Category Archives: Marmalade Dog

Ogre Island and The Black Crate – My Saturday Session at Marmalade Dog

Here is my promised follow up post to my write up of Marmalade Dog 21, about the AD&D session I ran using a scenario from my campaign.

Urman the great is an archmage who has a stronghold on Ogre island. He sends adventurers to get information and items from the ancient city that is overrun by ogres, pirates, and other things. In this scenario, the rumored black crate, was on a ship caught in the same storm that nearly took the ship the players were on. The black crate is a large steamer trunk that agents of Urman send special items to him. He hires the newly arrived party to go and retrieve it. He gives them a magical lock that will return the crate to him. It has been magically hidden, so he can’t just find it himself, and being an archmage, has other things taking up his time.

It was a fun session and +Laura Rose Williams drove from Lansing after a meeting and a birthday party, just so she could play in my game. That was so cool! Her druid decided to cast a spell against some giant spiders they found when they decided that they wanted to go check out the ancient college of magic. She lost initiative, and got bit twice, and failed her save versus one of the bites. That was in less than the first hour of play. Laura said, “What is this DCC?” Which got a big laugh, as many at the table play DCC. I met Laura last year at Marmalade Dog, and we both played our first DCC last year.

Mourning The Dead Druid
Mourning The Dead Druid

I let her use the magic user, who had a spell that ended up saving another player at the end of the game.

I was supposed to have pre-gens ready for the players, but I had technical difficulties. So I had an idea that everyone liked. I hand wrote character templates on index cards. I started with just the random magic I rolled up from the tables in the DMG. Weapons and armor, potions, scrolls, wands, and miscellaneous items.  I then figured out THAC0, number of hit dice, minimum ability scores, saving throws, and base abilities for thief and monk, and number of base spells for spell casters.

These were 5th level characters, and based on the experience points to get a magic user and illusionist to 5th level, the druid and the thief were 6th level. Other than one magic item I rolled that I did not remember being a cursed item, and another that required exceptional strength to use, the others worked out well. I re-rolled those two items. I then had the players roll stats, and if they rolled really bad, would have at least the minimum stat needed for that class. That gave it a bit of customizeability that the players liked. I let spell casters choose whatever spells they wanted. The players really liked the amount of things settled for them, but that they still had a hand in creating their characters. I didn’t time how long it took, and of course, most of the time was taken up by spell casters choosing spells.

With most of the choices they made, and certain magic items, a first level party could have played this scenario and completed it. They avoided combat for the most part, and did a lot of bluffing their way through. Of course, there were several key rolls I made for the bad guys that made it easier for them. One NPC just missed his roll to realize there was an elf and a cleric of the wrong religion present that really made things easier for them.

The players really liked that this was a sandbox scenario, that I didn’t force their hand. I let them go into the college of magic that is abandoned and full of nasty things. They lost the druid to giant spiders and decided to leave. A raging flesh golem crossed their path, but didn’t see them. A different roll, and they’d have had a fight. They just walked past a group of goblins arguing over guard duty, and bluffed their way into standing watch on the wreckage of the ship so they could explore it.

I told them that I didn’t come up with a good name for the wrecked ship, and The Storm Witch was suggested. What a great name! I’m keeping it! The crate wasn’t there, so they managed to go to the tavern that served the pirates and got a lead in the general direction of the crate. It was decided to use the ancient aqueduct system to travel above the city. This allowed them to avoid most encounters, and lookouts and others didn’t manage to see them up there running around.

They had an encounter with a harpy that charmed three of them, but the cleric used his wand of fear to drive off the harpy, and dispel magic to break the charm. They were sneaky and managed to avoid detection until they got in sight of the crate being guarded by 8 ogres. The illusionist used invisibility 10′ radius to get them close enough to use the two potions of ogre control that Urman gave them, and convinced 6 of the ogres to go check out a fight, and those six convinced one of the remaining two to join them.

Then they waited until those 7 were out of sight, and used a wand of paralyzation to freeze the last ogre. They then ran up and attached the lock before  they could be stopped. Goblins ran up and shot them, and knocked the illusionist to 0 hit points before the magic of the lock and crate took them out of range. It was a challenge to grab the illusionist and keep him from falling off without one of the one’s grabbing him also falling. After a string of hilarious rolls of failure to attempt to grab the illusionist, the last thing that worked was feather fall, cast by Laura’s wizard, and they completed the mission and were congratulated and thanked by Urman.

We got done an hour early. This was because they only fought when they felt they had to, and withdrew when the fight was going against them. Had they had more fights, or not been as sneaky, the outcome would have been much different.

