Halloween Game 2019

Geez. It’s been two months since my Halloween game? Feels like yesterday. Ugh.

(All images from the second game. I didn’t get pictures of first one due to our illustrious Joseph Reidhead only being in the second game.)


This year I ran two games, using two different rulesets but using a similar (zombie/demon shambler) theme.

I ran All Flesh Must Be Eaten for the first game and Mothership for the second. Similar themes, but wildly different rulesets.

Rules Changes For Moar Horror

None this year! Both games are well rooted in the horror genre.

For AFMBE, everyone took on the role of a survivor in a zombie apocalypse.

For Mothership, everyone was a member of a mining ship sent to mine an asteroid.


The Food

For the AFMBE game, I had them starting as a group in an Irish Pub & Resturant so I made these! Custom menus.


I also made everything on that menu. That’ll never happen again. Almost all those recipes other than the cider (which I’ve shown here before), were from this cookbook. (Amazon Link).

The second group had a much less extreme menu due to dietary restrictions, not much to report here on that!

The Game


Horror was had by all! The big set pieces for the first game was a massive multi-terrain piece military compound, as well as custom rules for scavenging gear in those locations. I’ll try to take some pictures later with those. It was a lot of stuff. Over 70 zombie minis, survivor minis, cars, set pieces, a military installation to search, and then a final desperate escape attempt at a farm. Lots going.

The second game reused Sedition War miniatures from a previous Halloween game to drive home the sci-fi horror elements.

The games were a blast. I’m trying to decide what to do next year. I’m leaning towards something like:

  • Superheroes
  • Napoleonic
  • Stone Age

We’ll see.

Top Ten RPGs of 2019

Like last year, I’m doing a non-review of my favorite RPG products of the year.

I don’t review RPG products anymore, but I can certainly tell you what I loved. This is simply my impressions and responses to products that have come out throughout the year that I felt were some of the best I had the chance to experience.

Consider these recommendations, but there are so many great RPGs out there. It was hard to choose the best of list, and there are many more I wish I could mention. And I barely play and read a fraction of the games that came out, so if you have recommendations or your own list, fire it at me!

I also never put my games on this list. (That feels wrong to me.)

10.) Band of Blades: This game is clever. And it can be hard to find clever games.

It’s basically the plot of Glen Cook’s Black Company novels, wrapped around a really slick Forged in the Dark system that plays out over a limited campaign number of sessions, towards a fixed endpoint.

It’s got lots of cool campaign frames and customization built into the narrative, and I’m a really big fan of what’s going on here.

I haven’t ran it yet, but even reading it was really inspiring. It’s tightly made.

9.) Savage Worlds Adventure Edition: Shocking no one, a Savage Worlds product appears on my list! It seems to be a yearly tradition, because the fine folks at Pinnacle keep putting out AMAZING games.

This new edition is damn near perfect. It streamlines the game in all the right places, while still remaining noticeably Savage Worlds and keeps all the bits I love.

In my eyes, it’s the definitive all-purpose action system and I am constantly ransacking my brain on a way to run it…

I’m sure I can figure something out…

8.) Afterlife: Wandering Souls: The team at Angry Hamster Publishing is one of my favorites in the industry, and I think this is one of their strongest books. It certainly is my favorite of theirs.

It’s weird, afterlife centered horror and exploration, around the goal of recovering memories, exploring a bizarre and unknowable afterlife where despair and hope are juxtaposed against it’s surreal inhabitants.

It’s delightfully different, and as befits my tastes, has wonderful rules-light mechanics. You want to try something unusual and esoteric? This is your game. Don’t miss out on it.

7.) Miseries & Misfortunes:
This is one of the best books I bought at GenCon and bought it again just to have a spare copy.

It’s a delightful blend of life-path mechanics, Burning Wheel-style character driven mechanics, with one of the most interesting XP systems I’ve ever read, coupled with an OSR inspired resolution system, all tied to a gritty Dumas-style French setting.

I’ve been vocal about my adoration for Luke Crane’s design philosophy and I’m 100% in love with this game.

