Saturday, December 28, 2019

It's 2020, Where's My Goddamn Robot?

Welcome to 2020. This is not the future I was promised as a child.

I'm starting my 12th year of running this blog, even though nowadays I just post little thoughts and snippets. Gone are the treatises of my early days, and probably for the best. I used to post snippets of half-finished projects, but all of those projects remain half-finished.

A few thoughts:

*So I'm on that big OSR Discord know, the one with like 300-400 people online at a time.
Normally, that kind of thing isn't my bag at all, but I've found a thing that is fun to do there:

There are a couple of channels, #dice-democracy and #d20-democracy, where we all build tables of random shit. Each person takes turns contributing one entry to the table. Whoever provides the last entry creates the next table. For instance, you might have "1d8 irritating hirelings," and whoever does entry #8 would start a new table, perhaps "1d12 diseases you might catch in the underworld" or some-such. I've become a regular contributer and I've started a few tables. It's surprisingly fun.

*I read Troika! and it will get its own post. I am waiting on my physical copy of the book. I have a friend who is quite excited about playing it.

*I am reading Esoteric Enterprises, and so far I love it a lot. I'm not sure it scratches the exact itch that my B/X WOD attempt was going for, but it's definitely something I needed in my library. In particular, I'm interested in the fact that Emmy was partially inspired by White Wolf's Orpheus, a weird little short-run game they released around 2003ish. (I just remember I was in my last or second to last year of undergrad.) I loved Orpheus and I'm interested to see where it pokes through in the game's implied setting.

*I broke down and bought the Old School Essentials Boxed Set, which is something I've been wanting for months now, adding it to online shopping carts and deleting it with an intensity bordering on edging. Seeing that the tome sold out, I decided to grab the boxed set while I could. I know there are plans to restock it, but I'm not historically known for my impulse control and frankly it's mind-boggling that I have successfully denied myself this long.

Immediate plans for 2020:

-Conclude the third season of my present game.
-Switch my home game back to Wednesdays and change it to either Troika! or Ryuutama
-Flip a coin between taking over for that 5e group or starting a game of B/X with the two people who have expressed interest in playing IRL and damn the rest. (Or perhaps run the games on alternating weeks.)

Running three games during the school year while debate season is on is a practical impossibility, but given the non-start/failure rate that tends to plague the hobby, I figure it's best to hedge my bets.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

My Gaming in 2019: The Obligatory Retrospective

Last year, I set some goals for 2019. Let's see how I did.

-Knock out two more seasons each of Monster of the Week and Monsterhearts 2.

I knocked out one season of Monster of the Week.  I knocked out one season of MH and should have knocked out another, but the group fucking cancels and goes on hiatus so much that we've played eight times since fucking August. Goal failed.

-Try Urban Shadows or Masks. Leaning toward Masks because 80% of my gaming in 2018 was urban fantasy/horror

Goal failed. I didn't so much as crack open either of these games because of how long my other two have dragged out. 

-Find a totally different goddamn group to play old D&D with

Utterly and totally failed. I can't so much find a single gamer in this town who doesn't wan to play Pathfinder or 5e. Well, except for John, and he's a forever DM. I don't really want to play in a non-DM capacity anymore, so that makes the issue a non-starter.

-Go to KantCon again (Still salty about the one I missed)

I went to KantCon and three out of my four games were fucking magical. It was easily the best KantCon I've been to, and the best convention one shot I've ever run in the form of Cartoon Action Hour. 

So, one goal out of four achieved. I will tout the bonus victory, however, of getting my girlfriend to enjoy an OSR game. (Starships & Spacemen at KantCon) Given her "old D&D sucks" stance, it was a pretty significant turnaround.

I do enjoy the MotW/MH shared universe game I've created, but it's 95% of what I've run since August 2018 and I want to wrap the present season so I can do something else for awhile.

2019 was also the year I was invited by like four different groups to DM 5e, and I either turned them down outright or just blew them off...I regret that last part, but just... fuck. I'd rather run just about anything else, and it's absolutely maddening to be unable to fill a table for old school D&D but to be tripping over 5e groups. Something something ancient mariner.

So, my goals for 2020:

-Go to KantCon, although at this point that's sort of become a given, not really much of a goal.
-Run something that isn't PbtA for a significant length of time. (As in, other than convention one shots.)
-Find and additional convention to go to. (Not Nuke-Con)
-Kidnap several people and chain them up in my basement, forcing them to play B/X D&D in exchange for food.  Continue to seek out new gamers with differing interests than my home group.

Happy end of the year to you, you fuckin' nerds.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Self-Indulgent Holiday Sentiment

It's Christmas Day and I feel like I should be reading gaming books and making characters.

From 5th grade until 12th, my grandma on my father's side always got me a gaming book or two with the obligatory socks and other things. She knew I loved it, she knew it was something I did with my friends, she knew I could give her a list of books and she could get one or two from HobbyTown USA in Eastpark Plaza. (That HobbyTown location closed over 15 years ago and Eastpark Plaza is now just a movie theatre with an attached Linens n' Things, the rest of the mall having dried up long ago. )

She hadn't the faintest idea of how roleplaying worked, and as a child I did try mightily to explain to her. Ultimately, it didn't matter that she was unable to grasp what exactly I was so jazzed up about, but she supported it.

