Sean's Picks of the Week (1211-12-15) - Rules Don't Matter Week!
  • Sean's Picks of the Week (1211-12-15) - Rules Don't Matter Week!

    This week I decided to go with the theme of Rules Don't Matter Week. Not because I actually believe that, but because there are a lot of good products out there designed to help your game with material outside of actual game mechanics. I think this is a growing space for writers, designers, and artists, and I think a lot of GMs and players can get some serious use out of materials that inspire and assist them with their gaming efforts. Let's dive in, shall we!

    Welcome to Rules Don’t Matter Week at the SPOD. While I don’t strictly adhere to that philosophy (for me, the rules are the language by which we communicate with the game and each other, and poor communication = poor gaming experience), in this case, the theme refers to Picks that have no rules associated with them. These are products that are designed specifically to grant GMs and players all kinds of useful and creative ideas to drop into any game you’re playing.

    The Vara Chronicles is the latest release from Tricky Troll Games, described by author Nathan Carmen as “another systemless setting, this time inspired by fairy tales and folklore. A lot of these sort of settings tend to be gritty and dark like the Brother’s Grimm but we strove for something in between that and the modern fairy tales seen today. There’s a greater emphasis on brave heroes and daring adventures than there is on grit.” Sounds great to me!

    A world of adventure awaits!

    Long ago an enchanted mirror was shattered, unleashing its power upon the realm of Vara. The inhabitants now face monstrous creatures who represent the darkest parts of men’s souls. Only the Knights of Valor stand between the people and these wretched beasts, and only time will tell if good prevails!

    The Vara Chronicles is a sytemless setting inspired by old fairy tales and folklore from a time when villains were despicable creatures, and heroes were true beacons of hope. Inside you’ll find…

    14 Locations each with key features.

    4 Types of human cultures in the form of City, Farm, Mountain, and Forest Folk.

    11 Character Archetypes to spark the player’s imagination.

    An Adventure and Village Generator.

    A Bestiary containing 30 vile villains and creatures.

    And Much More!


    Ennead Games is one of those companies I’ve come to rely on whenever I need quick, easy, utterly useful lists of things or other GM-aid or player-assisting bits and bobs to make whatever game I’m running better. They are one of the definitive sources for system-agnostic support material, making them a perfect choice for Rules Don’t Matter Week.

    Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this very week, they’ve launched a bundle that (as far as I can tell) contains everything they’ve ever published. It’s valued at – brace yourself – $445.53!!! Due to a major crisis for their team (computer failure, massive need to recover), they are selling this bundle until Dec. 25th for $35.49!

    (What follows is only a small fraction of the total offerings in this crazy bundle!)

    100 Adventure Names – Watermarked PDF
    100 African-sounding names – Watermarked PDF
    100 Amusing Names – Female – Watermarked PDF

    100 Belgium Flemish – Female – Watermarked PDF
    100 Belgium Flemish Names – Names – Watermarked PDF
    100 Chaos Effects – Watermarked PDF

    100 French Sounding Names – Female – Watermarked PDF
    100 French Sounding Names – Male – Watermarked PDF
    100 Germanic Sounding Names – Watermarked PDF

    100 Greek Names – Male – Watermarked PDF
    100 Halfling Names – Female – Watermarked PDF
    100 Halfling Names – Male – Watermarked PDF

    100 Hobbies – Modern – Watermarked PDF
    100 Hungarian Sounding Names – Female – Watermarked PDF
    100 Hungarian Sounding Names – Male – Watermarked PDF

    100 Ship Names – Watermarked PDF
    100 Spanish Names – Female – Watermarked PDF
    100 Spanish Names – Male – Watermarked PDF

    100 Swedish Names – Male – Watermarked PDF
    100 Tinker Gnome Names – Female – Watermarked PDF
    100 Tinker Gnome Names – Male – Watermarked PDF

    1000 Planet & Star Names – Watermarked PDF
    1000 Street & Road Names – Watermarked PDF
    Campaign Chunk – Volume 1 – Watermarked PDF

    Campaign Chunk – Volume 13 Flora – Watermarked PDF
    Campaign Chunk – Volume 2 – Watermarked PDF
    Campaign Chunk – Volume 3 – Watermarked PDF

    Campaign Chunks Compilation – Watermarked PDF
    Character Connections – Watermarked PDF
    Corporate Babble Generator – Watermarked PDF

    Creature Description Generator Volume 4 – Lich – Watermarked PDF
    Creature Description Generator Volume 5 – Goblin – Watermarked PDF
    Creature Description Generator Volume 6 – Golem – Watermarked PDF


    Here we are on Wednesday of Rules Don’t Matter Week, and I get to make a callback to one of the most influential books Palladium Books ever published. The Compendium of Weapons, Armour & Castles became one of the must-have for any game master or designer to keep within easy reach. Thoroughly researched and impressively illustrated, every kind of weapon, form of personal protection, and style of castle or fortress you could hope to see is in this thing. While everything is presented in Palladium System stats, there’s gob-tons of information to make this an invaluable resource to use for any game you want to run… or design.

    This huge collection contains over 700 different weapons, each and every one illustrated, over 40 types of armour, and several dozen real castles and floor plans. This is not simply a reprint of the material found in Palladium’s Weapons & Armour, Weapons & Castles, European Castles, and Exotic Weapons. It is a much improved edition with tons of fabulous new art by Kevin Long. Much of the artwork is new, often presented as detailed, full page depictions and clearly annotated, with close-ups and cutaways. The weapons and armour sections are especially enlarged with a wealth of information, many new weapons and new armour.

