BareBones Fantasy Goes Gold

Barebones FantasyBareBones Fantasy RPG has gone gold over at RPGNow. BareBones Fantasy RPG is a “rules-lite” fantasy RPG that uses d10’s for action resolution. I have posted about it several times here at The Iron Tavern.

BareBones Fantasy packs a whole lot into an 80-ish page rulebook. Enough to get a person rolling with the game and play for quite some time. The fact it is a “light” system helps ensure fast play.

It is good to see it getting some of the attention it deserves over at RPGNow!

BareBone Fantasy RPG On-Air Tutorial

Barebones FantasyI have mentioned BareBones Fantasy a few times here at The Iron Tavern. The game is a “rules-lite” fantasy game that contains everything you need to start playing in one 80-ish page book.

My first experience with it has been quite fun. With that said there are a couple of things that take just a little bit to wrap your head around when you first get started. Two of the big things for me were how multi-actions played out and resistance checks to avoid taking damage and how that worked with multi-actions. Now that I have played it makes perfect sense and is really an elegant mechanic.

Larry Moore has posted a short actual play session online at YouTube to help cover some of these frequently asked questions about the game. The video specifically seeks to cover the following game rules

  • Multi-Actions
  • Initiative
  • Resistance Checks
  • DR
  • House Rules
  • Spells (Repel, Offensive Strike, Dispel

The video is worth a watch if you are curious about BareBones Fantasy RPG.

A Look at BareBones Fantasy RPG

Barebones FantasyBareBones Fantasy RPG is a game from DwD Studios, written by Larry Moore and Bill Logan. The game has become quite popular over on Google+. The system comes in a small package with 80-some odd pages that include character races, character skills, monsters, magic, and more. BareBones Fantasy RPG is currently available in PDF, softcover, and a hardcover is in the works.

I ended up picking up the PDF of the system late last year to see what it was all about. The system is intended to be a ‘rules-lite’ system using only d10’s for dice and trying to keep out of the gamer’s way allowing them so spend time having fun rather than held back by a heavy set of rules. They call the system the d00Lite system.

The welcome to the game page does introduce a golden rule – “The GM is in charge!”. After playing and running many rules heavy systems over the years, I have been finding myself drawn to systems with fewer and simpler rules and back to the days where the GM is responsible for figuring out the gray areas and running with it. I was quite happy to see this golden rule, it seems more and more of the games I am attracted to these days include something along these lines.

The Rules

To play this game you only need two 10-sided dice. Things such as damage rolls and the like are indicated by using the notation of 1D (one 10-sided dice) or 2D (two 10-sided dice). Checks are done by trying to roll under a percentage. If you roll under you are successful, over and you are not. If the two 10-sided dice come up the same number (i.e. both 2’s) and the roll was successful then you scored a critical success. If they come up the same number and you were higher than your percentage then you had a critical failure. The game’s mechanics revolve around this simple mechanic.

There are four ability scores for each character. Strength, Dexterity, Logic, and Willpower. Ranges for ability scores tend to range between 35 and 80, though there are exceptions.

Instead of choosing a character class in BBF, you choose skills. There are eight skills to choose from. From these skills the player selects a primary skill (netting a +20 in that skill), a secondary skill (a +10 in that skill) and you choose one skill to assign a level in. Some skills require a “level” in them in order to be used. This method of building a character allows a player to build their character they want without being tied into a particular class. It is a very flexible system.

There are four races in this book to choose from – Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. The player’s race choice will affect starting ability scores and provide other racial abilities depending on choice.

The Game Guidelines section adds a little detail for the GM running the game on success modifiers, damage, healing, and more. The book also contains spells for the caster-types, magic items, and monsters for the GM to use in their game.

Putting even more into this book, there is an included random dungeon generator and adventure idea generator. If you are ever stuck for an idea, these generators alone are sure to get your brain going with some ideas.

The final 7 pages of the book include a brief look at the campaign world Keranak Kingdoms to act as a backdrop for all of your adventures. If you purchase the PDF version of this product you also receive a free adventure called Maidens of Moordoth to help get you started.

BareBones Fantasy Map and MinisThe Play

I finally had the chance to take this system for a spin the other weekend. I used a combination of the NPC Generator and the sample characters in the rulebook to get some pre-gens ready. I used the Trouble at Karam’s Claim from the Keranak Kingdoms Fantasy Setting for the game as my first adventure. I ran the adventure for my kids, who do pretty well at playing new RPGs. They play Pathfinder quite frequently, my son runs some Pathfinder games for us, and I’ve run a quick run of DCC RPG with him as well.