I remember one year it was Gamma World 4th edition (the actual 4th edition of the game released in the early 90's, not the one that coincided with the 4th edition of a certain other game.) One year it was GURPS 3rd edition. One year it was the reprints/new covers of the AD&D 2nd edition PHB and DMG. I know there are others that I'm just not remembering, and I'm not sure at all in what order I received them, but it was a part of my life for quite a few years.

Now that I'm well into adulthood - chronologically, at least - I usually buy myself a gaming book 'round Christmas, since those aren't really the types of gifts I receive anymore. This year my Selfmas present was an order of Troika and Esoteric Enterprises. I only have the PDFs, as my hard copies are stuck across the pond probably until after New Year's. I'm not sure reading a PDF will scratch that tradition itch. Perhaps I'll pull something off the shelf later.

For now, I return to our Christmas tradition of digesting an obscene amount of Chinese food while watching terrible, terrible movies. At present, it's the live action Dolph Lundgren He-Man movie. Yowza.

Friday, November 22, 2019


I swear I'm working on trying to create longer, more substantial posts, and I have one in draft.  In the meantime, enjoy this pithy comment:

I found a couple of Traveller character generators online, and in messing around with them, I just continue to validate my stance that generating characters for Traveller is faaaaar more interesting than actually playing or refereeing Traveller. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Golden Voyages

I picked up a used copy of the Golden Voyages boxed set for Al-Qadim. I have approximately 0% chance of running it with anybody around here, but I've always loved the A-Q stuff and I'm happy to have it on my shelf anyway. If nothing else, the art is cool and I can study it for ideas. I've always liked the idea of an island-hopping campaign, even though I've never run one. I guess you could say that my efforts at running the first Mongoose edition of Traveller and my much-missed Stars Without Number campaigns were similar in that the planets were often stand-ins for islands, but I'm talking classic we're-on-a-boat island hopping.

In my brain, the soundtrack to Al-Qadim is the soundtrack to the SNES port of Prince of Persia. The skeletons are also the herky-jerky Ray Harryhausen variety.

I'm still kind of hoping that WotC will give Al-Qadim some love in 5e. Based on the recent survey, however, I'm not holding out hope. The survey gave me the chance to select what older settings I'd like to see more of, and Al-Qadim wasn't even an option. I did write it in under "other," but aside from that I pretty much had to just say pls more Ravenloft.

...and yes, I know Zakhara is technically part of Forgotten Realms, but I fucking hate Forgotten Realms.


I also chanced upon a trove of Spelljammer stuff, but the store that had it wanted $155 for the boxed set and haaaaaaaaaa no. Spelljammer was an interesting idea, but no way I'm paying that much for it.

Monday, November 4, 2019


The group that drafted me decided they just want to do 5e, specifically Curse of Strahd.

I think at this point I officially give up on the idea that I will ever again play my preferred editions of the game around a table with human beings. It seems like I can either have a full table of people who won't touch the editions I want, or the editions I want, but playing online (which I really don't like to do.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Call for Blogs

Yo, I need some new blogs to read. Half my blogroll hasn't updated in weeks or months.
Anybody got any suggestions?
They should be (primarily) about TTRPGs, but they needn't be only OSR-type stuff.


Monday, October 7, 2019

GM Drafted!

I have been unexpectedly asked to DM/GM for a group of people I used to play with a few years ago. (Well, most of them...there is a new face or two in the present configuration.) Back in the day it was a 5e group, and that's mostly what they've played, but they're open to a new game. Right now I'm trying to steer them toward White Box FMAG, Castles & Crusades, or perhaps White Star. (One player wanted to do the Star Wars RPG, mainly to be a Jedi, and White Star has a Star Knight class.)

I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it. First off, they seem willing to do retro-clones, whereas I can't get my present home group to play anything even remotely similar to old D&D. I've also been running nothing but PbtA games set in the same setting since August 2018, with my only breaks being a one-shot of Little Fears I ran on Halloween and my KantCon 2019 lineup. I'm ready for something different in terms of mechanics, genre, setting, and play style. I'll still be running my home group game, but it'll be nice to have a different direction to go in for awhile.

I was rethinking my idea for a game loosely based on the Dungeon novels, and it might work with Castles & Crusades... I have Troll Lord's other game, Amazing Adventures, and could run a mixed party with the game. I'm still leaning toward doing it with Savage Worlds, since my home group will actually try that.

This is a welcome twist after my previous weekend disappointment with Nuke-Con and just kind of a craptacular week overall.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Le Sigh

I will not be attending Nuke-Con this weekend.

Oh, well... only nine and a half months until KantCon 2020.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

In Which I Fail to be a Sponsor

A clutch of students at the school where I teach are trying to form a D&D club. We have a gaming club, but it's board/card/video games. I was tapped as a potential sponsor, but coaching debate takes up so much of my time that I can't really commit to it. 