6.) Shadow of Esteren: Book 3 – Dearg: The team at Agate RPG is one of my favorites to read and every product they make is of the highest quality.

Dearg is one of the best RPG campaigns I’ve ever read, and coupled the rest of the moody, Byronic Esteren line, it completes the game in a delightfully fantastic way.

The art, layout, and text are stunning and top notch, and the game aids provided create one of the most complete campaigns I’ve ever read.

High marks for Agate, as always.

5.) Five Torches Deep: I like Ben Dutter on a personal level, and I like Ben Dutter’s game design work a lot.

FTD is a fantastic 5e adaptation that takes all the good elements of 5e, all the good elements of the old-school revival movement, and mashes them together in a compact, beautifully arted, and stunningly concise book.

It’s worth every penny and is one of my new favorite go-to fantasy dungeon crawler systems.

More of this please, Ben.

4.) Praxis: House of Keys: I’m a big fan of post world games and jim pinto’s work in RPGs. He writes really great narrative style systems with lots of awesome character and story hooks in his games.

This one is a beautiful horror-themed game inspired by Eastern European cultures and folklore. It’s evocative, creepy, and just loads of cool fun.

This version uses his Praxis system, but he’s also got a Protocol Squared version if you’re into that. I think either one is a steal, though I prefer the Praxis systems myself.

3.) Fateforge:  Fateforge is a new setting for D&D 5e from the folks at Agate RPG (the Shadows of Esteren team I raved about earlier.)

It’s a fresh and new feeling fantasy setting, with all the wonderful detail, art, and writing that Agate RPG always brings to the table.

It made 5e feel fresh again, after a small drought and I’m really excited to dig in to this and play it!

If you’re looking to kick up your 5e game, this is the one for me.

2.) A Town Called Malice: This one was a surprise to me this year.

I managed to catch it on POD on DriveThruRPG (missed the Kickstarter) and I’m just head over heels for this game.

It’s a nordic noir storytelling game with a strong horror bent. Think The Snowman meets The Thing and you’re on the right track. I’ve always wanted a nordic noir RPG (it’s a favorite literary genre for me).

David Kizzia does a fantastic job of creating a wonderful atmosphere and the feel of the book is spot on. I love this game and I can tell it’s going to become a go to for me.

1.) Hypertullurians: Hypertellurians is the best RPG I’ve read this year.

Full stop.

It’s exceptionally well-written, well-grounded, thematic, fun to read, and beautifully laid-out and illustrated.

It evokes all the great pulpy paperback covers I remember laying around houses when I was a kid (not my house, but houses we’d go to). It’s just peak 70s pulp science fantasy and I love everything about it here.

I love this game and it’s now my go-to science fantasy game.


Game Review: Title Bout II

I was asked to review Title Bout IIa boxing game designed by Jim Trunzo and published by his company Straight Jab Media (a fitting name.)

I’ve worked with Jim a bit at Nocturnal Media and enjoyed his design on Gunman’s Law and Gladiator: Quest for the Rudis, and he was gracious enough to give me a complimentary copy of Title Bout II for this review. It’s been a while since we’ve done a review, so let’s dig in!

I’ve always liked boxing and fighting games, and I was excited to get this.

What Is Title Bout II?

Like the header says, what is Title Bout II? It’s a boxing simulation board/card game. It’s an interesting beast, mostly charts, cards and numbers, low on immersive qualities (visually) and high on the simulation of boxing rounds.

It utilizes a “Action Deck” to replace dice and provide a series of randomized actions, outcomes and special effects that allow you to simulate the back and forth in a boxing ring.

The Components

I was a little surprised by the small size of the box when it arrived, but it’s jam packed with components.

There’s over 200 cards, a center board, fighter status boards and a small selection of various tokens.



Each round, fighters struggle for control of the momentum of the fight, attempting to hit their opponent, wear them down, score points from the judges and manage their stamina and endurance against the drain of the ring.

There’s 100 heavyweight boxers to choose from, creating a near infinite amount of possible showdowns that never happened in real life (or recreating famous historical bouts).

