Thursday, December 29, 2011

OGL and OSR Publishing

It has been interesting to read the discussions about publishing and the OGL going on right now across the interwebs.

I'm interested because I'm literally dealing with similar questions right now.

I plan on using the OGL for my Barrowmaze Megadungeon. I'm specifically wrapping my mind around Section 6:

6.Notice of License Copyright: You must update the COPYRIGHT NOTICE portion of this License to include the exact text of the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any Open Game Content You are copying, modifying or distributing, and You must add the title, the copyright date, and the copyright holder's name to the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any original Open Game Content you Distribute.

So, by my limited understanding I must include each and every Section 15 (in their entirety) in my own Section 15 for each piece of OGC I employ. Correct?

So, say for example I've pulled OGC monsters from the Labyrinth Lord Core Book, The Advanced Edition Companion, the S&W Core Book, the S&W monster book, The Tomes of Horror I, II, and III, as well as various OSR modules and blogs - I will have a ginormous Section 15. Moreover, this section could potentially be filled with material that I don't even use in my dungeon but need to include to stay within the confines of the license. If that makes sense. God help the people who have to cite my Section 15...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I won't be posting for the next week or so, but your (somewhat) regular blogging schedule will return thereafter.

I've got some exciting plans for both academic and RPG self-publishing in 2012 and I look forward to sharing those shortly.

All the best to you and yours.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hirst Arts Double Doors

One thing has always bugged me about the Hirst Arts fieldstone molds - they only have single doors. Now, the doors across all the HA molds are quite good. However, the mundane sameness of single doors really started to bug me after awhile. So, I decided to make some from scratch.

I miked a two square arch and then cut a piece of hardboard to size and then cut that in half (this is the same hardboard I use under all my HA pieces). I then bought some wooden stir sticks from the dollar store and glued them on, and cut off the extra. I added some cross beams and some on the bottom to serve as a base. The stir sticks give them a natural look of wood. I made a mold of the mock-up and then poured them in excalibur plaster yesterday. I should have used resin plastic but didn't have any handy (and I'm impatient like that). So here are some pics of the final product. Still need a bit of sanding here and there, but not much. I'll post some painted pics (probably after Christmas).

(As a complete aside, I'm playing in my fantasy football championship this weekend coming up. $500 bucks on the line. Just thought I'd share.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wanted: Old School Artists

I'm looking for old school artists to provide interior illustration for my Barrowmaze dungeon.

I've contacted a couple and combed a few forums, but I'm sure there are others.

Stefan Poag and Pete Mullen are obvious no-brainers.

I'm looking for good black and white line art.

Do you have a favorite OSR illustrator or can you make a suggestion?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hirst Arts: Custom Pieces

I've been pecking away at some unique pieces for my Hirst Arts Dungeon.

I'll spare you a narrative and just put a few notes below where appropriate.

I wanted a few floor pieces with sewer grates and trapdoors for the odd situation that might come up. These were custom done using some tiles from Megaminiatures (please support them). These were slightly less than one inch HA tiles, so it took some fine dremel work to fit them in. I made the prototypes and then poured a mold.

To break the monotony of simple walls, I created some pillared and decorative walls. These have different styles on both sides.

I may re-make all my doors without arches for easier gaming (and less sanding). This is a test piece.

To provide some floor variation, I created four 3x3 pieces that can be turned to create different 30x30 room patterns.

This is a one piece floor. The previous pieces can be added to extend the pattern.

Here are two kinds of columns that can be used for a variety of purposes.

Finally, here's a pick of all the new pieces in action.

Thanks for checking out the blog. Please leave comments :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jeff Dee's Kickstarter Project: Queen of the Demonweb Pits

In case you haven't heard, former TSR artist Jeff Dee has initiated a new Kickstarter project wherein he will re-create his artwork from Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. How great is that? Be sure to have a look.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to post a Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbours.

As a kid, my older brother hooked me on the Dallas Cowboys. So with the 'Boys always playing on the US Thanksgiving, I adopted the holiday long ago. Going to school and working for a time in the US helped things along too.

The Canadian Thanksgiving is in early October (because our harvest is earlier) but I always try to do something to mark the American Thanksgiving.

I'm taking it easy today and looking forward to the game this afternoon.

I have a bunch of Cowboys on my fantasy football team, so hopefully they have a good outing. The Lions/Packers game should be pretty sweet too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Love/Hate: AD&D Dragons

Dragons occupy a strange space in D&D. The game is Dungeons and Dragons, after all, but you really don't see them until of sufficient level - and if your group is anything like mine you won't be facing one in the foreseeable future (we just had a TPK in Session 25 of the Northern Reaches - but I digress).

I always loved the dragons from the original Monster Manual. I suppose my fondness for them - particularly the evil dragons - came from the consistency of their representation. An AD&Der knew a black dragon from a white dragon. I liked the straightforwardness. AD&D modules carried forward the aesthetic of the blue, black, green, and white dragons. This was particularly true of the Dragonlance modules. Yes, I know they get grief, and rightly so in some instances, but I adored the depiction of dragons in the early DL adventures. Spot on.

The proliferation of dragons in subsequent editions really bugs me though. I play D&D because im interested in playing archetypes and battling archetypal monsters. Now, to be fair, the proliferation of exotic dragons began in AD&D. Did we really need a Cloud Dragon (MMII)? Or how about the "Oriental Dragons" from the Fiend Folio? Carp Dragon anyone?

