Furnace XVIII Games

I can’t believe that Furnace turns eighteen years old this year. I was there at the start, as the original Games Organiser, and have missed only two. 2009 for our H’s birth, and 2021 due to not being ready to go back due to covid still running amok.

I’m running these three games. Elaboration in italics.

Slot 2: Saturday Afternoon, OpenQuest, Across Red Sands
The Merchant’s League of Duck Coast was about to sign a deal with Pharoah of the Red Sands when he brought a new condition to the table. The Forbidden Zone, a dark heart of madness within his Kingdom, has become active again. Exactly how he’s reluctant to reveal. “Dark clouds are gathering” and “The Sphinx talks in riddles again” is all he’ll reveal in cryptic tones. Seeing that none of his Serpentine Ducks will risk their immortal souls, he wants your band of adventurers to travel there and deal with it. Only then will he sign the trade deal.

An adventure from my upcoming Duck adventure book, The Feathers and the Fury. Play anthropomorphic ducks and their human pirate allies, in this dark fantasy adventure with moments of humour and pathos. Uses OpenQuest a straightforward D100 fantasy RPG.

I’m working on this as part of an upcoming setting and adventure book. Its daft, but in a fun way and it will have its moments of darkness. As well as my obsession with ducks, it combines my love of Ancient Egyptian Mysteries, so there with be all sorts of nonsense about the Great Pyramid of Giza and its environs through a warped fantasy lens.

Slot 3: Saturday Evening, Dragonbane, The Forest of Delights
To the south of the warring lands of the Kingdom of the Lions and the Communes of the Red Star, is the mighty monster-infested Forest of Delights. Here, the Last Queen died in battle and lost her Ring of Power. As evil grows in power in the Forest and their own diminishes due to centuries of warfare, the Elders of the Communes and the Lords of the Lions agree that someone should go there and find the ring that could unite their two lands.

Not trusting each other, they let various vagabond adventuring parties know there is a reward of gold and titles once they have found the Lioness’ Ring. This is why you and your band now stand at the entrance to the Forest while some creepy old elf gatekeeper stares at you. Inside the forest, something stirs ominously and howls.

A game of Dragonbane, Mirth and Mayhem Roleplaying. It is D20 based with elements from Basic Roleplaying, D&D and Free Leagues’ fantasy games. No experience with the game is needed. Suitable for newcomers.

Play the new Free League Hawtness. This one takes its inspiration and tone from 80s Fighting Fantasy books, Forest of Doom is the obvious one here. Actually will be duck free unless one of the players decides to use the Mallard pre-gen from the box set. Will be a close run race between this and Across Red Sands to see which will be the silliest mega-gaming-fun :)

Slot 4: Sunday Morning. Wuxia Blood Opera powered by Monkey the RPG, Dragons Ascending To Heaven
In one night of terror, your entire clan was wiped out on the orders of ‘Emperor’ Wu.

Somehow your clan, who have lived in the capital city of Chang‘an for hundreds of years, have fallen foul of this female usurper, the former concubine of the previous Emperor. This has led to the slaughter at the hands of the imperial guard of every last man, woman and child.

Except for a handful of you, who are now in hiding. You brood, trying to work out which of your enemies has had the ear of the Emperor whose paranoia has made this unjust and cruel act. Upmost in your mind is how you can exact revenge and redeem your family name from infamy.”

This is a complete tale of revenge and redemption using a modified version of Monkey RPG rules. A straightforward narrative game using cards instead of dice

Full on intense Hong-Kong Action Cinema. Think a Shaw Brothers film in a gaming session.


D101 Post-OGL Fiasco

This is where D101 Games stands after the fun and games of Wizard of the Coast’s announcements about the future of the Open Gaming License back in January. Short version, WoTC lost all trust in the 1.0a OGL that they’ve put their name to for the last twenty years, in a series of disastrous leaks and posts, before saying the 1.0a OGL will remain in place and releasing the current 5th Edition SRD that has 400 pages of D&D material, under the Creative Commons license.

D20 Games

We’ll have three branches of Fantasy d20.

An OSR branch will continue to be released under the OGL 1.0a, so that Crypts and Things, The Sorcerer Under the Mountain. – our OSR fantasy games and adventure modules (e.g. Road to Hell and a trio of adventures for TSUtM soon to be released) based on Swords and Wizardry will continue to be OGL 1.0a. This may change next year when Swords and Wizardry get its own OGL. From what I see, this will be a simple case of swooping out the WoTC OGL for the new S&W OGL, and doing a small number of changes necessary to comply with the new license.

