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Monday, June 30, 2014

Monster Mondays

The Pattern Zombie

Frequency:  Uncommon
Number Appearing:  5 - 50 (5d10)
Armor Class:  6
Hit Dice:  2-9 Hit Points (1d8+1)
No. Attacks 1
Special Attacks: Slam, Tackle, Maul, Drag, Bite and Call Zombie (Shriek)
Special Defenses:  Piercing Attacks reduced to 1 HP per attack.  Slashing Attacks damage reduced by 2 hit points.  Special "Rise" defense.
Magic Resistance: None
Intelligence:  Low (Undead)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size:  Medium or Small
Psionic Ability: Nil

Pattern zombies are created by the hideous, hissing goblin green volcanic stone which drops down out of the sky during a Pattern Storm like a hellish form of hail.  Pattern Storms gather far in the North, generally in the region around the Black City of Oubliette in the Kingdoms Chimerical campaign setting.  These storms move into the South sometimes as far as the Northern edge of the Sea of Harlots.  Pattern Storms are violent supernatural weather patterns whose clouds hurl purple and green lightning and hail smoldering glowing green bits of volcanic rock.  Where this rock lands it burns into the ground and shortly thereafter animates any intelligent humanoid creature whose intact dead remains are within 100 feet of the stone.

The freshly dead pattern zombie is a faster mover in that it rolls initiative normally and can run at the normal movement speed for its humanoid race.  Significantly decayed pattern zombies suffer the same slow movement and initiative penalties as standard zombies.

Pattern zombies are vulnerable to sunlight.  They suffer one point of damage for every combat round they are directly exposed to sunlight or the equivalent.  While so exposed their flesh turns to charcoal and they smoke and smolder.  Pattern zombies will shun the daylight for this reason.  They possess a rudimentary set of behaviors and survival instincts making them more dangerous and indeed superior to lesser zombies.  They can burrow beneath the top soil sufficiently to hide from the daylight or will seek out in the shelter of buildings, under bridges and any cool shaded location during the day.  Their instinct to survive is over ridden by their will to consume the flesh of intelligent humanoid living creatures.  A group of pattern zombies hiding under a bridge will swarm out from beneath the bridge even in the middle of the day in a snarling mass to grab any nearby living humanoid.  They will then attempt to drag the poor wretch back into the shadows to eat them.

Pattern zombies have several attacks at their disposal.  Groups will use several of these in concert in order to bring down prey in an effective fashion.  They seem to communicate in a series of howls, moans and snarls which are totally incomprehensible without a speak with dead spell.

Pattern Zombie Special Attacks

Slam  The zombie makes a regular attack roll.  If successful they inflict 1d4 bludgeoning damage against a foe with their fists.  A zombie can also slam a door or barrier.  Each slam has a chance to break the door equal to a character with a 15 strength.

Tackle  The zombie may attempt to tackle prey.  The zombie makes a standard attack roll suffering a -2 penalty to hit.  If successful the target must make a saving throw versus paralyzation.  If the saving throw fails they are prone and also take 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage.  Any prone target may be attacked with a drag or maul attack.

Drag   The zombie makes a standard attack roll against a prone target.  If successful they drag the target 1d6x5 feet.  Usually the victim is dragged towards the shadows or a location where the zombies can work together to feast.

Maul  The zombie can make a standard attack roll with a +2 attack modifer against a prone target and maul them with bone like claws.  This attack inflicts 1d6 damage and forces a saving throw versus zombie taint.

Bite   The zombie can bite a target with a standard attack roll suffering a penalty of -2 versus targets carrying a shield.  A successful bite inflicts 1d4 points of damage and forces a saving throw versus zombie taint with a two point penalty on the saving throw.

Call Zombie  The zombie can let out a series of loud shrieks.  These calls are horrifying and force a saving throw versus fear as the spell.  Within if there are other pattern zombies in the area they will be drawn to the call within 1d3 combat rounds.

Special Defense:  Rise

When a pattern zombie reaches zero hit points roll 1d6.  On a roll of a 6 the zombie suddenly reanimates with a single hit point within one combat round.  The DM may delay this revival for the greatest scary effect in game.

Zombie Taint

A character afflicted with zombie taint will show certain symptoms within 12 hours of the infection.  Their body temperature will become cooler, nearly room temperature.  Their joints will frequently become sore and stiff.  They will develop a growing hunger for rare meat.  They will develop a short and sometimes violent temper.

The character otherwise remains normal until they are reduced to zero hit points.  When this occurs the tainted character will rise as a fast moving pattern zombie within 1d4+1 combat rounds under the control of the DM.

There you have it!  A monster from my homebrew campaign free to drop into your own game.

Happy Gaming!!!

Ed Kann

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Soulful Sunday

Custom Dungeon Tiles
in a Roll20 AD&D Game I was running.
Sunday is a day of reflection for a good many people scattered around the world.  I don't claim to be especially religious but I thought that reflections on real life issues as they relate to the AD&D / RPG hobby might be appropriate.

Today I thought I'd share a little about the work, family, life, gaming balance.

First of all, I plead guilty to allowing months and years to go by where my AD&D and RPG hobby had such a back seat in my day to day life that it might have well have been dragged down the road behind the car.  During those years I was gaming rarely.  So rarely that perhaps four or five games in an entire year might have been about the average.

Plenty of people who read this outside of the hobby will comment, great.  Sounds like you had your priorities straight.  As I get older however, I am not altogether convinced that they have any bleeding clue in the universe what they are talking about.

Here's the thing.  I love AD&D and I love the RPG hobby in general.  Working on games as a DM and running them for friends has to be at least tied for my number one favorite entertainment activity if not number one.  Throwing all of the game books in the closet and doing nothing but work, family, cleaning the house, getting the kids to school, collapsing into bed ad nauseum might have been the decision of an adult but not a particularly wise adult.  Life is short.  Very short.  I've let so many great gaming opportunities slip past me and chances to go to conventions that it honestly makes me a little sick.  Headed towards fifty years old I've come to the realization that RPG writing, artwork and play is something that makes me fulfilled and happy in the same way that someone that paints or sings or goes skydiving has those activities make them happy.

The bottom line is that you have to make room for this hobby if it is something you love to do or later in life you are going to truly regret it.

Now there will be people, even gamers that will skoff and laugh at the idea that an AD&D guy would actually regret all the games he missed out on, all those times around the table with friends, all the fun laughs and adventures.  They will say, there are so many better things to do with your time!