I handed out the pre-gens – my son wanted a couple of dwarves, my daughter wanted an elven ranger type. She has a crush on Legolas. I had characters that fit those ideas and I spent a short amount of time going over the basics. That did not take long to explain and it seemed to set in after the first round or two of combat.

Trouble at Karam’s Claim was fun. There are a lot of one type of creature in it, though the module warns of that ahead of time. It can get just a little repetitive unless the GM plays it up a bit. The overall concept of the adventure is a good one though.

The play was quick and very easy to get the hang of. The concept of being able to do more than one action in a turn is very nice. Essentially, your first action in a turn is not penalized at all. The second takes a -20% to the score you are trying to roll under. The third takes a -40% to the score you are trying to roll under and so on. It really allows a character to decide just how much they want to risk not being able to defend well because they took too many attacks.

In the end the kids vanquished the primary threat at the mines and were successful for the day! My son liked it and has been poking around the softcover book a bit and studying some of the reference sheets I had printed up for the game. He ranked it above DCC RPG (he has a bit of a problem with all the randomness in DCC RPG).

Wrap Up

My experience with BareBones Fantasy RPG has been a very good one so far! I will definitely be looking to get into a few more games of it and will likely seek some out at conventions this year. I am sure I will find myself running a few here and there as well!

If you are looking for a “rules-lite” fantasy system for a low cost investment that includes rules to play, spell, monsters, magic items, a glance at a campaign world, and more – BareBones Fantasy is well worth checking out! BareBones Fantasy RPG is currently available in PDF, softcover, and a hardcover will be coming out in the near future.

BareBones Fantasy in Print

My print copy of BareBone Fantasy arrived today. I ordered it from RPGNow and this is actually the first time I have ever ordered something in print from RPGNow. I am not sure if every experience is like this, but I received my print copy in a very timely manner. Looking back at my order history, I just ordered this on 1/21 and I had it in my mailbox today. Great turn-around in my opinion.

If you hang out in some of the same social media circles I do, you have likely seen mention of BareBones Fantasy. I will be doing a write-up of my initial thoughts on the system based on running a game this past weekend. But for those unfamiliar with the system it is a complete fantasy role-playing game contained in 80-ish pages. It uses a d00Lite system in that it is based on 10-sided dice. Attack rolls, skill checks, weapon damage, and more are all based on rolling under a certain percentage. One golden rule covers the gray areas – “The GM is in charge!”.

I’ve had the PDF since about mid-December. Since I wanted to play this with my son, I wanted to pick up a paper copy. He is not a fan of PDFs and if I want him to read the system he wants to have it in print. Plus the print copy is easier to hand around the table while I run off of the PDF on the iPad.

More in-depth commentary will be coming later this week, but I couldn’t hold off on posting up the pictures of my soft cover copy. hard to believe the whole system is packed into this lightweight book!

Until later this week, enjoy!

New Year, New Game 2013

New Games 2013

Photo by StarsApart – Flickr

This post was written for the second annual New Year, New Game blog carnival hosted by Gnome Stew as part of the 2013 New Year, New Game challenge.

Looking Back

The Iron Tavern participated last year in the New Year, New Game blog carnival. Last year I talked about some of the things that made it hard for me to get out of my groove and try out new games. I also listed the three games I wanted to try at the table in the year 2012. They were:

The One Ring
Dragon Age

How did I do? Well, I did not get the chance to play any of the games on the list I made last year. The year was not a loss however! I did play two new RPG games in 2012 and added several others to my collection.

New Games for 2012

What games did I play? First up was Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. This one is obvious to regular readers of The Iron Tavern as I have made many posts about it. I bought the book because I wanted it for the artwork. Then I started reading the book and I wanted to play it. I ended up in a brief game on Google+ Hangouts and was hooked. From there I started running a few one-shots on Google+ Hangouts and finally broke down and started running a weekly DCC RPG game on Google+ Hangouts and Roll20.

A little later in the year one of my DCC RPG players mentioned a game available for free download called Dungeonslayers. I ended up playing in a Christmas themed Dungeonslayers game that he ran. The game was a good time, something about the opposed roll mechanic that made each round of combat something a little more than rolling a 20-sider and seeing if you hit and then rolling damage. That game has evolved into a regular weekly game as we moved into 2013.

