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Art -- The Artist in His Studio

Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands: Design Principles Case Study

The Moathouse from T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil is one of my all-time favourite modules. I think it’s a great example of genius dungeon design and I’ve always wanted to design a similar location.


When I saw the above image by jolly talented artist Marc Radle I immediately knew that I’d found “my Moathouse.” Eventually, I called it the Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands.

I'm one of these people that like to plan something before I get started; I find it very hard just to dive in and get cracking (as previous experience has taught me doing that inevitably wastes time [...]

Digging the Gravelands

Have you seen this? While I was in stasis, Hereticwerks released a first shortform module, GL-1, Taglar's Tomb.

It's a revised and expanded take on a site they posted for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day last year. If you're a regular reader, you know what I think of Hw, and this is as accessibly weird and as dreamily expansive as ever.*
If you play a tabletop game, or like a speculative genre, you can probably do something with the contents. If you play a rules-light roleplaying game, like D&D or a game inspired by it, like S&W, you can [...]


Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (WHOG) draws on a number of sources for inspiration. I watch a lot of wuxia movies and TV shows, and these have had a big influence not only on Ogre Gate, but on Sertorius and many of my d20 campaigns. I am hoping to share some of my favorite movies and shows in the genre here as we work on WHOG.

NOTE: This is a somewhat lengthy review, that gives a full overview of the plot and that includes many spoilers. 

The Last Hurrah for Chivalry was released in 1979 by Golden Harvest [...]

[AFHOTWTTGS] Doctor Who RPG Reviews

Every once in a while, the stars align and my nerd interests correlate in a moment of glorious synchronicity. Some kind-hearted soul saw fit to provide me with access to FASA's mid-Eighties Doctor Who RPG; like me, it was born during the terrible year of 1985, in which Colin Baker was taken off the air for perceived crimes against television (and one day, when I'm sufficiently drunk or cross, I shall regale you all with my explanation of how this accusation is both one hundred per cent true and absolute codswallop), and like me, it manages to combine a fundamental [...]

Travellered By The Apocalypse

I make no secret of my love for the Apocalypse World engine. Sure, I have trouble with some of the "future hipster speak" to be found in AW, but the incredibly simple-yet-robust core mechanic just blow me out of the water. For the most part, this has played out in an infatuation with Dungeon World (!!!) and the very excellent "What If?" version of DW known as World of Dungeons, but I keep looking for new ways that I can use the super-simple AW mechanics to make the tabletop experience more interesting and blah blah blah, I dig it, you [...]

Ice Weird

The Ice Weird is the more solid version of the Snow Weird, water-influencing rather than air-influencing. Like other Weirds, she's an especially powerful elemental tied to the mortal world by an elemental pool, a roiling mass of ice, which she cannot leave except to return to the Elemental Plane of Water, closing the pool behind her. Unlike the Snow Weird, she is unable to control the weather, her powers being more directed towards physical and mental handicapping.

Trying to make the Ice Weird sufficiently similar from the Snow Weird was a pretty tricky challenge, especially since there were [...]

Ring Side Report- Video Game Review of South Park: The Stick of Truth

Game- South Park: The Stick of Truth

Price- It’s a bit old so you can get this for cheap! ~$20

TL;DR- Ah nostalgia! 90%


Basics-You’re the new kid in South Park, so go make friends! Soon you get drawn into a fight between the elves and the humans over the world’s most powerful artifact-The Stick of Truth! You are recruited by Cartman, but soon you have to choose who you fight for as the stick is soon stolen! Along the way aliens, the government, zombie nazis, and even stranger things all try to take the stick away.


Mechanics-The game drags on a bit. The [...]

The Balance Between Story-telling and World-building

I’m coming to realize that I have a difficult time with combining world-building and story-telling. Whether it’s in my game or in my personal writing, I find myself failing to successfully fuse the two.

In the case of Cirsova, I’ve done a lot of world building, but never figured out a Narrative to put there to the point where there is no story other than the implication of a decaying empire obsessing over a dead empire.

In the case of the game I’m running, I feel like I have a story to tell of a wicked king who intends to reclaim his [...]

The Indefinite

There is one use of "appears" language, which I mostly panned in a previous post, that actually can be appropriate -- when the character has only an indefinite idea of how to call something they're experiencing.

