Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rocklands Beneath the Temple Ruins - 1PD 2011 Entry

Hi all,

Here's a look at my 1PD entry for 2011.  You may recall that I've been making upcycled dungeon tiles using these designs.

The entire dungeon/cavern/adventure is mapped using the excellent Rocklands 1 and 2 sets from Kev's Lounge.  Check those out if you haven't seen them.  There's a lot of good stuff over there!

Kevin Berry (the Kev of the Lounge) has even provided an additional tile to be used as the statue (the star in the picture above).  It is included in the adventure.  Big thanks to Kevin for his help with this!

You can download the adventure here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming

Bought my grandson Matt this cool Lego Atlantis: Gateway of the Squid model.
He put it together by himself tonight and his dad sent me this picture.  I hope he had fun and I hope it isn't in pieces the next time I'm over there...  :)

I thought I'd post it here because it looks like the mind flayer with the magical trident and the cthulhoid monster are going to make a quick meal of the two scuba divers.

Poor dumb, dead bastards...

Monday, March 28, 2011

HD Randomizer Spreadsheet

Just saw this cool resource over at Lord Kilgore -- it's a page of random d6 and d8's (basically 1 HD) with little circles for tic marks...  Very cool!  Exactly the thing I need when I'm running battles at the table!

Being unable to resist tinkering, I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have a random sheet that would be random every time I print it?  Wouldn't it be cool if I could change the die?  d4, d6, d8, d10, d12?

Well, I mocked it up in the Google and here it is:

Here's a screen shot:

Head on over there and download yourself a copy if you think it would be useful!

Thanks again to Lord Kilgore for the inspiration!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

DungeonMorph Dice

You've probably seen this elsewhere, but just in case you missed it -- behold the wonder that is/are RANDOM GEOMORPH DUNGEON DICE!

Joe at Inkwell Ideas has a Kickstarter going.  He's trying to get pledges to get these dice made.

I'm already a supporter.  If you're a gamer, these dice are TOO COOL not to have them in your bag.  If you're an Old School DM, you MUST own these dice -- how could you not?

Go over and check out the Kickstarter.  Pledge if you can.  We've got to get these dice made!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Memoriam - John Eric Holmes (1930 - 2010)

It has been a year since Dr. Holmes passed away.  As is often the case, when someone passes away, you develop an appreciation of their legacy.

I started playing D&D back in 1980 and I began using the Holmes Blue Book.  (Of course it wasn't called that back then, it was called just D&D)

My friend Brian invited me over in August of that year after I had just returned from spending the summer away.  He had discovered the game with friends that summer and he wanted to share it with me.

I went over to his house and I made up characters.  Brian had made a clever change to the rules for my first adventure; no attributes.  I just picked classes, equipment and rolled up HPs, then we got on to the adventuring.

As I recall, we did some preliminary exploration of eponymous Keep on the Borderlands.  I "met" some of the characters there, such as the Castellan.  I didn't know what a keep or castellan was at that point.  Dictionaries and encyclopedias held a large place in my future reading time...

Eventually, Brian handwaved the trip to the Caves of Chaos and we were there.  In fact, he handwaved the whole idea of the CoC.  We started at K, "The Shrine of Evil Chaos!"

Brian mapped the whole thing as we went along on graph paper.  He stuck the graph paper to a cardboard box with tape and we used thumbtacks to represent the party and the monsters!  It was a battlemap BEFORE there were battlemaps!  Brian was a visionary!  :)

I remember using the thumbtack for "Berserker" my fighter, to indicate that I was "peeking" around the corners of hallways to see what was there.  It was great fun and the exploration was the thing.  I know we fought monsters, but it was the excitement of "what was up around the bend" that was so great.

Thank you Dr. Holmes for making that day possible and for all the exciting days of adventure since!

PS: I'm almost done reading "The Maze of Peril."  At some point in the future, I'll post a review.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Oddball Minis Find...

I like to buy stuff at the dollar store and at Goodwill when I think it has a reasonable chance it can be used as a mini, or with minis.

Today, I purchased a pretty well used copy of "Life: Indiana Jones Edition".