The aesthetic of the evil dragons mentioned above remained somewhat consistent in 2E although the inclusion of "Gem Dragons" (Amethyst, Crystal, Emerald, Sapphire, Topaz) gives me a big rubbery one. And who could forget the legendary Brown Dragon? Deep Dragon? Mercury Dragon? Mist Dragon? Steel Dragon? Yellow Dragon? Someone should have made the madness stop. The one redeeming feature of dragons in this edition was the inclusion of age categories - it was nice to biggy-size your 8HD black dragon if so desired.

Do you have any particular thoughts on dragons in the game? How many have you actually faced/set against your players over the years?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moldy Vale Keepin' It Real

The Moldy Vale is keeping it real on the WotC Legends and Lore column.

Check it out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

D&D Art: Examples of Dramatic Irony

I'm looking at examples of dramatic irony in the art of TSR D&D - and you don't need to go very far to find some :)

By dramatic irony I'm referring to examples where the viewer possesses more knowledge than the character(s) depicted in the scene.

This is perhaps the best I can think of 1) because it's Trampier, 2) because the guy off-camera to the right points at the spider and thus "freezes" the exact moment prior to the fighter getting his ass handed to him, thereby heightening the suspense. Given the legion of examples across TSR and Old School D&D these could also classify as comedic irony within the subculture.

I think this is the most iconic example, although there are examples in the AD&D PH, DMG, and MM.

Do you have any favourites?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Canadiana: Hilarious House of Frightenstein

Before D&D, my Saturday mornings consisted of a wonderful, if twisted, children's show called The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.

This show was created in the early 1970s at CHCH TV in Hamilton, Ontario. Basically, right in my backyard.

If you were a Canadian child in the late 70s or early 80s you likely remember this show.

The majority of the characters in the show were voiced by Canadian actor Billy Van - he was quite something and this show speaks to his range and talent.

Here's a 10 minute episode. Having said that, I always like the wolfman radio DJ. So I cut right to his bit in the second video. You can find more on youtube.

Some of it was pretty trippy for kids.

Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Old School, Art, and Ideology

This morning I've read a few interesting posts dealing with OSR art.

The first was at The Temple of Demogorgon where he rants about the sameness of OSR art, specifically taking aim at the piece shown on the Grognardia Blog.

Although not as hard-core a post as the first, the other was at Aldeboran where Stefan Poag (one of my favorite artists) wrote that he'd like to see more diversity in OSR aesthetics.

In my opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from the foundational D&D line art of the 1970s and early 1980s. In fact, I love it. I want more.

People who focus on "another damned knight in platemail about to open a door" miss the point. IT TOTALLY ISN'T ABOUT THAT. Art forwards ideology and game-play style, and the ideology of the Old School is the DIY, thumb-your-nose at Whotsie, low fantasy, Hail Gygax!, low rules, yer-damn-right-I-want-platemail, screw dungeonpunk, piss on standard torch-lit dungeons in 4E, piss on rules crunchiness, we're using a ten foot pole, screw challenge ratings perspective, that makes the early editions so evocative and fun to play.

So, the next time you see an artist using line art depict a huge spider about to jump an unsuspecting party, or a dude in plate opening a door, or a bug-eyed adventurer fleeing a huge fucking monster, don't hate - instead let fly the devil horns and say RIGHT ON BROTHER! Because the art isn't value-free, it's value-laden - meaning the art of the Old School forwards the ideology and play-style of a game that we love and want others to try out.

So OSR artists, do what you do with conviction. Our game will be better for it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wanted: Deathknell Burning Skeletons

I'm looking for some Deathknell Burning skeletons.

I'll buy or trade. Ebay prices are a bit wacky, so I thought I'd try here.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Dude Goes Off :)

The Moldy Vale goes off on WotC.

I have my own bits to add, but I'm playing tonight and need to prepare.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chargen, New(er) Editions, and Game Designers

I just wanted to bring this post to your attention about character generation across the editions. It's great.

If character generation can't be done under 10 minutes that's a serious, serious impediment to the hobby. Chargen needs to be old school, insofar as you are up and playing immediately. Trash powers, feats, proficiencies, specializations, etc. Let role-players role-play.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my family doctor. I was contemplating a surgical procedure and his advice was, paraphrasing, unless it's life or death beware of surgeons bearing knives. Indeed, they do like cutting people open. Similarly, guess what game designers like to do? Make rules, and rules, and more rules.

Monte Cook. Take notes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giant Mushrooms in TSR D&D

I wrote some time ago about the motif of giant mushrooms, or mushroom forests, as signifiers of otherworldliness in D&D modules.

I'm compiling a list. So far I have:

B1 In Search of the Unknown
D3 Vault of the Drow
EX1 Dungeonland
X8 Drums of Fire Mountain

I know there are others. Any additions?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another Week, Another Softball L&L Article

Am I the only one that finds this type of softball article a joke?

Ooooh, look! Cook and WotC are riding in on their white horse to preserve D&D's past!


What a slap in the face. It's this type of article that, I'd argue, continues to drive people away as much as bring them back. I'm not looking for an olive branch.

The grassroots who play, write, create, DM, and publish Gygax's D&D are the people intent on preserving the past. Anything else is tokenism.

Sorry folks, this sort of thing just entrenches me further.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

S&W: Tome of Horrors Complete

I've finally had an opportunity to sift through the Tome of Horrors Complete for Swords and Wizardry.