The Action Deck is 100 cards, and there’s a small assortment of Strategy Cards that allow you to customize the game and event.

The overall quality of the components is nice, though the cards are a bit thin, and will require card sleeves to maintain their integrity over long use (this doesn’t matter to me, as they’re still better than some truly terrible quality games I’ve gotten and I sleeve all my card heavy games anyways.)

The boards are nice and sturdy and lay flat. The two rulebooks (which appear split due to printing constraints) contain all the information you need to play the game (more on that later.)

The Gameplay

The game play is both simple and complex at the same time. Boxers determine whose in control, an strike is made, an outcome is determined, and then the next round happens.

All actions are resolved by flipping cards from the Boxing Action Deck and checking various numbers on them.

Here’s where the game can get complex. The rule-book is well written, but it is not organized well. There’s little cross referencing, which can provide some confusion when playing the game the first time, as rules are sometimes hidden in unusual sections, in the other rule-book, or not clearly called out.

All the rules are in there, but their interactions or locations can be frustrating to find. Our first game consisting of lots of hunting to make sure we were doing everything correctly. We still missed some items that we had to address on our second play through.

That being said, this is a problem solved by playing the game (or if the designer were to release a PDF index, detailed flow of play with page numbers, or similar), that one could easily get around.

The actual resolving the game actions is not complex and quite fun! There’s a lot of back and forth and sudden bursts and ups and downs, like one sees in a boxing match. The scoring is fun, and our match up felt close!

It is certainly a simulationist game, and there’s a lot more strategy in maneuvering the fighter, dealing with the ups and downs of the ring, and more. Our first game felt rather mechanical and uninvolved from a player agency standpoint, but once we’d played once, we were able to see the places where we could exert our control into the game and our second go around was dramatically different and player driven.


I’d give this game a rating of 4 of 5. I liked it enough, that I preordered the Middle Weight Cards off the Straight Jab Media website, so I could expand the game! That’s as good a sign as I can give!

With a PDF index, a video series detailing the various phases and turns of the game, or similar, it’d easily bump up to an 4.5. This game is a complex, detailed, and daunting opponent at times, but it’s fun, manageable and interesting.

It just needs to be made more approachable to new players!

Perhaps I’ll undertake such a video series. I’d like to see this game get more traction. I find two-player sport sims board games to be among my favorite sort of board games.


Halloween Game 2018 – Mythras (Mythic Rome)

It’s that time of the year again! Halloweeeeeen gammeeee! *cue spooky music.*

I elected to run Mythras from The Design Mechanism, using their Mythic Rome sourcebook. (You can find all of these books on their website or DriveThruRPG.)


Rules Changes for Moar Horror

None! The combat rules in Mythras are pretty horrific already (in terms of body horror), and as I was going for a bit of a Lovecraftian Roman Sex Cult vibe, I just cribbed from Chaosium’s excellent 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu (since both games share a similar d100 engine history and are largely easily converted between.)


Everyone took on the role of a Gladiator or Charioteer (only one Charioteer though), and served in a gladiatorial school (called a Ludus) in northern Africa in Roman Carthage.

The Food

Halloween game is a chance for me to explore another favorite hobby of mine, cooking. I made the following items for them:




Their owner, Marius was losing money due to cheating from a rival ludus known as Ludus XIII. Marius suspected that Scyllah (the owner of Ludus XIII) was cheating somehow and instructed his gladiators to “desert”, swearing their allegiance to Scyllah and investigating what was going on.


We had a training match to teach the combat mechanics (the rest of the game is fairly straight forward.)

They staged an escape, in which an overly abusive guard was slain rather brutally.

After that, at Ludus XIII, the Lovecraftian tension started to amp up as one of the gladiatrs was bedded by Scyllah, and it only got weirder from there.

The big set piece was the “scale” Hippodrome I build. It was converted for a 16mm chariot scale and based on the measurements of archeological references for Roman Carthage.

The track itself was over 6 feet long and the gladiators have to survive a death race against ghostly Roman Chariots and strange monsters.





Overall, it was a great experience, and the sheer amount of fun really made me want to start planning next years already (which is a good sign!)