I have no intention of playing this game EVER, but there are some cool plastic bits that I harvested.  They're a bit small to use with human/orc sized 25mm minis, but I'm thinking that they are PERFECT for use with my kobolds and goblins.  It will be an actual visual reminder that these little guys can crawl in holes that humans have trouble in.

Here's are pics of the bits:
Here's a HeroScape viking with the holy grail, shankara stones, and ark of the covenant.  These would be pretty cool treasures to base an entire campaign around!

Here's that viking with the rocky terrain from the game.  The slots are a bit narrow for my viking.

I will be doing some serious modding of the rope bridge.  There are four Indy's with the game; I might paint one or two as adventurers...  

You can see a D&D goblin in the back/right.  He fits in the terrain grooves just fine.  Those pesky humans had better stay out of his way!


Hi everyone,

In my haste and enthusiasm, I've done a bad thing.  I apologize to tsojcanth for inappropriately borrowing/reposting his work.  There's no excuse other than my excitement over the idea.

I've deleted the offending post and I've apologized to him at his site.

Sorry again.

Instant Instant Monsters

Chris Perkins over at WotC just made this arduous post about creating monsters "in under 2 minutes."  Whew!  I didn't know it took that long.

I don't know about you, but I started reading the article and Chris's words very quickly became a buzzing sound in my head.  I couldn't finish it.

In the game I play, I can create monsters in under 5 seconds.  By my math, that's 24 times faster than Chris.  :)

Of course, I do spend time on making monsters, but it doesn't feel like a lot of time.  I spend time thinking about monsters and encounters; I don't spend much time at all creating monsters.  These complicated statblocks are kryptonite/wolvesbane to me.  Ugh.

Here's what I do.

In advance of actually needing the monster, I:

  • Think about the history of the game so far
    • What have they fought in this area?  Is this monster a "repeat" or continuity encounter?
    • What haven't they fought?  Is this a "new" encounter?
    • Is this monster "unique" or is the monster part of a theme or culture; some kind of group?
  • What kind of power level is required
    • Is this an area that the PCs can handle or are they in over their heads?
    • Big single monster, small group of monsters or a horde?
    • What kind of damage will it do?  
      • Number of attacks?  
      • Special attacks?  
      • Tactics
    • What kind of defenses does it have?
      • AC?
      • Immunities?  
      • Resistances?
Having all of that in my head, I:
  • Think about how I would like to handle the combat
    • Minis?  Battlemap?
    • Tactical?  Abstract?
Then I write down little squares/circles on my GM Adventure Log, one for every "hit" the monster has (gargoyles below; roughly HD but I tweak that up/down depending upon my whim) or for their HPs (megalocentipedes below) and then I roll "old yeller" for initiative.  As the players roll init, I might scribble down the AC or other notes so I don't contradict myself during the game.

The battle has begun.  5 seconds.

In a related vein, although I'm working on a comprehensive Monster Manual, I discovered this post, and I've been inspired to work on a "One Page Monster Manual".  The idea is this, you roll a few dice to make a random monster and then you throw it at the players.  Easy peasy.  We'll see how that turns out...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Deck of Normal Things Redux

I've updated the deck of Normal Things.

It has 49 different items and some cards have clarifying text.  Each card has the LL price.

Download it here.

(EDIT) I fixed the link above for the most recent/accurate file.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Found Characters

When I go to the secondhand bookstores to look for gaming stuff, I cannot resist buying the old TSR character sheet folios when I find them.

Without fail there are lost characters found within.

I present two found characters from who knows when.  :)

The character sheets were printed in 1980, so they could be as much as 31 years old.

Clint N played a character named "Ozone" who was a neutral barbarian.  Dusty H was the DM.  Maybe Clint and Dusty are out there somewhere?  The back of the sheet belongs to "Ozone" too.

Ryan Z played "Eareal" an elven thief in Dusty's campaign as well.  There was nothing written on the back of "Eareal."

Bonus:  Here's the example character from the back of the character sheet book.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Questoni Trolls

James over at Grognardia has asked us to share monsters that we've "made our own."  

