Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Here is another portion of the REC.GAMES.FRP.DND FAQ, this time with a list of viewing material. I had even forgotten about some of these myself :)


I4: What are some good movies to watch to get good ideas?

A: As above, it would be suicidal to attempt to list every single fantasy movie ever made. However, what follows is a fairly good listing of the movies most indicative of the genre, as well as a number of turkeys which are fun to watch and get ideas from.

Warning: Some of these movies are intended for children, and a couple are almost guaranteed to rot your brain. I take no responsibility for any damage done to your sanity by watching some of these films.

All of these are available on video.

A: Animated

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Aladdin (1986, 1992A)
Aladdin and His Magic Lamp (1968A, 1976)
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1982) A
Ali Baba and the Forth Thieves (1944)
Archer: The Fugitive From the Empire (1981)
Arkenstone Fantasy (1974)
Army of Darkness (1993)
Arslan Senki (pt. 1-4) (a.k.a. Heroic Legend of Arislan) (1991-93) A
Ator the Fighting Eagle (1983)
Barbarian Queen (1985)
Barbarian Queen II (1992)
The Beastmaster (1982)
The Blade Master (a.k.a. Ator the Invincible) (1984)
Bladestorm (1986)
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (1988)
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989)
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan the Destroyer (1984)
A Connecticut Yankee (1931)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949, 1970A)
The Court Jester (1956)
The Dark Crystal (1983)
Deathstalker (1984)
Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans (1987)
Deathstalker III: The Warriors from Hell (1988)
Deathstalker 4: Clash of the Titans (1991)
Dragon Half (pt. 1-2) (1993) A
The Dragon Who Wasn't (Or Was He?) (1983) A
Dragonslayer (1981)
The Dungeonmaster (1985)
Excalibur (1981)
Faerie Tale Theatre: Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (1984)
Fire and Ice (1983) A
First Knight (1995)
Flesh + Blood (a.k.a. The Rose and the Sword) (1985)
Flesh and Blood (1951)
Flight of Dragons (1982) A
Fury of Hercules (1962)
Gnomes (1980) A
Gnomes Great Adventure (1987) A
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974)
Gor (1988)
The Greenstone (1985)
Grendel, Grendel, Grendel (1982) A
Hamlet (1948, 1990)
Hawk and Castile (19??)
Hawk of Castile (1964)
Hawk the Slayer (1980)
Henry V (1944, 1989)
Highlander (1986)
The Hobbit (1978) A
The Iron Crown (1941)
Iron Warrior (1987)
Ironmaster (1983)
Ivanhoe (1952, 1982)
Jabberwocky (1977)
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
King Arthur, the Young Warlord (1975)
Krull (1983)
Labyrinth (1986)
Ladyhawke (1985)
The Last Unicorn (1982) A
Legend (1986)
Legend of Lyon: Flare, pt. 1-2 (199?) A
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1979) A
Lord of the Rings (1978) A
The Magic Sword (1962)
The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (1952, 1962)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
The Name of the Rose (1986)
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (a.k.a. Warriors of the Wind)
(1985) A
The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1989)
Neverending Story (1984)
Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter (1991)
Neverending Story III (1994)
Ninja Scroll (a.k.a. Jubei's Ninja Chronicles) (19??) A
1001 Arabian Nights (1959) A
Outlaw of Gor (1987)
Petronella (1985)
The Phantom Toolbooth (1969) A
The Princess Bride (1987)
Quest for the Mighty Sword (a.k.a. Ator, l'Invincible) (1990)
Rashomon (1951)
Record of the Lodoss War, pt. 1-13 (199?) A
Red Sonja (1985)
The Return of the King (1980) A
RG Veda, pt. 1-10 (1991-96) A
Robin and Marian (1976)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Rumik World: Fire Tripper (199?) A
Scaramouche (1952)
Seven Magnificent Gladiators (1984)
Seven Samurai (1954)
Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
Shogun Assassin (1980)
Shogun's Ninja (1983)
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) A
Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989)
Sinbad the Sailor (1947)
Son of Ali Baba (1952)
Son of Sinbad (1955)
The Sorceress (1983)
The Sword and the Dragon (1956)
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)
Sword of Doom (1967)
Sword of Heaven (1981)
Sword of Lancelot (1963)
The Thief of Baghdad (1920, 1924, 1940, 1961, 1978)
A Thousand and One Nights (1945)
The Three Musketeers (1933, 1948, 1974, 1994)
Time Bandits (1981)
The Vikings (1958)
Warlock (1991)
The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)
Warriors (1955)
Weathering Continent (1992) A
Willow (1988)
Windaria/Winderia (1992) A
The Wind and the Lion (1975)
Wizards (1977) A
Wizards and Warriors (1983)
Wizards of the Demon Sword (1991)
Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985)
Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989)
Yoma (possibly a.k.a. Curse of the Undead: Yoma) (19??) A
Yotoden (pt. 1-3) (19??) A
Zardoz (1973)

You can use the Internet Movie Database at or the AllMovie Guide at if you wish to search for information on any of these movies, or for any movies not already listed here.

Monday, December 27, 2010


While going through folders of misc text (I am a rabid archivist) I ran across the REC.GAMES.FRP.DND FAQ (Part 7) and found yet another list, this one from the recent past. I am presenting it unaltered so information will be dated but titles and publishers still relevant.


I2: What are some good books to read to get good ideas?

A: An attempt to list every fantasy book would be suicide, plain and simple. However, what follows is a list of some of the books which Basic D&D was based upon*, as well as some others which are regarded as classics or particularly indicative of the genre. In general, if you find that a certain book or series listed here strikes your fancy, chances are that the author has written many, many more fantasy novels, as many of these authors are prolific in the extreme, and listing even the highlights of each would be a task in and of itself.

Basis for D&D:*,**

Anderson, Poul. _Three Hearts and Three Lions_; _The High Crusade_;
_The Broken Sword_
Bellairs, John. _The Face in the Frost_
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. "Pellucidar" series; Mars series; Venus series
Carter, Lin. "World's End" series
de Camp, L. Sprague. _Lest Darkness Fall_; _Fallible Fiend_
de Camp, L. Sprague, and Fletcher Pratt. "Harold Shea" series;
_Carnelian Cube_
Farmer, Philip Jose. "The World of the Tiers" series
Fox, Gardner. "Kothar" series; "Kyrik" series
Howard, Robert E. "Conan" series
Lanier, Sterling. _Hiero's Journey_
Lieber, Fritz. "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series [a.k.a. "Lankhmar" series]
Lovecraft, H.P. "Cthulhu" series
Merritt, A. _Creep, Shadow, Creep_; Moon Pool_; Dwellers in the
Moorcock, Michael. _Stormbringer, Stealer of Souls_; "Hawkmoon" series
Offutt, Andrew J., ed. _Swords Against Darkness III_
Pratt, Fletcher. _Blue Star_
Saberhagen, Fred. _Changeling Earth_
St. Clair, Margaret. _The Shadow People_; _Sign of the Labrys_
Tolkien, J.R.R. _The Hobbit_; "Ring" trilogy
Vance, Jack. _The Eyes of the Overworld_; _The Dying Earth_
Zelazny, Roger. _Jack of Shadows_; "Amber" series

* This list is selected from a list found on p. 224 of the 1st ed. DMG
** According to the authors of the 1st ed. DMG, de Camp & Pratt,
Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, Jack Vance, H.P. Lovecraft, and
A. Merritt had some of the most direct influences on the direction
of the game, and the others had a lesser influence.

