Friday, December 28, 2012

Barrowmaze Tonight

I'm marking the 50 the session of our gaming group tonight with some d20 cookies - critical hits, fails, and 50s :)

Our first session was September 30th, 2010. Sometimes we play every week and sometimes once a month, subject to the university cycle and time of year.

Of those 50 sessions, 35 have been devoted to exploring the dank corners and forgotten crypts of Barrowmaze.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Barrowmaze Christmas Sale

I'm running a sale on all the Barrowmaze stuff to celebrate the holidays. It's up now and will run through Boxing Day. Pass the word!

New Barrowmaze session report coming up too. We will hit our 50th session next week!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sorry Mike, You Are Doing it Wrong

Mmmm, nice PC centered-campaigns thanks to prestige classes. Geee, can't wait. Let me contain my excitement. Mike seems like a nice enough guy, but just to be clear, you are doing it wrong!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Random Expedition Groups for BM

I'm drafting four sets on Acolytes of Orcus and Necromancers of Set for BM. These were done using the monster entires (and the odd personal tweak). I figured I would make them available when they are ready for anyone who doesn't want to do it themselves.

Also, I'd like to expand the random adventuring parties. Perhaps at roughly odd levels through level seven. If you have an old dead character, or just want to role one up, or name and role up a group, note it here or email me. I'll add this to the above as a single resource supplement for everybody.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Barrowmaze Sale Ends Tonight 8pm

Be advised, I'll be taking the BM Thanksgiving Sale tonight at 8pm.

I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Barrowmaze Thanksgiving Sale

The Thanksgiving Barrowmaze Sale is here!

There's 10% off all pdf and print products on rpgnow. The sale will run through the weekend so please pass the word across your networks.

Happy Thanksgiving and Go Cowboys!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Upcoming Barrowmaze Sale

Just a quick note to say I'll be running a special sale to mark the Thanksgiving holiday. I'll sort out the details and have that set-up on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Save or Die #60

Save or Die #60

The Save or Die Podcast is now available on iTunes or at the below address.

I joined DMs Mike, Liz, and Glen for a long discussion of Barrowmaze.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rpg Circus Podcast

Hung out with Jeff and George on the RPG Circus podcast. Check it out:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Otherworld Indiegogo Closing, time to Get Involved

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Dungeon! 2012

I've eagerly awaited the new Dungeon! Boardgame. Yes, I knew it would have some WotC silliness (and it does) but I still have my original copy in great shape (Roslof cover) and have enjoyed it a great deal over the years. It's a nice alternative when you want a break from a regular D&D campaign.

I like the new board. I would have liked more of a distinction between light orange and dark orange for levels 2 and 3. That should have been cleaned up. I also would have preferred true purple over pink for level 4. It doesn't have the monster illustrations on the board like the older version. I like those fanciful but meaningful aesthetic additions. It gave the game a certain charm. I did appreciate male and female characters, even though I think the over-produced, over-posed 4e art is terrible.

I have gripes with the monster/treasure/spell cards. The stock won't accomodate regular usage. They are simply too thin and won't hold up with regular wear and tear. Also, I found the cards too busy. They just don't need that much information. I want big monster illos, not boring stats. As I normally say with most WotC items, for-the-love-of-the-gods keep it simple. The cardstock character pieces are too tall, tip over, and make no sense. The pawns in the old game (although not very cool) were far more practical than the tall character stand-ins. We, as you can see, used some mins instead (you know, the ones with the decomposing plastic).

Finally, some of the logic of the game bugs me. For example, if you are republishing Dungeon! you are saying, very clearly, THIS IS A NOSTALGIA GAME and we are targeting a certain demographic. Yes, other folks might buy the game but - odds are - the target audience has played the original game at some point. With that in mind, why is a Gelatinous Cube located on level 5? Why is a Carrion Crawler located on level 6 along with a Purple Worm and the Red/Black/Blue Dragons? Similarly, for a nostalgia game why use the terrible monster and PC aesthetic of 4e? If Elmore was good enough for the the cover of the 4e redbox then I would have gone a different direction with this game. If you are going to be a bear, then be a grizzly, so to speak.

The board of my game was/is bowed pretty badly. That sucks.

In sum, I appreciate WotC republishing this game. So much so I bought two as my kids are young and will no doubt destroy the first copy over time (I'm realistic). Being completely honest, I am more inclined to use the board and reprint the cards from the original game, than use the monster cards provided. They are more simple and easier for the kids to read. In all I'm underwhelmed. If you have no other options and want to play then buy a copy, if you have the old game, stick with that one.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

BM Treasure

Well, from the posts on google+ folks have started receiving their Barrowmaze campaign packages. Remind me to tell you the human interest story about the elaborate shipping plan lol

Here's what some of the treasure looks like. I hope it meets expectations and people can have fun with it.

As an aside, I picked up a copy of the new Dungeon! Game and played with my kids after school. I'm going to post on it shortly.

Friday, October 12, 2012


“You are about to embark upon a grand megadungeon under which I have striven these many months. The eyes of the realm are upon you…I have full confidence in your capacity to pilfer loot, your devotion to XP, and your capacity to flee ravenous monsters.”

That’s right folks – Barrowmaze II has shipped for all those living in the US. The packages will be coming USPS. I have personally packed and shipped each box (with an assist from Dan Proctor). Canadian and international orders will be posted this coming week.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Empty Rooms

I've been reading the various posts on empty rooms, based initially on Tenkar's ill-fated Dwimmermount game, with enjoyment. It's interesting to hear different perspectives.

First, how are people defining an empty room? Devoid of monsters? Devoid of treasure? Both? Completely devoid of anything? There's empty and then there's empty. I tend to think devoid of monsters, but that's my view.

I don't think we can have a discussion about empty rooms persay. All rooms, empty or not, need to considered in the larger context of the rooms immediately adjacent to it or the theme of the dungeon or dungeon level. Why are they there?

Empty rooms can accomplish a great deal - after all classic fantasy is supposed to be about exploration and not just hack n slash. I find empty rooms add to the verisimilitude and often add an exclamation point to encounters when they do occur.

Of course Barrowmaze has its share. This was a key aspect of the design. In hindsight, I wish I had more to give it a more hollow, empty feel.

BTW I played part of the first level of DM with James and really enjoyed the sense of exploration he was trying to inject into the game. But that's just me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Old School Sandboxing

I just wanted to point out an excellent read by Ravencrowking. You can find it here:

This is quite timely. My group and I are each creating a basic setting concept to "pitch" as our next setting. We have been using the Northern Reaches , which has been great, but it leaned heavily on the RBVancouver and NYC groups.

I'm going to base my concept on The Spine of the World and push/pull the idea around to get what I want. I've started the most basic of fundamentals and plan on pecking away at it over time. I'll post on it periodically. Check out Raven's pdf, it's very good.

More WotC Reprints

Looks like 2E is getting a dust off (not huge on it) as well as the S series and A series module compilations as hardbacks.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

FR Help

Has there ever been a Forgotten Realms supplement for The Spine of the World? I was thinking I'd have to poke through The North boxed set or The Savage Frontier supplement for details. Have I missed anything?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself

Here's the boy trying on his X-Wing pilot outfit for Halloween. Needless to say, he's pretty excited.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wanted: Greyhawk Ruins

I'm looking for a good copy of Grewhawk Ruins if you have one for sale or trade. I'd also like to hear more about Castle Zagyg. I don't know much about it other than there were boxed sets and supplements done in a limited print run. Is it any good? Easy conversion?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Check out these Bad Boys

I just received my second proof copy of Barrowmaze II and the revised version of Barrowmaze I, so I thought I would take a picture and share. They look super sweet, if you don't mind me saying so.

