2017 In Review

2017 was quite the ride.

Internet/Social Media Stats

Only 73 blog posts for 2017. I have a total of 680 published blog posts. I have 26 posts in draft. Some just need to be deleted, and others I need to figure out what I was trying to say and finish the post. I’m not sure how many of them can be salvaged.

I started posting videos on YouTube and have 61 videos, and 97 subscribers. Most people are finding my channel via my series Roll20 For the Absolute Beginner. I finally got the right camera and editing software, when my computer died. That threw a wrench in the works that I haven’t gotten back into my stride. It took a lot of energy to get my new PC up and running, and I still have a lot I need to do.

I post on Twitter regularly, and am up to 388 followers.

I don’t post much on G+ if I’m not posting blog articles, but I’m up to 351 followers.

My Facebook page has 45 likes and 44 followers. I don’t promote Facebook as much as other media.

I have a Reddit account, but don’t post enough there to get a subreddit, I did switch to their new page, and posted there for a bit, but no traction there. I don’t care for how Reddit works. I understand it, but it’s so jumbled up and busy. I don’t like the interface.


I went to Gary Con, Grand Con, Gamehole Con, and UCon. I ran games at Gamehole Con and UCon.

I backed a ton of Kickstarters, see my Outstanding Kickstarter Update for details.

In 2018, I will go to Gary Con 10, and will be running games. I will go to Marmalade Dog, since it isn’t the same weekend as Gary Con, and run games. I will also go to UCon and run games. I will probably go to Grand Con. Not sure if I will run games.


I am still playing in the AD&D Wednesday night game on Roll20. We just hit session 183, and I still haven’t missed a session.

I have played a several sessions in a game ran on weekends by another player in our Wednesday night game.

Another player in the Wednesday game also has ran a few sessions on the weekend that I played in.


In addition to the games I have run at conventions, I started running a new area of my AD&D campaign world on Roll20 with some of the guys from Wednesday night. We got up to session 25 on December 10th. I had to take a break as this is my busy time of year at work and the non-stop all day long just fries my brain, and I just need a break. We’ll resume after January.

What’s to Come in 2018

I already started some of it. I am working to get a review published on the blog for every Kickstarter that has fulfilled. I did a bunch of easy ones for smaller products right at the end of December. So this backlog will be much smaller.

I will also do a review for every product I told people I would.

I would also like to post more often on other topics on the blog.

After my busy time of year is over, I will resume my Sunday afternoon AD&D game on Roll20. I might even open it up to a new player or two.

I resolved my transportation issue so I also plan to start running games at my FLGS Fanfare in Kalamazoo, after January. I’m not sure what day. I know it won’t be Wednesday or Sunday. I’m also not sure how many times a month. I’m considering dipping my toes into running 5e.

I will continue my efforts on YouTube. I have several more ideas for my Roll20 For The Absolute Beginner series. My list of other blog ideas will also keep me busy for a while. I hope to resume regular posting to YouTube in the new year.

I keep thinking that I’ll actually publish something on DriveThruRPG or other OBS site, or Lulu. I’ve got ideas, but nothing close to presentable so someone else can understand it. I won’t promise this anytime in 2018, and let it remain for some time in the future. Adding running a second game and doing the blog and YouTube is more than enough to keep me busy.

Life is good and I am happy and in a positive frame of mind, most of the time. I’ve had a lot of fun meeting people online, at cons, and seeing the joy and success of friends in the RPG world. This is a great time to be playing and talking about RPGs. I hope to continue the trend and have lots more fun and adventure!

[EDIT: I realized that I left out the times I was interviewed or featured by others. So here it now follows. I also added it to my Social page for ease of future reference.]

My presence on other blogs & channels.

I was interviewed on the Tell Me About Your Character podcast Season 3, Episode 1 April 24, 2017. [I interviewed Steve Keller on Multiverse here.]

Nerdarchy interviewed me for their Live Chat feature on July 12, 2017. See that episode here.

My blog was spotlighted by Jorphdan for the RPG Community Spotlight on October 2, 2017. See his video here. He really like my

My contribution for the Six of The Best series on Hero Press was published December 31, 2017. Read it here.


