Gyrphax is the largest dragon in my brother Robert’s campaign. He did this piece in high school, a few years before his current campaign started, or rather he started it in high school. It is pen and ink in the stipple style, that is, it is all dots.

He had the dragon and the slain warriors done quickly enough. But it took him a couple years to finish the rest. It is about 18 x 22 inches. He would be working on it and look up and blink his eyes wide, because after a while all he could see were dots.

This is a bad picture of a print I had on the wall in my home office. I wanted a picture before I had to move it. They are closing our small office with three employees and we will be working from home. I had to re-arrange my home office and move it from the wall where I had it. I now have it in a corner where it is more visible in my peripheral vision when I am at my desk.

My brother does not Facebook or Google Plus, so you won’t be able to reach him. He is very talented in many ways. If he ever finishes any of his stories, he will also do the book cover and any other art.

This image is his copyright, all rights reserved. I just wanted to share it here to show off his talent. A few days ago, I shared his maps using pictures of photocopies. If he wants me to take it down, I will.


READ AN RPG BOOK IN PUBLIC WEEK – 2015 – March 1 – 7

As I was working on my daily postings for the next few days, I realized that Read an RPG Book in Public Week starts Sunday.

The Escapist has not yet updated the dates for the three weeks throughout the year for 2015.

I am not sure how or when I will be able to read an RPG book in public. I have transitioned to working from home, since they are closing the local office. The village where I live does not have many good places to go, other than the library, so I’m not sure when I could get there.

Since this snuck up on me (Because I didn’t put a reminder on my calendar.), I don’t have a plan. I will think on this and try to figure out when I might do this. I am not a coffee drinker so going to a coffee shop to read is not my thing. Driving 15 or 20 miles just to read a book in public is a bit much. the local library is my best option in this weather.

Once it warms up, if it isn’t raining, I can do read in my hammock in the shade over lunch.

RIP Leonard Nimoy

I took a break and looked on my G+ feed and saw Benoist Poiré doing a Vulcan salute with a mention of a #lastsalute, I knew what it meant.

Below is what came to my mind, and my first few thoughts.

RIP Leonard Nimoy. I understood your struggles of being identified with Spock. The development of that character through all the TV series and movies mirrored a part of my life. My brothers even nicknamed me Spock for a while due to my own quiet and flat nature of external displays emotions in high school.

I never got to meet you, but I just had to say that I appreciate all your work.

You are more than Spock, you were a son, sibling, husband, father, and grandfather.

It is my hope that you knew, at least in part, what your role as Spock has meant to so many.

Kickstarter Update – Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coins PDF

Howard Taylor sent an email to update the status of the promised PDF on stories of Challenge Coins, the final piece of the Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter.

Greetings backers. Some of you have inquired about the status of the Challenge Coin PDF that we promised as part of this project. The PDF is long overdue, and for that we apologize. We were slammed with business and personal things in the past year. We allowed that to push the PDF to the back burner, but we have not forgotten it. I have collected all of the stories and done most of the layout work. It comes in at 30 pages and is full of challenge coin stories both touching and funny. We’ve formatted it as if all the writers were sitting in a bar swapping stories about challenge coins.

The work that remains is for Howard to write a foreword and to draw the illustrations he promised to include. We intend to have this work done in the next six weeks, or sooner. We’re gathering momentum for our next Kickstarter project and we can’t begin that in good conscience unless we have delivered this first.

Thank you very much for your patience. I know that for some of you this PDF was the primary reason you backed the project. We’re sorry we’ve taken so long to get it to you.

Howard has posted daily comics without fail for well over a decade, and completes everything he says he will. The coins shipped on time, it is only this document that was delayed. I was not worried about it because I got the coins. The PDF was a sort of afterthought, as I recall, but I could be mis-remembering. I look forward to receiving it and seeing the art and reading the backgrounds on challenge coins.

The idea of something like a challenge coin or an insignia for a group is interesting and see it applying to RPGs. In my Wednesday night AD&D game our characters came up with an insignia. I know other groups of players that have done this. Further updates as they are available….

Planning 2015 A To Z Blogging Challenge

On Saturday evening, February 21, I signed up for the A to Z Blogging Challenge and came up with a theme and a topic for all but Y and Z.

I downloaded all the graphics for each letter and wrote my theme reveal article and scheduled it for March 23, 2015 and signed up for the theme reveal list.

I also scheduled the posts for A through X so that all I have to do is write them and publish them, or wait for the schedule to publish them for me.

By the time I got done scheduling the titles for each day, I had the last two topics for Y and Z and had them scheduled.

I recommend scheduling each of the 26 days/letters, even if you don’t have a topic yet. That will speed up the actual writing if you already have a topic in the hopper.