...and that sucks. When I was a larval teacher (doing all my pre-service shit), I was really into the idea that someday I would sponsor some kind of rpg/gaming club. Now I have the chance and I just don't have the time. 

I mean, yeah, it'd probably be 5th edition, but that's the D&D for this generation and I shan't begrudge them for it. 

The only two other teachers in this school that I know play are also likewise busy with extra commitments and can't do it, either. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Dungeon

So I was blog-hopping yesterday, and I stumbled across the name of Philip Jose Farmer. I had heard the name previously, and I knew he was an author, but the name dug at my mind for some particular reason. Then it came to me: The Dungeon.

This was  book series that I tried to check out from the library when I was 10. I had just gotten into D&D by way of the Dragonlance novels, which I read endlessly. I'd started looking into the books that were shelved around them on the metal rotating cart that held fantasy/sci-fi paperbacks. I remember the covers absolutely grabbing me: a guy with wild hair and a mustache, always posing with a sword on some otherworldly landscape. On each cover he wore a brilliantly colored billowing cloak, always a different color- blood red on the first book, bright orange on the third one, and so on.

I remember the books contained sketches that were supposed to be from his journal as he explored the titular Dungeon (actually a series of different worlds/environments linked by warp gates.) I never did make it through a single one of the books, but I know I checked them out several times. I don't recall what the problem was, but I was more interested in staring at those covers, looking at the sketches, and imagining what the Dungeon might be like. It was a pretty formative experience in my D&D history, but I'd forgotten about them entirely until just yesterday.

Doing some research, I discovered that PJF didn't actually write the books, he seems to have come up with the idea and then persuaded four other authors to actually write the series. Interesting.

I've got a yarn to run a Dungeon-esque campaign, an extra-dimensional prison of many layers/levels, the PCs being a party of beings from different worlds/times/dimensions who are lost and trying to find a way out. As much as I'd love to use White Box or something similar, I know I won't find players for it. I'll probably make it my first outing with the new edition of Savage Worlds.

I've also got a yarn to order the first novel. I've found an old used copy for just a few dollars plus free shipping on ABE. At the same time, I'm worried that whatever is in the book, it won't live up to the imaginary wonder tied to ten year old me marveling at the cover at a time when I was just discovering what would come to be the defining pastime/passion of my life. Maybe I'll get it just to have that cover on my shelf.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

T&T Memorial Game: Return to Buffalo Castle

So I submitted the event to Nuke-Con. In honor or Rick Loomis, I'm going to be running the most recent version of Buffalo Castle, using the T&T Deluxe rules. I'm going to modify it to accommodate multiple characters and the use of magic. (The original adventure was a solo designed for a warrior PC.) I've titled the event "Return to Buffalo Castle."

I haven't actually run any T&T since the summer between 8th grade and 9th grade, and it was 5th edition. I own a signed copy of the Deluxe Edition that I ordered (via DM on Twitter, no less) in late 2015. Time to dust that tome off and print out the PDF of BC I bought from DriveThru.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Slight Change in Direction

I think I'm going to scrap one of my Nuke Con games and run some Tunnels & Trolls in honor of Rick Loomis. I'd do Buffalo Castle, but that's designed for a single warrior. I suppose I could just modify it... I mean hell, it's supposed to be a solo adventure anyway.

I don't know. It's just an idea, but also I haven't had a chance to run T&T since the summer before my freshman year of high school.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


So I keep almost-buying the "Codex" bundle for Castles & Crusades. I probably shouldn't because it's like $130 for books I'm probably never going to use... but my real reason?

I have to pay shipping? I'm dropping $130 and they can't cover $8 in shipping? Bruh.

Yeah, yeah, the entire bundle is steeply discounted, but I'm an entitled American consumer spoiled by @m@a0n and used to having things shipped to me for "free."

Monday, August 19, 2019

Nuke-Con 2019

Getting my docket for Nuke-Con nailed down. Presently:


1. Stars Without Number- Though I need to pin down if I'm doing OG or Revised. I might do The Tartarus Gambit again, but I kind of want to generate a random thing using Sixteen Stars.

2. Zweihander- Need to decide if I want to do the same scenario I did at KantCon or write up something new.

1. Cartoon Action Hour- I'm going to run the unused material I wrote for KantCon. If time allows, 'reruns' of the stuff I did at KC.

2. Savage Worlds- Some kind of sci-fi pulp, methinks.

3. Open spot- perhaps repeating the Zweihander game?

Board games. (Hero Quest, Mutant Chronicles, Space Alert)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Fell Hand of JB in the Wild

I was perusing the shelves of my local gaming store yesterday when I chanced upon a copy of JB's B/X Companion on the shelves. (In fact, it looked like someone had dumped an entire OSR collection) I almost snagged it, but I think if I'm ever going to purchase the Companion, I'm going to buy it directly from the author. Sadly, there is no B/X on my horizon for the time being. (Insert sad Hulk hitchhiking music)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Drop of Spite

Y'all know how I feel about Pathfinder.


to all the sputtering bros who are mad online because Pathfinder 2E dedicates some page count to being inclusive-

Stay mad, assholes. Stay mad.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Save vs. Poison: A High Risk Website

Today, while enjoying a forbidden ice cream treat, the wireless network at a certain big fast food chain blocked access to my blog, calling it a "high risk website." 