I want to draw your attention to the back cover of BMI with a brilliant homage to one of my favourite adventures that Cory Hamel and I dreamed up months ago.

Also I want to thank Cory for really stepping up to bat a few weekends ago and redoing the covers of both books in a different program (long story). He has been super, super awesome. He deserves a tip of the cap.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Second breakfast and Elevenses

I want to know why people are celebrating Second Breakfast at 11. Isn't that Elevenses? Or is Elevenses more like a rough approximation? If so, wouldn't that push back luncheon, tea, dinner and supper?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Barrowmaze II: New Jim Holloway Art

I have to admit, I've been trying to keep my powder dry and not reveal too many secrets or illustrations regarding BMII.

I think there's something to be said for cracking a new dungeon for the first time and feeling that sense of fun and wonder when you see new illustrations for the first time.

Having said that, it's time to open this particular sack of coin. Enjoy!

Random Treasure Dice

Inspired by Stefan P's random treasure dice I noticed in the D&D documentary clips, I've ordered 2 blank d12s to created my own. I'm going to pull out my miniature paints and brushes and do them up right. So, I've been trying to think of some random treasure tables I could base the dice on, but nothing springs to mind. I'm sick and a bit spun from the start of the all term. I was thinking of using 1 die for levels 1-2 or 1-3 and the other for a couple levels thereafter, although I'm not married to that plan. Any thoughts or creative suggestions?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Otherworld: Dungeon Adventurers

I was just poking aroundon the Otherworld board and noticed that Richard has announced that he plans to get his (very) long awaited PCs line up and running. I can't imagine these as anything less that a complete success. He plans to crowdfund it and I will support that 100%. i'm really looking forward to getting back to painting some miniatures once I get BMII off my plate in the next couple weeks.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Documentary Kickstarter

I know the last thing you probably want to hear is a reference to a kickstarter, but if you haven't had a chance be sure to look at the D&D Documentary. Gee, I love Stfan Pokorny's random treasure dice (yoink!).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sneak Peak: Barrowmaze II Goodies

Here's your first sneak peak at some of the old school goodness that will appear for backers of various levels as part of the BMII indiegogo campaign.

The 26x30 map in classic blue, the dice bag, dice, and the illustration booklets for both BMI and II. I'm thrilled to report that the illustration books contain a robust 17 illustrations each (either full page or half). Both have covers featuring Zhu the Mighty, who really outdid himself IMHO. Hmmm, I wonder what's on the cover of the second illustration booklet! Muahahahahahaha :)

Again, if you are interested, there's still a little time to get in on the campaign prices. Email me or post here.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Barrowmaze II Update

Simul-posted from the Indiegogo site:

I hope everyone has had a great summer. I’ve posted short updates recently on Indiegogo and my blog, Discourse and Dragons, but also wanted to send an update on the various aspects of the Barrowmaze II project:

Dice: The dice are in hand (had to order more).
Maps: The maps are in hand. Final size: 26×30 inches in old school blue (BMI and II on the map).
Dice Bags: The dice bags are complete and in hand.
Illustration booklets: In press. Should have them by Wed.
BMI: I’m updating and revising BMI. This will include the new map and a bunch of new illustrations.
BMII: BMII is complete. Phew! It is 154 pages-ish and over 70,000 words. I’ve pulled themes from BMI into BMII that should be fun and keep some consistency to the experience. Be advised that some of the front-matter will be consistent between the two books, there’s just no getting around it. I don’t want to say anything else and spoil any surprises :)

I’m hopeful to tie some ends together this weekend, and get proofs in a couple weeks. If those are ok, I’ll put in the order. If I can send the pdfs ahead of the hard copies, I will. I’ll also make it available on RPGnow around the same time.

I have limited extras of everything, including the illustration booklets ($14), which, if I do say so myself, are fantastic. The dice bags are sold out though. The price on the dice will be increased from $3 to $4. I do have a special surprise for all those receiving dice as part of their package. It’s a first come, first served deal and, as I said, supplies are limited.

I am SO excited to see all the threads coming together. Thank you again for your continued support of this project. BTW if you know of anyone who wants in late to the campaign, have them get in touch with me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The OSR Is Dead? Well Don't Tell Me...

I have to say, I really fucking hate these "OSR is dead" posts. They are shortsighted and bloody stupid. The original poster strikes me as somebody who likes attention, rather than making much sense. Anyway, for the record -- don't believe the hype.

Speaking for the OSR being alive and well, here's an update on BMII:

Dice: All the dice are in hand. Check.
Poster Map: the final poster map is 26x30. They are in press right now,
Illustration Booklets: Layout is complete. I hope to send these to the printer this week.
Dicebags: I hope to have all the bags complete this week.
BMII: Layout is complete. Just reviewing and revising for final edits.

Anyway, this project is moving well and on-time. There are a few more moving parts, but minus any issues, these should be in the mail by the end of October or the beginning of November. I'll update as needed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fantasy Draft Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my Fantasy Football Annual Selection Meeting :)

Nothing quite says the beginning of fall like football.

Anyway, yours truly has the first pick in the draft in a 12 team league. We play with 3WRs and a half point per reception. The draft snakes so I won't pick agan until picks 24 and 25. Draft gurus claim the first pick should be one of Arian Foster, Ray Rice, or Aaron Rogers. I have to play this the right way and guess the way the draft will go to get my players at the endof the second round.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Sorry for the lack of posts, but I'm still trying to get my feet under me from OSRcon and Gencon back to back. I have also been very busy organizing art for the Barrowmaze Illustration Booklets and getting the map off to the printers, when I have some spare time :) I'll try to get a gencon post up shortly.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Barrowmaze at Gencon

So today I hosted a session of Barrowmaze at Gencon. It was a really enjoyable game that featured players Matt, Mark, and Derik. I'll save a full report for when I can upload pictures. I can confirm that all the players survived (I know, I must have been off my game), but I did manage to reduce a couple to negative hit points (and they made their save or die rolls). They each walked away with a custom Barrowmaze Random Monster Die and I think we all had fun. Will post more on the game (and gencon generally, including my disappointment with the 5e playtest) when I return home.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gencon Part II

So, I walked over this morning at 745am and walked right in to pick up my registration with zero wait. Sweet! I spent most of my day wandering the exhibit hall. The OSR booth looked stocked full of sweet modules. I also noticed that Dwarven Forge has a new set of tiles on display for release inthe fall. These are called Catacombs -- and boy, they look like they were MADE for Barrowmaze. All kinds of alcoves, niches, etc filled with skeletons. Brilliant! Just perfect. They even had torches that flickered. Switching topics, I picked up a copy of the Monster Manual II in shrinkwrap (mine is falling apart). I also bought dice for my players and my kids. I'll try to get some pics on the go for later tonightor tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gencon will call

So much for smoothing out the will call pickup. The line, when I walked over there a little while ago, was huge and didn't seem to be moving very quickly. This was worse than 2010 around the same time of night. In 2008 they mailed your stuff (to Canada) which was a way better idea. I've been up since 5am and had a 10 hour van ride. I sounded a full retreat. Will try again early tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 13, 2012

OSRcon: Reflections

As I mentioned previously, I attended OSR con with Alex, one of the peeps from the homegame.

We played in James' Dwimmermount session on Friday. I hosted a Barrowmaze game on Saturday morning. We listened to the panel discussion and then played in Ed Greenwood's game in the evening.

