Category Archives: Legacy D&D

Collaborative Roleplaying

At Marmalade Dog this past weekend, I played in two sessions of DCC ran by Adam Muszkiewicz of Kickassistan. I went into some detail of how he ran the sessions in my post with a follow up on Marmalade Dog 20.

To sum up, he used the DCC rules and had us use a 3×5 index card. We rolled for our prior profession and our birth augur. We then went around the table and used those to pieces of information for different people to say why we were trying to get into Ur-Hadad. Then depending on our characters, we rolled our stats the first time we used them. For spell casters, we chose two spells and rolled for two spells. For random effects of spells that were generic, but could use some color, such as the memories of a dying god, Adam had a different person around the table explain what memories it was.

I believe that all roleplaying is collaborative. The DM/GM prepares some sort of setting, and sets the basic parameters, and the players buy into that and work with the DM to navigate the world. In my usual experience it is more one on one between each player and the DM or among the players as their characters.

However, this style of collaborative roleplaying involves the whole table in figuring out some piece of each character’s story. It is not in an invasive way that hampers or constrains the player, unless the player is not open to that style of play. Not having done that particular style of roleplay at the table, I was not sure I would like it. Having a DM, like Adam, who is very skilled in this style, and players willing to jump in the deep end, made for a very enjoyable time.

The use of the rules was minimal. Adam only had a huge number of dice and a notebook, and his phone to refer to the DCC app if he needed it. We relied on other players that brought their big fat hardcover DCC rule books. There was minimal consulting of the rules, usually only for spell casting, for the mercurial magic table and the specific effects of spells. Once spells were determined, we could have gotten by with the mercurial magic table and a copy of the effects of each spell among the players.

It was clear that Adam had a firm grasp of the rules. I could also tell that the basic mechanic of the DCC rules is one that makes it easy to jump in and play once you understand it. I think I picked it up well enough that it would make reading the rules come together that much faster. I do have a copy of the PDF that I picked up almost a year ago when it was available for one day for free or one day for PWYW, I forget which. I have not had time to read it, but I may do so now.

Adam is also comfortable with running a group of experienced gamers who know how to run with crazy ideas. We had a blast and much laughter. This is the kind of good time I remember from long ago when I started gaming with my brother and our friends. I don’t get to game with my original gang hardly ever, because I moved to Michigan, but I would gladly game with these folks!

I discussed this with Adam, mentioned that this style would only work with a DM that understands the rules thoroughly, or with a very simple ruleset.  Then we both said that Delving Deeper, by +Simon Bull, would be the rules to use. Adam mentioned his series on Delving Deeper, and I was able to tell him that his series convinced me to buy it. $5.00 for a physical set of rules, from Lulu via POD,that are basically OD&D with better organization and clarifications and table progressions that are consistent, such as for combat.

This could be done with any rule set with a DM versed in the rules and capable of improvising the whole thing, and players open to being creative. In the sessions that we played, it was mostly theater of the mind, with a crude map the first session so we understood how to move and rough locations. This style of play is fast with minimal consultation of the rules, and almost all of the by players for things related to spell casting.

Advanced preparation of the table for mercurial magic and then marking the location of each player’s spells on the first such session and copying them later would nearly eliminate the need to refer to the rules.

I liked playing this style of game, it was both entertaining to see the ideas of the others and fun overall. There was much laughing and kidding about the table. I would call this rule -1. Rule 0 is the DM/GM makes the rulings. Rule -1 is if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

I am not sure if I would be the best DM for such a style, but I think I could at least make it work. I definitely have to up my game in terms of off the wall ideas.

I did pretty good in our session on Saturday. Since my character had been struck by lightning, flaming hands and color spray looked like lightning. So each time I cast color spray, i did something different with the color. When the last time I used it I said it looks like plaid lightning, Adam paused for the briefest of seconds, and said something like, “Alright, that’s good!”

For this style of play, those who aren’t good with on the spot improvisation could use a notebook to record wild ideas for describing interesting things. For my wizard who has a new memory of a dying god each time he uses one spell, I am keeping track of each memory invented by the other players. It will be interesting if I ever get to play this character again to see what other off the wall ideas I or others can come up with.

This type of role playing with rules only for some basic structure is as close to the make believe type stuff we did as kids with cops & robbers, etc.  Although with this, we are adults who know it’s a game and don’t get made when someone says, “You missed!”