If you prefer to save them as drafts instead of schedule them, that is OK, but you have one more step. Since it is not simply April 1-26 because Sundays are skipped, I prefer to schedule them. That way all I have to do it write the article and update it and it is already scheduled for the correct date. I set all of them to a time of 00:01, so that they all post at the same time each day.

Automation of your blog by using all the power at your disposal will save you a lot of time.

Of course, do what works for you, just don’t forget to schedule it or go in and change it from draft to published on the correct date.

When I wrote this, I had 32 scheduled posts, because I have a buffer. Last year, I had nearly all of my posts written before April, so all I had to do was wait for the schedule to do its job. I plan to do the same this year, with perhaps a final review before each one posts. Writing them in advance and working them over will make them more beneficial to me and others.

Posting Frequency

Now that I am past my busiest time of year at work*, my energy and enthusiasm for other things leaves brain power available to get creative. I also was busy wrapping up my hex for Tenkar’s Landing, and getting ready for Marmalade Dog 20.

I have been coming up with a lot of ideas and spreading them out to avoid having too many posts on the same day. It won’t be long until I hit post # 300! Wow! I started posting with great regularity in January, 2014 when I read that it was the 40th anniversary of D&D. March/April of 2014 was my 36th year of D&D. I started in 1978 with Holmes Blue Book Basic. So 2015 is my 37th year of gaming/RPGs.

I am now thinking about the 2015 April A to Z challenge, and think I will sign up again this year.

My thoughts are also percolating for a possible 2015 One Page Dungeon submission.

My posting frequency will vary based on my ideas and things I want to say about RPGs. Vacations, personal issues that may arise, and work commitments can all have an effect. My hope is to keep posting a few days in advance to build up a “buffer” of posts so that my missing a day is invisible to my readers.

In addition to daily or near daily articles, and other than the April 2014 A to Z Challenge, I will write about the games I play in and run, cons I attend, and ideas I have or comments & extrapolation on the ideas of others. I will also come up with tables and other game aids as the need or inspiration strikes.

The cons I plan to attend this year originally included Gary Con, but things have changed since last year, so I will have to put that off to 2016. I will definitely be at UCon 2015 in November. I am seriously considering Con On The Cob in October, since it is within a four hour drive. I will also try to attend any online cons, if those work into my schedule.

I have ideas for an adventure based on my hex in Tenkar’s Landing, so I look forward to fleshing that out.

I may also begin posting new areas of my campaign as I develop them, but those may wait until I actually have players reach them. So far, my usual players don’t follow my blog, but if I take the plunge and begin an online game, I will want to hold onto those for later.

I look forward to the rest of gaming in 2015.

Game on!!!

*(I support payroll and accounting software. This means that December and January are crazy busy with clients trying to wrap up end of year, print W-2’s and 1099’s, and deal with various state specific reports that have a deadline.)

Who Knew? – Dice Sets Arrive

Last week I ordered two sets of Who Knew? dice by Koplow Games, the black with white numbers [Aff link] and the red with white numbers [Aff link]. This is in time to game in the next session of +Roy Snyder’s DCC game.

I also ordered a d12 Body Parts die, officially known as a d12 28mm Critical Hits Location Body Hit Dice [Aff link]. Each right/left body part is not quite on the opposite side of the dice from each other, i.e. Right Arm/Left Arm. The locations are Right Arm, Left Arm, Head, Stomach, Left Leg, Right Leg, Right Hand, Left Hand, Chest, Full Body, Left Foot, and Right Foot. One can easily use a table with a d12, but this dice is the table! I don’t do critical hits in my game, but I am sure I can find a use for it. Some ideas: What part of a statue is the trigger for a trap, or to open a door, or release a treasure? What part is stung by a giant insect? What body part touched the mold/fungus/slime/acid/poison/undead? What body part has the king’s birthmark? I am sure there is probably some place that prints custom dice. One could easily get a set of dice printed with parts of a table for a roll all the dice table without needing a separate table.

The Koplow dice seem rounded, much like Chessex dice. The d30’s rolled like crazy, but not quite as bad as a d20 from back in 1978 that is so chipped it’s almost a sphere. Yes, I’m a Game Science fan.

The Koplow d3, d5 and d7 are actually doulbe the number of sides, just repeating after 1-3, 1-5 and 1-7. The d6’s are numbered 1-3 twice, the d5’s are actually d10’s numbered 1-5 twice, and the d7’s are really d14’s numbered 1-7 twice. There is no d14. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the d7 and d14 are the only dice that can’t be simulated with a combination of other standard RPG dice. So roll a control die with the d7 if you need a d14. I must have mis-read when I ordered, I thought there was a d14 in the package.

I like the black with white numbers. I would use the red ones on my mom’s birthday, since red was her favorite color. I already wear red on her birthday.