My last Outstanding Kickstarters Update was just over a year ago, December 24, 2016. Sadly, over a year has not helped a few reach fulfillment. Here’s a big surprise, I’m still way behind on reviews….

For a list of which Kickstarters I’ve reviewed check here.

From the oldest to the most current outstanding Kickstarters for which I am waiting fulfillment, they are:

The Great Kingdom Kickstarter page is still shut down. They were supposed to actually go to trial this past spring, but I am so over it, I never bothered to follow up. $50 I wish I had so I could give it to the RPG History Project by Pat Kilbane. He’s funding his efforts via Patreon and is nearing the finish line.

City State of the Invincible Overlord had been making more or less monthly updates until September 28, 2017. The comments have exploded with angry people, many demanding their money back. This was a train wreck on two fronts. First they added miniatures and other physical rewards as stretch goals without adding in shipping. Some of the minis were delivered. The person hired to revise/re-write the book didn’t do it. Supposedly Bob Bledsaw III has been doing layout on a finished text. He has been cursed with the failings of many troubled Kickstarter creators, health issues, weddings, insect plagues, etc. Bob Bledsaw II said that this wasn’t a Judges Guild project even though there is a screenshot showing where it was stated to be one on the JG website. Bob Conley of Bat In The Attic is the one hired to do the maps, and his part is finished. He got permission to release his map(s) into the wild, now on DriveThruRPG [Affiliate Link]. Backers of this Kickstarter can get it for free, see the comments on the September 17, 2017 update.

The Marmoreal Tomb had some delays due to health of both creators, and some other unexpected delays. There are updates, but it is not as clear what is outstanding, nor how soon to completion. The last update was on 10/25/2017, but creators are active in the KS comments. Updates are posted regularly on Facebook. There is at least visible action on this. However, no date has been given, that I have seen, for projected delivery.

Top Secret: NWO was initially slated for delivery in November, 2017, but it got pushed to December, 2017. So far no word on what the new ETA is. Since the last day of December is a Sunday, I don’t expect to get it this year.

Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is way ahead of schedule. The final PDF is complete and in the hands of backers. The print run has been ordered and shipping has commenced. The GM screen and other minor things are still in the works, but I see no issues in full delivery ahead of the announced delivery date of February 28, 2018. Kevin Crawford is a stand up guy, and he takes his word seriously. He has a free PDF on DriveThruRPG that has an article about how he runs a Kickstarter. I wish EVERY RPG Kickstarter creator would read that and act on it before launch. Even non-RPG Kickstarters could learn a few things.

RPG WorldBuilder is an app using graphics from the worldbuilder cards. It is slated for delivery in December, 2017. The beta went out last week, and so far, it looks good. I have yet to put it through its paces.

Old School Gamer Radio: A D&D Resource funded October 1, 2017 and the website Old School Gamer Radio went live yesterday. I got my add on of a ball cap today. Most people have their rewards. I was one of the four top tier backers, and we are still waiting on our fulfillment, which should be soon. The live play has also gone live, with a pilot episode release today.

I have updated my Kickstarters page here on the blog that tracks the status of my Kickstarters. I also indicate which ones I have done a review, with a link to the review.

I added five reviews today, and a couple more in recent weeks. All since the last time I updated that page.

I have $684 in seven outstanding Kickstarters. Four of those launched in 2017, and the amount I have tied up in them is $444.

The total of all thirteen Kickstaters that funded in 2017 is $743. I am confident that the four outstanding from 2017 will deliver very soon. On top of that, I went for the $100 Stars Without Numbers Omnibus available to backers of the SWN 2e Kickstarter.

Only one Kickstarter that I backed in 2017 failed to fund because it became a train wreck, and was cancelled. It was supposed to be re-launched with more reasonable goals, but the train wrecks kept coming. This was the Empyrea Kickstarter. I doubt another attempt will be forthcoming.

I said it this time last year, that I would be unlikely to back more Kickstarters, but I obviously didn’t stick with that. Too much nostalgia or cool things. I had to add some monthly expenses that greatly limit my ability to consider new ones. Plus I added several very large volumes to my collection, and have more physical rewards in the wings. I am running out of room, and I am trying to downsize.

I will be much more picky about backing Kickstarters. I have to get serious about both downsizing and spending less on Kickstarters so I am able to attend conventions.

