2015 One Page Dungeon Contest – Winners Announced

The winners of the 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest were announced a few days ago. Check out the 1PDC Google Community.

My entry, The Dire Druids of Delver’s Deep, was not among them. I did not expect to win. I knew that there were many who had massively better entries in look, layout, and more from prior years. My entry was an exercise to see what I could do with an idea.

From what I have seen of the winners of the last couple of years, one needs an idea that is solid and well defined with a great hook. The Artwork needs to be top notch, and the layout has to make it all “flow” and draw the reader into it.

I am curious to watch the recording of the Google Hangout with the judges [Link Broken, no alternative, August, 2017], to see if there are any “simple” dungeons that had ideas they liked, but due to art or layout, did not make the cut. Set aside about 45 minutes if you want to watch it all in one go. I missed the live hangout.

Out of all the submissions, there were 3 first place winners, 6 second place winners, 13 third place winners, and 5 honorable mentions. Based purely on first names in each category, it looks like there is one women in each of the last three categories. This makes 97 new dungeons. Since 2009, seven years, that’s about 700 dungeons. Not all are fantasy, not all are dungeons. Still, that is a lot of ideas if your creative well has ran dry. I like to grab and re-purpose the maps for my own use.

One blogger, +Aaron Frost,  of Wasted The Game, is going through all the 1PDC entries and giving his thoughts on them. He has a lot of material.

Daddy Rolled A 1 was a judge last year and again this year. Here is his take on the process.

After watching the hangout video there are a few things one can take away about how to approach this contest.

  • The Past and Storytelling are not as important.
    • What is going on NOW?
    • What situation will the characters encounter when you run it?
  • Brief yet Complete.
  • Set up well in the beginning with an answer to how does it end/get resolved?
  • White space/Imagery/Readable
  • The art is not as important as an idea that is presented well.
  • Spelling and Grammar – i.e. after you spellcheck and grammar check it, get a proofreader.
  • Put enough time into it to do it well.

I know that I had a lot of text. Paring that down to something that “pops” would improve it. That is, express the intent without requiring too much detail.

The hangout mentioned one winning submission that had excellent 2 sentence NPC descriptions that made for NPCs that could be plugged into any campaign.

I would suggest reading through the submissions and learning from them. What did the winners do well? What did the others not do as well that might best be avoided?

One more shout out, +Random Wizard [UPDATE: Random Wizard is no longer on G+. Check out his blog: https://www.kirith.com/random-wizard/] has sold off unused items in his personal collection to ensure that there are prizes for all 13 of the third place winners, a $25 store credit at Wayne’s Books! Talk about a class act! Not only has he given his time to organize the contest, he made sure that third place had prizes out of his own pocket!

There will always be grumblers who complain about things, and complaining is their ONLY “contribution.” It is easy to say that this or that wasn’t right, fair, or the way you would do it. If you are not willing to step up and add something of value to the hobby, why are you tearing down others who are? I don’t know who these complainers are about the 1PDC, they must be ranting on some forum to which I don’t belong. Of that, I am glad. I only know about it, because I saw mention of it on another blog. If the complainers would put forth the energy they spend complaining into making something to share with the others in the OSR, we’d all be better for it. It reminds me of my sons when they complained about doing homework or cleaning their room. If they would have shut up and just done the task at hand, it would have required less energy. Oh well, it is the loss of the complainers. Once we learn what an internet troll is, we know to ignore it, and it becomes as static. It is annoying, but we can learn to tune it out.

I for one am interested to read through the entries. I also am interested in attempting a submission for next year. I may come up with an idea and start working it out to boil it down to the good stuff. Better yet, I’ll take more time on the layout and presentation.


Review – Rob Kuntz’s Dark Druids

Rob Kuntz’s Dark Druids was on sale a few weeks back. It arrived at the end of April. Since my submission to the 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest involved druids – The Dire Druids of Delver’s Deep, I waited until after I completed my submission to read this module. My planned postings got sidetracked, since I jumped on board the White Star bandwagon.

This module clearly states on the cover below the illustration: “For use with 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons(R)”. Unlike others, it is not afraid to say this and also acknowledges that the name of the game is a registered trademark. It is one of three modules currently available from Chaotic Henchmen Productions.

The blurb from the back cover explains what this module is all about: “Dark Druids includes complete descriptions and maps for an outdoor area and a three-level adventure site, and is easily adaptable to most campaign settings. It also includes an outline for further adventuring, a selection of new monsters, spells, and magic items, plus Robert J. Kuntz’s historical context and commentary on this module’s relationship to his campaigns of the 1970’s”

This module is designed for levels 8-12, so it is not a low power adventure. It has the general look and feel of a module from back in the day. The cover can serve as a screen and includes the 1st and  3rd level of the dungeon. The 2nd level is on the last page of the module. This 56 page module has more maps for the outdoors area and illustrations to compliment the text.

After a forward and author preface, there is a section on Using the Module that discusses party composition and challenges, preparations before play, and how to read and interpret the module text. There is a player introduction, which is a lot of text to read. Lastly there is a half page of rewards and additional party resources.

After a page for the GM introduction, there are just over three and a half pages with the outdoor map, starting text, and key to the outdoor map.

The dungeon’s three levels are detailed on pages 9 through 35.

There are seven appendices, A through F.

A – Deals with further adventuring against the drak druids.

B – Is an article about a Dark God.

C – Discusses changes in this version of the module from the 2006 version published by Creations Unlimited.

D – Lists the 16 new magic items in this module.

E – Details four new monsters.

F – Describes the dark druid variant class.

The module was well sealed in cardboard and bubble wrap and sealed with scotch tape in a clear plastic magazine sleeve.

