Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Support the Secrets of Blackmoor documentary

This is a great project that they have been working on for five years. I appreciate that there was no Kickstarter way back. They have plugged away getting all of the interviews on film and organizing it and now they just need the funds to have the professionals help them turn the footage  into a professional product for release. Please help support the final stage of this product.
If you have not seen posts in other places, Secrets of Blackmoor the documentary is trying to raise funds to offset expenses on the final stages of the film. Having seen that a lot of people over worked and under delivered on kick Starter we are trying a different approach. We are offering T-shirts for sale. These are original limited edition T-shirts by Bob Bledsaw of judges guild. Bob was kind enough to donate his art to the project.
So it isn't like you pay your money and... You didn't even get the T-shirt. *groan*
You can get a T-shirt here: www.secretsofblackmoor.com(navigate to the Shop and you are there!)

If that is not enough, if you get a shirt before Sept. 2, we will also give you a FREE access code to see a 35 minute draft of the film.
You can see a sample from the movie draft here: 

You can also check out our blog where we post about all kinds of game related things:www.secretsofblackmoor.com/blog/quick-and-dirty-disposable-dungeons-part-1-the-map

Friday, July 27, 2018

Celebrating Gary Gygax Day

Today is Friday July 27th, 2018 the anniversary of Gary Gygax's birthday and he would be 80 were he still  with us.

Grab some friends and go play a game, any game and hoist a beverage and toast his memory as someone who loved to play games. All that other stuff you could be thinking about, put it out of your mind and go have some fun with your friends. I have the feeling that is what Gary would be doing if he was still with us.

That's what I am going to do, how about you?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Friday, May 25, 2018

Paul Mosher friend of Dave Hargrave has Passed On

Paul Mosher was a close friend of Dave Hargrave and he has now passed on into forever.

Have a mug of rummy tum ale all in Paul's honor as we celebrate his life and mourn his passing.

Here are Aprel’s words (Paul’s wife):

On Sunday April 15, 2018:

“I wanted to let you all know, that this morning with no fuss Paul quietly slipped from this world into ARDUIN forever. He had not been sick, and it was a real shock…Please let anyone else you think of know.”

On April 25, 2018:

“They have finally signed off on Paul's death certificate and he was cremated last night. I will be picking up his ashes Thur. Hopefully today or tomorrow I will be meeting with the Vet guy and will be getting the arrangements made for the memorial. “ 

Time to Celebrate Dave Hargrave Day May 25th

The Dream Weaver - that is a name to inspire you and it was Dave Hargrave who inspired the name. Now on May 25th his birthday, let's take a moment and remember what he created when he created Arduin and first brought it into the public eye.

