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An old friend

I drew this sometime in the mid-90's.Today, I am going to talk about someone who is near and dear to me. And in so doing, I am going to do that thing that all D&D geeks do, but that we all hate when others do it. I'm going to talk about my favorite character. (If you're not interested, get out now. I will completely understand.)
In the beginning...
Sometime around 1985-86, my friend, his sister, and I decided to start a D&D campaign using the Expert Set. In looking back, I had thought that the Expert rules had introduced the [...]



No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
     In Web: 160' (120')
     In Shadow: 120' (90')
Armor Class: 6/13
Hit Dice: 5+
Attacks: 1d2 Stabbing-Claws+Bite
Damage: 1d6 per claw
       3d4+Poison (Bite)
Save: T5
Morale: 8
     (11 if Handler is present)

Special: Varn-Spiders can climb shadows as though they were webs at slightly decreased speed. 

Electrical/Galvanic attacks heal damage similar to Flesh Golems.

Upon reaching zero hit-points Varn-Spiders rise as undead husks (equal to zombies) within 1d4 hours, unless completely dismembered.

If destroyed [...]

Turlock's Challenge

His fear wasn't just his life or Turlock would have visited the Vial and Flask well before the "Jacket Party".  The risk wasn't just the curse or even discovery and exposure.  No the greatest risk was being returned to the Jailer's waters where he would awaken again in the deepest ocean trenches, stuck, not swimming, the slow torture of time.  He would be forced to wait until the new form was freed from the greater depths and he could once again escape, or he would experience his new form perish, only to begin the nightmare anew.  Turlock knew that if he didn't attempt to sway these surface folk they would soon discover why the city they called Stormhaven had been abandoned.   Turlock entered, offering a silent prayer to Dakuwaqa to keep his curse from ruining both his and their chances. 

Thought of the Day -- Canonicity in Gaming

My general approach to handling “canon” when it comes to using fictional settings in an RPG generally follows the “World War II Doctrine”: Gaming in an established, fictional setting is no different than playing a game that’s set during World War II.

With that being said, there’s a broad spectrum of ways in which you can set a game in World War II at the gaming table:

A) The events of World War II as they happened historically can’t be changed, but primarily exist as a backdrop. You’ll hear about the events of the war, but you’ll never actually meet Hitler or [...]

Zarono's Sorcerer of Torth

I'm privileged to know many creative individuals.  Working with and alongside great artists is definitely a perk of the job.

I was especially pleased to see Zarono incorporate my likeness into a piece for Revelry in Torth.  Here's a teaser from the adventure coming out this winter...

Akzath Ithraed was one of the original seven sorcerers who bathed Torth in nuclear fire.  He sleeps the fitful slumber that is a sorcerer's death, entombed but not forgotten.


Review -- Halloween Horrors

Halloween Horrorsprovides six supernatural foes suitable for modern superhero games, though they could easily be adjusted to find modern horror games as well. A good source of inspiration for horror-based adventures, nothing too deep here but the horrors are easy to use and should spark an adventure when you need one.

Halloween Horrors is a selection of six horror enemies for the Supers! RPG. Each monster entry is framed by an entry from the journal of Xavier Stone, Occultist, and his planned confrontation with each creature which is a good conceit (and Xavier gets statted out in the back).

Each horror gets [...]

New Magic Item -- Ghost-Maker

“This town looks familiar . . .” the old warrior looked about suspiciously.

“It has changed hands recently,” the squire said, “my Lord took it in glorious battle. That is why it is called Karlsburg now, after Sir Karl who lead the final assault.”

“What was it called before?” the warrior’s hand dropped to the hilt of the worn sword.

“Does it matter? I think it was Ostbridge.”

“No, not Ostbridge,” wailed the old warrior in terror and took off running.

The warrior was never seen again, but the sword was found in a circle of blood at the edge of town, near to where [...]

Superhero RPG Appendix N Challenge

So, Barking Alien has challenged us Superhero RPG GMs to:

[L]istbetween 5 and 10Superhero comic books, and5 to 10 Superhero live action or animated shows or films, that typify your style of Superhero RPG campaign.

