Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Blizzard of Summer 2023!

One of the best things about blogging and writing about games for so long is I have gotten to meet so many really great people and made some really great friends.

Two such are Tim Knight over at Hero Press and Pun Issac over at Halls of the Nephilim. Both are great guys, and we all have many intersecting interests in RPGs, comics, and movies.  So it is no real shock then when we decide to go over and play in each other's sandboxes.

Over the summer, they graciously allowed me to use two of their iconic characters, The Acrobatic Flea and The Web Archivist, for The Wasted Lands.

Now they have returned to honor and built versions of my misanthrope villain, The Refrigerator, for their own respective supers games, along with tweaks to make him work in their worlds. 

The Refrigerator

Both are great takes on my villain, and I love the additional little details they have both added. 

What is the point of having an iconic character if you can't share it?

#RPGaDay2023 FAVOURITE RPG of all time

 This is a tough one. I have had so many favorites over the years. Each one representing a different point in my life and gaming.

Favorite RPGs

Most of these will be known to readers here.

Basic (B/X) D&D - not the one I started with that would be the Holmes Basic, but the one that got me deep into the hobby.

AD&D 1st Edition - This is the one I played the most in those early days. The Monster Manual was my gateway drug to RPGs coming from Mythology.

Chill 1st Edition - This was either my first or second RPG after D&D (tied with Traveller) but it was my first horror RPG, and it spawned everything after.

Call of Cthulhu - Not my first Horror RPG, but one of my favorites. Really set the bar on what a horror RPG should be.

Masque of the Red Death - not an RPG by itself, and a bit wonky, it did something I always wanted: it brought my AD&D 2nd ed rules to Gothic Victorian Earth and Horror. Ravenloft brought some of this earlier, and both were my game of choice throughout the 90s until D&D-burnout set in and I went to my next big thing. 

CJ Carella's WitchCraft - I can't overestimate how much this RPG changed things for me. The world was close enough to that of Chill, Call of Cthulhu, and Masque of the Red Death that my ideas for those games gained new life under Unisystem. I loved the game so much I pestered the publisher, Eden Studios, to let me write for them. The result was my next favorite.

Ghosts of Albion - while this might be self-serving, it is my favorite for a reason. Everything I wanted in a Unisystem game is here. Victorian era, magic, horror, and Unisystem. I would have happily written for Unisystem for ever if I could have.  Which leads me to my last one and the top of my list.

NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars - Again, a little self serving but NIGHT SHIFT is everything I have ever wanted in a game. It combines the best mechanics of all the games above along with a play style I love and in a world, or more to the point worlds, I enjoy.

If I only get to pick one, then it will be NIGHT SHIFT.


I have had the luxury and the privilege to work on a great number of RPGs over the years. Some of which were dream jobs and dream games. I consider myself lucky. But of all of those, NIGHT SHIFT is not just my favorite game, favorite rules, and favorite setting; it was also my favorite writing experience. Only Ghosts of Albion and my various Witch books come close.

Thank you, Dave Chapman for hosting this again! I had a great time.


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 8, Room 31

 The last room on this level is dominated by a large treasure horde and an equally impressive guardian.

Room 31

Red dragons were promised all the treasure in the former Dwarven kingdom. This Red Dragon is the last of their offspring. He is not as crafty or as strong as his forebearers, but he is still challenging.

He has H x5 treasure. There are a couple of chests of holding as well.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 OBSCURE RPG you've played

 I have a soft spot for Obscure RPGs. But I think one of my favorites, warts and all, is Lee Gold's "Lands of Adventure."

Lands of Adventure

The game has some flaws, but it is such a fun concept and a great idea. Plus, the art and design are fantastic. 

I reviewed it a couple of years ago but have only played once or twice since then. It really is an old-school gem from the ancient days of Dragon Magazine.


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 8, Room 30

 Continuing on past the Queen's broken throne room, the party turns a corner to the left and sees a horrific sight.

Room 29

Trapped inside a magic circle is an ancient Chaos Hag. Though it is hard to know which kind she is, but she tries, and fails to shift her shape to that a beautiful elf maiden.

She croaks out, her voice dry and cracking, to be let out. She is in a panic. These are the first people she has seen in centuries. 

She will make a weak attempt to claim she is an elf polymorphed into a hag. This ruse though can't last, since she is so hungry. Her's is a similar tale to other creatures here. 

IF the party says they are hunting for the Vampire Queen then she will say she was trapped here after the Queen took over. This is true. She also says that there is only one seal left holding her in. Also true.

If the party agrees to free her she will give them the Hand of Glory at her feet and that will allow them to sneak past the guard of this level.  Mostly true. She will give it to them yes, but the Hand is so old it won't work very well.

Also there is 50% chance that if freed she will attack the party and eat them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Mail Call Tuesday: New Dice from Threshold Diceworks

 Hello. My is Tim, and I am addicted to dice.