I like the look and feel of this. The maps are well done and easy to read. The text itself is laid out well and easy to read. However, the “Read-aloud text” is in italics. For some rooms this text is the first part of that room’s description, but for others it is later. Thankfully, while not like some italics fonts that I sometimes have trouble distinguishing from the normal font, there is nothing else to set it apart. When actually running this, it would be very easy to miss a key detail. If I were to run this module as written, I would have to use different colored highlighters and ink to note the important parts. I find this to be more of a concern as my eyes age.

When not in a live game situation and no pressure, it is definitely easy to read. There is a lot of information here, it is dense.

It is something that would require a lot of streamlining to run in a con setting. In a con setting it is bigger than can be handled in the average 3 or 4 hour session. There is enough in here, that it would take one massive marathon session to complete the entire module in one go. I can see this easily taking many sessions depending on the focus of the players, and the decisions and rolls they make.

One can easily place this on a list of possibilities, when players get to that level, and fit it into the campaign. AD&D is not that much different from OD&D and modern clones, that this could easily be used in nearly any OSR game. There is a lot in here, that it will take more than a casual reading to catch all that is in here. This could easily be part of a behind the scenes activity that builds up to this module, or it could be a new stand-alone threat. Because this is so dense, I have not managed to read the whole thing carefully, but I like what I see.

This is an interesting concept and ties in with my articles on druids.

Trade Goods


I’m always thinking about specifics of what might be on a caravan. The town that is the main focus in my AD&D campaign has frequent caravans, and as yet, I have not needed to know what is in them. In case it every comes up, I wanted ideas. I put together the following list to give me ideas for general categories for developing tables.

WATER: In general, this would be a local resource, but in a desert scenario, water could be worth its weight in gold. Merchants will carry enough water to get to the next known source of water.

Adventurer/Explorer: Some merchants will be adventurer merchants seeking to expand the trade routes, or find something new to trade. Think Marco Polo.

SALT: Whether mined from a salt flats, a salt mine, or recovered by evaporation from the ocean. It is a key preservative in pre-industrial societies. Salt does not go bad. Roman soldiers were paid in salt.

Spices: All various kinds. More exotic spices from more distant lands cost more per pound or ounce than local spices. Most spices have a long shelf life if kept dry.

Produce: Fruits and vegetables. Only fresh would be available locally within about 100 miles or so. Beyond that only dried fruits and vegetables, or pickled. Dates, grapes, and figs were common dried fruit that formed into blocks for easy transport and had a relatively long shelf life in a dry climate.
NOTE: Preservation methods for transport are the same methods used to help people make it through the winter or whatever time is between growing seasons.

Meat: As with produce, fresh meat, including fish would usually only be transported about 100 miles or so. Beyond that, dried, salted, pickled or otherwise preserved meats could easily be transported over longer distances. “On the hoof” is the best way to transport fresh meat the farthest, such as with the cattle drives of the American west.
NOTE: Preservation methods for transport are the same methods used to help people make it through the winter or whatever time is between growing seasons.

Honey: It does not spoil and it has anti-bacterial properties. If it crystallizes, heating returns it to liquid. Honey from ancient tombs has been liquefied and was still good.
Gaming Hooks: Supply will be limited by the supply of various bees, bumblebees, wasps, etc. and flowering plants. A hive of giant bees, etc. could be used by some society of humans that had special tools or magic to allow it. Perhaps some giants could be beekeepers and there be some form of trade with other races.

Raw Materials: In general, raw materials are first shipped to where they are made into an intermediate or final product. An example of an intermediate product is ore processed into ingots, wool spun into yarn, or logs processed into lumber. Sometimes two or more raw materials are combined to form an intermediate material, such as charcoal or coal and iron ore to make iron ingots. Some craftsmen/tradesmen, such as blacksmiths might process their own ore for further use, or be specialized in processing ore for others.

Intermediate Products: Materials in a state that further products can be made from them. Iron ingots are made into weapons and armor, yarn from wool is spun into cloth, etc. Some intermediate products, may be made into further intermediate products. Rough cut lumber may be formed into various sizes and quality of boards for specific uses. Spun cloth may be died and cut to make clothes or other items.

Textiles: Raw materials include wool or bundles of harvested plants. Clothing, rugs, tapestries, table clothes, napkins, towels, rope, armor, paper, etc.
NOTE: Related to textiles will be the raw materials.

  • Plant based: Cotton, linen, flax, jute, hemp, bamboo, straw, grass, rush, sisal
  • Animal based: Wool, silk (cocoons of silkworms)

Plant textiles: SOURCE:
Grass, rush, hemp, and sisal are all used in making rope. In the first two, the entire plant is used for this purpose, while in the last two, only fibers from the plant are utilized. Coir (coconut fiber) is used in making twine, and also in floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses, floor tiles, and sacking.

Textiles involve some form of spinning into thread and weaving and/or braiding.

Straw and bamboo are both used to make hats. Straw, a dried form of grass, is also used for stuffing, as is kapok.
Fibers from pulpwood trees, cotton, rice, hemp, and nettle are used in making paper.

Cotton, flax, jute, hemp, modal and even bamboo fiber are all used in clothing. Piña (pineapple fiber) and ramie are also fibers used in clothing, generally with a blend of other fibers such as cotton.

Nettles have also been used to make a fiber and fabric very similar to hemp or flax. The use of milkweed stalk fiber has also been reported, but it tends to be somewhat weaker than other fibers like hemp or flax.

Acetate is used to increase the shininess of certain fabrics such as silks, velvets, and taffetas.

Seaweed is used in the production of textiles: a water-soluble fiber known as alginate is produced and is used as a holding fibre; when the cloth is finished, the alginate is dissolved, leaving an open area.

Lyocell is a man-made fabric derived from wood pulp. It is often described as a man-made silk equivalent; it is a tough fabric that is often blended with other fabrics – cotton, for example.
Fibers from the stalks of plants, such as hemp, flax, and nettles, are also known as ‘bast’ fibers.