I humbly submit the Troll.

I was never a big fan of the rubbery, regenerating troll, though I've come around a bit lately.
I think that this green beastie does have a place in my sandbox game, so the players had better watch out!  :)

I always preferred the trolls that I first encountered in the Rankin-Bass version of "The Hobbit."

These trolls had a sort of canny intelligence and they had more personality than old rubbery up there.  I also liked the fact that they couldn't survive the sun.  They turned to stone when exposed to it.

Well, I took that idea and ran with it.  In Queston, there are three species of trolls -- Stone, Steel and Sapphire.  They are named that way because that is the substance that they turn into when exposed to the light of the sun.

Each type of troll has their place in trollish society.  

Stone trolls are hulking giants.  They are the muscle and laborers of the trolls.  Not too bright, but they have a long reach and strong backs.  They are essentially stone giants.

Steel trolls are the warriors.  Cunning and clever, they wield wicked weapons and are constantly at war with the humans of the Fyrkingdom.

Sapphire trolls are wizards.  They are the leaders and they are the true power of the trollish legions.  They are capable of summoning fogs and darkness so that the troll army can march by day.

In fact, the trolls are such a threat to the Fyrkingdom, a powerful wizard created "The Dropoff" (a one-mile high cliff) to separate the trollands from the humans.  Blask is the capital of the trollands, it's a pillar of rock one mile in the air connected to another pillar by a stony bridge.  Edgewatch is a Great Hold in the Fyrkingdom.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Deck of Normal Things

I've put together a deck of cards (using art I've "borrowed" off the interwebs).  If I've borrowed your art and you'd like me to take it down; please leave a comment and I will remove/replace the offending image.  I'm very sorry to have appropriated it without permission.

It's a deck of normal equipment that a character might want to have while out on adventure.

Here's a sneak peek:

I figure that I'll make a copy or two, then use one of those card protector sheets for each character.  There are 9 pockets on each page.  Characters will be able to carry a number of items equal to HALF THEIR STR score.  I'm cutting their score in half because I'm allowing them to carry weapons and armor IN ADDITION to these normal items.  Wizards need to be relatively unencumbered so they can effectively cast spells.  

Some items might count as two or more items (like a ladder) and other items might make carrying items easier or let you carry an extra item or two (like a backpack).  With the backpack, I'd probably make the player put the backpack card in front and then 2 or 3 small items behind it where they can't see them.  Then they'd have to remember what's in the pack...

This hasn't been playtested yet, but what can it hurt?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lego Heroica

This looks AWESOME!  Lego Dungeons!

I'll be buying all four sets as soon as they are available!

Wish I could understand the voiceover...  :(

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Judges Guild Goodness

I won some eBay auctions and it's just like going back in time to 1983!

Five out of six ARE STILL IN THE ORIGINAL PLASTIC!  Wow!  Awesome!

I'm so looking forward to reading these.  JG products have a charm all their own.  Sure, they're quirky -- but so are the dungeons that I made myself.    :)
click to embiggen
It's hard to read, but the LL corner is "Of Skulls and Scrapfaggot Green" -- Just HAD TO BUY that one so that I'll know what it's all about.

A Couple More Additions to My OSR Collection

I printed up a copy of -C's Tricks booklet.  Do yourself a favor and do the same.  It's chock full of goodness.

I also took the JD Jarvis' tables over at Aeons & Auguries and made a little "Dungeoneer Cache" booklet.

I used Limpey's art from here as the cover.

Great stuff!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shrinky Dink 3D Effects

So I went down to my local Hobby Lobby and I purchased a pack of "Shrinky Dinks" for $5.99.

I bought the clear kind you draw on with markers.  They have clear, frosted and white.  They also make sheets that you can put through your inkjet printer.

I cut out two long strips, about 1.5 inches wide and I drew (ha!) some flames and some "vines".  I popped them in the oven at 325°F and they shriveled up like bacon.  :(  It took a little bit of work to flatten them out.  Then I draped them over a can while they were still warm to give them a bit of curve.

