more often than not) and borrows freely from other sources, whilst discarding and altering just as freely. The starting year is 576 CY, although most lands outside the great kingdom use Oeridian Record, of which the year is 1220. Mythic Greyhawk is a world much like a medieval Europe. The following paragraphs are obvious truths to all its inhabitants: The strange exotica of faraway lands usually more exotic than the tales told of them. All the faerie tales are terrifyingly true.