Saturday, March 23, 2019

Today would have been our 23rd Wedding Anniversary

Today would have been our 23rd wedding anniversary for Janet and I. My dearest Janet I am missing you so much today. 

Proverbs 31:10- 31 Really describes you and I won't quote the whole thing here, but here are a few lines I have to quote.

v10 -12 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

v20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

v30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

In my eyes your beauty never faded but was a constant part of who you are because beauty was deeply embedded in your noble character and wrapped in love, God's love.

You always loved hot air balloons and every time you saw one you thanked God for the gift of seeing it. Here is picture you would have loved. I love you! David

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Trailblazer Game Stamps - Kickstarter

Check out this Kickstarter for Trailblazer Game Stamps, it is an awesome product. Finally a way for those who cannot draw to create awesome looking maps! 

Follow the link for full details, below is a sample of the information.

Game Stamps are a map-making tool for role-playing games, which can be used right at the table as you play. 
The Trailblazer stamps depict iconic terrain such as mountains, forests, or seas.
Whether you're preparing for a campaign or mapping the adventure as it unfolds, the stamps let you create attractive paper and ink maps in a fraction of the time it would take to draw them.
All of the artwork is compatible with 1" hexes and grids, making the stamps ideal for open-world games.
Stamp each hex as the players explore it, or pass the stamps around the table and create a shared world.
No matter how many people contribute to it or how many sessions it takes to explore it, the map will be detailed and consistent.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Kickstarter - Spiral Isles

A new Kickstarter is out and it is a pointcrawl adventure module for 5th Edition and Swords and Wizardry rulesets. The link is Kickstarter - Spiral Isles. Just to be clear, I do not run other people's adventure modules - ever. But the reason I am recommending this is because 
Spiral Isles is an OSR pointcrawl adventure for both 5th edition and Swords and Wizardry. The adventure is designed to give dead characters a chance to return to life, or as the framework for a campaign into the underworld. The result of this crowdfunding effort will be a 50+ page, landscaped module, mostly black and white with select, thematic, colors. 
Emphasis added! 
Death, the close of the final chapter. For most, a final destination was set in life; paradise or damnation- either, a proper course. But an unnatural force claimed you, pulling your spirit into an eerie, shadow realm. In the Spiral Isles your fate is placed back into your hands. One. Last. Time.  
This is sufficiently original and intriguing that it merits support and publication. I believe it is a gold mine of good ideas that can be used in your own campaign and thus is valuable as a resource and some of you do run modules and it appears to be of good value that way too. As he also states

  • Turn a total party kill into a new adventure.
That is an excellent idea and one that is to the best of my knowledge little explored, up to now. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Kickstarter - Desert Dwellers An OSR Zine Bestiette

A new Kickstarter that deserves a good look, Desert Dwellers An OSR Zine Bestiette.  The pledge is only $3 (or more if you wish) for an 18 page zine.
Need inspiration to liven up the endless desert in your game? Desert Dwellers is a straightforward supplement zine that contains 10 creative critters. From the deadly Rolling Rotter, to the gusting Sand Stormlings; make the hot sands a wondrous and exciting place for your players to explore.
IMO this looks well worth the price and I hope that they reach the funding that they need. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A trip to Smokey Pete's Hides, Pelts, and Stuff Emporium

This is excerpted from my first attempt at a play by post game back in 2017.

Main Characters are the Player One - Shiyazthar and Kavita, Player Two - Tuck, and the NPC Smokey Pete.

A trip to Smokey Pete's Hides, Pelts, and Stuff Emporium

Shiyazthar shifts the weight of his sack and places it onto the bar as he faces Mr Ogre.
"Excuse me, Good Fellow. Whist there be the marketshop for fine pelts? I shall return afterwards to sample your fine fare. Indeed, I remember thine fine venison and cream from last year."

The ogre turns to Shiyazthar and sighing says, "You are back. Again." Another large sigh, "Go thou to the same place as last time," and pointing says, "Look for the banner 'Hides, Pelts & Skins', the same as last time." Muttering to himself he turns back to polishing the bar with a large rather dirty rag.


Kavita whispers, "I think we should let our snakefriend choose. He seems most enthusiastic - and his enthusiasm seems to have made us each...friendly towards each other." (Shiyazthar lets out a fairly quiet groan.)

