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1984 -- A MARVELous Year

For me 1984 was pretty much my breakout year where it was obvious I was a full-blown nerd. I had played D&D one time in 1982, collected a Moldvay Basic and Cook Expert boxed set by 1983, but had a hard time getting anybody to play. Inflicted a few sessions on my sisters and some distant cousins, but that was about it.

In 1983 I started seriously reading comics, starting with “The New Mutants #1″ and “Uncanny X-Men #167.” Gradually I started reading other Marvel Comics titles.

Then in 1984 TSR came out with this:

the Marvel Super Heroes roleplaying game. [...]

Everyone is John - microReview

Every week I delve into an indie game and report back with musings about what I found. Today I look into a small story game from 2002 about a person who hears voices in their head: 
Everyone is John Free pdf, by Michael B. Sullivan

I kept hearing about (pun, not intended) Everyone is John around the internets for quite some time, but I didn't have the chance to check it out until last weekend. In this game, both the players AND the GM are John - an insane man from Minneapolis, who hears voices in his head. Players take the role of those voices [...]

Catacombs of Alam [P]

Catacombs Area P

Area P
  1. This chamber is coated in dust from a sagging ceiling full of cracks. One corridor has a small chasm that falls dozens of feet below, to places unknown. Dusty and tattered tapestries hang on the walls, depicting battles of ancient lore. Statues of the deities of merciful death, and honour and justice sit in the corners, and alcoves hold five caskets that hold ashes. A pair of stone sarcophagi hold skeletons that are brittle and yellowed with age, and a low platform has two depressions withs carvings on the front of soldiers kneeling in prayer. Inside [...]

B/X Spell Roundup: 3rd level magic-user spells, part 2

Four more superbly useful magic-user spells - and not a direct damage spell among them.

5. Haste:  Super speed is often a useful ability, and in B/X, it lacks the penalty levied against it in AD&D (specifically, rapid aging) so you can use it with impunity as often as you're able to cast it.  The doubled movement rate is nice, but of course the main attraction is doubling the rate of attacks.  It affects up to 24 creatures (implying that the caster can choose which ones) within a 60' diameter circle, and at up to 240' range.  (What's the [...]

The Barbarians: Fantasy Film Review

What if you took Conan the Barbarian, doubled the bodybuilders, threw in some cheesy comic relief, a gypsy clown caravan, arm wrestling, Michael Berryman, the largest uncircumcised penis dragon to ever grace the silver screen, and that obnoxious laugh from Revenge of the Nerds?  Well, you'd get The Barbarians.  Not a great film, but definitely entertaining.

I hadn't seen this since I was a youngster.  I fondly (in a weird way that just sticks in your memory and won't fade away) remember the belly button / ruby scene.  I suppose, as a 14 year old boy (albeit with access [...]

Atomic Robo RPG by Evil Hat

Despite a dickish Twitter exchange with one of the creators, I am still a firmAtomic Robo fan and have Comixology on the iPad set to let me know every time a new comic drops. So i was very happy to hear an RPG of the comic was coming, and despite the rules being FATE, I signed the group up for playtesting. We didn’t get to do as much as I hoped, thanks to folks leaving New Mexico or finding gainful employment that prevented them from playing, but it looks like the game is finally here.

You can now preorderAtomic Robo through [...]

In my life, Role playing games were spared from near extinction.

OR: How my hobby was saved.OR: Dr. Peabody and How I  learned to Relax and Love the internet.
This is my 100th blog post!(FIRE-WORKS-&-METAL!)

Roll for ... something...
I'm not sure if this is a mile stone or simply a distance marker, but in the light of my well known inability to focus on any one thing for more than a few days, one hundred posts is significant.
We make trade-offs every day. One way or another we balance our time between family, work, hobbies, sleep, and any number of other things.
Online gaming has saved my RPG [...]