Added to my collection in the year 2012 were numerous Castles and Crusades books and Barebones Fantasy. Only the lack of time prevents me from playing either one of those. I would actually like to see one of those systems replace my default Pathfinder game, but I need to try them out to see which seems a better fit for my go-to game.

New Games for 2013

Despite not playing any of the games I mentioned wanting to play in my post last year on this topic, I am going to risk listing the games I want to play in the upcoming year. I have already mentioned two of the games from the list of three. First:

Castles and Crusades. This game has been around for quite some time. I’ve started collecting most of the hard covers, I am just waiting for an opportunity to play it. I am attracted to it because it is a lighter than my current go-to game of Pathfinder, but so close to the D&D feel that it seems a really good fit. Add in I can easily convert 3.x/Pathfinder adventures down to it and 1e and 2e stuff up to it, I’d have modules to select and choose from for a very long time.

Barebones FantasyBarebones Fantasy. This game has been getting excellent reviews over at RPG Now and across several of my social media circles. A rules-light game with simple mechanics and an interesting “skills” system as class. I’ve done a read through of this book and really want to give it a spin this year. Just waiting for a time that a G+ game opens up at a time that I can participate.

Fiasco. This game was on my 2012 list as well, but I am keeping it around for 2013. This one doesn’t seem to be catching the same talk on social media it was last year, or maybe I have gravitated to different circles. In either case, I would like to try it out to see what it is all about.

New Games, New Year

New games, New Year was a good thing for me. It got me thinking about breaking out of my normal groove. And though I did not play the games I had listed in 2012, I did get out there and play some new games. Not only were these new games a great time, but I met a lot of great people playing them. I

I have made new online friends and met several of them in-person at Gen Con. I’ve drifted to new social circles that are full of people doing cool things. So even though I did not actually play a single game on my list from 2012, I did get out there and play some new games, met some new people both virtually and at cons. I call that a success.

So, get out there and play some new games! Break out of your rut of playing whatever your game of choice is now and try something a little different. It has been a blast for me and I have met a lot of great people by expanding my gaming circles a bit!

Mini-Review: Decahedron

Decahedron Cover Issue 1Decahedron is the first issue of its free fanzine from DwD Studios. The inaugural issue supports their recent RPG release BareBones Fantasy, a rules-light fantasy genre roleplaying game. Haven’t heard of BareBones Fantasy yet? Don’t worry, we will be taking a closer look at that system in an upcoming post at The Iron Tavern.

Decahedron is a short 10 page fanzine and is available for free. One of the driving goals is to provide a location for fans to get their content published and out to the community.

The first issue weighs in with six articles and a high resolution map on the back cover. The map is a typical dungeon map with 25 rooms for the crafty GM to populate and drop into his campaigns. The inclusion of a map is supposed to be a regular feature for future issues. So even if you aren’t a BareBones Fantasy RPG player or GM, it could still be worth your time to grab a copy of the fanzine just for the map.

First up in this issue is a table of 100 descriptors for use with your character in BareBones Fantasy. A portion of creating your character in BBF is to note a descriptor, or short phrase that describes a focus or trait of your character. Something like “follows a strict diet” or “drinking songs invariably evolve into sacred hymns”. This table has 100 such descriptors to either get your creative juices flowing or to roll randomly on.

A new spell called Commune is included in a feature called Grimoire. The entry contains plenty of crunch to be dropped into your BBF game if you are looking to add new spells to your game.

The next article was Game Options. This article covered the process that evolved into coming up with the rules for two-weapon fighting in BBF. I found this article particularly enjoyable for a couple of reasons. First, I still envision being able to play a dwarven berserker type that wades into battle with two axes. It is sort of a test as to how well a system is going to suit me! This optional feature looks promising, striking a balance between offense and defense. Second, I enjoyed reading the thought process of what discussion went into crafting the crunch for this optional mechanic. Definitely a good read!

A short adventure from Matt Jackson makes its way into the pages. Only taking three pages of print, a map, adventure hooks, and encounter descriptions are all included. It looks like a fun adventure to drop in as a side encounter for an ongoing BBF campaign or perhaps as a one-shot to demo the game for folks at a convention.