Marmalade Dog 20 – 2015 Post Con Write Up

Welcome To Marmalade Dog
Welcome To Marmalade Dog

The first slot started Friday at 3:00 PM. I was too late to join in a game, so I visited with Roy Snyder and Adam Muszkiewicz  and Pete Schwab  and others until the 7:30 PM slot when I was set to run T1 – The Village of Hommlet.

When Adam and I were talking the topic of random tables and drop tables and all the dice tables came up. I mentioned that I am slowly crafting an all the dice type table to help me generate area of an ancient “abandoned” city for houses, building, and other features. Adam pointed me to a display at Roy’s booth for Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, Winter 2014, Issue #1. Pages 10 and 11 have a neighborhood generator, and pages 12 and 13 have a gang generator. The neighborhood generator has a lot of ideas that I am looking for so I bought it.

No one signed up for my slot, so I played in Adam Muszkiewicz‘s Kickassistan session. Roy, Pete, Andrew Moss, Jared Randall, and Laura Williams all joined in. I had never played DCC and it was great! Adam had an interesting concept. Our character sheets where blank 3×5 index cards. We rolled for random professions, and birth portents. We did not roll any stat until we needed it. Each character was first level, so we got to pick a class. Adam had different players make up why we were their based on our known information. If we were rolling for our main ability for our class we got two re-rolls, but had to put the rolls on another stat. This was with 3d6.

This was the first cooperative role playing session I had ever played. Normal roll playing is cooperative, but this was a few notches up. It gets all the players involved in making an interesting story. After the game, I talked to Adam and we were on the same wavelength and agreed that it either had to be a rules system that the GM had total mastery, or something so simple to make mastery trivial. We both agreed that Delving Deeper would be a good one. Adam had a rough idea of what he wanted to do and greatly encouraged us to come up with something creative, even if it was off the wall. The most hilarious thing was that Roy Snyder invented the Minotaur Class. It would take too long to recount all the hi-jinks the Minotaur got up to. I can’t wait to see the write up for that.

The way this worked is if one was a fighter, they rolled their strength and other associated scores when there was combat or some other reason to know that score. For wizards, we got to pick two spells and toll for two. My character rolled a secondary profession of a sage with a dagger, quill pen, and piece of parchment. Based on this, I though a wizard made sense. I rolled intelligence and it was a 13 so it gets a +1. There is a table in DCC for Mercurial Magic effects. Also there is the concept of point burns, where one can use a point of a physical ability to boost the chance of success. This point burn is temporary. So the first time I cast a spell, charm person, I elected to burn two points of strength, then I had to roll my strength, and I rolled a 4. Thankfully, I did not say I used 4 points of strength, because when an ability hits 0, you are dead. The mercurial magic effect for that spell was then rolled, and it requires spells to be cast with point burn or suffer corruption. There were two other spells that I used and found out their effect. For Flaming Hands, the effect is gender bender that lasts an hour. Finally, Color Spray had the effect of memories of a dying god. I had to roll a d20 to determine the effect. If I rolled low, the dying god would take over my body, if I rolled moderately well, I would avoid the worst, but still have to roll every time. I rolled a natural 20! Adam was amazed. By rolling a 20 this meant that I had mastered the dying god’s memories and a new one would be revealed each time I cast the spell. Plus, it supercharged my casting and I always roll a d24 instead of a d20! Each time I cast Color Spray, Adam asked different players what the specific memories were of the dying god, and it was quite entertaining. I don’t yet know what happens if I use Magic Missile or Spider Climb. I also never took a hit, so I don’t know how many hit points I have.

I like the magic system. It is simple, but requires tables to determine effects. Each spell has its own table. If one does not like fire and forget Vancian Magic, the DCC system or similar is easy to mimic. The wizard can cast their spells at will and just roll a d20 for effect. The point burn mentioned above can give a boost to help insure success. The bonuses to the roll without point burn is +1 per level and  and pluses for abilities over 12. One can add another plus for each point burned from physical abilities, Strength, Stamina, and Agility. If the roll is bad, but close to success, one can burn luck points, but those don’t regenerate, but GMs can award luck points.

The only complication to playing DCC, besides needing a new set of rules, is the need for non-standard dice and in the all the dice tables in the issue of Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, i.e. d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, and d24. I finally got a d30 this past summer at GenCon, but need the others. By the time I decided I needed to buy more dice, the vendor selling dice had already packed up and left before the end of the night Saturday. It is easy to simulate the d3, d5, d16, and d24 using other dice. I am tired and not thinking how I would simulate the d7 and d14. If you had either a d7 or a d14 you can easily simulate the other. So, an online search for more dice may be in order.