A 5th edition branch currently has the standalone version of the Sorcerer Under the Mountain and will be joined shortly by Ruinous Jungles, Fire from Below and the Curse of the Emerald Swan. This is safe under the OGL1.0a, but I’ll be releasing these under the Creative Commons, which means I save a whole 2 pages 🙂

Beyond Dread Portals. This is our upcoming Fantasy game, which was originally built of the S&W SRD, hence 1.0a OGL, but its author Paul Mitchener went through the entire document and made it his own last month when the OGL fiasco blew up. So there is zero content from the S&W SRD now. There may be a SRD called Portals and Dragons (get it? :D), which will either be a stretch goal for the Kickstarter to fund BDP itself in April or a thing on its own in Q4 of this year.

Of the three branches, the Portals and Dragons branch will probably be the one that we will put most of our energy into going forward for D20 games. Simply put, I’ve had the most fun playing BDP recently. I’m already designing a Sci-Fi game heavily inspired by the Borderlands series of PC games (with a dash of Fallout and Doom) using this game engine.

D100 Games

Instead of the OGL, I’m using Creative Commons to release content via the OQ SRD. The full OpenQuest rulebooks and all its supplements and spin-offs won’t be released under the OGL in the future, or even need a copy of the OGL in them (read this full post on Openquest.com if you are interested in the reasons why).

If you’ve been following me closely over the last couple of years, you’ll know I’ve got plans for a lighter D100 game to power Skyraiders of the Floating Realms. Still, now that the licensing issues are now cut and dry, and I’ve done a lighter and more concise version of OpenQuest – called SimpleQuest, it doesn’t make sense to do yet another D100 game. In fact, it makes my head spin, never mind prospective customers 😀

Indie Games

I’ve decided to go so quickly with Creative Commons for the D20 and D100 games during January’s OGL fiasco because we’ve used it effortlessly and painlessly with previous Indie releases. Fate for our Fortune-based games (Hunters of Alexandria and the Hollow West) and for Worlds of Wordplay, we used CC licensing. If I were to do an SRD for Monkey, I’d go straight to CC in a heartbeat.

Reviewing what I Do As D101 Games

As part of a half-term get-away to Stratford-upon-Avon, I’m having a bit of a life review.

Today, it’s what I do as D101 Games. The good news is that there’s very little pruning to be done. More restructuring and reorganisation.

The OGL fiasco has actually made us working in the Class/Level space alot more viable, as well as the d100 space (which was already positive and growing due to the release of #OpenQuest 3rd edition).

The only thing that needs a hard think about is D101s nonexistant convention attendance.

Games for Furnace 2022

Back in person at one of my favourite gaming conventions, Furnace at the Garrison Hotel in Sheffield, in October. Finally pulled my finger out and replaced my placeholder towels with actual games on the timetable.

I’ve very much gone with new and exciting, rather than existing and promoting, games, with a subtle theme of world-hopping.

Where’s me Dragon?

Beyond Dread Portals

Newt Newport

Lord Hengfel of House Arcani had a dragon. Gathered on some secret expedition through a Dread Portal, by a group of his hunters. He brought it back and it was to be the centrepiece at the great exhibition he was putting on at the Crystal Palace of Eternal Lights.

But now it’s gone, and he suspects the hunters that caught it for him, so he’s come to the Guild of Explorers to hire a group of independents to find his pet.

Beyond Dread Portals is Paul Mitchener’s D20 driven Fantasy game of multi-world hopping. A free artless preview is available on d101games.com.

Viva Weird Vegas!

OpenQuest Quantum

The Bureau of Time Information Management keeps a special eye on Las Vegas of Alternative 23. Most versions of Las Vegas are intrinsically tied into the follow of energy into their reality. Alternative 23 especially so, and it also seems to be a hub for the other versions. So the Bureau actually has an office there, and guess who has been rotated there? Yes, you Agent. Make the most of it rookie, Vegas 23 is a great training ground for when you start alternative hopping full time.

Currently, Alternative 23 is experiencing its hottest summer on record. Lake Mead, 24 kilometres east of the city, is giving up its secrets as the water level drops. Some strange secrets, that for the sake of reality-integrity, the Bureau must resolve.

OpenQuest Quantum is a multi-genre D100 game where anything is possible.

Tomb of the Necromancers (D101-025)

This is the second Crypts and Things module, written by Paul Mitchener.