It began innocently enough. I got a set in my D&D Basic. Then another in my D&D Expert Box. Then B. Dalton's Bookseller in White Oaks Mall had Dragon Dice in full sets and percentile genators.

Then I got clear sets. Blue sets. Discover more. Now...well, now I have no clear idea how many I have. I have sets for characters, a set for each game, and sets for DMing certain campaigns. Metal dice, tiny dice, huge dice.

So what did I get in the mail yesterday? You guessed it.

Threshold Diceworks retro Dice

Threshold Diceworks retro Dice

These retro dice were made by Threshold Diceworks. Which you can find on Facebook and their Etsy store. He was taking pre-orders a while back and mine finally came in yesterday and I am very pleased with them!

They compare very favorably to the sets I had with my Expert set, the Dragon Dice polyhedrals, and the sets that came with the Mentzer Basic boxes.

Threshold Diceworks Dice compared to classic dice.

Threshold Diceworks Dice compared to classic dice.

Threshold Diceworks Dice compared to classic dice.

Yes. Those are my Mentzer dice still in a bag and unopened and unmarked.

Threshold Diceworks Dice and Armory dice markers

I even have some Armory Dice Markers for them! I might swap a d10 in each set for a proper set of percentile dice. I can even use them for Star Frontiers.

Now. I just need a good dice bag for them.

These will likely be my Old School Essentials dice or my Wasted Lands ones. 

In any case, I am really happy to have them. When they start selling more I need to snag an orange d8.

#RPGaDay2023 Most memorable ENCOUNTER

AD&D Lich

Ah. This one stuck with me as the most memorable encounter.

It would have to be the first time I encountered a Lich in the AD&D 1st Edition days. I think it was the summer of 82 or so.

The DM read the monster's description, and she decided that it had all these new spells because it was a former high-level magic-user. She played the monster as we would have today, but back then, that was kind of a new thing. Not only that she had poping in and out of the Ethereal Plane more or less at will. 

Needless to say it kicked our 6th to 7th level asses. That lich kicked our asses.

While I was annoyed, I later looked back on it and thought about how well she had done with it all. 

So yeah, freaking Liches are dangerous.

Since that day, my undead have all been way more powerful. 


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 8, Room 29

 The cave continues. Further ahead is an open area. There is what appears to be a broken stone throne. 

Room 29

This appears to be the queen's throne room, but it appears to have been destroyed. There is subtle magic on the throne. 

If a dwarf or female character sits on the throne a scene is played out of the throne room in it's glory days. All the PCs see dwarven courtiers with gnome, human, and even elven dignitaries. All enjoying themselves as scenes through the years are shown. One scene shows what appears to be an informal gathering interrupted as the figure of the Vampire Queen comes into the room ridding on the back of some demonic hell-beast. Demons soon overrun the room and kill everyone in sight.

Characters must save vs. Paralysis or feel the death shock of those victims. Failing, they take 2d6 hp of damage, save for half.

Characters gain 45 xp each for seeing this scene.

If a female dwarf sits on the throne, then she sees the same tableau, but does not need to make a save and she takes no damage. She also gains The Blessing of the Dwarf Queen for the remainder of this level. This is a +1 to hit and +1 to all saves.

Monday, August 28, 2023


 I interrupt my regularly scheduled Monstrous Monday post for our monster harvest we worked on over the weekend.


More tomatoes

More tomatoes







Long-time readers will know that my wife has a huge garden. She has over 115 tomato plants and somewhere north of 120 peppers from sweet to super hot. 

We brought in tomatoes, peppers, carrots, garlic, some onions, okra, beans, basil, and even some potatoes. 

We spent Sunday processing them all.

Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce and soup

I processed about 3 gallons of Tomato sauce and we also made tomato soup to freeze.

This was our third harvest this year so far and we have least two more.  With all the picking (and you have to do the weeding then too), processing, and freezing, we hit the couch last night, and both of us crashed.  This was all a lot easier 25 years ago when she started her garden.

Honestly, I should have made a "Tomato Monster" but was too beat.

Now to convince my chef son to make me something will all this garden fresh produce!

#RPGaDay2023 SCARIEST game you've played

 Scares do not come easy to me anymore. I consume horror movies like most people watch sitcoms (and laugh as much), nearly all my non-D&D games are horror and a fair amount of my D&D ones are as well.  So for a game to REALLY scare me, it has to be special. And it is usually NOT due to the rules being used.

Case in point. My online games from 2006 to 2009 that I called "Vacation in Vancouver."  I played it starting with WitchCraft and then moved over to True20 (a game not known for its horror).

True20True20 Adepts Handbook

The hook was that members of Vancouver's supernatural community were going missing.  Long story short, there was this entire underground where vampyres, demons, and witches were getting together and engaging in all sorts of lewd sexual acts in exchange for essence.  After a while, even open acts of magic were considered acceptable.