I do think it has excellent upside, but I can't give it a resounding endorsement either.

Initially, I wanted the hardback book. The book is $99 from the Frog God Website (I still think they have a few available). When you add $30 shipping to Ontario, Canada plus and addition $20-30 in duty it totally wasn't worth it. I asked the guy at Frog God if he'd work with me, which he wouldn't. I understand, he has to cover his ass with shipping insurance, but you don't have to go far on the web to know that the OSR is alive and well north of the border. It would be nice if folks producing stuff in the US kept us in mind. So, I bought the pdf for $29.99 as I can get it printed for free on a super-sweet printer. That's better value than the better part of $200.

In terms of the content, this looks looks and feels like a Third Edition book - which it is and it isn't. The art (largely) has a black and white third edition aesthetic. That can be off-putting for some, I would include myself in that group. Old school D&D should look like old school D&D not 3E. You can see Frog God has applied this logic to the rest of the S&W stuff. That's a real shame and something Raggi commented about just the other day. Frog God needs to let go of the Third Edition vibe. To my mind, Mythmere had it exactly right in terms of using his own stuff (he's a good artist) and others like Pete Mullen.

I have one other issue with this book. The S&W ToHC is loaded with monsters you'd never see in an old school game. For many (but not all) an orc with a spear is enough. I've written about this before. Do old schoolers really need a Vapour Dire Rat, or a Flame-Spawned Troll, or a Plant-Imbued Ape? Really? Really? Let's leave all that behind with Third Edition, thank you.

In addition to players/DMs, I think the real value of this book rests with those who want to publish their own adventures and want to use/cite monsters from the MMII or the FF like Coffer Corpses, Groaning Spirits, Mudmen, or Sandlings. With the ease of translation between OD&D, B/X, AD&D and their clones, this could very well become a foundational text in the OSR moving forward. I suppose that depends on the monster books (if any) that other OSR publishers put out. There are other gems inside as well, including little enounter ideas and a set of demons for the plane of agony, but these are secondary to the monster access.

So, my 2cp are the following: If you want to publish adventures in the future this is a great resource to have, although there are a bunch of monsters I'll never use. Also, if I'm paying top dollar for an old school product, I want it to have an old school aesthetic. The art is critical.

Friday, October 14, 2011

That this needed to be said...

That Monte Cook felt the need to write this column is a reflection of how far off the beaten path the game has gone.

On the plus side, I like the cartoony art rather than the High Fantasy realism of the 4E PHB (aesthetically, anything is an improvement).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Cave/Dungeon Mouth Motif

We D&Ders see variations of the image above repeated periodically. This one, by Holloway I believe, is from one of the 3.5 Dungeon Crawl Classics (of which I'm a big fan).

A couple questions:

1. I'm assuming this motif stems from mythology and fantasy literature. Do you know of other examples?

2. What do you take from the symbolism? The cave-as-mouth can represent consumption. As if the landscape itself was swallowing the adventurers. D&D art is littered with anthropomorphic landscape. Alternatively, it could mean a subconscious exploration of ourselves. Finally, we also see the cave mouth as vagina. The one that leaps to mind would be the example of the Grendel cave in the movie Beowulf. The feminizing of landscape was a particular motif in the history of European exploration.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

If I was 12, I'd be playing...

If I was 12 with no children or profession, I'd probably be playing the Pathfinder RPG.

I don't talk about Pathfinder much, and I only talk about 4E when I want to slag contemporary RPGs. Having said that, I watched the 10 minute video of Eric Mona's crotch where he unboxes the new introductory boxed set for Pathfinder. It looks super-cool with crippleware after 5th level.

I'm torn when it comes to Pathfinder for a couple reasons. First, I have no interest in rules-crunchery and will never play 3.5 again or dabble in Pathfinder (see my rant on in-game checks below). Having said that, as an outsider I think Pathfinder is the spiritual successor of contemporary D&D, not 4E. I don't think I'm alone on that call. I'd like to see it do well.

The thing I really don't like about Pathfinder is the aesthetic of the game. They layouts are pretty amazing but the art itself looks very over-produced, much like the art for 4E. For me, the aesthetic of the game is absolutely critical. Much of it leans toward High Fantasy, and I'm totally not interested in that style of game. Their goblins are really hard to swallow.

Even if (like me) you don't play Pathfinder, you should check out the video. They did a great job.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ranks? Say It Ain't So...

I just read Monte Cook's first Legends and Lore article from last week.

There are some things in D&D that simply do not require quantification. They don't needs ranks, they don't need rolls. Fight the impulse to quantify everything.

Searching for treasure 'n' stuff is one of them.

Creating (continuing with) categories like passive and active perception is a pipeline to nowhere.

Don't kill role-playing in role-playing games.

That is all.

Friday, September 30, 2011

D&D Movie News

Has anyone read any new information on the upcoming D&D movie?

There was the contest to be involved in the movie and then news just sorta stopped.

The Internet Movie Database does list Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness as a 2011 release. There has been speculation that the release of this movie on Syfy (or whatever) will coincide with the release of the book in December, and that would certainly make sense. If it's all about 4E powers 'n' shit it won't be my bag.

The first movie was terrible, but I'm very fond of the second movie - largely in part because the writing and references stuck close to D&D history. I do note that Gerry Lively the director and, most importantly, writer Brian Rudnick, are back on the third film. That's good news.