Wooden goods: Raw timber, i.e. logs, and lumber are the simplest. Finished products include tables, chairs, plates, mugs, shields, hafts for spears and javelins, staves for bows, barrels, arrows, lumber (planks, beams, etc.), carvings. Types of wood, from the common to the rare and exotic. Wooden trinkets, like lacquered necklaces, tableware, handles, spinning wheels, looms, etc.

Metal goods: Unprocessed ore and ingots are the base goods. Finished goods include arms and armor, copper goods, tin goods, bronze goods, tableware (of various quality from copper, tin, bronze, pewter, silver, gold, perhaps electrum or platinum), coinage (ancient coinage bound to a collector(s), or coinage for a payroll for troops, workers (miners, lumbermen, builders, etc.), tribute, etc.), Jewelry of all sorts. idols, icons, craft goods, collectibles, etc.
NOTE: Coins can be counterfeited using base metals. Wizards can use fool’s gold and the surprise comes when the spell expires….

Antiques: From all the dungeons and ancient battlefields and ruins, there can be all kinds of antiquities. These would be many of the same things that are recognizable for what they are, or items that no one living knows what it is. Go to a flea market or estate sale at an old farm and look at the strange gizmos. It is amazing what kinds of hand tools our forebears used and to look at them, it is not always obvious what they are. Get an old timer to explain some of it.
NOTE: Forgery will be an issue. Adventure hook, trader is swindled, or trader is the swindler of his clients, etc.

Art: This can be antiques or current carvings, statues, monuments, paintings, tapestries, rugs, etc.

Stone: Statuary, construction blocks. Usually construction blocks are not hauled very far. Some prince or wealthy patron wanting a rare marble might ship it overland in a long line of wagons running miles. What an adventure hook. Slate for chalkboards, roofing tiles, etc. Chalk for writing or building, etc.

Gems, jewelry, precious stones: These can all be transported by a single poorly dressed man as he moves between venues. A fortune for trade could be had. How does he pull the switcheroo to his respectable clothing to make a legitimate trade is another hook. Counterfeits and forgeries would also be a possibility.

Slaves: If you have slaves among the humans, elves, dwarves, etc. There can be long caravans of them. Humanoids, such as orcs, like slaves to do the jobs they hate. Humans could make slaves of war captives of other humans, or orcs, etc.

Exotica: Rare items, ingredients, metals, wood, animals, etc.

Circus/Sideshow/Carnival: Group of performers travelling town to town on their own or as part of a larger caravan.

Anything you use on a daily basis had to come from somewhere. In the ancient and medieval world people made due with what was available locally, within about 20 miles. Trade developed as a means of acquiring something that is needed, useful, or desired from AWAY, i.e. non-local. Most food was local. Most building materials were local. Only large or special construction projects were not local.

Any list of professions will suggest products. If you create a town or city, the occupations of the inhabitants will indicate what they have to trade and suggest items they import.

Only very small towns or cities can be self sufficient. After a certain size, neighboring towns, villages, farms and herds are needed to support it. Rome imported grain from Egypt, etc.

In the ancient world of pre-history, there is a lot of evidence of the tin trade over many thousands of miles. As the easily accessible tin petered out, bronze became scarce. I read an article online that says some theorize that the iron age was helped along by necessity. That is, the scarcity of tin to mix with copper to make bronze was the necessity to figure out how to efficiently heat iron ore enough to separate it from the rest of the material so that it could be worked.

Type of Materials/Goods in a Caravan or on a Ship

  • Raw Materials
  • Intermediate Materials
  • Finished Goods

Raw Materials

  • Food
    • Livestock – Sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, fowl (chickens, ducks, geese, etc.) Driven by drovers/herders.
    • Fresh Food – Fruits, Vegetables, Meat, Fish, Eggs of various fowl., honey. Carried in crates or baskets, or perhaps jars.
    • Dried Food – Fruits, Vegetables, Meat (jerky/pemican), Fish. Can be wrapped in paper or cloth or stored as is in kegs, barrels, or crates.
    • Grain – Oats, Wheat, Rye, Rice. Usually transported in sacks or barrels. Can be used for seed or eating.
    • Processed Food – Flour of various grains, bread, crackers, pickles, pickled meat or fish
  • Logs
  • Stone/Rock
  • Ore
    • Tin
    • Copper
    • Iron
    • Silver
    • Gold
    • etc.
  • Fibers
    • Wool/Silk
    • Plant fibers for spinning/weaving (Hemp, sissal, etc.)
  • Animal By Products
    • Ivory
    • Bone
    • Hides (From butchered or trapped animals, i.e. cows or beaver, for ex.)
    • Horn

Intermediate Goods

  • Rough cut lumber
  • Ingots of various ores
  • Spun fibers
  • Woven cloth – undied and uncut

Finished Goods

  • Wood – Furniture, Weapons, Tools, Shields, Musical Instruments, cups, mugs, plates, etc.
  • Fibers – Rope, Yarn, String, Thread, Bolts of colored cloth, clothes, rugs, tapestries, curtains, etc.
  • Metal – Needles, weapons, armor, utensils, tools, hinges, locks, chains, coins, ingots, cups, mugs, plates, eating utensils, etc.
  • Ivory – Carved items. As inlay in other items, such as a table top.
  • Bone – Needles, corsets, inlay in wooden items.
  • Horn – Bows, drinking horns, musical/hunting/war horns.
  • Glass – Windows, containers, lab equipment. (What level of glass technology is in your fantasy campaign?)
  • Ceramic/Clay – glasses, mugs, plates, jars, etc.


  • Keg – Dry or liquid storage.
  • Barrel – Dry or liquid storage.
  • Sack – 50 pounds
  • Basket – Bushel
  • Crate – 20 – 50 pounds
  • Jars
  • Amphorae – Large jars for transporting olive oil or wine in the ancient world.
  • Chests
  • Coffers
  • Bags

See my article on Caravans & Pack Animals and Loot Carriers for more ideas on how goods might be transported.