Well ok.  Then to those people I say, why aren't you out doing those things then.  The point is that I've lived a very diverse and active life so far.  I am not about to abandon ship on all of my adult responsibilities.  For me however, my RPG hobby and DM campaign creation time is at least as fulfilling as your jogging or dance or painting hobby.  This is one of maybe two or three hobby type activities that really gives me personal fulfillment and happiness and I'm not ashamed to admit that to anyone.

I am happy to report that outside of the hiccup of having to move and all that entails that I have a wonderful every other week AD&D group.  After I am settled in the new place I have big plans to expand my home gaming to include at least one second every other week gaming group.  I already have some players in mind for it.  Next year I will score some additional vacation at work.  While I plan to spend half of my annual vacation on my kids I also plan to spend half of my annual vacation on me.  By me I mean hoffing it off to Gary Con, North Texas RPG Con and Gen Con.  WIth any luck it will be one of the most awesome, fun, RPG filled years of my life so far.

I am very excited and looking forward to it.

Happy Gaming!!!

Ed Kann

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Settings

Pull up a bean bag chair and let's get started.  Saturdays are going to be dedicated to discussions about building your own homebrew AD&D campaign.  This advice can easily be applied to Swords and Wizardry, OSRIC, D&D Basic or 2nd Edition D&D and probably 3.5 as well.

So the first thing you need to consider is whether or not you have the patience and time to create your own homebrew campaign.  Back in the early 1980's a great many DM's invested the energy into their own worlds because many of us were younger with more spare time to do so.  Over the years DM's found themselves with less free time and a great many more high production and detailed out of the box campaigns to run their games in and homebrew campaign building became more and more of a rarity.

With the coming of the OSR homebrew campaign creation has come back in a fairly significant manner.  Part of this trend comes out of an interest in self publishing and I often wonder how many of the new homebrew campaign creators actually run players through their own material but this is not a critique of current homebrew campaign building.

The first thing you want to do is decide a few themes that you want to run throughout your homebrew campaign.  Many of these have been done before but your focus needs to be what is fun for you to write and draw and not so much worrying about what everyone else is doing or has done.  What do you think your players will enjoy?  What will you enjoy?  You are the one that is going to have to labor over this creation for hours and hours, weeks and weeks, months and months and possibly years and years while you run it for your friends.  It would be a good idea to write about things that you find exciting and entertaining as your personal enjoyment will help keep you going.

In my Kingdoms Chimerical campaign one of the themes I wanted to introduce was the concept of the World as Dungeon.  This is not to be confused with Dungeon World where the entire world is one big dungeon.  In Kingdoms Chimerical I wanted to really bring back an early AD&D feeling of exploration not only when inside of a dungeon but also while traveling around the campaign city and in the wilderness.  I found that some of the more modern and pretty cartography conventions I had gotten used to throughout my later gaming career got in the way of this sense of exploration.  What it required is a foundation approach where I was making my practical DM maps on graph paper and by this I mean absolutely everything, wilderness, cities, villages, everything was mapped in the same sort of semi abstracted manner found in a dungeon map.

I can't really take credit for using graph paper and a maze like approach to wilderness maps.  This was demonstrated to several of us as players at Gary Con One by Frank Metzer...I'm pretty sure it was him.  Sorry I am getting older and can't always remember the specifics as clearly as I would like.  Metzer noticed I was really interested on how he was running the wilderness crawl we were on and during a break to some time out to let me see the grid map he was using.  He explained that during the early days that Gygax and some of the others working on AD&D thought that perhaps wilderness / overland maps would all be done on graph paper with the terrain drawn into a sort of maze where hills or deep forest would represent a more difficult and sometimes much more difficult "level" of the wilderness.  So the encounters you might find while exploring a valley would be first and second level encounters while moving on into the hills might have you encounter a vampire...which is exactly what happened to us when we tried to take a shortcut out of the valleys where we were searching and over the hills to our destination.

That was a big lightbulb going on moment for me.  Let the players understand the grid nature of the region they are exploring so they can travel a mile and ask the question, ok what does the terrain look like now to the West, to the North, to the South.  We want to go West but the forest gets deeper and we already know that deep forests tend to be quite dangerous (monster encounter level four).  We don't want to die.  We decide to skirt the deep forest at our current level and head North into terrain we already feel we can probably handle.

Bingo.  Wilderness travel and exploration is suddenly new and vibrant and interesting again.  Players need to be concerned about supplies.  Unless they always stick to the roads and unless you as the DM always have roads leading to exactly where they need to travel (just don't make roads that go everywhere...force them to have to overland travel to get to the remote dungeon or wizard tower or whatever) they are going to have to map it out on graph paper and navigate a maze of wilderness you've created...i.e. find their way to the destination.

Your wilderness maps won't be as pretty.  Mine certainly are not.  I can hand draw a really nice map.  I'm a good fantasy cartographer...or at least I don't suck.  I've abandoned pretty maps for maps that function properly in the AD&D game.

In the same fashion my city maps are now set on a grid.  Each space is about a three block square of the city.  Each block is coded as a different type of neighborhood.  Slums, Merchant, Crafting, Wizarding, Temple, Barracks, Noble...etc...  Each type has its own encounter tables created in a level system similar to the wilderness idea.  Players moving around in the city now need to get out a map of graph paper and map it out.  I just use colored pencils to color code the different neighborhoods.  Red is slums.  Blue is merchants and so on.  The players pretty quickly discover there are certain neighborhoods that are much more dangerous than others.  This can be through encounters with thugs but also say the Noble District while not a place where you are going to get mugged will have level five encounter guards keeping a close eye on everything.  Try to break in somewhere in the noble district and the monsters...guards you will be faced with are going to be really dangerous.  Players quickly learn that they have to think about what they are doing and plan a little more.  There are dangerous people and areas of the city and wilderness they want to avoid.

This all brings back the mood of an early AD&D campaign in a big way, something that I believe has slowly been leeched out of the game in an accidental fashion for a good many years.

There you have it.  Today's homebrew setting entry for Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight.  If you enjoy this blog please share it around with your friends.  Having people enjoy, share and read the blog really encourages me to keep at it.

Happy Gaming!!!

Ed Kann

Friday, June 27, 2014

Freaky Friday

Starlight slips in through the window.
An OSR bit of art by me.
Today's DM music for inspiration: Led Zepplin - Misty Mountain Hop

Candle Color:  Red

Current Blog Record:  12 Days and 12 Entries.  100%

Hey Gamers!

