Thursday, April 29, 2021

Coming Soon! Arduin Week & Dave Hargrave Day 2021

 Coming up in May - Arduin Week (May 18th to May 24th) followed immediately by Dave Hargrave Day on May 25th (his birthday).

David "Dave" Allen Hargrave

The Arduin Grimoire Volume 1 - Original Cover Illustration by Erol Otus

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Ides of March is " OD&D Inspirational Author Day" 2021

The Ides of March is " OD&D Inspirational Author Day" 2021, so I ask you to post about an author that has inspired you.

One author that inspired and inspires me is Frank R. Stockton who wrote "The Lady or the Tiger" and other great short stories.

From Wikipedia Frank R. Stockton (I encourage you to read the whole article):
Frank Richard Stockton (April 5, 1834 – April 20, 1902) was an American writer and humorist, best known today for a series of innovative children's fairy tales that were widely popular during the last decades of the 19th century.
Stockton avoided the didactic moralizing common to children's stories of the time. Instead, he humorously poked fun at greed, violence, abuse of power and other human foibles, describing his fantastic characters' adventures in a charming, matter-of-fact way in stories like "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" (1885) and "The Bee-Man of Orn" (1887).
His most famous fable, "The Lady, or the Tiger?" (1882), is about a man sentenced to an unusual punishment for having a romance with a king's beloved daughter.  He also wrote a sequel to the story, "The Discourager of Hesitancy".
The Lady, or the Tiger?
You can read it here
The short story takes place in a land ruled by a "semi-barbaric" king. Some of the king's ideas are progressive, but others cause people to suffer. One of the king's innovations is the use of a public trial by ordeal as "an agent of poetic justice", with guilt or innocence decided by the result of chance. A person accused of a crime is brought into a public arena and must choose one of two doors.[1] Behind one door is a lady whom the king has deemed an appropriate match for the accused; behind the other is a fierce, hungry tiger. Both doors are heavily soundproofed to prevent the accused from hearing what is behind each one. If he chooses the door with the lady behind it, he is innocent and must immediately marry her, but if he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, he is deemed guilty and is immediately devoured by the animal.

The king learns that his daughter has a lover, a handsome and brave youth who is of lower status than the princess, and has him imprisoned to await trial. By the time that day comes, the princess has used her influence to learn the positions of the lady and the tiger behind the two doors. She has also discovered that the lady is someone whom she hates, thinking her to be a rival for the affections of the accused. When he looks to the princess for help, she discreetly indicates the door on his right, which he opens.

The outcome of this choice is not revealed. Instead, the narrator departs from the story to summarize the princess's state of mind and her thoughts about directing the accused to one fate or the other, as she will lose him to either death or marriage. She contemplates the pros and cons of each option, though notably considering the lady more. "And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door – the lady, or the tiger?"
Stockton later wrote "The Discourager of Hesitancy," a follow-up to "The Lady, or the Tiger?" that begins with five travelers visiting the kingdom to discover what the accused man in that story found behind the door he chose. An official tells them a second story, of a prince who had come to the kingdom to find a wife. Instead of allowing him to see any available ladies, the king had him immediately taken to guest quarters and summoned attendants to prepare him for a wedding to be held the next day. One attendant introduced himself as the Discourager of Hesitancy and explained that his job was to ensure compliance with the king's will, through the subtle threat of the large "cimeter" (scimitar) he carried.

At noon on the following day, the prince was blindfolded and brought before a priest, where a marriage ceremony was performed and he could feel and hear a lady standing next to him. Once the ceremony was complete, the blindfold was removed and he turned to find 40 ladies standing before him, one of whom was his new bride. If he did not correctly identify her, the Discourager would execute him on the spot. The prince narrowed the possibilities down to two, one lady smiling and one frowning, and made the correct choice.

The kingdom official tells the five travelers that once they figure out which lady the prince had married, he will tell them the outcome of "The Lady, or the Tiger?" The story ends with a comment that they still have not come to a decision.
You can read it here.

I would be hard pressed to rank his stories in order of which one is best, they are all excellent and full of ideas that you can mine and I hope that sometimes I succeed in porting some of this into my OD&D games.
The Adventures of Captain Horn is an 1895 adventure novel by Frank R. Stockton that was the third-best selling book in the United States in 1895. A sequel, Mrs. Cliff's Yacht, was released in 1897.
I see that The Adventures of Captain Horn is now available and since this is one I've never gotten to read, I am going to celebrate by reading it.