I read a review on another dice set a few days after I ordered this shipment from Amazon, so I have another package of dice coming in a few days, so look for a few words and pictures.

Every gamer likes dice pron, right?

Koplow Packages
Koplow Packages
Koplow Sets
Koplow Sets
d12 Body Parts
d12 Body Parts


Background Music

Way back in the day we made mix tapes of Science Fiction and Fantasy movies and TV shows themes. Usually the “benign” songs were at the front of the tape, and the more energetic would come on at a tense moment in the game, or when we were in a fight.

Battle of the Mutara Nebula from Wrath of Khan, the “planet eater” theme from Star Trek TOS (That same theme was used in many episodes, I am not sure what its correct name is.), Aliens, Star Wars, classical music such as Mars by Holst. I am not a fan of metal music, so a lot of other players I have read about online, feel that metal is the right kind of mood music. That is true for them, for me, my tastes lies in classical style music. As always, Rule (-1): “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.”

Recently I ran across Tabletop Audio, he also has a Google Plus page. He has free downloadable audio background sounds and music, that can also be played directly on his site. These would be great for an online game, if you had the bandwidth, or for an in-person game if you had a decent sound system. He also has a Patreon and a PayPal donate button. He also has something called Flattr, that I had never heard of, but is another way to make donations to content creators.

The way I keep buying new dice, books, and so forth, I am not able to add a donation at this time, but soon. I am going to be working from home soon, as they decided to close our office of three employees. Once I start seeing the savings in gasoline, I can afford a bit here and there for content creators I admire and more importantly, for whom I use their stuff.

Do Players Have To Read The Rules?

There was a discussion on the OSR G+ Community that got me to thinking.

In my campaign, AD&D, I have made the Player’s Handbook available, but the players don’t read it, except for spells. I don’t make the other manuals available.

They have a lot more fun with the surprise of some strange monster they can’t seem to kill, a troll, and being scared that zombie bites make you a zombie.

For my players, they just have fun exploring the world I created and piecing things together. They make much different decisions than someone who has memorized all the manuals.

Unlike back in the day when RPGs were new and we read everything that got into our hands, I don’t think the younger set like to sit and just read rules.

The assumptions and discussion of plans that my players is funny based on their assumptions and limited knowledge of the world and the rules. As the DM who knows the main points of the rules, at least the ones I use, and has a lot of gaming experience, I get as much entertainment out of watching them decide whether they should panic and run, or fight. I found their reactions to a troll and zombies hilarious.

One does not need to know the rules or have a copy of them to play in an RPG. For example, I played DCC for the first time at Marmalade Dog 20. I relied on others for specific rules, but because it was a fantasy RPG, I had the basic idea of how to run a character.

I have played RPGs from a variety of genres, and once read and knew the rules to most of the ones I player. I never had Traveler, but played it a few times. I think if someone has the basic idea that RPGs is make believe with rules and a referee, one can get by with the minimal understanding of how the stats, any stats checks, and combat works. Some games I have not played are very rules heavy, and without minute knowledge of all the special cases, exceptions, etc. one cannot get the most out of their character. That is why I think rules that don’t require hours to create a character or hours to run a simple combat are best. Get started playing sooner and have more fun.

Board games are the one area where I think players need to read the rules. Back in 9th grade I played a WWII board game that had the Maginot and Siegfried Lines on the map. I don’t recall the name of the game. I had heard of the Maginot Line, but not the Siegfried Line, and my friend who had read and mastered the rules knew about the Siegfried Line. I did not put any troops in the Siegfried Line, in our rush to play. I had not even read the rules. The Germans lost WWII because the French took them out soon after the invasion of Poland. So games where you get your clock cleaned if you haven’t read the rules, yes, you should read the rules. Since most board games don’t have referees, this means each player has to look out for his own interests.

Except for massively complex rules or a poor DM that wants to rack up character deaths, and never says, “Are you sure?” Players don’t need to read the rules.

How many new players would show up if they had to read 100+ pages of rules before they sat down a the table? What if the rules read to them in a way that is so confusing and put them to sleep? Would they still want to come play? I think the best way to introduce someone to the game is to have them jump in feet first like into a cold swimming pool. It may be a shock, but you get to the point, swimming much faster than if you take forever inching your way forward. Make the only boring part the character generation, but even that can be spiced up.

My rule (-1) – “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.”

Collaborative Campaign Design & Paranoid Players

I saw this picture on the Tabletop Role-Playing Games FB page.

This is so true! Other DMs tell me about stuff like this, I have read about it on many RPG blogs and forums, and I have experienced it from play as both a player, and a DM.

In my game with my sons and the girlfriend of my oldest son, they take one thing an NPC they trust says and go with it. It is funny.They make all these big plans, and one little thing turns it on a dime.

I laughed hard when I saw this image because it is so very true!