The Arduin Trilogy is the first three books of the Arduin Grimoire reorganized and presented in a single volume pdf. It is not available in hard copy. I would love to get one if it were. Take a look at the table of contents with all of the material organized into categories and with clean typesetting and all very readable with all the benefits of the pdf format. The original three books were done on a typewriter with all the limitations that entails. Pick up the original Arduin Grimoire for flavor and then pick up this item to use.
Dedications 1 – 2
Dedication 2
Dedication 2
Special Dedication 2
Forwards 3 – 5
Forward 4
Forward 4
Opening Comments 4 – 5
Special Message To Fans Of Arduin 5
David Hargrave’s Words Of Wisdom 6 – 35
How To Play The Game 7 – 8
Point System 9
Notes On Player Character Types 10
Individualization Of New Player Characters 10
Notes On Character 10
New Character Hit Point System 11
Comments On The New Hit Point System 12
Notes On Natural Character AC 12
Notes On Character Functions, Capabilities, And Characteristics 13
Notes On Languages 13
Experience Level Chart 14 – 17
Notes On Treasure 18
Notes On Potions And The Like 18
Guild Fees 18
DM’s Versus Angry Players 19
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly 19
Random Chance Chart For Magik Weapons 20 – 21
Notes On Alignment And Playability 22
Hargrave’s Detect Ability Chart 23
Random Trap Matrix 24
Notes On The Random Event Charts And Campaign World 25
Rope Breakage Chart 25
Resurrection And Other Notes 26
Notes On Travel 27 – 28
Movement Of Men And Monsters 29
Hargrave’s Magikal Equipment Saving Throw Matrix 30 – 31
Space Creatures And Other Aliens In Fantasy Role Playing Games 31
Energy Weapons In Fantasy Games 32
Miscellaneous Notes On Combat 33
Special Note On Combat 33
Special Note On Melee Movement 33
Real Medicine And Fantasy Gaming 34 – 35
Various Rules Changes 35
Rule Questions 35
Physical Character Appearance 36 – 48
Character Height Determination Chart 37 – 38
Character Weight Determination Chart 39
Optional Character Appearance Chart 40 – 41
Body Type Determination Table 42
Female Attributes Chart 42
True Strength Function Chart 43 – 45
Giant Strength Equivalency Chart 46
True Charisma And Its Meaning In Game Play 47
Special Physical Additional Bonuses 48
Player Character Resources 49 – 62
Character And Alignment Chart 50
Special Ability Charts 51 – 57
Character Aging 58
Character Social Status 58
Character Wealth Table 59
Character Legacy Chart 60
Owned Equipment Chart 61 – 62
New Player Character Races 63 – 66
Deodanths 64
Phraints 64 – 65
Saurigs 66
New Classes 67 – 100
Alchemist Class 68
Assassin Class 69 – 70
Barbarian Class 71
Bard Class 72
Courtesan Class 73 – 74
Druid Class 75
Forrester Class 76
Martial Artist Class 77 – 79
Medicine Man Class 80
Normals Class 81
Outlaw Class 82
Psychic Class 83
Rune Singer Class 84 – 85
Rune Weaver Class 86
Sage Class 87
Saint Class 88 – 89
Slaver Class 90 – 91
Star Powered Mage Class 92 – 93
Techno Class 94 – 95
Trader (Merchant) Class 96
True Paladin Class 97 – 98
Witch Hunter Class 99 – 100
Character Limitations 101 – 108
Character Limitation Chart 102 – 103
Condensed Character Limitation Chart 104 – 107
Condensed Character Limitation Chart 108
Character Saving Rolls 109 – 115
Character Saving Roll Chart By Race 110 – 111
Character Saving Roll Chart By Class 112 – 113
Character Type Saving Throw List 114
Saving Roll Chart For All Stoning Of The Glance Or Gaze Variety 115
Class Errata And Resources 116 – 122
Special Errata Notice 117
Clerical Spells, Healing, Regenerating, And Such Like 117 – 118
Black Clerics 118
Special Note On Thieves And Thievery 118 – 121
Reworking The Clerical Curing And Healing System 122
Techno Magik 122
The Multiverse 123 – 128
The Multiverse 124
Guilds And Societies Of The Arduinian Cycle 125
Rank And Royalty Chart 126
Principle Wild Tribes Of The Arduinian Nexus 127 – 128
Money and Valuables 129 – 139
Value Chart For Coinage 130 – 131
Precious Gems, Semiprecious Gems, And Other Valuables 132 – 138
Price Examples For The Arduinian Universe 139
Wergild 139
Multiversal Trading Company 140 – 152
Multiversal Trading Company Price List 141 – 143
Loan Rates And Other Information 144
Price List For Goods 145 – 146
Price List For Specialty Magik Items 147 – 148
Magik Item Price List 149 – 150
Magik Weaponry Value Chart 151 – 152
Weapons 153 – 165
General Notes On Weapons 154
Weapon Classification Tables 154
Weapon Attack Chart 155
Weapon Damage Table 156 – 157
Missile Weapon Attack Chart 158
Missile Damage Table 159 – 160
General Gunnery Charts 161 – 162
Non-Weapon Attack Matrix (Claws And Things) 163
Weapon’s Breakage Chart 164 – 165
Fighting Tools 166 – 175
Combat 167 – 168
Main Combat Table 169
Brawl Chart 170 – 171
Melee Chart 172
Miscellaneous Notes 173
Combat Rules 174
Notes On Fighting Men And The Use Of Weapons 175
Escape And Evasion 176 – 181
Escape Tables 177 – 180
Overland Escape And Evasion Chase Chart 181
Criticals And Fumbles 182 – 187
Hargrave’s Fumble Table 183
Hargrave’s Critical Hit Table 184 – 185
Critical Hit Table For Non-Weapon Wounds 186 – 187
Undead 188 – 190
Notes On Undead 189
Clerical Turn Away Chart 190
Monster Data 191 – 205
Notes On Monsters 192
Dinosaur Chart 193 – 194
Sea Creature List 195 – 196
Werecreatures Combat Chart 197 – 198
Overland (Water) Monster Encounter Chart 199 – 201
Monsters 202
Dragon Determination Chart 202
True Elementals 203 – 204
Experience Chart For Monster Slaying 205
New Monsters 206 – 258
New Monsters 207 – 216
New Monsters 217 – 228
New Monsters 229 – 258
Magik 259 – 269
Magik In Arduin 260 – 262
Prismatic Walls And Their Usages 262 – 264
Rune Weaver Magik’s Wondrous Webs of Power 265 – 266
Notes On Magik 267 – 269
Spells 269
Mana And The Cost Of Spell Power 269
New And Unusual Spells 270 – 307
New And Unusual Spells 271 – 276
New And Unusual Spells 277 – 285
New Spells 286 – 307
New Magikal Treasures 308 – 327
New Magikal Treasures 309 – 312
New Treasures 313 – 319
New Magikal Items 320 – 327
Golems 328 – 330
New Golem Types 329
Golem Construction 330
Heaven And Hell 331 – 367
Principal Religious Sects In Arduin And The World 332 – 334
Angels 335
Demon Lore 336 – 337
The 21 Planes Of Hell 338 – 340
Lesser Demons 341 – 344
New Lesser Demons 345 – 348
Greater Demons 349
Hargrave’s Demon Lore Greater (Named) Demons Of The Arduinian Cycle 350 – 366
Hell Spirals 367
Game Master Resources 368 – 382
Dungeon Master’s Solo Determination Charts And Notations 369 – 373
Random Encounter Chart 374
Encounter Reaction Roll Chart 375
Random Life Style Changes 375
Reincarnation Charts 376
Character Resurrection Chart 377 – 378
Most Malignant And Malefic Miseries Known 379 – 380
Notes On Fantastic Beings 381 – 382
Dungeons 383 – 392
Dungeons 384
Key To Dungeon “Sign Posts” 385 – 387
Dungeon Monster Encounter Chart 388 – 390
Random Fog And Mist Generation Chart For Dungeon Rooms 391 – 392
Take a look through that list of contents, you should already have a dozen or a hundred ideas percolating just looking that it. Reading it is an experience you don't want to miss. The wealth of ideas is mindboggling and is in my mind the ultimate OD&D supplement.