Related to caravans are convoys. Convoys are used as a way to protect merchant shipping from submarine warfare. They can be used in a modern setting, from the Victorian/Edwardian era to  the present, and beyond in science fiction or apocalyptic settings.

Convoys are basically naval caravans, but rather than being in a line and limited to the available space of the road or terrains, convoys can spread out more, yet remain close enough to provide support to the other ships nearby. There are still “choke points”, like the English Channel, or other narrow straits that require the ships to go single file.  Such places would be avoided unless it was absolutely necessary.

The idea of convoys and navies is often applied to space travel, and convoys of merchant craft might be a way to deal with cloaked ships.

Unlike planet bound surface navies, the areas where things narrow would tend to be an unavoidable asteroid or debris belt. Approaching a space dock, planetary orbit, or landing planet side would be the choke points that an enemy or pirate ship(s) would exploit. Only the most advanced of planetary defense systems that include planetary shields and heavy weapons both in orbit and planet based.

Convoys also apply to motor vehicles, like a convoy of supply trucks with gear, food, fuel, etc. It is also the name of a popular song from the “trucker era” of music from the late 70’s and early 80’s. The song was later made into a movie with Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw.

Convoys of motor vehicles will be limited to roads and passable surfaces if they have wheels or tracks. Hovercraft will have more flexibility of terrain. If the water transport variety, they are limited to relatively flat surfaces on land. Anti-gravity hovercraft will be limited based on the altitude they can maintain. If they are limited to a meter off the surface, they cannot cross the Grand Canyon directly, but must make the descent as any other traveler. However, if they can basically fly, there is no practical limit to the terrain they can cover.

Convoys can be used to transport the same or similar goods, or a variety of goods. Troop convoys can be used to move armies and their supplies and equipment across the sea or the stars.

See my articles on See my article on Caravans & Pack AnimalsLoot Carriers, and Trade Goods.

Loot Carriers Table

Loot can be carried by an individual or group, or be carried by a pack animal, or a conveyance, like a wagon.

Table or Tables for how a monster is carrying it’s loot. This set of tables will focus on individual monsters & NPC’s and how they carry their stuff.

Let’s call anything that is used to carry something, mean that the contents are loot, at least valuable to the one carrying it, or valuable to the one they got it from.

I was reading the Grand DM‘s Belt Pouch Table post, and then it struck me. I don’t recall a table or other tool to define what kinds of things different monsters use to carry their loot.

The classic, you’ve killed the goblins and loot their bodies, is easy to gloss over what their paltry few coppers and silvers are carried in.

It occurred to me, perhaps different groups of humanoids will carry their loot in different containers. Perhaps certain kinds of loot might be carried differently than other loot.

One idea I had was what if goblin tribes had a medicine pouch that they carried around their necks, and it included things like the tooth or other body part of those they have killed? Such a pouch might also contain the most valuable thing that they own that an adventurer might consider treasure, like a small gem, gold coin, or other small but valuable trinket. Different tribes could carry different body parts. Different humanoids might have similar pouches, but their size, material, and craftsmanship could vary.

Sizes: 1d8

  • Really Tiny
  • Tiny
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Extra large
  • Enormous
  • Gigantic

Loot Carriers Type: d18

  • pouch/purse/medicine bag (not the same as a belt pouch)
  • Belt Pouch (My interpretation of a belt pouch has always been that is fastens securely to a belt, with loops, hooks, ties or a combination.)
  • Sacks
  • Baskets
  • Coffer
  • Chest
  • Cask
  • Urn
  • Vase
  • Vial
  • Scrollcase
  • Amphorae
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Blanket/Sheet/Quilt/Curtain
  • Skull
  • Femur
  • Backpack
  • Saddlebags (over one or both shoulders)

Material: 1d14

  • Leather
  • Wood
  • Hide
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Felt (pressed hair – For example the Mongolian people make their felt for their tents from horse hair.)
  • Flax
  • Burlap
  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Bone
  • Gems
  • Other “normal”
  • Other “exotic”

Quality:  1d6

  • Crude
  • Poor
  • Functional
  • Sturdy
  • Overbuilt
  • Excellent

Condition: 1d6

  • Rotted/Falling Apart
  • Holes/Tears/Threadbare/Runs – One more bit of damage or piece of loot, and it will start to fail without immediate repair.
  • Used but Functional
  • Used really good condition
  • Nearly new
  • New & unused

Decoration: 1d6

  • None
  • Missing/Damaged
  • Simple
  • Standard
  • Fancy/Ornate
  • Ostentatious

Construction: 1d5

  • Make-shift – (Like a classic trop of a burglar grabbing a sheet or tablecloth to make a bag.)
  • Self-made (Whether out of necessity, a point of pride, or a right of passage.)
  • Special Made (All Medicine Pouches are made by the tribal shaman, or a special craftsman, of with a special process.)
  • Standard (Made by standard craftsman or process.)
  • Custom (Made by a craftsman either to special order, or by the best known craftsman, or with special materials, like dragon hide.)


  • 1-80% Non-Magical
  • 81-00 Magical

If Magical What Qualities?:

  • Does it glow?
  • Does it give off heat, cold, mist, smoke, or something else?
  • Does it present these, or other characteristics, when in the presence of a certain type of creature or substance. For example cold in the presence of copper, warmth in the presence of silver, heat for gold, and hotter for platinum, adamantium, or mithril? Something made by dwarves or other mining races to find veins of metal.
  • Is glowing its only effect? Is it some party favor that glows different colors in different patterns at randome or non-specific intervals? (This is begging for another table.)