Other reading:

[Anonymous.] _Arabian Nights_
[Anonymous.] _Beowulf_
[Anonymous.] _The Song of Roland_
Alexander, Lloyd. _The Book of Three_ and the resultant series
Anthony, Piers. "Xanth" series
Anthony, Piers & Robert Kornwise. _Through the Ice_
Asprin, Robert. "Myth" series
Asprin, Robert, ed. "Thieves' World" series
Babbitt, Lucy Lullyford. _The Oval Amulet_
Barber, Antonia. _Catkin_
Baum, L. Frank. "Oz" books
Bradley, Marion Zimmer. _The Mists of Avalon_, "Darkover" books
Bradley, Marion Zimmer, ed. _Swords & Sorceress_ series
Brooks, Terry. "Shannara" series; "Magic Kingdom of Landover" series
Brothers Grimm. _Grimm's Fairy Tales_ [unabridged preferred]
Burkert, Nancy Ekholm. _Valentine and Orson_
Cherryh, C.J. "Sword of Knowledge" series; "Morgam" books
Cole, Allan & Chris Bunch. _The Far Kingdoms_
Cook, David C. (publisher). _Tullus and the Vandals of the North_
Cook, Glen. "The Black Company" series, "Glittering Stone" trilogy
Cook, Rick. _Wizard's Bane_, _Wizardry Compiled_, _Wizardry Cursed_
Cooper, Louise. "Time Master" trilogy, _Star Ascendant_
Datlow, Ellen, et al., ed. _Year's Best Fantasy and Horror_ series
De Angeli, Marguerite. _The Door in the Wall_
DeLint, Charles. _Into the Green_, _Brian Froud's Faerielands: The
Wild Wood_
Devers, Joe. "Lone Wolf" series ("Determine Your Destiny" books)
Dickinson, Peter. _The Flight of Dragons_
Dickson, Gordon. _The Dragon & The George_
Donaldson, Stephen R. _Daughter of Regals & Other Tales_,
"1st & 2nd Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever" trilogies
Duncan, Dave. _The Hunters' Haunt_, "Man of His Word" series
Eckert, Allan W. _The Dark Green Tunnel_, _The Wand_
Eddings, David. "Belgariad" series; "Mallorean" series; "Elenium"
Ende, Michael. _Die Unendliche Geschichte_ [Neverending Story]
Estes, Rose. _The Children of the Dragon_
Evans, Linda. _Sleipnir_
Feist, Raymond. "The Riftwar Saga" series
Feist, Raymond & Janny Wurst. "The Empire Trilogy"
Foster, Alan Dean. "Spellsinger" series
Foster, Hal. _Prince Valiant_
Forward, Eve. _Villians By Necessity_
Gemmell, David. "Drenai" tales; "Sipstrassi" tales
Gilliam, Richard, et al., ed. _Grails_ series
Grahame, Kenneth. _The Reluctant Dragon_
Gray, Elizabeth. _Adam of the Road_
Gygax, E. Gary. "Gord the Rogue" series
Harrison, Harry. _Warriors of the Way_
Henderson, Jason. _The Iron Thane_
Hildick, E.W. _The Case of the Dragon in Distress_
Jacques, Brian. _Redwall_ series
Jones, Diana Wynne, ed. _Fantasy Stories_
Jones, J.V. _The Baker's Boy_
Jones, Terry. (of Monty Python fame) _Nicobobinus_
Jordan, Robert. "Wheel of Time" series
Kelly, Eric P. _Trumpeter of Krakow_
Knaak, Richard. "Dragon Realm" series
Knight, Max E., ed. _Christian Morgenstern's Galgenlieder_ [Gallows
Koller, Jackie French. _The Dragonling_, _A Dragonling in the Family_
Kurtz, Katherine. "Deryni" series
Lackey, Mercedes. "Magic's Dream" series
________ & Josephine Sherman _Castle of Deception_ ("Bard's Tale")
________ & Ru Emerson. _Fortress of Frost & Fire_ ("Bard's Tale")
________ & Mark Shepherd. _Prison of Souls_ ("Bard's Tale")
Lawhead, Stephen R. "Merlin"; "Taliesin"; "Arthur"
Lewis, C.S. "Narnia" series
Llywelyn, Morgan & Michael Scott. "The Arcana" (trilogy)
McCaffrey, Anne. "Pern" series
Modesitt, L.E., Jr. _The Magic of Recluse_
Moon, Elizabeth. _The Deed of Paksenarrion_
Morgenstern, S. (pseud. for William Goldman). _The Princess Bride_
Newman, Sharan. _Death Comes as Epiphany_, _The Devil's Door_, _The
Wandering Arm_
Niles, Douglas. "The Watershed" trilogy
Niven, Larry. _The Magic Goes Away_
Norman, John. "Gor" series
Paxson, Diana L. & Adrienne Martine-Barnes. "Chronicles of Fionn
Mac Cumhal" series
Peters, Ellis. "Brother Cadfael" series
Pierce, Tamora. _"Song of the Lioness" series, "Immortals" series
Piper, H. Beam. _Lord Kalvern of Otherwhen_
Prachett, Terry. "Discworld" series; _The Color of Magic_
Priess, Bryon, et al., eds. _The Ultimate Dragon_
Pyle, Howard. _Otto of the SIlver Hand_
Rawn, Melanie. "Dragon Prince" trilogy, "Exiles" trilogy
Reichert, Mickey Zucker. "The Last of the Renshai" trilogy; "Bifrost
Guardians" series; "The Renshai Chronicles" series
Roberts, John Maddox. "StormLands" series, "Cingulum" series
Rosenberg, Joel. "Guardians of the Flame" series
Saberhagen, Fred. "Swords" series; "Lost Swords" series
Shea, Michael. _Nifft the Lean_, _In Yana, the Touch of the Undying_
Sherman, Josepha, ed. _Orphans of the Night_
Sim, Dave. _Cerebus_ (1st collection)
Skurzynski, Gloria. _The Minstrel in the Tower_
Smith, Clark Ashton. _The Boiling Point_, _Hyperborea_, _Xiccarph_,
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. _The Changing Maze_
Stirling, S.M. & Holly Lisle, _The Rose Sea_
Swanwick, Michael. _The Iron Dragon's Daughter_
Turtledove, Harry. "Arhel" series
Weber, David. _Oath of Swords_
Wein, Elizabeth E. _The Winter Prince_
Weis, Margaret, & Tracy Hickman. "Darksword" series; "Deathgate"
Wells, Martha. _City of Bones_
Westall, Robert. _The Cats of Seroster_
White, T.H. _The Once and Future King_
Willey, Elizabeth. _A Sorcerer and a Gentleman_
Williams, Tad. "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" trilogy
Wrede, Patricia C. _Dealing with Dragons_, _Calling on Dragons_
Yolen, Jane, _Wren to the Rescue_, _Wren's Quest_
Zelazny, Roger & Thomas T. Thomas. _The Mask of Loki_
[Various.] (Any novel published by TSR)

You may also want to look into the Recommended Fantasy Authors List, located at as well as the Speculative Fiction Authors Bibliography, located or the Alternative Authors list, located at .

To find out more about current and forthcoming books in the fantasy genre, here are a couple of publishers' web pages to look into:
The official page for TOR Books, the SF/Fantasy imprint of Tom Doherty Associates.
The official page for Baen Books, a SF/Fantasy publisher.
The official page for Del Rey Books, the SF/Fantasy imprint of Ballantine Books.
The official page for Spectra, the SF/Fantasy imprint of Bantam Books.

There are many other, non-fiction books out there which tell the history of daily life in the Middle Ages; see the next question or ask your local librarian for more information. However, the following series pretty much sums up everything you ever wanted to know about medieval weapons, armor, and life.

Oakeshott, R. Ewart. _The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armor From
Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry._ Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK;
Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 1994.

________. _A Knight and His Castle._ Chester Springs, PA: Dufour
Editions, 1993; London, Beaver Books, 1976.

________. _The Sword in the Age of Chivalry._ Woodbridge, Suffolk,
UK; Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 1994.

________. _A Knight and His Armor._ Philadelphia: Dufour Editions,
1961; London, Lutterworth Press, 1961.

________. _A Knight and His Horse._ London: Lutterworth Press, 1962;
Philadelphia, PA: Dufour Editions, 1964.

________. _A Knight in Battle._ London: Lutterworth Press, 1971.

________. _A Knight and His Weapons._ Philadelphia, PA: Dufour
Editions, 1964; London: Lutterworth Press, 1966.

If you are looking for information on mythological beasts, a decent series called _Monsters of Mythology_ was put out by Chelsea House Publishers in the mid-80's; each book detailed one monster.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tis The Season

So here I sit, the extended Lord of the Rings inspiring me on during a tough time of year for me.

As the year comes to an end I have made a point of trying to catch up on my favorite blogs and output from others in the hobby.

And now it's time to recognize those that I have the privilege of knowing:

First and always is my wife, who without I would be dead. I'm not kidding and it's no joke. I can not put into words the way I feel about this very unique individual and my love for her will extend well past parting with this mortal coil. A love ghost? Hmmmm...has potential...

To Hank for opening my eyes to the hobby by explaining it to me for the first time in a new light that has lit the path for me ever since.

To Joe, who stood tall before the wagon many times. He too showed me things about gaming that I may never had noticed if not for his particular perspective on the hobby.

To Hugh, for re-igniting the passion in me that I thought had long since flickered out. And yes, I love NORMALITY and challenge all gamers to look that work I want that prequel Hugh! :)

To Matt for taking time to offer help when he is obviously slammed himself for time. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat others, and in this case a near stranger. I hope for continued success for all the NOD projects.

To the OSR community in general who have helped preserve and promote a style of gaming that is near and dear to me and sharing it with others. I can only hope to live up to the standards that have been set by these people. May your work keep growing stronger with each passing day.

To the community members who follow my blogs and a special thanks to Cyclopeatron for his big list of OSR blogs that turned me on to so many others who are rowing in the same direction.

I wish you all peace and the only gift that I have to bestow...that all your dreams come true...