Oh and my favorite parts are the spells and the "Magikal" Treasures. I will write about them another day before long.

Happy Birthday to Dave Hargrave and thank you for being an idea cornucopia in an idea stingy world.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Coming Soon! Dave "The Dream Weaver" Hargrave Day May 25th

May 25th is the Birthday of Dave Hargrave also known as The Dream Weaver. Dave Hargrave is the creator of Arduin and it one of the all time great's of the early RPG world. Please join with us on May 25th to post in honor of Dave Hargrave and to celebrate his life and Arduin his creation.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The First FRPG (OD&D) and World Building - Original Edition RPG Appreciation Day(OERAD)

Original Edition RPG Appreciation Day - May 5th, 2018. Celebrating OD&D and all its derivatives.
I don't know about all of you, but as an old school OD&D referee one of my greatest pleasures in life is World Building. Some fear that blank white paper and writer's block, but when it comes to World Building, not me. 

Now don't get me wrong I can struggle with inspiration on other things just like anyone else, just not with World Building. With World Building just give me some paper, a pen and let me be, I'm good.

I think I have read everything that ERB published in book form and those books are a rich deposit with many deep fans of ore than can be mined and mined and mined for ideas and inspiration. The worlds of Tarzan that stretch all the way to Pellucidar, the worlds of John Carter from Barsoom to Jasoom. The Amtor of Carson Napier. 

I have always loved the world of Amtor, especially the forests of massively giant trees.

There there are the stories of REH and the worlds of Conan, Kull, Bran Mak Morn, El Borak, Dark Agnes de Chastillon, Solomon Kane, Cormac Fitzgeoffrey and Breckinridge Elkins. 

The Middle Earth of JRRT and dozens nay hundreds of other worlds by other author's that must go unmentioned.

Then of course are the real world atlases and geography books, maps galore, Google Earth and the NASA images of the planets and moons.

But that is all just ideas and inspiration. It is when you put pen/pencil to paper that things really start. Now I am not an artist and kudos to those that are, but those pitiful little marks I make on paper are enough to evoke the images they represent and along with the brief written descriptions they allow me to present the world to the players during the game.
When you reach the swamp it is overcast and muggy, the air is still and the stench of rotting vegetation is overpowering. You think you see vestiges of a path, but it is obvious you will have to do a lot of wading. There are grassy hummocks here and there among the trees and the downed rotting logs. Big leafy pads cover pools of unknown depth and occasional bubbles break the water now and then. The biting insects buzz around you in clouds and from within the swamp emanate all manner of sounds from large insects to "other" creatures. One loud booming sound seems to be of something large, how large and how aggressive? Do you want to continue into the swamp?
I can picture every rock and every rill, every blade of grass, every grain of sand and every leafy branch. All the fauan and flora the world has to offer. Rivers, oceans, streams, creeks, ice caps, deserts, mountains, plains, broad valleys, rolling hills, grasslands, forests, savannahs, swamps, marshes, wooded hills, broken wastelands and more.

Monsters of all types; humanoids of greater and lesser intelligence, appetites with legs, every manner of undead, tiny insects by the billions, giant insects, giant snakes, venomous creatures of every stripe, giants, mage created monstrosities, odd hybirds, dragons and much more.

Cannibals, head hunters, bandits, pirates, armies, and bureacrats. Merchants, farmers, sliversmith, armorers and every kind of person. The honest and good, the corrupt, the evil and the insane.

The vilest of real world religions and cults, to mythology, to invented pantheons and invented religions and cults (though it is tough to try to top the real thing), they all go into the storehouses to be brought forth and used at need.

There is so much evil in the real world, so many vile perverse cultures, beliefs and practices that there is no need to make things up. But make it up we must, even if we are only filing off the serial numbers and changing names to protect the guilty, less your time would be consumed by the fake outrage from the Guild of the Perpetually Offended and from the Guild of Defend the Indefensible at All Costs.

I also write of the many races/species of men and demi-humans who together fight the good fight to preserve and defend civilization against all comers. I also write of the many races/species of the monstrous who along with traitorous treacherous human/demi-human scum war against civilization, who seek to destroy and erase humanity/demi-humanity from the face of the world.