Weird Wednesday: Unholy Mass

Unholy Mass CR 6 XP 2,400 CE haunt (30 ft. radius) Caster Level 6th NoticePerception DC 20 (to hear chanting on the wind) hp 6;Trigger proximity;Reset 1 day Effect: When this haunt is triggered, ghostly figures appear in the haunt's area---an evil cleric is conducting a sermon for the vile god of undeath, […]

The post Weird Wednesday: Unholy Mass appeared first on Adventure-A-Week.

Thoughts on the Old James Bond RPG

I was having a look over the retro-cloneClassified which repackages the oldJames Bond: 007RPG very faithfully. It’s no secret I’ve been working on and off on a similar project for a few years — slowed and distracted by professional concerns and child care duties. As writing carried on two years ago, I realized that a redesign of a few of the rules were needed. That expanded into tearing the system apart and putting it back together. Here are a few of the points that I’ve been working from:

1) Less freakin’ math! Let’s face it –James Bond: 007(hereafter JB:007) is a [...]

The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Chapter VI -- Rudolph Erich Raspe

The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen"comes to us courtesy ofProject Gutenbergwhere many free stories may be had and used. We present the third chapter in the book as written by Rudolph Erich Raspe. We will present subsequent chapters over the next few weeks.

As a teller of great truths the Baron often found himself in the company of those who might not consider his every word to be a statement of pure fact with no embelishment whatsoever. Fortunately, such people are few and far between, though it often falls to the Baron himself to admonish those who not only listen to [...]

potelbat Ep. 41 "Poorly Grounded"

New places! New faces! Every once in a while you get the urge to go adventuring in places you’ve never been before.

Like, the bottom of the sea. Or in Outer Space.

Somewhere where the rules you know and love just don’t quite apply like they used to. Not only that, there are a whole bunch more little fiddly rules that you never used to have to pay attention to.

Happily, we’re prepared to offer some really clunky advice about how to handle it all.

And then there is the listener mail. One in which the listener clearly has no idea what he is [...]

Haste! WoD MMO Cancelled, Ryan Dancey talks OGL, and Physical Props.

|Episode 110|


Don’t forget that the d20 Monkey contest is going on and that you’ve still got a little bit of time left to submit to our April's fool contest! Also, be sure to check out part 2 of our interview with Rob Schwalb.

Also – we’re hiring a Background Image Designer!

Lastly, check out adventureaweek.com, of which our good friend Justin Mason is a part of. A continual source of adventures for your D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder game. $10/mo to subscribe to ongoing content creation. Really cool stuff!

Topics World of Darkness MMO Cancelled

It bums us out to have to [...]

Gaming Rundown Q1 (and other Updates)

Note: The latest History of Superhero RPGs list will be up next week. I like to post those on the week opposite our new Play on Targetepisodes. I hope to have some additional news and incentives regarding my gaming history lists next week as well.
FIRST QUARTER CAMPAIGN UPDATESThought I'd give a quick rundown of play and campaign activity for the first quarter of 2014 (to establish my gamer bona-fides???). I want to get a better sense of what we actually get done in three months. All of the f2f games play out bi-weekly; the online games play out [...]

F#@& Your Self-Help Advice: On Motivation and Success

Today we take a look at something that the vast majority of humanity struggles with: getting motivated! Our reader writes:

Hey DM,

I've been having some issues lately. I am creatively dead at the moment. I'm trying to get two separate D&D games going, neither of which seem like they'll happen. I haven't done any updates on my blog in a long while. I don't have the time or (creative) energy to make anything. Or maybe I'm just lazy. I dunno. Thoughts?

As always I have numerous thoughts, none of which involve telling you what a lazy waste of space you are, or [...]

Encounter With The Black Eyed Children - Black Eyed Kids For Mutant Future And Your Old School Post Apocalypse Campaigns

These entities are usually encountered out in the wastelands near abandon ruins  but they may be encountered anywhere. There have been reports of these beings encountered in large urban areas and communities.The Black Eyed Children
 will ask adventurers for help or ask for permission to come into a vehicle, tent, or other dwelling. After 1d4 rounds the victim may sense a 'wrongness' about the BECs and begin to feel uneasy or an almost supernatural dread. A flight or fight instinct in the victim may kick in this will the victims to escape unharmed.  These horrors will vanish 1d4 rounds later never [...]

