Showing posts with label 1st ed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1st ed. Show all posts

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Friends of the Library Score

Just a drive by.

Went to our local "Friends of the Library" used book sale at my local Library.

Found these laying in the "Computer Games" area.


Te Basic book is in poor shape, but the PHB is in fantastic shape!

Best $3.50 I have spent in a while.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #81

Today I set the Wayback Machine to my Freshman year in High School.  I was just getting over an 18-week long bout with a brutal combination of chicken-pox and pneumonia, both for the second time. No joke, I dropped to something like 80 pounds and was in the hospital on IVs. Don't even remember how I got there.  But by January I was getting better enough to go back to school.  1984 was a big year for me in terms of geeking and gaming. I had just finished reading all the Lords of the Rings books and was watching a lot of Doctor Who.   For me, everything was either Doctor Who or George Orwell jokes as we go to January of 1984 for Issue #81 of This Old Dragon!

This issue is in not too bad of shape really.  The cover is missing, which is a shame because it is one of my favorites interestingly enough.  A furry ice dragon (I am going with a dragon) and an adventurer on a wooly mammoth? What's not to love really.  I also hold this issue up as a typical issue of the time "Before" my time buying Dragons.  It is not one I ever saw in the stores (that I can recall 35+ years later) but it one that I saw other people carry around.

Kim Mohan's Editorial covers how they will no longer be printing the adventures that won the adventure design contest some time back. This is too bad, but I easily see why. I think this might also have lead to a later decision to create "Dungeon" magazine, but I have nothing to back that up.  It is just taking too many resources to get the adventures to a publishable state. The last adventure is printed and will be talked about later.  Thinking back to some of the adventures I wrote back then I cringe to think about what they would have gotten.  I hope I can find the adventure contest rules in an earlier issue.  I wonder what the submission requirements were and whether they took printed manuscripts or if they accepted floppy disks in the mail yet.

Letters cover more requests for back issues, reprints, and even the runner-up adventures. Others complaining about how the magazine has changed for the worse over the last year.  I swear some people are never happy.

Our first article is a good one. One of my old DMs had kept a copy of it to use all the time.  Much to my chagrin.  Taking the sting out of poison by Chris Landsea was another attempt to classify poison.  Personally, I never had an issue with what was in the DMG and thought it was good enough.   But I also only ever played one assassin ever my entire gaming career, so it also did not come up a lot for me.  But it also covered Holy and Unholy Waters, something I used a lot, so that was kinda cool.

Another ad for my FLGS.  They still have the same number! Well, the area codes have changed on them twice since this add. It went from 312 to 708 to now 847.  Plus another ad for the Witch Hunt game.  Seeing these again makes wish I had not sold the game back in a Games Plus auction now.



The fiction piece comes early. In the Cleft of Queens by Esther M. Leiper.  Looks like it is about some dragons.

On page 24 we get The Forum: a new feature.  The introduction of the Forum.

Ok. Up next we have The Ecology of the Basilisk by Ed Greenwood which is a fine article in it's own right, but reading has gotten me thinking.  In fact, my thoughts might be considered heresy in some parts and even I would not have considered them two years ago.  But I am beginning to think that Ed Greenwood has contributed more to Dragon than Gary Gygax did.  I am not talking about *D&D in general, just Dragon Magazine.

A big two-page ad on the new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons miniatures line, followed by an article on minis.

Pete Mohney is next with Chariots for characters: Adapting ancient vehicles for AD&D play.  I always had this plan to play a Classical Greek/Roman/Egyptian game completely based on the classic myths.  I wanted a copy of this article because how can you not have chariots in a classic game.  I still might do that one day.  I mini-series of just mythology themed games where the Gods meddle directly in the affairs of humans.

Now here is an oddity.  Presented in the middle of the magazine is an AD&D character build for Cú Chulainn by Roger Moore.  This is prior to the introduction of the UA Barbarian, which he would have been perfect for, so he is 22nd level Ranger/12th level Illusionist with some Bard ability.
It's not a bad build really, but someone like Cú Chulainn is hard to build since he was essentially a superhero of the Red Branch myths of Northern Ireland.  It's interesting though that the only reason he has an Illusionist class at 12th level was so he could the powers of his berserker rage, called a "Warp spasm" or Ríastrad in the myths.  But if you read over these stats he is very much the prototype of the barbarian class we will later see.  I also did some stats for Cú Chulainn for the Ghosts of Albion game.

Up next is The Ruins of Andril designed by Ian Melluish. This is a high-level adventure, levels 8-11, for 4-8 characters.  It is an investigation of an old "Egyptian" ruin.  I have flipped through it and looks fun.  Part of me wants to run it if for no other reason than for its historic place in Dragon history.  It's a long one, for Dragon, at 16 pages.

Michael Dobson's Living in a Material World covers almost everything you need to know about material components for your AD&D or any other FRPG.  Now I love material components. If you are playing in an Old School D&D game I am running then your spellcaster better have their proper material components or they can't cast the spell.  Thought I do make most components easy to find or buy AND I allow substitutions.  Don't have that pinch of sulfur for your fire based spell? Try a pinch of dirt see what happens! This article is a long one, 10 pages, and covers a variety of materials and their uses.   Well worth visiting again.

Off the Shelf, a few pages later, covers the latest books of the start of 1984.

Lewis Pulsipher is back with Get out of the Medieval Rut in The Role of Books.  Again this might be the issue that got me interested in the idea of running a classical game. Lew covers books detailing ancient Rome, ancient Egypt and Greece (well Athens in particular).   I have some similar books on my too be read pile.  Now to figure out which system to use.

Ken Rolston reviews some new gaming titles in Gaming without Heroes. Or Horror Role-playing titles.  Featured in this review are the infamous Shadows of Yog-Sothoth for the Call of Cthulhu game and the Ravenloft module.   Of the two Rolston has high praise for Ravenloft, but feels that SoY-S does a better job of conveying fear, terror, and dread.

Lots of ads. Convention Calendar. Dragonmirth.
What's New with Phil and Dixie has Dixie's Dragon Notebook. Wormy and SnarfQuest introduces a revolver to an AD&D world. Wackiness ensues.

Really a fun issue with so much I want to use in a game still.
If nothing else it has renewed my desire to run a sandbox like adventure int he Classic world.

Want to see what I thought of White Dwarf from the same month?  Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #49.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #74

It's June 1983.  I had just turned 14 so I took about two dozen friends to the movie to see "Octopussy" in the theatres on my birthday (remember when I said I was a huge Bond fan?) and it was great.  In the stores the new covers for the AD&D core books are out and yes I had to buy them.  Bond is in the theatres, new covers on the shelves, Naked Eyes on the radio and There's Always Something There to Remind Me in This Old Dragon Issue #74!