I have decided to dub my Friday blog entries on Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight under the heading of Freaky Friday.

This means that Friday will be a grab bag of the bizarro pulled completely at random from the folders where my AD&D and Swords and Wizardry campaign materials are kept.  To make it sound more interesting we will call this material,"gems pulled from the vault", but you and I will secretly know that "the vault" is the old filing cabinet stuffed with vanilla folders next to my desk and the "gems" are whatever I happen to find.   Sssshhhh, tell no one.

If you are new to this blog, this is Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight.  The blog where I sit down, crank up the classic rock and roll, light a candle and wax poetic about old school AD&D, D&D and Swords and Wizardry for 15 minutes.  Part of the experiment, indeed the challenge here is for me to have a fun blog entry every single day.  Welcome!  If you are a returning reader then, welcome back!

Today's Freaky Friday subject is pregenerated price lists for your shops.

The image to the left is one of thirty or forty generic and pre-game generated price lists I have for the shops in my campaign.  By having pre-generated price lists ready to go any time the players decide to nose around inside of a shop I can limit the goods currently available and the base asking price.

Players have to do a little shopping around several different shops when they are looking to do a major armor, weapon and equipment upgrade and this is an opportunity for city encounters, rumors, conversations with shop keepers and other fun bits of play that can easily get overlooked.

Pregenerating my price lists also forces me as the DM to think about this in advance.  In my campaign I have armor and weapons made from interesting things and not all of these items function in exactly the same fashion.  Sabre Tooth Hide Armor is a little different in some ways than Deer Hide Armor.  A broadpoint sword of iron strikes a little differently than a broadpoint sword made of steel.

Dude, this is the same price list!  Fooled ya!  The image to the right is another price list for an armor shop but the goods are different because it is intended to be used when the characters walk into a different armor shop.

I don't create price lists for specific shops.  I create maybe price lists for three to five armor shops, three to five weapon shops, a couple of blacksmiths, a few alchemist shops, three or four adventuring equipment shops, etc...

In reality there are really only about a dozen to twenty different types of shops your players will ever enter during the campaign and two of these are taverns and inns.  You can save yourself a bus load of time by creating generic price lists and then picking out the one that makes the most sense for the current shop where the players land.  Every once in awhile you can open the folder filled with these and drop a new one in for each category to keep it all fresh.  If the players make a big geographic move in the campaign you can update your price lists with maybe two for each category to get going.

Make your price lists look cool.  These were dropped onto a parchment background that I found randomly on the interwebs to make them look cool online but in reality I have resume parchment I print these on for the hard copy versions I hand to players during the game.

Well there you have it.  Another blog entry for Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight and greetings from the misty hills and cold shrouded forests of the Kingdoms Chimerical.

Happy Gaming!!!

Ed Kann

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Terra Firma Thursday

Today's Music to DM by is JUDAS PRIEST - Heading Out on the Highway
Candle Color is Purple

I thought I would test drive doing a few blog entries about terrain, map creation as they apply to my own campaign maps, dungeon maps and D&D cartography in general.

First.  I like to present multiple and diverse terrain options for characters to wander into in a reasonably close proximity.  Taking the section from my own Kingdom's Chimerical grand campaign map I have the Bitterfrost Spellblight - a region locked in a magically created winter, the great forest region of Central Pictland to the North, surrounding farm and rolling hill country with some lesser wooded terrain and finally the creepy Boglands of Ghagnasdiak to the South.  Nearby there are also opportunities for the character to have coastal or sea going adventures.  All within about a hundred and sixty mile radius.

This layout is somewhat intentional.  I like 160 miles as a working number when designing large scale campaign areas.  At an average overland speed of thirty miles a day this sets up a play area where all kinds of diverse terrain and adventures can be formulated in great variety all in a week's travel.

Sure there are plenty of real world situations which are quite different.  Where one might travel for twice or three times that time before emerging on the far side of the great expansive forest or plains of whats-it-a-ma-hoo's-it.  I'm only vaguely trying to achieve realism in my maps for my Dungeons and Dragons fantasy world, cities and dungeons.  More often my major push is player fun and keeping the action / story moving over concerns for realism.

The Icegale is at the center of the Bitterfrost Spellblight.  This is the former stronghold of the Pentagarchy wizard's cabal in the Kingdom of Daria.  During the Nightshade War when the Necrogarchy of Leng marched its brutal armies filled with undead out of the East, the sorcerer's of the Pentagarchy unleashed a weather control spell which shattered the fabled Life Stone, killed most of the sorerer's making the attempt and brought endless deep freezing winter to cover an area roughly a hundred miles in diameter.  The spell was sufficient to engulf most of the armies of the Necrogarchy, freezing or slowing the hordes of the undead to make them easier for the Darian military to hunt and destroy.

Most of the spellblight remains a ruin to this day although there are a few organized villages where the locals are trying to rebuild.  These include the towns of Skittern, Candle and Whispglow.

The forests of Central Pictland to the North are home to dozens of brutal human / barbaric tribes, many of whom still worship at alters dedicated to the Elder Gods and powers of Chaos which brought humanity into this world centuries ago.  The Picts avoid the enchanted winterland of the Spellblight which offers some relief from the occasional raiding party.  The remainder of the Kingdom of Daria continues to struggle with seasonal incursions by the Northern Picts.  Indeed the Darian army fights a slow battle to recovery to this day.  In the North they seek to resecure their Northern border.  In the spellblight they fight a slow war to mop up the remnants of the older armies of the Necrogarchy still half frozen in the snow and ice of Bitterfrost.

In the South the Boglands of Ghagnasdiak are a stronghold for the Steam Barons, a faction of men who have mastered some of the steam punk + magical technology left behind in the ancient war machines of chaos.  The Steam Barons and their slowly rolling or trudging mobile villages are a rising rival to the more traditional powers of the Hundred Lords of Man, the long standing collection of noble households which have ruled over the Civilized Kingdoms surrounding the Sea of Harlots for nearly a thousand years.

So there you have it.  Short and sweet this time, to be sure, but I am in the midst of packing for a move here in town and so you'll have to forgive the brevity of this blog entry.  There is always next week to further expand on terrain, fantasy cartography and revealing bits and pieces of my long standing homebrew D&D campaign.

Rocketship Empires 1936
Radiobot by Mike Doscher
A different RPG project for a different
and future blog project.
Goodnight and Happy Gaming!!!