Video Unboxing Dr. Hrubec from Czech Board Games

I always wanted to be a doctor when I was growing up. The stains of blood on the scrubs as the doctors leave theatre with a razor sharp scalpel in their hands; the screams of people longing for healing and help; the pulling of rotting teeth from bleeding gums; setting bones and dislocated joints... So [...]

The post Video Unboxing Dr. Hrubec from Czech Board Games appeared first on G*M*S Magazine.

Publishing Struggles Sometimes Works Outs for the Better

Yesterday, I wrote about my struggles with getting approval from RPGNow, but that may be a good thing in the end.  While I am still struggling to find out what's wrong with my file, I don't understand the message they sent, and there have been a few very cool OSRians like +Joseph Bloch, +Rob Conley and +Pete Spahn have been helpful.

While the process is frustrating, RPGNow has always been fantastic to deal with and I've shot an email to Chuck, who apparently is the gatekeeper.

While I was frustrated, after looking it over...again...I found more small things [...]

T -- The Other Guy Who Played Uriel Septim

…was way better than Patrick Stewart. Too bad no one has any idea who he is.

Also, Ocato looks pretty badass there, too.

1E World Map Style Icons Released

1e World Icons Example. Click to enlarge.

If you like Hexographer’s easy to use interface, but prefer maps in the 1E World of Greyhawk boxed set style, we’ve just released a new icon set that fills this niche perfectly. This page has more details including samples, a how-to video, and how to order.

Hexographer already has built in several icons to create maps in the 1E World of Greyhawk map style, and there is a tutorial that shows how to use Hexographer to create these maps. But this icon set gives you more options: more tree clusters, mountain ranges, etc. Plus there [...]

Fundraising Exceeds Our Wildest Dreams... And The Starting Line Is In Sight!

The much-talked about sponsored walk is almost upon us. The weather forecast is currently predicting rain for Sunday, but I certainly won't let that dampen my spirits. After a bit of a pause, the fundraising has taken off again thanks largely to Rachel's great post (giving her take on my medical condition), which then led top author Philip Reeve to write a brilliant piece on his blog about

Sofia Jeanne, Born April 21st, 2014

Another healthy, happy (sometimes grumpy) baby in the world. This didn't take nearly as long to birth as my son (under seven hours compared to 40+) and thank goodness...leaves a lot of energy for giving attention to the first child.
Well, "a lot" may be stretching it. Hopefully "enough."
Anyway, I'm a tad busy at the moment (making breakfasts and whatnot); hope everyone has a good week. Oh...and happy Easter (belatedly).: )

Interview with David Martin

Black Gate has an interview with artist with David Martin.

Long time readers here will know I am big fan of his work, but in particular the witch cover to Dragon #114.

Pop on over and have a read.

Wellstone City Wednesday -- Running the Good Guys

Wellstone City is set up to run the criminals. It’s a dirty, ugly place that is full of dirty, corrupt people. It is written from the stand point of assuming that the PCs are cons and criminals that are just as bad as the other people they are fighting against. Sometimes they’re worse.

But that’s not for everyone. Sometimes you want to run the knights in shining armor; those that use the same tools as the criminals but use them to make the city a better place. There are many examples of this in television and literature; from Sam Slade the [...]

Happy St. George's Day!

Sir, you just killed my pet dragon, Cedric!
And with it, a taxonomy of dragons, via the British Library.

From their blog:

"Dragons are near-ubiquitious in medieval manuscripts.  They take pride of place in bestiaries and herbals, books of history and legend, and Apocalypse texts, to name a few.  They serve as symbols, heraldic devices, and even as 'just' decoration, and their physical characteristics can vary widely. Cinematic and literary depictions of dragons today are fairly consistent; they are almost always shown as reptilian, winged, fire-breathing creatures (in a word, Smaug).  But this was by no means a [...]

