Monday, September 9, 2013


it's no secret that i love the X-PLORERS RPG.  so, i'm happy to announce that some stuff i designed for the game has been published by BRAVE HALFLING!  john took the ALIEN and ROBOT generators i made, spruced up the layout and added some awesome artwork from steve zeiser. seriously - check out this badass cover:

anyways - if you want  to grab this puppy it's up on RPG NOW for less than $2. Click here to start making robots and aliens! if you've never played X-PLORERS you can check out the free (sans art) version here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


i found myself in michael's the other day.  i had gotten an idea for making a dice tray.  after some inspiration from dave bezio via an old thread i went hunting for some wooden bowls/trays and some adhesive felt.  during my search through the aisles of michael's i came upon some of those "faux book boxes".  basically, a box in the shape of an old hardcover.

well, i made the dice trays. when i was done i painted the "book box" black (there were birds on the cover) and...well, this happened:

the front - i love the cover to CORE

my white box books fit perfectly inside. the front cover has a reference sheet for NPC reactions, attack bonuses by level, my house rules for races and the armor picture from CORE

the back - i turned this DCC pic into a S&W one. why not, right?
 cool, huh? oh, and these are the dice trays:

i made these for our store - i hate when people roll dice on top of cards or through minis. yes, that is a VHS copy of STAR WARS on my floor.

Monday, August 26, 2013

WHITE BOX CAMPAIGN KICK OFF (with an assist from BTW)

so, i started to run my WHITE BOX campaign yesterday. sadly, there was no adventuring - but we did get a heck of a lot accomplished. as i touched on in my last post, we've started running S&W in our store for our PATHFINDER leaning customers. we used the BEYOND THE WALL chargen system (just the flavor - most mechanics were thrown out with these exceptions: the "player to your right gains +1", weapon specialization acts as a +1 hit/damage with the specified weapon and you gain your special item) and it was a huge hit with everyone. so much so that people wanted to buy the S&W COMPLETE book just to get the chargen tables (which i had to explain to them weren't in there)! 

so, we used the BTW system again for my campaign and AGAIN it was a huge hit.  the four characters generated:
  • Cornelius - halfling fighter (used the outrider playbook)
  • Armond - human thief (used the untested thief playbook)
  • Gideon - halfling thief (used the halfling vagabond playbook)
  • Garrock - dwarf fighter (used the dwarf adventurer playbook)
they were all happily scribbling notes on their (awesome looking) WB character sheets (*AHEM*) and coming up with ways that they knew each other - including one character who's already at odds with another. this was discussed while the one player was in the bathroom - so he's not even aware of it.

the standout hook that the BTW tables generated: one of the characters (gideon) discovered a moving dragon skeleton UNDER the town - the entrance was discovered under the basement of a burned down he's now using that secret place as a hideout to start a thieves guild. 

next weekend we'll start playing. i kind of feel bad, since the adventure i have planned will almost immediately take them out of the town they've made. it's not a dungeon crawl though, so they *should* make it back alive.

i scanned our notes from the session since i know more than a few people are interested in how the BEYOND THE WALL system plays out.

out town is called can see a quick map of it and some of the key NPCs on the images below.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


i mentioned in my previous post that my friends and i have recently purchased one of our favorite local gaming stores. we took control in may - and we're still open - so i guess that means we're doing something right.

it's been interesting talking to all of our customers about games and all other things related to this hobby of ours...but the one thing that has taken us by surprise is the general attitude of gamers towards the current rules-heavy games. as you can imagine, the most heavily played rpg in the store is PATHFINDER - but here's the kicker - many, many of the players are tired of it. most of them play it because it's the only fantasy rpg they've ever played  - counting of course, 3.X.  we've overheard the players complaining about the rules, the constant focus on combat and all that - so we decided to take a gamble and start running all the rules-lite games that we like.

guess what? SUCCESS. they love it. and they BUY IT. the runaway hit has been SWORDS AND WIZARDRY COMPLETE. we've sold through 3 orders from frog god and just placed another one due to the demand. crazy, right? it's funny watching these players (who are all used to min-maxing and "building" characters) be told to roll 3d6 in order...and when they get a 17 or 18 they're like "what do you mean it's just a +1 bonus?". but they're having fun and most of them see these easier games as a breath of fresh air.
speaking of SWORDS AND WIZARDRY - as much as i like COMPLETE...i'd like to profess my love for the BRAVE HALFLING version of WHITE BOX. it's just awesome and simple and allows me to do whatever i want.

is there still love out there for WHITE BOX? i hope so - i just made a character sheet for it. it's in the same "style" of my previous effort for S&W COMPLETE...but this one can be printed on both sides, cut, and placed in your WHITE BOX.  check it out...

download it here.