I love this module, the encounter areas are like scenes from a movie in tone and pacing. It could quite easily be an 80s Conan film, with the finale in the Tomb of the Necromancer’s itself being more like Hellraiser, well this is Crypts and Things after all 😀

The production process was quite pain-free. Paul simply wrote the scenario, art and maps were commissioned and delivered, and it got a release back on 25/10/2013, which was a nice pre-birthday present 🙂

It’s a steady seller and nicely shows off what can be done with Crypts and Things. Quite often there is a certain amount of creative tension between myself and the authors of adventures for my games. OpenQuest is bad for that, authors often want to turn it into a certain game with Runes (which it isn’t). But that was none of that here. Paul got C&T and delivered a cracking adventure.

Tomb of the Necromancer cover by David M Wright


My line up of games for Virtual Grogmeet 2022

The Grognard files are at it again organising a virtual version of their annual meetup for listeners of the Grognard Files, on Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd April.  Signup is being down for Patreons first, but if there are any spaces left they get advertised via Twitter (where I’m @newtus by the way).

I’ve not GMed since before Christmas, and I think it shows in the number of games I’ve offered 😀

A Love Like Blood

Friday Evening

A Valentines Day Scenario for Reboot the Future

There’s been a series of murders where the victims have been pairs of lovers, drained of all their blood. New Oldham PD suspects a serial killer of exotic motive, but lack of funding hinders their investigation. The Chief of Police considers it more cost-effective to hire a team of freelancers to solve the case with a strict deadline. The department’s AI’s early analysis of the crime predicts the killer will strike again on the 14th of January.

Reboot the Future is a Cyberpunk RPG set in the space age of the 23rd Century. It uses the Liminal RPG as a base, with many augmentations for its high-tech setting, which at its heart is a simple roll 2d6 vs Target number, with modifying Traits which each character has as special abilities.

{Reboot the Future is currently available via a Catchupstarter, where you can get the same rewards as last year’s Kickstarter campaign, on the D101 Games store until March 5th


Hopping Vampire Mayhem

Saturday morning

Monkey the RPG

And so, the Journey to the West continues. Footsore and tired to the soul, the Pilgrims arrive in a poor peasant village. Instead of the rest they need, they are beset by hopping corpses out to drink their blood!

A monastery up on a nearby holy mountain is renowned for its ability to exorcise evil spirits. Perhaps you should hop over and get their help?

 This adventure is a quick demo of Monkey the Role-Playing Game, packed with fun kung-fu, laughter and the odd bit of horror to get the immortals seeking redemption from heaven into action. No knowledge of Chinese Mythology is needed or required, and the system is a very simple, straightforward one that uses regular playing cards.

[This is going to be included in the upcoming Monkey Companion]

Guard Dogs

Saturday Evening

Beyond Dread Portals

Once you left the Explorers Guild of Ys, you thought you were out of the whole dangerous business of popping through the magic portal on mad escapades. Your qualifications as an ex-Guild member got you a nice quiet life guarding the sealed portal to the infamous world of Nespo. The problem is someone sneaked through the portal on your watch, and it already looks like you will take the blame. Time to rejoin the Guild and find out who did visit Nespo to clear your name.

Guard Dogs is an action-packed introductory adventure for up to four characters of the third level. Beyond Dread Portals is a post-OSR game, written by Paul Mitchener that emphasises exploring a multi-dimensional game world rather than looting and killing.

[Beyond Dread Portals will on its first day of crowdfunding that day via Gamefound.com, when I run this game]

Snakebite Pass

Sunday afternoon


Behold Imperial Aspirants, the entrance to Snake Bite Pass! The road through which our illustrious Celestial Emperor entered the promised land of Gatan, driving out the foul Serpent Cult who lived there. You are honoured to follow in his footsteps, taking this holy route to where the Emperor received the Celestial Vision. But be vigilant! The Emperor’s ancient enemies – the Serpent People – lurk in the caves and ruins that litter the pass.

An old-school D100 dungeon delve, using the straightforward OpenQuest rules. A Quest with an emphasis on adventure, wonder and dark villainy hidden away in the crevasses of this ancient pass.

[This adventure is going to feature in the upcoming OpenQuest Dungeons supplement]

Worlds of Wordplay (D101-024)

I started 2013 off with a bang – with a reissued version of  2010’s Wordplay The Big Five (D101- 009). The new format, 6 inches by 9 inches (US Trade paperback?) which was so much better for indie-style RPGs, of which Wordplay was definitely one of. Improved layout and art within, and Jon Hodgson added a background to his cover, which I love to this day (and it’s down to be reused for a project that reuses the Infinite War setting early in 2023, which is due to be announced soon). Even though the book was ultimately retired a couple of years later, my copy is still something I fondly pull out of my archives and have a flip through.