Here are the results:

I don't know that I'm thrilled with the results, but I thought I'd share them with you anyway.  :)  Maybe I'll try tracing a pattern and then coloring it in...  I might try and put it through a laser printer...  

We shall see...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Some thoughts about a mini adventure

Every other Thursday, I run a sandboxy campaign that is built upon the excellent Castle of the Mad Archmage by Joe Bloch.

Characters were rolled up months ago.  They were named (some were anyway) and then the adventures began.

Little by little, the characters have developed.  I've added layers to the game, when they were needed or asked for, such as the gods and bits about the city.  The characters have a patron of sorts in the form of Uuthak the Obscure.  (I borrowed that name from Jeff Rients Miscellaneum -- he's a sage and a wizard and he has a regen-o-pod).

Some really cool things have happened along the way.  Two of my players, JW and LB have been collaborating to create a broad outline and maps of the main city, Ravenport.  In addition, JW is designing a game group silkscreened t-shirt to commemorate the game.  (Can't wait to share that with you!)  RF has been designing detailed backstories for his characters as has DB.  JS has played his ruthless magic user to a T.  It's been great!

I told you all that because I wanted to show you how invested these players are in the game.  They like their characters and they seem to be having a lot of fun.

Sometimes, bad things happen to good players and good characters...

My granddaughter Maddie had a school program this past Thursday.  I found out late and I figured I'd just cancel the game.  The players wanted to play anyway and so I told them we'd meet at 8 and play until 10.  We all have to work in the morning.  :)

I knew that I'd need to come up with a short scenario that would be peppy and fun to play.

I came up with this hook just to see if the PC's would bite.  Through some stage setting and a bit of roleplaying, the PC's discovered that Grot, the local tavern boy, had struck it rich.

"A jewel the size of his head!"

He had paid the debts he had to the innkeeper -- and then some -- and was gone!

How then did this boy find such wealth?  Let's check it out!

The adventure led to the sewers (I plan to write this up for the 1PD 2011 contest) where the PC's encountered a round metallic gate filled with blackness.  Runes around the edges of the gate said --

"Take a chance"  "Try your luck"  "There's a fortune to be won"

Would the PC's go inside?  They did.

Inside stood an enigmatic entity.  Six fingers on each hand and six slender tongues in its mouth.

"Would you like to draw a card?  You may choose from one to three, but the number you name you must draw or you will not leave this chamber."

Some drew and some didn't.  The cards fell wherever they may.

Some won fortunes and benefits and two were lost.  One to the Void and one to the Donjon.

Here's the point of my story.  

Everyone had a great time.  They embraced the two tragedies as "plot hooks".  

"We'll just have to go save Oryx and Hanuman, that's all there is to it."

I think this worked for a couple of reasons:
  1. We're a bit older and we're more pragmatic.  It's just a game.  More importantly,
There was no pressure to enter the door.  Do it or don't.  Your call.

There was no pressure to draw cards.  Do it or don't.  Your call.

I think that players can live with RANDOM OUTCOMES for good or ill, if they know that THEY made the choice and weren't forced into doing something.  

That's the moral of the story.  Random is good as long as players can control the choices their characters make.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One Year Anniversary

One year ago, I started this blog (a little before/on) my birthday.  I've now been writing up stuff and putting it out there for all of you (and for me) for a little over a year.

I still enjoy doing it immensely, so I expect that another year is in the offing.

Here's a short list of some of the links/posts that I especially enjoyed sharing.  I hope you find them interesting the second time around.  If you haven't seen them; have a look.




















PS: today is my birthday!  :)

Queston Map

Tony over at roleplay-geek blogged about a method to make a GoogleMap out of your campaign map.  You use a site called  You need to sign up for a free account first.

I thought I'd give it a try and the results are below.

Although my blog is CC -- this map is copyrighted by me.  Sorry.  I might want to include it in a book someday and I worked really hard on it a few years ago.  :)

There are many cities/places on the map itself.  The current CotMA campaign takes place just outside Ravensport on the island kingdom of Whair.  The distance between the hash marks is 10 leagues.

I really like this tool and I expect to use it more and more.  Check it out!