And finally the issue closes out with a new creature from Larry Moore and a new character race by Mike Wikan. Both are one-page articles that seek to add more options to the BBF game.

The art in this fanzine is excellent. DwD Studios is picking up the tab on the art contained within to help keep the fanzine free for people.

Check the fanzine out even if you are new to BBF. Even if BBF isn’t your game, the map at the back is sure to be useful. The adventure within could always be adapted to your game of choice as well.

Interview: Quinn Conklin

Occult_MoonThe Iron Tavern recently interviewed Quinn Conklin, one of the driving forces behind the Toys for the Sandbox series from Occult Moon. In addition to writing the weekly fantasy series he also has a role in the post-apocalyptic and science fiction flavors of Toys for the Sandbox as well.

Because keeping a weekly series churning out is not enough to keep the man busy, he also has taken up writing some adventures for new to the scene, BareBones Fantasy, a rules-light fantasy RPG from DwD Studios.

Quinn also has a couple of side projects that he picks up as time permits. Between all of this he still manages to squeeze in some time for gaming!

And with that, let the interview begin!


The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the name Quinn Conklin is the Toys for the Sandbox weekly series you write for Occult Moon. Can you tell us a little more about that series?

Kings GateThe core of the series is a simple idea. Develop a location that a GM can drop into their game when they need to add a bit of color. But a setting is just a place to make it come alive it needs history,people and a bit of bustle. So each issue of Toys has a bit of flavor text covering the history of the place and what it looks like, four NPCs that could be encountered there, six plot hooks with three twists each to serve as a launchpad for an adventure and a few (usually magic) items that the party might find there as well.

For readers unfamiliar with the Toys for the Sandbox series, are they written with a specific system in mind or are they system neutral?

They are system neutral which presents its own set of challenges, I can’t describe a magic sword as +5 I have to use phrases such as gives a significant bonus to damage.

Which issue is your favorite in the series so far? What makes it stand out for you?

That is a hard question, when I am writing one I am very excited about it, but that fades as I move on to the next. A few do stand out, The Dormant Volcano comes to mind mainly for the character of Jeremy, a young man who drank from a cursed pool and is now stuck in the body of a flying squirrel while the squirrel is running around in his body. The Weeping Widow has a lot of plot lines started that have spread out to other issues, and the recent arc I have been working on, The City by the Sea, has been fun as well and has let me explore some issue about race and politics.

You have a print version of the first 18 issues of Toys for the Sandbox coming up. How has that been coming together? Do you have an anticipated release date for this print version?

Honestly it has been slow. The series has gone through a lot of growth since it started back in January. We started with a four page product and now are up to around 13. Some of that came from great NPC descriptions and back story and that meant going back and updating some of the old text so each would have a standard feel. Also when I started writing Toys and was trying to keep things to the four pages I tended to have ideas that did not fit so they wound up posted on the Occult Moon website. In doing the print edition we decided to make room for those posts as well.

As to release date, I have the proof in hand now and so does my editor, we have come across a few last minute changes that need making and then we will be putting it up for sale. My hope is that we can have it go live on the 26th.

There are two spin-offs of the Toys for the Sandbox series that cover the sci-fi and apocalypse genres. Those are a little earlier in their lifecycle. What has been your role in those lines?

Old Coffee HouseThese two series have always been planned as a limited run project. The target was 10 issues of each but as usually happens we had more to say then we thought and the Post Apocalypse Toys line wound up going to 11. Sci Fi is still going on and publishing monthly rather than weekly. I have not been that active in Sci Fi Toys line other than creating the flavor text, character, and hook format. With PA Toys I co-wrote it with Gary Montgomery and did the design and layout.

The publication schedule you adhere to for these series is what many would consider quite aggressive. Between writing the product, getting it through layout, and published for sale, how do you keep up?

The key for me is having a process. Monday after the new issue goes on sale I know it is time to start working on the next issue, I need to have the flavor text and characters done by Tuesday night so I can send them off to my artists so they have time to work. That keeps the momentum going and the rest of it just flows.

By now the layout is not that hard to get through, I have a template I work from and it is really just a matter of plugging the pieces in.

Do you have issues already written and in the queue? Or is the issue you work on this week the one you will be publishing on Monday of the following week?

I would love to try and have issues in the queue and I have managed to make it happen a few times but it never lasts. One of my first paid writing gigs was working for writing daily news. So coming out of an environment where I would get a call at 7 a.m. saying there was a protest going on at such and such a place and having the story in by noon, a weekly schedule is not that insane.