It should also be noted that the IMDB also lists a fourth D&D movie for release in 2012.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cleaning an Old Miniature: Suggestions?

I have an old citadel miniature I'm trying to clean. The miniature is fine, but it's covered with a light brown tarnish and I can't seem to get it off. I've tried simple green which is really good for removing paint, but this is going to require something else. Suggestions?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Northern Reaches: Session 22

The after-action report of our 22nd session is now available, if interested

Not only do we have pictures but you can also leave your comments (if I did it correctly).

In this episode, semi-new group of adventurers probes the depths of the Barrowmaze.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

more News: WotC Brand Marketing

Looks like WotC is looking to fill a D&D Brand Marketing position.

There's a good observation in the Enworld post that perhaps they are gearing up for the next edition in 2014 - the 40th anniversary of D&D.

If so, let's hope the game actually looks and feels like the real deal, rather than the bucolic, MMO, 4E shite.

That is all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

D&D News

Apparently Monte Cook was re-hired by WotC and will be taking over Mike Mearls' column.

I don't know jack about dungeon-a-day, and I was underwhelmed by 3/3.5 edition when I played it. I can't see them going backwards from 4E, so I really don't know what this means.

What do folks think of this development?

Good/bad/indifferent for D&D long-term?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fantasy Football Results

So I made it through the draft and my first week - winning handedly :)

It's a 12 team league with .5 point for receptions.

Today my starters are:

QB: Tony Romo

WR: Miles Austin
WR: Mike Williams
WR: Robert Meachum

RB: LeSean Mcoy
RB: Tim Hightower

TE: Jimmy Graham

K: Robbie Gould

DEF: Pittsburgh

On the bench I have:

QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick

WR: Plaxico Burress
WR: Early Doucet

RB: Beenie Wells
RB: Ryan Mathews

TE: Dustin Keller

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fantasy Football Draft Tomorrow

I have my fantasy football draft tomorrow. I know it's late but schedules didn't line up.

The draft order won't be established until right before the draft (buzzkill).

There are 12 players, so I'll be scraping the bottom of the barrel by the time we are done.

Speaking of fantasy football, did you notice that Darth Vader took a kicker too early?

Friday, September 2, 2011

D&D by Five Year Olds

Funny youtube video...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Erol Otus' Miniatures

Here's a neat link to some D&D miniatures created and painted by Erol Otus.

From the link go Gallery and then Miniatures.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Northern Reaches: Session 21

We played our 21st session of the Northern Reaches prior to me going on holiday.

Again, another near TPK as an evil magic-user cast sleep on the party.

Check out the details in our Session Summary.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Punta Cana

Just returned from a week in Punta Cana

Regular blogging will resume shortly.

I've read the OSRcon reports at Grognardia, I'd be happy if you could point me in the direction of other posts on the subject. Cheers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I'm a bit pissed off that I can't make the OSRcon held in Toronto this weekend.

I'm in very close driving distance, which makes it worse.

The date for the con came out too late for me, as I had already made holiday plans to the Carribean on Friday.

It just sucks donkey-balls. I'll also be away from the Conan premiere.

Why the hell does cool shit happen during the only holiday sans-kids that I've had in five years?

It's a cruel fucking world at times :)

I hope everyone has a great time at the con, and I hope the date next year is picked early enough that I can work around it and attend. I hope it's a great success this year.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hirst Arts Molds on Ebay

For all those interested, I've listed some Hirst Arts molds on Ebay.

The auctions end in 10 days. Buy from me and save some bucks.

Just search for hirst arts in ebay or by seller sggillespie

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'm Selling some Hirst Arts Molds. Interested?

I'm selling five Hirst Arts molds.

This isn't a fire-sale, so make me a solid offer I can't refuse :)

I just thought I'd try to sell them here first prior to going to Evilbay.

These were bought by me from Bruce Hirst at GenCon last year.

The molds include:

Water Cavern Wall Mold #82($34 from website)
Cavern Floor Mold #281 ($29 from website)
Cavern Floor Accessories #282 ($29 from website)
Fieldstone Accessories Mold #71($34 from website)
Fieldstone Octagon Mold #77 ($34 from website)

Buying from the HA website would cost you $160.

I'd prefer to sell them as a group, but I'm open.

You'd pay shipping. I recycle packaging whenever possible. I'm not responsible after it goes in the mail.

These are in like-new condition. Paypal only.

kilted dot yaksman at yahoo dot ca

Custom HA Molds

In the last couple months I've been creating custom molds from RTV Silicone.

I started with a small mold of shields, and then some custom bases.

Finally I progressed to larger molds of the HA fieldstone and cavern floors.

I've come to the conclusion that, if I didn't have kids, I would stick strictly to the HA materials because I like to custom-do most things to suit exactly what I want. However, with two kids under 5 running around there's just not enough time to devote to it (sucks that I'm also a perfectionist). So I'm going to buy a few sets of Dwarven Forge and see how that goes. I'll let you know how I make out.

Overall I love the HA molds , and building etc but part of my larger gripe is that they are too bloody small. It takes eons to have enough of anything to build your shit. That's just the reality. So, in order to change the situation I recommend learning about and creating your own molds (from the outset) from the HA blocks (Bruce Hirst doesn't have a problem with this) to increase your block production.

Also, I took a few of the single floor blocks and carved out some puddle pits - to later puts some drops of resin water after painting etc (pics shortly).

