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 well...as 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 setting...like 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 http://stores.lulu.com/jmstater 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.