The Black Hack – A Review

I am finally reviewing The Black Hack.

A few months back nearly two years ago, I did a review of The Front, before I understood that it was based on The Black Hack. Much of what I liked in The Front are mechanics from The Black Hack.

I backed the Kickstarter for The Black Hack and have had the items to fulfill it for several weeks over a year.

I am pleased with the book, setting, and other things that came with it.

The mechanics are as stripped down as you can get. There are the usual stats with 3d6, but then you do a d20 stat check to do anything. Roll under the ability score on the d20. Combat is quick. The players roll to hit their opponents and roll to dodge attacks. The GM doesn’t have to roll any dice if they don’t want to.

When you use an item, you roll a usage die to see if you use up any of your supplies. An item is assigned a usage die, for example, if it is a d8 for arrows and you shoot and roll a 1, your die type goes down to a d6. As long as you don’t roll a 1, you maintain the usage die. That is, you still have arrows. If you roll a 1 on the d6, it goes to d4. If you roll a 1 on the d4, you are out of arrows. I really like this concept. I suppose you could use other dice, like the d7, d5, and d3, but that just complicates it.

What You Get

  • 2 Rulebooks, each less than 20 pages, digest sized
  • GM screen, 3 panels, digest sized
    • This was a stretch goal.
  • Module/Setting, 4 pages
    • Normal sheet of paper sized cardstock folded to be digest size.
    • It has a die drop table for locations in town and tables to add flavor.
    • It discusses how to create a sandbox for that style of play.
    • This was also a stretch goal.
  • 12 character sheets
    • This was a stretch goal.

There is a robust community on G+ and there is a plethora of *Hack games for different genres. Rad Hack for post apocalyptic, for example. There is at least one such *Hack for every genre, and some have multiple efforts where many have decided to put their spin on it.

You can’t get more streamlined than this other than limiting the number of abilities and dice. This is taking OSR to the extreme in minimalism. One could probably reduce the essence of Black Hack to a page or two. I don’t know if anyone has tried.

There are rumblings about a version 2, but I have not followed those closely.

I have yet to run or play Black Hack. So far, I have only ran The Front at a couple of conventions.

Since this is a rules light system, that is what I like about it. It takes the familiar and boils it down to the essentials. Other rules light systems have boiled down to different essentials. I like it for what it is. Not having put the system through its paces across multiple sessions as a player and GM, I can’t think of anything that is missing.

If you are interested in getting the rules out of the way of playing the game, this may be what you’re looking for.

The ABCs of RPGs – Review

I backed this Kickstarter and ordered two of the books, one for me, and one for my granddaughter. She loves this book! It even won an Ennie in 2017!

The art is cool and the story gets the concepts of RPGs across to little ones.

My granddaughter really likes Chris, the owlbear. It is really cute the way she says owlbear.

I really like this book. It is a board book, so it is really good for reading to your little ones before they are ready to read. It teaches the alphabet while espousing how cool RPGs are. There is one page where the lettering blends in a bit with the art behind it, so I always have trouble with the page in low light.

I also got the coloring book and stickers. I got the coloring book for me. My old eyes just can’t handle the lines. Even with glasses, I have to get really close to make sure I go on the side of the line I want. That isn’t as much fun as I thought it’d be because older eyes. Now I get why my parents and grandparents couldn’t see certain things.

I doubt my granddaughter will have siblings, but my youngest son shared some news a few weeks ago that grandchild number two is on its way!

Time to head over to Hunter’s Books to get another copy!

You can get the PDF of the book on DriveThruRPG [Affiliate Link].

You can get the PDF of the activity book on DriveThruRPG [Affiliate Link].

Oath of the Frozen King – Review

Adventure Kit: Oath of the Frozen King by Absolute Tabletop, is a D&D 5e compatible adventure funded by Kickstarter. It is billed as being the middle ground between a full featured published adventure and your own table top notes, that they call Adventure Kits.

What’s An Adventure Kit?

The concept of Adventure Kits is a framework with the general idea and some main points for GMs that like to improv. Tables are provided to help fill in some of these pieces. It allows the GM to randomly generate, or use the ideas in the provided tables to take the general idea for the adventure and craft it to their own style and that of their players.