Happy Holidays to one and all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


We can steal the term "neo-retro"; there are parallels in P-n-P gaming and console gaming.

A Farewell to Hexes (an essay on wargames by Greg Costikyan)

A History of Role-Playing (fairly extensive through '99)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

RPG Dumping Ground-The Best Of series

While surfing through my bookmarks I came across a blog I visited frequently and that always had great ideas for FRPG gamers.

Mark Thomas recently stopped posting and under his gracious CC licensing permitted us to reprint posts from the blog.

A big thank you to Mark and his additions to the community and now:

The Shoe of Many Mounts

The Shoe of Many Mounts appears to be a normal-sized horseshoe of polished steel. Any blacksmith, farrier, or experienced horseman can easily determine that the shoe is not made for use, as it has no nail holes. The shoe is lighter than expected as well. There are four runic symbols carved into the top (hoof) side of the Shoe: Swiftness, Strength, Conflict, and Power. On the bottom of the shoe stylized images of the rising and setting sun are carved into each arm of the Shoe, and a sheaf of grain is carved into the toe. Each carving is enameled in gold with a green background. The exact language and form of the runes should be appropriate to the campaign.

Heating or altering the Shoe in any way will destroy the magic it contains. Attempts to identify the magical properties of the item will reveal Great creation and transformation magic. The Shoe radiates neither good nor evil.

To activate the magic of the Shoe, place it on bare soil with the toe facing the rising sun. Spill a handful of grain on the ground nearby and speak one of the runes. The Shoe will transform into a mount depending on the rune spoken:

* Swiftness - A silver riding horse with saddle and tack
* Strength - A brown mule with a pack saddle
* Conflict - A red heavy warhorse in chain barding
* Power - A black draft horse with full harness

The mounts summoned are of Great quality, and requires no food or drink. They will serve the summoner tirelessly until sunset, when they revert to the Shoe of Many Mounts.

Summoned mounts are subject to harm by normal means. If a mount is slain it reverts to the Shoe, and no mount may be summoned for one week.

-Mark A. Thomas -

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


After reading over the post I recently did on influential books within the hobby I realized I was probably as influenced by film as by book and maybe more so. I had always been a bigger fan of Science Fiction than Fantasy and much of my mental imagery in gaming comes from movies.

Films like:

Jason and the Argonauts
Bakshi's Lord of the Rings, Wizards and Fire and Ice,
Fantastic Planet
Clash of the Titans
Conan the Barbarian
Heavy Metal (both film and magazine)
The Beast Master
The Dark Crystal

So feed the need, kick back relax and enjoy a Fantasy film when you have time. We don't always have time to read a novel but we can get our game snack on with a film :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

BUILDING YOUR BOOKSHELF -A Reading List For Inspiration

Reading lists have started cropping up in the blogosphere and I thought I would share an 'origin of the species' list and a newly posted list that shifted my imagination into overdrive

From The AD&D 1e Dungeon Master Guide:


Inspirational Reading:



Brackett, Leigh.

Brown, Fredric.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice. "Pellucidar" Series; Mars Series; Venus Series

Carter, Lin. "World's End'' Series


de Camp & Pratt. "Harold Shea" Series; CARNELIAN CUBE

Derleth, August.

Dunsany, Lord.

Farmer, P. J. "The World of the Tiers" Series; etal.

Fox, Gardner. "Kothar" Series; "Kyrik" Series; et of.

Howard, R. E. "Conan" Series

Lanier, Sterling. HIEROS JOURNEY

Leiber, Fritz. "Fafhrd &Gray Mouser" Series; et of.

Lovecraft, H. P.


Moorcock, Michael. STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; "Hawkmoon"
Norton, Andre.

Offutt, Andrew J., editor SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS Ill.

Pratt, Fletcher, BLUE STAR; etaf.

Saberhagen, Fred. CHANGELING EARTH; etal.


Tolkien, J. R. R. THE HOBBIT; "Ring Trilogy"


Weinbaum, Stanley.

Wellman, Manly Wade.

Williamson, Jack.

Zelazny, Roger. JACK OF SHADOWS; "Amber" Series; et of.

MIRAGE; et of.
Series (esp. the first three books)

The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp &
Pratt, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, H.P. Lovecraft, and A. Merritt; but all of the above authors, as well as many not listed, certainly helped to shape the form of the game. For this reason, and for the hours of reading enjoyment, I heartily recommend the works of these fine authors to you.

And from a recent post at Quickly, Quietly, Carefully

In the original Appendix N, and in personal appendixes N from various OSR blogs, contemporary and modern fantastic literature dominates the reading list. Given the selection you'll find in a bookstore's fantasy section, that's not surprising, but I wonder what an Appendix N would include if limited to pre-1900 literature?

* Arabian Nights
* Beowulf
* Voltaire's Candide
* Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
* Cervantes' Don Quixote
* Stoker's Dracula
* Grimm's Fairy Tales
* Spenser's Faerie Queen
* Goethe's Faust
* Gilgamesh
* Machen's The Great God Pan
* Swift's Gulliver's Travels
* Homer's Iliad
* Dante's Inferno
* Ovid's Metamorphoses
* Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur
* Homer's Odyssey
* Edgar Allan Poe's short stories
* Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen
* The Song of Roland
* Stevenson's Treasure Island

A D&D campaign drawn from this Appendix N would have a distinctive flavor, although you could find a basis for many of the traditional D&D tropes in those pages.

These two lists provide a wealth of material for mining and insight into the hobby and in the ways that you can make your game worlds unique.

And most of the second list are free downloads from Project Gutenberg :)

(My own list would be heavily influenced by Tolkien, Burroughs and Moorcock with a lot of mythological and historical material added, especially Roman, Viking and Celt culture.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SOLO PLAY-Playing alone or 1 on 1-Part 3

Solo gaming comes in all shapes and sizes. Today's shapes look like this :)

Attacks of Opportunity

Which morphed into this:

About How to Host a Dungeon

And if you have a few minutes to kill and want to do some crawling or even show someone new to the hobby how much fun they can have, just start them with this:

Solo Dungeon Bash

And with such a simple form you can re-load this a few times until a bigger challenge is desired.


Stars Without Number Free RPG (for a short time)

I saw this listed over at Miniature Wargaming and had to check it out.

Free as of now. Get it while it's hot :)

Stars Without Number


The year is 3200 and mankind's empire lies in ashes.

The Jump Gates fell six hundred years ago, severing the links between the myriad worlds of the human diaspora.

Now, the long isolation of the Silence falls away as men and women return to the skies above their scattered worlds.

Will you be among them?

Stars Without Number is a retro-inspired science fiction role playing game influenced by the Old School Renaissance. The contents are compatible with most old school clones and are designed to be easily imported to your own favorite gaming system. In addition to a complete pre-made stellar sector, Stars Without Number offers GMs and players the tools to create their own sandbox-style adventures in the far future.

* Classic mechanics adapted for science-fiction adventure in the far future

* Extensive GM support for building adventure-crammed sandbox settings more quickly and easily

* World building resources for creating system-neutral planets and star sectors

* 100 adventure seeds and guidelines for integrating them with the worlds you've made

* Old-school compatible rules for guns, cyberware, starships, and psionics

* Domain rules for experienced characters who want to set up their own colony, psychic academy, mercenary band, or other institution

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BUILDING YOUR BOOKSHELF-Great Ideas For Game Masters

A good GM is always learning-so get your learn on with these:

From the Spirit of the Century (OGL SRD)

Also this thread (I believe listed in a Paleo post but still good for a quick glance for the list:

Gaming Books that Offer Unexpectedly Good GMing Advice?