Worlds of Wordplay, Cover by Jon Hodgson

Hearts in Glorantha #5 (D101-023)

“I want to be a Humakti.”

Is a common cry when I run games set in Glorantha. It’s the nice easy fighter archetype that in a fantasy setting where there’s still a good deal of violence (well, it is set in the Hero Wars, after all) is a powerful one in play. So issue five was dedicated to them, and like all issues of HiG, it came about due to what people submitted. Although I must admit there was a small amount of encouragement from myself, due to my fondness of Tales of the Reaching Moon issue 5 – The Humakti issue in the 90s which was my gateway into Gloranthan Fandom.

Hearts in Glorantha #5, cover by John Hughes

Issue five in September 2012 should have been where I ended Hearts run. Even then, my intuition was quite clear, “Five issues is enough”, it would tell me. Already it was delayed, constantly put aside for other D101 projects, and the early  I had for the magazine had dried up. But I soldiered on and got it done, with my enthusiasm tanked up by the release of RuneQuest 6 (which eventually became Mythras, by the Design Mechanism) and the big Pavis HeroQuest tome by Moon Design. This ability to be bloody-minded and power on despite the joy of no longer being there got me to do another two issues (which come much later on in 2018!). It is also a useful skill sometimes. Developing it was the part of me moving from a rather haphazard hobbyist publisher to the more considered business-driven one I am today. So in that sense, HiG #5 was a turning point for me as a publisher even though I was so caught up in the flow of my work and life that I didn’t realise it at the time 🙂

Blood of the Dragon (D101-022)

This is weird because it’s currently in limbo, yet it is one of my best-received things.

It originally came out in 2013 as a stretch goal for the Crypts and Things 1st Edition Indie Go-Go crowdfunding campaign. Writing it was like pulling teeth because it was the first adventure module for C&T, and I wanted to get it perfect.

It was well received and received a positive review at the infamously hard-to-leasing Ten Foot Pole site.

Then it was pulled from publication since it was going to be reissued as part of the C&T Remastered Kickstarter in 2015. It’s now currently residing as part of the adventure compilation Under Dark Spires, which Kickstarter funded, due out this year.

The Company (D101-019)

The Company

This one was OpenQuest Modern. Around the early 2010s, when OQ had been out for a while,  one of the regulars posted about using OQ mashed up with D20 Modern SRD to create a secret service vs Cthulhu game on our forum. I said nope on that one for many reasons, and I realised that I was enjoying all manner of Modern Day thrillers and had no roleplaying outlet.  So I put out the call for someone to turn the OQ SRD into OQ Modern, and Rik Kershaw Moore answered the call. About 12 months later, The Company was the result. Published on 13/04/2012, as a softcover/hardcover and pdf via Lulu.com

The game is centred firmly around a fictional UK Private Military Contractor, a modern-day mercenary company that recruit primarily from ex-UK Armed Forces and with a Royal Charter to provide military services in response to falling numbers of UK armed forces.

In many ways, the Company is my favourite of the early trio of OQ games, completed by OQ 1-2 (Fantasy) and River of Heaven (Sci-Fi). I ran some fun convention games. Operation Mudbrick, where operatives guard an archaeological team in the ancient city of UR post-Gulf War 2, and Operation Camphor, where the team reclaims a recording device left by a spy working for The Company that had been left in the Lockheed Sea Shadow, which was now floating inside the hull of a converted cargo ship in one of the US Fleet Arm fleets, moored off the coast of California. In many ways, the scenarios I ran for The Company, although based on real-life situations, were more fantastic and eye-opening than the weirdest fantasy adventures I’ve written.

While the Company was a good steady seller over the years, I never got beyond publishing the core rulebook, even though there was an adventure book and companion written because its principal author – Rik – suddenly left the hobby.  The main rulebook finally went out of print at the end of the OQ3 Kickstarter back in October 2020.

One day, I hope to bring back The Company for OQ 3, but it will be a slightly different set-up, with a different name (Modern Operations is the current favourite).

Update: Inspired by the nostalgia this post brought up, and with my interest piqued as a Game Designer, I’ve started working on the spiritual successor to the Company, Modern Operations.