You can see from the pics below I used lego blocks with a bead of Aleene's Tacky glue along the edge. Don't chince or you will have leaks and waste material. I find that glue takes an overnight to dry. I also glue down the pieces with the same glue. I use the small lego blocks 1x2 or 1x4 to ensure equal spacing inbetween.

Before and after you mix and pour your RTV you need to make sure your surface is level or you will have a lopsided mold and that will mean headaches when you pour it later.

I use the motor from a baby bouncy chair to power my shaker table - works great. Leave that on until you don't see anymore bubbles rising. You can see a few bubbles in the next pic.

The last two pics are of my molds in action, one devoted to cavern floors and the other to fieldstone floors.

This is the basic process. If you have questions fire away. I use Mold Max 30 and Excalibur diestone plaster.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dwarven Forge

I'm curious how many of you own, or play in a game with, the Dwarven Forge terrain?

As you know I've been using my Hirst Arts fieldstone dungeon. I'm happy with it, but I'm finding the production process more of a labour than a labour of love.

So, if you are familiar with the Master Maze or Caverns sets can you tell me about the quality of the pieces? Do they chip easily? Obviously they look great, but I'm interested in the durability.

Also, what sort of financial commitment is there for a decent set? 1000 bucks or more?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Northern Reaches: Gygax Birthday Edition

The members of Red Box Niagara will gather together tonight for a special Gygax Birthday Edition of The Barrowmaze.

In other news I took the Gygax quiz, I did not use google, and I spelt one incorrect.

Greg Gillespie took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 50%!

You are a Gary Gygax Swashbuckler. You are cunning in the ways of Gary Gygax. You've probably been to Gen Con once or twice, and if I searched your house, I bet I'd find a Gary Gygax autograph, a humorous D&D-related T-shirt, and/or a stack of Dragon magazines.

Paladin Code: You completed this quiz without using Google.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Northern Reaches: Session 19

We are banging out sessions left and right lately, which is great to get my Barrowmaze dungeon off the ground.

Session 19 involved random encounters with Coffer Corpses - and a near TPK.

Check it out, feel free to leave comments here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Northern Reaches: Session Reports 17 and 18

We've been bashing on with our Northern Reaches sandbox campaign set within the megadungeon known as The Barrowmaze.

You can check them out here: Session 17 and Session 18.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

John Carter Trailer!

The new John Carter trailer looks pretty swank.

Check it out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Citadel Three Stage Adventurers

I'm in the home stretch looking for citadel three stage adventurers.

I've narrowed my list down to five. Can anyone throw me a bone?

I'm missing the mid and high-level human magic-user (top). The mid-level druid (center left), the high-level female cleric (center right), and the high-level elf magic user (bottom)

I'll trade or buy.


Monday, July 4, 2011

The Caverns of Thracia

I've been reading The Caverns of Thracia with much enjoyment.

I'm looking over it for ideas for my own game. It's nice to see some of the things I'm doing already contained therein, as well as giving me some new ideas.

Judges Guild materials weren't on the shelves of the gaming stores of my youth, so I find it interesting to look them over.

I'm curious have you ever played, DMed, or read a good game-report of The Caverns of Thracia?

Thoughts on a Couple Subjects

First, Happy 4th Of July to all our American neighbours!

Second, against my better judgement I saw Transformers 3 last night. I won't reveal spoilers but I will say this: How do I get those two hours back? I seem to say that after each Transformers movie. The first was a big commercial for Ebay, the second was just terrible, and the third is just dreadful. Plot holes, stupid scenes, overt patriotism where it just wasn't needed. Transformers is the only movie series that can take cars, women, and guns and make a clusterfuck out of it.

Third, I just finished reading the "pathfinder is outselling 4E" thread at enworld. All I can say to that is - great! I don't play pathfinder and, due to a desire to get away from 3.X crunch I never will, but I like how they do what they do. It's a pretty straightforward recipe for them. Let WotC make an important decision on something and then do the opposite.

Again, have a great holiday!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dominion Day!

Happy Dominion Day!

Yes, I prefer the old flag, the old national anthem, and the old name.

If Trudeau was alive, he could bite me.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Red Box Games Miniatures

Tre at Red Box Games is pumping out some cool miniatures.

How about these bad boys from his infernal range? Sweet!

Well done, Tre! I need a couple of these...

You can check out his latest stuff in his dragonsfoot post.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Session 16: Northern Reaches After-Action Report

The write-up for Session 16 is now up for our Northern Reaches game.

This is the first session of my megadungeon The Forbidden Maze of the Jennorak, called The Barrowmaze byt the locals.

You can read it here. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Session 16: Northern Reaches Tonight!

So we are rolling new characters and kicking off a new campaign tonight, still set in the Northern Reaches sandbox setting we've been adventuring in the last 8 months or so.

Tonight we'll be rolling 3d6 in order. I'm going to have each player roll two characters. We'll be using my own "insanity" house-rule that I jokingly label Fear Factor so I think it's best to roll two characters to begin.

We'll be playing my spankin' new sprawling megadungeon that I've entitled/shamelessly poached The Forbidden Maze of the Jennorak, or, as it's known locally - The Barrowmaze.