This may be an unusual entry but I had a hard time coming up with this for myself so I decided to add it:

Nested hex is essential for working out sandbox style campaigns and this is the first I have found for roughing out areas to build later with a pro tool or even just for your own personal campaign. My eyes are going, I may be blind, but it took a bit of searching to find these and time is precious.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Building Your Bookshelf: Dark Sun Flashback

With the renewed interest in the DARK SUN line and a slow release schedule many folks seem to be looking for material. DRAGON, DUNGEON and POLYHEDRON published many articles that may be of use to current players. You might have next weekends game idea sitting right on your own shelf :)

Magazine articles


Dragon #173, p10, The Monstrous Side of the Dark Sun World (September 1991)
Dragon #173, p19, A Letter from the Wanderer (September 1991)
Dragon #173, p24, Random Magic for Organized Minds (September 1991)
Dragon #173, p67, A Little Knowledge (September 1991)
Dragon #174, p50, Novel Ideas (October 1991)
Dragon #177, p52, Sage Advice (January 1992)
Dragon #178, p92, Sage Advice (February 1992)
Dragon #182, p29, Sage Advice (June 1992)
Dragon #184, p88, Novel Ideas (August 1992)
Dragon #185, p10, The Arena Master's Arsenal (September 1992)
Dragon #185, p18, Mastered, Yet Untamed (September 1992)
Dragon #185, p64, Role-playing Reviews (September 1992)
Dragon #185, p76, Sage Advice (September 1992)
Dragon #188, p92, Sage Advice (December 1992)
Dragon #189, p98, Sage Advice (January 1993)
Dragon #190, p72, Novel Ideas (February 1993)
Dragon #191, p78, Sage Advice (March 1993)
Dragon #192, p76, Sage Advice (April 1993)
Dragon #194, p71, Dark Sun Campaign Journal: Slave Hunters and Silt Sailors (June 1993)
Dragon #194, p53, Sage Advice (June 1993)
Dragon #197, p84, Beyond the Dark Horizon (September 1993)
Dragon #197, p90, Ashes to Ashes (September 1993)
Dragon #201, p44, Sage Advice (January 1994)
Dragon #202, p42, The Preserver's Choice (February 1994)
Dragon #202, p67, Sage Advice (February 1994)
Dragon #203, p79, Sage Advice (March 1994)
Dragon #205, p59, Eye of the Monitor (May 1994)
Dragon #205, p71, Sage Advice (May 1994)
Dragon #206, p88, Sage Advice (June 1994)
Dragon #208, p107, Sage Advice (August 1994)
Dragon #209, p66, 1,001 Faces of Undeath (September 1994)
Dragon #210, p48, Dark Sun Campaign Journal: Adventure Seeds for Athas (October 1994)
Dragon #216, p96, Novel Ideas (April 1995)
Dragon #220, p98, Hunt's Ends
Dragon #220, p114, The Game Wizards: A New Age Dawns for the Dark Sun Campaign (August 1995)
Dragon #221, p87, The Ecology of the Crystal Spider (September 1995)
Dragon #226, p89, Sage Advice (February 1996)
Dragon #231, p40, Defilers and Preservers (July 1996)
Dragon #234, p40, Artifacts of Athas (October 1996)
Dragon #236, p18, Elemental Summoning Gone Wild (December 1996)
Dragon Annual #1, p93, Heroes of Athas (December 1996)
Dragon #237, p23, On a Waterless Sea (January 1997)
Dragon Annual #2, p22, Campaign Classics: Mindscapes of Athas and Beyond (December 1997)
Dragon #244, p76, Bazaar of the Bizarre: Miracles of Flight (February 1998)
Dragon #245, p70, Bazaar of the Bizarre: Dwarven Relics (March 1998)
Dragon #255, p88, Bazaar of the Bizarre: Life-Shapes of Athas (January 1999)
Dragon #258, p42, Wizard Societies
Dragon #315, p32, Defilers of Athas (January 2004)
Dragon #319, p18, Dark Sun Setting & Races (May 2004)
Dragon #319, p32, Dark Sun Classes: Heroes of a Dying World (May 2004)
Dragon #319, p38, Dark Sun Equipment and Rules: Tempered by a Burning World (May 2004)
Dragon #339, p22, Dragon Kings (January 2006)
Dragon #351, p32, Athas and the World Serpent Inn (January 2007)
Dragon #364, p66, Campaign Classics: Hazards of Dark Sun (June 2008)
Dragon #387, p72, Ampersand (May 2010)
Dragon #388, p58, Design & Development: Returning to Athas, Part 1 (June 2010)
Dragon #389, p11, Fiction: Blood Oasis (July 2010)
Dragon #389, p86, Design & Development: Returning to Athas, Part 2 (July 2010)
Dragon #390, p5, Dark Sun: Playing Templars (August 2010)
Dragon #390, p16, Dark Sun: Slave Theme (August 2010)
Dragon #390, p94, Design & Development: Psionics, Magic, and Metal (August 2010)
Dragon #391, p5, Monster Hunters of Athas (September 2010)
Dragon #391, p55, Winning Races: Muls Beyond the Desert (September 2010)
Dragon #391, Traveling the Sandswept Roads (September 2010)
Dragon #393, Dark Sun Grandmaster Training (November 2010)


Dungeon #35, p26, The Year of Priest's Defiance (May 1992)
Dungeon #44, p36, Raiders of the Chanth (November 1993)
Dungeon #56, p38, Grave Circumstances (November 1995)
Dungeon #110/Polyhedron #169, p56, Last Stand at Outpost Three (May 2004)
Dungeon #179, p61, Eye on Dark Sun: Sunwarped Flats (June 2010)
Dungeon #180, p68, Eye on Dark Sun: The Dragon's Altar (July 2010)
Dungeon #181, p4, The Vault of Darom Madar (August 2010)
Dungeon #181, p70, Eye on Dark Sun: Mar Juk-Adan, Dune Trader (August 2010)
Dungeon #182, p62, Eye on Dark Sun: The Broken Builders (September 2010)
Dungeon #183, p4, Revenge of the Marauders (October 2010)
Dungeon #183, p53, Eye on Dark Sun: Magma Elementals (October 2010)
Dungeon #183, October Adventure Hooks: Doing Your Groundwork (October 2010)
Dungeon #184, Eye on Dark Sun: Silt Elementals (November 2010)


Polyhedron #59, p16, A New World to Conquer (May 1991)
Polyhedron #63, p2, Bookwyrms (September 1991)
Polyhedron #74, p2, Geran (August 1992)
Polyhedron #75, p20, Thri-kreen: Language of the Mantis Warriors (September 1992)
Polyhedron #79, p3, Take a Byte (January 1993)
Polyhedron #80, p2, Take a Byte (February 1993)
Polyhedron #80, p9, Guarded Wagon (February 1993)
Polyhedron #80, p15, Dark Sun Player Characters (February 1993)
Polyhedron #80, p19, Dark Sun World Monsters (February 1993)
Polyhedron #86, p31, Take a Byte (August 1993)
Polyhedron #87, p26, Bartering Made Easy (September 1993)
Polyhedron #99, p5, Coin Collecting Under Athas's Hot Sun (September 1994)
Polyhedron #99, p8, New Gladiator Weapons (September 1994)
Polyhedron #99, p12, The Enemy of My Enemy (September 1994)
Polyhedron #99, p19, Templars of the Tyr Region (September 1994)
Polyhedron #100, p20, Kre'ketrac (October 1994)
Polyhedron #134, p13, Intrigue in Raam (January 1999)
Dungeon #110/Polyhedron #169, p58, The Dark Sun DM's Guide (May 2004)
Dungeon #110/Polyhedron #169, p82, Dark Sun Monsters, Part One (May 2004)
Dungeon #111/Polyhedron #170, p88, Dark Sun Monsters, Part Two (June 2004)

(EDIT: Never let me blog before that first cup of coffee is finished :)

I missed some things:

Dragon #364, p66, Campaign Classics: Hazards of Dark Sun (June 2008)
Dragon #388, p58, Design & Development: Dark Sun (June 2010)
Dragon #389, p11, Fiction: Blood Oasis (July 2010)
Dragon #389, p86, Design & Development: Dark Sun (July 2010)
Dragon #390, p5, Dark Sun: Playing Templars (August 2010)
Dragon #390, p16, Dark Sun: Slave Theme (August 2010)
Dragon #390, p94, Design & Development: Dark Sun (August 2010)

Dungeon #179, p61, Eye on Dark Sun (June 2010)
Dungeon #180, p68, Eye on Dark Sun (July 2010)
Dungeon #181, p4, The Vault of Darom Madar (August 2010)
Dungeon #181, p70, Eye on Dark Sun (August 2010)

And regarding comics, IDW's Dungeons & Dragons #0 (August 2010) includes a short Dark Sun comic which is basically the prequel for next year's series.

and the link to the thread at Enworld that yielded this bounty:

where there is a TON of material...apologies to the original compiler of this material )

If I missed something please add it in comments and I hope this gives your session a boost. Now if we can just get WotC to speed up those releases. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

SOLO PLAY-Playing alone or 1 on 1-Part 2


I decided to start this off with the a nod to the origin of Vancian magic in D&D. It’s an online pick-a-path so not to involved but a chance to get your solo feet wet :)

Lord of the Rings Solo Books

(From the website)

Tolkien Quest Solo Game Books - solo adventure paperback books, but this range was withdrawn due to a copyright dispute (and, according to Pete Fenlon, was a major contribution to the financial troubles of ICE culminating in their loss of the MERP license)

• Night of the Nazg├╗l (1985, #101)
• The Legend of Weathertop (1985)
• Rescue In Mirkwood (1986) (Labeled as Middle-earth Quest)

I didn’t even know these existed until I started researching the solo game topic for this series. I would say these are a bit on the collectible side, but, again, solo Lord of the Rings…awesome.