They use a die-drop table with the six standard dice to generate the relative position of each encounter location. The result of each die influences the specifics of the encounter in that location. For example, the d4 is the Hall of Bone and Ice and there are 4 different things that can be encountered there. The result is a six room dungeon, as is seen later with the battle maps.

If you don’t want the adventure set in the frozen tundra, they have a d8 table with how to re-skin it for any environment.

They introduce a new notation, such as d12³, which means roll a d12 three times. This is first seen on a table with twelve rows and three columns. The intent is to roll a d12 for each column. To yield more than the initial 12 options, there are 12x12x12 or 1,728 combinations of possible quests mixed in this adventure.

Next is a table of six potential twists to tweak things so it isn’t so cut and dried.

Then a d20 table of twenty possible motivations for the PCs to be here.

The Locations are defined by two sentences, then 3 bullet points for each of the sights, sounds, and sensations in that location.

The encounters are classed as: roleplay, combat, skill challenge, puzzle/trap, and environmental hazard. Each encounter has 3 or 4 bold type phrases to describe an aspect of the encounter. Until the encounters, there is no ruleset specific terminology. This makes it very easy to run this with any ruleset.

The NPCs presented are just descriptions and traits, no stats, again making this easy to use across various rules.

Monsters that are presented have some very basic stats related to HP & AC and damage.

Next are some things to think about for resolutions and rewards, with ideas to wrap up the adventure, extend the adventure into an ongoing campaign, and repercussions in the future. There are tables for repercussions and relations, treasure, social rewards, and ties that bind. These are all good ideas for things to keep in mind when adventurers do something, there are always unexpected and unintended consequences.

There are 18 pages of tables in what is called the Toolbox, which can be used to further modify the adventure. Various details, phrases, set details, loot, hazards, trinkets, locations, sights, sounds, sensations, encounters, monster generation, skill challenges, trap generator, and NPC generator, all of which can be used for modding other adventures.

The conclusion is a short story to set the tone and mood.

What I Liked:

  • A loosely defined default setting, with encouragement to use your own, or another.
  • The use of the die-drop table to configure the locations used in the adventure.
    • The page devoted to explaining how this die-drop table works.
      • It is graphical, so makes it very clear how to use it.
  • The various tables to tweak the different aspects of the adventure.
    • One can read all the options in a given table and pick the one that is the most interesting.
  • The tables in the Toolbox.
    • All of the tables they use give a lot of ideas for crafting your own tables, or using them to make your own adventures.

What I’d Like to See:

  • Hyperlinks in the Table of Contents.
  • More options for the die-drop tables.
    • There are only four options on each table, why not just use a bunch of d4s? I’d prefer to see one option for each possible number on a given die.
    • This is very minor. I know well the challenges of coming up with good options for tables.


I find this to be a helpful way to build an adventure for sale to the masses. It has enough detail that you can run it without much effort, and you can tweak it to suit your style of play. Almost all of the tables can be used on their own.  This is a great example of how little information one needs to run an adventure. For those GMs that need all the details ready to run, this may not be for them.

The PDF is available on DriveThruRPG [Affiliate Link] for $9.95.

Archive – Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs – a Review

Archive – Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs is a Kickstarter funded book. by Molten Sulfer Press. It is a high quality paperback with full color photographs and art. 80 people, places, and events from ancient to modern times are presented with the known historical facts, and each topic ends with a section on how it could be used in a roleplaying game.

I backed this because I love history, I have a B.A. in History, and knew of some of the items included, but having the bare facts at my fingertips without having to get lost in Wikipedia appealed to me.

What I Liked:

  • It is well presented with a cover to set the tone.
  • The physical construction of the book is quite solid for a 266 page paperback. The quality of the paper contributes to its heft.
  • The table of contents breaks down to these categories to help you find the type of information you want.
    • Landscapes
    • Cities, Towns, and Buildings
    • Events
    • People
  • The photographs and art convey much more than each short entry.
  • The concept.
    • The idea of collecting this type of information illustrates what I, and others in the OSR and beyond say about where we get our inspiration. We get it from everything we have ever seen, done, or read.
  • There is a PDF, making for searchable text, or you can print out what you need for the table.
    • Both the Table of Contents, and the Index have hyperlinks.