I made them give back the index cards, because I plan to type those up and can make templates based on levels. That’s one thing I really like about OSRIC, that it groups all the information you need on a given class into one place. It has every class from the AD&D Player’s Handbook, except monks and bards. AD&D bards are too complex, I will use one of the other OSR bard classes going forward. I will reserve AD&D bards for NPC’s, as they will be rare.

I will write up a separate article on my templates, and have an example that is typed. In addition, a cheat sheet with limitations for each race would be needed. My goal is something small and portable, either index cards, or maybe a booklet with all the information in each.

Marmalade Dog 21

Marmalade Dog 21 was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 18-20, 2016, at Western University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had planned to attend today and play in the first slot, but I woke up with a stuffy nose and ear, and a sore throat.

We did not have an official OSR slot this year, like we did last year. I have decided that once we find out when Marmalade Dog is next year that I will step up and coordinate an OSR track. The exception is if it is the same weekend as Gary Con. Last year, the convention was in early February, so I asked if they know yet when it will be next year. The answer is that the university tells them what date they can have, or occasionally what dates they can choose from. So such a variable makes it understandable why it isn’t consistent with the month they have it. I live in southern Kalamazoo County, so am only about 20 minutes away from campus.

Normally the deadline for GM sign up to run games, and get free admission, for each day that they run a session, and a t-shirt, is December 31. I didn’t get signed up to run a game by then. In February, I looked and there were some OSR type games, but three sessions the first, fifth, and seventh, did not have any. So I signed up at the website for the first and fifth session, and was not automatically rejected. I never got an email for confirmation that I wasn’t rejected. So last weekend, I went to the website and checked, and my sign ups were on the list of scheduled games. I then hurried up and got ready.

Session 1: 3:00 pm on Friday. As with last year, no one showed up to my game. If things work out to coordinate an OSR track next year, we’ll have to drum up enough players to commit to a first session game.  I ran the same thing for Session 5 on Saturday.

Session 2: Friday was 7:30 pm – 11:30 pm. +Forest Ray ran a Swords & Wizardry Complete setting, called Muskets & Magic Users. It was S&W with muskets. We were first level adventurers hired by the town to go stop the pirates who raided their town. Non magic users got issued a musket that did 1d12, that fired once per round. Magic users got a wand of magic missile that had 5 first level spells per day and regenerated its charges overnight.

That was a fun little session, and my magic user used Charm Person to make a “friend” of one of the pirates that was on the raiding party that came into the tavern where we were. This made it easier to find the other pirates in the raiding party, secure their boat, and go out to their ship. We managed to take the ship and go clean out the pirate hideout, then go fight the dragon ship of the pirate queen. It was a fun game.

Forest always hands out goodies for his games, and we each got a bag of dice and a button with the name of his game, and the rules system. Forest came down from Lansing and got a hotel to run and play games all three days. In addition to swag, he brought 3 copies of Swords & Wizardry Complete for reference. I didn’t bring mine as I was already lugging three AD&D Player Handbooks, the OSRIC Player Handbook, and a DMG for my earlier session.

Muskets & Magic Users
Muskets & Magic Users

Charles, who played in one of my sessions of Homlett from last year, and was looking forward to my game Saturday night. He said he runs Swords & Wizardry sometimes. He actually lives in my town, but I lost his number. I put it in my cell so I can’t lose it. We also had a couple, Joseph and Priscilla, who played S&W for the first time and had a blast. They were both experienced gamers. He lives in a town about 15 miles south of me, so we are planning to get together IRL for gaming. She lives about a half hour away in the other direction. We had one other player, and I am blanking on the name. I did not think to take a picture of play at the table.

Session 3: 10:00 am on Saturday, I played DCC’s Frozen in Time as a 0-level funnel, by +Mike Carlson.  Mike came down from Lansing for the day. I played this funnel with him last year. Others had played it, but I didn’t remember most of the key details, so it was like a new adventure. I only remembered things as we encountered them. It was a good time. We had a full table with 6 players. Four of us were experienced gamers with DCC experience. The other two were a couple, Seth had RPG experience, and this was Gretchen’s first roleplaying experience. She had a good time. This couple lives about an hour away, in Benton Harbor, so they are having a challenge finding a group. +Clayton Williams from Lansing and +James DeYonke and his friend Dave, from Ann Arbor, one and two hours away, respectively.