Been Busy

I apologize to my readers for the sudden slow flow of updates.  I've just been juggling a lot of things and my day job hasn't been making things easier (but don't get me wrong, the job is AWESOME!)  In a few days, my birthday is coming up too, which kinda has gotten me overly stressed out over so many other things.

But life is good, gaming is great, and to be honest, I still am scared to release my own game this year.  But with all the support, kind words, and enthusiasm my partner and our many friends continue [...]

Introduction to Daydreaming

Daydreaming is a new, occasional column where I get to lament that there are too many games and not enough time. It's to give me the opportunity to discuss games that I love, but will probably never get a chance to run or play. Sometimes it's a matter of the demands of life and commitments to the campaigns I'm already in that keep me from getting around to it. Sometimes it's that I love the game, but I can't find enough other people who share that passion to form a group. So these games sit on my shelf, on in [...]

Introduction to Daydreaming

Daydreaming is a new, occasional column where I get to lament that there are too many games and not enough time. It's to give me the opportunity to discuss games that I love, but will probably never get a chance to run or play. Sometimes it's a matter of the demands of life and commitments to the campaigns I'm already in that keep me from getting around to it. Sometimes it's that I love the game, but I can't find enough other people who share that passion to form a group. So these games sit on my shelf, on in [...]

[AFHOTWTTGS] Playtest Review: Iron Kingdoms Role Playing Game

Playtest Review: Iron Kingdoms Role Playing GameIn theory, I should hate the IKRPG.
No, really. It's a three-hundred-page rulebook with great slabs of abilities, skills, spells and complicated item construction systems; it starts with a Fantasy Humanities Textbook and doesn't hit the gameables until a third of the way in; and, while it insists that it can be played without miniatures, it reads like such a straight upgrade of Warmachine/Hordes into a single-figure action-RPG that you'd probably be a bit mad to try it.
Then again, in theory, I should love the IKRPG.
I play Warmachine and Hordes - have [...]

Maintaining Momentum

It's been a rough few weeks.  The antics of GW has actually presented a lull in enthusiasm, and while we've worked to reach a solution that's amicable with everyone attendance at these meetings has dropped dramatically.  The way we perceive GW has changed fundamentally - we have always been seen the Design Studio and tournament organizers as a benevolent authority over gamers, now we see them as the actual dearth of our game club.

However, all that's behind us now.  It's all ahead full at the Wargate - and a new community revolution is in progress.  Nothing as [...]

Gygax Magazine #1 Review

Available at RPGNow.com

From the moment I opened up the PDF on my laptop I knew Gygax, a quarterly adventure roleplaying aid, was going to tap into everything that has made gaming great since the beginning. The cover was "classic" in every way and it reminded me of the many old Dragon magazines I have flipped through over the years. I immediately felt comfortable like I was meeting up with an old friend, one I had not seen in quite some time and someone I was very fond of. The cover art titled "Still Unlucky" by Daniel Horne depicts two [...]

In praise of aborted projects

Thisblog has featured a succession of various rule sets and enterprises. Hexagram, Gravity Sinister(the “JRPG Basic” rules), andWonder & Wickedness.There have also been others which I have not talked about publicly. Many of these will likely never see publication. Wonder & Wickedness is a 95% done thing with some commissioned art and publication arrangements, and though somedetails have not been finalized, baring unforeseen calamity, it will certainly be finished and released. I will have more to say about that in the future. Compiled house rules for my OD&D Vaults of Pahvelorn setting will definitely be a free PDF download at [...]

World Building Wednesday-The Dark House

On a foothill of Mount Call just South of Tripik there is a massive mansion that overlooks the city. No one knows why the mansion was built without windows and drifters who try to move in all disappear. Even those who have gone to investigate the disappearances haven’t come back. The house is dark, even during the day.

Despite it’s size, the dark house is only crudely furnished. There are beds in many of the rooms, but half therooms contain strange gadgets that anyone with magical training would recognize as enchanting projects. Most of the others contain alchemy projects or mundane [...]