The heroes are the black, brown, olive, red, swarthy, white and yellow races/species of man, based on the seven species and the sub-species 
that are found in the real world along with all the mixed of the same. The Villians are the many species of monsters and the traitors who are black, brown, green, olive, purple, red, swarthy, white and yellow, the furred, the leather-skinned and the armored and all manner of odd variations.

Ancient kingdoms, ancient ruins, young kingdoms, city states, tribes, clans, farmland, merchant caravans, trading ships, warships, pirates ships and trade routes.

All of these and more go into creating a living breathing world with a history, a present and a future with or without the PC's. The breath, depth and detail will vary from ref to ref depending on the available time, but World Building is something every old school Referee can, should and does do.

In an old school world there are no railroads in the sense of adventure paths that the PC's are forced to follow. Now in some variations, steampunk OD&D anyone, there may be real physical railroads and players are not forced to use them. 

All of this just touches the surface of World Building. This is not even getting started, this is just the barest shallowest taste of what World Building is.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Scrolls of Lankhmar - A Fritz Leiber Wiki & RPG Guide to Nehwon

Just posting about a really cool site that has been around for awhile, but I am not sure that many people know about it.

The site is the Scrolls of Lankhmar - A Fritz Leiber Wiki & RPG Guide to Nehwon and it is curated by Srith of the Scrolls aka Charles Fewlass, Creator of the Scrolls of Lankhmar who has a Google+ page titled Fritz Leiber and a Facebook page The Scrolls of Lankhmar.
Fritz Leiber was born in 1910 and died in 1992. He was considered one of the best genre authors of all time and a pioneer in the field. He was very well respected and admired by his peers, and authors such as Harlan Ellison, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman have all remarked on how much authors today owe to him. Among many awards bestowed upon him include Grand Master of Science Fiction, Grand Master of Fantasy, and one of the first Bram Stoker Awards for Lifetime Achievement in horror. He excelled and broke new ground in all three genres–a rarity among authors.
So if you are a fan of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and of Fritz Leiber's other works, go check this site out.

Original Edition Roleplaying Appreciation Day is Saturday May 5th!

Original Edition Roleplaying Appreciation Day is Saturday May 5th! It was announced on March 27th, 2018 here over at the Gamers & Grognards blog. Yesterday on April 6th, 2018 they posted the Submission Guidelines for Original Edition Roleplaying Appreciation Day here.

The most recent post goes into detail concerning what will be accepted and it is IMO quite broad and is expected (by me) to be a really cool thing and I am going to block out time to do a lot of reading and following links that day. As well I am planning on participating.

They also go into what will not be accepted, that is to say, what is outside the scope of this event.

They close with how to go about being part of the festivities. Please go check it out and let's have wide participation.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The RPG Forums I Frequent

The RPG forums that I frequent in the order that I joined them are these
I have belonged to all of them except for the last one for a long time. I joined the last one last month in March. I have posted a bit, but not a lot at all of them and I doubt that you will be able to discern who I am on each as I have a different username on each of them, which is not for any reason other than that I have heretofore always tried to keep a low profile with a quiet low key persona.

I have on the last one found a different atmosphere (no slight to any other forum), so I have abandoned the low profile on that one forum and started posting and it also inspired me to start this blog.  That is not to say that I am not active on the other forums. I do as much reading as I can and I still post now and then on all of them except the Grognard's Tavern which is very quiet these days. Even on the non-old school RPGNet I find plenty for this old school DM to chew on and each to use in my own campaign.

I am primarily an OD&D DM and sometime player, but I am also very fond of the Rules Cyclopedia.  I also enjoy several of the "clones" although that is not a full description of all of them. I have copies of the core books of all the pre-3E versions and I have never looked at the anything 3E or later.

I plan on posting semi-regularly with a review now and then, my opinion and things that I think are fun. Now and then I might, post something that someone else could use in their campaign if it strikes there fancy. Right now I am trying to figure out what I can and can't do using blogger.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Links to Other Rob Kuntz Interviews

Select Online Interviews:

RPGPundit Interviews Rob Kuntz, Part 3 (of 3)

Now and then there is a blog post over on The RPGPundit's blog that I find interesting and here is one such.
RPGPundit Interviews Rob Kuntz (Part 3 of 3)!
The teaser quote
7. What do you think is the biggest thing (or things) that most of the so-called cognoscenti who have published or written extensively on social media about the origins of D&D have kept getting terribly wrong? Or vital details that they've totally omitted from their narrative of the origin story?
Go check it out. This completes all three parts of the interview.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Review of Supplement VI "The Majestic Wilderlands" By Robert S Conley part 5

Review continued with part 5

Other things that did not work for me personally, but they may work for you and your players.

The deities of the Majestic Wilderlands is an informative but not overwhelming set of deities for fascinating roleplaying opportunities. Not all players are going to be up for a game where religion plays such as large role (mine would not be). But for those that are into that, this is the place for them to be.