Minimum is 5. Maximum is 10. This means you have to really think about the ones thatbest embody the type of Supers gaming you prefer. Who’s up for the challenge?

So, let me give it a shot.


Astro City, Busiak’s love of comics and appreciation of the craziness of the genre is evident across this entire series. Very inspirational.

The Doom Patrol, especially Grant Morrison’s run, I love the hardluck [...]

Delving Deeper Week, Day Six: The Actual Review of the Delving Deeper Rules Compendium

A few weeks ago (well, maybe a month by now), +Simon Bull asked if I would review Immersive Ink's new Delving Deeper Rules Compendium. He would even provide me with review copies. Before I agreed, I let him know that, despite all of that stuff, I wanted my review to be thorough and that it would be based on the actual content of the book, not my preexisting predisposition in favor of the Delving Deeper rule set. Simon said he would expect any less and we got to chatting, with the end result being what you've read so far from Delving Deeper [...]

Sean K Reynolds' Five Moons RPG passes Kickstarter goal

Veteran RPG designer Sean K Reynold’s latest project, Five Moon RPGs, has passed the $25,000 target on Kickstarter with a week still to go.

[Back this Campaign]

Backers at just the $7 mark get access to the PDF Player Bundle and those at the $14 mark get the Corebook PDF. The print edition of the Player’s Guide opens at $25.

Reynolds has worked for both Wizards of the Coast and Paizo. He knows the scene. The Five Moons RPG promises to be easy to learn and fun to learn, have less dependance on gear and balance between the classes.

The Five Moons Corebook is [...]

GM Tips - 5 Tips for Investigative Scenarios (video)

5 Tips for Investigative Scenarios

The Abominable Dr. Phibes- How Not to Use a Pattern

Another campy movie. Sometimes one has to ask himself (or herself) why camp goes so well with the horror genre. But this is a topic for another day (and maybe even for another blog). The Abominable Dr. Phibes is campy enough for its characters to remark about the stupidity of the characters' names. But, unlike with other works of film and television, here it doesn't help the movie to look any better, too bad for this movie...To put it shortly, the movie chronicles the revenge that a famous and now supposed to be dead organist on a series of surgeons [...]

Weird Wednesday (Macabre Manses): Fomalhaut the Nebulous

Once the PCs have entered the Macabre Manse they automatically begin to feel uneasy amongst their surroundings. Peering outside the mansion confirms their suspicions that something is awry, but curiosity here is likely to get someone killed. The home plane of Fomalhaut is encompassed only by his chaotic form---solid ground does not exist within the […]

The post Weird Wednesday (Macabre Manses): Fomalhaut the Nebulous appeared first on Adventureaweek.com.

Gategully Episode 45

Unboxing Video: Mercs Conflict

My brother’s brand new dice building game, Mercs Conflict, is going to be released soon! We decided to sit down and do an unboxing so you can see just what’s inside the box! Keep an eye open. I’ll be doing a review soon, with a giveaway of the game!

Review -- Halloween Horrors

Halloween Horrorsprovides six supernatural foes suitable for modern superhero games, though they could easily be adjusted to find modern horror games as well. A good source of inspiration for horror-based adventures, nothing too deep here but the horrors are easy to use and should spark an adventure when you need one.

Halloween Horrors is a selection of six horror enemies for the Supers! RPG. Each monster entry is framed by an entry from the journal of Xavier Stone, Occultist, and his planned confrontation with each creature which is a good conceit (and Xavier gets statted out in the back).

Each horror gets [...]


When I first started playing games like Dungeons and Dragons the places we explored were rather static. Monsters tended to linger in specific rooms, NPCs would wait around all day in their studies or bedchambers just waiting for a PC or two to show up. Of course we didn't really notice this at all at the time. I first became aware of the issue of the static NPC when I read the module Feast of Goblyns, which advocated treating NPCs as living characters who move of their own volition and can adapt to events as the adventure unfolds. This idea [...]