"In the shadows at the back of the room you see a still figure that appears to be human-shaped" (approach closer and see it's a wooden effigy)

"The vial is full of a fine white grainy powder that looks kind of like salt" (you need to taste it or have alchemy knowledge to find out anything different).

The difficulties in describing this [...]

Tome 236 -- Planescape PDF Review featuring Monte Cook

Hey everyone! Jeff Greiner, Tracy Hurley, and Sam Dillon had me back on The Tome Show to review some Planescape PDFs currently available on dndclassics.com.

I’m not going to link the adventures here, because I want you to use the affiliate link I posted about on through The Tome Show’s website (it helps support the show).

Also in this podcast is an interview with Monte Cook himself!!!

You can listen here:


If you like what you're reading, please check out mypodcastonThe Tome Show, follow me onTwitter, tell your friends and sharethis blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. [...]

The Sons and I Discuss My Upcoming OSRIC Supplement

Daily Cosplay

Imaginarium ~ The Mistbane

The Mistbane River

The Mistbane River, or the Blue Creek, has its headwaters in the far Rhodope Mountains where it begins as little more than a trickle. It tumbles and flows, following many courses through the Shelves of the Mist, where it gains more strength from tributaries and earns its river name. It breaks free of those hills just north and east of the small town of Petersboro and the Darkenfold. The river widens here and slows its pace considerably, drifting down beneath the eves of the Darkenfold where it continues its southern journey. The river is slow, ranges from 80-120 feet wide, [...]

Situational Modifiers for Intimidate

A few times in the last few weeks, I have not followed the rules for the intimidate skill as strictly as the rules as written would suggest. Of the social skills in the Pathfinder game, I think it is the worst as far as its execution. Both bluff and diplomacy have modifiers based on the context of the conversation. Telling a far-fetched lie, for example, is much more difficult than telling one

North Texas RPG Con 2015 Early Registration Ends Tomorrow - July 31st

Early registration for NTRPG Con 2015 ends tomorrow, so your chance to save 10 bucks on the four days of the convention is running out after tomorrow. For me it's a savings of 20 bucks, as it's me and my wife.

I'm going to be there next June and so should you.

I will be organizing a Tenkar's Tavern / Tavern Radio gathering at the hotel bar at the next NTRPG Con, probably on Thursday Night. I'll buy the first round for up to 2 dozen blog readers / podcast listeners. It's the least I can do - and I'll make sure and shave this time too ;)

The Hunt for Gollum

You’ll no doubt be familiar with The Hobbit series of films. You may even be familiar with the sort of reaction to the second one that we had around here. Honestly, stick with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and go straight for the animated Hobbit. Really. You’ll thank us in the long run.

The problem is… One of the many problems is… The reason… reasons…

No, look. What you are about to watch is a fan-film made on a shoe string budget by people who loved and respected the source material, volunteered their time and effort and made something that is [...]

[RPG] Tim And Simon Do It Again!

Look what postie brung me... It's pretty safe to say that my Heroes & Other Worlds campaign - The Chronicles of Cidri - wouldn't be the same without the efforts of two particular stalwarts of the OSR movement: adventure writer and 'zine editor +Tim Shorts and cartographer extraordinaire +Simon Forster. Tim's mini-adventures, either through his popular fanzine The Manor or his Patreon site,

Movie Trailer ~ Sin City (new)

The Russians Keep Finding Holes

Deep in the wilds of Siberia strange holes keep popping up. Locals stumbled on the first one in 2013, but since then several more have been discovered. They are new formations and noone has yet determined what is causing them. Some are very big and all are rather deep.

From UFOs to mining accidents, to weird earth news . . .

But it sure does look like something came OUT of that hole.

Siberian Times.

Korgaran's Megadungeon-The Interdungeon (The Sphere)

Immediately through the Hall of Altars, and at the heart of Korgaran’s Succession, is the Sphere. The Sphere is, for all intents and purposes, Korgaran‘s ritual ground within the dungeon. Its primary purpose is to provide a buffer between the ritual grounds, whose worshipers are largely hostile toward each other. As in the building of the Rotating Labyrinth, Korgaran created this buffer in his eccentric fashion. The Sphere, filled with winding tunnels and stairs, rotates sporadically. Giant metal bearings around the outside allow it to turn with little friction as the weight at the center shifts.