I'll take a moment to speak about each.

James' session: I'm going to keep it real here folks. I also want to say that I don't know Ken St. Andre and I've never played his game. Having said that, Ken was a total pain in the ass and pretty much ruined the session on his own. Too many tangents. Too much griping about the rules. I felt really bad for James. Then, after shanghiing the session, he buggered off with 20 minutes still left in the game. If it was my game I would have thrown him out. I don't give a fuck who he is. Don't be a dick to a DM running a large table of players.

Barrowmaze: The session was quite fun with four players each carrying one hireling. I also carried an NPC cleric. The first fatality was Brendan's cleric Stumpy who fell down a bottomless pit. The next was the elf Crow. I think Vinz Klortho also bit the dust. I didn't take pictures (I know!) but I was too busy with the game.

Ed Greenwood's Game: This was fun. Ed has a full bag of personalities, voices, and sound effects, that made things interesting. I have to admit, I've had more than a few chuckles to myself since then. The thought of me turning undead as the cleric Tashram, while looking Ed Greenwood in the eyes and saying "In the name of Tymora, I banish you unholy abomination!!!" makes me smile everytime. Well, that - and I rolled an 18 :) He was also very gracious and friendly. A real class act.

So, all in all, a great minicon experience. Very nicely done.

Now it's off to Gencon!

Friday, August 10, 2012


I'll be at OSRcon today and tomorrow.

Looking forward to it.

I'll be running Barrowmaze and playing in James M's Dwimmermount and Ed Greenwood's second edition game.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Barrowmaze II: Jim Holloway Art!

The art from TSR-ex Jim Holloway has started to come in for Barrowmaze II!

Here's the first. A screaming Banshee!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Barrowmaze in 3D

One of the artists for Barrowmaze II, Stephen Thompson, recently did a 3D mock-up of one of the dungeon rooms. I'll let the images do the talking, but it felt super cool to see BM come alive in this way. I hope you take as much enjoyment from these pictures as I did.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spell Contest Winners Announced

[Sorry for the formatting, I'm posting on an Ipad.]-----The winner of the spell contest is Imon Fyre and for the entry of Hitzeamun's Blue Foot. Well done and thank you to all the participants! Imon, please contact me when time allows. You can find all the entrants and their spells here:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Barrowmaze Last Night

I'll save the gory details for Alex's session report but I do want to note the hightlight of the night.

After a relatively uneventful delve into the southern crypts, the PCs returned to town to rest and rearm. On their way back through the swamp they were attacked by three Pteranodons!

The war dog Sir Barksalot was eaten in one bite and the pteranadon flew away content. The second one flew in low and bit Mazakala the Magic-User for 12 points of damage. His body was cut in half. The third hovered low to bite and after many hits fell to Sol's mighty Spear +1.

So proud of their kill they returned to town and had the pterrifying pteranodon stuffed by a ptaxidermist and set him up in The Brazen Strumpet with a pint of mead (and to help entertain the kids). Even the beleaguered gnomes running to and fro serving ale were bought a pint to celebrate. God less those hardy adventurers.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Barrowmaze Dice Bag

The creation of custom dice bags was part of the Indiegogo campaign for select levels.

The concept was to have flagstone similar to the BM covers on the outside and gold coins on the inside (for the win).

Here is the first prototype. I'm very happy with the result.

1 down, 63 more to go LOL

My sweet, sweet 80s Koplow and casino dice not included :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

AD&D Reprints

Back from my sanity-break. I'm still trying to get my feet under me. I did manage to pick-up the AD&D reprints while doing some running around today.

I've only had a quick look at them so far. Love the feel of the covers. Font is a bit off but I'm pretty happy with them overall.

I have several copies of all three books that I have picked up over the years, so these were a want rather than a need. I believe at least two in my gaming group picked them up as well.

I bought these primarily to say to tell WotC to start supporting early editions and to help support the Gygax Memorial. It doesn't hurt to have an extra set of books for when I start teaching my kids to play either.

Did you get these books? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


[please note that I'm making this post with my ipad and it hates blogger and screws up the formatting] I'm on a summer holiday with the wife for the next week. Regular blogging will resume when I return. Yes, I'll be taking a draft of BMII with me for revision and editing :) Here's a couple BMII tidbits to hold you over: I've decided to extend the numbering of the barrow mounds from BMI to BMII. So instead of 16 being the Barrowmoor (in BMI) it will now be a mound on its own and then there will be 35 additional barrow mounds in BMII, for a total of 50 mounds overall. Huzzah! Many of these have multiple rooms. I'll also have a new hex-map of the barrows so your players can hex-crawl through the mist before getting eaten by ravenous monsters. LOTS of interesting coolness including additional hidden points of entry for higher level characters, a new mound type, treasure, etc. I haven't seen a copy myself (yet) but rumour has it Jim Holloway is very pleased with his color painting for BMII. I can't wait for The Reveal! Have a great week.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reminder: Barrowmaze II Spell Contest

Just a reminder of the Barrowmaaze II Spell Contest outlined below. There are some excellent entries so far. Feel free to enter more than once.

A recent OSR post brought the Jack Vance "Dying Earth" spell name generator to my attention.

This thing is magically delicious:

I'd like to run a "Create a Spell Contest" for inclusion in BMII. I've already have a bunch of my own (including Baltron's Effusive Bloodboil and Fennril's Exquisite Strangulation to name two) but I thought it might be fun to run a contest. The winner(s) will receive a free pdf of Barrowmaze II. If you are already getting BMII I'll send you some extra custom dice. Cool?

Here's how you participate:
1. Go to the spell generator and pick a spell name that bleeds classic fantasy adventure.
2. Create a spell to fit the spell name. Don't be functional, be creative and feel free to elaborate.
3. Post it in the comments section of this post.
4. Help spread the word.

I'll choose the winners on August 1, 2012.

Let me know if I've forgotten anything.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Barrowmaze Last Night

Last night's session was pretty interesting. initially I was going to audio record it. I didn't, but I should have. The party had been following the pulses of the Fount of Law in an attempt to find the Pit of Chaos. They came across a set of large sealed double doors. Thinking this the possible entrance to the pit, they entered but instead found it to be the Vault of The Chosen, Nergal's elite clerical sect. They 10' foot poled their way east after knocking down a bricked-up wall. They came to a room and, despite tapping the floor, the body weight of the cleric Cromwell and the dwarf Kelg made the entire floor giveway in a trap. After landing on their asses a great abomination of bone came forth with a antlered deer skull and four arms! Winning initiative it hit Kelg and Cromwell who were prone. Cromwell attempted to cast the next round but this was wasted by a strike from a scimitar. Kelg was hit several times and drank a Potion of Extra-Healing to keep himself alive as the halfling Snake Pliskin fired sling stones and the fighter Sol stood agog holding a rope. Kelg and Cromwell were hit several more times and it looked like curtains for the two of them. Kelg decided to drink his Potion of Growth. With several sling stone hits by Snake, and three double damage hits by Kelg, they managed to drop the dreaded Bone Golem. Then the action began lol Employing the "One More Room" approach, the party entered the other bricked-up room. Sol poled around the walls of the room and returned safely. They noticed that the ceiling of this domed room appeared to sparkle like star constellations. Cromwell, the fifth level cleric, stepped into the center of the room for a closer look and...fell into a bottomless pit! Oh yeah, did I mention he was carrying The Fount of Law? The game certainly has a way of keeping things interesting...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Interview at This Just In From Gencon

I was asked to Interview for The One Cool Person to Meet at Gencon Interview Series a few nights ago. It was fun. It's good and short (9mins). If you are interested in having a listen you can find it here.