After the game on Friday, we went to a bar and closed it. I only had one beer, since I had to drive 15 miles back home. I had not closed a bar in a long time, but we sat around talking about various RPG related topics, from systems to genres, to play, to Kickstarters, and more. It was a lot of fun!

In the first slot on Saturday I played in the DCC funnel ran by Mike Carlson. All four of my characters leveled to 1st level and survived until the last roll of the adventure. We had to make a luck roll, below our luck. One of my characters started with a 16 luck and had burned one, so I had to roll a 15 or lower and rolled a 20. Two of the remaining three characters also failed. One player had non of her four survive. The other three players had two of their characters survive. Mike made a stamp for dead characters. It had a skull and crossbones on the handle and he used red ink to stamp the dead characters as dead. We had a blast.

Dead Characters
Dead Characters

In Saturdays’ second slot, two other GMs did not have full tables, so I had 8 players for Hommlett. So as my first time running a convention game, this was the first time for only two of the players at a convention game, but they were experienced role players. It was fun to see how Adam and friends, and Pete and Roy made this their own thing. They made it to the dungeon under the keep when we ran out of time. Everyone had fun, and I asked for any advice for me. Adam and others agreed that I should have gotten them to the keep sooner for a convention game. They all agreed that I ran it well for normal play.

First Session Player's View
First Session Player’s View


First Session DM's View
First Session DM’s View


In the third slot of Saturday, I played again in Adam’s Kickassistan session, and brought my character from yesterday. It was great! I still don’t know my HP…. We had most of the players from the day before and some new ones and had a blast! Shane Harsch didn’t have anyone for his 5th edition session, so he joined in. His wizard character, mine, and another were planning great things!

Adam demonstrating how he flosses. ;)
Adam demonstrating how he flosses. 😉

Sunday, there is one slot and I ran Hommlet again. I did not have anyone signed up for my session and Pete did not have anyone for his session. Eric Piper got called into work, so his full Castles & Crusades session was cancelled and I ended up with 7 players for Hommlet. I felt that I ran it much smoother and even though Pete knew what was there from the day before, he did not meta game. This group avoided some of the trouble of yesterday’s group, but the cleric of this group went down the secret passage while the others were doing other things, and they found him dead. They rested until morning and went back to town, and I let them equip with the other cleric I had rolled. They only had one character in their group get knocked down. They got a lot farther in the lower level. It was fun and I see how I would run it differently still in a convention setting. Most of the players in this group turned out to be from the town where I lived, and we did not know each other, although two of them know my oldest son.

Second Session Hommlet
Second Session Hommlet

My analysis of running a module at a convention is that initially, I thought it would be easier, since it was all planned out. However, I did not know it as well as if I had put something together on my own. I was way over prepared. I wish I had put that much time into my own campaign, and I would have had a whole new area planned out. I am now able to run Hommlet any time with a quick review of the rules. There was talk from my first session crew of trying to finish it. I would like that, or if the second session crew wanted to keep going. Perhaps next year or at another con.

All of us who signed up to run a session are interested in meeting up for Marmalade Dog 21. If that group is there every year, I will be glad to go and run sessions and play.

Several of us also plan to go to UCon in November. I can’t wait!

My DM Badge
My DM Badge


Con Shirt Front
Con Shirt Front
Con Shirt Back
Con Shirt Back

Marmalade Dog 20 OSR Track Handout

I had the idea and volunteered to put it together. It is a one page, front & back listing of the GM’s for the OSR track and what games and rules systems they used, plus a listing of the websites for those rule systems and other OSR related information.

This page will be the home of that handout with a QR Code to send you here for the PDF with the clickable links.

I will also have a few handouts available at the con, with enough for each of the 6 slots in the 3 sessions I am running, plus two for each GM. The QR code should minimize the need for most to need a physical copy.

Marmalade Dog OSR Track Handout

Marmalade Dog 20 – Final Prep

I am doing my final prep to run my first convention game, Village of Hommlet, at Marmalade Dog 20, as part of the OSR track [link to OSR track broken:].

I think I am more nervous than I would be if I were to run a game in my home with a bunch of new players. At least in the case of in my home, I could have had some interaction with them before hand. At a con game you never know what you’re going to get. I guess it’s a box of chocolates.

