Category Archives: News Reviews & Culture

Grimtooth’s Traps Finally Arrives

My Grimtooth’s Traps hardbound 460 page book finally arrived. I pledged $50 for the basic hardback.




July, 2015 was the original estimated delivery date. I received mine on March 28, 2016. It was good to finally mark that off as received. I have two other Kickstarters older than the rest I am waiting on. Only one of which, the City State re-print by Judges Guild, do I expect to eventually get the promised items. The other is in legal limbo the D&D Documentary #2.

It came well packaged to not bounce around in the box. A big plus compared to a couple of other orders from the Goodman Games website. There is some cool art on the box (not pictured), but the mailing label went smack in the middle of the big graphic, so it’s ruined. I am curious what it looked like pre-label.

It is the same height as my AD&D Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide combined. The Grimtooth cover is slightly wider, maybe 1/8″.

Three Core Books for AD&D vs. Grimtooth's Traps
Three Core Books for AD&D vs. Grimtooth’s Traps

My DCC 3rd printing is also 460 pages, but Grimtooth’s is slightly thicker, whether due to heavier paper or a thicker cover, I’m not sure.

The DCC cover is the same size.
The DCC cover is the same size.
DCC is almost as thick as Grimtooth's Traps.
DCC is almost as thick as Grimtooth’s Traps.

It appears to be well constructed, and of good quality.

I’m sure there are a lot of interesting bits in here. However, I’m not going to be reading through it just yet, as I have a bit of a backlog. I never had the original books. I only jumped in as I thought it was an interesting bit of nostalgia to have. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have pledged.  I really need to be more selective in my purchases.

I may do a review in the future when I have a smaller backlog of things on my plate.

The Front – A Review

Here’s another new publication by +Mark Hunt, The FRONT, currently available via Lulu as print on demand (POD), and soon DriveThruRPG and RPGNow with PDF and POD. This is one of the many projects Mark worked on during nine months of chemo. In the interests of full disclosure, I am credited as a proof reader, and also put together the table of contents.

The FRONT is a bare bones RPG with a kernel based on the original roleplaying game. It has six 3d6 stats with a variation on the name so that Awareness is used instead of Wisdom. It is abbreviated AC, think of Awareness Check. It was easy for me to miss that. All other abilities are the standard. HP has different options for the GM to consider. It is a game with high lethality for characters. There are challenge rolls for combat, and d20 roll under rolls instead of saving throws.

Character generation is a quick 3d6 in order and swapping any two stats. There is a d20 table for pre-war career, which then leads to a page each for class.

There are four initial classes with various roles within the military, mainly geared towards the front lines. They are Combat, Intelligence, Leadership, and Reconnaissance. Each class has a section on what it has for combat training, abilities, special features, and starting equipment. Since this represents soldiers at war, there is no buying of equipment. On gaining a level, each class has a roll to requisition from the quartermaster.

Encumbrance is simple, a character can carry one piece of gear per point of strength.

Each piece of equipment has a usage die. If an item is used in a given turn, one rolls a usage die. If a 1 or 2 is rolled, one moves to the next smaller sized die. For example, a usage die might be a d12, each time a 1 or 2 is rolled the usage die is reduced, first to a d10, then a d8, d6, and finally, when a 1 or 2 is rolled on a d4, that item is used up. This is a simplified way to keep track of gasoline in the jeep, ammunition for a given weapon, etc. It reduces the amount of paper needed to track supplies. There is a usage die graphic on the included character sheet. As an item is used up, move the marker or usage die to the appropriate location.

Movement and distance is abstracted to close, nearby,  far away, and distant. For 0-5 feet, 6-60 feet, and 60-120 feet. This is part of the simplicity of the game.

Weapons are presented with a generic description, such as pistol instead of Colt .45 or 9 mm Luger. Each weapon is listed with its usage die and the number of dice for damage on hits. Weapons are further explained in the text following the table. There are hand thrown grenades and rifle grenades with different ranges, but the same damage. Machine guns come in light, medium, and heavy, with different crew size parameters, and bonuses and penalties for attacks.