First up this issue is in REALLY good shape given the issues near it (CORRECTION, I have two of these. One is in good shape, the other with the Combat Computer is in terrible shape).  Yes, the combat computer (more on that later) is still there and still intact.  But let's talk about this cover first.   Nothing is more iconic D&D than a group of adventurers fighting a dragon. This cover is one of the more memorable ones.  I did not buy this issue when it was new, but people I gamed with had it and it was well used and well passed around.

The editorial also covers birthdays.  This is the seventh anniversary of Dragon.  Last week I covered the 9th anniversary and like that issue, this one has some dragons in it.  They mark the date in a very subdued fashion. That will change.

Gary is up first with an entry of From the Sorcerer's Scroll in Warhorses and Barding.  Exactly what it says. One might be tempted to pass up this article and flip on past the big James Bond ad, and ignore the second half.  That would be a mistake.  Gary lets us know that a line of official D&D 25mm miniatures are on the way.   We also learn of a script for the Dungeons and Dragons movie that "... is a remarkable piece of work, one which could well lead to a film as successful as STAR WARS or E.T. It will do a world of good for our hobby . . ."  Thankfully Jeremy Irons is really busy during this time and Thora Birch is only 1 year old.   Also on tap is something Gary and Marvel Productions are calling "THE DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CHILDRENS SHOW".  So reading in 1983 which one of these sounds like the better bet?  Yeah, I was wrong too.

In another long standing feature, Lenard Lakofka with Brad Nystul are both up in Leomund's Tiny Hut. This issue features the Bureaucrat class with the Politician sub-class.  I am not kidding.   It does read like a misplaced April Fools article, but there is too much seriousness in it.  Ok, now I am 100% certain that someone out there reading this now used these classes back in the AD&D1 days.  But come on, really??  Next time someone tells me how much better everything in the old Dragons used to be I will agree, but I will also show them this article.   Not every old is good and not every new is bad.

Ah, now this is the stuff I remember and wanted.  Ronald Hall is up with the Land Dragons.  I loved this article. It was original and it felt like a great addition to the game.  I can remember laying in bed reading this article. It was a great stuff.  With these and the new dragons in the Fiend Folio and the MMII I wanted to over run my world with all sorts of different dragons.

Not to be outdone, The Electrum Dragon by Ed Greenwood is next.  This one I didn't like as much.  Oh sure I liked having more dragons, but this seemed forced since electrum was (in theory for me at the time) electroplated silver with gold.  Later I opted to keep Electrum Dragons in the Realms and Steel Dragons in Greyhawk.

Ah, now here is a memory! Ed comes back with Elminster in tow for Seven Swords: Blades of the Realms.  Now this is a proper article for magical swords.  They have names and they have histories.  And Elminster is looking into them, tracking them down.  This is also great stuff.  Back then I was totally into just what were enough details to convince my DM to put them into our games.  Today I am much more interested in their tales.  Well done Ed. It took me long enough to get your point, but I finally got it.

The Ecology of the Bulette by Chris Elliott and Richard Edwards also does exactly what it is supposed to do.  It makes the "land shark" interesting.

Arlen P. Walker is up with an article I ignored then but am giddy over now.  I was also a fan of the Man from U.N.C.L.E., it was a great mix of James Bond (and even had Ian Flemming's fingerprints on it) and Sherlock Holmes.  Tracing THRUSH's nest. The place: London The time: 1894 is a GREAT article that I will steal for a Victorian game.  I love the idea of THRUSH being tied to Moriarty and Moran of the Holmes stories. This article expands on that.  The companion article, In trouble? Say UNCLE The date: New York City The time: now, is also fun.

Arlen P. Walker is up with a 3rd article with Spying on the spies, which details the research that went into the previous two articles and their sources.

Lewis Pulsipher is next with The Vicarious Participator which is some role-playing advice on how to mange the two predominant styles of role-playing at the time, the full immersion actor sort and the man-behind-the-curtain sort.  One IS their character, the other only tells what the character does in a 3rd person sort of way.

Here we go with the centerfold.  The (infamous) Combat Computer!
Over the years I have heard tales of love and tales of hate for this thing.  One thing you never hear though is that it was designed by Tracy and Laura Hickman.
I personally liked it, but by the time we started using it we had already started homebrewing stuff.  The first version of my Healer class was in play (and soon out of play, it didn't work) and my witch class was on the way.
Plus we had bigger plans back then...



(there is also a big Gen Con XVI program here. Yes you could fit it all inside Dragon)

D&D Beyond,
1985 Color Computer version
(transferred to 3.5 from 5.25 disks)
Which brings us to
Q: What do you get when you cross a Dungeon Master with a computer?
A: Programmed character creation without human hesitation!

This article and program by Joseph C. Spann was not a revolution for my group.  It was a factor, but by 1983 everyone I knew who played D&D was also in the Jr. High Computer club and computer classes together.  We all wrote bits of software to emulate various parts of D&D.  We had pages and pages of BASIC code for the good old TRS-80.  I had other friends that were just as active on their Apple II's and Commodores. My DM and I finally created a really perfect bit of software for the TRS-80 Color Computer.  It could store 10 characters (more on disk once we upgraded to that) and we put in every monster in the books.    This article captures that time really well.  The software itself though takes away the visceral joy of rolling characters, but we did not care.  In the 80s D&D and Computers were going to come together and soon.  Maybe even before the D&D movie.

So when I hear arguments or complaints of "we never used characters builders back in my day" I say BULLSHIT.  Not only did we use them, we wrote them.  We spent hours learning how to code to do exactly that.  Like the article says:
"It cannot be simply coincidental that there are so many roleplaying game enthusiasts among our nation's rapidly growing number of computer hackers. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say so many computer hackers among the ranks of RPG players, as evidenced by the presence of computer-oriented columns and information in gaming magazines like this one."
So maybe YOU didn't try out a character builder of your own but everyone I have ever gamed with from 1979 on has.

The trouble with code is it takes up a lot space. And let me tell you, typing all that in and getting an error. I am so glad I don't have to do that anymore.

Not many articles from this time get quoted or talked about much these days, A Player Character
and his Money by Lew Pulsipher is a notable exception.  I always found his discussion on moving to the silver standard very interesting.  I have often wanted to adopt it, but felt the hassle to correct the books and math constantly to make it not worth it.

Let's see, some listings of Sci-Fi conventions.

Tony Watson is up with The SF "universe" An in-depth examination of the STAR FRONTIERS game.  Something of an ad, something of an overview/preview and editorial.  It's long too. I really, really enjoyed Star Frontiers back in the day.  Two percentile dice, crazy races, giant-ass battery packs on your back to power your lasers. Though give me a gyrojet gun any day.