Ed Kann

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wonder Worker Wednesday

- Monastery of the South Wind -
Surrounded by the Floating Heads of Forgotten Gods
Artist: Chris Pickrell
The Music Selection for working on the campaign today is:  YES - Close to the Edge.

Candle Color is:  White

Today is blog entry 10.  Ten days have passed and ten blog entries have been made.  I was pondering what to write about while I was at work today and it struck me that I have so many things I could possibly share just from the D&D campaign that I might consider a schedule or theme for each day of the week.

I am not totally ready to make a hard and fast list yet but I do have a working outline that I plan to go from for a few weeks to see how it goes.

Wednesday - Wonder Workers

Today's theme will focus in broad strokes on magical casters in my home campaign.  From week to week this may bounce from arcane casters to priests to cultists or present a list of homebrew spells, that sort of thing.

I thought today I'd expand on what I had talked about briefly on the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG google+ group where I delved a little into using Mythos ideas in my campaign history and deity roster.  I have been a fan of the writing of Howard and Lovecraft for years and pulling hints of elder beings, ancient gods and powers of chaos was pretty much a guaranteed deal when I began work on my home campaign.

In this entry we will touch on two cults.  The Cult of the Piper and the Cult of the Rag Man.  Both of these cults are somewhat obscure and related to the Mythos theme creeping around the edge of my Kingdom's Chimerical campaign setting.  Priests of these two cults may cast spells only up to cleric level three although the High Priest of each cult may cast spells up to level casting level five.  At character level three and five I grant priests / clerics a religion based special ability unique to that particular sect in addition to their spells.

The Piper

The Piper is an entity, often unseen, which seems drawn to those suffering an extreme personal crisis.  Whatever the being(s) is or are, they seem to feed on the dark emotional suffering and extreme stress of those going through a great personal loss or trauma.  The Piper begins by trilling its eerie keening piping noise near the edge of the village or rural home of its intended target.  Over the following nine evenings a growing mist accumulates in the surrounding countryside until a fog so dense it limits vision to a mere twenty feet covers the area for miles around.  Each evening the Piper draws closer to its victim.  Each evening the victim must make a saving throw or plunge into violent and usually homicidal madness.

The Piper makes rare appearances but is credited with a fair and growing number mass murder events scattered throughout the more isolated villages of the North.

Priests of the Piper while aligned with Chaos are not necessarily evil in nature.  They travel the countryside as investigators and their goals are more to ward off the Piper through proper observations, odd sigils and rituals and protect the wider community than anything else.    A priest of the Piper is a strange combination of detective and cultist.  When she arrives at the afflicted community her first task is to attempt to identify which member of the community is the Piper most likely targeting with its madness inducing song.  Only one member of the community will be so changed and sometimes it is not altogether easy to figure out who the next convert of the Piper will be.

Level Three:  Palm Reading
Once per day the priest of the Piper can read the palm of any humanoid.  They can offer advice and insight into one event in the future.  This advice can be tucked away by the individual and used later as a one time reroll of any dice roll although the second roll must always be taken.  The priest can also use this ability to immediately identify the palm of the intended victim of the Piper's song should the priest choose to read the palm of the specific person being attacked.  This ability regenerates at high noon on each new calendar day.

Level Five:  Fashion Charm
The priest of the Piper may fashion one charm a week from the knuckle bones of any humanoid.  All ten knuckle bones from the same skeletal remains must be used for this purpose.  Any humanoid creature will suffice.  Each bone is marked with a special sigil only known to the priests of the Piper.  Any character carrying this charm may burn its minor magic for a one time +1 bonus to any roll OR the charm can be worn around the neck of a character and it will automatically end the assault of the Piper against that person, should they be the Piper's intended target on the very next night.  When this occurs the charm crumbles into dust.  The Piper will move on to a different and likely distant new hunting ground when its intended target is lost.

The Rag Man
The Rag Man appears as a cloak shrouded, hunched and tall humanoid as it moves about the shadows of the city where it lairs.  It typically feasts on beggers, street urchins and other dwellers in the back alleys and margins of society like a lion picking off the weak from a flock of sheep.  In a similar fashion to the priests of the Piper, the priests of the Rag Man maintain their small shrines faithfully in cities scattered throughout the world and when signs of the Rag Man's presence is discovered move into action to protect the wider community.

Level Three: Disease Resistance
Living as they do in the filthy parts of the city and often friends to beggers, lepers and others living on the margins the priests of the Rag Man develop a +4 bonus to any saving throw related to disease when they reach third level.

Level Five:  Create Poppet
Using twine, sticks and various bits of trash the priests of the Rag Man create simple poppets which they string up through alleys and around a neighborhood to ward off the Rag Man and encourage it to move along.  These stick figures seem to function as a limited protection versus any Mythos creature or Outsider for any character standing within thirty feet of the stick figure.  The protection provides a +2 bonus to AC, saving throws and attack and damage rolls versus Mythos creatures or Outsiders.

I hope you enjoyed this latest blog installment.

Happy Gaming!!!

Ed Kann

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

DMing a Female NPC

Main Character "Girl" from a comic book project and story
of mine.  Drawn by the incredible
Amanda Wells.
Heroine:  a woman of distinguished character or ability admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities.  The principle female character in a story, play or film.

This blog article is not about the inequality of portraying female characters in art in RPGs with big boobs and bare midriffs.  Personally I think there is plenty of room for tasteful female characters in an RPG and female characters that look like Red Sonja.  I plead guilty to not being particularly PC in this regard.  Nor will a bunch of angry argument change me in this.

However, you don't have to sit down at to many RPG tables to understand that a fair number of male Dungeon Masters out there find it a challenge or uncomfortable to roleplay a female NPC.

To often a DM (and I hope its obvious that I'm speaking of male DM's here and not females) will slip into unfortunate female character or villain stereotypes if they even attempt to roleplay a female character at all, every single time.  DM's this can get predictable and old.

Female NPC's (non-player characters) are out there in the campaign world.  They are not and should not only be portrayed as barmaids, harlots, the female thief with a heart of gold or potential love interests for the male player characters.  Of course these other types of female extra on the set of your unfolding story do sometimes make an appearance.  I find no problem with that whatsoever.  Yet there should be a wider range of female NPC represented in the campaign.  Women can be members of the city militia.  They can be shop keepers.  When was the last time that you wrote up a female blacksmith for the local town?  What about a dangerous and competent female arch villain?  What about a female hireling with no amount of love interest in any of the player characters whatsoever and not because she's a lesbian.