Combat is also simplified with challenge rolls. It is roll low, so a 1 is great and a 20 is bad. A 1 on an attack deals double damage, and a 20 while avoiding an attack receives double damage. NPCs only roll to attack. PCs only roll to avoid attacks. Roll under STR for a melee attack, and under DEX for a ranged attack. Roll below STR or DEX to avoid taking damage from melee or ranged attacks. Advantage and Disadvantage comes into play when something is ruled to be particularly easy or difficult.

Saving throws are eliminated so that rolls are against abilities of STR for things that cause physical harm, such as gases. DEX is used for dodging things like a trap, or avoiding the blast of a flamethrower.  AC (Awareness) checks are used to avoid mental effects. I missed that AC was the short notation for Awareness on page 5. Being a long time gamer, I see AC and immediately think “Armor Class”.

Hit points can be figured in different ways depending on the style of campaign desired. Use the CON score as the number of HP and roll a d6 for each level, or for really gritty, roll a d6 each level. If a character is reduced to 0 HP one rolls after the fight is over, if the character’s party wins, to see what happened. Anything from MIA, POW, or death, to merely knocked unconscious.

Healing is slow. Certain things, like med kits help, but it still takes time.

Experience is low 5 points to get to second level, and 100 needed for 10th level. XP is earned for surviving one mission, major encounter, etc.

The section on campaigns offers up ideas for the major focus, such as partisans, resistance, elite (special forces), soldiers pressed into service from far off places, etc.

There are no frills, just a bare bones system for getting to play quickly. The classes and gear are focused on the GI, but one could easily port it to the forces of other nations. Gear is generalized, so that one can extrapolate any weapon desired. There is a suggested system for the GM to generate the toughness of enemy soldiers faced. A quick presentation of a possible weird war scenario is given with fantasy type creatures.

Big fail on the TOC, I didn’t get the pages numbers lined up very well. I was fighting Google Docs changing the formatting and messing up nearly all the pages. We ended up having me edit the Word Document, then send it back to Mark. I will have another article on my thoughts about collaborating on self published products.

What I liked:

You can be ready to play a session in a few minutes. The rules are a framework designed to work with most OSR type clones. Creatures and spells could easily be used unmodified. The difference in combat is minor. If you want a WWII scenario, you have a framework here to handle it.

One could easily port these rules to WWI, Korea, Vietnam, or even a more modern setting. These rules are even abstract enough to go even further back to muskets.

This is about as rules light as you can get in 48 pages. It is only 24 pages when taking away pictures, TOC, OGL, and other pages that are not rules.

What I didn’t like:

Using Awareness instead of Wisdom with AC for the abbreviation, was harder for me to make the connection. The direct connection is most clear where it is spelled out on page 5, and listed on the character sheet. It is slightly less clear when an AC check is used for avoiding mental effects. This is a minor niggle, and not of much concern, once it is clear what it is. A simple restatement of what AC is for on the part about attribute checks instead of saving throws on page 30 would avoid this.

[NOTE: Mark made an edit to change the abbreviation for Awareness to AW. He will use AC for the armor of vehicles in a new book.]

What I’d like to see:

Since consumables have a usage die, I would like to see a page of usage dice printed, with multiple rows of usage dice. For example, there is a row of usage dice at the bottom of the character sheet for ammunition. Filling a page in the rules with that might be helpful to some. One can use placeholders, such as dice, paper clips, coins, etc. to mark what usage die applies to which piece of equipment. This would be easy enough to do oneself with an index card and paperclips to track the usage die for different types of equipment.

[NOTE: Mark made a full page of the usage die chain available in the PDF.]


When dealing with rules light systems, one should not assume that familiar abbreviations mean the same thing until verified that they do. Terseness is the focus for rules light systems. If you need everything spelled out for you and lots of table and options to fill in all the details, this game is not for you.