(ICE also did a few other non-MERP titles: )

• Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries line
• Murder at the Diogenes Club (1987)

• Narnia Solo Games line
• Return to Deathwater (1988)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

From Aeons & Augauries-PARS FORTUNA:Basic- my first look

JDJarvis over at Aeons & Augauries has posted a very favorable review of PARS FORTUNA:Basic (beat me to it :)the sneak peak of the new rpg from John M. Stater, of The Land of Nod.

Check out the review here and download the sneak here.

And I have mentioned before but will again for continuities sake check out NOD #1 E-Book :

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY! In this first issue of NOD, you can explore the Wyvern Coast, a sandbox hexcrawl with over 190 encounters. There are six new classes, three new races, a random village generator, a dozen new deities, new monsters, and more! Compatible with most Old School game systems. Over 700 downloads so far - what have you been waiting for!?

Cracking good stuff! :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hip Deep in the Arcane and the Divine

How time flies when you are buried under notes and keyboards. You lose track of time (trust me, I have looked up after a furious keyboard session only to notice it was the time I should be waking up.

But all is can be expected :)

The spell system that I have had to all but design from scratch (yes, I am legally insane at this point) is FINALLY coming together, but since it is both radically different and the key element in the system I'm working on it is crucial that I get it right. More notes on that over at Forsaken Souls as things develop...

Meanwhile, I am working on the next series of posts (spent 2 days doing back ups and finding all my notes) and hope to have those up shortly. I had hoped for today, but it was a really really bad day. Now I am just tired and not tired and pissed off. :)

Well, maybe still a little...:)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Get It While It's Hot-FREE Classic CT-ST-Starter Traveller

DriveThru RPG is giving away the CT-ST-Starter Traveller (all 3 volumes) just in time for Christmas.

And Thanks to Joseph Bloch for this bit of advice:

To those looking for the "missing" parts of this download, go to "My Account" in the upper right corner of the screen, and then select this particular free order. You'll see the other two downloads there, waiting for your pleasure.

The orders don't have names but the most recent date at the top of the list will get you to the screen to get vol 2-Charts and vol 3-Adventures.

Lots of play goodness here to keep you busy and build upon :)


Magazines for Give-Away

Over at Carto Cacography Nick is thinning out his magazine collection. A prime item he is giving away is his collection of OMNI magazine.

I was first in line for these lost tomes but then realized I had the same issues already occupying a shelf.

So if you are a fan of OMNI magazine (the WIRED magazine of its day) then click the above link for more info.

And he has other items for give away as well :)

SOLO PLAY-Playing alone or 1 on 1-Part 1

When you have the urge that you just can't purge, when all have moved away or maybe just yourself. Or maybe it's just the off time.

Solo gaming, misunderstood since its beginning, is an art unto itself that is just as creative and engaging as full party gaming.

There's also the 1 on 1 adventures where a single player matches wits against the Game Master's imagination, encountering all manner of man and beast and delving deep into arcane places and deep dark forests to gain his (or her) fame and fortune.

And let's not forget game books. From CREATE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE to the more complicated material they form an important link in gaming history that reverberates down to this day.

Too long these methods of play have been seen as a lesser form of game play. But upon further examination one can see a whole other aspect that gaming can bring even under limited circumstances.

This series will cover material you might need for those sessions. From the granddaddy of them all,Tunnels & Trolls, to Indie scene hack fests I hope to steer you to gaming gold (both free of charge and those worth paying for) that eases the urge or even opens whole new portals to the fun and excitement of the rpg and adventure gaming.

Please feel free to point me in the direction of anything I'm missing. I would love to see as much of this posted as possible. And maybe have to...uhh...sample...some myself :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


There is just WAY to much goodness being posted right now. What a great time to be a gamer :)

So, just so you can stay up late reading until YOUR eyes bleed, here's some picks from:

Swords and Planets: a Review of Red Planet RPG

Pars Fortuna Complete Rules by John Stater. Available in Print for $15.00 and in PDF for $7.00. 120 pages. Visit the author at The Land of Nod, for more info on Pars Fortuna and a free copy of the Basic Rules PDF.

Zachary of RPG Blog II has a review of Mini-Six: Bare Bones Edition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Septimus Goes Free

Ok, so I totally missed this one (even in my post over at The Dragon's Eye) so I thought I should take a minute and post about Septimus. Most d6 fans know the checkered history of this setting and now released for free is well worth a look:


As one galactic empire dies, billion of people from thousands of worlds flood to their last great hope -- Septimus.

Bill Coffin's Septimus sets the players inside a Dyson Sphere made from an unknown and unknowable alien technology. Faction pitted against faction to control the sphere and the amazing technology therein -- a technology so great that no weakness can be eliminated and even death is not final. But, even as the obsessed techno-cult, the Sindivar Extant seeks to build a Utopia around Septimus' many nanofoundries, a dark secret spreads. The same technology that is a boon to so many billions of people contains a flaw, a flaw that may have spelled doom to the great originators, a flaw that threatens to crush Septimus and its inhabitants, even before the greatest of secrets yet remains undiscovered

Whether you fight alongside the Extant and the Cadre, or whether you join one of the many factions seeking to wrestle power and wealth from the Cult, you are sure to find a game that is right for you. This 360+ page RPG comes packed with everything you need for many hundreds of hours of gaming. This books needs no additional material to play. It comes with the OpenD6 core rules, huge amounts of setting information, complete with area maps, plus the most exhaustive character generation and character option information ever in a single D6 System book.

Inspired by, and meant to capture all the fun of the Classic Star Wars roleplaying game by West End Games, this free-wheeling Space Opera also takes your science fiction fun to the next level. More mature and multi-tiered than Star Wars D6, Septimus includes elements of Cyberpunk, Transhumanism, Light Mecha, all the way to fantasy elements. Septimus' vast territory (only about 1 or 2% of which has been mapped) means an almost unlimited field to play in.

You can find it here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Billiam Babble-Inked Adventures

Billiam Babble may have lost out on a free book giveaway over at The Realm of Zhu to me the other day but I will still make his effort worthwhile.

Billiam is the headmaster of Inked Adventures (Hand drawn modular dungeon sections) where he both sells and gives away a very unique quality product. Take a look at his designs and you may be inspired to new adventures.:)

He is also just getting his fledgling blog off the starting blocks, so check in as it progresses.

Update on Jim Ward

Tim Brannan at The Other Side Blog has brought this to our attention:

Update on Jim Ward

Many thanks to Tim for keeping us in the loop on this as our thoughts go out to Jim and his family during this trying time.


A bit more on kids and role-playing from the observational side:

Teaching Kids to Roleplay is Only Natural

A Starter Guide to Roleplaying with Kids

Kids and Gaming

When we last left our heroes . . . Psychology Meets D & D

Friday, November 19, 2010

addendum: Let's Go Way Back Mr. Peabody-Back To The Future

I hadn't seen this excellent article from neogrognard when I wrote my post. For an even better take than my own check out:


Designed by Jim Dunnigan & Tom Shaw
Development by Don Greenwood

Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Then and Now-Clowns & Circuses

I was flipping through old issues of White Dwarf last night when I came to a realization. When I all but stopped gaming in the mid '80's it wasn't because the market had turned just as I opened a shop and nearly ruined me financially.

And it wasn't because the Brits didn't have their act together. These days you see the Fiend Folio being called 'a waste of paper' and 'toilet paper', that the material coming from White Dwarf and Games Workshop weren't a good 'fit'.

I am on the exact opposite end of that opinion. Fiend Folio was the one book I would keep out of all of them, along with the DMG and PHB, if forced to choose only 3.

The thing that really hit me last night was the issue of WD that contained the Necromancer. During the same time period on the U.S. side Dragon magazine was covering 0-level cantrips, thief-acrobats, jesters. It felt like Dungeons and Dragons was being turned into Clowns and Circuses.

I recall the old Men Without Hats video for their song Safety Dance and remembered the little guy running along with the singer. THAT was what I felt D&D was becoming.

Our gaming had always been on the dark side. High mountain country, cold that could kill you from exposure, mad wizards concocting the destruction of...something...all the time, old fallen empires, dungeons loaded with long lost treasures and monsters so lethal you dare not breathe the same air.

And then all of a sudden we're at the Renaissance Fair? I don't think so.

I have great respect for the forefathers of this hobby. Without them we have nothing. But I felt Gygax was trying to turn D&D into something else. Was it pressure from parents because more young people were playing? Was he just tired of the same crawls? Did he want to create something completely new, but was forced to shim it into D&D because that was the money vehicle?

I have yet to get a clear fix on that part. I just know that very little was making sense that was being proposed (of course with exceptions-the barbarian was a good idea, but felt like it needed its own Conan maybe, but that didn't seem to work out to well either).