Trick-or-Treat: The Ghoul

Whelp, The Pirate has come and gone, but The Ghoul is hot on her heels in our Trick-or-Treat sale!

It is largely based on the ghoul from Arabic mythology, with a dash of Dungeons & Dragons and Left 4 Dead (namely the hunter and boomer special infected): you can assume the appearance of someone that you kill, transform into a scavenging animal, deal bonus damage to living creatures (lots of bonus damage), slink away into the darkness, notice things hiding, and more.

All told there are twenty-three advanced moves to choose from.

It's main shtick are the Hunger and Frenzy [...]

Art -- The Leaf

10 Quick Horror Hooks

Happy Halloween

I figured it’s been a long time since I’ve wrote anything here just for fun, and since Halloween is my favorite time of year I figured I’d lay down some quick hooks for your seasonal games. Whether you’re planning a one-shot or going to weave some horror into your pre-existing campaign, please enjoy rolling a d10 on the following table for some inspiration!

d10 Horror Plot Hooks
  1. A child in a nearby settlementis said to be possessed, upon investigation it becomes apparent that everyonebutthe child has been overtaken.
  2. The sentriesof a nearby estate have become sentient and have begun murdering and experimenting [...]

Whispers from the Abyss, H.P. Lovecraft inspired collection

On the subway, during lunch, or even under the fluorescent glow of your cubical there is no escape! Now your slow descent into madness can follow you through the day, as well as the night.

The WHISPERS FROM THE ABYSS ANTHOLOGY is the first ever H.P. Lovecraft inspired collection created specifically for readers on the go.

All 33 spine-chilling tales are concentrated bites of terror which include works by Greg Stolze (Delta Green), Nick Mamatas (Shotguns v. Cthulhu), Tim Pratt (Marla Mason), Dennis Detwiller (Delta Green), Greg Van Eekhout (The Boy at the End of the World), A.C. Wise (Future Lovecraft), David [...]

Dry Wipe Notebook

So there were a few things I was looking for when at Gen Con that I didn't buy largely because I actually didn't find precisely what I wanted. Amongst that list was something I only realised I wanted after playing in the Atomic Robo. Mike was using what is called a WipeBook - essentially it's a dry-erasable pad. So after asking Mike where he got it from I looked for it at Gen Con but it wasn't

Hating on Lizards

Fast Paraguayan Fun Fact: All over Asuncion, there are these little yellow lizards that are all about getting into your home and scaring the beJesus out of you in the middle of the night by showing up on walls and counters and such. Some are tiny...barely over an inch...though I've seen some as long as eight or nine inches (these you bat with brooms). They're a damn plague is what they are; not as bad as the cucarachas, but...ANYway, the funny thing is, they're not native to the country, or even to the continent. Some years ago, a person brought [...]

d20 Rifts - Combat notes and Grenade rules

For combat, 99% of the rules are straight out of Spycraft. I had a couple of notes. But one of the big chunks is a house rule I developed for grenades. In SC, grenades are basically "check if you hit, affect a blast radius". I thought that was boring, and never fit the cinematic tension of grenades.

Read more


From Lynn Carter's The Warrior of World's End

"His sizzling tubular  blade flew past her ward to strike at her head.  Even in the last extremity of effort she glided to one side, avoiding the full force of the stroke.  But the energy sword left her a glancing blow on the temple.
     The numbing electric shock wrung the strength from her. Stunned and reeling, she let her longsword fall from nerveless fingers.  She crumpled to her knees, fighting against the impalpable darkness that surged up to drown her consciousness.  Then a sword point struck her unguarded brow. [...]

It's Time To Be Deep In Thought

Yes, I know I haven’t thrown anything up on the old blog. But it’s getting close to that time of year when I start doing [...]

RPG TV: Panels from VirtuaCon

VirtuaCon had an amazing array of panels this year. I only ran one, but I participated in four others. The inexhaustible Rich Rogers moderated a crazy number of them. If you're not following him on YouTube or the Indie+ Network he's part of, you ought to be. I've put my five panels first in the order below, but I also offer descriptions and links to the others from the convention. We had dynamite presentations across a wide range of gaming topics. 