EDIT: the pdf was printing weird and when i tried printing on both sides it cut into the character sheet. i fixed the pdf and it should cut cleaner now.  sorry about that.

EDIT: i noticed that i messed up the modifiers for XP bonuses. there is no general INT bonus - there's a general CHA bonus. the sheet is now correct. boom.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MINOTAURS as a BX or LL class

sorry for the lack of updates lately...things here have been busy.

first off, my friends and i pooled our resources and actually bought a gaming store here on long island.  one of the local game stores out here was going to close its doors as the (former) owner is planning a move to texas.  so, yeah - we took it over. it's been an interesting 2 months to say the least. i'll post more about the store in the days (or weeks) to come.

anyway - minotaurs. a few months ago i worked up a minotaur class and posted it on the LABYRINTH LORD boards...i did a layout for it last month and included an illustration that kelvin greene did for DUNGEON STRIKE. 

my take on them was a bit more from the 4E/WOW side of things. i figured minotaurs that were PCs wouldn't be so darn evil, you know? their spell-like abilities are pulled from the LABYRINTH LORD cleric and druid you'll need those to use this class.

so, here it is: let me know what you think.  DOWNLOAD THE MINOTAUR.

Friday, July 12, 2013


i just got home from seeing PACIFIC RIM. i don't really know what to say other than it was incredible. if you grew up watching old godzilla movies, shogun warriors, voltron, robotech and other stuff like that than you NEED to see this movie. seriously.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


ok, so i agreed to give the BEYOND THE WALL RPG a spin with a few other bloggers. basically, we've all agreed to make characters at a virtual table with certain blogs being "to the right" of other blogs for the purposes of character generation. i've chosen to use the HALFLING OUTRIDER playbook.  the mastermind behind all this is rob barrett from the blog VARGOLD: THE WOLF TIME. check out the original blog post here. i'm to the right of anthony and rob is to my right. 

basically, if you use the playbooks to generate a character you begin with base set of attributes and through character generation you gain points. i'm not sure that you can lose points in anything. part of the fun of making a character this way is that you also generate your starting village during the process - certain tables allow you to add NPCs and locations to the village. this way, when everyone has made a character they have a shared history and fleshed out starting base of operations (and some adventure hooks for the GM, to boot).  it's my understanding that we'll add all that stuff after our characters are fleshed out a bit.

probably not what he looks like - but hey, this is a cool pic.
here is the intro flavor text for the HALFLING OUTRIDER (a fighter/thief, basically): "back in the halfling lands you were one of the warriors of your people. you patrolled the borders of your homeland on your trusty pony, watching for bands of barbarians, goblins, and meddling big folk. now, you have journeyed far from home on adventures of your own.

you were the strongest and most athletic of your people. your CON begins at 12, your DEX begins at 10, your STR begins at 6 and all your other stats begin at 8".

the first few tables detail how i came to the land of men, and the first table is titled WHAT DID YOUR OLD GAFFER DO?  well, i rolled a my gaffer tended the fields around my ancestral home – we grew the finest smoking leaf for miles and miles around. (+2 CON/DEX; +1 CHA)

the next table asks me WHY I LEFT MY COMFORTABLE HOME...a 2 reveals that i left my comfortable home with a small band of dwarves. they had pressing business far from my home and i decided to help them out. (+2 CHA; +1 CON)

ok, so next up is a table that proclaims AFTER LEAVING YOUR PEOPLE YOU HAD A DIFFICULT TIME ADJUSTING TO LIVING WITH HUMANS. THE OTHER CHARACTERS BECAME YOUR FRIENDS - WHO ELSE BECAME YOUR FRIEND?  so, i guess that after helping the dwarves with their mission i settled in a local human village and I met the other player characters.  a roll of 8 tells me that the local humans found me a fair sort, and enough of a stranger to be impartial – hence, i was elected to be their judge. yikes. i’ve seen all the villagers on their worst days. (+2 WIS; +1 INT)
            ADD NPC TO VILLAGE

now, more flavor text: "you rode far from home and left behind the life you knew. you become a level 1 warrior-rogue. you gain the class abilities weapon specialization and fortune’s favor, and the skill direction sense. the tables below will give you all your bonus skills and further define your class abilities. what have you and your pony been through?"