I have read the module, made notes of what information I need to gather, generated a selection of player characters, and have pencils, note paper, and graph paper for the players.

I have had the original module since the 80’s, but have never ran it or played it. I bought the PDF and copied all of the text and printed it out in bigger print so that I can mark it up and highlight, and make notes without marring my original.

My notes are of all the monsters, spells, and magic items so that I have all the stats that will be needed to avoid picking up a manual. I will still take my manuals and have player’s handbooks available to the players. I’m also reviewing rules on things that could come up, such as grenade like missiles, grappling, etc. It’s a four hour session, so I’ll set a timer on my cell for two hours so we can have a break.

I’m not a fan of football, so I will spend my day on these final preparations.

My plan is to get as much sleep as possible in the days leading up to the con so that I have the energy and clarity of thought to deal with the unexpected in the most constructive way.

I also volunteered to put together an OSR handout, and just sent my first draft to the other OSR track GM’s. I will share that list here and with OSR related G+ communities. Perhaps it will develop into a generic OSR handout that can be used at other conventions, FLGS’s, etc.


Next Generation

My youngest asked me to teach him how to run a game of AD&D. He lives out of state with his mother, so this isn’t too easy.

Step one I completed today at one of my FLGS, Fanfare, or on Facebook. I was looking for a Player’s Handbook to have extras at the table when I run Village of Hommlet at Marmalade Dog, Feb 6, 7, 8, as part of the OSR track. They had a Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual 2, so I picked them up as well. I was pleased to see that Fanfare has a Marmalade Dog poster, and the poster indicates there is an OSR track. Cool!

They also had the Greyhawk Adventures that straddles the 1e and 2e rules, so I picked it up. Since Hommlet is set in Greyhawk, I figured clerics will use Greyhawk dieties. I have stats on them somewhere on a PDF, I think, but this will make it simple to get any information I need at the table. The main thing is the names of the dieties and anything specific about them for flavor. I doubt a low level adventure will see any D.I.

I then emailed my FLGS on the ether, New Era Enterprises at neweraenterprises at, AKA Roy Snyder, who helped get the OSR track at Marmalade Dog, to track down a Monster Manual.

I’ll use the Player’s Handbook at the con, but when he comes out with his mother and grandmother to meet his niece, I’ll give him his manuals, PH, DMG, MM & MM2, and some dice and graph paper. He just turned 18, wow, time flies. He wants to get together and play when he is here, but I don’t think there will be time to squeeze that in, but I hope I’m wrong about that and we can play.

My first grandchild was born two days after my youngest turned 18. He was hoping that he would be an uncle on his birthday.

She is gorgeous! It will be a while before she is ready to roll up a character and play with grandpa. I am sure that we will be playing make believe of one sort or another before she’s ready for even a kid’s version of an RPG. It will be a while yet until she’s even at the peek a boo stage.

Life is good!

Order for OSRIC Books

I am running the AD&D module, Village of Hommlet at Marmalade Dog 20 the first weekend in February, as part of the OSR Track.

I ordered the A5 Layflat spiral bound complete rules, and the hardcover OSRIC Player’s Guide. In addition to use at the table, I want to present that new players can get the basics they need to run AD&D without tracking down manuals, and without paying anything, if they just want the PDFs. I just ordered them today, so at the latest they should be here the week before I need them. I also want more manuals in case I happen to attract players to get my campaign going again. My son and his girlfriend have not been able to play since the summer.

I do have three copies of the Player’s Handbook, plus I have a tablet with the PDF I purchased before WotC yanked all their PDFs.  This should allow most players and myself to have a copy should they need it at the table.

I do have another copy of the original Player’s Handbook, that I snagged on eBay, but it is in near pristine condition. I also have one of the reprints, along with the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide, but they are still in the shrink wrap. I get overprotective of my stuff, so the copies I have in play, I don’t mind letting others use, I just don’t want any stains or writing on them, or the covers to be gouged by players using them as writing tables.

My original Player’s Handbook, that I got for Christmas the year it was released, is well stained from many fingers turning the pages. There are small tears and nicks on the edges of some pages, and the cover is somehow wrinkled, like it needs to be ironed, and faded.

I also purchased a PDF copy of the Village of Hommlet, so I can print it up and write on it, and cut out pictures to show the players, without having to write on my copy.

I need to finish reviewing and making notes and create some pre-generated characters. (Does anyone have pre-generated characters that would work well, or have worked well with this module?)