The game, though was not really about sex or even depravity (there was a lot of sexual slavery going on and it was hard to know who was using who), but about addiction and losing yourself.

A couple of characters had to be literally pulled back from the edge.

As a role-playing experience, it was intense.  There was not much combat, to be honest.  Part of that was out of choice (the characters were investigators, not thugs) and part out of necessity (combats online can be dull, even in Unisystem).

The game ended like many others, not with a big finale but gradually dying off.

The mystery of where all the supernaturals were going was solved, but not the one of the demonic sex trafficking. The demons never actually killed anyone. In fact, they seemed to be concerned for the welfare of the Gifted and Lesser Gifted in their "care".  And there were plenty of volunteers for the demons, too, since the exchange of Essence was pleasurable for both (but only humans can 'regenerate' Essence).

There were some very interesting games, though, that came from all of that.  It was one of those rare RPG moments where the bad guys might have won, and there was nothing the PCs/Cast could do about it.  While the game was fun and provided some of the best pure Horror roleplaying I have run in a long time, I am just not sure how it could even be revisited.


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 8, Room 28

 This cave area continues on and opens up to a large area.

Room 28

This cave is huge and the ceiling extends up and far out of sight.

There are several thousand bats that are scared off of any light source. They do not attack, but can still frighten the characters.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 Game you'd like a new EDITION of...

 This is a two-fer for me. There are two games I want to see a new edition of and I hope that once again they are the same system.

I would love to see a new edition of Mutants & Masterminds AND a new edition of a DC Comics RPG.

DC Adventures and Mutants & Masterminds

I started with M&M back in 2nd Edition and I loved it. Such a great game.

When 3rd Edition came out I grabbed the PDFs right away and was going to pick up the print versions, but Green Ronin also had released the DC Adventures game that used the same M&M 3rd edition system. So I got all of those books.

I'd love a 4th edition of M&M and wonder if it couldn't move a little closer to their AGE system.

I also want a new DC comics RPG. I know there is a new Marvel game out and yes it looks great, but I have always been more of a DC guy.  I also want to buy more Green Ronin stuff.


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 8, Room 27

The bottom of this staircase opens to a chamber in a cave. The cave continues on, but to the right is a stone structure.

Room 27

The structure is a mausoleum of seven gnome thanes.

The tombs are ornate but have been pillaged many times over the centuries. 

 There is no treasure and no undead here. 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 Favourite CHARACTER SHEET

 Like games and dice I have a few favorite character sheets.  Though I will admit my all time favorite is a blank sheet. because at that point the potential is limitless!

Willow & Tara sheet

My "Willow & Tara RPG" sheet. I made this one myself for my combined Buffy/WitchCraft/Ghosts of Albion game. It had details for all three games so characters could easily move between the rules.

WitchCraft RPG Sheet

Likewise, I had a WitchCraft variant I used that also had similar information.

Mage Sheet

I love Mage, and the Sorcerer's Crusade sheet is one of my favorites.

D&D Basic

For pure nostalgia sake I love the Green D&D Basic sheets.

AD&D 1st Ed

AD&D 1st Ed

And the AD&D 1st Ed sheets too.

Though my own Witch character sheets are my most favorite of all.

Witch Sheets


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 8, Room 26

 To the right of the giant throne, there is a hidden doorway.  

Room 26

Beyond the doorway is a flight of stairs going down. Not enough to be another level, but lower in this level.

Friday, August 25, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 UNPLAYED RPG you own

 A couple fit this bill, but the ones starring at me, begging to be played, are both Age of Arthur / Chivilaric RPGs. 

Pendragon and Chivalry & Sorcery

Pendragon and Chivalry & Sorcery

Now I have played earlier editions of both of these, but these two have been sitting on my shelf all year and I want to do more with them both. 

Both have been around forever it seems and both are in their Fifth (or so) Editions. 

I really need to do a lot more with them both.


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 8, Room 25

 The exit from Room 24 takes the part to a side entrance of a long grand hallway.

The party's left (a bit of a diagonal) is the main entrance to this hall, not covered in rubble and no long accessible.  To the right is the length of this ancient hall.

Room 25

This hall is ancient, even by the standard the party is used to seeing. The architecture is dwarven, even the most causal dungeoneer can see that. At the end of this once great hall is a throne of Iron and on sits a figure.

As the party approaches they can see the figure is that of a dwarven skeleton in kingly garb.  When the party reaches the dias the skeleton's eyes begin to glow and it raises a hand.  

It speaks.

"Hail, brave and mighty adventurers. You have come so far and have more to go. But rest here and hear the tragedy of House Ironhammer."

If the party pauses to hear the dwarf king's tale they will find themselves healing of their wounds, even their gear that has been damaged begins to repair.