this table asks WHAT DID YOU LEARN BEST ON THE ROAD? i rolled a 5 and so i've learned that my long traveling with the dwarves taught me the ins and outs of hard riding and long roads.  (+3 CON; gain RIDING skill)

WHAT DO YOUR ENEMIES FEAR MOST ABOUT YOU?  a 3 tells me that they fear a silent death from a knife in the back. dang - that's pretty hardcore. that'll keep a halfling safe on the road, i suppose.  
(+2 DEX; weapon specialization – DAGGER; shift to left)

now we get to the part where one of my previous adventures helps out the character to my right.  the table reads: WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU SINCE YOU SETTLED WITH THESE STRANGE HUMANS? THE PLAYER ON THE RIGHT WAS THERE WITH YOU.  i rolled a 2, so: not too long ago, the ghost of a long forgotten murder victim began haunting the village. i guess since i had access to various court records, some furious research and some assistance from the friend to my right (rob's dwarven adventurer) allowed me to crack the case and lure the ghost to rest in the graveyard. (+2 INT; friend to right gains +1 INT)

this is the last table. what's a halfling outrider without his trusty steed? the table asks me WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT MY PONY? my dice (with a result of 1) tell me that my pony is special because i can communicate with him as well as i can with any person. (+2 CHA; pony ally)
            ADD NPC TO VILLAGE

after that, i learn that the halfling outrider begins with the following equipment: dagger, your pony (counts as an ally), a very fine saddle, bags filled with food and rations, leather armor (+2 AC), a wooden shield (+1 AC), your favored weapon (which is a dagger, so i guess i have 2), and 4d6 silvers. i also have a +1 BAB.

my final stats are:
STR - 6
DEX - 14
CON - 18
INT - 11
WIS - 10
CHA - 13

cool! i have some ideas brewing about this guy - and i'm excited what else he's done. we'll learn that when anthony rolls up his YOUNG WOODSMAN.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

B/X Character Sheet

hey dudes. a year or two ago i was perusing the internet and i stumbled across a blog that used the old DUNGEONS & DRAGONS coloring book border for something. i can't remember which blog it was or what they made with that sucks. i did manage to track down this here blog which has scans of the coloring book (my original one has been lost to time) and i made a character sheet for B/X D&D. as you can see, it's mostly just a reconfiguring of the sheet that shipped with the game. it's usable for LABYRINTH LORD also if that's your thing. 

this is the sheet that we use for our B/X (supplemented by LL) game on sundays. download here and enjoy!  here's a preview...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

D&D NEXT and the "maths" (ugh).

so, i've sort of been keeping an eye on the development of D&D NEXT. i know it's probably going to suck, but i can't help myself.  my friend chris has really been keeping an eye on it, however. this has led us to exchange emails every monday or tuesday after mearls updates his LEGENDS & LORE column.

today, this was in an email he sent me: "it seems to me that they're looking at D&D as a big math equation and not a role-playing game".

boom. dead on.   

so yeah, my hopes for NEXT aren't all that high. chris runs a D&D club at his school twice a week. the kids have abandoned 4E for 1E and LABYRINTH LORD. they also just voted to give up on the NEXT playtest that chris had been running for them.

what does all this tell you?

Friday, April 19, 2013

BEYOND THE WALL - more coolness

so, i had to give a presentation to the school board in my district on S&W AD...i'm only now beginning to wade into all the awesome that was created. i'll post up some links later in the weekend as i begin to explore stuff. 

anyway, i had mentioned the BEYOND THE WALL RPG the other day. they have some FREE playbooks posted up on drive-thru (they're the ones i mentioned i grabbed during the playtest, but now they're all laid out and stuff.). take a look at them here and see if you want to use them in your game - you'll get a sense as to how the village generator and all that jazz works.  i figure that's better than paying 8 bucks for something you won't use.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


so, today is SWORDS AND WIZARDRY APPRECIATION DAY.  i'm posting this now (at midnight) because i have a long day of work tomorrow and i'm not sure how often i'll be able to get online. so, rather than wait until tomorrow night to post all this stuff i figure i'll just do it now. better early than late, i suppose. anyway, i've created a few things in honor of today...