Just to test a theory, I immediately attempted -successfully- to access to different media piracy websites. 

Quality algorithm, right there. 

Oh and I'm GMing again in four days fuuuuck. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Back in the Saddle

I haven't GM'd in three months, save for two glorious days at KantCon. 

Tonight, with most of my group returned to me and with a prospective new player joining us, I decided to just resume my Monsterhearts game next Friday. 

I find myself suddenly back in the saddle in a mere six days. 

Of course, tomorrow is the last day of my summer break (we go back one week ahead of the students), so it seems I have decided to begin running right when my free time is about to be drastically reduced. 

While I would dearly love to be running some Whitebox, that's not in the cards. It will be nice to return to my "monsterverse" shared campaign setting, though. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019


Nuke-Con is a local gamin convention that I always say I'm going to and then just don't.

This year, however, I'm actually going to do the thing.

Between my KantCon games being such a fucking blast and my home group having been on break all summer, it's time to get my GM on.

Right now, I'm thinking my lineup needs to include:

*Cartoon Action Hour, because that shit was ay-may-zing

*Savage Worlds of some stripe, because I've been feeling the urge to run it lately and it is so, so, so easy to prep for. I'm probably going to grab the new edition when it hits shelves.

*Zweihander, because Zweihander is dope and I need more of it in my life.

*Probably some 90's board games of the nerdish variety: Hero Quest, Mutant Chronicles.

If I run 12 hours of games, my badge is 100% reimbursed. Probably the closest thing I could get to a professional DM.

I could probably think up one more rpg to run, maybe something I don't get much of a chance to do normally.

Monday, July 22, 2019

KantCon 2019 Retrospective

So I'm back from my 7th KantCon. I think it may have been my best KantCon ever.

The breakdown:

*Starships & Spacemen: I used the adaptation of an old FASA Trek module (basic idea with quite a few changes) and it was fantastic. Three of the players are guys who have played this almost every year I've run it, which provides some fun continuity. My girlfriend also enjoyed it quite a lot, which is a win because she usually doesn't dig on OSR type games at all. The players had a lot of great ideas and were very clever, rather than just trying to blast everything in their path. I had considered making this the final installment of S&S earlier this summer, but I've definitely changed my mind.

*Zweihander: I've run an entire campaign of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (2nd ed), so even though this was my first time actually running Zweihander, it felt like familiar territory. The scenario was one entirely of my own design, and every player had to draw a surprise "nefarious ulterior motive" to try and achieve during the session. It was a lot of fun, and the players were just as scum ridden and grimy as I hoped they'd be. (Although one player ignored his ulterior motive entirely, but what you gonna do?)  I would like to run a Zweihander game sometime, methinks.

As an aside: the author of Zweihander was at this convention, and he seems like a surprisingly normal dude.

*Cartoon Action Hour Season 3: This is the best convention game I have ever run, ever. At one point I was laughing so hard I legit worried that I might pee. The players all hit the nail on the head with the 80's cartoon tropes, even the 23 year old who had never seen any of the shows we were aping. It took a bit to get the pacing right, so we only made it through two of four planned episodes: Eagle Force (my discount G.I. Joe homage) and Bravedorr the Barbarian (Thundarr the Barbarian + Blackstar with a tiny dash of Herculoids.) Eagle Force was overly long, but still immensely satisfying, whereas the length of Bravedorr was just about right and what I will aim for in future sessions of Cartoon Action Hour. I enjoyed this so much that I'm thinking about making it a regular Saturday morning thing at future KantCons.

*Lone Wolf Adventure Game: We went into this with four players, who of whom owned Lone Wolf books but never read them (oooook...) and two who had never heard of it and just needed a Saturday afternoon game. As a result, the "flavor" of the session was a little off compared to the Lone Wolf books, but it was still enjoyable.
I ran the adventure "On Wings of Darkness" from the Adventures of the Kai anthology...well, a highly modified version of it, anyway. The adventure as written is goddamn terrible, terrible enough almost to belong in a mid-90's Ravenloft adventure book. As written, it saddles you with an NPC who basically solves the entire mystery for the PCs while they protect him from monsters who literally cannot kill him per the adventure*. I got rid of his ass entirely and made the PCs do their own detective work. I also threw in some sinister NPC motivations, as the reasoning behind the horrible wraithcrows showing up for supernatural vengeance seemed a little... underwhelming.

It was a fun session, but definitely the weakest in comparison to the others. I do love the super ultra rules-lite system of LWAG, and in the future I think I'd prefer to run it with someone who has read the books. (Although one of the players decided he might actually give the books a read now, so hey, bonus.)

I'm already contemplating next year's lineup. I think I'll continue S&S as my Friday morning fixture, and I'm increasingly certain that Cartoon Action Hour is becoming my Saturday morning fixture. I could do another Zweihander and then something I don't get to run very often on Saturday.