Off the Shelf has some books. No kidding right. Well, it has one book in particular. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I have a long and complicated relationship with this book. More than I care to unpack now.  Sometimes nostalgia is about looking back and remembering something fondly. Sometimes it isn't.  I really loved this book back then and read it a few times.  I have some issues with it and the author now.

Ads..lots of them.

What's New does spies. Wormy does...what ever it is Wormy was doing.

Near the end an ad for the previously mentioned AD&D minis.

Landmark issue to be sure.  Full of nostalgia for the actual articles and less for the ads.

What are your memories? Did you use the Combat Computer? Write your D&D software?

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf from the same time?  Come back to the City of Irilian and check out White Dwarf Wednesday for Issue #42.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #103

1985 was an interesting year for D&D.  It saw the publication of Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures.  "Deities and Demigods" had been renamed to "Legends and Lore".  60 Minutes did their hatchet job on D&D.  We were deep in what many have called the "Hickman Revolution" and indeed the third Dragonlance novel, last of the first trilogy was published.   1985 gave us a little peek at what 2nd Edition AD&D would have been like and it would see the departure of Gary from TSR.  A lot of this can be seen in November 1985 and in issue #103 of This Old Dragon!

While there is a loose theme here, the real theme of this issue is a glimpse into the future.
But first, let's start with the cover.  My copy is missing the cover so I had to pop in the old CD-ROM to see it.  It's a cool blue dragon that reminds me of earlier covers. I don't remember it at all really.

The Letters section covers the old "Photocopying service" Dragon used to offer.  Anyone take advantage of that?
Also starting next year (1986) Dragon will be $3.50 an issue.

Gary is up in one of the biggest "What If" scenarios we have all talked about.  That is "What if Gary Gygax had designed AD&D 2nd Edition?"  We will never really know, but there are some tantalizing bits in this month's From the Sorceror's Scroll. The Future of the Game talks about how now that UA and Oriental Adventures are now out the game should evolve to a 2nd Edition.  He planned out the publication order to include the new Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, DM's Guide and a new Legends and Lore (a name he very much opposed).  It should be noted that here Gary also says that a 3rd and 4th editions (or more) are not only inevitable but also desirable as the AD&D game is "vital. It grows and it changes". He said there is no likelihood that the AD&D rules will ever be set in stone.    BTW, if you want to get an idea of what AD&D 2nd Edition as-written-by Gary Gygax *could* have looked like check out +Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep. He spent a lot of time researching and this article was the genesis of that.

Kim Mohan is up with updates for Unearthed Arcana.
We had a rule in our games, that if it was in the books it was law, even if the rule was obviously "off".  We did it this way to avoid rule-lawyering arguments over intent.  Plus the book was an impartial party. It didn't change based on the situation at hand. So I can't recall if we used any of this errata or not.

There are many reasons why people don't play gnomes.  I think this is one of the biggest ones.  All About Krynn's Gnomes from Roger Moore details the "Tinker" gnomes of Krynn.  Of course, this is also why my brother, who is now an engineer, only played gnomes.   I have to admit I REALLY disliked the Tinker Gnome idea and I hated the execution of the idea. An entire race prone to failure and explosions? You know what we call that right? Extinct.  Honestly, it was not till 3e that I could even look at gnomes again and really not till 4e that they became something I'd consider having a character for.

Like Dogs? Stephen Inniss seems to with a collection of 12 domestic breeds in A Dozen Domestic Dogs.  My favorite bits are on the armor for fighting dogs.

The Role of Books covers a few books I am not at all familiar with. Though there is one, "Dragonlance, Dragons of Spring Dawning" that everyone knows. One, "The Song of Mavin Manyshaped" by Sheri S. Tepper sounds interesting.

An ad for Palladium's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness is next.  Long before there was a cartoon there was this game. Talk about striking when the iron is hot!

Stephen Inniss is back.  He had submitted an article on centaurs at the same time another author, Kelly Adams has submitted an article on centaurs.  The resulting article, The Centaur Papers, is a combination of these two works.   They fit together nicely (deft editing) and produce a long article, but what must be considered to be the Master's Thesis on Centaurs in D&D.  At 11 pages it is no small article.   Every so often I run into someone that is really, really into some concept in the game.  I remember back in the 90s stumbling upon a website dedicated to the Bariaur race, others for different things. This article reminds me of that.  Just detail on detail.  If you are into centaurs at all then this is your "must read" article.

Our centerfold is a collection of errata and corrections for Unearthed Arcana.

TSR Previews lets us know that Oriental Adventures and Saga of Old City are on the way.  This is followed by TSR Profiles of Gary Gygax himself.



The Wages of Stress is the fiction bit for this issue. It takes place in the fantastic future world of 2007 when everyone is connected by computer.   Ok, not to be too glib about it there is a bit about how everyone's health can be monitored remotely.

The Ares section is next.

A Traveller article on the planet Tarus is up first.  Of Nobbles and Men by Paul Vernon.  He had some great White Dwarf articles around this time as well.

The Saurians is the article I used the most from this issue.  A race (with subraces) for Star Frontiers I mixed them in with the Sea Devils and the Silurians from Doctor Who to make a race of "Saurials" that I used in many sci-fi games and then later used again in D&D.   Plus it was easy to add in bits of UFOlogy to this with their Reptoids.

Roger E. Moore has a review of the Gen Con 18 designer's forum on Supers RPG in A Super-Powered Seminar.   A brief history of supers games is discussed here and what the future mught hold.

The Marvel-Phile covers three heroes I know nothing about; Armadillo, Count Nefaria and Hyperion.

Ads...Convention Calendar...Wormy and Snarf Quest.
Dragonmirth gets in a dig at 60 Minutes.



Issue #103 was not a bad issue, just not a memorable one for me. Some memorable articles and a tantalizing article on AD&D 2nd Ed.  

Curious about what White Dwarf was doing at the same time? Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #71.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #96

The issue I pulled for today was #123, but a quick look lets me know I had already done that one back in May. I mentioned then I had extras, but I guess I forgot to sort this one out.  No worries. Grabbing the next one.

I have made no secret of my general dislike of the various "funny" April Fools editions of Dragon magazine.  Not that I have anything against humor in D&D/RPGs; quite the contrary. I just like good humor. 9 times out of 10 the jokes fall amazingly flat.  Issue #96 is that 10th one that actually works.  In fact, this is one of my most fondly remembered issues of Dragon during what I think of as my heyday of AD&D.  So with that in mind lest have a look at April 1985. Ladyhawke and Cat's Eye are in the theaters, I am in my sophomore year in High School and this is This Old Dragon issue #96!

Again, the cover here is missing. Popping in my Dragon CD-ROM. The cover comes from Jack Crane and really fits the issue not at all! Well, fits it in terms of humor. But do not expect a mechanical dragon any time soon.  I like the cover though, it's fun. 