Topics include:

•What drew Greg to OSR play and Labyrinth Lord
•How Barrowmaze developed organically in play
•The reasons behind the layout of the Barrowmaze dungeon
• The success of the Barrowmaze II kickstarter
•Finding the right balance in scheduling your Gen Con
•Greg is excited to check out the OSR booth at Gen Con

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Barrowmaze I Hi-Res Maps now up on RPGnow

The new Barrowmaze Hi-Res maps crafted by artist Cory Hamel are now available on RPGnow at the address below. You'll get both Classic Blue and Black/White maps in both PDF and JPG formats for maximum awesomeness!!! Staying in tradition the maps are Satanically priced.

Barrowmaze I Map Look-See

Cory Hamel and I are putting the finishing touches on the Barrowmaze I map. I'll anticipate putting that up on rpgnow as soon as later today/tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's a first look-see snippet at the map in classic blue and black/white. I have these printed out on 11x17 and they are pretty swank. Of course these snippets don't do the map full justice and show all the dungeon-delving action to be had, but they'll give you a good idea of what we are shootting for.

Cory is also working hard on the BMI and II combined map for the Indiegogo campaign (when I'm not distracting him with art requests :))

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Barrowmaze I

As progress on BMII has moved along, the idea of revising and reformatting BMI has been growing in my mind. I'm not try trying to make extra work, but there are things I want to do like include hyphenation, tweak the gutter margin, add more art, etc. BMII will have many of these already addressed so the two books will look more uniform. Most importantly, the high-res map for BMI is almost complete (blue and b/w). I want to put put those up on rpgnow as soon as Monday. I've printed them out on 11x17 and they are super sweet. When I put the new version of BMI up I'll add some thing new to the cover to mark it as such.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Barrowmaze Session Last Night

So we played BM last night. The party found the Fount of Law last session and are intent to follow Sir Guy's instructions to find and destroy the Pit of Chaos. They headed back into BM and immediately ran into a group of Necromancers of Set. The cultists had four zombies to act as skirmishers and a Runic Golem for muscle. The battle raged and eventually the leader of the cultists fled after a Silence spell had been cast. The party continued north and east eventually coming to a room filled with supporting columns depicting female valkyrie-style warriors. They used their Wand of Secret Door Detection and found one. Two of the columns immediately animated and attacked. Sadly Sol's preferred weapon of choice -- a dagger +2 -- shattered against the hard stone of the construct. Kelg attacked with his mighty warhammer +1 and needing over 35% to keep his weapon from being destroyed rolled a 36% (no bs). Another highlight moment was Cromwell the cleric reading a runic tablet, rolling a natural 1, and then making his save versus death or die. Phew! Some close calls this session. We'll get a more thorough report on Red Box Niagara as soon as Alex is sufficiently motivated :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rule #2: Double Tap

I did something completely different the other day. I was invited to a firing range. I have never shot firearms so it was a completely new experience. I've had family serve in the British military, so it's not completely foreign either.

If you are in the US and reading this, you might need a little background. In Canada, weapons are not as widely available and are tightly regulated. That's one of the reasons why the annual death toll by firearms is so drastically different between the two countries. Also we don't have gun ownership tied to our sense of self because we negotiated our Independence (yeah, we are hardcore like that) rather than having a revolution. So if you meet a Canadian that has a conservative view of guns and gun ownership, that's likely part of the reason why. We haven't tied it to our identity in the same way.

We started with the low calibre stuff and moved up from there. This was a seven shooter revolver (38?).

I'm not going to lie, I REALLY wanted to shoot the M1 rifle when I saw it. That's the weapon you often see in WWII movies and in video games. I wasn't very good at it. I was consistently below the target. I did seem to take naturally to the single shot rifle you see on the right and it gave me a nice grouping on the lower left black box in the picture below this one. I believe the distance was 25m (82 feet).

YeeeeeeeeeHaaaaw! I'm gonna git me some zombies with my trusty M1 peacemaker!

I had a great instructor, tried to listen closely, follow the safety rules, and really enjoyed it. I can now scratch firearms off my bucket list.

Let me leave you with Zombie Survival Rule #20:

It’s a marathon, not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint, then sprint.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recent Barrowmaze Session

First, I apologize for the dearth of posts lately. I'm spent between preparing BMII and playing. Plus my kids are hitting a wall as the end of the school year approaches, so I need to be on top of them pretty well 24/7. Also, becuase ipads/ blogger are a pain, I can't seem to insert spaces when Imake a blog post. So, we played BM last night. In the last session the part met the ghost of Sir Guy who implored them to seek the Fount of Law. This session eneded with them finding the Fount - making Alex the player of Cromwell, the lawful cleric of St. Ygg, a happy ecclesiastic. The session actually started with fireworks as Arnd Cobblestone the Dwarven cleric henchman was killed by a crabs (that shit's everywhere), as was Alson "Don't call me Alison" the man-at-arms. The party also had a random encounter on the way back and forth to BM with two 8HD Shambling Mounds - they bravely ran away, away. Those were the highlights. We need to get Alex on those session reports (free XP anyone?).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Barrowmaze: 600

I mentioned recently that Barrowmaze was on the verge of a milestone. I'm pleased to report that today BM sold its 600th copy either in paper or pdf on rpgnow. I'm pretty chuffed about it. I think that says a lot about our hobby and the appeal of old school gaming. Ok, back to BMII *cracks whip* :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reflections and other Random Thoughts

This is a bit of an ADD post, sorry. I'm kinda exhaling :)

Well, the BMII campaign came to a close on Indiegogo very early this morning.

Final tally: $12,702

Whew! It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. Make sure you know what you are in for if you decide to run a campaign.

It's also helpful to know your goal - mine was to make BMII bigger and better than BMI while offering cool exclusives to campaign supporters. We accomplished all that and more.

I really had to divide my time between the campaign and progress on the dungeon, so this now opens things up for me to concentrate exclusively on the dungeon design and getting the art going for the illustration booklets. Two booklets - that's not less than 24 half-page illustrations and 6 full page illustrations! That's crazy-awesome.

I'm going to get another G+ game going shortly, maybe Thursday or Friday night, so if you think you might be interested post in the comments.

BTW BMI is on the verge of a major milestone. Expect a post on that shortly ;)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Barrowmaze II Campaign: Final Day

This is the final day for the BMII campaign on the Indiegogo site. Please spread the word.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Delvers: Trivia Contest with New Prizes!

The Delvers have revamped their Trivia Contest including all new prizes.

Check it out!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Interesting Session Last night

Last night I DMed a 5 hour session of Barrowmaze with my usual group. It was a very interesting session for several reasons. To this point, my players have avoided bricked-up crypts for fear of provoking random encounters. Fair enough. After Sol, the human fighter lost a level to a wight deep in the crypts, they decided for this session to return closer to the main entrance and take out some bricked-up walls. Actually they criss-crossed the map looking for them and made out with some good loot. So it was a unique session from that standpoint (I was rolling poorly for random monsters which didn't help). The session was also interesting because at one point the party found two runic tablets. Sol and Serge the elvish fighter/ magic-user started daring each other to read them. Serge cut right though the playground politics and went straight for the deaded "Triple-dog Dare." Sol rolled a natural 20 and had his strength increased by one. Immediately on the heels of the natural 20, Serge rolled a natural 1!!! He failed his save versus death. His flesh immediately blackened and he died! I mean you just can't make this shit up. The player of Serge then rolled up a swanky new magic-user who on the next foray was pummeled by a Grey Ooze for 14 points of damage and he died too! I sorta felt bad. Sorta. He then rolled up a halfling thief and called him Snake Plissken. On cue, everybody who met him said "Hey, I thought you'd be taller." Needless to say, it was a very entertaining session. We'll get a more detailed report up on Red Box Niagara as soon as we can.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Barrowmaze II: 5 Days Remaining

There are just 5 days remaining in the campaign.