In addition to writing volume you also have the pressure to come up with a new idea every week. How do you come up with that many workable ideas and turn it into a product week after week?

Again I do it by having a plan in place. I try to alternate issues between wilderness and city locations for starters. The other thing I do is set up large locations and explore them, The Hermits Island, The Pirate Island and now the City by the Sea are good examples. When I have these series within the series going I don’t want to beat people over the head with them so I usually work on those every other issue or every three depending on the scope of the place.

But sometimes ideas are hard to come buy, if I really hit a snag i will take requests on G+ for things that people want to see, The Hamlet Under the Waterfall and the Wandering Wells of Mistomore are issues that started that way.

Other times it is just a matter of asking the world around me the right question. Issue 49 The Salt Mine is a good example of that. I was sitting down to brunch with my character artist, it was Tuesday morning and I had no idea what I was going to write about still. I looked at the table and started thinking about the condiments and asking them where they were going to take me today. We are probably lucky the salt shaker answered before the hot sauce.

Tell us a little about your gaming background. What were the first games you played?

I started off on AD&D and the original Red Box in the early 80’s or perhaps the late 70’s, it was 3rd or 4th grade. Champions, Gamma World and Star Frontiers were other games I had early but did not play much. FASERIP Marvel was the game we played through half of high school then we moved our supers world to the Palladium system.

What games are on your current playlist?

The big ones for me at the moment are Dungeon World, BareBones Fantasy, and Fate Core. My home group has really loved the Dresden Files but then people moved and syncing schedules got rough. The writing schedule does not give me as much time to play as I like.

We’ve talked about Toys for the Sandbox and associated projects. As we begin to turn the corner to a new year, what else do you have in store for us?

A few other things on the Toys front, we are planing to get the rest of this year’s back issues collected in two more omnibuses in the first quarter of 2013. After that the PA toys line will get its own collection and when the first run of Sci Fi toys is done it gets an omnibus. Also year two of toys will be rolling out at the same breakneck pace.

I have a few irons in the fire and it will be interesting to see where they go, I have been working on a pair of systems that I hope to have ready for release in the next year. One is a story game called Agents and Champions that is more in the vain of DO or Fiasco but crunchier than both. The other is my own fantasy RPG called Whack Pack Adventures, that one started to see a lot of feature bloat and I needed to walk away for a bit.

I am also working with DwD Studios and writing adventures for BareBones Fantasy.

Can you tell us a little more about Whack Pack Adventures?

WPA is sort of my answer to the OSR scene but rather than trying to create a game that models the rulesets I loved in high school I am working on something that models the feel of those games. We, and by we I mean my gaming group when I was growing up, would play these pick up games that we just called Whack Pack. It had an anything goes mentality with people playing monsters and the dice falling where they may.

It is hard to say more without getting into specifics of the game you know 20 races, separation of race and culture in character creation, spell customization, every things is combat, blah blah blah…

BBF Bigger ProblemBareBones Fantasy from DwD Studios has been on my radar. You wrote A Bigger Problem for them, right? Tell us a little more about writing adventures for the BareBones Fantasy system.

Yep I wrote A Bigger Problem and the follow up The Children of the Giants Fist. Currently I am working on the last part of that story arc.

Writing adventures is weird for me because I am the guy who never ran a module, well almost never. I tried to run one canned adventure for Brave New Worlds and wound up literally throwing the thing over my shoulder as the party saw a solution that was logical and so far off the rails of the printed material that it was useless to me at that point.

This is something that I have kept in mind as I have been writing for BBF. Make the players choice count for something, though that might not be obvious in the first two installments since those are about the players reacting to problems in town but even then there are opportunities for real choices by the players.

The system is easy to write for but does not feel too simple. A lot of rules light games, at least for me do not offer much in the way of room for characters to grow, that is not something I feel with BBF. The world feels big and the people in it feel real and the system has let me write some complex skill challenges that are more interesting than pass or fall to your death.

The guys over at DwD are great to work with as well.  Larry Moore is always encouraging me to expand their world, add monsters and magic and all that good stuff. And Bill Logan is good about asking the right questions to put the polish on things.


The Iron Tavern wants to thank Quinn for taking the time to answer my questions. It was a pleasure interviewing him!