I'm also thinking about getting back into the local con scene. There's one nearby in October and one nearby in April, though my coaching usually causes conflict with the latter. (It might not this year, however.)

See you next year, KantCon!

*For you Lone Wolf fans, I'd just like to point out how un-Lone Wolf this is. Like 80% of characters who ever help Lone Wolf on his adventures end up dying horribly. There are exceptions, like Banedon, but most of the time if you get a helpful knight/scout/desert warrior, that guy is guaranteed dead by the end of the book.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

KantCon Formula

I've developed a "KantCon Routine" that I stick to every year. This year things are slightly different, but overall my flow is the same.

Friday morning:  I run Starships & Spacemen 2nd edition, with the same ship/crew. I have several return players who come back every year.

Friday afternoon: I used to run some module for Lamentations, but I've washed my hands of that game. This year, and in subsequent years, I'll be replacing it with Zweihander. (This year will be a scenario of my own devising, as opposed to running a module)

Saturday morning and afternoon: I run two games that I never get to run at home. (Although these games that describes every-fucking-thing that isn't 5E*) Usually scenarios of my own devising, this time my Saturday is 50% my own creation and 50% a module. I typically never run a game on this day that I've run at KantCon before.

Sunday: I host board/card games, often sans vocal chords.

KantCon is in just two weeks! Hot damn!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Legit Publisher/POD Inquiry

So I literally know nothing about how the publishing side of TTRPGs works.
If any of y'all are reading this, I have a legit query:

What does it take to get a PoD option for one's book on DTRPG? Why would a publisher choose not to have a PoD option? Is there a fee the publisher must pay or something?

Thanks in advance to anyone who happens to read this and answers.

...and no, I'm not asking for me. Hahaha publishing is far more productivity than I am capable of.

Sunday, June 30, 2019


So I'm doing "research" for Cartoon Action Hour. This pretty much consists of me watching 80's cartoons, and let me just say: Thundarr the Barbarian fucking rules.


Slightly less than three weeks until KantCon.

My Starships & Spacemen has 5/6 spots filled, 3 of them with people who've played in my S&S game every year or just about every year since I started it. I'd started to think this was the last year I was going to run it, but I"m reconsidering now.

My Zweihander game is full with one person on a wait list.

My Cartoon Action Hour game is full.

My Lone Wolf Adventure Game is empty, and I'm starting to think I am literally the only human being on Earth with any interest in playing it.

Nobody signed up for Chrononauts.

My DUNGEON! game is full up. (I'm running the early 80's printing)

I've got some players signed up for Munchkin Shakespeare Deluxe.

Soooo aside from some unwanted free time Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, it looks to be a full weekend.

It's crunch time... I need to finish learning some rules and writing up the scenarios. I can't flippin' wait.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

After Reviewing Some Old PDFs

I am now utterly convinced that character creation is the only good part of Traveller.

That is all. Carry on.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

White Box/Charlie Mason

Long shot, but for the three of you still reading this blog... does anyone know what became of Charlie Mason, Seattle Hill Games, and White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game?

No updates on his blog since last September, one of the blogs seems to have been domain-jacked, and it doesn't look like his 'zine made more than one issue.

Anyway, just curious. WBFMAG is super DIY, but I'd like to see more for it. I've still been doodling on my class overlays, but given that the chances of me finding someone local who wants to play something other than Pathfinder or 5E are now astronomically slim, I'm not going to be needing them immediately.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

My Current Thoughts on Gaming

My gaming life, specifically, can be summarized thus.

That is all.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Only Tangentially Related to Gaming

I fucking love the BBC Adventures of Merlin show.
I know it takes massive, massive liberties with the Arthurian mythos.
I know it presents a totally unrealistic portrait of medieval/feudal life.
I know that the characters spend 90% of the episodes making the same mistakes over and over.

...but goddamn, it's just a fun, usually light-hearted show.

...and Arthur x Merlin is a solid 'ship, bro.

Friday, May 17, 2019


Even though we were only together for a short time, and she ended up being way too high maintenance for me... gods Alternity looked hot. I still look at pictures sometimes.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game Class Overlays, Part 2

I've been working away at the concept of class overlays for a few weeks, though admittedly my work has been pretty sparse.

I had to scrap a number of them because they were getting to the point where they were effectively separate classes, which defeats the point of White Box FMAG, in my estimation.

Here's the level of complexity I'm aiming for:

Templars/Temple Knights (Cleric Overlay)

*Alignment: Must be Lawful, there are no Chaotic Templars
*Weapons/Armor: Add the longsword and crossbow to the list of available weapons
*Spellcasting: Templars cast spells as a Cleric two levels lower, meaning they do not get a spell until 4th level.
*Turning: Templars turn undead as a Cleric two levels higher. Templars can also use this ability to turn demons/devils, though a "D" result does not destroy these creatures, but rather banishes them back to wherever they came from for a year and a day.
*Templars gain +1extra hit point at each level.

Everything not specifically mentioned above is the same as the regular Cleric class.