If you haven't checked out the campaign site, there's lots of extra stuff thrown in above and beyond the hardcopy of BMII.

There are custom dice, a custom dice bag, a custom crypt generator, a custom character sheet, extra levels, digital maps, and a poster map...and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting.

Oh yeah, how about not one, but two printed ToH-style illustration booklets - one for Barrowmaze II and another for Barrowmaze I!

I haven't even started talking about the art in the book yet. I'm still awaiting word from Jim Holloway too.

So, if you were sitting on the fence there's only 5 days left.

I've really emptied my bucket. It should be pretty awesome.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More 5e Playtest Thoughts

We played through some combat scenarios tonight and mixed the dice rolling with discussion of the 5e rules.

Here are some of our observations in no particular order.

If you are taking stock at home, we have two players in their 20s and two in their 30s:

*We don't like the HP bloat for PCs or for monsters.
*We don't like the bonus bloat either.
*We understand that bonus bloat requires HP bloat
*The laser cleric needs to go. The cleric player just stood back like Cyclops from the X-Men and blasted monsters. That wasn't fun.
*The dwarven fighter never missed.
*The frost ray of the mage player was particularly effective given the amount and volume of damage the party could deal in one round.
*We don't like the advantage/disadvantage rules. Why? It kills the sanctity of the dice. It doesn't allow the dice to play their part in the development of the game. It prioritizes the rules over the dice. We really dislike that.
*Is the gameplay fast? Yes, but that's because the bonuses are outlandish. You'd expect combat to end quickly given the bonuses and advantage/disadvantage rules.
*There needs to be a happy medium between AoO and no AoO. Unless we missed something (which is entirely possible) monsters can move unhindered right through a party to get at the spell-casters and vice versa.
*The cleric player wasn't really sold on the at-wills, but the mage player seemed to like them. They suggested getting rid of at-wills in favour of more spells that you could cast once per day.
*We felt it would be very difficult for a PC to die in this edition.

In sum, quick painful death must be a part of the game to make it meaningful. The randomness of the dice are a highlight of D&D, not something to get bracketed with rules. The combat plays fast, but that's the direct result of the buffy characters. Too buff for our taste. We like resource management, and the current playtest rules do not allow us to emphasize that aspect of the game (to the degree that we prefer). D&D is not a supers game, and this playtest felt like a supers game with first level characters.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

OSR Character Sheets

There is a little known project on Indiegogo for OSR Character Sheets. Effectively, you get a pad of character sheets for Labyrinth Lord, but they would be usable for any basic rpg. Anyway, I don't know this person. I just think it's a really neat idea. Please consider taking a look.

Barrowmaze on Google+ Last Night

Met up with Brendan S. and Greg J. on Google+ last night for a quick foray into Barrowmaze.

We actually played a little senario using the Random Crypt Generator I'm designing for inclusion in Barrowmaze II. Speaking of Barrowmaze II there's just 10 days left in the campaign :)

The opening is pretty standard fare, I'd encourage you to jump to the points of interest outlined in the description.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Interested in playing a bit of Barrowmaze tonight?

Then jump on google plus and start rolling your dice with us.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Read This...

I've been advocating WotC adopt this position forever, but never put it down in so thoughtful a way. You need to read this...all of it.

Barrowmaze Google+ Game Rescheduled (Friday)

Ok, so we'll reschedule the google+ game for Friday night 8pm.

I'll host it. If you are tech savvy and know how to record google sessions please drop some knowledge on me.

If you haven't created your character yet you can send me your scores via Secure Dice, 3d6 in order (Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con, Cha), and 3d6 for gold. Use LL+AEC. Try not to multiclass. If I've left anything out please let me know. kilted dot yaksman at yahoo dot ca

For those of you who chimed in a couple days ago, can you please confirm if you are good to go or not? Just so I have a rough idea of numbers.

Barrowmaze Custom Dice

I received the custom dice today for the Barrowmaze II Indiegogo campaign today in the mail.

I've already bagged them up. Hey, it's exciting and it's also one less job to do down the road.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

This from the comments of Mearls' most recent article: I don't want this crap. Consider me now an official 4e grognard.

Tonight's G+ Game Postponed.

A couple folks can't make it and I'm fighting a cold so I'd like to postpone tonight's game either to Thursday or Friday night. Same time 8pm. Let me know in the comments what works.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

5e: Dump/Add

I'm going to get my first chance to play the 5e playtest on Tuesday night. In the meantime I've been reading and thinking about the game in different ways and wondering 1) how I would have to change it to make it palatable, and 2) after that process would it even be worth playing it?

WotC designers want a game that isn't about resource management. They want a game where a lot of the details are simply hand-waved. That isn't cool.

So I've put a list together, let me know if I've interpreted the documents incorrectly.

The following items would need to be dumped:
1. At-will spells or spell-like powers (esp. at-will Light/Detect Magic - trying to get rid of resource management)
1b. I would accept very minor non-combat at-wills (ignite a torch/candle/pipe, close a door, call for staff, etc)
2. Inflated Hit Points (PC and Monster)
3. Death Rules
4. Backgrounds and Themes - esp. as restated feats.
5. Stonecunning, as it stands (resource management)
6. Ability scores for monsters - change that to a standard roll based on HD (or something).
7. Healing surge hit dice/Full HP after a rest
8. The word "orison" it makes people sound like weenies - and no laser clerics.
9. All DC mechanics
10. Any bonus to hit (or damage) for doing nothing (picking a class, picking a race, missing an attack roll).

The following items would need to be added:
1. Hit Dice for monsters. It is crazy not having explicit HD for monsters.
2. Ascending and descending AC (like S&W). New Schoolers can just ignore it, and it saves conversion between editions as they know we don't want to play the new crap anyway.
3 I strongly agree with the post at Weird Opera. The most important thing they need to add to the game is fear of death. In my opinion, without fear of death the game has ZERO meaning.

So this is just a preliminary list. I'm sure I will add to it after Tuesday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Barrowmaze II Campaign Update

Just a quick update to let everybody know the Barrowmaze II campaign is moving into the final stretch. If we hit 6k I will craft a new firld of Barrow Mounds and create a Random Barrow Mound Crypt Generator that will allow Maze Controllers :) to create their own on the fly. If we hit 7k the ToH-style illustration booklet will kick-in. I know from more than a few emails that people are interested in seeing this happen (as am I). I have some thoughts of my own to help get us there, but if you have a killer idea please share. Also, I thought it might be fun to run a couple google plus games in the next couple weeks for the folks that have pledged to the campaign. Let me know if you'd be interested and we can start the ball rolling.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

5e Playtest Materials

Ok, so at long last the 5e playtest materials are finally available. I've given all the materials a cursory read.

At a glance this looks like a min-maxer's paradise. Bonuses are too abundant for my taste.

Also, HPs are way out of whack for me. It would be very hard to die in this edition given the HP and the death rules.

I really hate that the monster stat blocks don't have Hit Dice. I don't want all my baddies having exactly the same hit points, that's just gamey.