Extra space – Like a bag of holding, but specifics could differ.
Bonus – Adds +1 to +5 for saves (can vary to have different saves for different things.)
Detection – Standard detections, evil/good/alignment, invisibility, magic, truth/lies, etc.
Protection – Evil/Good, undead (all or specific types), demons, devils, other planar, etc.
Control – Humans, demi-humans, humanoids, dragons, giants, elementals, etc.
Communication – For example, speak a specific language, tongues, comprehend lang., telepathy, esp, speak with animals, etc.
Cursed – Can look like any other item, but have an opposite or corrupting affect. For example, a protection dweomer is evident, but it actually attracts undead. Perhaps only zombies, and gives clerics in the area a -1 on their roll to turn/control, or -2 if the cleric attempting the turn is the one in possession of the object.
Duplication – Items left in the container for 24 hours are duplicated. This only works for the specific type of item a device was designed to duplicate. Dor example, a scroll case might only duplicate maps, or only message. It cannot duplicate magical scrolls. A cursed or evil item might “bite” the user for 1-2 hp for blood to power it. A purse might duplicate coins, but they would be illusory, or fool’s gold as the spell and only last for the minimum caster level. A special wand case might re-charge the wand at 1-3 charges per day of the minimum caster level in the want. An uncharged wand would either not be charged, or roll to see if its magic is drained away, or it turns to dust, or explodes.
Abundance – Food, water, or whatever the container is designed for never seems to run out.
Containment – Geni, Djinn, Demon, Devil, Angel, or other powerful creature. Could work like a magic lamp and give conrol and wishes, or could only appear to be so and rubbing it frees the creature for good, or only a few rounds to wreak havoc. Perhaps it will try to capture the bearer to trade places.
Travel – Dimension door/teleport/fly/jump/spider climb

Team Carry:

Monsters/Bearers/Porters can carry stuff in bags, packs, or baskets on an individual basis, but larger items require two or more to carry. Such as elephant tusks, a caged live animal, a dead trophy animal, large chest, etc. Such means of carry can be simple carry and manhandling, to using a pole, poles, or other device. Long trains of such bearers can make up a caravan for a merchant, adventurer, or tribute taken from the defeated, or tribute offered to avoid the devastation of war.

Team Carry Methods/Devices: 1d7

  • Two or more carrying/manhandling a large item. (Think of moving an upright grand piano up and/or down stairs, without equipment, and you get the idea. If you’ve ever done it, you know what I mean.)
  • Two Using a Pole to carry something.
  • Two using two poles to carry something. This could be a litter or other heavy object.
  • Four or more carrying something with two large poles. This could be a caged live animal, or something like a palanquin bearing someone, or an idol.
  • One or more pulling something with a travois.
  • One pushing a wheelbarrow.
  • One pushing a pushcart.

Animal Transport: 1d4

  • Any pack animal
  • Any riding animal that can carry something in addition to it’s rider, or
  • Any animal, monster, etc. that can carry a container, or pull a conveyance.
  • NPC/Slave (This would be anyone forced to carry the loot of another. It’s not their loot, and in the case of slaves, for the newly enslaved, it might have previously been their loot.)

*NOTE: Most pack animals have specialized pack saddles designed to maximize the amount that can be carried and distribute it in a way that it allows the animal to carry the largest load the farthest distance without injury. Those that don’t see the pack animal as more than a means to the end of getting their loot where they want it, and don’t see the animal as loot, may not treat it well.

Conveyances: Any device used for transport.

Land Based: 1d7

  • Carts
  • Wagons
  • Sleds
  • Sledges
  • Travois
  • Coach
  • Other (Includes any type I don’t know about, and magical, or cars or land speeders from other dimensions.)

Water Based: 1d6

  • Raft
  • Canoe
  • Boat
  • Ship
  • Canal boat (either pulled by a mule team and driver, or poled by the crew.)
  • Barge

Air Travel: (This will be limited by the weight limit. Only used for the most critical, priceless, or time sensitive transport.)

  • Magic Devices/Spells
  • Flying Creatures

Magical Travel: (Travel that is not obvious to non-wizards. Even more weight restricted than flying. Usually by device or spell.)

  • Teleportation, etc.

 Who might be carrying loot? 1d5

  • Individual
  • Small Group
  • Medium Group
  • Large Group
  • Horde

Type of Group/Reasons for Hauling or Moving Loot: 1d4

  • Expedition (Adventurer(s)/Explorer(s)/Knowledge Seeker(s))
  • Raid (Bandits/Monsters/War)
  • War (Hauling spoils of war as campaign continues, or after victory and returning home.)
  • Trade (Caravan/Local, Regional, or Small Merchant)

Caravans and Pack Animals

CARAVAN: A group of travelers, as merchants or pilgrims, journeying together for safety in passing through deserts, hostile territory, etc.

A caravan could be just a group of merchants, or just a group or pilgrims, or just a group of travelers/settlers/colonists; or a combination. While researching an article on slavery, I learned the term “coffle” – a line of slaves or animals fastened together.

Travelers could be like the wagon trains of the old west. Think of reasons people went west: gold, farm land, open land for cattle ranching, lumber and other resources, etc. Or they could be like in ancient and medieval times, religious pilgrims, explorers, an embassy from one great king to another, etc.

The AD&D Monster Manual details merchant only caravans (but not specifics of goods carried) and pilgrim only caravans.
In the real world caravans would often be a combined group of merchants, pilgrims, and travelers going to a certain common destination.

In less wild areas or with good roads/trails, it makes sense to have merchant only or pilgrim only caravans. But where raiders/bandits are at large, groups would band together to outnumber the bandits and war bands.

Prior to trains and long-haul trucks, trade goods were moved overland via wagons, but only when the road, trail, or terrain allowed it, or via pack animal. Even today, the modern U.S. military used horses and mules in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Pulled Vehicles: Wagon, cart, sledge, carriage, trolley, plow, travois (blanket over two sticks) – pulled by dog or horse; canal boat
“The dog travois of pre-European times was small, capable of pulling not more than 20 to 30 kg.” SOURCE

There have also been humans used to haul freight, like a line of bearers/porters through the jungle, or carrying the ruler on a palanquin/litter.

Howdahs were used on the backs of camels and elephants. Some were used for people transport and some elephant howdahs were designed for use in war.