first up is a CHARACTER SHEET for SWORDS AND WIZARDRY COMPLETE. it's based off the sheet in the back of the new COMPLETE book.  now that i'm almost done with DUNGEON STRIKE i had ton of stock artwork laying around - so i applied it to the sheet. here's the result:

 if you like it you can grab a pdf right here!  now, as much as i like the COMPLETE rules, i've always been sort of partial to the ol' WHITE BOX.  if you read this blog at all, you know my love for the X-PLORERS RPG. the rules for that game were greatly inspired by the original SWORDS AND WIZARDRY WHITE BOX, and as i have recently gotten my hands on one of the og BRAVE HALFLING boxed sets, my GM juices have been flowing. partly inspired by the BEYOND THE WALL RPG i mentioned the other day and partly inspired by the HOLMES basic set (where he mentions parties comprised of dragons, werebears, humans, centaurs and elves) - i've begun work on a little homebrew for my players.  i have 2 things for you to check out - 1 is the house-ruled THIEF class. no matter what edition my friends and i play we always wind up tweaking the thief slightly. WHITE BOX doesn't include the thief at, based on the thief in the COMPLETE rules, i give you our houseruled SWORDS AND WIZARDRY THIEF. the class features a simplified skill system based on X-PLORERS. i also  folded a few skills into "delicate tasks".  check it out:
you can grab the pdf here. print on both sides and cut down the middle and you'll have 2 copies - one for your players and one for your WHITE BOX.

last but not least...i made a werebear. some of you older folk may remember the werebear class that was presented in WHITE DWARF #17 (along with the stone giant, lammasu, and blink dog pack!).  the pdfs of all those old magazines are floating around the interwebz, so if your google-fu is sharp you should be able to find 'em. anyway, based on that old article i created a werebear class (and i borrowed a pic from the article/1e MM) for my upcoming campaign:
the pdf for this is available right here.  and that's it, folks! i may remake some of the other classes in the WHITE DWARF article. if i do i'll post them here. i'm also working on a dragon PC. yeah. we'll see how that goes.  enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Beyond The Wall (and other adventures) RPG

have you guys discovered this little nugget of an rpg? no? well, it's available here for only 8 bucks! i don't really know much about the creators - but they have created a nice little OSR game here.  it's a le guin/alexander inspired version of D&D and it is currently tickling my fancy.  i fully intend on pillaging some of it for my upcoming SWORDS & WIZARDRY WHITEBOX campaign. the stuff in here can also be used with minimum effort for basically any OSR game.

so what has me so excited? why should you really care about yet another clone-esque OSR offering? well, for one - the playbooks.

i plan on ignoring the stat bonuses.

the classes have a few playbooks each; think of them as templates or background generators for each character.  included with the core bundle we have: the untested thief, the young woodsman, the would-be knight, the self-taught mage, the village hero, and the witch's apprentice. each playbook has a bunch of random background tables that players can roll on after they make their characters. these background tables help you create the town/village the PCs come from, they help explain how all the PCs know each other, and they drop in a bunch of adventure hooks for the GM.

A few weeks ago i snagged a ton of the playtest drafts off their website(click here for the site), and there were a ton of other playbooks - the halfling vagabond, elven highborn, and a bunch of noble-born human types.  all the playtest drafts are down now, but supposedly once those playbooks are laid out and the whatnot they'll be posted as freebies.  

the game bills itself as being "low prep"; just pick up the books, roll on a few tables and you should have a fully fleshed out base of operations, a few sandboxy hooks, and an overall mission.

i'll be keeping an eye on this game. i'd also love to have some of these playbooks in dead tree form. maybe soon? who knows.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Random Robot Characters for X-PLORERS!

after all the positive feedback i received for my random alien class generator for the X-PLORERS rpg, i decided to sit down and try my hand at another class for the game.  so, i took aim at robots.

robot characters are a staple of the old sci fi/pulp stories that influenced X-PLORERS. i figured it would only be fair to let my players control one. obviously, these robot characters are NOT subject to the FIRST DIRECTIVE (for the good or ill of all involved). the robot abilities are basically re-skinned spells from the SWORDS AND WIZARDRY WB and the LABYRINTH LORD core book.  have a look at the rough draft and let me know what you think - you can download the pdf here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Old School Marvel Super Heroes RPG

so, we were scheduled to continue a pretty awesome LAMENTATIONS OF THE FLAME PRINCESS campaign yesterday, but our friend who's running it had to drop out at the last minute.  i volunteered to run a few games on super-short notice - i offered up X-PLORERS and the old school TSR MSH RPG. we've played a bunch of XP lately so the vote was in for MSH.