What I’d Like to See:

  • More
    • More articles, however what is contained in this book have enough ideas for more than 80 pieces of a campaign. It would take years to exhaust the suggestions here.

The PDF is available on DriveThruRPG [Affiliate Link] for $15.00.

Blueholme Journeymanne Rules – A Review

Blueholme Journeymanne Rules was a Kickstarter by Michael Thomas. It extends his retro clone of the Holmes Blue Box Basic from 1977, Blueholme Prentice Rules for levels 1-3. The Journeymanne rules extend things to level 20. It is fitting that this was in 2017, the 40th anniversary of the Holmes Blue Box.

I got my start with the Holmes Blue Box way back in 1977, so this is my 40th year of D&D! Like many who backed this Kickstarter, it was for the nostalgia, and to finally get past level 3. Back in the day, we didn’t make the connection to the OD&D books, or we would have gotten them. The Holmes basic text told us we needed AD&D, so anything else was “basic,” and for little kids. How wrong we were. Had we ignored that, we would have gotten the original books and perhaps gone beyond 3rd level before the Player’s Handbook finally came out in 1978.

I backed at the level of the PDF and hardback. The PDF was completed a few months ago, with several weeks allowed for backers to read. I wish I had time before the cutoff to read this, I had too many Kickstarters deliver from November to December, and I ran games at two conventions the first two weeks of November. I found a couple of issues I will report elsewhere. I’m kicking myself for not digging in and reading the PDF.

The printing and shipping was via Lulu, and the quality is what I expect from Lulu. It is a serviceable book, and the cover and text look good.

All the basics are covered, species instead of races, classes, abilities, equipment, spells, monsters, treasure, adventures, encounters, and campaigns. This is 117 pages with table of contents, index, backer list, and OGL taking up 5 pages, and one more for a sample character sheet. With the PDF, it is easy to print out character sheets, or use one of the many basic/OSR character sheets, or do it old school and write it out on notebook paper or index cards.

What I Liked:

  • Art – A gorgeous cover and many interior illustrations.
  • Classes have all the information for a class in one place:
    • Description
    • XP table
    • Spell table
    • Other class specific tables, like turning undead, and a paragraph or two on strongholds.
  • The Introduction ends by pointing out that there are no “rules,” but rather guidelines.
  • Old School
    • Initiative is based on DEX. Roll off on a d6 to break ties. (This is how Metamorphosis Alpha does it.) This was also in Holmes.
    • Both magic users and clerics have spell books, and the books are so big, they can’t take them adventuring.
    • Looser rules on what levels magic items like potions and scrolls can be created, like in Holmes.
    • Less fiddly bits on spells.
    • Streamlined combat.
    • The monster section mentions that the listings are the average or typical of the type.  Players can find some much tougher or weaker than what is listed.
    • The Class section mentions “non-standard” races, and in fact any “monster” can also be a classed character, although weaker and having to advance in levels.
    • Weapons all do d6, but there is a variant rule.
  • Many new monsters, or variations on the standard ones.
  • A section on Unusual Treasures, whether magical or mundane.
  • The section on campaigns is far from comprehensive, but hits key points to keep in mind for designing your own campaign setting.

What I’d Like to See:

  • More

I really struggled trying to decide what is truly “missing” or poorly executed here. This is a well executed retro clone of what a “complete” ruleset might look like from Dr. Holmes. This is meant to be a light set of rules for quick play. Characters are easy to generate in a few minutes, and play can commence right away.

Adding to this would have to be done carefully to avoid bloat. It is OSR, so monsters, spells, and magic items are easily available from multiple sources, many of them free.


Whether your interest is the nostalgia for the early days of the hobby, or a simple rule set for quick play, or for the kids to run their own games, this fits the bill.


Review of The Midderlands – A Kickstarter

I backed The Midderlands – An OSR Mini-Setting and Bestiary Kickstarter by Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design. It surpassed its 12,000 pound goal by 1,953 pounds. I selected the 30 pound pledge level, AKA Mawling, the rewards is a PDF of the Book, a PDF of the map, and a hardcopy of the book, one map, and two character sheet bookmarks.

It funded July 31, 2017. The PDFs were released on October 9, 2017, and I received my physical rewards on November 27, 2017.

Here are pictures of my book, map, and bookmarks.