Personally I very much enjoy female characters.  I enjoy writing for them.  I enjoy their independent and heroic aspect.  This is not to say that suddenly there needs to be some politically correct increase in female NPC characters.  Screw that politically correct garbage when it comes to writing your own fantasy campaign.  This is fantasy remember?  Still.  Guy DM's I am telling you that your ongoing campaign will improve and become more interesting if you can get a handle on roleplaying a female NPC character in a competent and interesting fashion.

I offer this as only an observation and DM advice for one of several ways that a DM can polish up their campaign, perhaps make it more fresh and interesting for the players involved in it.

Female Elven Manslayer
by Mr. Johnny Ledford
Take the female character to the right.  This character was raised in a world where every surviving elf is either a slave or an escaped slave, bound magically into service from human master to human master.  Her long life has led her to become a piece of property which is inherited.  She is like grandfather's antique clock and listed in the roles of property passed down within a wealthy estate however she is grandfather's personal bodyguard and killer and likely from time to time his traveling companion and servant, but never friend.

By now five generations of human have lived and died and this character has no end in sight for her enslavement.  She takes an almost Joker-esque glee when an opportunity is presented to her where she is ordered to dispatch a human being.  Now to another elf she might be kind, even good to a certain degree but when it comes to her human masters her long decades of hatred have turned her into something twisted, evil and utterly vile of heart.

Take this Kingdom of Carolan cavalry officer.  She is a dragon rider in a world where much of the landscape is airborne.  Her mount, while the size of a small house and able to breathe a sap like burning poison, is not the intelligent spellcasting dragon of your standard AD&D monster book.  Dragons in this setting have about an equivalent intelligence to a dog.  They can be loyal, devoted and trained to perform certain vital tasks.  They also have the personality of a camel.  They can be bellowing, crude, hungry, obnoxious brutes much of the time and so this dragon rider must be just as easily capable of comforting her beast as she is to deliver her best closed fist blow (don't worry she can't possibly do any real damage like this) to get the thing to behave.

She comes from a lesser noble house.  One without significant land holdings or real wealth.  Much of her personal wealth is tied into her armor, weapons and her mount.  She follows a noble calling and series of oaths.

The worst possible thing that can happen to her is that she be put into a position where her family honor is called into question or damaged through some action or inaction of hers.

So there you have it.  A few examples.  I know there are many out there in scores of wonderful NPC books with far greater detail than what I have provided here.  Write and roleplay female NPC characters like you would any other character.  They should have strengths, flaws and goals like any other character you have decorating the landscape of your campaign.  Don't be afraid to introduce them and cast them in ways you maybe haven't thought of before.

Happy Gaming!!!

Ed Kann

Monday, June 23, 2014

The God of Snicker Snack

Unholy Symbol for
God of Assassins
Father of the Vorpal Blade
In my homebrew OSR campaign I wanted to fashion a deity that both took care of the Noble House Assassins in my campaign but tied in a classic item from the earliest AD&D books, the vorpal sword.

Vorpal blades appear again and again in classic OSR modules and campaigns but from whence do they come?  Who creates them?  Why are they so often intelligent?

Vorpus is the God of Assassins

In my homebrew campaign all of the gods live in some incarnation often bound to the same mortal / prime material plane where mortals tred.  I took inspiration for the creation of my own pantheon from the early write ups for deities found in the old Deities and Demigods book.  Not only was that a wonderful source book it full stat'd out every deity you might run into during an OSR campaign with armor class, hit points, special powers.  Indeed, every detail a party of players might need to say hunt down and slaughter these beings, once they reached very high level of course, was included.

In my campaign the gods grant divine spells.  The clerical level they can grant is generally based on my notions of how popular and widespread their worship has become.  Very popular entities grant the full boat of clerical spells while lesser known beings worshiped by the odd cult may only grant clerical spells up to level five or even as low as casting level three.

There are technically only two planes of existence in my campaign.  The mortal plane and the spirit plane.  The gods can migrate between these two planes at will but because they have their own interests tied to the mortal plane often set up residence somewhere there.

Vorpus for time out of mind has operated as the wizened old Eastern master of all assassins, everywhere.  Yes, once you reach level twelve or so you adventure off to find the grand master of all assassins, learn your final skills and then, if you are so inclined, challenge the grand master to a mortal combat from whence you might hope to emerge as the new grand master.

Vorpus lives in a quiet and humble hovel set up next to a simple (appearing) forge.  He portrays himself as both a master thief, poisoner and martial artist and also as a master smith.  Vorpus promises those who come to him a beautiful blade and when their training is complete they may choose to leave with this blade or challenge the little old man for the title.

Of course Vorpus is far more deadly than any yokel 13th level assassin could ever hope to be.  More than likely, when challenged, Vorpus will emerge the victor.  As his prize he will capture the soul of the high level assassin who challenged him and this he will use to fashion into a beautiful vorpal weapon.  As a rule, in my homebrew, all vorpal weapons are fashioned from the black souls of master assassins defeated by the God Vorpus.  They are all intelligent as they contain something of the personality of the individual from whom it was made.

When portraying Vorpus I often think of the character Egg Chen, the little old man with the six demon bag from the film, Big Trouble in Little China.  He seems fairly unkept and a little crude when the characters find him.  If they decide to abandon the challenge he will train them so that they can achieve 12th or 13th level and that is as far as they will ever advance, no matter their race.  Only a character who defeats Vorpus and replaces him can advance beyond the 13th level as an assassin.

Happy Gaming!

Ed Kann
OSR Dungeon Master

Sunday, June 22, 2014

How to DM for Difficult Players

I have had to move many times in the almost thirty years that I have been a DM.  This has caused me to reboot my game and seek new groups of players more than a dozen times.  Any DM also experience player attrition, especially now that many of us are older with children to raise, jobs that pull people away from their friends.  Groups wax and wane and faces change over the years.

So what to do about difficult players?

First you need to introduce clear boundaries and guidelines of behavior for your game.  You are the host of the event, after all, whether you also are the host at your home or running somewhere else.  I find that it is easier to establish the friendly atmosphere you hope to create on your home turf and I usually like to DM at my own apartment for this reason.

Your desire for a fun social environment is just as important as the game itself.  Gaming groups mostly fall apart because one or two of the players get into a social tiff over something during the game.  Sure, part of this is when players explode and the gaming group blows up but part of this is also when the emotional drain of running for a couple of people in a group who insist on being a-holes to one another makes the DM part of the exercise no fun.  The DM gets sick of the experience.  His or her own fun time with the hobby has been turned into a drudgery of dealing with people who don't know how to behave themselves.

