Friday, September 25, 2020

Under Hill, By Water - a real game that I made

Adventures? No thank you.

The OSR is pretty metal. And metal rules. But it’s fairly far away from the source material of Tolkien and the eclectic, rustic, anachronistic little British gentry that were the center of his stories. 

This is an OSR(ish) game that’s about living in the cozy under-hill homes of the halflings.

What do you do in Under Hill, By Water?

  • This game is about capturing your aunt’s escaped ornery goat. 
  • This game is about growing the biggest turnip for the Harvest Festival.
  • This game is about gathering rare ingredients for a birthday feast. 
  • This game is about being simple and silly. 

What's the game like?

The book is split into three parts:

    • Chapter 1 covers the basics of being a tiny little gentle person. Players use this chapter to create their characters and GMs use this chapter to create the characters’ home village.
    • Chapter 2 covers the rules for ambling around the countryside, getting into nasty business, and cozying up to your fire at the end of the day. GMs and players use this chapter to understand the basic mechanics of the game. 
    • Chapter 3 details the flow of the four seasons and the random events that trouble your peaceful pastoral life. The GM uses this chapter to randomly create scenarios for the players.

    Wait, this sounds familiar

    You might remember that about three years ago I made a series of posts of a LotFP hack about playing a halfling in a peaceful, pastoral, quiet land called the Commonwealth. It was essentially a what-if game about what fantasy RPGs would be about if Bilbo had stuck to his guns and said, "Get out, you stupid dwarves, and take this conjurer of cheap tricks with you!" 

    During quarantine this year, I blew the dust off of this project and gussied it up real nice. It's no longer a hack but a standalone game. Its parts and procedures should be familiar to fans of old-school TTRPGs. It's explicitly a game about the quiet pastoral life of halflings so a lot of fat from dragons and/or dungeons has been trimmed off. There are tons of flavorful randomizers to make sure your halfling's life is quiet, but never boring. Additionally, Evlyn Moreau and Isaac Podyma very generously donated the use of their art to the project. 

    2020 Special

    2020 has put a lot of people in a tough place. Playing games can be a breath of fresh air, but you might be hesitant to spend money on them. If this is the case for you, please feel free to reach out for a complimentary copy.


    If you have enjoyed my content in the past or would like to buy me a beer, I very much hope you'll check it out!


    1. Thanks so much for this.
      Right on time for the Halfling-focussed campaign I'm running for my kids. They are a troop of bounders- so occasional stints beyond The Hedge are possible, rivalry with the sheriffs, keeping out the ruffians and wild things. We've made the hedgehog to be the symbol of the bounders- the prickles in the hedge...

      1. Having hedgehogs be the symbol of the Bounders is PERFECT, I love it. Honestly, "Bounder Squad" should be an "official" variant of the game where people want juuuuust a little more action than pie-making (but not ADVENTURES, mind you).

      2. Absolutely!
        No adventures, thank you- we're halflings!
        I went with three classes for the bounders - Archer, Scout and Grip. Ranged, tracker and staves and wrestling(melee).
        "They're a strange, hard lot, those bounders... Talking with outlandish folk, wearing ironmongery"

    2. Oh, and I was going to say that every session of a Bounders game should feel like an episode of Dad's Army.