The stat blocks are cumbersome, as they felt the need to include ability scores for things like oozes and centipedes. Really?

Backgrounds and themes look redundant to me.

There are also stat discrepancies between the character sheets and the equipment list (this might just be me, but I don't think so).

How WotC would expect you to play an Old School style with this game I have no idea. It would have to be so heavily houseruled that you might as well play something else.

It still has feats, healing surges by another name, etc. that simply do not interest me one bit.

I'd play this as a one-off but it is too far removed from TSR D&D to be useful to me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

391 Glorious Days, Bitches!

Gamquistu - I could survive for 391 days in the Zombie Apocalypse! How long could you?

Gamquistu - Games, Quizzes and Stuff.

Peace in Our Time? Ok, Maybe Not...

Just wanted to post this for the peeps, in case you missed it. Good on Ethan Gilsdorf for asking the question. Gildorf's a good guy and met with one of my classes virtually last year. Anyway, I'm not quite sure what to take from this answer. Mearls could have slam dunked it, but didn't.

Gilsdorf: When I contacted you last fall, you and your colleagues at Wizards spoke about how the major goal for this rules revamp was big picture, brand and relevance stuff — how to unite all the warring tribes; end the editions wars; get older, lapsed players to play again; and get younger generations excited about D&D. The changes you’re talking about here seem a little smaller-scale. Can you point to some bigger-picture ways you are addressing these issues?

Mearls: The really big questions are, in some ways, still up in the air. Right now, we’re sort of heads down, focusing on small details for the playtest. We have some fairly big ideas we’re working on in terms of RPGs as a whole, but that stuff is still fairly far off on the horizon. Right now, we really are down in the weeds in terms of details, and you’re right that the stuff we’re talking about right now is fairly small in terms of the big picture. However, that big picture still isn’t in focus. I think a mistake we made in the past was to try to make these big, grandiose statements, but in doing that we lost track of the core elements of what people enjoy about RPGs. We also ended up touting things that we couldn’t actually execute on, and no one wants that to happen again.With all that said, we’re definitely thinking big picture. That work is taking place, but it’s not ready for prime time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Barrowmaze Character Sheet

Zhu Bajie is crafting a swanky Barrowmaze Character Sheet for inclusion in the Barrowmaze II Indiegogo campaign. He has sent me some of his preliminary work-in-progress pics and they look great. When he is done this will be something to behold and a joy to play with at the table.

Both were rotated and saved vertically (but once uploaded changed to horizontal for some reason).

Anyway, here are a couple WIP images. If you haven't contributed to the BM campaign there's still time.

Gillespie on Mearls on Hit Points

Woke up to a strange column by Mearls this morning.

He is talking about hit points and healing. Actually I take that back, he isn't talking about hit points but rather curing magic and the desire to move away from reliance on a cleric (which by default will make the cleric obsolete).

I have never met Mearls, but boy he has strange ideas about D&D and the need to overcomplicate the basic tenets of the game.

He is suggesting using a character's hit dice as mundane healing dice. Basically a healing surge by another name. Which also has a byproduct of killing a bunch of interesting role-play opportunities, as we'll see.

The need for this is.......? I dunno, to placate 4e people?

Here are some friendly suggestions that accomplish the same thing without relying on gamey surges.

I'll start this list off and you can add to it in the comments.

The Barrowmaze Brigands - consisting of Lothar of the Hill People (Fighter), Galaxina the Magic-User, and Gutboy Barrelhouse the Dwarven Fighter - set off to make a quick gold piece in the crypts. WHAT A CALAMITY, they don't have a cleric.

Instead they decide to address their shortcomings within the game-world by:

1) Going to the Temple of Zuul and hiring the newly-minted Acolyte Vinz Clortho.
2) Visiting the gnarly local village crone to see if she has any healing salves or bandages.
3) Proceeding into Barrowmaze without a cleric but deciding on a course of action that is extremely cautious.
4) Hiring an elite cadre *snicker* of men-at-arms to walk point.

Ok. Now it's your turn. I like humour but let's take a moment to be constructive :) What else could the Barrowmaze Brigands do instead of relying on cheap/easy/dirty HD as healing surges?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gencon Event Registration

I managed to get signed up today for the events I wanted at Gencon. I only signed-up for two: the 5e playtest and a DCCRPG adventure.

When I first attended Gencon in 2008, I didn't sign-up for any events. I just took myself on an extended tour of the whole thing and observed.

The next time I went in 2010, I went with a good friend and our wives. We gamed during the day and then met up with them at night. It was good put we played too many games. I also DMed a game (TPK lol).

So this time round I'm going to play in two, run a session of Barrowmaze, and tool around the dealer hall. Initially I was going to stay for the whole thing, but with the wife going I think it makes more sense to leave on the Saturday morning and have a more leisurely drive home. It takes about 9 1/2 hours from Southern Ontario. I will also be at OSRcon the weekend before and will likely be out of steam by Saturday anyway.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thoughts on the Craft of Writing

I've been reading a few OSR blogs and their discussions of writing. All of these are helpful in one way or another but the advice should be considered just that - advice. The same goes with my thoughts below. Take it all with a grain of salt. This isn't a manifesto, rather it is just a personal reflection with the intent of helping people who are interested. Active voice/passive voice is my bag - so I'll spend most of my time focusing on that subject.

I've taught first year students at university for 10 years now. Teaching undergrads means teaching them to write from the ground up. You have to get them to look in the mirror and acknowledge their bad habits. Of course, nobody likes to look in the mirror but that's part of the process of learning the craft. At one point in time, all good writers were taken aside (and repeatedly taken to task) for their writing - it's just how good writers are made. I also believe that writing is a life-long learning skill and best taught in a mentorship-style. Reading "how to write" from a book is only valuable to a point. Also, good writers possess range - they understand writing conventions across fields and can thus tweak their language and structure to suit the needs of the medium. My learners get these messages in regular doses.

In my classes, I focus on formal structured writing - so formal argumentative essays are the order of the day. This means I need to teach the concept of authorial voice. Formal writing, in my view, requires an active voice sentence structure. What is active voice? We use active voice to sound more authoritative and confident by ensuring each sentence has a subject at the beginning, an action word or verb, and a thing (or object acted upon). This style is also referred to as SVO (or subject, verb, object) and is the basic sentence structure of the English language.

This style stands in contrast to passive voice which normally positions the subject at the end of the sentence.

Active Voice: The troll built the bridge.
Passive Voice: The bridge was built by the troll (or sometimes) The bridge was built.

The above are basic examples that serve to illustrate the point. The active voice sentence contains only five words and reads in a more authoritative fashion because we located the subject at the beginning. The passive voice sentence contains seven words and is less authoritate because the reader doesn't learn about the subject until the end of the sentence. Even worse, the third example has no subject at all.

Let me guess - some of you just said "Big-friken deal. You cut two words!"

My response: You cut two words from that sentence, made it more concise, and made it more authoritative. Now extrapolate that example over an eight sentence paragraph. How many words did you just cut and say exactly the same thing? Now extrapolate that paragraph over one page, two pages, five pages, and then over an entire manuscript. How many needless words did you cut from your writing? Exactly. In this new, strong, active form your writing will leap off the page, rather than sitting as dead letter.

So now that we understand the purpose of active voice we need a toolset to find passive voice in your writing. This is the simple part. Passive voice results from the overuse of the most overused verb in the English language - the verb "to be". So we need to conjugate the verb. When we do that - in various tenses - we get the following words "was, am, be, is, were, are, been, being".