Amber/Lords of Gossamer & Shadow GM Jam: Play on Target for VirtuaCon
Only two of the PLOT team could make [...]


Index: Six Things

A Series of 1d6 Encounters in Wermspittle with...

BearsBiting DollsGolemic ChassisLionsOval PaintingsPillows
Shunned HousesSkullsThings From the Black ZonesTigersTraps (I)

1d10 Random Haunted Post Apocalyptic Fallout Shelters Location Table For Your Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

Out in the deep wastelands there ancient bolt holes that are uncovered by wind, rain, and time. Places where the horrors of the past still linger and call out from beyond the grave to the post apocalyptic world. Here are a few of those locations that serve to haunt wastelands and some of the horrors that can be visited upon adventurers during their expeditions into the wastes. 
1d10 Random Haunted  Post Apocalyptic Fallout Shelters Location Table
  1. A three tiered bolt hole and vault that is now inhabited by a pack of 1d8 zombies. This horrid family of the ancient [...]

When the Wise Man Points at the Moon the Fool Looks at the Wise Man's Finger

  [Sorry for the light writing, but October is a busy month around my house with 3 birthdays in 2 weeks.]
  Over the weekend I was talking with my sons about gaming (ok, ok - that can describe every day) when the oldest, J., and I haf this exchange:
  J: "Didn't some of the high-level wizards in Greyhawk keep clones on their moon?"
  Me: "Yup"
  J: "How'd they get there?"
  Me: "How do you think?"
  J: "Well, maybe the air doesn't end between the surface and the moon, there. Or maybe they had something [...]

RPT#626:Making Undead Cool Again

In This Issue Making Undead Cool Again Show, Don’t Tell Making Undead Cool Again Earlier this month, Roleplaying Tips kicked off the RPG Blog Carnival with the article Making Undead Cool Again. Featured in both the Roleplaying Tips Newsletter on October 6th, you can find the article here. Remember that if you want to get […]

The post RPT#626:Making Undead Cool Again appeared first on Roleplaying Tips.

OSR: Does the OSR philosophy stifle innovation?

Disclaimer: This is not a "bash the OSR" article, but a truly curious query about OSR systems.
I was having a Blogger / G+ conversation a few weeks back with some people about the OSR and the tangent of "innovation" in RPGs came up. This lead me to think:
Does the old school philosophy stifle innovation in RPGs? (specifically in OSR rule sets)
I ask this because in the recent articles around the net attempting to define the OSR, a few common themes came out.
  • It's about rulings, not rules.
  • Role-playing is encouraged by emergent play, not explicit game mechanics.
  • The mechanics are defined to follow [...]

Daily Cosplay


Before the forests of the Ethvold grew in the Valley of Kayomar, Amenut settled in those lands. He lived in the Mistbane river, a servant of Tefnut. It was here that Heth found him. A creature of careful thought, Heth came to Amenut without form. He settled upon a rock and watched Amenut, and the Frog God rose and spoke to him and they were ever after companions. So it was that Heth, a servant of Toth, came to dwell in Aihrde. In later ages he took up the duty of guiding the dead upon the Arc of Time, of [...]

Midnights Dreary


More Than Set Dressing: Framing the Story

I may have mentioned that my first D&D campaign was somewhat over ambitious. So was my second, actually. It took me quite a few months as a GM to realize that epic scale doesn’t necessarily equal a good story. Whether a campaign plot or a character background, scale sets the context of the story.

In stark contrast to my usual personality, I actually began life as a GM as a chronic over-prepper. I wanted a huge sandbox with lots of plots and story explanations for the events my pcs would encounter. My second game of D&D actually saw me map an [...]

Quick Poll - Halloween Incoming!

First I would like to say that I really, really wish that Google +'s new poll feature would be integrated into blogger. However, there is no use to lament what is not so I have instead created a survey VIA Google Forms!

Remember folks, Samhain is coming!

What should Genius Loci Do for Samhain?