"After we have made any such decision," Shiyazthar offers, while thinking (Why do I always go along with her impulsive -- Ahhh!), "I must sell and trade the pelts we've brought with us. If you wish, you might accompany me. The tradesman is an excellent haggler, an old friend who was a trapper himself in the mountains. When he lost his leg, he 'retired' and became 'civilized.' You, my excitable friend (speaking to Sliggoth) would thrill to some of his boasting. And you (looking towards Tuck) will find that 'Bear' is a practical man who keeps track of gossip and rumors. If anyone can separate fact from gossip, he can."

He takes a gulp of water. "Word! That's the most I've talked in a month! Civilization may yet spoil me!"

[* 'Bear' is just one of many names Shiyazthar has for Smokey Pete]

Finishing his cold sweetwater, Shiyazthar stands and shoulders his sack. "If none wish to accompany me to barter pelts & silver with Smokey Pete, I shall return and we may discuss preparations, provisions, and (eyeing Kavita) whether there may be a purpose to this gathering."

He pauses for a moment, then heads out the door.

Kavita, meanwhile, has not even touched her drink, and is doodling something in the condensation from her mug.


Shiyazthar makes his way done the street to Hides, Pelts & Skins to engage in negotiations with Smokey Pete. Smokey Pete has a pegleg (right leg) a long rather dirty beard and is about as grizzled as they come. He sees Shiyazthar , coming and rolls his eyes and looks up at the heavens, "You again! No ones killed you yet?! Bandits, critters and such must avoid you like the rest of us try to," he says with a grin. "Alright, whatta you have for me this time, some mangey skins agin, I'll bet. Lay'em up here and let me have a look."

"This bear," speaks Shiyazthar as he grunts the sack up on the table, "reminded me of you, save that it smells sweeter. The lady asks about your health."

Smokey Pete laughs, "That looks mighty small for a bear, are you sure it not just a young cub?" Smokey Pete pauses, "A lady? That claims to know me? She's concerned about my health you say? What in all the nine circles of Hades are you babbling about you young whipper snapper?!"

"Hah, why this bear was fully big as yourself before I wrestled some of the fat off him! 'Twas even smoking a whistlewood pipe, and eating a small piglet! Kavita herself asked about you, and I didn't know how you knew each other. Cannot say why she stayed at the ogre's beanery, but she knows you well enough to warn me to make you pay well for this rare pipe-smoking bear hide with its bacon seasoning. "

Tuck shows up in time to hear the last two exchanges and he leans back against a pole to enjoy the show. Maybe when they wind down he can ask a few questions.

Smokey Pete slaps his knee (the good one not the wood one) and laughs uproariously, "Kavita, now that is one bonnie lassie, what is she doing with you?" Not waiting for an answer he continues, "That "bear" is a little skinny fellow that would have keeled over at the first puff out of that mythical pipe!" He muses, "Well for Kavita, maybe I could give you as much as 20 CP for the poor mangey thing. I don't smell a whiff of bacon about the scrawny thing."

"Don't bluff with me, Old Man," laughs Shiyazthar. "I was there when you sold tanned goat skins to the prince and convinced him it was chimera leather. Besides," he winks as he pulls something rattling from the bag, "tell me you can't sell this bear claw-&-teeth necklace as a power totem!"

Smokey Pete says, "Well why didn't you pull that out to begin with, I can offer you 50 CP for the total, but that is a sacrifice on my part for the sake of our friendship. After all that pelt is out of season and I can't use it for anything but leather. Now if this was a killed in cold weather when the fur was long and thick but this is late spring and it already mostly shed of the winter coat."

"Ah, but look at the rune carved into its back." (He turns the hide over to reveal a scar under the fur, a scar which resembles an ampersand.)

Smokey Pete sadly shakes his head and with a mournful look on his face opines, "Son you are sure slipping if you think I am going to fall for that, are you trying to say you think I'm senile?"

"As if I would attempt to cheat a comrade-in-arms, an old friend, almost a brother! I am offended! Did I not drag you to safety and bind your wounds when the diabetic raiders of His Grace's tomb tricked us into the snake chamber, where you were poisoned near to death? Would I lie or cheat a brother from whose calf I drew out the poison? And did not I explain all this to you after you recovered consciousness at the Bright Lady Mission Hospital?

"Of course I know you meant to say '50 Silver,' and do not wish to remind you of your memory lapses. Thus I offer you the lower, much lower price of 10 Silver, and will add the necklace at no charge. You may thank me at your leisure, and remember your brother-in-arms when next you tell your tales of courage and daring at the evening fires."