Midderlands: Book, Map, and Bookmarks
Midderlands: Book, Map, and Bookmarks
Midderlands - A Peek Inside
Midderlands – A Peek Inside

The PDF:

The download with the PDF included a jpg character sheet in color, a jpeg of the monster quick reference for the monsters in the bestiary, and the map in color and parchment both jpgs.  After the PDF was released, we received a 33 page PDF of things cut because of layout and other issues, The Midderlands Additions. This gives more information on one creature, some NPCs, and a map and description of an inn, which is also an adventure. These are things cut from the final print version to keep shipping costs manageable.

Inside the 228 page PDF is art by Glynn and several other artists. The table of contents lays out what is in this gazeteer of an RPG setting based on the Midlands of England. There are the standard geographical features, points of interests, towns, villages, and cities.  There are also adventures and adventure hooks. Glynn has taken interesting sites from his location in England and filtered them through a combination of RPGs and his imagination to come up with something new. I should mention that there is a language warning on this project from the author. If you can’t handle “adult language” this may not be for you.

It uses Swords & Wizardry as a base, but will work with any OSR ruleset. The ideas can be used in any setting, and many in any genre.

The color scheme for this setting is green. Take any word to describe green and any shade of green, and things that are green, and they end up here. Slime, vapors, demons, etc. are all green and there is a cthonic and dreary atmosphere, and the locals mistrust outsiders. There is enough here for a stand alone campaign, or ideas and adventures to sprinkle in your own campaign or campaign world.

Gloomium is the metallic substance that generates the green hue to everything, and causes all the weirdness in the world. Gloom-touched is the phrase that describes those affected by gloomium. There are random tables to describe what these effects are., and their location on the body. There is a dd0 table called Weird Shit used to add weirdness to The Midderlands. A list of words for green is provided, as everything in the setting should have something green about it. Surprisingly, Lincoln Green, the color associate with Robin Hood and his men is not listed. That color was based on a dyeing process. I am not sure if that shade has another name.

The setting is based on the 15th and 16th century. Artillery exists along with primitive handheld firearms. Magic and witches are not trusted. Religion is left to the GM to handle, but describes a loose system of belief that will suffice without adding to the GM’s workload. A list of superior beings that fit the setting, from angels and demons to deities is also provided.

Among the list of locations that are described, some settlements have a map, and some of those have numbered locations for major locations within the city or town. Points of interest are also given. These are things like a windmill, or a large rock with a history, etc. Some are “normal,” while others have lore or legend associated with them.

There are four new spells, that fit the region/setting. They require but a single page.

Pages 75 – 186 contain all the new plants and creatures. There is a table to randomize the types and effects of fungus/mushrooms that might be found. Some monsters have their own classes and levels. This allows scaling the threat of some creatures in unique ways. (I really need to dig in and read through all these new creatures.)

Pages 188-206 detail the adventures and adventure ideas in the setting.

Pages 207-215 cover hex map locations. Most are fixed locations in a specific numbered hex. However, the last five items actually have random locations, such as a travelling circus. The GM is advised to lay out the map and drop a d20 on it from about 18″ to generate each item’s current location.

Next, there is an Appendix with six tables: a d20 insult table with 20 common Midderlands insults, a d10 festival/gathering table, a d20 weather table, a name and trades table with no numbers/die rolls indicated, an additional Hamlet/Small Town names table, and a d100 Crap You Find On A Midfolk Table. As with any resource, these tables have something you can use in whole or in part in games independent of this setting.

Finally, there is an index, it is not hyperlinked, nor is the Table of Contents.

What I liked about the PDF:

  • The artwork, design, and layout are gorgeous and help evoke the setting.
  • Random tables that can be used in other games and settings.
  • New creatures, spells, and items that are portable to other games and settings.

What I’d like to see in the PDF:

  • A hyperlinked Table of Contents
  • A hyperlinked Index.
  • The character sheet
    • I’d also like a no color option for more economical printing.
  • The map – just a basic version on a single page.

NOTE: There are bookmarks in the PDF, so one can navigate to various sections, but the bookmark pane must remain open.