Deep in the Moor, beyond the haze
Rests the forbidden tomb, The Barrowmaze
Some say gold and riches may be found
Beneath the great barrow, in the cold damp ground
Few have returned from the cursed place
Terror and fear mark their face
Deep in the Moor, beyond the haze
Rests the forbidden tomb, The Barrowmaze

I'll post a write-up tomorrow-ish.

Monday, June 20, 2011

OW and Citadel Mummies

As you know, this is the Summer of (painting) the Undead for me. I've accumulated a horde of various undead in the last year, and now I've started to tackle the leadpile.

Specifically, I'm paiting the undead range from Otherworld Miniatures and also their corresponding Citadel cousins from back in the day.

I've painted OW and Citadel skeletons and shadows, so here are the mummies. I'm sorta, kinda, doing everything else but the ghouls and the zombies because I don't think I can do a great job of dead-looking skin. We'll see.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Otherworld Miniatures: Rust Monsters

I've had some rust monsters sitting half-painted for months. Thank goodness those are off my plate.

As an aside, I think I mentioned before that I've accumulated a bunch of undead to paint this summer. I recently started on that project with Shadows (both OW and citadel) and now I'm on to the ghouls (again both OW and Citadel). If anyone has a good recipe for ghoul/zombie/vampire skin let me know.

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thoughts on the Dungeon Alphabet

I just recently joined the party regarding the Dungeon Alphabet.

I read all the hubbub when it was first released but, as is often the case, I simply didn't have the time to get to it.

I did read Stonehell cover-to-cover and came away most impressed with the exactness and level of detail. Michael Curtis must get way better sleep than I do (lol). My capacity to manage detail has decreased dramatically thanks to two young children, but I still admire the attention to detail.

I just recently ordered the Dungeon Alphabet (along with a few Golden Books for my kids) from Amazon. I've read through it and came away with the following impressions, in no particular order:

1. I want more. I want the encyclopedic edition of the Dungeon Alphabet. What's here is awesome, but at the same time it seems to just scratch the surface.

2. To use a Bill Parcells-ism - I think you are what you are. Old School products should be coded for Old School games. Don't make it system-generic. We are all SO accustomed to tweaking material for our games already that it would be nice to use something out-of-the-box, as it were. System-neutral stuff, I'd argue, requires tweaking too. Make it plug-and-play.

3. There are some amazing pieces by the late Jim Roslof. What a fitting tribute.

4. The art, overall, is so totally awesome. However, my sense was that the art - at select times - seemed to take over. The art should always highlight the text, not the other way around.

In sum (and I know I'm late to the party), I really enjoyed the Dungeon Alphabet and can totally see myself using it as a reference tool in the creation of my own dungeons. I'm not surprized it won the NTRPGCon award. Having said that, I want the bigger, larger, more expansive, encyclopedic, Texas-sized version of the Dungeon Alphabet. I'll buy that one too. Well Done! :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Mongrelmen are said to have names derived, in part, from animal sounds.

My lame attempt is Grr'Woof-nub

Whatcha got?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Forbidden Maze of the Jennorak

After a month hiatus (for various life reasons among the group), Red Box Niagara is ready to resume on the 20th.

In our last session, we were playing a B/X edition of Goodman Games' Halls of the Minotaur. Given that it has been over a month, and that we had just started new characters, we decided to abandon those adventurers to their fate and start anew.

This works well because we are going to start the new large dungeon project I've been talking around for the last month or so :) and thinking about a lot longer than that.

I don't want to give anything away to player-readers but I'm dipping into D&D's past (and not being terribly original) by calling this dungeon The Forbidden Maze of the Jennorak. [EDIT: Burial Maze might be a better descriptor, we'll see]

Everything, I mean everthing, has been randomly generated and some results, are, well, unfortunate (from a PC point of view). But that's the hand fate has dealt.

I'll post more background detail after we get underway and you'll be able to read the session reports on the REd Box Niagara site not long thereafter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Otherworld Miniatures: Kev Adams Zombies

Just a note via the Otherworld Miniatures forum.

Richard Scott has hired Kev Adams to sculpt zombies!

If you are unfamiliar with Kev Adams excellent C-Series zombies from Ctiadel Miniatures (1980s) then follow the link for pics.

Reality versus Fantasy

I've read two interesting blog posts that, although it wasn't their primary reason for posting, have interesting subtextual commentary on reality versus fantasy.

Read this post looking for the divides the author, but more specifically the commentators, make between reality and fantasy...

The first is here on Raggi's blog. Raggi is responding to a comment from another blog.

The second is here on Paladin's blog (Paladin gets bonus points for using my favorite word in the English language). Here he's citing articles from Dragon that speak to reality/fantasy.

Both posts highlight material/draw lines on what constitutes reality versus fantasy. For me, I do not believe in reality, so therefore I do not believe in fantasy. They are both social constructs and both part of the same experience. There is no segmentation. There is no difference. I suppose, for me, I like to see the ways reality and fantasy are negotiated in D&D subculture. This was brought home recently while teaching my spring course on the history and culture of RPGs (more on that in a future post).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Insanity Rules

So, I'm interested in looking at examples of siple insanity rules for my next game.

These need to be of the old school sensibility.

I'm aware that insanity rules exist for other games, but I'm not really sure which games/examples would be worth looking reviewing.

Left to my own devices I'm thinking of using perhaps the wisdom or intelligence score as a base threshold. Characters start at zero and depending on the situation, circumstances, unwholesome things they are exposed to, a number accumulates over time leading to insanity (whatever ability score). Having said that, I'm open to alternatives.