original basic set
i've been re-reading the old rulebooks for this game off and on for the past year or so. i've looked at ICONS, BASH!, and the new MARVEL RPG (which almost made my head explode), but i always fall back on the ol' OG MSH RPG when i need my super hero fix. i think it's a great generic hero system...but the stuff i like about it is spread across 3 compatible systems.

advanced set
the original boxed set is my favorite. i'd be happy playing and running this version - and i pretty much am using the original BASIC BATTLE BOOK as my base.  i like the chargen from the advanced rules, however - it's the most complete. i'm not talking power generation - i'm talking what type of hero you are, the attribute generation tables and the way it fills in some blanks from the basic book (like contacts). for actual power/talent generation i like the REVISED BASIC SET that came out in 1991 or so.

i simplified the heck out of everything else. for example: you do something heroic and you gain 30 karma. you do something unheroic and you lose 30 karma. your hero kills someone and you lose all your karma. to raise a stat or a power up a rank it costs the rank's value times 100 in karma. stuff like that.

i also want to revise some of the weapon damage. a handgun does 6 points of damage? that means that a bullet won't drop someone who has all FEEBLE physical that needs to change.

revised basic set
anyway, i ran a session of my totally kit-bashed MSH RPG yesterday and it went over pretty well. i think i want to create a rules document that collects all the stuff i like about the game into one easy to use source - and then share it with the internet. i can't get in trouble for this, can i? the game is FREE over here so i'm guessing both marvel and wotc gave up claims to it...?     i'm pretty sure there's also a clone of this system floating around somewhere.  after i finish DUNGEON STRIKE (and my other "top secret" *HINT HINT* project) maybe i'll take a crack at typing this bad boy up. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


i went to michael's today and walked out with some wooden discs and an idea.  when i got home i pulled a bunch of counters out of my STAR FRONTIERS boxes. i also took some from my old REVOLT ON ANTARES game.  lastly, i broke out the starship battle card that came with my X-PLORERS boxed set.  i threw all that stuff under my scanner and this was the result. 
fighters! COMING IN!!! POINT 3!!!
yes, that's the lid from KNIGHT HAWKS.
 as you may have surmised, my X-PLORERS game is based on STAR FRONTIERS...which is cool, because that's one of the things bezio had in mind when he designed it. 

Monday, March 25, 2013


i've run a few  X-PLORERS sessions for my group so far and they seem to like it. now i think it's time to take them into space since they "acquired" a scout ship on their last mission.  so, to that end, i made this nifty little battle map that should work well with the spaceship rules. you can download the sheet here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Homemade Traveller Box Set

over the summer i made myself a TRAVELLER box for the LBB's.  since i have the bottom half of the original box i decided to take matters into my own hands. i grabbed some black contact paper from kohl's (actually FINDING black contact paper was more difficult than i thought it would be) and then got some blank shipping labels from staples. for the box itself i used one of the LAST NIGHT ON EARTH expansion boxes.  any MUNCHKIN box would have done also, but i actually use the MUNCHKIN boxes and i don't use the LNoE boxes. 

here's the result:


Monday, March 11, 2013

What's worse than getting hit with a mace?

well, getting hit with a mace that looks like this.  is this a flail? the difference always eluded me. either way - the reverend christopher r. conklin just placed this in my inbox. should i be worried?


well, i've been hard at work for the last few days laying the game out. so far, so good. i've shown a few people what i've done and the response has been positive.

like i said the other day - the success of our kickstarter granted me a slight art budget.  i put out some feelers towards some artists whose work i enjoy - and what do you know, they got back to me and HEY NOW - i'm suddenly assembling a real game.  who are these artists, you ask...?

one is SATINE PHOENIX - i first saw her artwork when i stumbled across the indiegogo for MACHINATIONS OF THE SPACE PRINCESS.  check out her site here.  i just got her pieces today and they're awesome. these are my two favorites:

apparently all the pictures she made for us are based on real people (except for the female minotaur warrior).  the lady here is based on ULORIN VEX.  the wizard is apparently based on ALLAN AMATO...? i could be wrong on that one.