There have been lots of pack animals in a variety of world cultures:
Horses, mules, oxen, donkeys in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Camels usually in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, whether domedary or bactrian.

Elephants usually in Asia.

Llamas and alpacas in South America.

Some tribes used dogs to pull travois.

Add goats, reindeer, and yaks to the list.

A healthy and fit pack goat can carry up to 25 percent of its weight and walk up to about 12 miles per day depending on its load weight, the terrain, and the animal’s conditioning.[3] They are generally less expensive to own and operate than other pack animals since they are natural browsing animals and can feed themselves along the way.[3][4]

Homing pigeons transport material, usually messages on small pieces of paper, by air.

OX/plural OXEN: A bovine trained as a draft animal. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle; castration makes the animals easier to control. Cows (adult females) or bulls (intact males) may also be used in some areas.

Oxen are used for plowing, for transport (pulling carts, hauling wagons and even riding), for threshing grain by trampling, and for powering machines that grind grain or supply irrigation among other purposes. Oxen may be also used to skid logs in forests, particularly in low-impact, select-cut logging.

Oxen are usually yoked in pairs. Light work such as carting household items on good roads might require just one pair, while for heavier work, further pairs would be added as necessary. A team used for a heavy load over difficult ground might exceed nine or ten pairs.


Working oxen usually require shoes,[6] although in England not all working oxen were shod.[7] Since their hooves are cloven, two shoes or ox cues are required for each hoof, unlike the single shoe of a horse.

Uses and comparison to other draught animals
Riding an ox in Hova, Sweden.

Oxen can pull heavier loads, and pull for a longer period of time than horses depending on weather conditions.[17] On the other hand, they are also slower than horses, which has both advantages and disadvantages; their pulling style is steadier, but they cannot cover as much ground in a given period of time. For agricultural purposes, oxen are more suitable for heavy tasks such as breaking sod or ploughing in wet, heavy, or clay-filled soil. When hauling freight, oxen can move very heavy loads in a slow and steady fashion. They are at a disadvantage compared to horses when it is necessary to pull a plow or load of freight relatively quickly.

For millennia, oxen also could pull heavier loads because of the use of the yoke, which was designed to work best with the neck and shoulder anatomy of cattle. Until the invention of the horse collar, which allowed the horse to engage the pushing power of its hindquarters in moving a load, horses could not pull with their full strength because the yoke was incompatible with their anatomy.[2]

Well-trained oxen are also considered less excitable than horses.

Harness animals
Mule used to pull a wheeled vehicle in Morocco

An intermediate use is to harness animals, singly or in teams, to pull (or haul) sleds, wheeled vehicles or plow.

Oxen are slow but strong, and have been used in a yoke since ancient times: the earliest surviving vehicle, Puabi’s Sumerian sledge, was ox-drawn; an acre was originally defined as the area a span of oxen could plow in a day. The Water buffalo and Carabao, domesticated water buffalo, pull wagons and ploughs in Southeast Asia and the Philippines.

Draught or Draft horses are commonly used in harness for heavy work. Several breeds of medium-weight horses are used to pull lighter wheeled carts, carriages and buggies when a certain amount of speed or style is desirable.

Mules are considered to be very tough and strong, with harness capacity dependent on the type of horse mare used to produce the mule foal. Because they are a hybrid animal and usually are infertile, separate breeding programs must also be maintained.

Ponies and donkeys are often used to pull carts and small wagons, historically, ponies were commonly used in mining to pull ore carts.

Dogs are used for pulling light carts or, particularly, sleds. (e.g. sled dogs such as Huskies) for both recreation and working purposes. [Note: The dog carts mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories is a type of horse drawn vehicle. I did find a picture of a dog pulling a milk cart with big milk cans on it from the late 1800’s. There are modern makers of carts for dog to pull loads or people.]

Goats also can perform light harness work in front of carts

Reindeer are used in the Arctic and sub-Arctic Nordic countries and Siberia.

Elephants are still used for logging in South-east Asia.

Less often, camels and llamas have been trained to harness.
According to Juan Ignacio Molina the Dutch captain Joris van Spilbergen observed the use of chiliquenes (a llama type) by native Mapuches of Mocha Island as plough animals in 1614.[1]

Assorted wild animals have, on occasion, been tamed and trained to harness, including zebras and even moose. SOURCE

A war elephant was an elephant trained and guided by humans for combat. Their main use was to charge the enemy, trampling them and breaking their ranks and instilling terror. An elephantry is a cavalry unit containing elephant-mounted troops.[1]

It is commonly thought that all war elephants were male because of males’ greater aggression, but it is rather because a female elephant in battle will run from a male; therefore only males could be used in war, whereas female elephants were more commonly used for logistics.[4] SOURCE

Dogs used for herding herd animals, sheep, goats, cattle, etc.

Dogs used for guard duty.

Ostriches are raised for food, leather, and feathers (for decoration or feather dusters. They are also been raced by riding, or pulling carts. This gives them the potential to haul goods, but it may not be practical.

The List

The full list of animals that I have identified that have been or could be used for transport of people or goods are:

  • Dogs
  • Carrier Pigeon
  • Bovines: Oxen, Water Buffalo, Yaks, Carabao
  • Goats
  • Ponies
  • Horses
  • Mules
  • Donkeys
  • Zebra (Zebroids)
  • Camels: Dromedary & Bactrian
  • Llamas & Alpacas & Chiliquenes
  • Reindeer
  • Ostriches
  • Elephants

Animals from Myth, Legend, and Fiction

Giant birds, lizards, and any other creature could be devised for riding, plowing, pushing, or pulling wagons.

Uses of Pack Animals:

  • Bear a Load of goods
  • Bear a Rider
  • Pull a plow
  • Pull a conveyance
  • Entertainment – Racing – Ridden or pulling racing carts or chariots. Also riderless, as with dog racing.

See my articles on See my article on Loot CarriersTrade Goods, and Convoys.