I’d been growing burned out, so it was wonderful to feel that sense of love of gaming coming back!




Life Changes / Don’t Panic

I’ve been full-time in the game industry for almost 18 months now. It’s been awesome. I love what I do, I love my friends (I can’t rightly call them fans/customers as we’re all in this together as a community).

But sometimes life throws you a curve-ball, and you have to adjust.

The wife and I have been trying to start a family for a few years now. IVF, hormone treatments, surgeries, the whole thing. No luck. So we are preparing for foster care.

Foster care comes with some life adjustments, primarily kids who will likely have medical needs (both physical and mental/emotional.) There’s resources out there, but they can take time, approvals, or more. If we’re going to take in foster kids, we want to give them the best home possible. While Gallant Knight Games provides the income my wife and I need (in addition to her job), we decided we’d rather have a more secure safety net if we’re going to bring children into our home in the near future.

To this end, I’ve gotten a full-time job back in my old career of data analytics! YAY! It’s a great job with amazing insurance, adoption assistance, parental leave, and great pay. It’s basically the dream considering our situations.

However it does mean some changes for GKG and my game career. Nothing major, but some reorganization.

We have 3 existing projects (3.5 technically) that are outstanding: Cold Shadows, Tiny Dungeon 2e (the .5 in the 3.5), Tiny Wastelands and Monster Hunter International. Cold Shadows is on it’s way for fulfillment. Tiny Dungeon 2e is waiting on two books (one almost done, the other headed for pre-press soon), and then wave two shipping. Tiny Wastelands is moving along on track, as is MHI.

However, a full-time job will slow me down. When I started GKG, I was working full-time outside of creating games, and I’m well aware of the limitations and effort it’ll take as I get back into that.

Tiny Supers was scheduled for a mid-May Kickstarter. We’re pushing it back until the PDFs for all our outstanding commitments at GKG (for our GKG specific products) are out. Once PDFs are out, that means books go to print, and we can start the next project.  (Our partner projects are unaffected by this, as we are not as directly involved in the day to day there.)

Based on our timeline, this will likely push it to late June/early July for a Kickstarter, but we’ll see. We don’t wanna jeopardize our quality or results. Our backers and supporters deserve better for that.

Everything else is spaced out enough that we feel comfortable leaving it on the schedule (such as D6 System 2e in September/October) and we’ve got exciting news coming this month about some new stuff in the works we think you’re going to love!

April TTRPG Maker! #AprilTTRPGMaker Day 1-4


So here we are! I was told I should do this, so here’s day one, two, three and four! Since I’m behind.

1.) Who are you? 

I’m Alan Bahr, founder/owner of Gallant Knight Games, project manager/publisher at Nocturnal Media, and general game enthusiast.

2.) Where ya at?

About an hour north of Salt Lake City, Utah!

3.) How did you get started creating TTRPGs?

I mean, I created my first homebrew within minutes of buying the 3.0 Player’s Handbook (those custom races were awful.) It was a downward and slippery slope from there. Planet Mercenary was my first big entry into the market though. I’ve detailed that a lot.

4.) Describe your work.

Oh man. Generally I sit in a more traditional, rules lite space, where cinematic emulation matters more than crunch, and the game should disappear behind the story. I dunno. What do you think?

Ok! See you tomorrow for more.

Alan’s Unofficial (& Totally Biased) Essential The One Ring RPG Guide

My Pendragon guide was very popular. One of my top three blog posts! So I’m doing more for other RPGs I love.

Thus, I present to you, Alan’s Unofficial (& Totally Biased) Essential The One Ring RPG Book Guide!

I adore The One Ring (also called TOR.) My love of Tolkien runs deep and nostalgic, and TOR captures everything I adore about Tolkien into a game that I consider near perfect. Cubicle 7 crushed it. Their team has made an amazing game that I’m always excited to buy and play.