Here are some rules I uphold for my own D&D games which may be of use.

1.  No shouting at other players even IC.  By this no angry screaming in the face of another player.  Even when this is done IC it very rarely turns out well.  If you want to IC shout at the villain during roleplay and it is directed at me the DM that is totally fine.  I come in expecting a certain amount of emotionally up interactions as the DM based around good RP.  Often what is meant as IC shouting turns into IC shouting back and forth which is thinly veiled player shouting at each other.  So no real shouting at other players.  You can say your PC is shouting at make your statement.

2.  No throwing dice in frustration, tearing up character sheets or any other demonstrations of having a tantrum like reaction.  This is rare but it sucks utterly.  I make this rule up front by the way.  If someone has temper tantrums at the table (and there are rarely reasons to do so at my table anyway) they probably shouldn't be playing RPG's until they sort out their personal issues.  I see this as a major red flag and probably someone who does this is going to be uninvited so the group can not be destroyed by their immature behavior at the table.

3.  Be friendly.  Period.  Everyone invited to my table is someone I would like to have as a friend.  End of story.  Now as a player maybe you don't care to have Bob as your friend but I expect that you will treat Bob in a friendly fashion while at game night.  No snide comments.  No name calling.  No playground bullshit.

4.  No cheating at dice rolls.  Exception - DM behind the screen to protect the integrity of the story.  Players that feel the need to cheat at their dice rolls drive me crazy.  First, I usually notice.  I may not say anything to avoid calling you out and embarassing your forty year old ass for cheating at a silly RPG game to save you the akwardness.  The repeat cheating makes me wonder if you think I'm some kind of a dumb ass.  You know, friendly, happy person does not equal dumb ass.  I will sometimes let this slide for a few games before quietly talking to the person out of game over coffee or something.  I give one warning and the next time it happens I just don't invite them to the game anymore.

So yes, maybe I come across as a little bit of a jerk wad when I lay down these rules of friendly social play but that usually takes place at the start of a new group and takes about ten minutes.  Most of the time when people know the social rules of a gaming group they either follow them or uninvite themselves.

To be honest, I would rather replace one player early in the gaming group's life that can't manage to be friendly and fun to have in my home than deal with a jerk wad player that makes us steadily more miserable from game to game.

With some ground rules set up in advance and the expectation for positive, friendly play every game night the gaming group tends to be something everyone looks forward to from week to week and that includes me as the DM - and I call that a win.

Happy Gaming!

Ed Kann

- Please leave a hello in the comments section.  Part of the point of this blog is to make new D&D friends all over the world.

sketch by J.C. Alvarez for a fantasy project of mine quite a few years ago.  He is a wonderful person to work with.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

TSR Classics and DMing dice conventions

The image to the right is a photo of some of the original TSR 1970's and early 1980's era dice included in the blue box set.

One thing you might not know if you began playing after 1985 or thereabouts is that when we first started playing the 20 sided die only had the numbers zero through nine repeated on the die twice.  No die manufactured during the early days of dungeons and dragons were numbered one to twenty.

The tradition then was to take the white twenty sided die and use some means to color one half of the numbers to reflect the 10 - 20 range.  I was already into painting plastic models and soldiers at the time and so I had plenty of good ole testers model paint to achieve this.  I know guys that used markers or crayons or all kinds of ways to create their 20 sider.  I miss this little tradition as there was something creative and maybe a little mojo involved in choosing what color to use and how you'd paint your personal 20 sider up.

There were no 10 sided die at the time and you just picked one color of unpainted 20 sider as the tens die and rolled two 20 sided numbered 0-9 to determine your percentile rolls.

This leads me to dice roll conventions in my own homebrew game.  Gronards might want to cover your ears now although I can testify that I've mostly gone with these dice conventions since the early 90's when playing D&D.  Not always, but mostly.

I never liked the all over the map dice conventions where you wanted to roll high for some things and low for other things.  Mainly because it was difficult for new players at my table to remember when to roll high or low and often more casual adult players like girlfriends or wives of players who we did want to play, never really put in the energy to learn the game and what to roll because the dice mechanics were so totally wonk and all over the place.

Sure there is a camp that says if you can't bother to learn the game then don't play.  I get that.  I happen to like it when I can get someone who is fun to roleplay with at the table though and gaming for me is more a mix of fun time with friends and the hobby itself.

Anyway.  Here are the dice rolling conventions I use in my own homebrew game whenever I play dungeons and dragons.

High rolls are good.  Always.  If the dice mechanic in the rules states otherwise, rolling low is better, I change the rule to fit the golden rule that high rolls are always good.

d6 for skill checks or any time someone is trying to figure something out in character other than the thief oriented skills which require percentile dice.   d6 might be rolled for finding something.  d6 might be rolled to determine if the player character knows something that they reasonably should know having lived in the campaign world all their lives but the player does not.  d6 roll to determine if the character's hooked grapple secures itself successfully when thrown.

d6 rolls follow the house rule that high is good, low is bad.  d6 rolls I always allow the player characters to roll on the table.

d6 rolls for initiative.  I use party versus monsters initiative and character order of action simply goes around the table.  The exception to this is when a character is especially fast from some spell or magical item.  Then they go first out of the player characters and we just go around the table from them.

Percentile dice checks for thief skills are rolled by the DM most of the time and likely I should roll these behind the DM screen.  I hate doing this to some extent because I dislike taking the fun of rolling the dice away from the player.  However, most of the percentile dice rolls made by a thief are for things that they reasonably should not know whether they succeeded at or not until things play out.  Check for traps is an obvious one but so is hide in shadows or move silently.  Listening at doors is one where the true result should be more mysterious.  Now I recently came up with a compromise and that is having the thief player sit close to where I sit as the DM so they can drop their percentile dice roll down a dice tower that faces me behind the DM screen.  That way they get to still have the fun of doing the rolling themselves while the results of the roll remain hidden until the action plays out.  I really like this newer idea and I am certainly going to adopt it into my home D&D game as soon as possible.

That's about it for this Saturday post.  Thought I'd tackle this one early so I can keep up with my goal of posting something daily on this blog.  Hope all of you get to enjoy your  D&D campaigns this weekend.  Please drop my a hello in the comments section below.  My two biggest goals in this blog is to share my  ideas with other players and DM's and also to make as many gamer friends as possible.

Happy Gaming!