Google Search Term: caravan trade

Various Sources:







Google Search Term: caravan goods





a group of travelers, as merchants or pilgrims, journeying together for safety in passing through deserts, hostile territory, etc.















Review – Manor #8

The Manor is an RPG Fan Zine published by +Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor.

I had not purchased The Manor before. I have heard good things about it and several of the other RPG Zines, I just try to focus on things I know I will use. When I read that there was a streamlined grappling system for use with Swords & Wizardry, I bought it. I was curious because grappling in AD&D is “clunky”. In AD&D, it feels like it is a “blow by blow” combat, as opposed to how melee and missile combat is abstracted. I can deal with the blow by blow if it is simple.

Before I dig into the grappling article, I will mention the other contents. This issue of the manor is 26 pages, including the front and back cover. It has a few full page illustrations and some smaller illustrations throughout. It is not focused on one genre or rules system. Much of what it contains can easily be used in any system. Four artists did illustrations for the cover and seven internal pages. I don’t know all the artists in the OSR, but the cover is awesome and the internal art is of varying “quality”. While not all of the internal art exhibits the same level of skill, I feel that all of it is better than much of the early art I have seen in the original LBB’s. It is definitely better than I could do, so it is not a complaint! One cool thing about the OSR is that it brings together authors, artists, cartographers, and others and whether out of the love of it, or for a few dollars, it exposes more of us to the work of others. A zine is a fan produced magazine, so its quality is a factor of the skill, tools, and resources the producer has to put into it. I believe the quality is top notch.

As expected, there is an introduction to this issue by Tim that touches on the delays in its production and a glimpse into each article and author.

+Trey Causey of From The Sorcerer’s Skull, has an article with a player humanoid clade, for his SF Setting Supplement Strange Stars – on sale now as part of the Science Fiction Sale as part of Star Wars Day. Trey has a page about his Strange Stars supplement so you can learn more about it before you buy it.

Tim wrote the last two articles, Hirelings – 6 pages with a table on the number of general hirelings avaialble by settlement size, and the cost of specific hirelings, a table of hireling skills/knacks,  and six named hirelings, with one full page illustration. These are some helpful tables, and give ideas that can be expanded.

The second article by Tim is Torchbearer, a continuation of the previous article. In its 3-1/2 pages, including a full page illustration. Tim presents 8 different kinds of torches and 5 torchbearer skills to flesh out a torchbearer to be more than just cannon fodder. From Tim’s experience as a DM in one on one play, he finds that players often need NPC’s to help them accomplish their objectives.

The grappling article, by +Douglas Cole, of Gaming Ballistic and +Peter V. Dell’Orto, is 9 pages including the initial full page illustration, that is a repeat of the cover, and a 3/4 page illustration for the last page and a half page illustration in the middle of the article.

They clearly state that their goal is to present something that is easily applicable to player characters, NPC’s, and monsters. Something simple, that can be done without referring to tables.

Attacks are a normal d20 roll to hit. Instead of HP as are used in regular combat and subdual, they use Control Points (CP), which is immediately regained if breaking free from a grapple.

They have suggested options to tweak the system, and have two methods of tracking grappling. One is a bookkeeping mechanic of tracking the aforementioned Control Points (CP). The other is a chart with an increasing degree of effects of the grapple and if it is improved or minimized.

I think this system is what we have been needing for a simple mechanic for grappling, that makes grappling an option players would choose. Various options and outcomes that are realistic in grappling are discussed and addressed. While not perfect, I can’t think of how else to handle it without building yet another new subsystem just for grappling. This is simple enough that it can easily be implemented at your next session. I know that I will use it, if I need to resolve a grappling issue.

I bought this issue of The Manor just for the grappling article. If you have never tried to run grappling in AD&D you won’t get it. I have no idea how grappling works in other versions, or other rules, but they must all be clunky for someone who likes GURPS to come up with a simplified system.*

Like the blog articles, and PDFs available for free, or the PDFs, modules, manuals, books, and other zines available for a fee, the OSR shares how others do it, or ideas they had that others might find useful. Not every idea is a neat fit for everyone. With the OSR you are presented a buffet of ideas from which to choose. If you find someone else’s idea is not to your taste, you can move on to look at the next idea in your personal line of the way you interact with the OSR. None of us have all the same bookmarks, blog lists, or G+ Communities, so we don’t all have the same list of options from which to choose, or at least not in the same order. We learn of options we didn’t find in our own search, in the shared finds of others. We are free to choose those things that fit our taste for our own use, enjoy them for their own sake, or ignore them.

Lastly, if you think you can do better making a zine than someone else, show me. Zines are not easy to produce. Sure word processors make it easier, but if you get separate software for layout, like the free Scribus, you still have to figure it out and get the layout right. You then have to produce it in physical form, if you offer that option. Not to forget the need for artists, mapmakers, and others to write articles, and perhaps an editor. I tried my hand at putting together a “zine” for April 1st, and it wasn’t that easy, even for just a crude cover and a couple of interior pages. Few people have all the skills to produce a complete issue of a zine that would make the whole thing of uniform high quality. That is, art, articles, formatting, and marketing.

Zines may not be for everyone. I only tend to buy individual issues of fee-based zines if I know they have something in them that I might find useful. Others seem to collect zines because they can, while others have no interest in zines.

My recommendation for any zine is look for articles that scratch an itch you have as a DM/GM. If the blurb advertising it does not indicate that it contains anything you might need for use at your own table, then don’t buy it. For this issue of The Manor, I zeroed in on one thing I knew I could use, if it was as simple as advertised. It contains other articles that I could use, some I may never use, and some I know I won’t use. I will point out that this was also true of The Dragon, and other early magazines from the early days. Not every issue had something that you could use at the table.