So go examine a piece of your writing for these words. Use of these results in a passive voice construction. Experience has taught me that you have either left out the subject, or you have the subject at the end of your sentence. There are other possible reasons, but those, in my experience, are the two most common errors.

In a game-publishing context writing in active voice isn't critical. Would I recommend it? Sure. It is helpful, but the medium doesn't really require a formal voice. In contrast, my academic book "Hunting for Empire" required it - you would be lucky to find 5 passive voice constructions in over 60,000 words.

If I were to offer constructive help, I'd suggest the following: avoid double-negatives that give people ice-cream headaches, avoid starting sentences with conjunctions, avoid using "it" instead of a proper noun, avoid contractions, and avoid run-on sentences (one thought = one sentence).

Everybody you ask will have a slightly different opinion - and that's ok. If you are writing for fun, you need to decide what works for you. For my part, writing is an art not a science. There are habits that result in good writing and habits that are less good - but no objective measure exists. It takes practice and, in my opinion, a good mentor (Thank you, Nancy B).

Let me know if this post was valuable or not in the comments or if you have any questions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

D&D Five Chat Transcript

Have any of you read the chat transcript from today? If WotC was ever interested in reclaiming gamers of previous editions, it sure doesn't sound like it now. Anyway, our group plans on kicking the tires on the playtest regardless. The primary upside? I won't have to DM! WooHoo!

Indiegogo: Barrowmaze II Hits 5k!

A quick update to say that the Barrowmaze II Campaign on Indiegogo just hit 5k! As a stretch goal to 6,000 I'll add a new field of Barrow Mounds and a deluxe Random Barrow Mound Crypt Generator that will have application to BMII and beyond. Be sure to come chek out the campaign for further details!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Game of Thrones (Spoiler Free)

Is it just me or have you found that this season's Game of Thrones seems to jump around too much?

By the end of the episode you don't really feel like any single plot line has moved forward, rather it just has a plodding pace with excruciatingly brief moments of excitement.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Barrowmaze II Indiegogo Update

The Indiegogo campaign for BMII is moving along well. We are just shy of 5k with that goal adding a new "level" of crypts. The most recent excitement was James M. Selecting a perk that includes the creation of a new custom monster! That will be super fun and I look forward to working with him. I've got another goal for 6k too. If you haven't pledged yet please come and take a look. BTW I hope to have some of Jim Holloway's art rolling in shortly. So stay tuned! Ps. It's Mother's Day so make sure you are covered :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Barrowmaze at Gencon

Looks like my Barrowmaze game at gencon is all set for the Friday 1pm slot. It will be a 3 hour game using pregenerated characters. If you'd like to play be sure to signup.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our Podcast is Up (sorta)

I've done my best with my less-than-stellar tech skills to embed last night's podcast on the blog. It works in safari but explorer doesn't seem to like it. Let me know if it's working for you in the comments.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Barrowmaze II on Indiegogo Hits 4k!

Just a quick note to say that the campaign for Barrowmaze II on Indiegogo has hit the 4k mark! It's very exciting and I'm really pleased at how well things are going. If you haven't pledged please consider joining the camapign. I will be posting an update about some goodies in the next 24 hours.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Avengers and Recent Editions of D&D

I saw The Avengers last night. I'm not going to provide any spoilers, but I did want to say how much I enjoyed the balance between seriousness and comedy in the movie. I like the movie didn't take itself too seriously. I find self-deprecating humour very funny. When I flip through the books of more recent editions of D&D, I miss the humour. That's probably why I like images of adventurers getting their asses handed to them or depictions of characters in situations beyond their control.

Barrowmaze Podcast

Tomorrow, instead of our normal gaming session, we've decided to create podcast. We have a rough outline, but I'd like to have a segment where we answer questions about the dungeon, or our game, or sandboxing, or old school play. It's completely up to you! You can leave your thoughts in the comments or send to kilted dot yaksman at yahoo dot ca

Thursday, May 3, 2012

MEATSHIELDS! Now with War Dogs!

Cr0m and I have been slowly pecking away at some revisions to Meatshields! The Classic Fantasy Hireling and Henchman Generator.

The first was moving it to the site. The second was the inclusion of war dogs.

If you don't use war dogs you can just ignore the result, and if you do them it can be a nice way to vary the hirelings/henchmen in your campaign. They are uncommon, so don't expect them to appear on the first roll - unless the gods of the percentages deem it so.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Yikes; or Balls! To the Rule of Three Article

[Nice. My Ipad hates blogger and just ate my post. I'll sum it below to give context to the comments.]

First, read this tired crap about using DCs as role-play resolution in 5e.

Then remind yourself how tavern role-play should happen and the originality, creativity, and fun that emerges from these situations. Why kill it?

People play role-playing games for that reason - to role-play.

If all I wanted to do was roll dice I'd play a board-game (or a WotC version of D&D).

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Many Deaths of Dirk the Daring

I've been thinking quite a bit about the game Dragon's Lair.

I see an Xbox game was made of it in 2002. Anybody recall that?

I also found this sweet video on youtube that is just Dirk the Daring biting it over and over again.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Custom Dice for Barrowmaze II Indiegogo Campaign

Hi all,

I've created some unique custom dice as a perk for the Barrowmaze II Indiegogo Campaign.

The art was done by Zhu Bajie.

The die on the right is a Random Monster Die with the skeleton head in place of the number 1.

The die on the left is a Monster Initiative Die with the wraith and the word Barrowmaze in place of the number 6.

I'm throwing these in for all those who contribute at the level of Crypt Knight or higher. Please consider pledging and pass the word.

Cheers. Greg

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monte is Out!

So Monte Cook is out at WotC. This is likely good for those of us that prefer D&D as a non-bean-counting exercise. Of course, time will tell the tale. Speaking of 5e the public playtest is set to begin on May, 24 weekend - most Canadians are out partying and celebrating the Queen's Birthday with fireworks.

New OSR blog!

Hi all, I wanted to point out a new OSR blog. Cory Hamel's The Diary of Dirk Swordman Cory is a wonderful artist and a fellow Canadian. He has done a bunch of illustrations for Barrowmaze II including a really awesome golem illo I can't wait to reveal. Please go over and take a look and follow his blog. I know the old school eye candy will be 100% worth it. Plus anything that that has an homage to Dirk, should be supported strongly :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Barrowmaze Session Report and Notes

The most recent session report is now up, if you haven't seen it already.

It's entitled And in the Darkness...Cromwell Touches Himself which was a quote from the game session lol

We are playing again tonight.

Also, Sean at Tales from the Flaming Faggot has a great post on OSR publishing. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Launched: Barrowmaze II on Indiegogo!!!

Hi everyone,

The campaign for Barrowmaze II just went live on Indiegogo.

Please go over and check it out! Secrets of the maze revealed!

Almost there...

I'm almost done the indegogo campaign set-up.

Boy, it's a fair amount of work getting something like this moving.

If I can go live tonight (after I put my kids to bed) I will. I'm cautiously optimistic. Otherwise it would be tomorrow.

I'll update later tonight one way or the other.


Monday, April 16, 2012

T-Minus 2 Days to Indiegogo Launch

I've been busy drafting the Indiegogo campaign for Barrowmaze II.

I've taken the suggestions here to heart, and tried to incorporate them as best I can.

It's certainly nice and easy (logistically with the mail) if you live in the US. Being in Canada for this sort of thing creates all sorts of extra hassle, but these aren't insurmountable obstacles.

I've included shipping for Canada, the US, and the UK. If you are outside these countries, I'll still find a way to work out the postage.