Smokey Pete's eyebrows raise and his chin drops as he hears this version of those events for the first time, "AzThar are you well, your raving makes me think you are suffering from delusions, what has Kavita been doing to you? You saved me? Do you not remember why those syrup addled raiders, bound us and through us into the snake chamber? Do you not remember how they cursed you for your deceptions (well I guess I did let you talk me into it)," he grins, "And we almost got away with it too! If I hadn't wiggled a hand loose our goose would have been cooked, those were some pretty nurses though! Alright in memory of those good times 10 Silver it is, even if you are taking advantage of a sentimental old man!"

"OK business is done, let's have a drink, I have some good stuff that has been fermenting for a while, it'll cure what ails you!" Then noticing Tuck for the first time he says to Shiyazthar, "Who is this youngin? Is he with you or did he just wonder in on us?"

Shiyazthar glances back. "He's one of a group of hotshots who think they can get rich and famous by going down a hole and starting fights with monsters. For some reason, Kavita seems taken with these kids. Maybe she's remembering something - I don't know. Kinda hope so."

Smokey Pete says, "Alright youngster come along and have a taste, it'll give you something to remember. One of them religious fellers I see, why would you want to go down some hole in the ground and pick a fights with some monster that just wants to mind its own business?"

"Do the brothers know you are planning on this nonsense?" Smokey Pete pours out a large brown jug into three not so clean mugs, handing them over he says "Here's trail dust in your eye," and commences to drink. The liquid appears dark, frothy, and fizzes and has a fruity aroma along with a mild vinegar smell.

"Pete, you're not still trying to get me killed are you now?" To Tuck he asides "It was I who received the snake bites and Pete who saved my life. He lost his leg saving me and that's why I allow him to cheat me. It's also why the clerics told me another drink would reverse their healing. Haven't touched a drop since and this pirate" he salutes Pete, "has never missed an opportunity to tempt me! Ha!"

Smokey Pete gives Shiyazthar a look of disbelief, "Trying to get you killed! Poppycock, this is good for what ails you!  Are you still on that no drinking kick? That is what will get you killed my friend, water now that's the stuff that's not safe to drink. Bah!"

Smokey Pete turns to Tuck, "Child, what can we do for you" with an innocent look on his face.

Tuck is suddenly cautious at the change in the demeanor of Smokey Pete. "I was looking for your advice, as you are well known as a sage." Then continuing while wondering what is coming, "You know all the rumors floating and what do you think would be the best thing to try?"

Smokey Pete smiles a truly beatific smile, "Well youngster it all depends on your goals. Fer instance, if you would like to be captured and sold into slavery, then you should sign on with one of the caravans. If you would rather die horribly ripped limb from limb, the werewolves would be good for that. On the other hand if you would rather be turned to stone or crushed under boulders you could go work for the mage. And if drowning is your thing then head on down to Oceansong, although you might get swallowed by some horrible sea monster before you drown. Then of course you could go up to the northwest and poke around in some hole in the ground, then you could get eaten alive by a troll or be a snack for a smotz or even end up inside a flanagle. Just decide on how you want to die and then pick the one that seems like the most fun."

Smokey Pete is shaking and snorting a bit and looks like he might have a fit.

Shiyazthar can stifle himself no longer, and releases the longest sustained laugh that - well, as he says, when he catches his breath: "Hehhhh (wheeze!) I don't think I've laughed that hard since - well, since I saw you last year, Pete!

"Young man, don't allow your elders to frighten you - but do listen to their hard-earned experience. The downbelow caverns are filled with the bones of foolhardy 'heroes' who left more 'treasure' than they might have ever found. Find an honest trade," he winks at Smokey Pete, "as my mentor here should have."

Tuck is speechless at what Smokey Pete says and then Shiyazthar starts laughing and he knows he has been had. He takes a deep pull of his drink and it is tasty which he did not expect. "Alright fair enough, so which one did you pick?" he said looking at Smokey Pete.

"You carried the *ogre's mug all the way here to Pete's, and the ogre didn't smash your head and take his mug back?" Shiy' turns to Pete. "Maybe he IS the type who would dive into a dark cave and feed himself to a giant cockroach?"

*The Mug is Pete's Mug.

Smokey Pete laughs uproariously and exclaims, "All of them of course, I picked all of them!" Tears run down his cheeks as he continues to laugh.

Tuck finishes the mug and leaves both of them laughing and heads back to the tavern.