* [This last sentence comes off as a slam against GURPS. That was not my intent. Re-reading this sentence, it is not conveying what I meant, and at this point the simplest thing is to note my error. I have never played GURPS and only flipped through the rule books 25+ years ago in a store. I have no idea how grappling works in GURPS. I was trying to say something along the lines that they authors like GURPS. My assumption is that because grappling in clunky in AD&D 1st edition that it must be so in all editions and all other systems. Not having experience with grappling in any other edition or other systems, that is a dangerous assumption. There might be a mechanic in Top Secret, Boot Hill, Gamma World, etc., but I don’t ever remember grappling in those games (That was 30+ years ago.). Since I mostly play AD&D 1st edition, this is where I will use that system, and to which I should have limited my comments.]



DCC Dice Arrived – Unpacking & Review

I ordered some DCC dice from the Goodman Games website several weeks ago, and they finally arrived this past Wednesday. Just in time to use in +Roy Snyder’s DCC game this afternoon. (Yes, I mentioned I had a lot of dice and was slowing down buying more. Jut remember, you can’t have too many dice. I know plenty of people that have way more dice than I do. I don’t have a problem! – See no denial here.)

What's In The Box?
What’s In The Box?


DCC Dice Arrive
DCC Dice Arrive


All The Dice
All The Dice

My dice came and I was not happy about the d7, until I saw this post on the DCC RPG Community which clarifies that this is normal, that the numbers are always on top and not on a face of a die. This is because of the shape of the d7, more than one side of the die is up, so the numbers are on the edges that join the two sides. Now I get it. Don’t judge a die by how the numbers are printed on it. 😉

The d7 is just fine.
The d7 is just fine.

The d10 and the d00 are not the same size. Every other “full set” of dice I have ever purchased, i.e. d4, d6, d8, d10 -with a matching dDecade, d12, and d20, the percentile dice were the same size. From comments on the DCC RPG Community on G+, evidently a lot of people had size mismatched d%. Perhaps they have so many different dice that they just grab what they need and don’t stick to rolling a matched pair of dice. Until the last few months when I added a huge bag of WizDice, and bought a few more standard sets of dice, I only had 5 sets of dice, plus a ton of d6’s from WalMart.

Until I bought the DCC Dice, every d10/dDecade (d%) in the same set were the same size, so even if I mixed up all of them, they would all be the same size, or nearly so. I should have known before I opened the package that DCC would be different in how they made their dice. Impact Miniatures, the manufacturer, indicated that this size difference is intentional to make them as easy as possible to use.

Why are they a different size?
Why are they a different size?

The d5 is weird looking, but it seems to roll correctly.


The d4 is a pyramid with the points shaved off and the numbers are where the points would be, and the large faces are smooth. The thing I like about this d4, is the way the points are “missing” you can easily get a hold of it to pick it up. Some of my other d4’s are tough to pick up because you can’t easily get a grip on them. I usually have to slide them off the edge of the table.


Like the rest of DCC, the dice are meant to challenge your expectations of dice.

The dice in my Blue Box Homes Basic D&D challenged me that dice could have more than six sides, but kept me on the path that the numbers have to be on a face and not an edge.



Farewell to the RPGBA

The RPG Blog Alliance, of which my blog belongs, is shut down at the end of April. There is a G+ replacement for the RPGBA site, here.

It arose to give an easy and quick method for RPG bloggers to get the word out about their blog, due to the RPG Bloggers site requiring manual entry of the RSS feed information. It served a purpose, but I find, like many that G+ and its communities make getting the word out about a blog very simple. In fact, many people are relying more on G+ and not so much with blogs. For me, I have a blog that I control, so I always have access to my notes and ramblings.

Time will tell how long RPG bloggers keeps going and if they ever become automated or quick to respond. I scheduled this posting for 45 days after I submitted to the RPG Bloggers site, many have said that they have waited a year or longer.

Not all the RPG blogs I follow post in the G+ RPG related communities that I follow, but do use RPG Bloggers. I don’t follow RPG bloggers regularly, because I don’t have a dedicated RSS reader, other than one I have on an old computer as an add-on to Firefox. Yahoo and Google dropped support for RSS, that was a nail in its coffin. I liked and used RSS, and losing it changed how I interact with communities and forums that I have been involved in since the email only days of sharing information, back in the 90’s.

FB keeps changing their algorithm to hide stuff you want to see, and it is nearly impossible to find something more than a day or two old.

G+ is easy to use, and far from a wasteland. If you find a community that focuses on something you are interested in, whether it is RPGs or anything else, you can find active communities with lots of posting. Some communities have a lot of noise and spam, but I tend to sever my connections to those communities that don’t have good information or helpful and courteous members.

Just like in my early days of being connected to the world with email, I have connections with people around the globe. For someone who grew up prior to such instant communication, it is like the world has shrunk in my lifetime. Even more cool is to find that some of the people I interact with online are in my area or relatively close, and we can get together for regular play, or meet up at local and regional conventions.

As long as I have a way to interact with others for actual online play, or for getting interesting ideas, maps, and so forth, the internet will continue to be a place of benefit to me and RPG fans.

Calculating Size of an Irregular Area in a Graphics Program

Interesting idea – use the features of your graphics program to calculate the area of an irregular shape to get an accurate count of its size to calculate the number of people it can support.

Over at Lost Kingdom, they have an article on Surface area of an irregular shape in Photoshop. There is a helpful comment at the end of another way to do it by determining the number of pixels and determining how much area a single pixel equals. I don’t have Photoshop, but use Gimp and Inkscape. The question is posed in the article asking if Gimp can do this. I am far from a strong user of either program. I manage to get what I need out of them.

That is a very refined calculation, and perhaps more than most would worry about, but if precision is needed or desired, this is an interesting way to do it. I recall from college calculus that there is a way to calculate this but I have no recollections of the specifics of how to do it. There has only been one instance in my life that I wished I could remember how to figure something using Algebra, but it was quicker for me to figure it out the hard way than figure out how to apply the formula. I first took algebra about 35 years ago. I usually get by with basic arithmetic.