Figue Forge Shaltari Starter for Dropzone Commader

In this Figure Forge Matt Puts together the Shaltari Starter. The Shaltari are a highly advanced and sophisticated race that understands the flow of time better than any other. This is one of the cooler looking factions.

It won’t be long before these are painted up and on the table.

Related articles
  • Box Breaking 128 Shaltari starter for Dropzone Commander

UFO Files

Colorado witnesses picked up some interesting footage in the early evening of October 14. It appears a small silver/white globe hovering in the sky until it slips behind a cloud. It apparently comes back several times and they get more footage of it. You can see all three videos here.

The witness felt it was more than one object, captured at different times. He filmed it all from his front porch.

The Other World

The Ends Makes it All Worth While

If your a toy collector, you might want to snatch up those Break Bad toys while you can. They are about to become a hot commodity I suspect, as Toys R Us is pulling them from the shelves. This after  a woman in Florida started a petition drive to force the store back to being kid friendly.

The figure in question is the title character, played by Bryan Cranston, is carrying a satchel of cash and a bag of blue crystals.

In protest to the petition protest Bryan Cranston announced on a tweet that he's so [...]

Dangerous skull chairs for gamers

We’ve seen some chairs for evil GMs. There’s this sinister shadow chair and this scorpion of doom chair. Where do players sit?

Why don’t the players perch themselves in the silent mouth of the dead.

Don’t see the chair? Here it is.

Good enough for your gaming group? Pop over to Etsy and Chics in Design dotcom to make your purchase.

Underdark Campaign Log #19

When we last left our heroes, they had just defeated the last of the enemies standing between them and the surface world: a drider, its xorn minions, and a strange ice golem. Cast: More of Jake's artworkhere. As we have grown in number and changed characters, this image is only 60% accurate at this point. Blue, Human Fighter (Jake) Rurik, Dwarf Barbarian (Stetson) Mercy, Half-Orc

Top 5 80s songs

The other day, I was talking to some of my kids about 80s songs (I was probably listening to Pandora on the stereo smart TV too.)  My kids always want to rank things.  I have a harder time actually doing it.  I like stuff.  I like some stuff even more.  I don't like other stuff.  But forced rankings?  Those are hard for me.  That said, we had a discussion about our top 5 80s songs, and I thought for the heckuvit, I'd post them here.

Given my predilections, it shouldn't be surprising that for the most part, I'm going [...]

Events & Play Wednesday - Lake Geneva Area Gaming, Late September through Late October

Good times were had by all gaming through this last month!  The Gaming Hoopla kicks off this blog post followed swiftly by a Lake Geneva Gameday, then the Northeast Wisconsin Gameapalooza, and right on through the third weekend which included Game Like a Viking Day, the Burlington Gameday, and the excellent Pizza Ranch Gathering.  Sprinkle in a pile of Tuesday and Friday Taco Bell and Culver's midday gaming lunches, and it's hard to imagine how anyone could do much more.  I've added some photos to Facebook here and Google Plus here but below are some highlights.

Stunts & Tactics

During Gen Con, I discussed the Dragon Age RPG a bit with my brother and Scott Rehm (The Angry DM). I had mentioned how I liked the stunt mechanics, but both of them had reasons why they didn’t like the stunt mechanics in AGE. They felt that the random post-action declaration nature of stunts made it hard to be tactical during a game. My brother and I had played Iron Kingdoms earlier in the weekend, and he said that he really preferred how that system used feat points to the stunt points of AGE. Since that conversation, I’ve been brainstorming [...]

Edo's Game Reviews: Lost Cities -- Episode 2

Lost Cities has become the classic in 2-player games that work great for couples! It's based on a simple card mechanic where players take turns playing one card at a time into various "expeditions". The trick is that cards may only be placed on a card of the same color, but a lower value. Very tight gameplay without too many frills, and surprisingly beautiful art! The math at the end of each round is a little heavy-handed, but it certainly doesn’t take a way from the fun. Play it before dinner and let us know what you think in the [...]

Armor Up ~ Upon the Wall

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