You can read many of his other stories here Books by Stockton, Frank Richard.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Original Cantrips Designed Specifically For OD&D

Here are some original Cantrips (designed specifically for OD&D) that I wrote up in an unfinished thread on my forum back in 2019 that I need to get back to over on my forum and finish. I thought I would share with you what I have done so far:

Better Rations: Enhances the flavor and texture of Iron Rations, making them an enjoyable meal. Affects up to 10 serving per use.

Bloom: Causes one flowering plant to burst into full bloom, maximum of 10 blossoms per use.

Nosy: Enables Magic-User to eavesdrop on conversations up to 60 feet away for 1 turn per use.

Flame: Allows a Magic-User to light a fire (1 campfire, 1 fireplace or the like)  or up to 10 candles per use.

Hidden: Enables the Magic-User to hide up to a dozen small objects that would otherwise be in full view for up to 3 turns.

Animate Minor Clean: Animates a dust cloth, broom, mop, or similar items to perform cleaning of a 10'x10'x10' cube within a room or space for 3 turns or until clean whichever comes first.

Snuff: Allows a Magic-User to snuff out a small fire (1 small campfire, 1 small fireplace or the like) or up to 10 candles per use.

Monday, February 1, 2021

An Artifact In My Campaign I Called "The Map"

One of the magic things IMC are paintings and tapestries (sometimes). Players have on occasions encountered a painting or a tapestry on a wall and been able to step directly into the scene and adventure there, where ever there is.

On one occasion they found a map that you could use to display other places that they wanted to know something about. They accidentally discovered that you could travel directly there by entering through the map and by reaching a hand into the map they could pull that player back out of the map. So on one occasion not long after they obtained the map they had to flee for their lives and they made the decision to escape by going through the map instead of riding away, but they were unwilling to give the map up so they each took hold of a corner of the map and jumped in together and pulled the map through itself after them (or tried to anyway).

What happened is that the event sent a magical shock wave around the world and as they materialized in the new location (The Blighted Lands - now with new massive damage to the landscape), a powerful magic user appeared and cast a spell and they were in stasis in a bubble and only able to observe and nothing else (meanwhile the map which was an Artifact was gone and not to be found). The magic user immediately disappeared was followed over the next few minutes with many different beings appearing and immediately disappearing. After a while things settled down.

Then the magic user reappeared and pulled them out of stasis and gave them a stern lecture.

1. what they did could have caused immense destruction and innocent deaths.
2. things like that and other very powerful magic contradictions draw the notice of powerful entities and you don't want that
3. you could have ended up in a very bad place, any number of them
4. you are welcome for my saving your lives, I'll take my pay and go (and taking his pick of their magic (one from each player) he left)

They did not complain, when you are standing in the middle of a new smoking crater that you caused, it is hard to argue that you being mistreated when you are still alive.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Legends of Roleplaying & TLB Games Adventures

Paul J Stormberg posted this over at Dragonsfoot Legends of Roleplaying & TLB Games Adventures

Announcing a partnership deal with the Robert J. Kuntz Estate and a new line of products from both TLB GAMES and LEGENDS OF ROLEPLAYING(TM):


TLB GAMES produces a series of RPG products with an eye toward the history of the game. Our first new TLB GAMES(TM) releases, The Game That Changed Everything, a monograph by Robert J. Kuntz on the event that led to the creation of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS®, and a line of Old School Cool Posters for your game room or home office, will be available January 31st, 12 Noon (GMT-6) on the TLB GAMES(TM) website (


LEGENDS OF ROLEPLAYING(TM) grew out of the incredibly successful, LEGENDS OF ROLEPLAYING(TM) TOURNAMENT featured at GARY CON each year. These highly popular adventures are now being published through LEGENDS OF ROLEPLAYING(TM). Our first LEGENDS OF ROLEPLAYING(TM) release, adventure LR1 Beyond the Living Room by Robert J. Kuntz, will be available January 31st, 12 Noon (GMT-6) when the LEGENDS OF ROLEPLAYING(TM) website goes live (

In addition to these, more old school adventures are being planned. But these aren't just "old school" adventures in name and appearance, they are old school adventures, heart and soul. They are written, edited, illustrated, mapped, and play-tested by the LEGENDS OF ROLEPLAYING(TM) themselves. That's right, the band is getting back together!

At one point in time TSR, the company that brought us DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® and ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS®, had the magic. It had a gathering of the most talented creative people in the gaming industry. Now those former TSR creatives have recaptured their magic with adventure designs by Rob Kuntz, Jim Ward, Mike Carr, Allen Hammack, and Kevin Hendryx, cartography by Steve Sullivan, and artwork by Jeff Dee, Erol Otus, Darlene, Dave "Diesel" LaForce, Harry Quinn, and Jeff Easley.