The Book:

The hardback book is 6″ x 8.5″. It is solid and has heft to it. It includes two ribbon bookmarks in different shades of green to match the motif of the green cover and green tint and hue to the artwork and pages. It is gorgeous! It also has colored markings for groups of pages in the same section, like settlements, creatures, adventures, etc. For larger numbers of pages, these are easily visible when looking at the edge of the pages when the book is closed. Some are more easily identified when the pages are fanned. This is a cool way to allow the user to jump to a section.

The front end pages are a character sheet, that is the same as the one backers received as a jpg with the PDF.

The pages are slick and thicker than one normally expects. This makes for a durable little tome, with heft beyond its size. While the pages are slightly slick, they only shine at a specific angle to the light in the room, and are easy to read. I have not tried reading it in all light levels. The text does not bleed through, but some of the darker art does. CORRECTION: I realized that what I thought was bleed through is actually the region map sort of like a watermark. It is only the shields for heraldry of certain nobles, and lakes and rivers that are dark enough to easily show. The rest is quite faint and easily missed. I did not find it distracting while reading the text.

What I liked about the book:

  • It is gorgeous!
  • The art and layout.
  • The double bookmarks.
  • All of the same things I liked about the PDF.

What I’d Like to see in the book:

  • The region map on one page, so I don’t need to open up the map or resort to the computer.

The Map:

Full color 16.5″ x 23.25″. One side has the green color motif, and the other has a parchment like color. Both sides have light gray numbered hexes. On the green side the numbers are white with a dark outline.

I find that the parchment colored background is easier to read the names of all the locations. Both sides are gorgeous, but the green side has just enough of a shine to it that makes it harder to read than the color combinations. I do like the green side as it fits the motif of the PDF and book. The black and white lettering on the green side is easily legible, but any writing of other colors, I find hard to read. I have not tried it in multiple lighting levels, as I have limited space to spread out at the moment.

Instead of using different colored text for different political units, a different size of font in black would work better on the green side for my eyes. I find that this is an issue in the last 6 or 7 years, that certain things I used to read easily, I can’t. I have new glasses, so it isn’t my prescription. Aging eyes begin to lose some of their finer utility. The option of the parchment map on the other side does remedy this.

Where to find The Midderlands:

You can find the PDF of The Midderlands – OSR Bestiary and Setting at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. Currently, it is only available in PDF. on these sites.  You can order the book, map, and shipping from England for 35 pounds on the Monkeyblood Design site here.

The Midderlands Additions is available as PDF and softcover at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

There is also a bundle with both the main book and additions at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

There is a lot here. I find it interesting and I want a few days of uninterrupted time so I can just read it cover to cover.

UCon 2017 Write Up

This year, UCon was November 17-19. It was my second con in November, after Gamehole Con two weeks earlier. See my write up for Gamehole Con here. It took longer to recover from my second convention in a month, I also ended up with a cold, and work got crazy with a new call tracking system that went in two days before UCon. I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend resting my tired brain and binge watching Netflix.

Now, the recap.

Thursday – I have taken off Thursday the last few years, and get to the hotel early enough to meet up with friends. This year, I was tired, and had to finish up my pre-gens for my Friday morning Metamorphosis Alpha game. In past years, I have gotten into some pick up games. I didn’t do that this year.


  • My morning Metamorphosis Alpha game had one pre-registered player. They were the only one to show. It needed at least 3 players, so I visited with others who weren’t playing and had a look around. I was bummed that I put work into that scenario, but I have it for another day.
  • In the afternoon, I played in Adam Muszkiewicz ‘s Ur-Hadad DCC campaign. It was a blast to finally get to play the wizard the first time I played DCC at Marmalade Dog 20 in 2015. The wizard seeking to trap lightning in a bottle and Meat Dwarf, played by Laura Rose Williams we once again on the same team. The rest of the team were new players. I was hoping to team up with Shane Harsch’s wizard for some #Wizbiz, but Shane was running a game at that time.
    Ur-Hadad is a theater of the mind city with only the most basic of maps of a specific area. It is a city where one can find and do almost anything. This is a great way to run a city campaign without the GM having to do a lot of work.

  • After Ur-Hadad, there was a panel with the artists of DCC with Doug Kovacs and Stefan Poag. I hit the wall at some point and nodded off. The conversation was wide ranging about art vs. commercial art/illustration. Doug is a very well-read person and has a lot of insightful ideas.