This game is light enough that it should work well for story gamers that need fewer rules, and will work well for those who like more roleplaying. Obviously, it is great for those who just want to generate a character and start playing.

I just got word that the first supplement for the OSS/SOE is in the works.

[UPDATE: There is now a G+ Community for the game.]

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.

Mark Hunt – An Interview – The Return of GangBusters

I knew +Mark Hunt from G+ and just happened to meet him at +John Reyst’s Open Gaming Store booth. I recalled seeing a post about Gangbusters, but it had not clicked that it was back. Mark has a license to the GangBusters game! I first learned of Mark with his prolific postings of items for White Star. Many know him for his DCC setting Drongo.

Mark was signing a Gangbuster’s box, and it had the look and size of what I remember from 30+ years ago. The guy asked Mark to sign it and I was really puzzled, thinking it was an original boxed set, until Mark explained that it was his game.

We talked about collaborating on some things in multiple genres/rule systems, one of them being Gang Busters! Wow! I haven’t played in 30+ years, so I guess I need to brush up on the rules….

I did a phone interview with Mark on Saturday, March 12th. Before I started asking interview questions, he mentioned that he is good for the next 3 or 4 years of putting stuff out on a regular basis.

Interview Questions

When did you get your start in RPG’s?
Summer 1979. D&D Red Box and Blue Box. One day in Jr. High, we talked about it in the  Lunch room & met up after school.

What games have you played?
Call of Cthulhu, AD&D, probably hundreds since then. Powers & Perils, Champions, you name it, I played it. I have played every year since then. I once played Champions two years straight.

What games have you ran?
I have ran pretty much just about every game. Which helped a lot with game design, you have to play games and know what is out there, if you want to make games.

I’ve been running GangBusters since 1983. I have enough stuff on hard drive to fill a dozen books without even trying.

What games do you still play or run?
GangBusters, D&D, Swords of the Empire, DCC, Basic, Swords & Sorcery, C&C, Call of Cthulhu, and boardgames, just games, our group tries to keep playing.

How many women players have you had in all of your games?
Dozens, our first group had women back in 1979, and 3 or 4 at a time all the way to the present. It’s easy.

Does you wife play?

Does it cause problems?
No, she plays computer games, some are RPG’s, just not table top.

What does she think of your endeavors?
She likes it, especially when they start cashing in. I take what I make and roll it into producing the next game.

Have you ever had a woman GM?
Yes, a few. They are just like everyone else.  I’ve played all over the world so I had all the kinds of game masters that you can think of.

You played all over the world because you were in the Air Force?
Yes for six years and it included the1st Gulf War. We used to play Twilight 2000 in Germany back in the 80’s. A game where we go to war with Russia and get stranded in Europe when it happens. We used all the strategies and tactics we knew, and we had more authenticity than most people.

You seem to have an eclectic taste in genres and historical periods, do you find it hard to focus with so many different irons in the fire?

Why not?
I like to read all kinds of stuff. I know a lot about this, this and this. If there is something you need to know, read a book. My dad says, They hide things they don’t want people to know in a book. A game designer should always be reading, and learning more stuff.

You got your start, at least in my experience, of publishing ships, classes, and supplements for White Star. Was that your real start?It was actually Drongo, then Planetary Transmission and some free items for White Star.

NOTE: Drongo is a DCC compatible setting.

I know you have a Napoleonic era game in the works, and other things, what can you tell us about that?
Swords of the Empire will be ready by the beginning of next month. People can follow on the G+ page and watch development of it, and see how it has changed and evolved. I revise based on feedback from others’ comments in the community.

The latest project seems to be a runaway success – GangBusters.
Is that a game you played back in the day?
NOTE: See above, he’s been playing and GMing it since it came out in 1983.

What made you decided to go for a license to GangBusters?
It was just sitting there and I just asked if I can use it and it went from there. If I like it, there has to be others that like it. If I can sell enough and it can pay for the effort I put into it, all the better.