Can anyone suggest insanity rules that I could use in an Old School D&D game?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Blush: DCC RPG

I haven't had a chance to read the Beta in full; however, I did want to say something quick about the DCC RPG.

The art is just WOW. What an all-star line-up.

Sure, we all have our favorite TSR artists but I was more excited about the new old school artists like Stefan Poag and Pete Mullen (among others) - great job guys!!!

Also, those wrap-arounds on the character pages are brilliant. I love those.

I can't say as I'll be playing it (simply not enough time in my life for another system), but I'm looking forward to having a closer look.

Have you checked it out? First impressions?

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Level Near Completion

I've completed the details for the first "level" of my sprawling 450 room mega dungeon. It's more of an "area" of the dungeon than a "level" in the traditional sense. Everything has been randomly generated - although I have selected about 3-5 rooms for specific encounters etc. All tolled this works out to about 88 rooms. I created (what seems like) innumerable random charts in excel to determine room contents and details, above and beyond monsters and treasure. I prefer customized charts that reflect the specific nature of each dungeon I create. For example, I've used a variation of the Labyrinth Lord Stocking table, as I wanted a higher percentage of empty rooms.

I've pulled out all the tricks to highlight player choice - I can't speak in too much detail as my players read this :P

At this point, it's on to the narration while I also peck away at the next set of tables for Level/Area 2.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tables for Minor Magic Items

Has anyone bumped into random tables for minor magic items (say levels 1-2 or 1-3)?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mazes and Monsters Script

Is anyone's google-fu strong enough to find the Mazes and Monsters script?

Is there like a script database somewhere or would that be too easy?

I started thinking about this when we watched a portion of the film in my spring class.

Friday, May 27, 2011

OGL and Posting New Monsters

So I'd like to post some new monsters and some monster tweaks.

However, I'm unclear as to "how" to do that within the confines of the OGL.

I noticed James at Grognardia posted the OGL on his blog and references monsters as open game content under said license with his Grognard's Grimoire monsters.

Rather than fumbling around in the dark, can someone light a torch on this issue for me?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blue Dungeon Mapping Help

I just finished the first draft of my megadungeon map.

I've rounded out at 375 keyed areas, excluding sub-areas. So likely 450-ish total rooms.

I used Dungeon Crafter with the blue tile set from Dragonsfoot.

It does the job, but it doesn't get style points.

Has anyone bumped into easy-to-use but aesthetically pleasing mapping software? Alternatively, is anyone particularly adept at this sort of thing and want a challenge?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Art of Choice: The Bricked-Up Wall

I've been reflecting on A Paladin in Citadel's post about the use of the portcullis and the brocked-up wall as alternatives to doors.

I love this idea because it fits in nicely with some other mechanics I've been thinking of regarding player choices and providing more of them in my one level sprawling megadungeon.

The bricked-up wall is super cool, because there's the hint of the unknown but also how to deal with it in-game. If you take a sledge to it, that's a guaranteed random monster check in my game, or you could pass it by - and have some beastie break free behind you later on. Ultimately, it comes down to player choice.

In the comments we discussed possibilities for representing the "Bricked-Up Wall". So I present to you the above image represented simply as a B, much like the S of a secret door.

So what do you think of the idea? Have you used similar ideas (tied to random monster rolls) in your campaign?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blogger Strangeness

Hi folks,

I'm not sure what's going on with the blog at the moment, but I've noticed that my new posts aren't updating as normal on other sites.

Perhaps this relates to the whole RSS issue, I'm not overly knowledgeable with the interwebs to know.

Also, my pc is in getting looked after which further complicates posting and other jobs.

I'll try to figure it out here shortly.

Lecture topic tonight: Governmentality and D&D

Monday, May 16, 2011

One-Page Dungeon Contest 2011!!!

The results for the 2011 One Page Dungeon Contest were announced today.

I'm very excited to share with you that my entry entitled The Bastion of the Boglings won the Best Monster Lair category! WooHoo!

I have played a number of dungeons from the one page contest over the last two years and hope that someone out there gets some fun and enjoyment from my adventure too.

I want to say thank you to all the folks you contributed and judged the competition.

This is a really important expression of the old school movement and I hope it continues.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Megadungeon Crypts

In order to make my busy life more difficult, I've been pecking away at a megadungeon.

This will have some differences from your standard run-of-the-mill megadungeon.

This will be a massive sprawling crypt that spans 6 8x11 pieces of graph paper. The idea being that the crypts were expanded and added-to over time creating a massive labyrinth.

Also, to do something different I'm eschewing traditional vertical dungeon levels in favour of horizontal semi-themed ones.

I've created massive randomized lists in excel for monsters, treasure, and dungeon dressing, but I need to generate a bunch of one or two sentence descriptions for empty (or largely nondescript) rooms. Has anyone bumped into a forum post about this or perhaps a list of empty rooms?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ever Teach D&D to 30 People?

[First, I apologize for the blogging hiatus. Getting this spring course underway has taken every waking moment of my time for the last 10 days.]

I'm not quite sure how I imagined it, but teaching D&D to 30 people at the same time was a very interesting experience.

In short, we have had three classes and I've used a combination of fish-bowl style modelling where I DM a small group while the rest of the class huddles around with questions flying from all directions, walkthough-style step-by-step instructions for character generation and one-page dungeon generation, short-video clips, much discussion, and tonight, for the first time, a video-conference with the DMs of Red Box Vancouver. SO I've tried to cover all the different learning styles.