Cyan-Ladder, Green-Door, Red-Secret Door


Powered by the Fate-pocalypse: Starting work on the Playbook

I have started to put together the general playbook for my Dungeon World/Fate combo, this playbook is adapted from the excellent blank playbook template created by Zarathud:http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?700954-Dungeon-World-MS-Word-and-Open-Office-Playbook-Templates
Below is my initial starting point, there is plenty of work left to do on it, but it's a start:https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuXzEtbnJWVUoyaU0/edit?usp=sharing

Armor Up (Celtic Warrior)

Roman Lappat

ISEE-3 ~ Explorer 3

Several weeks ago we commented that a privately funded group was working to get the 30 year old ISEE-3, better known as Explorer 3, spacecraft up and running. They raised money, got permission from NASA and got her all going. The intent was to position it in an Earth-Sun axis and see what they could learn.

However, there doesn't seem to be enough juice left in the tubes to fire her stabilizers and put her on the new course. So she continues on lonely journey, slowing dying. And thus it was meant to be.

They have however turned on [...]

Word of the Day -- Abenaki

The Abenaki (Abnaki, Wabanaki, Waponahki) are a tribe of Native American and First Nations people, one of the Algonquian-speaking peoples of northeastern North America. The Abenaki live in the New England region of the United States and Quebec and the Maritimes of Canada, a region called Wabanaki ("Dawn Land") in the Eastern Algonquian languages. The Abenaki are one of the five members of the Wabanaki Confederacy. "Abenaki" is a linguistic and geographic grouping; historically there was not a strong central authority, but as listed below a large number of smaller bands and tribes who shared many cultural traits.

The [...]

Indie Talks Episode 51 -- Ed Baraf and Lift Off

This episode ofIndie Talks is brought to you by Stronghold Games.

Ed and I talk about Liftoff – Get me off this Planet! The new board game being Kickstarted right now! We go into game design, running a good Kickstarter campaign, shoot down the rabbit hole of Kickstarter and your local game shop, hop back up and then go into great detail about Liftoff – and why it’s a game you’ll want to back. Liftoff has a few things going for it that set it apart from other worker placement (or worker evacuation) games. A set time for the game being [...]

Obludia -- Review

FobTi Interactive, the independent game development studio from Slovakia, has released their latest game Obludia on Steam. Obludia is a top-down arcade arena action game that is inspired by classics such as Robotron and Smash-TV although one could argue it shares resemblances with other games in the same genre.


You are playing as a demon hunter, whose goal is to survive the incoming hordes of various monsters and bosses in several dungeons. This is as far as the story goes which is a shame as the game remains storyless while Obludia has several RPG-elements, creating the perfect setting for a deeper [...]

Dead in Thay: Session 12 Finale

Guess who?  The Red Wizards are back and madder than ever. Last season the heroes temporarily set back the wizards and now the big bad Reds are back at it.

It all started when a Red Wizard comes into town to tell the players of the nefarious scheme they have planned, elemental nodes and all.....

Listen as Derek, Craig, and I talk about what happened at the table, some of the pitfalls or glorious moments, and some of the stuff that did not go so well.

Dead in Thay, a 6th Level adventure for this season of [...]

Powered by the Fate-pocalypse: Back to Basics

Those who've been keeping up with my blog posts will be aware that I have been attempting (with varying degrees of success) to create a game that combines the best elements of two RPing systems, Fate and Dungeon World, both games that I greatly enjoy. Although i'd thrown up what I thought were some interesting ideas, when I tried to combine them the system looked quite clunky and unwieldy, which wasn't what I was going for at all; both Fate and DW are very streamlined systems that enable to to jump straight into the action.
Looking back at my notes [...]

Planescape PDF review featuring Monte Cook (Tome 236)

This long lost episode, Tome 236, sees the gang talking about Planescape - the 2nd edition D&D setting. Jeff and Tracy and joined by Sam Dillon and James Introcaso to discuss 3 different D&D adventures written for the Planescape setting. They also interview Monte Cook, one of the main designers of the setting.
Enjoy the show!
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Daily Punch 7-29-14 54 Card Pick-Up feat for Pathfinder

I’m currently reading a few of the Pathfinder Harrow books, and I think this feat will help.


54 Card Pick-Up

You know how to use the Harrow, either to help or harm, but when you’re done you always get your cards back.

Benefit: When you use a Harrow deck in a way that destroys a card or cards, if you shuffle the deck for five consecutive minutes after the card is destroyed the card or cards reappear in the deck. These new cards are unmarked, and allow you to use the Harrow Deck for all feat, powers, or class abilities that requires a [...]