I'm enjoying watching various ongoing projects that are trying to create an AD&D2e based on the direction that Gygax seemed to be going, but I think I've eaten enough drumsticks and watched enough jugglers and clowns.

No offense to those working these projects. As an experiment it is fascinating, but really brings back bad memories of the evolution of the system and what would lead to the modern versions of the game and why I have little interest in it (but we did get the d20/OGL out of it, so it's not all bad. :)

Is It Safe To Play?

Which Would You Rather Play?


Or This

Yeah...that's what I thought too :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Let me start with this is not a pissing contest. It’s not meant to drive people to buy things. This is just a list of suggestions of material that, directly or indirectly, have been a part of gaming from the beginning.

I will be listing not only the well known, like the white box or brown box, but the other gaming aids, books that influenced the original D&D creators and links to articles on the web that cast light on the many aspects of the hobby that many of us grew up with and for those just trying out the material for the first time.

You don’t have to buy any particular version of anything. Rather than buy a book printed in the early ‘70s and high priced as a collectible buy a recent edition that may have additional content and save money for another item. Or even pdfs. Many older sources are freely available on the web and can be downloaded from Gutenberg and other classic fiction and non-fiction books from Lord Dunsany, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs to historical material, ancient maps and more. The bookshelf can be virtual as well as physical.

The hobby grew itself in much the same manner until the mid-late ‘80’s when the trouble began between the ‘hobby’ and the ‘industry’, so there will not be much in the way of historical material covered past the end of the ‘80s, only newly created material (house rules, conversion notes, etc).

I hope this helps and if I miss something or have been misinformed about something please leave a comment.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Let's Go Way Back Mr. Peabody-Back To The Future

The terrain beyond the immediate surroundings of the dungeon area should be unknown to all but the referee. Off-hand adventures in the wilderness are made on the OUTDOOR SURVIVAL playing board (explained below). Exploratory journeys, such as expeditions to find land suitable for a castle or in search of some legendary treasure are handled in an entirely different manner.

And so begins the first instance I know of of 'kit bashing' an rpg game system, and the original at that. The product mentioned above is this:


Designed by Jim Dunnigan & Tom Shaw
Development by Don Greenwood

This game produced by Avalon hill was mentioned as “recommended equipment” in the original Dungeons & Dragons boxed set. Two of the three books in the set reference this game as needed for wilderness encounters (see picture below). The game was the best-selling title in Avalon Hill's history. The connection to D&D being a factor most likely. Outdoor Survival was first sold in 1972 and continued to be produced through 1985. It was often sold in National Park gift shops as well as the hobby stores.

Outdoor Survival is a game of wilderness survival skills. Lost and alone, you must survive and escape all that Mother Nature has to offer. With 5 different scenarios from inexperienced hikers lost in the woods to a rescue party trying to find a lost person. You will have to deal with animals, weather, finding food, water, and surviving sickness to prevail.

The Boxed set contains the following:

• two-sided sheet, digest-sized, titled "OUTDOOR SURVIVAL / Get playing QUICKLY -- read this card FIRST"

• two-sided sheet (folded into fourths, to produce a digest-sized object), titled "Rules of Play / OUTDOOR SURVIVAL"

• 23-page digest-sized booklet, titled "a primer about WILDERNESS SKILLS for players of the game -- OUTDOOR SURVIVAL"

• four roughly digest-sized, identical yellow sheets titled "Life Level Index Chart". They are one-sided (the backs are blank),

• set of five double-sided, digest-sized sheets. Each contains a "scenario", 1 through 5, titled "Lost", "Survival", "Search", "Rescue", and "Pursue"

• roughly 9"x11", one-sided, glossy, full-color sheet, titled "MAP BOARD MOVEMENT CHART"

• large, fold-out, thick cardboard map

• heavy-stock paper sheet holding eight sets of punch-out counters

• one six sided dice is required to play

This game is great in and of itself and for anyone who hasn't heard of it it makes a nice addition to an OD&D collection for a taste of how gaming was borrowing in the beginnings from its surroundings.

This was how I learned to game...borrow bits and pieces from everywhere-I remember even having an old style sand 3 minute egg time (a miniature hour glass) that I would drop in the middle of the table when a major time sensitive action would occur (getting everybody to climb up to a window to escape an Orc raiding party was an excellent use for it).

Do you know of any items like this, sanctioned or otherwise, that were used in the early days or that you use even now? Post them in the comments.

(Edit: I'm going to go ahead and include this in my BUILDING YOUR BOOKSHELF series. It just seemed a natural. :)

Jim Ward Needs Our Help

It's been a long day so I'm going to cheat here.

Check here and here for ways to help rpg pioneer Jim Ward and his family with medical expenses.

Sorry for the brevity but my eyes are bleeding and I just found this out.

My thoughts go out to Jim and his family. Without these guys the world would be a lot less interesting place to live.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I ran across Matt Stater’s LAND OF NOD blog while searching for OSR material and must say that if all of his work is as good as the first issue of NOD then Matt is assured a steady readership.

From its clean layout to the professionalism of the writing Matt has assembled an excellent resource for use with just about any Old School FRPG.

The bulk of this issue is composed of a sandbox hex crawl entitled THE WYVERN COAST. And although it is very much its own setting my first thoughts were of a friend and fellow DM picking up one of the early Harn packs. It has that ‘this is familiar yet I’ve not seen this before’ feel (always good in a hobby where so much has already been done).

(From his storefront)

In this first issue of NOD, you can explore the Wyvern Coast, a sandbox hexcrawl with over 190 encounters. There are six new classes, three new races, a random village generator, a dozen new deities, new monsters, and more! Compatible with most Old School game systems.

This first issue is available for free download:

The current issue is #4 with #5 not far behind.

Issues 2-4 are available at in both print and e-book editions.

I highly recommend checking out the first issue and then visiting his blog and storefront for more gaming goodness.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

OSR News

What Are the Attributes of an Old-school Game?

Countdown to Game Time
Defining "Old School Attributes." You Can't.

Lord of the Green Dragons
EDITORIAL: Innovation Versus the Merry-Go-Round of the Mind

Quickly, Quietly, Carefully
Classics Appendix N

Paul's Blog
OSR Presence Grows at Conventions


Here's four games for the younger player that are best of all, free :)


The fun part about The Game of Hats is that the players bring hats to the table. Everyone starts with three hats and earn more through play. They place points in their Hats, add use a Hat's powers by adopting its persona. Very simple system using, uh, hats. PDF: Free.


Play a former clown who is now employed as a special kind of police officer. Your beat is the quaint neighborhood of Palookaville (a.k.a. Clown Town), an area almost entirely populated by Clowns, Mimes and other circus performers. Very simple system using boxes of animal crackers, glasses of milk, rubber bands, six-sided dice, clown makeup and clothing, noisemakers, balloons and other fun stuff. Online (HTML): Free.


Play superpowered animals like Wonderdog, Gleek and Krypto- – regular animals with amazing super powers. Very simple system using six-sided dice and a bag of "doggie treats", called Stinky Treats during play. You will be eating these, so you may substitute something else that tastes a little off, like garlic-stuffed olives or plain rye crackers. Online (HTML): Free.


You play yourself and your malicious shadow; a game based on narration – and the urge children have to get themselves in trouble. Your shadow is an invisible person or monster who always wants you to get in trouble. The game always starts with the Players' Characters asleep somewhere; they are all then startled by a sound. What happens after that is up to the Players, and helped along by the GM. Very simple system using six-sided dice and tokens. Online (HTML or PDF): Free.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


This time we take a look at a father’s blog post about playing his first game of D&D with his daughter

Then The Dragonkin Podcast, a podcast specifically for and about young gamers. Host Sam Chupp, author of Changeling as well as many other games and publications, talks with young gamers and to adults about how to encourage and play with young people.

Also Marvel Super Heroes (Classic) for parents who might be interested in a super heroes game instead of a fantasy style game to start with.

My Daughter Just Played Her First D&D Game.


Marvel Super Heroes (Classic)

I hope these prove useful.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Those 3 little letters seem to have started a firestorm. I have never seen so much written about something as simple as a game you choose to play. Let's look at it another way:

"I play Chutes and Ladders"

"Man, that is so lame, how can you play that old piece of crap. Get with the program. Monopoly is clearly the superior game. Get your head out of your ass"' it just me or is that stupid.

It has gotten to the point where you can't have an open conversation anymore about gaming without a fist fight breaking out over what somebody else plays.

I've argued the points myself and it's just a waste of breath. People are going to play what they want. Stop harassing each other over it.

I'm old school but that's just me. Doesn't mean I hate someone for playing newer games. And when I say old school it doesn't mean everything from the old days was my cup of tea either. I have never cared for d100 games or skills based games. I came from the mash up of OD&D / AD&D 1e and will always prefer that form of play.