I plan to submit it Wednesday. I don't know if the site takes time to vet the campaign or whether it just goes live. We'll see.

The campaign will run for about 50 days. If you have an interest in making Barrowmaze II happen, please be sure to spread the word.

I have some very cool surprises :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Barrowmaze II Perks

I'm in the process of setting up a kickstart (so to speak) for Barrowmaze II on Indiegogo. I'm still working through some of the ideas. Would you rather have a 17x21 print of the map or a piece of the artwork? Keep in mind it would have to be folded and a multi-colour art print will be more expensive (potentially more than I could accomodate) but I'm willing to look into it if there's interest. I have some other ideas based on reader suggestions, such as numbered hardcovers, author inscriptions, placement of your dead pcs, and collaborative monster creation. Anything else of interest?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Barrowmaze PbP via Raven Crowking

If you are interested in PbP games, Raven Crowking has two going right now. You can check them out on his blog or via the dragonsfoot forum. He's using the DCCrpg for one of them.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Schindehette/Cook Part III: Art and Meaning in Old School D&D

In my last post on this topic, I discussed the form and structure of art within the old school community.

To paraphrase, the post talked about how old school art is meaningful rather than why it's meaningful. There's a simple reason for that: from the standpoint of cultural study the how question is, in my experience, easier to address than why. Moreover, answering how is also the first step in explanation, and thus a good place to start. The why questions tend to be slippery - they are temporal, shifting, and subject to change. Also, one doesn't want to generalize more than necessary and why questions can lead down that road (not always, but sometimes).

So, we are still left with the question: why does the early art of D&D resonate so strongly within our community? Conversly, why do we have such strong feelings against the hero-worship in 3.5 and 4e? Is our over-riding motivation simply nostalgia as some might suggest?

I think the first step to answering this question is to look at the context.

For those who started in the 1970s, and even for people like me that began playing in the early 1980s, we experienced the creation of a brand new paradigm: the first fantasy role-playing game.

Although we may not have recognized it at the time, the experience was profound. This is called a first play experience. We have all experienced the sensation at one point or another - it's that feeling of liminality. The feeling of standing on the threshold between the imaginary "game" world and the "physical" world (this is a false dichotomy but that's for a different post).

The profound nature of this experience was backdropped with a unique aesthetic - module covers and hardback books that depicted the fever-dreams of Erol Otus, the scruffy adventurers of Jim Holloway, and the sheer brilliance of Dave Trampier. There were no viable alternatives in terms of RPGs in my neighbourhood, so we voraciously played TSR D&D and those AD&D Monster Manual images burned into our subconscious. They left an indelible mark on generations of D&D gamers. We can all point ot examples. The recent one that comes to mind is the episode of Community that highlighted AD&D instead of the currently-supported 4e.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions of the OSR is that, because we base the look of our games on previous editions, we are inherently backwards-looking. We know it's quite the opposite. The early art of D&D allows us to both look backwards in a form of homage (as a cultural historian I believe that's just wise advice in any venture), but I'd argue the old school community is inherently forward-looking. With an acknowledgement of the past (and thanks to the OGL) we can exert our own agency and chart a course for our individual games and the collective hobby.

So people ask, is it just a nostalgia trip?

Those who want to dismiss the OSR will say yes and move on, but clearly the answer is no.

Nostalgia was a part of my decision to return to old school gaming, but it was only a small part. I can't deny that I had great time playing previous editions. Most importantly, though, I believe the game I'm playing now is better. I believe the game I'm playing now connects mechanically, aesthetically, and culturally to the game Gygax intended - I want to play and write classic medieval fantasy. That isn't important for some, but it is important for me.

The best advice I can give to Schindehette and his visual team (as well as the design team), is the same advice I gave last time - do not reject your inheritance. The history, look, style, and mechanics, as well as the ease of prep and play. We certainly won't.

Because, if given the option to vote (with my wallet) between, in Monte Cook's words, the "simple-yet-wahoo style of old school Basic D&D and the carefully balanced elegance of 4th Edition" it's a pretty easy choice for this simple wahoo.

Cairn of the Skeleton King pdf?

Does anybody know if the Kuntz, Cairn of the Skeleton King pdf is still available?

I can't seem to find it.

Friday, April 6, 2012


I too received the DCCRPG pdf this morning and am interested in giving it a good once over. I really enjoyed reading the 3.5 Dungeon Crawl Classics, and I liked their design and aesthetic overall. I like Joe Goodman as well. Having said that, there are two things, at first glance, I would quibble with. The art is a double-edged sword. It is magnificent one one hand, but the sheer volume I find a bit too much. Also, I'm not huge on the perspective and approach taken in the OSR paragraph in one of the appendices. This should have been edited out IMO. These are more cosmetic than substantive issues. I don't think I'll get a chance to play it, as I want to play TSR D&D, but I look forward to giving it a good read and watching it expand and grow over time (which I'm confident it will).

Crowdsourcing Barrowmaze II

Sorry that my posting has slowed recently. All my extra time has been spent on Barrowmaze II. I've been working closely with artists and keying rooms. It's all very exciting. I've also been exploring alternative funding models. The success of James' Dwimmermount and other rpg projects at Kickstarter, and Raggi's project at Indiegogo, has me thinkIng this is the best way to go. I could afford extras that I simply couldn't include otherwise. So, I'd like to ask your opinion of crowdsourcing. Do you support projects at Kickstarter or Indiegogo (rpg or otherwise)? Also, if Barrowmaze II was crowsourced would you support it? What sort of perks would you like to see at the various funding levels? Also, have a great Easter!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Barrowmaze: OSRcon and Gencon

I'm attending both OSRcon in Toronto August 10-11 and Gencon the following week. Stinks that they are both so close together, but that's my Charlie Brown luck. Anyway, I'll be running one Barrowmaze session each. So if you are attending and want to play be sure to signup.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Barrowmaze Session 17 (March 30)

Looting tombs ain't easy, as the PCs found out this session. Rather than the sword, the PCs used the chisel early and often. You can read about it here.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

JG Wilderlands Hex Sheets

I'm still on my hunt for Judges Guild Wilderlands Blank Hex Sheets (17x22). The sepia colored ones.

Does anybody happen to have one they would part with, or do you have a scan of one?


I wanted to write a quick note that OSRcon (Toronto) registration opens tomorrow.

I couldn't make it last year because my wife and I had already planned a trip away by the time the conference dates were announced. However, I plan on being there this year and intend on running either Barrowmaze (or possibly something else). I'll also try to have a few hard copies with me if you are attending and interested. At least one other person from our gaming group will be coming with.

Also, sorry for the slow blogging recently. Between our aggressive playing schedule, work, and yard duty, there hasn't been as much time as usual.

Speaking of playing, we were at it again last night. I'll post when we have the next session report up.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Barrowmaze Session Report from The Delvers

I'd just like to point out a super awesome session report of Barrowmaze from The Delvers.

How cool to play with your kids! Is Dad DMing?

I have to wait more than a few years before my children will be old enough to play but until then - I'll take great enjoyment from reading these cool reports.

Be sure to poke around their blog - there's no charge for awesomeness.

Poag Interview at The Drunk Umber Hulk

I just noticed an interview with Stefan Poag over at The Drunk Umber Hulk. I really enjoyed it. I like to learn how creative people think and do what they do.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Barrowmaze Session 16 (March 23)

In Session 16 (Northern Reaches 32) the adventurers managed to explore deeper into Barrowmaze. They ran into a bunch of vermin and fled all the cool rooms :)