Genius Loci on Save or Die.

So the newest episode of Save or Die (episode 95: We Have Class) features my second Two-Page-Adventure "Under the Horn". The adventure ended up with an average rating of 3 Dragons and some issues that I never noticed or realized were brought up.

I'm very thankful not only for the review I was given (Starting at the 1 hour 20 minute mark) and me being me I had to go and try and fix the negatives. Here are the changes:

1. New Cover without the product blurb/adventure background.
2. Adventure Background has been moved to the interior before [...]

The Mother of Slime (Mater Limus)

In the 10th Age, many slimes and jellies may be produced from an arcane process that was once common knowledge, but since the days of the great Mannish Schools and the Elvish Sorcerers passed has been lost. Individual wizards have rediscovered some of the principles of this hideous creation, known by arcanists as the mater limus, the Mother of Slime. This engineered liquid is produced by a series

013 Mapping my gameworld pt 3

In the first two installments of this short series, I showed my method of creating a game-world map, then a zoomed-in view of a small settlement map. In this final episode, I would like to show you a small dungeon setting - the Mound of Skulls. As before, each dungeon area is created and detailed as needed for the coming gaming sessions, with notes kept as new ideas occur to me for later development - [...]

Ink Girl

On 5e Backgrounds: Prisoner

PrisonerUntil recently, you were incarcerated for a crime of which you were or were not guilt of. The truth of the matter has long fled over your interment. Now, however you are free and do not ever plan on becoming imprisoned again.
Skill Proficiency: Deception and IntimidationTool Proficiency: Gaming and Musical Instrument.
Languages: Gain 1 additional languageEquipment: Common clothes, shiv (dagger), small leather pouch, blanket, candle, jagged spoon, twine, small steel mirror

Specialty: CrimeYou were once convicted of a crime. Roll on or choose from the following table below to determine your crime

  1. Murder
  2. Treason
  3. Necromancy/Gravedigging
  4. Price/match fixing
  5. Defiling a holy temple
  6. Terrorist [...]

Game Of Thrones: Season Five - New Cast Members...

The Magical Alphabet!!- P- The Portable Hole

Portable Hole- This fancy decaled cardboard box holds a bizarre and highly valued prize "The Portable Hole". This black flimsy piece of tarry film can be used to create openings (even in buildings) up to 2' thick. The portable hole is 1' in diameter, but can be stretched to be up to 5'. It takes 3 rounds to stretch the portable hole by 1' (total of 12 rounds to stretch to the full 5'). The portable hole can be picked up and placed back in the box after use, but only by the holder of the awesome cardboard box.

Many a [...]

"Explorers from Svendel..."

Here is the scan of page 7 of Holothom – The World Base. The last of 4 pages of historical events from the original document from 1988 or 1989.

Filed under: campaign world, D&D, Gaming, Holothom, retro, RPG Tagged: campaign, D&D, DnD, gaming, Old School, RPG, scans

Review: Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1

The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad is a DCC zine by Wayne Snyder of Goblin Mini Mart, Edgar Johnson of Edgar's Gaming Blog, and Adam Muskiewicz of Dispatches from Kickassistan.

That alone should be enough to send you out to get it right now. Seriously, it's that good, and the PDF is PWYW, so there's really no excuse! It really is worth a buck or two for the PDF, though, so consider chipping in some beer money for them.

If that isn't enough for you, this is a zine that goes to 11. Specifically it goes [...]

Offhanded guess becomes true!

I think we can summarise this session with "wow".

So, in the crowd, we saw this weird dude - who turned out was a Sunaj called Marvin. A Sunaj is some kind of Splugorth minion. He offered to give Booker something that will help him/us in the fight to come, and Booker managed to make the Sunaj agree to help out with the Lion situation.

Lion was brought forth, shed his disguise and was - gasp say it ain't so - a Rakshasa. Surprise! (Not really.) Fighting broke out. Booker emptied his guns into Lion's chest and Gorbash then grabbed hold of Lion, who turned into mist form beacuse he could. Dragonbreath singed him slightly, we think. At any rate, the Rakshasa disappeared and we had helped save the East Side Boys gang.

Their leader, Maria, having had the Cyber-Knight as a full body shield in [...]