And now with the edition wars it just seems that gaming is tearing itself apart. Much talk of the 'industry' being in trouble is easy to see when they keep trying to treat tabletop like pc/console gaming. I don't need 4 Player Handbooks and then a new version every few years.

Rules light is the way to the future, It's just the world we live in. When you look back even to gaming history it wasn't the most rules heavy system that won out but the one that could be played with the least amount of rules. And that was before the internet and acceleration syndrome.

A lesson WotC should learn before it's too late.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Black Blade News

Problems With Encounter Tables

An interview with David Wesely

Gaming Groups: Away From The Gaming Table


Ok, sorry for the slack production of late. Between trying to get a first draft together of Forsaken Souls, preparing a transcript on an online version of Normality (which I think will be dubbed Normality 2.0-TrollHunter) and extricating butt sore fanboys out of my ass with my +5 keyboard of fanboy slaying it's been crazy. And my cat won't let me sleep...being a bratty brat is not a good path to the love little one :).

Anyway, working on finishing a string of posts then it'll be doctor bound this week.

Hold on.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Something I picked up from Rob MacDougall (who in turn picked it up from Snarkmarket) I thought was a good idea because we can't always catch everything when it's fresh.

Greyhawk Grognard: AD&D's Lost Second Edition

GROGNARDIA: Gygax on Tolkien (Again)

Old School, New School and Gygaxian Naturalism (or not)

Running a D&D Campaign in 1974
(be certain and get the first part here)

OD&DITIES fanzine issue archive
, published and reproduced here by permission from R.E.B. Tongue

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Because there are so many excellent blogs out there I though I would drop in an occasional 6 pack of ones that stood out to me. A sampler, if you will, of all that is happening in the rpg blogosphere.

So, without further ado:

How D&D Essentials Changed 4E...forever!

Gaming Groups: Away From The Gaming Table...

WotC's D&D Red Box Commercial Rips Off Dungeon Majesty

(I liked the comments section on the above post-some good points from all sides)

Freeport + Pirates of the Spanish Main

Tolkiens & Dragons

Tolkein and D&D

Friday, October 8, 2010

ROLEPLAYING FOR KIDS-Part 2-Wizards of the Coast’s Introduction

From the current home of Dungeons & Dragons comes this free starter for young people.

(From the download page)

Dungeons & Dragons for ages 6 and up - To help promote their upcoming novel Monster Slayers, Wizards of the Coast has put together Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod, a stripped-down version of Dungeons & Dragons that's fast, fun, and playable by adventurers as young as six. Best of all, it's completely free!

Reviews have been mixed but being free it gives someone a chance to see what all is available-and it is free :)

Monday, October 4, 2010


A lot is being made of whether or not the OSR is having any kind of economic impact on the industry as a whole. Many think it to be a niche market in a niche market. That the majors are where all the purchasing is going on and that the OSR has no financial future.

I will submit only one comment on that statement:

Do you think that Wizards would take the time and effort to issue what they have described as a 'retro' product, placed that product in a red box and put the original cover to that red box on its front if they didn't feel they were losing market share to the OSR and independent gaming in general?

Each OSR publisher on its own may be only selling a few hundred copies of any given item, but add all that up and you find numbers that are enough to scare the CEO in his sleep.

Keep in mind the heyday of selling 150,000 units are long past in the industry. Now 5,000-15,000 is more realistic. And added together the OSR / Independent scene starts to look awfully close in the rear view mirror.

The OSR represents the hydra to me. There are many games, using different systems to accomplish the same thing-to bring back a form of gaming that doesn't feel like you have signed up for a calculus class that plays like wargame light.

Don't get me wrong. I have no burning desire to destroy any particular version of any game. But when I think role playing I think AD&D. That was my game and the one played the most with my friends. Sure, some Ringworld and Twilight:2000 and others slipped in. But it was AD&D where we spent our time, money and imaginations. It's different for everyone, but it unites a seemingly disconnected group.

Myself, I'm becoming a bigger Microlite fan by the day. The sheer variety of materials and what can be done with it is astonishing. Look at a M20 compilation sometime and see what I mean. And the system isn't foreign to younger players while allowing the flexibility to create anything for the older players. 2 pages of basic rules. Now THAT is tight design. A fully fleshed out game built on the system can easily fit in 32 pages and that includes everything and details. That's impressive. Others are doing fine work too and I look forward to spotlighting all of the work over at The Dragon's Eye as I wind my way through the multi-layered path of Old School and OSR gaming.

So pick a rule set, grab some dice, a few friends and have fun. Because if you're not having fun you're not doing it right. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


More and more the question of children playing rpgs and whether it is a good idea or not keeps landing on the table. In the early days of gaming it was thought that somehow playing these games would encourage children to believe in alternate worlds and religions and do psychological damage or worse. Religious organizations saw the games as a straight path to Hell, believing the games encouraged Satan worship and demonology (so much so that TSR removed many references in their product as an appeasement to parents and groups alike).

Now, 30 years after the hobby began, a re-evaluation has taken place. The positive aspects of role-playing have come to light, so much so that there is now a sizable rpg that is Christian based, as parents are now encouraged to bring children into the rpg hobby.

This series will cover opinion pieces and resources for parents, schools and church's to get the most from this playground of the imagination. I gladly solicit any input or feedback and will try to answer to any concerns one might have. My position is that I believe there is a definite need for children to play 'make believe' and that given the proper tools it can be a healthy and rewarding experience. I hope this series is helpful in promoting the hobby in a positive way and if not providing all the answers will help one learn where to look.

Here's a good place to start:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Heroscape RPG

Heroscape RPG is a modification to Heroscape that describes the rules to play a rather old-fashioned RPG with Heroscape models in Heroscape landscape. Each player acts with a single hero; monsters are being played by the gamemaster.
As the heroes explore the Heroscape world they gain experience, skills and items, while new terrain is being added during gameplay according to the Terrain Generator rules.

Thought this might interest folks. I always knew those Master sets I have in the closet would be useful again someday :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


It seems today that tiles and minis are all the rage.

I find myself designing the way I have always designed. And that is without a thought to the use of miniatures. During the ‘80’s when I first played the longest sessions of my life it came down to buying miniatures and devoting the time to at least ‘antique’ the pewter figures (involving a watered down black paint that gave a nice depth to the detail of the figure and didn’t take as long as a full color job) or spend the time and money on resource items.

Needless to say that chess pieces and pennies saw a lot of use as Player Character and Orc stand-ins.

We only ever seemed to truly need them when throwing down in some major combat with a near army size opponent.

I will however be directing those who like that aspect of the game to the resources I have located online (mostly free for download and printing in the case of the paper minis) whenever possible.

Hope you find them where did those links go?...:)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eternal Keep-News of the old :)

Yes, I've done it again :)

will bring you old school goodness from the blogsophere updated as it arrives. For those familiar with this gadget it will place the latest news at the top from the listed sites.

Hope you have a good read!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ken St. Andre responds to James Shipman and news of Ken's retirement

Mike Monaco at Swords & Dorkery has posted a very good summation piece on Ken's retirement and a link over to the latest on the Shipman/Outlaw Press fiasco at Tim Brannan's The Other Side and I wanted to spread this message from Ken as far as possible.

An open letter to James Shipman from Ken St. Andre:


I received your package yesterday with some surprise. Received six copies of the revised Gristlegrim Dungeon. This dismays me, as I told you to quit publishing it back in January of this year when I broke with you. If this parcel was an attempt at a reconciliation between us, then I appreciate the effort you took, but I reject it. Our friendship and partnership is broken and done forever. I do not wish to collaborate on Gristlegrim or any other project with you. Not now! Not ever again! You had no right to add your material to my work. You have no right to continue publishing and selling it. Please stop!

James, you no longer have any right to publish or sell my works. We have no written contracts. We have no formal accounting of royalties. Your habit of sending money and or copies of the items is no longer good enough. Any informal agreements we may have made in 2009 and earlier are terminated on my side of the deal. I no longer wish to associate with you, either professionally or informally.

Find some other outlet for your creativity. Leave me, and leave Tunnels and Trolls, alone. I am rejecting any further association with you.

I hope this is clearly understood. Do not publish anything with my name on it as author. Do not presume to collaborate with me on my projects. Do not keep attempting to infiltrate under false names--you are banned and unwelcome on that site. Do not attempt to rewrite the history of Tunnels and Trolls on Wikipedia or any other online sources. Do not send me money. Do not send me product. I do not want it from you. However, I am under no legal obligation to send back things that arrive unsolicited in the mail. I won't waste the money or the effort to send them back. I am not interested in theatrical gestures. I simply wish to terminate our association and to move on with other things in life.

I hereby reclaim my rights to anything I ever gave you to publish. In particular, I assert my right to the novel Griffin Feathers which consists entirely of my own work with some input in the short sections of the book from the members of Trollhalla.