Regarding the Character Classes and Ability Bonuses, there is a fair bit of bookkeeping and a good up to date character sheet is a must. The stuff provided is good, but you may not want the extra detail depending on your players.

Overall view of the Supplement. Well done, straightforward and well written. I may not be a good judge, but in my opinion it is well edited too. Nothing jumped out at me the way bad editing usually does and so it is a very clean document. I think most people would get a lot of benefit out of this supplement, just for a good example of how it is done if nothing else and while I might not use it directly, if I had the opportunity I would certainly play in it.

Disclaimer: 😉 I realize this is nine years old so I am not trying to break new ground with this review. Mr Conley was kind enough to provide me with the copies and I felt I should make some small effort to let him know what I thought of it. I was to say the least, favorably impressed.

Review of Supplement VI "The Majestic Wilderlands" By Robert S Conley part 4

Review continued with part 4.

Other things that worked for me.

I found the section on Races and their origins to be entertaining and they provide a very workable framework for a campaign, I thought this was quite well done. You may notice that I am trying not to give away too many spoilers in this review by giving much in the way of details, mostly just my impressions.

The section on character abilities and how they work and how they are adjudicated is clear, straight forward and well written. The examples given through this section are quite informative, although one must remember that this is just a small part of what can be done and using the examples you can expand this to all types of activities.

There are a couple of pages of Optional Combat Rules and I like it when things are marked optional as it allows me/reminds me that I can decide how much I want to include. I would probably edit this document with notes to mark more of it as optional.

There is a good discussion of how magic works and if you have players that are really into the magical classes, then this will provide them a lot of fun and expand their thinking about the whole realm of magical things.

I really enjoyed the part about Enchant many different things and found a lot there that I intend to use.

The sections on Monsters and Treasures while brief add a lot of flavor and gives you a good idea of what play in this world setting would be like.

The setting information is detailed from many, many locations without being tool detailed. It does provide hundreds of adventure hooks.  This setting would be fun to play with if you wanted to run it and did not have time to make your own. On the other hand if you are minded to make your own setting, this is a good example and ideally will point you towards doing something quite different because you can see the design decisions that were made and the way is clear to go many different directions.

This is followed with a section on Cultures & Religions and gives you more information about how to put it all together and run it. This setting is ripe for many different types of conflict and you could easily run with this in many different directions and I would expect each table to have a completely different game going in the same setting.

Review of Supplement VI "The Majestic Wilderlands" By Robert S Conley part 3

Review continued with part 3.

What does not work for me for the Character Classes?

I don't care for Barbarians as a class and would not want to use them.

The rules don't even hint at the disadvantages of swearing fealty to a liege and the problems that could result. Especially if you swear fealty to the "wrong" liege and there are many ways it could be the "wrong" liege.

I don't really care of the way he increased the odds of becoming a Paladin by reducing the minimum Charisma to 15. I might be wrong, but it also looks like the power level of Paladins is increased over OD&D.

I find it odd that Myrmidons of Set while presented as enemies of the Paladins of Mitra, they are not presented as evil given that Set is normally considered to be not only evil but vile as well. The Myrmidons are clearling alternate Paladins and are in some ways more powerful than Paladins and significant advantages in the battle between the two.

Rogues for the most part, I can do without or at least limit them to NPCS with the one exception I noted previously.

Review of Supplement VI "The Majestic Wilderlands" By Robert S Conley part 2

Review continued with part 2.

So what works for me for the Character Classes?

As I read through the character class description for Barbarians I liked the "Mark of Loki" and that a Lawful Cleric might refuse to cast Remove Curse. What fun!

The benfits of swearing fealty to a liege for Knights leaves room for all kinds of DM fun.

Easy way provided for a soldier to get free from a regular schedule of certain duties long enough to go adventuring, if indeed that is an option.

The test of the Paladin using one of the tenets of the Fivefold Code looks like a lot of fun for the DM.

Your basic Magic-Users are renegages that strive to keep a low profile and remain hidden from the great magical orders. Magic has spells and rituals. There are a number of orders and it would be easy to add several more. This also looks like a lot of fun for the DM to run.

Clerics and Priests are presented as the most powerful character classes and there is a great emphasis on religion and this also looks like a source of a lot of fun for the DM.

The Rogues that start as Mountebanks lend themselves to a common trope could easily be worked into most campaigns and is a better fit that the ubitqitous Thief Character Class.

The non-Adventuring Classes tease the topic of NPCS and give examples from which one might easily expand to cover all the needed NPC classes.

Review of Supplement VI "The Majestic Wilderlands" By Robert S Conley part 1

Mr Conley, asked to me to let him know if I liked this (and other documents) and so I started out to do a light review of his supplement, I may get to the other documents later.

First Impression, I love the cover - three hexes - three images, A ruined tower, two mounted warriors and a maiden reaching out to touch a knight leaving for war.

A SUPPLEMENT COMPATIBLE WITH THE Swords & Wizardry RULES AND ALL EDITIONS BASED ON THE ORIGINAL 1974 ROLEPLAYING GAME. In essence it is compatible with OD&D and games derived from OD&D. The parts of Swords & Wizardry that I object to do not come into play in this supplement and so can be ignored.