next up we have KELVIN GREEN. i first came across his stuff over on the GROGNARDIA blog. this is the picture that got me searching him out:
when i found his website (click here to see it) i saw this picture - the lich with the laser pistol - and it stuck with me.  a few months later i got in touch with him and asked him to design the logo for our company (LEGENDARY REALMS TERRAIN).  when i sat down to start designing DUNGEON STRIKE i wanted him on board - he got back to me today and it seems like he's i'm stoked on that.  i'm also dying to run his LAMENTATIONS OF THE FLAME PRINCESS one page good. it's called "A ROUGH NIGHT AT THE DOG AND BASTARD". you should look it up.

that brings us to the shadowy underworld figure known as christopher conklin.  i've been gaming with this dude since 1981 or 1982. we were in the same kindergarten class and all that jazz.  whenever i fell out of roleplaying he was there to pull me back in.  chris drew up our other logo - seen here (the lettering was designed by kelvin).  this is the logo we've been using on the back of our t-shirts (which, by the way - if you backed the kickstarter you're getting - even if you only pledged a dollar. we're cool like that).  chris also just won the online voting aspect of that contest WoTC was running - so expect to see some of his work in the upcoming reprinting of the AGAINST THE SLAVE LORDS modules.

now, while i await all the incoming artwork i've been messing around with the layout of the game and the whatnot.  there's a surprising amount of stock artwork floating around out there that's pretty i've been using some of that to play around.  this is my current cover idea:

these are the current mock-ups for the monster cards, treasure cards and character cards.

  ok dudes...that's it. let me know what you think. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


as you may or may not know, the company that i co-own with my gaming friends (LEGENDARY REALMS TERRAIN) just finished up a successful kickstarter.  you can check it out here.  this thing was way more successful than any of us thought - and for that i'd be remiss if i didn't acknowledge brian berg and TPK games, who ran this thing for us. well done, dudes.

now, one of the stretch goals was that every person who pledged would get a brand spanking new copy of the FEAR NO DARKNESS: DUNGEON STRIKE miniature skirmish game i wrote over the summer. so...let's talk about that for a bit.

the playtest pdf has been online since august and its been downloaded a few hundred times - whether anyone has actually played it...? that i can't know unless you sound off. we've played it a bunch of times at some conventions and everyone has always had a good time - lots of laughing and cheering and the whatnot as their characters fall victim to traps, trigger monster encounters, get cut down and (sometimes...though rarely) get all the way to the end.  that's what games are all about, right? having fun? from what i've seen it seems to be working in that regard.  this is the first game i've ever made, so i was nervous about the first people who played just going "wow, this sucks".

michael curtis (of dungeon alphabet/OSR fame) and george strayton (of the secret fire/star wars d6/countless other rpg related things) played it with us over the summer and they had a blast - mike even blogged about it - and they're dudes who know something or two about game design. that gave me some hope that i had made something fun that people could/would enjoy.  my initial goal in making the game was to basically have something quick and fun that could be played on our terrain at conventions. then people started asking when the game was "coming out" and that they'd want a copy, so i decided to just give away the rules for free.  it's not something that's super-serious - i wanted it to be the opposite of 4E (short and fun with character death likely) while allowing people to basically accomplish the same thing they would in 4E (killing monsters and taking their stuff). it's also an homage to the 1E megadungeon crawls i enjoyed as a kid.  as of right now, it doesn't support sustained campaign play, although that may change in the near future (more on that at a later date, though).

anyway - we hit the stretch goal for DUNGEON STRIKE and now everyone who pledged support will be getting the full on "published" pdf version of the game.  what does that mean? well, i'd like to tighten the rules up a bit if possible - so if anyone has played it and has a suggestion now would be the time to let me know in the comments. i'm also going to spruce up the rules sheet and make it more interesting to look at.  finally, i'm going to include some printable cards with the game - the monster cards will (obviously) have the monster information for the referee, while the treasure cards and the character cards will have information for the players.  last thing - all the cards will be fully illustrated - yep, our successful kickstarter left me with an art budget. i've reached out to a few artists already and two of them are on board...i'm just waiting to hear back from a third and i'll make the final announcements as to who they are - but don't worry - they ain't no slouches.  

now, when this bad boy is finished it'll go out to our kickstarter backers first...i'm not sure exactly how we'll handle distributing it afterwards.  

ok - opinions welcome below: 