"Millennia ago, the Vampire Queen, Darlessa the First, sought out House Ironhammer in our mountain demesnes. She commanded that we build for her a temple and tomb out of the living rock of the mountain that was greater or equal to our own. We refused her, not wanting to serve any evil. Three times she came and three times we denied her. First my Grandsire said no. Then she returned and my sire said no. Then she returned again and I told her no. But in that time her powers had grown. She said that if we would build her a stronghold she would take ours!"

"We laughed at her and her rabble of conjures. No army had ever taken House Ironhammer! Not even the giant orcs of the Black Mountains whom all dwarves will speak of with revulsion, but also begrudging respect as an enemy."

"Sadly for my people we did not comprehend what she meant by 'take.'"

"Her conjurers gathered around. And the ensorcelled the mountain. The lifted it up by it's very roots and transported it to the seas where it was dropped onto a volcanic island. The mountain of Ironhammer stuck the Island of Necromancers like a hammer on an anvil. She destroyed their ancient towers and dropped our home into a vortex of magic. A few survivors soon killed by hordes of demons. I was kept alive along with a fraction of my enslaved people to dig out tunnels and new rooms and merge the mountain with the island. Many dwarves and many necromancers died that horrible night."

"It is to you I leave this challenge. Your wounds are healed, your gear is as new, your bellies are full. Seek out this undead tyrant and slay her for good. You have the blessings of House Ironhammer and the combined arcana of the Necromancers she killed that day. Please accept the last gifts of Sharis Val."

On the dias, there are weapons appropriate for every character here. They are all +3 weapons, +4 vs. undead, and demons. 

Any Cleric or Magic-user can make an intelligence roll to know who Sharis Val was. He had been a Shadow Elf smith who had been adopted into a dwarf clan and became one of the greatest artificers and swordsmen the world has seen. His final fate was unknown till now.  

Because there is always that "one guy," if there is a fighter in the group who is REALLY into swords, then allow them a roll as well. Sharis Val is essentially the Miyamoto Musashi of this world. 

These weapons grant 2,500 xp each. 

If instead, the party attacks the skeleton they get nothing. It is a normal skeleton with 1 hp.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Baldur's Gate 3: Keller the Silent Monk

 I mentioned two weeks ago (already??) that I have been playing Baldur's Gate 3 with my kids via LAN and it has been FANTASTIC. We don't get much time to play D&D together anymore but this has been the next best thing. In fact it has been the best thing in it's own right.

But I am not here to talk about the gameplay.  I am here to talk about an orphan. In particular this one.

Keller the Monk

This is Keller, the Wood-elf Monk. I know nothing about her.

One night my son and I were playing in his multiplayer room, but he didn't close it (he was the host) so this random character joined us.  It was a wood elf paladin.  Well, we didn't need a paladin; I was already playing Johan. So he locked the room, and we restarted.

The player, whoever it was, was gone. But Keller remained. She tagged along as another character my son could control. We tried everything to get rid of her. Nothing worked. We shut down for the night.

The next day, Liam had told me he tried even more things, and nothing worked. So finally, he just paid the gold to have her retrain as a monk. One holy warrior to next? Ok, I am cool with that.

We still can't get rid of her. More to the point, since the program does not control her, we can't tell her to stay in the camp either. She can't even talk unless my son takes control of her (like the in the screenshot above), so we decided to roll with it.

MINOR SPOILERS for Baldur's Gate 3 follow. Well, so minor that if you play the game up till character creation, this is old news.

The Party with Keller
My son and I collect stupid hats in the game. It also looks like my eyes are closed.

Keller is a wood-elf monk. I figure she is one of the Siswa from the adventure B7 Rahasia.

She, like the playable characters and companions in the game, was taken by the Mind Flayer Nautilus ship. But unlike the characters, she was not in Baldur's Gate then. She and her kin were in their homes where Queen Rahasia ruled. The ship attacked, and the elves fought back and lost. Keller was one of the survivors taken on to the ship. She was there when it came to Baldur's Gate. (Yes. I am saying Rahasia lived. I am not going to do the Hickmans wrong like that.)

As one of the survivors, she feels guilt that she lived when so many of her brothers and sisters died. So, she has taken a vow of silence. Since she is also essentially uncontrolled (and therefore can't be romanced), she has also taken a vow of solitude. She will not break these vows until the threat of these mind flayers is gone from Faerûn. She will not become attached to anyone else who might die. 

In truth, she is kind of a badass. There have been a few situations in the last couple of sessions where her combat prowess essentially saved our asses. 

Keller, no stupid hat yet

So. If you are Keller's original player. I am sorry you stumbled into our room just to be kicked. I am sorry you lost your character, too. But we will take care of her and make sure she sees the vengeance she so rightly deserves. 

Maybe she can also get a stupid hat.