Or my earlier draft of the Witch (Magic-User, obviously)

*Spellcasting: Opponents save at -2 vs. Witch's illusions and charms. Witch calculates duration and range of illusions/charms as if 2 levels higher. Can learn and use Cure Light Wounds as 1st level Magic-User spell. Can't use direct damage spells like Fireball.
*Can brew potions at 5th level

I had a Druid write-up, but it was almost just a separate class. I also have an adaptation of the Acrobat class written up by JB in his Complete B/X Adventurer, which is not as complicated as the changes from Cleric to Druid but still might be more like a second class. Here:

Acrobat (Thief Overlay)
*Weapons: Can only use staff, dagger, hurled weapons
*Armor: cannot use any
*Thievery: Now called Prowess, can be used for physical stunts. scale sheer surfaces, balance, escape from melee combat at full speed, climb overhangs, pole-vault, reduce damage from falls, etc.

Simple changes, mostly a different class, one could argue.

Consider the Druid:

*Alignment: Can only be Neutral
*Weapons: Staff, dagger, sickle (treat as hand axe that cannot be thrown), sling
*Armor: Leather only, no shield
*Spellcasting: Can't cast spells with Law/Chaos in the title, can cast Polymorph as 3rd level Cleric spell (but only on self, and only into natural animals) Can cast Plant Growth as 4th level Cleric spell.
*Turn Undead: Cannot turn undead, but can turn animals/beasts (and plant monsters at DM's discretion) Result of "D" does not destroy, but Druid can keep a companion as with Chaotic Clerics and undead.

So those are the ends of the complexity spectrum I'm looking at. I'd really like to make my overlays newer things and not roll out the same cast of classes that I've seen over and over again in every edition of D&D.

I'll continue to work on this. It isn't my main focus right now, but it's a fun little thought exercise.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

KantCon 2019

KantCon is just a little over three months hence. I'm running so many games there this year that they comped my entry fee. My Friday games are full, my Saturday games are not. This year, I am not running any modules. All the scenarios are my own.

On the docket this year:

Starships & Spacemen, 2nd edition, "Ne Plus Ultra." I'm running a continuation of my yearly game featuring the crew of the spaceship Armiger. This year the first officer is now the captain, since he remained behind in a dimensional fissure in last year's game to basically save the space-time continuum. This year's episode is just a simple escort mission: take a scientist to a distant research station. Totally easy, totally not going to lead to some horrific space disaster. 

Zweihander, "Times Are Gone for Honest Men." Refugees fleeing from the ravages of war are migrating south toward a town where work can be found as caravan guards. The job is dangerous in times like these, but coin is coin. Of course, each of the characters also has a hidden agenda, nothing to do with jobs and money... 

(And yeah, the title is a low key Soundgarden reference) 

Cartoon Action Hour Season 3, "Saturday Morning 1986." I'm running four little one hour "episodes" of 80's ish cartoons. I'm doing take offs of GI Joe, Transformers, TMNT, and Thundarr the Barbarian.

Battle Century G: "Fusion Breakers Wachter." Weebtastic mecha anime rpg. This is the "ending movie" of a non-existent series where the PCs engage in a final battle of an alien race trying to genetically merge with humanity. A little bit Evangelion, a lot Genesis Climber Mospeada.

Just running a bunch of non-roleplaying games right now- Munchkin Shakespeare, Chrononauts, DUNGEON! (the old 80's printing, not the lame ass modern printing)

Update: I just got my mitts on a copy of the Lone Wolf Adventure Game from Cubicle 7. I might run a session of that on Sunday. Bitches better eat a meal or lose 3 ENDURANCE POINTS. Might run one of the pre-fab scenarios, might write one of my own... all my other rpgs this year are scenarios of my own design.

Ye gods, I can't wait for KantCon. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Two Steps Forward, 5 Steps Back

I got dragged back into 5E.

I want to play D&D and be able to include my girlfriend. She's a Pathfinder player. I tried to run B/X D&D for her back in December, and she rejected it outright.

After a lot of discussion, we determined that 5E might be the only halfway point between my D&D and her Pathfinder.

(If you're of a mind to recommend that I try Pathfinder, I did. I've played it. I've GMed it. I'd rather eat broken glass than do either ever again.)

A colleague of mine is currently running a "Waterdeep Adventures" campaign, based around the current Dragon Heist campaign from Wizardzzzz. We joined up, partly to spend some time together during my busy season, and partly because I feel guilty at having ducked every single game invitation that my colleague has extended to me for the last three years.

Did I mention that I think Forgotten Realms is a.) incredibly boring* and b.) super overrated?

*Well, Zakhara and Kara-Tur are pretty cool, but I prefer their standalone iterations.

Anyway, I will admit that the D&D Beyond digital tools are pretty neat, though it means that I have to use a device to access my character sheet for awhile. Early 5E levels blow by so fast I was having to reprint my character sheet every week.

The DM has endeavored to make it a bit of an urban sandbox mixed with a "town parked on top of a dungeon" type setup, though I'm not sure how much of this is his own doing and how much of it is the module/campaign book.

I still stand by my assertion that 5E is D&D with kid gloves on. I think my best summation is Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction when he says "We should be fuckin' dead, my friend."