Join us! The adventures you seek are at hand!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Blackmoor Week Day 1 September 24th, 2020

 Today is the first day of Blackmoor Week 2020 which runs from Sept. 24-30 followed immediately by Dave Arneson Game Day on October 1st. This is a time to remember Blackmoor and Dave Arneson and celebrate both. 

Dave Arneson is the man to which the entire hobby called Role Playing Games should pay homage for his out-sized contributions to the game genre. Born October 1st, 1947,  he died an untimely death when he passed away April 7th, 2009 at only 61 years old. He was the creator of Blackmoor which was inspired by many things including his experiences with David Wesely's "Braunstein" games which Arneson took over after Wesely departure for military service.

Following the departure of David Wesely to service in the Army Reserves in October 1970, Arneson and his fellow players in the Twin Cities began to imagine alternate settings for "Braunstein" games. Arneson developed a Braunstein in which his players played fantasy versions of themselves in the medieval Barony of Blackmoor, a land inhabited in part by fantastic monsters. As the game quickly grew and characters developed, Arneson devised scenarios where they would quest for magic and gold, escort caravans, lead armies for or against the forces of evil, and delve into the dungeons beneath Castle Blackmoor.

As noted in the Wikipedia Article; however, sadly this article contains a lot of false information which has been repeatedly debunked.

Join me this week as we look back over the last 50 years of Blackmoor, Dave Arneson's creation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Sixty

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

Now we come to Loch Gloomen (Dave Arneson):

So he tells of the players being "exiled for losing Blackmoor to the Baddies," so they were sent to Loch Gloomen or Lake Gloomy under heavy escort. They could only take what they could carry. This would mean that they lost a lot of stuff.

Then he sets it up so they cannot tell determine direction. A 20% chance of getting lost without knowing it. On top of that he provides multiple adversaries of the human variety not counting the monsters.

A sample playing area, with base wealth, creature based in each area plus treasure. Also Hit Dice of creatures per area. He says no more than 300 Hit Dice of creatures followed by examples all larger to much larger than that, one example be 3000 Hit Dice of creatures.

A table to roll on for a description of an area.  A lot of information is packed into this little table. It is an excellent guide for how to create and use a table.

I love this, one True Troll and two Ogres (standard Trolls).

This is a pretty detailed, but very concise note. A lot of people tend to dismiss and sneer at this volume, but IMO that is pathetic and the complaints ring hollow. There is so much information in The First Fantasy Campaign, and it was first. I really believe that anyone who really sneers at this volume is just jealous. This is not a rulebook although it has rules in it, it is a snippet of the campaign as it was. But then I am not someone who thinks a nice prettied up document is better in some way, than the honest unpolished gem. I would take one of these over a dozen hard back, slick paper, full color modern tomes.  IMO an awful lot of time and money are wasted producing things that are more designed to be a coffee table book, than to be useful for gaming.

That being said, there are of course some real gems with high production values. But to be clear, the high production values is not what makes them a gem, the high production values are the whipped cream with a cherry on top. The gem is the great stuff under the whipped cream.

The next page is a long section detailing the description of each area and what it contains.

Bleakwood was provided as another example. Note that it was accidentally destroyed.

Then we have the makeup of Bleakwood, as far as major features.

Monday, June 8, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Fifty-Nine

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

Here are some more Richard Snider changes from Blackmoor:

I found this to be intriguing and the only reason I have not used it, is that I have not had any players with a Barony since reading this. Your hireling was over qualified and has taken your place, so sorry. :;) 

The five ways to destroy a true Vampire. See item F below for more info about two of these methods. I love these names "True Bishop of La Hazar," "The Sacred Lake of the Acaldi," "The Death Plant of the Saccinid Monks." Great names, evocative names is a necessary skill for a referee. Bitd, you had to come up with your own, now there are many places to turn to for help if you need it. 

Then a few ways that have only a 33% chance of even doing damage.

The the restrictions on entering rooms and no reflection in a mirror. The details on how a Vampire can make a Flunky Vampire. Have you ever done this in your game? I have not, but might someday.

Locations lost in time, sounds like something to follow up on and search out, when I play, I would be completely into something like this.

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Fifty-Eight

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

Continuing with Richard Snider's changes:

I love that first sentence!  Detailing out eight Baronies is a really good start. No gunpowder, and yes Blackmoor did have gunpowder.

Do you use any type of apprenticeships in your campaign? I never have, but every time I read this section, I wonder if I should. I think if I could play twice a week like I did in college I would do it.