The Editorial made me laugh I admit. Printing the whole thing backward was a neat idea. I tried to do something similar with my high school newspaper and found it really difficult. This was a time before we had computers and nice layout software.  The Letters section is a mix of real and supposedly humorous ones. 

Up next is an ad for Pendragon that always caught my eye.  I wanted to run a King Arthur/Camelot game once upon a time, but never quite got there.  Too bad really, I think it would have been fun.  
Another "important" ad.  This one is for "Dragons of Autumn Twilight" the first Dragonlance, and first AD&D, novel from TSR.  1985  was that year of transition. The Golden Age was over, though I  didn't know that at the time, and the Silver Age was upon us.  This time has been described by some as the "Hickman Revolution".  There was certainly a shift that even I could feel in my little Mid-West town to me it felt like things were getting more "modern" in terms of production value.  We are still a little bit away from the release of the Unearthed Arcana and the end of Gygax's involvement with all things D&D.


Speaking of the Old Master, Gary is up with From the Sorcerer's Scroll on New Jobs for Demi-Humans.   There is a lot here really, though most will see the light of day in UA.  I am not sure if I had played an Elven Ranger before this or not, but I know I rolled one up around this time.  To me, it seemed natural. In fact, it is something you can see with my own Huntsman class
There is a little bit on Paladin dual-classing I took to heart. I loved to play Paladins back then (still do in fact).  I often would play clerics to a certain level (usually somewhere between 3 and 10) and then pick up the Paladin class if it was possible for my stats.  It was easy to rationalize; the character had to spend time in the normal service of his god (which was almost always Pellor for me) and then move up to Paladin status.  Worked remarkably well.  I did the exact same thing with my current D&D 5 Cleric/Paladin.  
For me THAT is the real Hickman Revolution; allowing me to play the character I want and the rules supporting it, not looking at the rules and deciding what character to play.  It's less about "what Hickman did to D&D" and more about the direction D&D was going to go anyway. 

Following up on this is Katherine Kerr's What Good PC's Are Made Of.  Kerr has written a number of articles for Dragon and this is just before her first novel is published.  She gives us some basic background information for characters including how/where the characters grew up and what their social class is.  It's actually interesting enough to keep for a lot of FRPGs. 

Ed Greenwood is up with Ecology of the Gulgurtha which is a surprisingly interesting article on the Otyugh and the Neo-Otyugh.  I recall coming up with a few ideas for these.  I seem to recall reading somewhere about using an Otyugh in the bottom of a cistern to eliminate waste. I also created a giant otyugh.

The Handy Art of Forgery by Keith Routley was another great article.  It's still rather timely. I showed it to my son, who is my local D&D 5 expert, he he thought it would work well enough to expand the Forgery skill of the Assassin specialization for Rogue class.  I am sure it would also work well for the AGE Rogue/Expert class with the Assassin specialization.  

Arn Ashleigh Parker discusses how to incorporate ideas from books in Books to Games? Perhaps!
The advice is sound, if simple.  Some examples are given such as Gor, Barsoom, and Middle-Earth.

Despite there being a nice big ad for the D&D Companion Rules, you would think that D&D was a dead line at this point.  I also can't recall if I was excited at seeing this or not. I have spent a lot of time talking about those rules here, I would have thought I would have remembered this a little better.

An article on Play By Mail updates. 

The special section of the issue is the April Fools section.  Up first is the "adventure" Nogard.
I'll make two confessions here. 1. I liked this, a lot. We wanted to use this and play it seriously. 2. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Nogard is "Dragon" spelled backward. 

The "What's New Dragon" is also featured in There Can Never be Too Many Dragons. Fun little critter. Odd it was published after the What's New comic was no longer in the magazine.  The next dragon is the "Quazzar Dragon". We joked about actually using this monster too. We took it seriously when the Frequency said: "Only Once". Though at 120,600 KM across (75,000 miles) we never had a dungeon to put it in. 

And....it goes downhill. The Meanest of Monsters details the Killer Dungeon Master monster.  Not a fan BUT there is something here I have loved and used before, the Wandering Damage Table.  I have pulled this out when dealing with younger players that are getting rowdy. I play it lightly, but it always gets their attention.   Since I have that more or less memorized I ripped this one out and gave it to my son.  Sorry +Greg Littlejohn

Huh...comical races, hopeless characters...can't bother really. 

I skipped over the map of Ginny's Delight.  I'll talk about that in a bit. 

Craig Barrett is back with some DragonQuest rules for swimming in Getting in Over Your Head. One day I'll have to get a copy of DragonQuest and play.  Maybe at a con sometime. 

The Ares Section is up.
First up is Dale L. Kemper with These Are The Voyages of the Ginny's Delight. While the adventure itself didn't really appeal to me I loved the little ship Ginny's Delight. The map of the ship is in the middle of the magazine. It's about the size of a large DS9-era Runabout. It's not an attractive ship but there something about it I really like.  I converted it over to Star Frontiers and Doctor Who (FASA version).



Why is This Mutant Smiling? from John M. Maxstadt covers new mutations in the form of exta limbs and body parts for Gamma World.  This would also work well for Mutant Future or Mutant Crawl Classics.

Marvel Phile is mostly here.  Whoever owned this before me had cut out the section on Iron Man but left Howard the Duck.

Convention Calendar, ads, a big spread of Wormy and three pages of Snarf Quest.

In truth, this was a fun issue and one that seems have had a much larger, lasting impact than I originally remembered.  I mean I remember where I got Ginny's Delight, but the Otyugh and the Random Damage table origins had been lost to my memory.

Curious to see what White Dwarf was up too at the same time?  Well, check out my review of White Dwarf #64 from April 1985.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #58

Today is the birthday of one my first AD&D DMs.  Jon and I started playing way back in Junior High. So for him, I thought a nice deep cut into my D&D archive would be appropriate.  In February of 1982 I was in 7th grade and 12 years old.  I had been playing D&D, Moldvay flavored for a while, and prior to that a mishmash of Holmes with an AD&D Monster Manual.  The early 80s were considered by many to be the Golden Age of RPGs and D&D in particular. That was certainly my own opinion, but we are doing pretty nice today too.
So put on some J. Geils Band as we head back to February of 1982 for issue #58 of This Old Dragon!

The first thing I notice is that paper of this magazine feels thicker than some of the newer ones. The makes the magazine feel thicker with fewer pages, this one weighs in at 80 pages, sans covers.  Could it be this is one of the reasons these older magazines "feel" more important to us? Well, one of many I know.

My copy, of course, is missing the cover, which is a shame because we get another great Clyde "I'll Have the Thigh" Caldwell cover.   On the back side is an ad for the TSR min-games. I had a copy of Vampyre for the longest time. I never got to play it more than once or twice, but I loved the idea.   I am quite sure I bought it because of this ad or one just like it.