In the meantime, I am considering a game of Ghosts of Saltmarsh featuring the various people in my household. (I've got a pretty sitcom-esque living situation right now.) If nothing else, it'll be a nice change of pace from my weekly PbtA game.

Le sigh.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

White Box Class Overlays

The only thing remotely old school I've been into lately is Charlie Mason's White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game. Since most of the people I game with are scrubs who play Pathfinder or 5E or my goddamn hippy PbtA stuff, it's all wishful thinking tinker work.

My present project is something I dub "class overlays." WBFMAG (what a torturous abbreviation) sticks to the four basic character classes. Since most of the people I know like a little more variety than that, I started working on little templates that keep the essentials of the class while giving it just a little bit of flavor.

So I start off with the Assassin. Hmm. -1 to Thievery, +4 Backstab, 3 damage dice. I write up a simple ability to brew poisons at 5th level, keeping it vague and very much up to the GM in the spirit that WB is written in. (The game very much trusts the GM to do their goddamn job.)

Alright, done. On to the Druid. Neutral alignment...changes to weapons and armor, turning ability is animals instead of undead, slight alterations to spell list... a little less of an overlay. Hmm.

And then I stopped. Not because I'd made the Druid too complicated, but because... boredom. Why bother rolling out the nth iterations of the same tired-ass roster of character classes? Someone, somewhere wrote up a Northern Godi and a Jester for Swords & Wizardry White Box. Why shouldn't I do the same and take a departure from the usual suspects?

The goal:
-Keep 'em simple. A dash of flavor to the existing standard four classes, but still very much a member of that original class.

Something along these lines:


Practitioners of hedge magic, Witches are a subclass of Magic-User that consists mostly of women. Witchcraft tends to be more subtle than the fiery evocations of the standard Magic-User, and Witches also know their way around herbs and fantastical brews.

Weapon and Armor Restrictions: Witches can only use daggers in combat, and the only missile weapon they can use is oil. They are not allowed to wear any armor, nor use a shield.

Spellcasting: Witches generally function as standard Magic-Users, with a few modifications. They can learn and cast Cure Light Wounds (and its reverse) as though it were a 1st level Magic-User spell. When a Witch casts a charm or illusion spell, any target has a -1 penalty to their Saving Throw. In addition, calculate the duration of such spells as though the Witch were two experience levels higher. Witches cannot cast Fireball, Lightning Bolt, or other spells which cause direct damage.

Potions: Starting at 5th level, Witches can brew potions. The exact requirements, time and cost are left to the GM, but one recommendation is that they need a week's time, access to a cauldron, and rare ingredients that can cost between 500-1,000 gp. The GM is also free to impose a shelf life on the potency of the potions. The Witch may create any potion from the list in WBFMAG. If the GM wishes to limit this, perhaps the Witch gains a single recipe at 5th level, and learns an additional recipe with each experience level, or perhaps they must learn (or steal) the recipes from other Witches.


Now, I know that witches are hardly new to D&D and have had lots of incarnations, but this was just a starting point. I'd like to see some other fantasy, pulp, and even fairy tale archetypes get some love instead of ranger-paladin-monk-druid-bard-rinse-repeat.

I'm working on these in my drive right now, but I could well post them here as I get them done.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Fuck the Community

So there was the Zak thing. I long ago wrote him off as an insufferable asshole with his head up his own ass, but I guess the scope of that goes far beyond my limited interactions with him.

For the record, I believe his survivors.

I took a few days off from most blogs, except perhaps my favorite one. Head in the sand, boys. Tarps on. I'm only a consumer and a lurker in this community, and beyond voicing my support, I don't have much else I can contribute. My Twitter feed has become an anxiety-inducing wreck of other people's pain and rage and sorrow. I have the luxury of indulging my cowardice and tuning it out. I bought a PDF that one of the ladies published as a milquetoast act of contrition.

So this morning, I pop onto said Favorite of Blogs, and a discussion about character class devolves into a comment pile on where people are calling each other abuse and accusing JB of being passive-aggressive, and I just...

Fuck off. Fuck you all.

I've long lived with the notion that "everyone is cooler from a distance," a pithy little aphorism that I coined when I was a smug, drug-addled undergrad.

Social media has shown mean that people in general are more unlikable than I could ever have imagined in my most cynical younger days.

I'm out for now. It's no loss to anyone, and no loss to me.

I'm sure I'll be back when my stomach settles, so to speak.

Comments off because at present time I no longer care what anyone on the internet thinks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Monster of the Week Season 2 Finished

Tonight we ended up wrapping up the second season of Monster of the Week. This season ended up being eight sessions, the same length as the first season. Hard to believe I've been running this game since August, with a break for Monsterhearts 2 season one and a three week break where those silly holidays fucked everything up.

I had thought to perhaps take a one week break before starting up MH2, but the players seem pretty determined to dive right into it.

We ended on a cliffhanger, but the PCs did manage to redeem (or partly redeem) the party member who went pretty evil. An NPC has been set up as possibly the next PC to join the hunt. It was a good session.

I might be starting another campaign totally unrelated to this PbtA business, but that'll be another post entirely.