I am forwarding the "royalties" that you sent me to Jeff Freels, the artist whose work you have re-used to illustrate this version of Gristlegrim. He deserves compensation for his work.

James, I am not angry at you, and I do not hate you. I simply will not associate with you ever again. For several years we were, I thought, very good friends. Outlaw Press did a lot for Tunnels and Trolls. You know why that time has ended. Let it go. Move on.

James, I will be publishing this letter in open forums on the internet, so that all the world can see how I feel, and how I react to what I can only believe are attempts to manipulate me and to gain control of Tunnels and Trolls. If you have no ulterior intentions, then forgive me for being suspicious, but I no longer feel that I can trust you.

James, you have your own unique style of creativity. Please go and do your own thing, and stop messing with me and with Tunnels and Trolls.

Ken St. Andre

He also posted it over on the Big Purple.

I will be posting guidelines on how to avoid bogus product and and keeping T&T true to its roots asap.

Stand By....

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Once and Future Game. Old Guard Gaming isn't going anywhere.-(Old Guard Gaming Accoutrements)

Just thought this hit the spot today. Click for the whole shebang :)

The Once and Future Game. Old Guard Gaming isn't going anywhere.

I know a lot of old gamers worry about the future of The Game, but I’m confident it’s not going to die off anytime soon.

When we’re discussing the future of Old Guard gaming, I think we’re discussing three different, but closely related things. The future of Dungeons & Dragons, (OD&D, AD&D, and the Retro-clones), the future of Old School gaming style and philosophy, and also the future of table top Role Playing Games themselves.

Each of these is seen as under threat from the same sources. You’ve got computer role playing games and shooters, the merchandising mentality that tries to insert the need for continual purchases of add-ons like cards, minis, splatbooks and new editions, which fractures the hobby and creates factions, and the disinterest of the kids who are creating their own diceless and freeform types of role playing over the internet. I think each of these things will have its day, but I don’t think any of them are a lasting threat to Old Guard D&D, or table top role playing in general.

This is why.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Words To Live By

While engaged in my daily studies I ran across this bit of simple wisdom and under fair use wish to share:















Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Original LoreMasters

This article is not meant to infringe upon an IP that may currently exist using the phrase.

That out of the way, a seldom seen but welcome to any game session in the early '80's was the role of Lore Master. Now more often referred to as an assistant GM, the Lore Master was a walking organic library. There were those who had a deep love of the game but who had no desire to GM and with their knowledge proved a fast way to unbalance a game as a PC. You couldn't really blame a person for this when you usually knew in advance that the person is more than versed in the subject. They were more like a Mentat from Frank Herbert's Dune. A walking human computer and library. From the history of the Dark Ages to being fluent in Elvish from Tolkien (and I mean they could write and speak in it fluently and at will) every monster stat and what they didn't have memorized they had well marked in the books they carried with them.

Almost freakish in nature, rules lawyers melted like a candle in the desert at high noon in their presence. They understood above all that the GM was the final word on all outcomes. They remained impartial and simply imparted information to the GM and in some cases to the PCs themselves.

Today it would almost be unimaginable to think of someone existing like that. With so much material in the hobby now they would truly be a super genius.

Do you know some like this? Or maybe in the past? Relate their story if you like. I've always wondered how widespread this concept was.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Likes, Dislikes and Edition Wars

An old grognard I may be but understand, whatever game you find to your liking is all right with me. I talk of the games that first caught my attention the same as others will talk of theirs.

You will find a lot here about the old school but don't think that's all I like or follow. A visit to my other haunts will show that I like cutting edge experimental material just as much.

It's the spirit of gaming that always stokes the fire that runs the engines for me. From the small publisher putting together their first project to the established mega-house putting out a steady stream of their best efforts.

This is a rich heritage and anyone involved in gaming does well not only to remember that but to take advantage of it. Try your hand at one of the retro-clones if you get the chance. Ask to see that original boxed D&D set that you heard that someone has stashed away and think how this was the first moment when this big crazy hobby first took root as we know it.

May all your gaming be filled with fun and fire and may your dice always roll true.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


The Diceman is a novel written by Luke Rhinehart about a psychiatrist who discovers a new form of therapy, dice therapy, by creating lists of 6 items and then rolling a d6 to see which he would do. The rules were simple:

(1)Never put anything on the list you are not willing to do.

(2)At least one item must involve some personal risk.

(3)Whatever you roll you do. Period.

The book fell into our hands quite by accident and spread like a virus. For a group accustomed to throwing dice several nights a week we found it perfectly normal to take it to the street.

I would recommend the book to anyone but with a warning. It can change your life forever. I never looked at the world quite the same way again and I have read a metric f*** ton of books. It is one of maybe 10 that had that effect.

Many took the concept too far. I found it to be a great way to relieve stress and handle everyday activities with not only ease but a fun and exciting nature as well. Wonder what to wear to work? List 6 and throw. What to do that night? List 6 and roll. I did it for everything. I kept journals of material I generated. What to eat...what album to play next...what book to read next.

And yes, I wrote a few danger lists but found it counter productive to the whole idea of the benefits I listed. Others however, well, let's just say they had other ideas.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Welding involved the mixing of various elements to create something new and unpredictable in play. Often players would 'cheat' by reading the Monster Manual and DM Guide on the sly and know the proper way to quickly dispatch it.

With welding you never quite knew what to expect. A seemingly harmless bunny rabbit might be a blood thirsty killing machine. A magic item may be a fake or made from something poisonous.

The first time I remember seeing it in action was at a session where the DM had acquired Monster Manual II.

We had all loved the Fiend Folio when it came out (seems that's not a view held by many, but all three DMs concurred that if they could only have one Monster book they would choose FF every time), but we were all a bit skeptical at the collection of monsters in the new volume. Finally one went out on a limb and purchased it. It was underwhelming to say the least. When asked about it a week later he was kind, but obviously disappointed, in his review of the tome.

Not being very impressed with many of the creatures he started blending features and making creatures that people couldn't identify right away. Soon we were all doing it.

From then on your paranoid ass better be armed and ready. Who knew if that cute little squirrel sitting on the tree limb was real or just an illusion cast by a mad man who lived in the forest and didn't desire any company. Usually when the squirrel breathed fire you knew it was on.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot - The Frog God Games Debacle

The recent announcement by Frog God Games of its union with Swords & Wizardry has sparked quite a debate within the OSR community and I must admit they did come off a little to WOTC.

And just so I'm clear on this I left tabletop gaming because of WOTC. I far preferred the 'hand drawn maps' and 'clip art laid out by amateurs' approach by the pioneers of the hobby to the endless flood of pretty and expensive rulebooks that seemed to have a new edition every 15 minutes.

And let it be clear also I have never purchased one of these products. It is these 'amateur' productions that brought me back to table top gaming after spending years trying to find the flavor in video games that never quite hit the mark.

So the fiasco that started here (Now Updated To Exclude The Inflammatory Remarks)

and turned into this

and slid into this

and started cooling off here

Made me remember a post from back in May from here

In a nutshell, the industry is not only in trouble, as we now know it, but all but on the way out. When large companies produce product they do everything they do for one reason-money. Not enough money, move on to next product. Not a value judgment, just a statement of fact.

Watching a video the other day of Erik Mona, publisher at Paizo Publishing, delivering the keynote at GamesU 2009 (at around the 38 minute mark) I think summed it up best-at its peak in the '80s products that would normally sell 50k to 150k copies now might be expected to sell only 5k to 15k. Earlier in the video he had mentioned the numbers that Dragon magazine would have at its peak in 1984 with its highest subscriber base of 126,000 which when the print version ended had shrunk to about half as many. Meanwhile, the cottage industry side of the hobby has been steadily gaining traction.

Gamers have had a chance for all the pieces to fall into place at just the right time to show what the future of not just gaming but creative entertainment will look like down the road. Much like the MP3 and file sharing changed the music industry we have entire communities no longer looking to the outside world to get things done but taking up the old punk DIY attitude and getting it done for themselves.

In my own life most of the new music I experience comes through web labels, the films I watch, shorts especially, come from their makers via the Internet. The same goes for books, games and just about every other thing that I have usually went into a retail establishment in the past for.

But when I felt like I was being made a chump for paying $18 for a CD that I hadn't even heard yet, maybe a couple tracks, and realizing I had wasted my money I started looking for other ways. And the Internet has provided them.

The funny thing is, just when the Internet is set to be changed into just a venue for corporations to shill through to the masses a new form is rising that will truly change the future once and for all. Look up ad hoc wireless computing sometime and then think where things are going to go when millions of computer owners no longer answer to anyone and are free to discuss and disperse whatever they please to whomever they please. It's a new world coming...froggy better get a jumpin' :)