Is it an exclusive license, that is, are you the only one licensed to do anyting with GB?
So far, I’m the only one out there. I’m working on several things, just making stuff work. I can’t go into more detail at this time.

How hard was it to get the license to do this?
More or less I just asked Rick Krebs and he was receptive. I can’t get into any details on that either. There is stuff [other famous IP] that people can probably pick up if they put in some effort to research it. It is not impossible, is the best I can say.

What did Rick Krebs say when you asked him, was he excited?
Others had talked to him and it never went anywhere, so I showed him what I can do and he purchased it and reviewed it. When the writer likes it and says keep doing it, that’s a seal of approval.

Why the twist with the “Weird Tales & Paranormal Investigations?
Actually it existed in the original setting. In Polyhedron magazine, they had an adventure with giant bugs that took over a farm. I did not create it out of thin air, it existed in some shape or form in the original game.
The original game talked about various ideas for how to expand it. All I did was expand it. I read all the articles where they mentioned GangBusters. I am making it modular so you can use or not, or expand or not, cause at the end of the day it is still a game of cops & robbers. If you can’t find an adventure after a night of watching TV, with so many police procedurals that are on now, I can’t help you, NCIS, X-files, etc. Warehoue 13, Thin Man, etc. There is so much that fits.
Me – It’s seeing the connections.
Mark – Exactly. I increased the book size to show what you can do with it. It doesn’t have to be just gangsters. You can do journalists. The Incredible Hulk is about new reporter chasing the Hulk cross country. The players  could be a pool of reporters in an Enquirer type organization.
Me – GangBusters is set in the same time period as H.P. Lovecraft was writing.
Mark – I’m staying away from the Cthulhu mythos, there is more out there than just that.
If you want to play Call of Cthulhu play it, it’s a great game. If you want to go in different directions, play my game. Play GangBusters, there is enough out there to keep you busy

I really like the NPC card decks, what was your inspiration for those?
Old police mugshots. I make cards with mugshots, with enough stats to run. I made the first 18, then another 18, and eventually I’ll have a full deck of 52 cards. Literally take a card and you are ready to play. At Gary Con I passed out cards, and said, this is what stats mean and we were up and running in minutes. NPC’s, bad guys, players, etc. They are small and portable. Once you know the rules that’s all you need. Keep it in your wallet and you’re ready to play whenever and wherever. [See this YouTube video for a sample of the cards.]

Me – They make a great tool for a pick up or convention game for pre-gens. There was a lot of buzz from those who played in the games Mark ran.

It’s been mentioned on the G+ TSR GangBusters Community, that you plan to do a Kickstarter. I know that you have a goal to have everything ready before the Kickstarter and to keep it manageable. How much can you tell us about that?
I’m still working on it. Eventually there will be a box set, hard back book, GM screen, and modules, plus add ons will all be figured out and done. So once we hit our goal and are funded, I will order and ship. I did a test run of box sets, and people are impressed with what I have now. Some have shipped to Spain, England, all over world now. I hope a Kickstarter will help it reach a bigger area.

When might we get wind of the Kickstarter?
Depends on when I get done with something in the background – I can’t talk about it – then preparing for the Kickstarter will start to speed up.

What is the secret to your prolific output? I ask, because it is an amazing story that just floored me. I was giving you a hard time at Gary Con to slow down because you’re making the rest of us look bad.
Last year was my last chemo – I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and going through treatments. I said to myself, “If this is my last year, I’m going to do what I want to do,” and I literally drove myself to do these games, even if only 5 words in a day. After a year, I had a lot. I just hacked it out piece by piece. “Never give up, never surrender,” as they say. Marks’ wife can be heard in the background: “He’s not going to do anything else. By Grapthar’s hammer….”
To the outside world it appeared like I was cranking it out fast, it seemed like a lot real fast. As they say, an overnight success is ten year’s worth of work. A lot of games that blew up were simmering in the background and no one paid attention until they got done.