Daily Cosplay (Alice)

Review: The Spider-God's Bride and Other Tales of Sword & Sorcery

The Spider-God’s Bride and Other Tales of Sword and Sorcery

XP1: The Spider-God’s Bride and Other Tales of Sword & Sorcery by Morten Braten from Xoth.net has come up frequently during my search for material on how to run Sword & Sorcery style adventures and campaigns. People who mentioned it seem to generally regard it quite well, so I was willing to part with the 7 and give it a chance.

It’s a 200 page black and white pdf file that contains 10 adventurers plus a 33 page section of new character options for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition/Pathfinder. Even when I [...]

Sting has Nothing on This Guy

More than 100 years ago, a young German man named Richard Platz stuffed a message into a brown beer bottle, then tossed the bottle into the Baltic Sea during a nature hike.

Platz, the 20-year-old son of a baker, had no way of knowing that his message would survive two world wars, the Great Depression and the Cold War --- not to mention more than a century of brutal winters and ocean storms.

Last month, a German fisherman trolling the waters of the Baltic Sea fished Platz's bottle out of the water, [...]

Daily Punch 4-23-14 Nimble Shield feat for DnD Next

How about another feat for DnD Next?



Nimble Shield

You are a master of the shield and grace. Gain the following benefits:

  • The shield becomes a one handed, finesse weapon for you. Its base damage is 1d8 that does bludgeoning damage.
  • The bonus to your defense from a shield increase by +2 and your dexterity saving throw increases by +1




Why Your Body Rocks

Burgoyne's Overthrow at Saratoga

First published June, 1841 inIris, the original existed in the manuscript form in the files of George H. Moore, one ofIris’editors. It is a listing of the British army losses during the northern campaign which terminated at Saratoga, and, as will be noticed the results are in round numbers.


HERE followeth the direful fate
Of Burgoyne and his army great,
Who so proudly did display
The terrors of despotic sway.
His power, and pride, and many threats,
Have been brought low by fort’nate Gates,
To bend to the United States.

British prisoners by Convention, … … … … … … . 2442
Foreigners by Contra-vention, … [...]

[RPG] Creating A Character For Maelstrom Domesday...

Part of my "spring cleaning" drive at the moment is to also find the time to read a number of new(ish) RPGs I've acquired in recent months, but have just sat in the gamesroom gathering dust. I started with Maelstrom Domesday, which I got through a Kickstarter last year. It has definite Dark Age Cthulhu flavouring (this edition being set in 1086, although the original - one of the first

Campaign Design: Using Magna Cartas

In the book No Plot? No Problem!, the bible of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), author Chris Baty introduces a writing tool he refers to as a magna carta. It's a list, actually two lists, that you create detailing what you like and dislike about the sort of project you're working on. Using his example of a novel, you think about the sorts of things you enjoy reading, why you enjoy reading them, and the things you want to be sure to include in your own novel. You then create a second list of things that you dislike, which you [...]

Campaign Design: Using Magna Cartas

In the book No Plot? No Problem!, the bible of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), author Chris Baty introduces a writing tool he refers to as a magna carta. It's a list, actually two lists, that you create detailing what you like and dislike about the sort of project you're working on. Using his example of a novel, you think about the sorts of things you enjoy reading, why you enjoy reading them, and the things you want to be sure to include in your own novel. You then create a second list of things that you dislike, which you [...]

Daily Punch 5-22-14 Evil Spine Magic Item for DnD Next

How about a nice magic item for DnD Next?



Evil’s Spine

Rare magic weapon (staff)

This staff is made from a spine of a single creature. The end of the spine is topped with a human skull. It has been cleaned and bleached white. No visible factors hold the spine together except for sheer power. Increase the DC of all your spells cast by 2. Also, three times per day when you cast a necromancy spell, impose disadvantage on the saving throw for that spell or gain advantage on any check needed for that spell.