First up is an offering of Leomund's Tiny Hut from Len Lakofka.  Titled Beefing up the Cleric it includes an intro from Gary Gygax himself.  Pause a moment to appreciate these names being tossed around casually.  I am not talking cult of personality here, but the fact the some of the luminaries of the game are writing a page 5 article.   The past truly is a foreign country.
Anyway enough of that, let's talk about the article at hand.   This article includes a number of new cleric spells. Many of these will later appear in the Unearthed Arcana.

The Dragon's Bestiary is next with some weird-ass monsters from Ed Greenwood.  Of these, the one that jumps out me is the Sull.  These things are like a giant floating mushroom caps with teeth on their underside.   They remind me of this bizarre bit of cryptozoology and ufology that I remember reading about years and years ago about "Giant Sky Critters". The name stuck with me.  I am sure that Ed got these from a similar source. Roger Moore contributes with "Magenta's Cat" named for the wizardess that tried to breed psionic familiars.   This one could be fun to use as well.



Michael Parkinson gives us The Blood of The Medusa, an article on all the monsters in Greek Myth produced by the Medusa.  I had just gotten out of a HUGE Greek Myth stage at this point so I really loved this article.  It's a fun read and has some great stats to boot. One day I'd love to run a game set in the Classical Period. Greeks, Romans, Etruscans, Phoenicians, Persians, Egyptians and the whole lot.



This is followed up by Four Myths for Greece, featuring four unique NPCs from Greek Myth.  This includes Atalanta, Daedalus, The Sybil of Cumae, and Chiron.

We come next to the big feature of this issue, A Special Section: Dwarves.  We know now that a lot of this will be re-edited and put into the Unearthed Arcana, but then this was great stuff. Well, great if you are into dwarves.  The last Dwarf I played as a character was Fjalar Snowcrest a dwarf thief back during the end of AD&D1.
Up first is The Dwarven Point of View by Roger Moore. Which talks about how dwarves see the world around them.
Bazaar of the Bizarre has two dwarven magic items; the High Anvil of the Dwarves (helps dwarves make items better and faster) and the Helm of Subterranean Sagacity (helps with a dwarf's natual abilities to detect stoneworks).

Sage Advice covers a lot of Dwarf related questions.
Roger Moore is back with The Gods of the Dwarves. Most of these gods are now common enough names in D&D, but here is where they got started.  It includes a monster called a "Rapper" which is an undead Dwarf.  Personally, I would rather use the term "Knocker" since it has some supernatural connotations already.

John Eric Holmes gives us some fiction with In the Bag.

The Centerfold (see what I did there) are the Spell Minders, a playing aid for cleric and magic-user spells.  I'd love to talk about them, they sound cool, but my copy does not have them.  Nor do I remember them well enough.  This leads me to think that my original copy of this issue, the one I remember reading in 82 actually belonged to someone else.

Up next are a couple of articles on archery in D&D and looking for more realistic ranges.  Personally, I prefer game ranges that are more easy to use and "realistic enough".

Not to be forgotton or left out we get an article from David Nalle on Swords, Slicing into a Sharp Topic.  It's a nice overview and history of swords, sword making and how to apply this to your game.

Glenn Rahman has a review/article on the Knights of Camelot game. It covers the game to a small degree but it is more about playing a "Bad" or less virtuous, Knight.

Traveller gets some love from Jon Mattson is Anything but Human. Which is basically a randomized alien physique system.

The Dragon's Augury cover a new aid for Runequest, Griffin Mountain (Bill Fawcett likes it), Star Patrol (also reviewed and enjoyed by Bill Fawcett). Tony Watson covers Traveller Adventures 5 from GDW and Scouts and Assassins from Paranoia Press for Traveller.

Off the Shelf hits the books. Chris Henderson reviews C.J. Cherryh's The Pride of the Chanur which is declared as a great book.  The last John Norman Gor book gets an "At least it is over".

We end with a two-page Valentine's day special What's New with Phil and Dixie and a one-page Wormy.

Maybe the older the issues are better? It is really hard to judge. This one has a bunch of nostalgia for me and some useful material but does that make it better than say one that was made in 90s or 2000s?  All I know for sure is I'll have fun trying to find out!

What are your memories of this issue?

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf magazine during the same month? Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #26.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

First Day of Summer

Ok.  I am working like crazy to get something out to you all in the next few hours.  Had projects that came up at my day job that had to take priority (hey. it pays the bills, this doesn't).

Today is the first day of Summer 2017.  I love the Summer Solstice. Everything feels perfect really.

Anyway, Solstices and Equinoxes make me think of Elementals.
I am not the only one either.  +Joseph Bloch over at Greyhawk Grognard is talking the Temple of Elemental Evil again and that is good.

I am just about ready to wrap-up the Giants series with the kids and move on into D12 and 3.  I have given a lot of thought on what I can do with Q1 and a possible Q2.

I have also been thinking ahead to a scenario where I use the Temple of Elemental Evil as the end of my "Gygaxian Classics".  Though I am not 100% sure how I want to it.



Unlike all the other adventures I am taking my kids through I never played or ran Temple of Elemental Evil.   In fact, till today I never even owned a physical copy.  I bought the PDF a while back.  I have a couple of copies of T1 and I have been thinking about this a lot.





Anyone who has ran this adventure, any advice?

I know that this is going to be the capstone to my huge 5e games.  Currently running two, soon to be three concurrent and independent games in 5e.  They are all going to meet at the temple and unless they are really, really good, they will see the rise of Tharizdûn.

Not sure what I am going to do yet, but I know it will be fun.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Monsters of Maximum Mayhem Dungeons

Evil genius +Mark Taormino is back with his fifth Kickstarter.  You might remember mark from The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen and Maximum Mayhem Dungeon #2: Secret Machines of the Star Spawn.  Well, now he is back and bringing us all a new Monster book for Old-School style games.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons: Monsters of Mayhem #1


I have come to expect some pretty great things from Mark in the past and I have not been disappointed.

This looks every bit as fun and at higher pledge levels you can get your own monsters made.

Mark always has a good spread of rewards and levels, so if yo are looking to finish up your collection of his adventures then this is a good Kickstarter to back.


This looks like a lot of fun.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marktaormino/maximum-mayhem-dungeons-monsters-of-mayhem-1

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Classic Modules Today: Death's Ride

I have been a fan of the "Classic Modules Today" group for a bit now.
The premise is to use the leeway of the DMSGuild to produce 5e conversions of classic TSR modules.
Well you know I am all about that!  So I have been buying as many as I can for the various campaigns I have been running. They are great. All the basic information I need in one place.

Could I have done these on my own? Sure.  But for the price of my triple grande latte, I can grab 2-3 of these pdfs and be good to go.

Since I also believe in giving back I made my own for an adventure I have coming up.