Sunday, March 3, 2013


one wednesday back in '06 i was in my local comics shop - heavily engaged in a STAR WARS conversation/argument.  i had just read the book STAR WARS ON TRIAL so of course we were discussing the prequels.  i'll spare you what was said - if you're reading this you've heard variations of this conversation more times than you probably care to admit. the kid working the counter asked us if we'd ever heard of a comic called RUNNERS. none of us had. he brought a few copies up to the register and said that this was the best STAR WARS type story he had seen in a long time. anyways, i wound up buying the book (titled BAD GOODS) and loved every page of  it.

i started following sean wang (the artist/writer) over on his page...and i was excited when he began posting the follow-up to BAD GOODS (called THE BIG SNOW JOB) on his site for free (and in color). i was bummed, though, about the lack of a physical graphic novel.

two summers ago i wound up re-reading BAD GOODS so i could dive into the completed (but web only) BIG SNOW JOB...which is what triggered my search for a RPG that sort of mirrored the action seen in the series. that led me to X-PLORERS.

anyway, sean wang has recently launched a kickstarter to fund a printing of THE BIG SNOW JOB (and it funded inside of 24 hours!). still, if you want a great space-opera story with some awesome artwork (and perhaps some inspiration for your sci-fi gaming) i can't recommend these books enough. and it's totally DIY, so RESPECT.  the kickstarter has all kinds of cool rewards - so c'mon - support the man! 

Monday, February 18, 2013


so, apparently this is happening.

new cover art...same insides.  OD&D is a disaster in terms of organization, but this just looks awesome. $150 grabs you all of this in november.  hey WoTC...PLEASE REPRINT THE B/X BOOKS!!!! that's all for now.

Friday, February 8, 2013


ever since we started playing B/X (supplemented by LABYRINTH LORD) a few years ago, i've been instituting a pretty hardline stance on using 3d6 in order for character generation. at first, mostly everyone complained - but when they learned they could fiddle around with the prime requisite stats the grumbling sort of came to an end...except for one player.

now, before i go on - why do i like 3d6 in order? well, flat out - i think it makes more interesting characters. no one WANTS low stats, but when you have a character with a 5 DEX or 6 CON - it forces you to create an interesting reason as to WHY their stats are so low. where they sick as a kid? are they missing an eye? are they crippled? it helps flavor the character. i'd rather take a chance when making a character and perhaps play a tyrion lannister or a raistlin majere - it's more interesting. to me, at least.

one you move away from 3d6 in order you are running the risk of the players having some generic and/or min/maxed characters. awesome, it's another dumb and uncharismatic fighter with a high STR/CON score. hey, it's a physically weak but genius magic user. oh, it's a fast yet fragile thief. there's no variety. most of the older editions of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS allow you to succeed with low stats. your abilities are actually built into your classes. sure, it's still a deadly game at low levels - but it's rewarding to get a character up to 2nd level who is less than optimal.

just to prove the point to myself that 3d6 in order was viable, i generated a ton of characters for use at cons with that method. players chose from that pool of characters for about a year (and the players of later editions openly wondered how they would survive the adventure with such low stats and HP). guess what? at every single con game we ran the PC's won the day. sure, some of them died...but the adventure was completed - every single time. 

now, i do like the 3.X rule of improving stats every so often - i'm about to institute a house rule in our B/X games of stat improvement every few levels. the characters that survive adventures should be getting stronger as they gain power.

anyway, one of our players has railed against 3d6 in order since we implemented it, and made it a point to show me the 1st edition DMG rules where there are alternate methods for rolling stats: 4d6 in order while dropping the lowest die, 3d6 and roll 12 times (picking the best 6 and assigning them), roll 3d6 6 times per ability (!!!) and take the highest roll, and finally, roll 12 characters and choose the best one.

obviously, characters generated in those ways will be light years better than the ones made according to the OD&D or B/X rules. but the fact that those rules are even in the DMG got me thinking - have people been complaining about weak characters since OD&D?!?! is that why those alternate methods are in the DMG? my first few characters were created with the 3d6 in order method. what got us off that track?  when i was a kid playing D&D in the very early '80's (i was in elementary school from '80-'86)...well, of course i wanted high stats. my friends and i NEVER created characters in front of each other, as that would expose the fraudulent way we actually "rolled" stats. but why were high stats impressed upon us? why do many players and game designers feel that high stats are necessary? what happened that somewhere along the line players decided that their characters were too weak?