Simple way to run languages. I like this Odds of Creature Friendship, I have run variations on that theme, it can be fun if a player not only ends up with a new friend, but ends up with some really odd fanatical follower.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Fifty-Seven

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

We will continue looking at Richard Snider Changes in his campaign as compared to Blackmoor. This is also a good way to learn things about Blackmoor that are otherwise not stated:
Differences in Creatures from Blackmoor Game

I am taking this to mean that Balrogs cannot initially immolate by touch, but can as they level up.

Or, or they could do both. Key evil laugh. ;)

That is, his Ghouls only do normal damage unless they kill you, so no wounded infection that will still turn to worry about.

This is a severe restriction on this races as compared to humans. Not to my taste, but really good for a primarily human game.

Do you love creatures that can turn you to stone, I do. I like the full range of options.

Good rule IMO, so apparently Arneson's could not regenerate while in combat.

I like the infective Lycanthrope Bite myself.

I love this, seems like something you could teach the players to really hate.

I can see this both ways, I run mine this way though.

You do not really need to have a lot of different types of Dragons, you just need every Dragon to have a unique personality IMO. But I still design many different types.

Friday, June 5, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Fifty-Six

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

This would have been my post for the 4th of June (see here for details)

Next up are "Richard Snider's Additions." Arneson says

Richard Snider's Additions
Richard Snider has been one of the most enthusiastic players that I had. He evolved an entirely separate campaign and mythos, on a small scale for the locals to play in. In addition to that he came up with what I feel are an exceptional set of rules for Dragons that settles a few of their problems.

A 10th Level Gold Dragon has a 26 HD breath weapon, that sounds about right to me.

Then he provides an alternate method to determine damage by a breath  weapon. A (IMO) major deficiency of most rule sets is that they give short shrift to alternate methods, I want rule books and supplements that are not shy about giving multiple ways of doing things. Do not censor yourself, let the user decide what works for them. (Yeah, I feel another essay coming on, but that will have to wait, it  needs to marinate for a while).

Forget about humans trying to subdue Dragons, how about Dragons subduing and capturing humans. I also like the idea that a Magic-Using Dragon might target Magic-Users with magical attacks to assert dominance.

I like the above, partly because I think most campaigns really under-utilize Dragons mainly because people do not really know what to do with them. Also people tend to only think in terms of combat and I personally want Dragons played as very smart and crafty and a bit sneaky. I want Dragons that are evil and deceitful and I want Dragons that are generally very good and very honorable and yet, and yet very proud, touchy and easily offended. I like Dragons to be complex and above all very, very powerful. I want Dragons that you do not want to get on the wrong side of.

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

This is my post for 6/3/2020 and this is why it is late. I have been mostly offline the past few days for several  reasons, one is everything going on in the world, one is a drive by shooting that happened less than 40 yards from my front door, fortunately no one was hurt, although another neighbor was walking with her child and were about 20 feet away (but not in the line of fire) when the bullets started flying. I grew up around guns and you immediately know it is not firecrackers. Thirdly, I was also getting some tests to hopefully verify that I do not have cancer for the fourth time.

The cat scan looked pretty good, but they could not do the visual because scar tissue was stopping the probe, but the little bit they could see was something they want to biopsy. To do that is going to require minor surgery to stretch the scar tissue, do one or more biopsies based on what they find and remove and cauterize each possible item and, of course, put me under anesthesia to do it. That is going to be expensive and out of pocket as I am one of the uninsured until  I turn 65 with Medicare, so we have to figure out how we can make that happen. So, you know, just another dull ho-hum week of an old guys life.

So on with:

Svenson's Freehold

Gerg Svenson is also the creator of the Tonisborg Dungeons. The book and maps for this was part of the Secrets of Blackmoor Kickstarter. Work is apace on it, and I am confident in its completion. It is written, but all of the stuff that happens to turn a manuscript into a published book is a process that is underway, so now it really is just a matter of time. I am hoping before Christmas this year and no I do not know what the timetable is, that is just what I am hoping. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Fifty-Four

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

This next part is a short section and Arneson calls it:

How to Become a Bad Guy
(Basic Procedures)

OK, you are all here, that is great. First, I must confess that this title is a bit misleading which you will understand shortly. Second, if you are a hard core BtB zealot, you might want to skip this post, because it is going to offend your sensibilities greatly. I am happy to have you read it, but you have been warned! ;)  Third, when I first read this section I was quite frankly thrilled because I had been running my own variation of this since the very first game that I refereed. 

So off we go:

OK here we find out that the monsters have variable hit dice and also advance in levels very much as do the players. He begins here to tell us how it all works. So while he is not really going into how a player would become a bad guy at this point, he does start laying out how the monsters work.