I’ve divided these into categories, start with Must Buy, and getting all the way to Optionals. You can click on the titles or the pictures for links to the purchase site (all of them on Cubicle 7’s website). I’ll primarily focus on The One Ring Edition (not Adventures in Middle-Earth, but AEM is amazing!) because it’s both readily available in PDF and Print and because I’m wildly biased (again, my favorite Tolkien RPG ever).

Note, just because something isn’t “Must Buy” doesn’t mean I think it’s bad or don’t use it. Often the opposite! But if I am coming into the game, or recommending purchasing orders to folks, this is how I would recommend it.




The Core Rulebook: You have to always start with the corebook! Luckily, this scorebook is a 336 page tome full of gorgeous full-color art, easy to read and learn rules, and everything you need to play!

Bestiary, pregens, a small adventure, storytelling advice. It’s pretty much spot on and perfect!TOR_Dice3


The Dice SetWhile the dice set is not officially required, I really like having the official dice for this game. They make play much smoother, it’s easier to teach, and it generally improves the experience.

I consider them a must buy if you’re going to play TOR. You won’t go wrong.


The Adventurer’s Companion: Us roleplaying fanatics love our options, and The Adventurer’s Guide gives us so many more options. A useful book if you want to expand outside of the core options, this book is a must have at any table.

It also includes some unique Fellowship Phase options, and some extra rules to add a bit more crunch and character development to the very streamlined ruleset.

It also has a catalog of all the Fellowship options up to that point, and it adds Generational Play (a favorite of mine design-wise.) Yes please.


If you want to add more awesome to your already awesome The One Ring game nights, these books will serve you nicely. I have all of them and regularly use them all.

JourneysAndMaps600Journeys & MapsI love this product. Big, folded maps that I can lay on the table and teach folks with, or show their travels and journeys? Yeah, this is a win.

With the beautifully thought-out travel rules in the core, I consider this product just below Must Have, and it’s an absolutely valuable resource at my table.

The only real issue is that future & new maps aren’t/won’t be in it. Here’s hoping for a Journeys & Maps II or similar product.



The Loremaster’s Screen: Well, how are you going to go wrong with a Loremaster’s Screen for TOR? The back end of it is fantastic, with tons of useful rules information and guides to playing.

Plus as a bonus, you get the Lake-Town rules (for playing Men of the Lake) and some new Fellowship options.

Unfortunately (kinda?), those are reprinted in The Adventurer’s Companion, so if you aren’t the sort of LM who wants a screen, you might not find full value in this.  It’s still beautiful, and I still consider it useful, but I don’t consider it a must have.


The Heart of the WildThis book introduces River Hobbits, so it’s pretty much perfect from the get-go!

However, it also adds a lot more detail to the Wilderland (the default locale in the corebook), more enemies, more Cultures, and lots more excellent options, like those above.

However, lots of this book (new cultures, added Fellowship phase options) is repeated in The Adventurer’s Guide, so it’s hard to justify on the table at times (for me.)


So, this is where it gets weird. These options are pretty great! And I love and use them all, but they’re a bit more…precise in what you might want or need.

The books below expand the core experience out of the Wilderlands (the area around The Lonely Mountain) and add new cultures and locales to the game.

However, if you’re not planning to travel to these locations in the game, nor play a culture from there, they are relatively superfluous in your game.

Instead of going over which is in each of these in particular, I’m going to simply show you what they are, and give you a brief overview of how these are all set up.

  • They generally introduce a new culture or two.
  • They introduce specific rules for that culture (such as Horses for Rohan, Dragons & Dwarven Artifacts for Erebor, etc.)
  • They add a new map and new pregenerated characters.




The One Ring has oodles of adventures. Just so many. And they’re all great. But if you don’t do premade adventures, they’re less useful.

So, mileage might vary! Most of the adventure books are tied to one of the locale expansions above (Tales from the Wilderland being tied to the Corebook, and The Darkening of Mirkwood being stand alone.)tfw_fc800.jpg


That art though… *faints*




Book Review: Lullabies for Dungeon Crawlers

6196yU0iPgL.jpgSo here’s a thing I haven’t done in a long time, a book review!