DEITIES AND DEMIGODS and its predecessor GODS, GODDESSES and HEROES. they're the reason. now, before you spit out your drink and go "no wonder - you were comparing your characters to GODS and GODDESSES", we weren't. look at the stats in those books for the heroes of  literature and myths.

in the early '80's i was too young to have read things like CONAN, LotR, jack vance or whatever...but i had read PLENTY of greek mythology. i was also pretty familiar with king arthur and robin hood.  i had always envisioned our PC's as the main characters in the myths and legends that i read - y'know, heroes. when we got our hands on DEITIES AND DEMIGODS and we saw the stats in that book for guys like perseus, odysseus, theseus, and the knights of the round table we thought we were doing something wrong in having such "poor" characters - and our characters began to emulate the stats we were seeing in that book. i mean, look at these stats:

PERSEUS (STR 18/89, INT 14 WIS 12, DEX 18, CON 18, CHA 18),
ODYSSEUS (STR 18/00 INT 18, WIS 10, DEX 16, CON 17, CHA 18),
THESEUS (STR 18/76, INT 18, WIS 17, DEX 18, CON 18, CHA 18)
SIR GALAHAD (STR 18/00, INT 15, WIS 18, DEX 18, CON 18, CHA 18)
SIR LAUNCELOT: STR 19, INT 14, WIS 13, DEX 18, CON 18, CHA 18)

even your average arthurian knight of renown had no stat less than a 10 while "averaging 15" in all 6 attributes. knights of quality? nothing less than 13 and an average of 16. 

after we all saw the conan movie in 1982 we wondered what he would be like as a D&D character - i mean, if odysseus had an 18/00 STR, conan must have had like a 22! in a pile of old DRAGON magazines we found an article that statted out CONAN (from the novels) and we sure weren't disappointed!

CONAN (at age 25): STR: 18/00, INT 15 (18), WIS 10, DEX 20, CON 18, CHA 15 (18)

conan was originally statted out in GODS, GODDESSES and HEROES and his stats were very similar to the ones presented in DRAGON (Strength: 18; Exceptional Strength: 100%; Intelligence: 16; Wisdom: 10; Constitution: 17; Dexterity:18; Charisma: 15).  in OD&D terms this was a pretty amazing i can imagine what people felt like in 1977 when they compared their PC's to CONAN.

as originally written, the rules of the game COULD NOT create characters like this...unless you used the last couple of methods from the DMG (or the sugesstions in UNEARTHED ARCANA, which we'll ignore for now). these books set the standard (in D&D terms) for the heroes the PC's were supposed to be emulating, so OF COURSE people started to want more powerful characters.  the game becomes less challenging when 18 is your average stat, obviously...but i feel like it was too late - the standard had been set: any stat that didn't deliver a bonus sucked and a stat that penalized you was grounds for not playing the character.
i imagine that some groups (like us) eventually got bored with boring, superhuman characters (who had at least 4 18's and possibly some higher stats) and went back to a more sensible way of generating characters. oddly, what snapped us back into that mode was the DRAGONLANCE source book. i was convinced that raistlin was going to have a 25 INT or something - and to see that it was "only" a 17 at first was a let-down.  RASITLIN (STR 10, INT 17, WIS 14, DEX 16, CON 10, CHA 15) had challenged a goddess and had her on the could he have done so with such "regular" stats? that got us thinking.  by this point, my friends and i were in 7th grade...and we finally realized that maybe the people who had statted out all these characters had just done it wrong and (weirdly) DRAGONLANCE had done it right. 

obviously, though - not everyone thought the way we did, as high stats have become the norm in D&D.  i can't speak for 2nd edition since i hardly played it (though all the generation methods from the 1e DMG are in the 2e PHB). the 3E PHB flat out tells you to scrap characters whose highest stat is a 13.  that's wise, since unless you have a 17 or 18 in your primary stats, early level skill checks, attacks and saving throws will be impossible*.  great game design.   i'd tell you what was in 4E but i threw the books out a while back.

*funny aside - a few players who ran through my sessions last year made this one fighter character talk like GRIMLOCK from the TRANSFORMERS. when i asked why they were doing that they all responded "dude, he has a 10 INT". all of them were regular 3.5/pathfinder players. when i pointed out that a 10 INT was normal they more often than not said that anything lower than a 14 was crap.  thanks, 3.5.

some people like playing with superhuman hero characters ala DEITIES & DEMIGODS. i think it's boring, but obviously i'm in the minority.  i'm still enforcing 3d6 in order, though.