Friday, January 25, 2019

PvP in Monster of the Week


So we're definitely barreling toward a season closer for MotW. The Spooky has gone full on-traitor, actually attacking the Divine (and getting her ass handed to her...) There's a definite schism in the party as to how to resolve the present season's dilemma: blow up the big evil stone that is probably a portal into the Shadow World, or patch it up with magic. (The Spooky and her sinister patron want to do the first, the rest of the party wants to do the latter.)

PvP is an interesting thing, if it's done right. About 90% of the PvP I've personally experienced in my gaming career has been pedantic bullshit. I don't like paladins, you made a paladin, I attack you. I want to murder the NPC, you don't, I attack the NPC, you end up fighting me. It's been mostly flash-in-the-pan and entirely motivated by player personality and player relations.

This has been quite different. The antagonist player is the best friend, friend, and significant other of the other players in the group. She played her antagonism over a long con. She picked a decisive moment to strike, it just didn't work out. She has complicated relationships with the other characters- she bears no ill will toward them and is even friends with one, but she has a dark power pulling her strings.

The attacked character likewise handled it awesomely. The player has admitted she's uncomfortable with PvP, but she chose to have her character capture, rather than outright kill, the traitorous Spooky... and she could have easily killed her in their fight.

What I think is the most interesting is that the party has decided to let her live, and there is even a plan to help her break away from the dark powers in the works. They've even lost a potential NPC ally over their decision to spare the Spooky.

I realize that I haven't provided a lot of contextual details, but the nature of the PvP has been on my mind the last two days. It's literally the only time I have ever, as a GM, enjoyed PvP in a game I was running. It's the only time PvP hasn't resulted in resentment or the losing party being killed and making either a carbon copy of the slain character, or a "revenge" character.

I'm really lucky to have this group, even if they don't like the same D&D editions that I do.

(I'm also madly in love with one of the players, but that's off topic)

Monday, January 21, 2019

I Miss Dice

I was at a local game store with my girlfriend yesterday, and she was browsing for a set of new dice.

My dice cup runneth over. In addition to the sets I've accumulated over the last 27 years of gaming, I bought one of the Chessex "Pound o' Dice" a couple of years ago.

Sadly, I don't get to roll dice. The two games I'm running these days are Monster of the Week and Monsterhearts 2, both of which are games of the 'Powered by the Apocalypse' system. The MC does not roll dice in that game.

The games are great, don't get me wrong. I'm enjoying the hell out of them... I just miss the tactile joy of rolling dice, but only the players get to roll in PbtA. All rolls are also made with 2d6 (unless you're playing Dungeon World), so the polyhedrals sit neglected while their more standard brethren get all the action. It's a shame.

This post brought to you by a mind-numbing staff meeting.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Scent of 2nd Edition

You ever have a memory of a particular smell?

This morning I think I had one of those.

I seem to recall that brand-new AD&D 2nd edition books had a certain smell to them, not entirely like the generic "new book smell"  one usually experiences.

Granted, the last time I held a new AD&D 2nd edition book was probably some time in 1995-96, and memory is a pretty nebulous thing...

Anyone else remember the scent of 2nd edition?

I suppose it's also possible that I'm about to have a stroke. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Monday, January 14, 2019

In Need of a Good Read


I need some new blogs, preferably of the OSR variety (but any rpg blog will do) to put on my sidebar. A lot of blogs I follow have died off, or simply aren't of interest to me anymore. I'm interested in some good PbtA stuff, but I seriously doubt I'm going to get any recommendations from this corner of Blogaria.

Hit me with your hot recommendations. (I mean like three people read this blog, so I'm expecting three recommendations)


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Back in the Saddle - First Game of 2019

We returned to my Monster of the Week game today, resuming season 2. The PCs found themselves tracking a sinister black hound from Welsh myth from systematically murdering families of Welsh decent in Harrison. We ended on a cliff hanger, with half the PCs working on a ritual to banish the thing and half of the PCs wandering around in the dark woods trying not to get eaten. Good times, and my GM confidence has been restored after the crappy game I ran over break. 

We'll be playing again on Wednesday, and it looks like my docket will be filled with PbtA games for the foreseeable future. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Curious Follow-Up to a Bitter DMing Failure

So maybe you read my last blog post about trying to get some of my group to do old B/X D&D and they hated it.

You know what they loved? Like, absolutely loved?


Yes, Dungeon!*, the old** TSR board game where you literally win by collecting treasures. You play a character that has really no special abilities. (Unless you play the wizard with his three spells, two of which are incredibly similar.)

It was almost everything they hated about B/X D&D: lack of mechanical options, treasure as the way to win, combat where you usually just attack over and over. Hell, there's no way to circumvent traps in this game. 

They fucking loved Dungeon! and want to play it again.

Being a board game, I suppose the expectations were different. It just strikes me as amusing how

In the words of Casey Kasem: ponderous, man. Fuckin' ponderous.

*It hurts me to put the exclamation point in the middle of a sentence like that, but sometimes good people do bad things.

**I am aware there is a shiny new version of Dungeon! that has been available for several years. I also don't give a single fuck about it. I like my Superhero.