Lullabies for Dungeon Crawlers by M. Todd Gallowglas is a collection of roleplaying game, fantasy, and dungeon crawling inspired poetry. The book is slim, only 60 pages, and laid out in a minimalist manner.

I haven’t done this recently, so let’s get right to the point. I had a great time reading this book.

I’m not a poetry critic, so I can’t get into if Gallowglas’s words fall into some nebulous category of “good” or “bad”, but I can unequivocally state: I had fun, I laughed, I nodded in agreement, and I saw a reflection of love for the hobby and industry where I’ve been living in some part for the last 20 years.

Gallowglas has an insight into the world of tabletop RPGs, and even when he’s poking fun, it’s with a very loving smile towards an old friend, no malice or ill intent.

I should probably close this review, with some sort of RPG based pun, like how this book rolled a natural 20 to win my heart, or Gallowglas clearly didn’t make poetry his dump stat, but that’d be cheesy….

I fully recommend this book if you love tabletop RPGs, and I don’t think you’ll go wrong with it. It’s an excellent, loving and tongue in cheek analysis of our beloved hobby through an unique medium.

You can read the eBook for free on Kindle Unlimited or buy a hardcopy here.

Pendragon Halloween Game Recipes

Cooking with Alan Time!

Some folks asked for the recipes I used for the Pendragon Halloween Game. Here they are!

You’ll have to bear with me, I’ve never written recipes on this blog before.

These recipes are deliberately medieval-styled, but obviously benefit from modern advances. I used this site to do my best to use ingredients that were as authentic as possible. But I didn’t break my back, as I was more concerned about “feel” than accuracy.

The stew (except for potatoes & the Lea and Perrins) is fairly authentic to some historical recipes that have been studied/cataloged. Obviously Guinness wasn’t around in the same way, but one can safely assume some form of beer was. Now, I’m not a scholar, so that information might be outdated, but I did do some research (yay internet and some free books!) to figure out how close I was.

The Berry crumble is a take on a Scandinavian recipe, and is a pretty reasonable extrapolation of a possible dessert (but there’s no evidence they actually ate dessert in the way we consider it now.)

As for the cider, well, that’s just really good. And it has the benefit of being possible. There’s Saxon and other cultural chronicles that indicate cider was drank regularly! So….yeah.

Not accurate, but a lazy effort!

Continue reading

Halloween Game 2017 – Pendragon

This is a really late update, but hey. Here we go.

I ran a Pendragon one-off for my Halloween game in 2017.

Rules Changes for MOAR HORROR

I introduced a new “Curse” mechanic to the players. I had a giant d20 on the table set at ‘1’. Every time a player rolled a result equal to that number on the d20 (or lower) I increased the D20 by 1 and then they had to draw a Curse Card from the Curse Deck.


There were 4 types of curses. They had more “purple” names on the cards, but functionally:

  • Blood Curse (They took more damage and dealt more damage.)
  • Corruption Curse (big penalty on rolls.)
  • Cowardice Curse (had to make severe Valorous checks to do certain things.)
  • Death Curse (only one of these in the deck, but you had to make a Valorous test or take damage for each curse you had, then all the Curses in play shuffled back into the deck.)

The basic setup put them in a cursed faerie forest, trying to rescue their wives, who were kidnapped by an evil Fae-Skeleton.



I made the following meal for them:

  • Guinness Stew consisting of carrots, beef, potatoes, a Guinness broth with a few secret ingredients of my own.
  • Homemade Apple Cider with a spice recipe I learned from Mom.
  • Cloudberry Crumble, a dessert made from green apples, cloudberry jam, brown suger, and flower.

There was various assorted modern drinks too. You can find the recipes here.

We ate on wooden dishes and utensils for extra immersion!






Cloudberry Crumble

The Game

It was a blast! We had a great time, full of awesome moments. All of these players learned Pendragon for the first time (except one.)


In the other room, I’d set up the castle I’d bought and painted along with special minis for them and their knights (plus all the enemies) which ended with a climatic battle, where all the Knights but one died, and the survivor was cursed to be a werewolf (some seriously bad luck.)

It was a blast and I’m already mapping out this years Halloween game.