Adventure Hooks: Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Television

We game because it's a social interaction with friends. Many of us find our own stories better than what we'd find on a TV. However, as a dominant social medium for more than 60 years, we cannot deny that television has had a lasting effect on the way stories are told, and once or twice they've gotten it right and even told some awesome tales. We're going to look at TV tropes and how you can use them to draw your players into your plots.

Throughout April Dungeon's Master is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge [...]

The Audacity of Sound

I had a riotously good time making the audio clip for my first Alien Menace session

What audio clip, you ask? You didn't listen the first time? You missed out on Pyramid Magazine editor +Steven Marsh's inspired performance? +Antoni Ten Monrs totally owning the role of the Captain? And +Gerardo Tasistro and me as Jones the Tech and Yi, the videographer, each of whom gave our one or two lines before meeting electric flaming death at the hands of a now-deceased cyberdisc?

Well, shoot. You'd better go listen, then.

I wanted to do this, but was uncertain if I could pull it off. Luckily for me, my Google Fu is strong, and I came across the recommendation to use Audacity.

There may well be better sound editors out there, but this one was free, intuitive, allowed multitrack sound design, and the capture of sounds through your own system. I was able to, within scant hours:
Meld the sounds of an arc welder and the supersonic "zip" of an actual bullet to make my blaster sound effects
Insert, seamlessly, the sound of the hydraulic lift, which made an unmistakable sound of the cargo ramp on a ship going down
Overlay machinegun noises (the Captain's futile efforts to punch through 5d armor with a 3d submachine gun) with screams that interrupted said noises
Put in other partial effects like a few moments of footfalls, samples from a longer clip.
All in all, it took me maybe two hours to make a call for voice [...]


"Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting Dragons!"

I know others who have noted the lack of adventures that end with the locating and slaying of a dragon. In my own campaigns dragon encounters are always remembered. They are rare, but each encounter was unique and challenging. The dragons were played intelligently as the apex predators they are. The PCs many times had to make deals with the Dragons as they were unable to defeat them in combat. Dragons I feel should be epic and never a throw away encounter. It never mattered if it was just a faerie dragon [...]

In Defense of Dungeons & Dragons

 Last month, I wrote a post that gave a hint as to what I've been doing instead of roleplaying these days: I'm working on my burgeoning life as a personal development coach. It's something I've already been doing for most of my life. I've just decided to make it "official." And [...]

British Path posts 85,000 historical newsreels to YouTube

Last week, the newsreel producer and archive British Path announced the release of their entire collection of newsreels and historical film footage on YouTube. It's a monumental collection of historic moments, from the most important events of the century to the most absurd. You don't have to be a history buff to get some use from these clips -- there is sure to be something of interest to gamers of all types.

(full list of helicopter footage: http://britishpathe.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/the-history-of-the-helicopter-early-helicopter-footage/ )

Quick Note - Fantasy and Commission Barking!

Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up on two excellent gaming artist out there their prices/paetron campaigns!

First up is Mavfire (whose real name and/or google + I don't know). an excellent black and white artist that has been on the cover of & Magazine and produces some quality work that I'd love to put a use to some day.

Mavfire has recently posted his commission prices over at DA and they are pretty decent prices. I suggest going through his gallery, but my favorite is this and his many 3-D maps.

Next up is James Shields (who is [...]

Review: Frankenstein's Bodies

This game was a complete curveball that caught me off guard at the first time I had ever attended Conpulsion (which is this Saturday, don’t you know!). A random invite from two warm and friendly strangers with random body parts scattered around the table, which made me wonder if I was about to be used for some fiendish experiment that would leave me missing a kidney, to try out a game in prototype. Sounds harmless enough, right?Then it was mentioned that this game was inspired bythe world of Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein written by the superb Iain Lowson.

Well, you [...]

Hercules Official Trailer with Dwayne Johnson

I meant to post about this last month but Gary Con was keeping me busy and pics from the con were taking priority for blogging.  Anyway, the new Hercules movie looks like it could be a winner.  Enjoy!

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