Here is the Classic Modules today conversion of one of my favorites, CM2 Death's Ride.


You can get the conversion here on the DMSGuild and the original module too.
You will need the original, these are conversion notes, not the full product.



You can find these and all the Classic Modules Today conversions (and the original adventures) at the DMSguild.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #114

It is not an exaggeration to say that Dragon #114 was a watershed issue for me.  But before I get into all of that I want to quickly restate what I am doing here since I have gotten a few new readers.
So the background here is I had purchased a couple of large gaming collections over the last couple of years. My brother also gave me a box of Dragons in really bad shape.  After combining, keeping some, selling off others and tossing (yeah, had too) ones that were in terrible shape I was left with about 100 or so Dragons that were in pretty bad shape.  Most were missing covers, many are missing pages and maybe one or two are fully intact.  In This Old Dragon, I am grabbing issue out at random and reviewing them.  I can only review what I have, so if it is missing I won't talk about it.  The only exception I make is the covers.  If I feel too much is missing or something important is missing I'll check my Dragon-Magazine CD-ROM.  Cool?

So,  Let's get into this issue!
Speaking of covers let's have a look at this rather infamous cover from David Martin. In future letters sections, there were plenty of complaints of the "Playboy" like cover. It is also one of the few covers I would love to have an art-print of in my game room.  I loved it then and I still do. I have never seen an art print of it though. A little more than a year later the cover was reused (with permission as I understand) for the cover of Angel Dust's "To Dust You Will Decay" album.

The Letters section covers questions about spending more than $100 on the next version of AD&D (2nd Edition).  Some things never change I guess. Some letters on Psionic in combat too.

Editor Roger Moore talks about someone impersonating him at Gen Con 19.  Don't know if the guy was ever caught.

Ok.  Let's jump in.
The Witch is the main feature of this issue.  And by main I mean I don't think I ever read anything else in the issue for many years.  I think it was 1990 before I ever looked at the Ecology article.  This article dominated the issue and the minds of many.  I know many of you reading this either knew of this article, read it or had a witch from it.   Chances are if you ran into someone playing a witch anytime after 1986 then they were using this class.  Interesting that it was designed as an NPC class.
It was another update to the venerable witch from Dragon Mags #5, #20 and #43.  While issue #43 had a great deal of information, Dragon #114 is known for the art. There was the controversial cover and also the use of Larry Elmore art as one of the witches.   It was this issue that set the desire in my mind to have Elmore art in one of my books one day.  I had made a witch class prior to this, back in July of 86.  But I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first made a character using this witch.  It was in study hall, October 25, 1986.  I was a senior in High school. I was in the larger study hall because the teacher I normally had study hall with had just died. I was set to play Dr. Seward in my High School's production of Dracula.  I pulled out a sheet and rolled up my first witch.


Yes. That is my iconic witch Larina.  That binder is full of different versions of her for different games, but this is the first.

Moving into the article and class.  This witch is WAY overpowered.  It is easy to see that now, but back then I didn't care. Bonus spells, powers at nearly every level, High Secret Order Spells? Yikes. But yet I do love this witch so.  10 pages, lots of new spells.  That Elmore art.  Totally fell in love.  Limiting the witch to 8th level spells seems like a natural thing to me now.  Back then I never gave much thought.  These days I give WAY too much thought.  I have a huge Excel file filled with spells and levels to some up with the optimal levels of every spell and placement. It has informed all my writing for years.  8th level feels right.


I see the seeds of nearly every witch I have played in these pages.  Certainly, my own Witch class has been inspired by it.

After that everything else in the magazine is a little weak.  It's isn't, but it sure feels like it.

Grave Encounters is full of great random tables for monsters.  I made a copy of it and stuck into my Ravenloft boxed set.

Not to be outdone by Bill Muhlhausen, Chris Booth is up with The Elven Cavalier. In my mind, I always thought that there is someone out there that read this article and got the same joy out of it that I got from the Witch article.  It is a good article and when I finally sat down to read it in earnest I became convinced that this was someone's favorite article and class.  So much so that it later affected things I did with Larina.  At one point she became romantically involved with an elven cavalier and thus my other iconic witch Taryn, the half-elf was born.
I created a group of Elven Cavaliers called the "Moon Knights" (it was the 80s. I am allowed).

Were you that person out there that loved the Elven Cavalier?  I'd love to hear about it.

The Ecology of the Remorhaz took me till 1990 or so before I read it.  Not that it is a bad article, far from it, it always got eclipsed by the witch.

Robert Kelk is up with Combined Generation or another attempt to put all the tables needed for character generation in one place.  It's a good article in theory. In practice I can't say.  At the time I never needed it, by 86 I had been playing for 7 years and pretty much knew where everything was without thinking about it. Today, rereading it, I can't say since I am too far removed from those days.  I can say that if I ever play 1st ed again I will have these handy.

Class Struggles (yup, but let's be honest an obvious name) from Mark Kraatz details things characters can do between leveling up times.   Some good ideas here that can be easily ported over to any version of *D&D or OSR.

The next article was part of a rash of articles and products to "better define" D&D.  It's a hit-but where? by Alex Curylo is another hit-location article. There are lots of example creatures, including the Flumph, on random hit locations.  It's a level of detail I never cared for and when it came up in game we usually either hand waved it or decided where the hit must be depending on the damage caused.

Moving on to more modern games and sci-fi we have an article from Russell Droullard on creating adventures for Top Secret; A Recipe for Espionage.  I am sure it would for other spy games as well like James Bond.  Thomas Kane follows up with the legal process in Top Secret in Guilty as Charged.

The Marvel-Phile deals with some details that didn't quite make it into the Advanced version of the game and a DS al Coda of the Moon articles from Ares. The only hero I recognize here is Medusa.

Neat, full color ad for the Immortals set.

Role of Computers covers the game Wizard's Crown for the Apple II, Commodore 64 and Atari XL.  The screen shots look like the Atari version. It looks fun, in a retro sort of way.  I know by this time I Was feeling a left out on my little 16k Color Computer 2.  But no fear the 128k Color Computer 3 was coming out and I was going to be rocking!

Ad for the Palladium Fantasy RPG.  Really wanted to play that back in the day.

High-Tech Hijinks by Randal S, Doering covers adding technology to your FRPG and AD&D in particular.  I will be honest. I never read it. I don't mix tech and magic in my games. It's a thing.  Though rereading it now, I am sure I at least glanced at it. A lot of it feels familiar.

We end with Wormy (which was getting stranger all the time to me), Dragonmirth and SnarfQuest (which was totally about tech in D&D).

It is very difficult to classify this issue for me.  The Witch article drowns out everything else in my mind to the point that I think only of it.  Yet there is a lot of othr good things in this issue.
It is easily one of my top 5 issues. Maybe even my most favorite.