DCC at Marmalade Dog 21
DCC at Marmalade Dog 21

Session 4: 3:00 pm, Saturday. +Forest Ray ran Da Orkz Iz Back, a White Star scenario. I meant to bring my White Star books, but didn’t think to set them out, or put in my bag before I went to bed. This was the first time I had played White Star. Mike Carlson joined in, as did Charles, Joseph, and Priscilla from the night before in Muskets and Magic Users.

Forest & Players White Star
Forest & Players White Star
White Star At Marmalade Dog 21
White Star At Marmalade Dog 21

This was a scenario that needed at least one Star Knight and one pilot with the rest mercenaries. I rolled up a very uncharismatic Star Knight, and we had two pilots and two mercenaries. We were hired to investigate the loss of contact with Altair 6, a relatively new colony. There was no contact with the Star Knight Monastery, the city, and the star port. We found that legendary orcs who were thought to be myth were real, and were working with a couple of Void Knights. My Star Knight couldn’t hit the Void Knight with his star sword. The rest of the party gunned down the other Void Knight and one of the pilots picked up his void knight sword and managed to stab the void knight I was fighting. In another combat, I finally managed to hit something with my star sword. I was much better when I was shooting my blaster pistol.

Da Orkz Iz Back
Da Orkz Iz Back

Session 5: 7:00 pm on Saturday. I ran a scenario based on an area of my home campaign that I wanted to flesh out – Ogre Island and the Black Crate. I will write up a separate article on this.

Sunday has two sessions, Session 6 at 11:00 am and  7 at 3:30 pm.

Session 6: Forest ran Mutant University using the Mutant Future system. I had planned to attend that before I woke up with a cold and no energy.

Session 7: did not have any what I thought were obvious OSR games. I was thinking of playing a game of Fate, which I have never played. Maybe next year.

What I learned from this experience.

  • I need to commit to this local con, since it is in my backyard. As long as it does not conflict with Gary Con or other things I want to do, I will go.
    • If it is the same weekend as Gary Con, I can still try to coordinate an OSR track, for any not going to Gary Con.  I can recruit an assistant to handle things of the actual weekend.
  • Last year, after I saw how much time it took me to get ready to run Village of Homlet, I decided it would have been just as easy to come up with my own scenario that I would know like the back of my hand.
    • This idea proved true. I used the opportunity to flesh out an area of my campaign I had been wanting to do for a long time.
  • People will drive from a couple hours away to come for Saturday. A strong OSR presence could attract a lot more people.
    • Advertising on G+ an other outlets could increase the attendance.
    • Keep the line of communication open with other players from the region.
  • If you run a 6 person game, you get one folding table that is just big enough. If you run an 8 person game you get two folding tables.
  • Swag is cool. Perhaps publishers would provide swag, or templates for GM’s to make their own swag.
    • DCC has some cool stuff with bookmarks, buttons, pens, pencils, and more.

Laminating My Hommlet Map

In February, I ran Village of Hommlet at Marmalade Dog 20. I was very much over prepared. The map in my original module is very faint, and the blue of the ink is the kind that does not copy well. I purchased the PDF from DriveThruRPG, but the map did not print very clearly. So I got a couple sheets of tracing paper and traced it. I then ran by Kinko’s and made copies to regular paper and taped them together. The map did not feature very much in play, but since I put so much time into it, I wanted to preserve it, in case I ever need it. I am sure I will run Hommlet again someday.

Note on this process. Make sure the ink side of the tracing paper is facing down when you go to make copies. I didn’t realize the error of my ways until I got to the con and the map didn’t line up right. One page was correct and the other was not. I had to find a back lit window by the doors to trace the other side of the paper so that it was legible. I then ran by Kinko’s and made a correct copy of that part of the map for the last two days of the con. I later grabbed my colored pencils and colored my map.

Colored and ready to be preserved.
My map face down on the Contact Paper. Center it and apply pressure from the center out.


So I made a trip to the craft store and bought some clear contact paper. I cut some off a bit longer than the map.

Contact Paper
Contact Paper

After getting the backing off, I spread the contact paper on my table sticky side up.

I then laid the map ink side down. I cut out the corners of the contact paper and folded it over to wrap around the back of map. I used the scraps to cover the seam where I stitched the paper map together into one.

Map Face Down On Contact Paper
Map Face Down On Contact Paper with the edges folded over.

Rather than try to cut a piece of contact paper to fit, I used packing tape to cover the bare paper on the back of the map. (I know some might cringe at this. However, this is copy paper. It is NOT acid free paper, so using packing tape plus keeping it out of the light, will make it last longer. Unless I get a light table and acid free paper to trace a new map, I can’t make it last any longer. This is just a tool, even faded it will still work, and that might add a bit of character to it.)