Another RAM upgrade done (a bit messily)

The number of visitors keeps growing so we’ve made another RAM update (yay, more expenses). The results from searching and listing functionalities were again starting to conk out during peak hours, but that should be fixed for a good while.

The upgrade induced some problems for about a day, with search results showing up without their title – but the search index was fully repopulated some hours ago. Old server is old (and not officially supported any more), though we’re still hoping to redo the site using more modern tech.

More uses for those pesky Loom Bands?

If you've got a child aged between 10 and 15 you will have probably been unable to avoid the current craze of "Loom Bands".  These tiny multicoloured rubber bands are intended to be woven together, in a form of phsychedelic macrame, to make friendship bracelets and other strap like objects.

But they have a far more useful use...  as wound markers for your tabletop miniature games!!

Loom Bands make great wound markersThey're stupidly cheap (1000 for about 3), you can find them just about everywhere at the moment and come in an astonishing array of colours.  [...]

Campaign Chunk -- The Vaults of Dunfur

Dunfur is a small estate. Nothing special about it when compared to other nearby locations. It’s owning family , the Dunfers, have lived there for almost 120 years and although some of the outlying lands have been sold for various reason, the core are has always remained in the family.

One family tradition is that any family who have died and their body can be recovered safely is interred in the family vault. The vault is very large and goes under the mansion that sits in the center of the estate. A death some 20 years ago which opened the vault [...]

Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition - Core Book (video)

My review of the core book for the 2nd Edition of Advance Fighting Fantasy.

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice


I was reading Gavin Norman’s post on spell research and did not manage to leave a comment. That’s what I hate about blogs these days. Too often, leaving a comments has become too complicated. So now I’m posting it here. I wanted to offer an idea for spell research (which doesn’t happen in my campaign) that works like my chase rule. It’s a 2d6 test with a table of drawbacks. For example:

Research: If you're nearly done, roll 2d6. On a 2, it explodes, destroying much of your glass wares (500 gp) and setting back your research. On a 3--6, you are suffering delays. You need another week. On a 7--9, choose two points from the list. On a 10--11 choose one point. One a 12, you succeeded, no problem.

  • you need a specimen of a magical creature; choose one of aboleth, barnacle man, chimera, displacer beast, ettercap, unicorn
  • the intended range is drastically reduced; pick one lower than what you hoped for: 60 feet, 20 feet, touch, self
  • the spell’s deadly energy is spread out; double the radius and deal one third of the damage, deal one die of damage per round, it goes off in 1d4 rounds instead of right now
  • the effect is partial; invisibility only works for you but not the things you are wearing, flying only works in the absence of wind, opened doors are broken
  • the effect is flashy when it was intended to be subtle; the detection of lies work because angry ghosts appear to accuse the liars, invisibility works but you you give off a pungent cinnamon fume, the transformation works but you always end up covered in blood as you are turned inside out for a second
  • the powerful spell is tainted by demonic powers; every time you cast it, abyssal side effects happen

The list of [...]

Symbaroum: A Swedish Roleplaying Game

Jrnringen. Alter Schwede, was geht denn hier ab? Die Franzosen (In Nomine Satanis, Shadows of Esteren) machen tolle Rollenspiele, die Schweden (Kult, Mutant Chronicles) knnen es scheinbar auch. Jetzt gibt es dort das Fantasy-Fantasyrollenspiel Symbaroum zu bewundern.

Symbaroum (Image: Jrnringen)

Die Sache hat natrlich einen Haken. Schwedisch beherrschen wohl die Allerwenigsten. Doch wer nach dieser Augenweide keine Lust hat herauszufinden, worum es geht? Der hat vermutlich entweder Tomaten oder Aventurien und Lorakis auf den Augen.

Auch das Layout wirkt aufgerumt und ansehnlich.

Symbaroum (Image: Jrnringen)

Aber worum geht es eigentlich?

“The game is named after the ancient, now dead civilization of Symbaroum, and takes place [...]

Demon: Lore of Ghosts

Speak With The DeadYou may speak and see any wraiths currently in twilight within the local area for the next hour so long as you could see them with your naked eye if they had materialised.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Occult + Ghosts (- Resolve for high torment).
High Torment: You can force the wraith to truthfully answer questions equal to successes.

Summon the DeadYou can call either a single named wraith (must be their real name) who are haunting a space within a mile of you OR you can summon all local wraiths within 100 feet x Faith of you.  [...]
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