On the inside it references the JUDGES GUILD with a tiny map of the Majestic Wilderlands and it is based on an original setting by Robert Bledsaw Sr. Further it says there are over two dozen classes and races. New races, magic variants, creatures and magic items.

Now I realize this is released under the OGL which accounts for the TSR/WotC material, but I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how he used the Judges Guild material. I did not find a used with permission statement anywhere and as far as I know Judges Guild is not covered by the OGL.

Written in 2009 it claims to have been 30 years in the making and not knowing Mr Conley personally, I don't know if that means he started playing his campaign in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy in 1979, but I will assume that is what he meant.

Friday, March 23, 2018

RPGPundit Interviews Rob Kuntz, Part 2 (of 3)

Now and then there is a blog post over on The RPGPundit's blog that I find interesting and here is one such.
An Interview with Rob Kuntz (Part 2 of 3)
 The teaser quote
4. What did you think of the Old School Renaissance when it first started? What do you think of what it has become now?  Have you looked at or played many OSR games? Do you have any favorites?
In terms of the OSR culture, what do you think about it? Do you think it's too exclusive? Not exclusive enough? Too nostalgic? What do you think that people who weren't actually there most consistently get wrong about the "Old School" era and style?
Part 3 still to follow.

Need to read part 1 go here for the link.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Origin and Use of Magic in OD&D part 2

If you were thinking that this post is going to be something claiming to be a definitive answer, sorry that is not what this is about. Continued from The Origin and Use of Magic in OD&D part 1

1. B. "remembered during any single adventure," what does that mean? OD&D does not tell us anything beyond that for spell memorization. How long does it take to memorize one spell? Is it crack open the spell book and read the spell once in a meditative state or something else? Does it vary by the level of the spell? Does it vary by the level of the spell and the level of the Magic-User? I don't want to slow down the game or get picky with this or make the game boring for everyone, so I hand wave it. We assume that the Magic-User spends a bit of time each morning to memorize his spells, but we don't go any deeper with it although you easily could if you found it fun to do so. What does all of that mean in regard to the Cleric? I run it the same way, but if the player wants to think of it differently, I'm cool with that.

1. C.  "each applicable character indicates the number of spells of each level that can be used (remembered during any single adventure) by that character" again what does that mean? Specifically what does that mean for a Cleric and how is it different for a Cleric versus how it is for a Magic-User? The rules themselves do not say. So IMHO that leaves it up to the DM with player input to do what you find to be more fun. How do you want to run it, do you want to gloss over it or create a distinction between the two? I have done both. I have run it identically for both the Magic-User and for the Cleric. In doing so we ignored the issue of why does a Cleric not get a spell until 2nd Level when a Magic-User gets a spell at 1st level. I have also made a distinction between the two and invented a rationale for the differences such as when they each get the first spell and also why the Cleric gets fewer spells than the Magic-User. I can see plenty of reasons to do it either way or even something else.

1. D. "A spell used once may not be reused in the same day," what does that mean? Does that mean that when I am a 2nd level Magic-User I get two spells but they both have to be different spells? Or can I memorize a Sleep spell twice and cast each of them once? I have always run it the second way, but I have considered the first interpretation since it would greatly change the way you play a Magic-User. Another thing to consider is that if you use the first method, then once the Cleric has at least two spells per day, only one could be a healing spell. That would help spike the whole trope of the Cleric being a healing bot and not being able to take any other spells, just because. That trope has never been a problem IMC because my players understood that sometimes there are things more important than a healing spell. But as the healing bot trope is so widespread, I can see how running it the first way could both tone-down the Magic-User and make the Cleric more interesting to play, if your players needed to be given that direction.

The Origin and Use of Magic in OD&D part 1

If you were thinking that this post is going to be something claiming to be a definitive answer, sorry that is not what this is about and each post will only deal with a little bit of the issue. The will likely be a lengthy series of posts.

OD&D does not have any explicit statement about the origin of magic and IHMO that is a good thing, an excellent thing even. It leaves it entirely up to the DM to decide for himself the origin of magic within his campaign. Now why do I think that is a good thing?

One of the things that some complain about is the issue of the "clerical" magic of the Cleric and the "magical" magic of the Magic-User. Now in OD&D RAW they function essentially identically. Now for Magic-Users spells are held through memorization (Vancian Magic) and for Clerics spells they get them from their diety. That is the common belief. But what does Men & Magic, Volume 1 of OD&D say?
Spells & Levels: The number above each column is the spell level (complexity, a somewhat subjective determination on the part of your authors). The number in each column opposite each applicable character indicates the number of spells of each level that can be used (remembered during any single adventure) by that character. Spells are listed and explained later. A spell used once may not be reused in the same day.
Read this several times and think about it. What do you think it means? There are a number of points to think about, here are a few things (not intended to be a comprehensive list)