Packing Tape Dispenser
Packing Tape Dispenser
Clear Packing tape on the back so all the paper is covered.


Now, other than sitting in a spill, someone being deliberately destructive, or a disaster, I have a map that I can write on with dry erase markers and use for years to come.

Rolls up nicely.
A couple of angled views.


Posting Frequency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to the rest of gaming in 2015.

Game on!!!

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

Details On The As-Needed Character Generation

+Adam Muszkiewicz over at Dispatches From Kickassistan has his write up of what he calls “emergent characters” that I touched on in my write up of Marmalade Dog 20, and in more detail in my post about collaborative roll playing.

Adam goes into details about its origins and how it has worked in actual play from the GM side.

All I can say it, it is a blast and keeps one on their toes and revving up their off the wall ideas. After two sessions at Marmalade Dog, my character still doesn’t have hit points because he was never hit. I can imagine that it will be a nail biter if I play that character again and have to roll HP after being hit in combat.

I think that style of play works well for a con, and for the right group of regulars it could be a lot of fun. In a con game, it allows one to get up and running with a character quickly that one is more invested in than a pre-gen passed out by the GM.

As I mentioned before, Adam and I talked about this, and a GM with mastery of the rules, or a simple set of rules, like Delving Deeper, by +Simon Bull would best facilitate this style of play.

Excellent Write Up On Marmalade Dog 20

Adam Muszkiewicz has a great write up over on Dispatches from Kickassistan about the OSR track at Marmalade Dog 20. Adam’s a graduate of WMU so he brings a much different perspective on this con.

Adam and some of his long time friends and others joined in on my first time as a DM for a con. They were nice and didn’t get too crazy. I am thankful that they restrained themselves, for I think I would have easily been in the deep end of the pool with concrete galoshes if that’s they way they wanted it. That would not have been a bad thing. My reactions to that would have been worth the price of admission to everyone else. I am sure that I would have eventually recovered.

We had a blast in Adam’s DCC sessions, and I was reminded of the no-holds-barred craziness of the way we played in high school, oh so many decades ago. That “What is a box?/We don’t need no stinkin’ boxes.” style of play is an eleven on the dial. It’s on par with firing off a full magazine of a Thompson or a Sten gun; fun, exciting, and over way too soon!

I would gladly play in Adam’s DCC Ur-Hadad and with that crew in any other RPG.

I am so looking forward to next year!

I can’t wait for UCon in November!

My Sunday Game

Sundays had been reserved for running my AD&D campaign with my oldest son and his girlfriend. We were playing almost every Sunday for over six months. It was a lot of fun and they both kept coming back for more.

At the end of September, they moved in with me to pay off some bills and save up for a nicer apartment because they had a baby on the way. One of the selling points my son made of their moving in with me, is that we would get to play more. We haven’t had one session since they moved in. I am OK with that, Now that my granddaughter is here, they would rather spend the time my son isn’t at work figuring out how to be a family and enjoying Nikola while she is at the tiny stage of life. This past Friday she was one month old. I don’t mind. I should have done more to flesh out my campaign.

I have thoughts of perhaps getting things ready where I can run my campaign on Roll20 with Google Hangouts. Perhaps someday I will.

Last weekend I played DCC for the first time and two of the players were Roy Snyder and Jared Randall. We had a blast playing together in Adam Muszkiewicz’s first session, and Roy and I were in Adam’s second session. Roy has a group that gets together every other Sunday, and he invited me. Since I am not gaming, I decided to join in. We meet this afternoon, so perhaps I will post a play report for tomorrow. It will be DCC, so their will be character generation. I don’t know if we are doing a funnel, or if we are starting at first level. It will definitely be interesting.

I have the DCC PDF that I got for free or low price in April of last year. I was proactive and put it on my tablet and put the Purple Sorcerer Crawler’s app on my tablet too. I also downloaded and printed the blank character sheet PDF, that has four character sheets on one page. I packed up my game bag and have it ready to walk out the door.

The only thing I don’t have are all the funky dice: d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, and D24. The d6, d10, d16, and d24 are easy to emulate with existing dice. D6/2 = d3, d10/2 = d5, d8 & d6 to emulate d16, and d12 & d6 to emulate d24. For example emulate a d16, roll a d6 and a d8. If the d6 is 1-3 add 0, if the d6 is 3-6 add 8. If I had either a d7 or a d14, I could easily emulate the other. I read online that one can use a d8 and ignore rolls of d8, but that leads to extra rolling that slows things down. I guess I can use my tablet, or borrow dice until I can snag some of my own.

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