You mentioned you were seeking a license to do a game with a big name, and well-know IP, but it fell through. 
Any clues to other IP’s you have your eye on? (Probably not, since you don’t want to spoil it.)
Exactly. I’m always looking for more stuff, but can’t mention them, so I don’t get scooped. If it’s not being used, why not? A Lot of stuff is just sitting quietly. It’s not hard if you do the work and ask. The worst they can say is, “No.”
Drongo for DCC is mine and I can always go and do a BX version. As long as I don’t compete with one of their [Goodman Games] products it should be OK.

Any hints about projects coming up?
Oh geeze, let me look at my hard drive. I’ve thought about one or two retroclones, but will mention those when the time is right. I don’t want it all at once, that is, I want to spread it out. Cloaked Avengers is a new class for GangBusters in the next month, like the Shadow. You can add to an existing GangBusters game with mysterious powers. I’m also working on a WWI alternate history for GangBusters.  I plan to stage so it’s not out all at once, and do one or two adventures to flesh out stuff  I already have.

Joe’s Diner was 6 or 7 pages, then 18, then 32, then I made little booklets. The PDF is automatically updated, so it’s done. The only way to get it in book form is in the boxed set.
Me – That’s a smart way to drive sales.
Mark – Exactly.

Have you seen all the talk about yesterday’s press release about the new TableTop Library site?
Yes. I’m thinking about trying to sell stuff there, it’s one more avenue for sales.

Anything else you want us to know about?
Hit me up on G+ if you see me, and help out get the word out, Swords of the Empire, GangBusters , Fantasy game – no name yet. Everything is just falling into place so fast it is ridiculous. I might have Boxed sets [of the yet to be named and released fantasy game ] at NTRPGCon.

GangBusters boxed sets and T-Shirts, and Swords of the Empire boxed sets will definitely be at North Texas RPG Con.

– – –

Mark is a really nice guy, easy to talk to, and inviting. Other aspiring game designers were asking him to look at their stuff, and he was looking forward to it. He knows game mechanics. Just wjile talking about general ideas, he had an idea for something. Being in his presence, I couldn’t help but be infected by his enthusiasm for games. If we lived in the same town, I’d find a way to play in his games.

Mark is enjoying life and riding this dream of designing games and having a blast while doing it. I expect to hear exciting things in the coming weeks.

Wednesday Night AD&D on Roll 20 – Session 100!

I’ve been playing a weekly AD&D game, Graveyard of Empires:The Islands of Curabel, for two years next week, and also session 100. We missed two weeks for DM vacation, etc. and one when not enough players showed. 100 represents the number of played sessions. I am the only player who has attended every session, with the same character. There is one other active player that has been at it since session one. On session 98, the rest of us thought his character was dead, so the character is “out of play” for simplicity’s sake, until the character can make his way back to us.

This is very cool, to be on the brink of 100 online sessions. All the more because I know that many games fizzle after a while. I would be curious to know how many Roll20 campaigns are still going this long, or longer?

Our DM, John, does Sandbox style. He has set things planned, with pre-programmed events that happen whether or not we take the bait to go do things. We have surprised him with things we chose to do or ignore. He talks about his campaign over on his blog, Dwarven Automata. He has shared his campaign bible, scripts her uses for generating NPC’s, directions, weather, etc. John has also shared DM notes on player write ups. He only recently started this, so only have a few sessions done.

We seem to have the right mix of players who get AD&D and we have fun. I look forward to riding this out and see what transpires.

I’ll be posting an email interview with our DM when it’s ready. In the meantime, I thought I’d post this and test the waters to see how many other games have lasted so long.

What is the longest running Roll20/other online platform game you have played in?

Not Another Awesome Kickstarter! – New Big Dragon’s Classic Edition GM Screen

The day after I listed all the Kickstarters on which I spent too much money*, +Richard LeBlanc launches another one for his Classic Edition GM Screen.

The video says it all, and if you read the details, you will see that he has it all planned out. The layout is done, and he obviously has a sample and verified the weight, as the two backer levels with physical products have postage built in.