1. The number in each column opposite each applicable character indicates the number of spells of each level that can be used (remembered during any single adventure) by that character. A spell used once may not be reused in the same day.
1. A. "during a single adventure," what does that mean? If I play through two weeks of game time, including travel to a dungeon and then three forays into the dungeon on three different game days is that a single adventure and so a 1st level Magic-User would get one Sleep Spell for the whole two weeks? I don't run it that way, I run it per 24 hour period (or whatever the full day is on a given world). How do you run it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

RPGPundit Interviews Rob Kuntz, Part 1 (of 3)

Now and then there is a blog post over on The RPGPundit's blog that I find interesting and here is one such.
RPGPundit Interviews Rob Kuntz, Part 1 (of 3)
 The teaser quote
Robert J. Kuntz is one of the founding fathers of the hobby. He began playing D&D in the second ever game of the Greyhawk campaign, DMed by Gary Gygax, in 1972. His character was the fighter Robilar. Within a year he was one of the first people on Earth other than Gary Gygax to be running a Greyhawk campaign, with Gary Gygax as one of his players.  His material in that campaign had an influence on Castle Greyhawk and many other elements of the Greyhawk campaign. He was one of TSR's first six employees. He co-authored the Gods, Demigods & Heroes sourcebook (and later Deities & Demigods), and contributed to the module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.
He was also the first player ever to successfully beat the Tomb of Horrors.
His current publishing company is Three Line Studio.
I await parts 2 & 3.

For part 2 go here for the link.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Of Sandboxes and Railroads, part 2

Continuing the series

On the other hand you have the sandbox and there seems to be a ton of misunderstanding about what a sandbox is and how it works. Some people even go so far as to claim there is no such thing as a real sandbox. One place claims that when the DM says "you can do what you want, my world is a sandbox" that the DM is deceiving the players and they they just have to figure what the DM wants them to do and then climb on the appropriate railroad.

A lot of this starts with the misconception that a sandbox is a featureless desert with nothing but sand in every direction, so that when the players are told to do whatever you want, of course they are clueless becuase there is nothing to do in sandbox and that is why they don't exist. Of course this could not be further from the truth.

I am only going to look at one misconception today, the one that says there are no "adventure hooks" in a sandbox and there is only a pile of sand. That is completely incorrect and those who profess that view are either to be charitable "ignorant" or to be uncharitable "deliberately spreading false information." I sincerely hope that none of you fall into the second category and I trust that you do not.

"Adventure hooks" are a primary feature of a real sandbox. The better the quality of the sandbox the more "adventure hooks" there are. You see a sandbox is a living world and to model a living world prefectly there would be infinite "adventure hooks." Of course you could not do that, even if you worked at it full time. I will have much more to write about this in future posts.

The other part of this is the confusion of "adventure hooks" and "plot hooks," because they are not the same thing at all. "Adventure hooks" are options that the players can choose to pursue or not as they will. But a "plot hook" carries the meaning of "expectation" that the players will do thus and such and it also carries the meaning of an attached "agenda" by the DM that the players will do this and go here and then do this and go here and ultimately they will end up over hear and this will result.

Of Sandboxes and Railroads, part 1

Regarding the topic of Sandboxes and Railroads, I have many thoughts that I would like to express and I will do so over the weeks and months ahead as the whim strikes me.

Regarding Railroads, I have been reading blog posts here and there and many of them have things in common. The player wants to have his character take an action and the DM heads that off by saying that the PC would not do that. Then the DM will conclude by telling the player what their PC is going to do instead. That is classic railroading where the players decisions and choices mean nothing and the DM overrules the player at every turn to keep things on the railroad.

Now there are two responses to this, one is the response I have seen repeatedly where both DMs and players say they like railroads, why I am never quite sure. There seems to be an expectation that everything is supposed to go a certain way and that gives them comfort in some strange way.

The other response is for players who like to make choices and go anywhere they want, these players will usually vote with their feet and find a different DM to play with.

I have also seen comments to the effect that the opposite of a railroad is to let the players do what they want, even if it messes up the plans the DM had. What is never really explained to my satisfaction is this assumption that the DM should have plans. It seems that some people think the solution to a railroad is not to eliminate railroads, but to have multiple railroads in the form of purchased modules, then you don't have to force the players onto a specific railroad, but instead allow them to choose which railroad and how this empowers players by giving them choices that matter.

I beg to differ, having three railroads is not meaningly different than having one railroad, yes I understand it gives the players a small modicum of choice, but still nothing that really matters.

Someone said that to avoid railroading you have to be willing to put hours and hours into things and then be OK if the they walk away from it. Then they say just reuse it another day and don't let the players know you are doing it. Right a little deceit here or there is no biggie, right! I'm sorry as a player that doesn't work for me. If Dungeon X is located below Castle Y 150 miles southwest of Starter Town, then that is what its location should always be and maybe the PCs will go there someday or maybe they won't. Moving it in front of whatever direction the players decide to travel is IMO as both a player and a DM, what is referred to as "cheating." IMO don't "cheat."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and how it affects World Building

I am a big fan of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction and I like the influence it has had on my home-brewed worlds and on my campaigns. While I enjoy stories about the apocalyse taking place, I enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction even more, the story of what takes place after the "end."