I know for a fact that while I would have done the witch class, I would not have been able to do it as well had it not been for this.  If nothing else it gave me ideas to use, ideas to avoid and something to playtest against to see how it all works.  The roots of my own game design are right here.

The fruits of 30 years:

The Witch: For Basic-era games The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry


Which one is next?



If this was a watershed issue of Dragon, White Dwarf was doing the samething in October of 1986.  Check out what I said about Issue #82 in White Dwarf Wednesday.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #72

Another one I have multiple copies of. Sadly none of them have the cover or the File 13 game.

Dragon Magazine Issue #72 takes us back to April 1983. Let's see...I would have been in 8th grade then.  So for me that was the start of my AD&D 1st ed years and the waning of my B/X years.

Now I have a confession. I HATE the annual April Fools issues of magazines. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. But I admit that even the small (very small) amount of humor I find in some of the issues is off-set by the loss of what could have been good material.  Last week though reminded me that even when they had a full magazine to devote that not all the material was good.

This issue is an exception. There is one other coming up (if I even have it), but the humor here is mild and the other material makes up for it.

Let's start with this wonderful Clyde Caldwell cover.  We have two excellent cavaliers fighting a cool looking dragon.  Ties in nicely with the Cavalier class.  I am also surprised that there is no bare thigh in sight!

Kim Mohan's editorial really typifies why I hate the April Fool's issues. You are actually better off not reading it. You can save time and get to the exact same issue by reading the Letters.
The Letters section is full of bemoaning of how the magazine is getting too big (80-88 pages) or too expensive ($3.00).  Here I am in 2017, nearly 35 years later thinking that we don't have enough Dragon these days.

There is an ad for the Science Fiction Book Club. I had joined a couple of different time over the course of my years.  I wonder if they are still around? (https://sfbc.com/Yes they are!) I am pleased to see I had read a good number of the books advertised, but there are few more I'd love to get my hands on again.

The big article of this issue is the Cavalier.  I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Cavalier. I liked the idea of a knight in shining armor, but who wasn't a Paladin.  There is a lot to like here and a great example of the long-form article that I really enjoyed from Dragon.  This is of course from Gary himself.  I also love that art from Keith Parkinson.  Too bad that playing a female elf cavalier riding a unicorn is WAY beyond the scope of the rules they are with!



Following this is, believe it or not, one of my favorite Ecology articles.  The Ecology of the Piercer. Seriously. Though the article has less content that I recalled (or I could be missing more pages) we decided that Piercers are a delicacy in my world, much like escargots are  in this world.  People collect young piercers for food and are worth a lot of money.  The older the piercer the less fresh they taste, so only the young are prized.  Piercers fed a steady diet of deer, elk or other game they would not normally get are even more prized.  Piercer farming has not worked out well, but adventurers are set on the task of collecting the little ones, all while avoiding the big ones!



The article on Gems is interesting, but I would rather have gone to a science book.

The Katherine Kerr article on The Real Barbarians is not one I read a lot of back then, but find very interesting now.  Easily one that should be paired with the Barbarian class that either will show up soon or just did.  Worth reading again to be sure.

Something that is an artifact of it's time is The PBM scene.  Playing by mail is a concept that I think most gamers would never think about these days. Oh I am sure if you look around you might find one or two still going.  Likely a Diplomacy, Tunnels & Trolls or a Traveler one.  It is a long ass article too.  I am not sure if I know anyone that ever did a Play By Mail game.  I considered it, back in the day, but never got around to it. Plus I could not bring myself to pay a buck every turn.

I get to the "behind the scenes" of File 13. Which made me realize I don't have a copy of the actual game.

Ugh... we get to the April Fools section.  I'll make this one fast. Valley Elf song? pass. I have the Frank Zappa album that Valley Girl came on and I got more D&D ideas from that then I do this song.
The Jock. Pass. More Sex in D&D humor.

I am jumping ahead to the book reviews.  Ok. Lots of really cool things here. In particular, I am drawn to Philip K Dick's "We Can Build You".   I remember the book since I was then and now something an armchair Lincoln scholar (what? I can layers.) but what strikes me the most these days is how much the fiction of Philip K. Dick shaped the world we live in now.  I think that is something worthy of a post on it's own someday.

The comics feature Phil n' Dixie doing their normal shtick.  Wormy is interesting though.  The wizard creating the portal is some of the best "portal" art I had seen up to that point.



The ads were good, lots of cool memories. Nothing really in the way of computer games yet.
Nice nostalgic issue.  Not a lot I can use today except maybe the barbarian article, but still fun.

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf from the same month? Check out White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #40.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: I9 Day of Al'Akbar

One of my favorite old-school adventures has finally made it to PDF at OneBookShelf.

I9 Day of Al'Akbar.


Gotta love that 80's hair.

Of course, back then we always called it "Day of Admiral Ackbar".

Now my PDF collection is complete for my "Second Campaign".

N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God, levels 1-3 (novice)
U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, levels 1-3
U2 Danger at Dunwater, levels 1-4
U3 The Final Enemy, levels 3-5
I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City, levels 4-7
I3 Pharaoh, levels 5-7
I4 Oasis of the White Palm, levels 6-8
I5 Lost Tomb of Martek, levels 7-9
X4 Master of the Desert Nomads, levels 6-9
X5 Temple of Death, levels 6-10
I9 Day of Al'Akbar, level 8-10
Gary Gygax's Necropolis, levels 10+

Each day I think Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is the best choice for this one.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: AD&D 1 in print

Last week saw the release of the AD&D 1st Edition Core books in POD at DrivethruRPG.

Monster Manual
Players Handbook
Dungeon Masters Guide

This is a pretty big deal really.  This means for the first time ever 1st Edition will remain perpetually in print.

Today even more 1st Edition goodness was released.

A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity
A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords
H4 The Throne of Bloodstone




Soon every adventure of my "Come Endless Darkness" campaign will see print.

Looking at H4 it is only $12 for a POD version.  No idea if it has the giant fold out map (I highly doubt it), but you get the PDF with it and can printout the map on multiple pages if you need.

Throne of Bloodstone has always gone for top dollar on eBay.  I am not sure what this will do to the aftermarket since there are many that will want that map.  I do know that in many cases when PDFs of TSR/WotC products first came up the aftermarket took a hit.

I still have have a copy of H4.  I had a couple in fact adn sold one a while back for 30 bucks.

I played Throne back in the day. Soon after it came out in fact.  It is a killer module and it took us all summer to complete it but it was worth it. I played it the first summer I was back from college. So in between working two jobs I tried to squeeze as much gaming in as I could.

I would love to use this as the capstone to my Come Endless Darkness game, but I need to figure out how to get the characters there.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 A Look Back

It is already 2017 in some parts of the world, but here 2016 is staying around like that last guest that just won't leave.  So let's look back on 2016 on The Other Side.