Dan Proctor from Goblinoid Games graciously sent me some hard copies of Labyrinth Lord to use as the gaming texts. They, of course, have access to the no art version and I see that most of the students printed that off and bring it to class. I'm actually indebted to a bunch of very cool OSR folks for making electronic materials available and helping me facilitate this course. I'm going to recognize them all in a single post shortly.

Remember that this is a spring course, effectively 10 classes (2xWeek) for 3 hours each. So there's no time to play silly buggers, we needed to get going from class 1 and that's exactly what we have done. It's a lot to throw at them, but that's the nature of taking a course in the spring session.

The first tutorial assignment was a walk-through of character generation. In addition to rolling their scores and starting gp, they needed to write a short backstory. I can sum that process up concisely in two sentences (the above), but the sheer volume of questions was hectic. Assumed in all this, of course, is getting familiar with the subcultural lexicon - all the stuff we take for granted HP, AC, Saving Throws, etc. The second assignment was a 12-room one page dungeon scenario. This also had a full step-by-step walkthrough. It was really interesting to see how some understood there was a methodical process and followed it, and others who were frustrated by it. I'll have a better idea tonight, but I think most grasped the concept.

The first night, after using the first hour to go through the course outline, I threw them right into a scenario (mean, aren't I?). We switched out players every 10-15 minutes or so. I had a very short contextual blurp to start the game, indicating that their objective was to plunder the tomb, find the treasure, and claim it as their own. I finished with "Your standing outside the tomb, what would you like to do now?" Some of the facial expressions were priceless as they all started to grasp the idea. The second group were particularly gregarious and wanted to do all sorts of things and spent much time in debate about how to proceed. These tutorials are busy, but fun learning experiences.

The front-end of the course is tutorial heavy - to facilitate play - and the back-end of course is more academic in nature with assignments, etc. So there's a natural transition over time.

The next assignment is to read Clark Ashton Smith's The Colossus of Ylourgne with the idea of 1) summary and review of the story, and 2) pulling aspects of the story for gaming sernarios.

I probably won't get to post again until next week because I'm busy serving on the organizing committee for the Popular Culture Association of Canada conference this weekend in Niagara Falls, Ontario. If you are interested in the types of papers you can go here and to the conference program.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Help with RSS Feed

A site that shall remain nameless is poaching blog posts (mine and other blogs) without giving sufficient credit.

Can folks tell me how (and where) to adjust my RSS feed to stop this?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

OSR Logo

Stuart Robertson over at Strange Magic has offered his take on the OSR logo.

I think it's magically delicious.

Check out what he has to say.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


So the Toronto OSRcon is August 12-13th?

That Fing figures.

That's like the only weekend of the summer I have something I can't cancel.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Course on RPGs: Lecture and Discussion Topics

I'm starting to settle on a list of lecture and discussion topics for the RPG course.

Here's some of the introductory material followed by a list of topics I hope to address. As you can see, I try to create titles that will help encourage attendance :) I also try to link keywords from the readings into the lecture titles.

This course focuses on tabletop role-playing games, specifically Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). We will approach the course from the dual perspective of cultural history and cultural studies. In addition to the critical analysis of academic research on RPGs, we will review popular material (texts and films), video-conference with gamers and authors, and conduct tutorials of RPG play and basic game design.

Although its antecedents have a much longer history, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson first published the game in the early 1970s. Over the last 40 years, D&D has given rise to the RPG industry, been revised into several editions, withstood a moral panic in the 1980s, the advent of computer RPGs in the 1990s, and the creation of massively multi-player online games in the 2000s.

What makes this game unique? Why do people continue to play this “strange” game with nothing other than with paper, pencils, their imagination, and oddly-shaped dice?

The majority of gamers play RPGs for social reasons. They play for group interaction and affiliation, and enjoy the cooperative style of play the game engenders. Some use RPGs to escape from an increasingly fast-paced modern existence – and to break their sense of the everyday. Set within a hyper-mobile, technology-based society, they express an anti-modern sentiment by eschewing computer games and consoles in favour of face-to-face human interaction. We will examine these questions, and many others, through an analysis of academic and popular sources, as well as experiential learning.

I approach this subject from the perspective of what American fandom scholar Henry Jenkins calls the “Aca-Fan” – an academic who identifies as a fan (or in this case, gamer). I have played D&D since the early 1980s, attended gaming conventions, and participate in online fandom. My academic background, alongside my familiarity with this gamer subculture, allows me to bring a unique perspective to this course.

1. Course Introduction: What is an RPG?

2. Out of the Basement: Where Did D&D Come From?

3. Early Research on RPGs: Fantasy Games as Social Worlds

4. Satan’s Game?: Moral Panic and D&D in the 1980s

5. Liminality and the (Invisible) Rules and Roles of RPGs

6. Quantifying (and Colonizing) the Imagination: Governmentality and RPGs

7. RPG Gamers: Fandom, Fanzines, and Fan Communities

8. RPGS: Women, Animals, and the Environment

9. Why RPGs?: The Heroic Life, De Certeau, and the Everyday

10. Back to the Future: D&D and the Old School Renaissance

There you have it. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Otherworld Minotaur (Variant)

Here's the minotaur (variant) from Otherworld Miniatures.

Double click to embiggen.