Of the pre-1900 books my favorites are Mary Shelley's novel, The Last Man, H. G. Wells' novel, The Time Machine and Richard Jefferies' novel, After London. These are all free on line if you are interested.

Of the post-1900 books my favorites are Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer's novel When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide, Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven's novel, Lucifer's Hammer, John Wyndham's novel, The Day of the Triffids, Richard Matheson's novel, I Am Legend, Andre Norton’s novel, Star Man’s Son, Walter M. Miller Jr.'s novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz, David Brin's novel, The Postman, George R. Stewart's novel, Earth Abides, Robert Adams, The Horseclans series and Sterling E. Lanier's novels Hiero's Journey and The Unforsaken Hiero.

Though there are many more, these are most of my favorites.

One of the world building things that I like to do are image a world and flesh it out a bit, then destroy it and fully imagine what it looks like after the end. You can generate some interesting places to play in when you do that. On a few occasions I have did world building where I have had multiple apocalypses and then looked at the last post-apocayltic situation and what it looks like.

I will eventually be saying more about these things.

Pure Escapist Adventure aka Pulp Fantasy

So what does pure escapist adventure aka pulp fantasy mean to me? It has lots of parts "Sword and Sorcery" in the vein of Robert E Howard mixed with "Sword and Planet" in the vein of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Included are the "Sword and Sandal" in the vein of mythology and Ray Harryhausen movies and "Far Future Fantasy" in the vein of Jack Vance.

In these books the "Heroes" are men such as Conan, Tarzan, John Carter, Solomon Kane, Doc Savage, The Shadow, Zorro, Carson Napier, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Bran Mak Morn, Cormac Mac Art, Phantom, Dick Tracy, El Borak, Breckenridge Elkins and many others. These are not "nice" men, and they are not necessarily good although when the chips are down most of them lean that way. But what they are, are men that can be depended on when the chips are down. No cowards among them and they are not afraid of getting their hands dirty.

These "heroes" are real men, they have their faults, they may cross a line or two here or there, but they know what real evil is when they see it and they are opposed to it. Some of them go around dispensing justice as they see it, others are just out to have a good time and quest for wealth and power. They are larger than life and they don't pass through the world unnoticed. They tend to draw others to them, both men and women, and yeah most of them have a great appreciation for beautiful women.

These stories don't focus on scientific accuracy and believeability and that is well. These are at the base fantasies and who cares about letting scienfific facts get in the way of a good story. These stories and these "heroes" are primal things, but that does not mean there is not world building, in fact, in my opinion the world building of these writers of these characters is often undervalued and underrated.

These things are the basis of OD&D and of all excellent Heroic Fantasy and permeate the way that I play the game.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

OD&D Campaign World Inspirations (Fantasy, Pulp Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure)

I grew up reading books and Science Fiction Magazines, back then they had no separation between Fantasy and Science Fiction, they were all one genre on both the book racks and in the magazines. I also read paperbacks galore and a lot of the stories had run as serials in the pulp magazines. But that is not what I started out with, I started out with mythology of the Greeks, Romans and Norse, read the Illiad and the Oddyssey, Aesops Fables and all the fairy tales I could get my hands on. My father made up and told stories every night of my childhood, his deep resonant voice was that strong protective presence in my life and I still hear his voice in my mind when I tell or read stories.

I soon started reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, Poul Anderson, Jack London, Robert E Howard, Fritz Leiber, Richard Adams, Frank R. Stockton. J. M. Barrie, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Hilaire Belloc, Walter Farley, Arthur Conan Doyle, Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, Eugene Field, Joel Chandler Harris, Jim Kjelgaard, Howard Pyle, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, J. R. R. Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jonathan Swift, Jules Verne, Mark Twain and H. G. Wells. All of these along with many others.

All of these and more inspired the worlds that I build and the people that I populate them with. So pure escapist adventure with a little high fantasy mixed in to it is the stew from which I create game worlds and inspires the way that I game in OD&D. I will probably return to this subject from time to time as I talk about some of these authors and the worlds I have built.

The Black Raven Claims a Blog

I have long been just a lurker and haven't said much, but now I find myself at loose ends and feel the need to do some writing, post a few opinions and mayhap a review or two. Don't know how much I will post or how often, I'll just have to see how it goes. I don't know if anyone will even read this, not that it really matters all that much. I am doing this more for me than for any potential audience. Although if even one person finds something to enjoy that would be pretty cool too.

I have been and am an OD&D DM and player when I have the opportunity which is not too much the last 10-15 years. But I love to create worlds and I am driven to do it just for the fun of it, whether anyone plays in them or not. I find inspiration in the strangest places and this, my favorite poem, that follows has been the source of a lot of it over the years.

The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”
    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.
    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”
    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.
    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.
    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”
    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”
    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!
    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Is there anything more haunting than the sound of that croaked "Nevermore!"