Ed Kann
Player and DM since 1978 or thereabouts.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Ship's Basement - Airships in Dungeons and Dragons

Long before floating landscapes showed up in World of Warcraft my friends and I played around with and even published fantasy worlds involving a great deal of floating chunks of land in a setting which by its nature begged the question of flying mounts and airships.

Now airships have been around a long time in Dungeons and Dragons.  Going all the way back to the voyage of the Princess Arc (sp?) in D&D Basic and then some.

To me, airships are more fun when they are an equal mix of technology and magic rather than utterly and totally magical in nature.  I like the idea that they depend on a balloon to keep them aloft and that sails need to be rigged out to the sides and bottom a bit like the sails on a chinese junk.  The picture here is a drawing of the Poison Arrow, a fantasy airship drawn by Mike Doscher for the sky oriented fantasy setting I was mentioning earlier.

The balloon above the ship proper is filled with a hundred or so big round balloons each containing a gas called Kether Gas.  This gas is harvested from great floating forests of Kether plant which are these expansive kelp light airborne plants whose bulbs are filled with a sort of natural sap that when heated by the sun turns into a gas which makes the plant lighter than air.  Airship builders and such harvest this sap although at some risk because the dangly bits of the plant are covered in a coarse barb like covering sort of like velcro which easily tangles in just about anything, especially rigging, sails, clothing, other dangly bits of other plants, etc...

The magic bit comes in with the keel of these airships.  Every airship has its own rune or keel spell which transforms the element of air coming into contact with the airship into the elemental property of water.  This effect is brief, lasting only a second but constant and so as the airship is pushed along it sends up a spray like a normal surface ship would on say a lake.  The most important bit about the spell is it allows the keel of the ship to push against the elemental water property as if it were sailing on the surface of a lake.  This allows the ship to turn, tack and manuever in a manner more similar to a sailing ship than a balloon.

The image on the left shows off the Ship's Basement which is a common element in my airships meet dungeons and dragons design.  The Ship's Basement is a sort of reverse crow's nest.  Since masts going above the vessel would interfere with the airbag overhead the same sort of lookout platform is constructed below the lowest ballast section of the ship proper.  Usually it is reached by a spiral staircase.  Many ship's basements are observation platforms but a few are small glass enclosed rooms or even iron enclosed holding cells for dangerous prisoners - just depending on the ship design.

Getting back to all those Kether bags in the balloon over the ship.  Why 100?  100 is an easy number for tracking the total number intact and how battle damage might impact the vessel's ability to stay aloft.  It also means a single hit by an arrow or ballista or cannon will not simply blow a single big hole in the airbag overhead and cause total destruction to everyone aboard.  In general I allow such a ship to remain aloft, limping along so long as it has at least 50 percent of its airbags intact.  After 50 percent it begins to lose altitude and faster the more that are lost.   Sailors or Riggers as I call them in my game, who are stuck on a doomed airship can sometimes save themselves by hacking one of the kether bags out of its mesh within the larger airbag and either lash themselves to it or just hold on for dear life and float clear of the wreck.

Any cannon on such a flying vessel would, to my mind, be small in size like the example shown to the right.  This is an image of a deck gun used on my own fantasy airships.

I gave black powder a good deal of thought in my own ponderings about swashbuckling sky pirates and airships and magic and fantasy settings some years back.  One interesting idea I had was for a pole weapon created specifically for the soldiers assigned to guard an airship.  These would be more like the weapons in the hands of vessels of the line, official warships or the ships of a particular kingdom and not private vessels.  Certainly only a very few of these pole weapons / single shot firearms would be found in the hands of pirates.

The notion I had was for a variation on the one shot muzzle loaded gun created by the Chinese.  The tube like metal barrel of this weapon has fashioned on it the business end of the pole weapon although slightly to the side.  The soldier so armed simply stands on the butt end of the pole weapon and leans it forward to fire.  These are not really intended for accurate firing against troops aboard an enemy airship or on the ground.  These "fire lances" as they are called are specifically created for a group of soldiers to fire up into the airbag of a rival airship to "bring it down".

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Old School DMing - The Dungeon Entrance

I love...LOVE the entrance to the Barrowmound dungeon product.  In many ways the Barrowmound book presents a great many large and small details of a classic dungeon adventure and has it "right" in my opinion.

What is awesome about that product is that the main entrance to the dungeon requires the players to climb down a rope and dangle there exposed into a large open room where anything horrible could be lurking.  Players argue about who is going to go down first.  Finally one player decides their character should have the IC courage to take point.

The Tavern entrance to Undermountain uses a similar shtick with its creative elevator that goes straight from tavern down into dungeon adventure.

Whatever the dungeon and whatever the adventure you are writing take some extra time and really figure out how to draw your players into the dungeon crawl by having a really interesting, scary or exciting means to enter and something similarly cool waiting to happen to the characters the moment or shortly after the moment they get inside.

Additional little details about the complex the characters are going to explore, doors that are not just boring old doors to smash down every time, passages that do things.  Traps that don't kill the characters or party but which might kick off an especially creative and amusing combat.  All these make the difference between a fair to middle of the road night of dungeon exploring and an epic and super keen, fun night of dungeon exploring.

Trap Example to Pinch:

A group of Kobalds is in command of the intersection up ahead.  Known for creative and nasty traps this particular group has taken advantage of the high walls and shadow obscured ceiling of their cavern style section of the dungeon.  They have pulled up the hide of a cow via a rope and hook and have it hanging from the ceiling above the intersection.  The hide is painted with tar and occasionally rocks on its rope issuing forth soft squeeks as it is filled with a swarm of rats.  Also sewn inside the hide is a clay jar filled with oil.

The kobalds engage the characters at range with darts.  When the party moves up to the intersection they drop the hide on top of them and hurl flaming torches or shoot flaming missiles into the hide to ignite it.  The pot of oil breaks when the hide hits the ground or a character and the fall and mess of oil and combat stirs the swarm of rats into a rage.

By the next round the hide is ablaze and a swarm of angry oil soaked flaming rats boils out of it to swarm all over some poor player character, possibly igniting them ablaze as well as the fire maddened rats do their thing.

You can drop the damage per round this trap does or keep it about average depending on the levels of your players.  It doesn't have to kill anyone to be very amusing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

NPC's - Not just the DM anymore.

Something I have played around with in the past and certainly plan to revisit in the future is introducing the players to an NPC who is roleplayed by a drop in NPC player in person or via Skype.