Once I get all that accomplished, I will try to find some others online so I can do a play test, since I have never played this module. It will be for six players. I also need to practice running a game that does not include my children, since they and I can communicate on a different level than someone I have never met or played with.

Hero Forge Backer Mini Ordered

The Hero Forge Kickstarter was one of the first Kickstarters that I backed. I got swamped with real life and missed out on playing with the beta websites.

Tonight I finally made time to go online and design my mini and place the order. My Kickstarter pledge for $30.00 gets me a detail mini and free shipping. As one of the backers I have access to the beta hexagonal base, for no additional cost.

What is really cool, is that you can name and save the character and then click the share button to get a link to that character. My mini is my interpretation, limited by the options of the Hero Forge site, to make Griswald Stewart, my long-time character in my brother, Robert’s AD&D 1st Edition game. Griswald is a half-elf fighter/cleric/magic-user of 10th/10th/11th level , and is the one for whom Robert drew the wolf’s head image that is Griswald’s personal symbol. Griswald was the only one with a magic weapon when the group he was with encountered a wolfwere. Slaying this magical beast gave Griswald the appellation, “The Wolf”. Griswald’s father was a hillsman, who are based on the Scottish clans, so he is supposed to be wearing a kilt, it is the lower half of robes.

I will show pictures of the unboxing when it arrives.

I will now have to locate paints and other supplies to prepare it. I will do my best to put the wolf symbol on the shield. I will have a post or two on the progress as I paint it. That could take some time, as January is my busiest time of year at work, plus my first grandchild is due in mid-January, so I may not get to it until sometime in February.

I found the Hero Forge website to be easy to use. I could have chosen from many different genres, like science fiction, western, modern, or east-Asian. You pick a genre, body type, racial type and design from head to toe including facial expression. It is all point and click. The low end mini is $15 and is not suitable for painting. The detail mini is designed to hold paint, and there are three inch and six inch versions available, for a big increase in cost. Standard shipping is $5.00. It is also very cool that you can change your view of the mini in design to make sure you know how the whole thing looks and if it is to your liking.

If you want a mini that is massively customizeable, this is a quick and easy way to get one, although I find the cost to be one to limit my purchases to either favorite characters or major NPCs to use in my game. I only have eight lead/pewter miniatures from back in the day, so I don’t use minis in games I run.

I will include further impressions of the actual mini as part of my unboxing post in the coming days….


Reading My New Holmes Blue Book Basic

I picked up a copy of the 3rd Edition Holmes blue book Basic D&D rules at UCON 2014 this weekend.

As I read through it, I found eight bold references to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

This is the third edition, which is copyright 1979. I started playing D&D in April, 1978, so I had either the first or second edition of this boxed set. This was when the three white books and any boxed set were not on the shelves and available to us, and before the revised Red Box full set of rules came out.

I am making an assumption here, but with all those bold faced references to ADVANCED D&D, that colored the thinking of the group I played with. Basic was “simple” and for “children”. We had to have Advanced. We decided to wait until the advanced books came out and managed to keep playing until then. I remember getting the Player’s Handbook for Christmas of 1978, then I bought the Monster Manual and the DMG when they came out.

If it had not been for our ignorant adolescent understanding that there wasn’t that much difference between the two games, we might have used more of the Basic information. Although cost was a factor back then. I had thought about getting Chainmail back then, but I had a subscription to Dragon and had to give my parents money to write a check to renew each year’s subscription. Mowing lawns at $10 each made that money precious and it did not get all the things I wanted. Had I been more industrious back then, I would have been able to afford more of the things I wanted, but had less time to enjoy them. Much the same problem still exists today, if I want paid so I have food, clothing, and shelter, I have to go to work instead of play.

A few things I noticed, after not seeing this for a few decades. While it only goes up to 3rd level for characters, the monster combat table goes to 11+ hit dice, and the monster list includes creatures that are well beyond 3 hit dice. All distances are in feet and some equipment on the list here did not make it into the Player’s Handbook.

This was a how to play book that reorganized the rules. It was not clear to us that this was the case back then. I have so far only had time to skim the rules, but it is clear that one can get a full set of playable rules and a wide selection of monsters in 50 pages, and easily in 60 pages or less. Delving Deeper is only 128 pages of rules with several full page charts and full page illustrations.

I look forward to reading these Holmes Rules and seeing what nuances I missed way back when. I will also read my red box rules and see how it compares to the AD&D I favor over others.