Smokey Pete watches Tuck walk away then glances over at Shiyazthar and breaks into another round of laughter.

"At least he didn't walk off with your mug! He might not be an albatross after all. Guess we were all young once." Turning back to the big man with the big heart, he half-smiled. "Someone needs to keep these kids out of trouble. Sure we can't talk you into risking your neck One More Time, good brother? I'm sure you can get me in as much trouble as The Lady."

Smokey Pete sighs, "Well the kid's not too bad, he took it pretty well, but you know as much as I want to go my place is here, not that I still couldn't lick my weight in trolls. Someone has to keep the home fires burning, sure it's a dirty job but someone has to do it."

{by now, ol' Shiyazthar should have made it back to the Comedy-appreciating Ogre Delicatessen, and poor old Pete is probably talking to himself. Shiyazthar won't admit that he already looks forward to seeing Pete next season.}

Sunday, January 27, 2019

45th Anniversary - International Original Dungeons & Dragons Day (January 26th)

Hard to imagine that today is 45 years since Dungeons & Dragons was originally published. Sadly, I was not to discover D&D in the early months of 1974, I was a late comer in the fall of '75. I grew up playing all kinds of games, but this one was different - it did not have fixed boundaries saying this far and no farther. This was more like our childhood games of make believe - you know the ones - they are all banned now, but bitd we had a ton of fun playing them. 
I played in that first D&D game, died several times and ran through several characters that first night, all of them fighting-men and all of them committed to standing in the gap/fighting the rearguard action. I knew then that if I turned and ran and left the other characters to their own devices,I would have a good chance of surviving, but that (for me) would be no fun, that would have been (for me) the cowards way out. The game (for me) was about team play and sacrificing yourself for each other. It was about (for me) one for all and all for one. It did not bother me that most people never played that way, that was how I played. Now when I refereed my own game, I awarded extra experience for selfless team play. If the character died, well the player still got rewarded in other ways with a future character if that especially if that type of play continued.
Many is the character that lost their Lawful alignment for cowardice, since at best I considered that to be Neutral behavior. Now that was not for a single action, but for a pattern of action. Additionally, the players were not surprised by this, as they had ample warning of the impending change and opportunity to salvage things.
As a referee, the creation of the world, new monsters, new magic items, new spells and the like were huge fun and being able to keep the players guessing and not allowing them to take anything for granted was part of what kept me in the refs chair year after year.
How about you? Do you have memories of the early days, but when it was all fresh and new?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gygax News - On the 45th Anniversary during International Original Dungeons & Dragons Month

In celebrating International Original Dungeons & Dragons Month - 45th Anniversary I have not been able to write as much so far this month as I intended, but when I got a chance to get back online last night I ran across this over at grodog's blog (From Kuroth's Quill - grodog's AD&D blog).

This was four days ago, but here is the link:

Paul Stormberg reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) on Gygax Manuscripts Archive
This afternoon today, Paul Stormberg of The Collector's Trove held a Q&A session over on reddit about the contents of Gary Gygax's unpublished manuscripts:
Adventurers wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success!
This is an AMA, wherein I allow adventurers to ask me anything about the trove of treasures left behind by Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and what traps and guardians await them.

Gail Gygax's agent, Gina Ramirez, also participated in the AMA, covering questions around licensing as well as future publishing plans for computer games, RPGs, etc.
Go read the rest of grodog's post and then follow the link to the reddit for the full thing, you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

International Original Dungeons & Dragons Month - 45th Anniversary

This year 2019 marks 45 years since the Original Dungeons and Dragons was published in January of 1974. A number of us will be posting a few times this month to celebrate 45 years of the world's first published open-ended fantasy adventure game. Anyone who wants to join in and post for this event, please feel free to do so. If you do please note that the post is for the International Original Dungeons & Dragons Month - 45th Anniversary.

1974 was the year I graduated high school and the year that I started college. It was not until the following year (fall 1975) that I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons. It was unlike any other game I had ever played and all other games IMO paled to insignificance by comparison.

Created by Dave Arneson and co-written with Gary Gygax, this is a game that need never end except by mutual agreement and in theory at least a campaign could run forever. There are campaigns which have gone on for over 40 years, so far for me my longest one was 9 years.

I plan to post several times this month and talk about different aspects of the Original Dungeons & Dragons, but for this early morning in the new year, I wish simply to introduce the topic and let you know what is coming down the way.

I hope that you will join me and many others in celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Original Dungeons & Dragons.