There are several ways to do this.  The most simple way by far is to recruit one additional player to the group who has a special enjoyment for roleplaying over power gaming or hack and slash under the understanding that 50% of their focus will be on roleplaying between two and perhaps four key / currently active NPC characters with which the party interacts regularly.

I would recommend that at least one of these major NPC's roleplayed by your friend is the major campaign villain appearing in the current landscape.  Certainly you can use this to good effect.  You can roleplay out brief conversations between the major villain and a crony or advisor.  Taking a few minutes out to describe some scene interesting to the unfolding story but which is out of character knowledge and allowing the players to watch this brief scene unfold can greatly add to the story experience of the players.  This sort of thing can really make for a more immersive story.

When I've done this in the past I've usually provided an NPC portrait, background, goals and resources to the person playing the NPC.  I also try to make sure the same person / player is available to roleplay that character at future game sessions.  I do try to generally limit the scope of time involved in this sort of thing.  Kozmodan the evil villain might appear in next week's session and so I contact a friend and get him to agree to come out and play both Kozmodan and a couple of other NPC's likely to interact with the players.  I give this helper a certain amount of creative room to try and play Kozmodan as a non idiot.  Kozmodan has a player now.  Kozmodan as a character wants his evil plans to work.  He will try to squash those that get in his way and often in very creative evil ways.

Obviously the DM needs to maintain some control over the game.  You might limit Kozmodan to capturing a character and later releasing the captive with a scar to remind them not to get in Kozmodan's way in the future...  Generally provide some limits that stop well short of free reign to arrange a TPK.  The main PC's are the heroes of the story after all and to a certain extent this should not degenerate into a one up between the PC players and the NPC player over who, as a player, is the bigger gamer guru.

Skype can be a creative way to bring in outside NPC talent for an hour or two during a game session.

It can be interesting for a special game night to bring in an entire crew of other gamers to roleplay the opposition.  Perhaps during a major battle or the biggest boss fight after weeks and months of adventuring.  Your usual group of five players comes to game night and when you give the signal three totally new faces, perhaps even decked out in sudo appropriate LARP gear come smirking out of the back office to take up the other half of the table to command the opposition forces.  Watch your player's eyeballs bug out when the DM is no longer rolling the attack rolls against them but Kozmodan and his couple of hench creatures are rolling attacks themselves.

This can certainly be used in a spartan fashion during a campaign.  Just here and there at points where you want the flavor and action to crescendo.  It is fairly work intensive.  Even more than the usual games which can be sufficient work already.  So I'm not sure I would recommend this shtick as something you pull out of your DM toolbox every week.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Flexible Sandbox Style

OSR style dungeons and dragons boasts frequently about something called the sandbox style campaign.  In this style the DM has created a world, the surrounding area and perhaps some details of a starting village or city and dungeon and it is left to the players to decide what to do with it.

True sandbox style gaming requires what I like to technically call an "ass ton" of prep work.  Sure some guys can off the cuff the whole thing pretty well, especially if they have lots of experience.  Even the best off the cuff DM (in my humble experience) falls short of sitting down at the table with a DM who has actually gone through the trouble to create maps, dungeons, plots, NPC's all in advance and who offers a true sandbox experience.

This year I have experimented with what I call a flexible sandbox style.  I create more abstract color coded maps where a hex or square of terrain reflects a location in broad strokes. In the case of an overland area the squares or hexes might represent a one to three mile area of light woods or hills while a square on an abstract city map might represent about a three block by three block area of slums, merchant quarter or some other city neighborhood.

From there I begin to create a library of notecards for each broad area.  These I organize as encounters, descriptions, NPC's and other interesting elements.  Instead of detailing out every possible location on my more abstract maps I might create ten light woods encounters, ten light woods descriptions without encounters, ten light woods region NPC's and ten light woods locations.  I still write up the most important locations in detail.  The estate of the Duke I might map and key / describe in some detail.  The local dungeon or two I will map and describe in some detail but I will not attach all these more generic slum or merchant quarter or light woods or hills or swamps locations to a specific locale on the map.  Why?  Because once you decide Will Turner the Ranger lives at this exact square on the game map then in a sandbox campaign the chances of the players encountering Will Turner drops dramatically.  Indeed much of what you create in a static sandbox style entertains only the DM because the players never get around to exploring much of the map even after weeks and months of adventure.

The flexible sandbox style lets you either pick a specific type of card as the characters pass through a square or roll randomly to see what they encounter.  This, I find, is an excellent mix of both the off the cuff improvisational style and game play with lots of advanced preparation.  As the DM you never exactly know when Will Turner will wander out of the woods but likely he will at some point.  I find as the DM this more flexible sandbox style gives the players (and me too) a feeling that the world is more alive.  NPC's show up, wander off and might reappear in another part of town or the woods later doing something else.

Now for the minor location cards and certain types of encounters once I draw the card I make a notation on my map that card X is now found at map location Y from here forward.

Still with ten cards covering say ten types of terrain or city districts on a map (a total of 100 notecards) I can run a group of players for a four or five hour evening of play and never run out of fresh material.  Also the note cards can be fairly quick to crib up with a pencil or pen in between doing other things and dropping another ten or twenty into the card box between games is never much of a challenge.  Over four or five sessions you can easily expand your initial fifty or sixty notecards to a library containing hundreds of cards detailing a great number of well thought out and detailed encounters, treasures, location descriptions, fun and well described NPC's, etc...

Monday, June 16, 2014


Hail and well met fellow gamer and a hearty welcome to any Dungeon Masters who happen across these pages.  For some time now I have worked on my OSR style Dungeons and Dragons campaign but the sharing about said campaign has been spartan, to say the least.  Indeed the pulls of work and keeping up with multiple work and personal email accounts, facebook and social media and on and on has led me to this place.

I have made the decision to greatly cull the various distractions from my time for writing my home campaign and sharing it with others.  My focus will be my kids, my day job, the occasional art or writing project and this campaign with its attendant blog.

In the spirit of winding back the clock to a simpler, less social media dominated time I have dedicated this blog to the notion of sitting down at my desk, lighting a candle and discussing everything related to DMing, Dungeons and Dragons and the current campaign here.  Someday I hope to post pictures of us playing and perhaps the occasional image of miniatures as I paint them up, terrain and that sort of thing.

Likely I will become more active in the google+ groups dedicated to OSR gaming both as a way to join the discussions of the wider community and to hopefully draw some interest from readers to this blog.  It is my hope that the time I have hacked out of facebook and dealing with the massive spam fest of multiple emails will generate sufficient free time to write a brief but regular column here.