    The Compendium of Weapons, Armour & Castles is unique in all of adventure gaming, because it is a sourcebook which is compatible with the Palladium Megaverse and ALL other game systems! All the items are real, thoroughly researched, and historically accurate.

    Highlights Include:
    • Complete compatibility with ALL other game systems.
    • Over 700 different ancient weapons.
    • Over 45 types of armour with a look at the many different style variations.
    • Siege weapons and techniques.
    • Castle illustrations, histories and floor plans.
    • 224 pages.


    Many who know me know there are certain kinds of games and settings that just aren’t my cup of tea. Extremely low magic, grim-and-gritty fantasy settings fall firmly into that space, but doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate excellent work when I see it. At the same time, I know there are lots of you who love that kind of thing, and Midlands fits that bill to a “T.”

    Though it’s designed around Low Fantasy Gaming’s d20-driven house system, the entire book is intended fully to work as a setting-first product that can be used for any game you might be running. This makes it a fine addition to Rules Don’t Matter Week.


    The Midlands PDF is 365 pages of low magic, low prep, customisable sandbox, in a “points of light” medieval fantasy realm. The setting is written for the Low Fantasy Gaming RPG system (free PDF at the LFG site), a d20 variant under the OGL, but is easily adapted to any fantasy RPG.

    The Midlands is half setting, half DIY toolkit (per the Contents in the preview); filled with tables and tools to assist the GM to run an improvised sandbox, including fifty Adventure Frameworks to sprinkle around the region (mini adventures with enough meat to kickstart an adventure, but enough flexibility to expand/adapt to player choices).

    The Midlands’ main themes include:

    Grim Cities

    Humanity shelters behind six isolated, walled cities, struggling for opportunity.

    Deadly Outlands

    One hundred leagues of trackless wilderness, plagued by skorn, thuels, & monstrous beasts.

    Dangerous Magic

    Sorcery was not meant for mortals; magic is rare, dark, & inherently dangerous.

    Silent Gods

    Deities are ineffably distant; offering no miracles, nor intervening in the world in any obvious way.

    Ancient Mysteries

    Despite the dangers, the wilds beckon with crumbling ruins, lost treasures, & forgotten secrets.


    OK, I just fell completely in love with this the moment I saw it. My Belovedest, Carinn, is a huge fan of “decks of cards that help me run a game” products, and I suspect this will fit the bill nicely for anyone like her who runs fantasy (or, you know, anything). Completely system-less cards of folks you can encounter, with roleplaying hooks and cues, as well as gorgeous portraits for an instant “this is what they look like” moment. I’d love to see more of these for all kinds of settings.

    50 unique NPC cards

    Each card has a vivid portrait on one side to show your players and fire their imagination.

    The other side contains information to bring the character to life as well as plot hooks to kick-start amazing and unexpected adventures.

    The deck uses a simple ‘fan’ system that lets you make random draws based on the character’s Race, Job, Gender, or Morality.

    Made to enhance your gaming experience, adding richness and variety, whilst reducing your workload.

    Usable with any fantasy role-playing system.

    Another week, another theme, another selection of fun gaming products I hope you've enjoyed.

    Using a lot of this weekend to (a) get some meetings and related work in regarding Evil Beagle Games projects (including Freedom Squadron and Prowlers & Paragons) and (b) getting last-minute stuff done ere we jet off to the South to see family and friends for the holidays.

    Hope you have some great plans this weekend!

    The Adventure Continues!

    Note that I use affiliate links in all my posts as a way to generate additional revenue for my efforts; I make my Picks and other article choices, however, based on the desire to share a wide variety of things with you. Thank you for your support.

    Sean Patrick Fannon
    Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
    Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Arilyn's Avatar
      Arilyn -
      Picked up "The Vara Chronicles." It's a good start for a heroic fairy tale campaign. Needs some fleshing out, but that's a plus, if your group likes making places their own.

      I think I'll give it a whirl with the "Beyond the Wall" rule set.

      It's probably also a great setting if you're running a game for youngsters.
    1. TrippyHippy's Avatar
      TrippyHippy -
      Just to offer a counter-philosophy: the rules of a game are not a language. It's a flawed analogy. Players don't just sit around a table and recite a load of rules when they interact - they role-play their characters. What rules do is provide a common set of references for how their characters can interact with the world and each other, without derailing the roleplaying itself into dispute ("I hit you" - "No, you didn't" etc.).

      As such, the pertinency of the rules is largely determined through the interactions of each different social group. Different groups may require stricter adherence to clearly defined rules. Others may be more freeform. The importance of rules only matter as much as the group needs them too. In some games, they don't matter much.
    1. SuperSam888's Avatar
      SuperSam888 -
      I like how the dwarf has a "?" for gender.
    1. Sean Patrick Fannon's Avatar
      Sean Patrick Fannon -
      Respectfully disagree that mine is a "flawed" analogy; I've actually done multiple seminars on this very point. At this point, however, we'd delve into a semantic argument about the nature of the word "language," and I have Christmas things to take care of.

    1. TrippyHippy's Avatar
      TrippyHippy -
      Feel free to incorporate new ideas into your seminars. It's how they evolve, apparently.
    Comments Leave Comment