Here he lays out advancement for the monsters. Now he  says you take the Hit Dice and the AC and multiply by 1000. So I am not sure what we are doing with the AC in this calculation and I would love to hear from anyone who does. He gives an example and obviously the progression would look different for each monster.

If I were going to do this, I would assign each armor class points, say 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and so on or 1.0, 1.2, 1.4 and so on.

So he says that a creature can never be more than 10 times as powerful as its 1st level version. So that tells you how it all scales from orcs to dragons.

Then you call look at the Dragon section to see just how something like a Dragon was handled and credits the Dragons which we will look at later to Richard Snider. We also find out that the Special Characters (read really powerful) are limited in numbers appearing.

Now here he touches on how to become Bad Guy by defining what a Bad Guy and a Good Guy are.

The most defining thing is Good Guys take prisoners and Bad Guys do not. So you just look at what the players do when these situations come up and they sort themselves.

So yeah, if you slit the throats of those orcs that were slept by your Magic-Users, you are a Bad Guy. So if you were just in the middle then you did not get to use the most powerful items. 

I also like this, both the Good Guys and the Bad Guys were obligated to try to kill the Neutrals - everyone in the middle. Of course the Neutrals would know they could surrender to the Good Guys and live, but not so with the Bad Guys.

Now what is it that I have always done in my game as a referee? I have always given my monsters variable hit dice. For instance, in OD&D an ogre was 4 HD +1 or a maximum of 25 HPs. My ogres can have up to 80 HPs. I did this for all of my monsters. I did not write down how many points it required for them to advance by levels. But having 1st Level and High Level versions of my monsters is something I did from the beginning. For instance my Dragons could have up to 25 HD. 

Every time I find something were I was kinda sorta thinking like Arneson from the beginning, it buoys my faith in my instincts. Especially since I was learning about these similar things 30+ years after the fact. Arneson and Hargrave are the two people I measure my creativity against. (There are many others I could mention Kuntz, Ward, Wesely, Barker, but for me these are the prime ones) This has the effect of making me continually strive to up my game and do new things I have not done before.

Oh and why would BtB people not like this section? I have been told by a number of BtB zealots that having variable hit dice (levels) for monsters is cheating because the players know by what monster it is whether or not they can beat it, but to me the whole point is they should not be able to look at men or monsters and be sure. Because when they are not sure, they will be more creative in getting what they want without combat. Or more attentive to gaining an advantage before combat.

Tomorrow Svenson's Freehold.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary - Day One Hundred and Fifty-Three

Celebrating 2020 - The Year of Blackmoor - 50th Anniversary of Blackmoor and of Role-Playing!

Now we are going to look at what Arneson calls:

Special Interests
Many characters wonder what they should spend their money on and what it will get for them in exchange. Just accumulating the money is not really enough of a guide in some case, as to what players do between expeditions, besides healing themselves up. So the following is presented as a supplement or alternative to the players.
Instead of awarding points for money and Jewels acquired in the depths of the Dungeon or hoarding items against the indefinite future, the players will receive NO points until they acquire the items listed below unless it happens to already fall within the area of their interest.
Yes, an alternate XP method that involves earning XP only when you spend the money on your interests. 
Definition of Terms

Note he says "Experience gained while drunk does not count but treasure does.*"

There does not seem to be a note that corresponds to this particular asterisk.

Given that Arneson would have 20 or 21 at the point this was used, I am not too surprised at this. I think of when I started playing in college and what our game might have been like had our group been entirely male instead of a 50/50 male/female mix.

I am really curious as to how long or how much this alternative XP method was used. Perhaps that will be addressed in a future Secrets of 

If your thing is accumulating wealth and it is stolen, you could lose levels too! Ouch!

Just like in real life, your deeds must be witnessed and attested to by others in order to count towards fame. If a player desires to become famous, how does he treat all the other party members, do you think?

Yes, earn XP for charity and good deeds, but beware if the Cleric refuses the offering it could be bad for you.

This category could include almost anything.

A method that takes into account the "honesty of the propreitor vs the actual value of the goods and services received....:Price gouging and all manner of things can happen to get some of that player gold.

This begins a section where during character creation the Character Class and motivation are determined. Additional dice rolls can be made to created a more varied character.

The remainder of this section are the tables and examples of how it is done.

Then we come to:

Magical Research could occupy a lot of player time and effort, as well as risk.

Given some of the stories I have heard of Arneson's rather quirky sense of humor, I can see him some really dry textbook to read and then quizzing him on it to verify that he did the research, as the way of playing this out.

I am pretty sure he never did this, but think of making players learn a real world language in order to gain one in the game. No, OK!

How to Become a Bad Guy
(Basic Procedures)