    DCC Artists Panel
    DCC Artists Panel
  • That evening, I played in Clayton William’s DCC scenario. We had a blast and some wild choices by one player nearly caused a TPK.
    DCC with Clayton Williams
    DCC with Clayton Williams


  • Del Tiegeler was there with his sons. They had a great time. I didn’t end up in any games with Del. He’s always willing to show what he’s working on. I didn’t take pictures of some things he is working on, since they are for projects yet to be announced, etc. I just love his line work. If you are patient, you can get him for commissions in between his other projects. Nearly a year ago, he did an alternate header for my blog.
    Del Tiegeler Showing Me Some Originals
    Del Tiegeler Showing Me Some Originals


  • I didn’t get his name, but one DM had dice and homemade dice trays for each player for his AD&D game. I thought the way he made the dice trays was cool, so I got a picture.

    Dice Tray With PVC Pipe Plywood & Felt
    Dice Tray With PVC Pipe Plywood & Felt


  • In the morning, I ran Delving Deeper, using a scenario I developed called, “No Really, It’s Me!” A clan of doppelgangers is tired of adventurers coming into the dungeon and getting into their caverns and killing them. So the party are doppelgangers sent back to town to stop the adventurers from returning to the dungeon. The players had a blast trying to think like doppelgangers impersonating characters. I greatly enjoyed the things the players came up with. There was a lot of great roleplaying. I set the scenario, and the players went with it. I just threw in some things to give them a challenge now and then. I really liked that they saw the description of the scenario and wanted to play it.
    My Delving Deeper Game
    My Delving Deeper Game

    Delving Deeper - Trying to Emulate The Selfie Queen - Satine Phoenix
    Delving Deeper – Trying to Emulate The Selfie Queen – Satine Phoenix
  • In the afternoon, I ran the Gangbusters scenario that Mark Hunt wrote for me to run at Gamehole Con. This was the fourth time I ran this scenario and once again, with a different mix of players, the story evolved differently.
    GB Player Character Sheet Doodles
    GB Player Character Sheet Doodles

    GB - Selfie Practice
    GB – Selfie Practice
  • In the evening, I played in Laura Rose Williams’ DCC funnel, Hole In The Sky, by Brendan LaSalle . It was a Contessa event. I tried to get in Laura’s DCC game last year, but it sold out fast. I would play with Laura as she is a great player and DM and a lot of fun. I kidded her about killing 3 of my 4 0 levels before anyone else lost any of theirs. My last character lived to the end when several of the other players lost characters.I had fun with the tattoo among the DCC swag. It lasted a couple days after I got home.
    DCC - Tatoo
    DCC – Tatoo

    DCC with Laura
    DCC with Laura


  • I played in Adam Muszkiewicz’s Quasquetherion Delving Deeper campaign for the 3rd year. I found my wizard character that I couldn’t locate for last year, and had fun getting back into that character. We did better than last year and avoided a TPK. I forgot to get a picture of the group.
  • That afternoon I played in Brendan LaSalle’s experimental 2 hour game. A giant DCC funnel with over 20 players. The largest game he had ever ran. He had some procedures to try and speed it up, and before we were very far along, he told us he came up with some ideas to speed it up. We were a diverse group in age, from pre-teen to at least my age, early 50’s. I’m not sure if some of the players were older than I. We had women from pre-teen to perhaps their forties, but age is hard to guestimate.

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

I had a blast. I was a bit surprised the crowd wasn’t bigger. Last year, I had several tables of 12 because several GMs had to cancel due to the flu. Perhaps the crowd was the same size, but very few GMs cancelled. There was record attendance this year – 1,005!

Next year,  UCon is the same weekend as Gamehole Con, so I will miss Gamehole Con. If you are within driving distance of Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor, MI, this is a great game convention. It has a strong OSR presence, a historical Tekumel presence, lots of D&D of all versions, Pathfinder, and more.

UCon was my last convention for the year. I have one more convention related task for 2017. GM’s that sign up for Marmalade Dog 23, March 30- April 1, 2018, by December 31, 2017 get free admission and a t-shirt.  I want to encourage all OSR GMs in the area to run games. I will come up with three scenarios, one for each day.