D&D 5
Without a doubt D&D 5th Edition was the biggest game this year and D&D5 posts here got the most traffic. D&D got a big push in the media this year and D&D 5 benefited from all of that.  Closer to home I played a lot of 5th edition this past year. I ran games for my kids and various cousins and my oldest son ran three different campaigns. Ok, they were all roughly the same adventures, but with three different groups.
Not everything was all 5e all the time. I managed to work in some Basic (B/X) D&D as well and even a little AD&D 1st Ed. Back in October, I reignited a Blue Rose game too and even worked in a little Castles and Crusades.
I have caught some rumors of some very interesting 5e related news I can't share yet.  But 5e is going to have just as much of a good 2017 as it did 2016.

Geek Culture
This is a wonderful time to be alive if you are geek. Really. In 2016 we got more superhero movies than I can recall (ok Civil War was a bit of a let down compared to comic), Star Trek AND Star Wars in the theatres in the same year. Doctor Strange came out, a movie I wanted since the 70s, new Ghostbusters, new Jason Bourne, a new movie in the Harry Potter universe!  And that is just the movies.
On TV we have super heroes, scratch that, DC Super Heroes every night of the week! Luke Cage on Netflix. STRANGER THINGS! So much great content that I can't even keep up.  We have an embarrassment of riches here.
Speaking of DC. The rebooted, reboot of DC's Rebirth in comics is doing fantastic. Not just in sales, but also in terms of story. While the DC movies are hit and miss (I am a fan, but I am also realistic here) and the TV shows are nailing it night after night (still a fan) the comics, especially the "New52" had been iffy. Not anymore.



Bloggin'
My output decreased this year and it is likely to decrease more next year. More on that later, but mostly it is due to me needing more time for work, family and other projects.  I had a lot of fun with my deep dives into Victorian RPGs and Blue Rose. The stats show you liked them as well. I said goodbye to some regular features like Zatannurday and Friday Night Videos.  I have mostly retired Class Struggles and "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading", but I retain the right to post something with them in 2017.
I was nominated again for "Best Blog Ennie" for 2016. I didn't win, but I had a lot of fun going to awards show.



Personal
Things are good here at home. Family is healthy and good. My wife and I launched into a new exercise plan where I run every day and exercise in the evening.  I am healthier now in my later 40s than I was in my 30s. My weight is way down and my blood pressure (something I have had issues with since I was a teen) is also down. In fact, save for a minor respiratory bug last week 2016 has been one of my healthiest years on record.
Work is going fine. In 2017 I have a new graduate program whose curriculum I am redoing, so that will keep me busy for the next couple of years. I got a promotion (of sorts) and a raise (of sorts) and a new boss.

The Other Side Publishing
2016 saw the launch of my personal imprint The Other Side Publishing.  I am not trying to take the RPG world by storm here, I just want to put out a few books of things I want to play.  My biggest success so far has been Sisters of the Aquarian Order (currently a Copper best seller!) for White Star.
I am making enough here to keep going and I can keep myself in other people's books too.  That is a success in my mind. Actually, people buying my stuff and getting enjoyment out of it is much more of a success than the actual money, but the money does buy more art.



And Then There Was That Other Thing...
Yeah 2016 had it's fair share of suck too. More than it's fair share to be honest. The election was shit-show and the outcome was pretty much to worst of all possible outcomes.  I have mentioned before I am less of a "Social Justice Warrior" as I am a "Social Justice Veteran" or, more to the point "Social Justice Terrorist".  I was in the trenches before Facebook, before Twitter and back when letters and phone calls to Congressmen, Senators, and Judges were a common thing for me. I got back on the phone this year to my Representatives and other elected officials. 2017 might be the year that pulls me back into social activism.  In fact, I have already started to put my money where my mouth is, so I am also going to put in my time.



We had a lot of our icons die this past year. Not much I can say about that really. I am going to miss Bowie the most I think. I just liked the idea of being in a world that also had him in it.

So here is to 2016. The good, the bad and the ugly. And there was a lot of bad and ugly!
Here is to a much better 2017! Though it is really 2020 I am looking forward to the most! ;)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #2 and #3

+Mark Taormino is like some sort of mad genius.  I love his Maximum Mayhem Dungeons and each one "delivers the goods" in terms of hitting that nostalgia feel.  I reviewed his first offering, The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, a while back.   Today I want to look at the other two.

The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn
Let's play a game of what if.  What if the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks had been written in the 80s instead of the 70s?  What if there were influences of Star Wars, Buck Rogers, 50s sci-fi movies and just a little dash of 70s Blaxplotation?  You might get something like The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn, but it would not be as good as the module Mark Taormino wrote.
The module follows a similar flow of the other Maximum Mayhem Dungeons; something weird is happening, there are rumors, a long history of strangeness and a thin excuse to go adventuring.
What they PCs will uncover is...well I don't want to spoil it.  It's no shock that this adventure will feature a downed starship and some lasers.  But it doesn't end there.
In truth there is a lot to really, really like about this adventure.  In a different setting the monsters would be scary ass deadly and really, really awesome.  Also there is so many references to pop culture, especially sci-fi and 80s pop culture, that it would be pointless to address them all. The rock band KILL was one of my favorites.
Designed for OSRIC, I played bits and pieces of this using D&D5. Though it would work just as well with AD&D1, Castles & Crusades or any other OGL based clone game.
The one issue I have with it (and very minor)  is that players that didn't grow up in the 70s and 80s would not get all the jokes.   I ran Hanging Coffins for my kids and they loved it, but some of the jokes fell flat on them here. No surprise they have no context for them.  I thought they were hilarious to be honest.  Loved the Pinball Wizard!
If I were to run this again I would either merge it with a little bit of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and run a huge Star Spawn mega-adventure.  Or I'd run it as is with some disposable characters and guys the grew up in the 80s too.

Villains of the Undercity
Here is another what-if game.  What if the Keep on the Borderlands was destroyed and then humans came in and built a new keep on top of the ruins.  Let's also say the caves of Chaos have been cleared, but not all the monsters were killed.  Where did they go? What did they do?  Now invite the Slave Lords from the A series over.  You would get Villains of the Undercity!
This adventure is an ode and homage to the great dungeon crawls of the day.
While this adventure fits the gonzo style of the other Maximum Mayhem Dungeons this one can also be played straight.  Well...sorta.  There is a crazy Halfling Illusionist Assassin, but that is for the players to figure out.
With this one anyone that has ever been inside a classic dungeon will find something to love.  There are lots of deadly traps, monsters and puzzles to figure out. Of course plenty of treasure too.
This adventure is also the one that I can see fitting into a larger campaign, even with adventures from other publishers.  I was mentally placing it in Greyhawk or even Dolmvay.
Just really a lot of fun.


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