The initial level is just the PDF’s at $7, then a jump to $43, and for two of each physical item, $71. Barring humid conditions he plans to deliver the end of April. For someone as well organized and focused as Richard appears to be, I have no doubt that he’ll deliver.

This is how a Kickstarter should be done, all the work of the product is finished. There is UV protection for the screen to prevent/minimize fading.

It is more than just the two piece GM screen, it includes:

  • An 8 page GM reference document of all the tables on the screen.
  • 8 individual card stock character sheets for the 7 main classes and one generic sheet.
  • A spell record sheet.
  • A character record log.
  • A 4 page cleric spell handout.
  • An 8 page magic user spell handout.

All of this is illustrated by images by Arthur Rackham. I assume these area all public domain images, which will keep costs down.

The funding goal is not too large, $4,500, so I suspect it will fund quickly, unless no one really wants such a GM screen. He isn’t interested in stretch goals because he has a product ready to go, and wants it done. More projects should be simple, and at most do stretch goals that fit the overall tone and scope of the project.

$43 seems a bit steep. All the one gets is awesome. I am curious how much this would be without shipping. If it works with all/most original rules and clones, it is a definite plus. I am torn. I want it. The PDF only level is easily affordable, but I also want the physical product. I’ll probably fail my save vs. Kickstarter on this one, but we’ll see. I’ll try to give it a few days.

It would be neat to see a screen only option that includes the PDFs of everything. I’m not sure I would use the character sheets, and it wouldn’t be hard to print the spell lists from the PDFs. I wouldn’t want to write on those fancy sheets. If they were dry erase compatible, then I’d definitely use them.

*Is it possible to spend too much money on RPG materials?

UPDATE: See this article on The Dilemma of Pricing Kickstarters, by Richard LeBlanc, of the above mentioned KS. Very insightful. Those planning their own KS should pay attention. He plans a FAQ on top of this article.

Kickstarter Update – My Backed Kickstarters and Their Status

I figured that I would take a break from my posts on Gary Con and do a long overdue update on the Kickstarters I have backed. The stalled, the failed, the late, and the in process.

My oldest outstanding Kickstarter is City State of the Invincible Overlord. It has a lot of issues, and November, 2015 marked a year that it was behind. Erik Tenkar posted an article on it today, so I won’t re-hash it here. I pledged at the $40 level.

The Great Kingdom is the next oldest project that I backed. It is D&D Documentary #2, that is stalled in legal limbo with D&D Documentary #1. I’m out $50 for this one. If I could, I would give my $50 to D&D Documentary #3, that I wrote about here.

Grimtooth’s Ultimate Traps Collection was slated to deliver in July, 2015, as per the information on the Kickstarter page. It was overly complex in my opinion, as there were multiple hard cover books, each with different content, essentially each a different book. While I have seen pictures on G+ of some who have received theirs, I must be in the group getting theirs with the second round of shipments. While it is late, I’m not worried as others have theirs. I backed at the $50 level.

The Planet Mercenary Roleplaying Game is one I backed for one of the options instead of the game itself. I read Schlock Mercenary, and like the 70 Maxims, so went for the hard back book. As per the last update, we may be seeing that soon.

I backed the Metamorphosis Alpha: Epsilon City at the $95 level. My ability to resist these things is tragically low. If only my blogging or other endeavors matched the outlay for these things…. It was slated to deliver in March, 2016, but it won’t hit that target. I think it will eventually deliver and be an awesome product.

The most adventurous level of backing for any Kickstarter is the Marmoreal Tomb at $150. It was slated for March, 2016 delivery, but is not going to hit that target. Both Ernie and Benoist had the flu and other minor delays. There are regular updates on the Facebook page of The Hobby Shop Dungeon, and the Kickstarter page. I know it will eventually deliver.

The B/X Monster Reference Index is another one by +Peter Regan. It was short, limited stretch goal changes, and I already have it. I’ll do a separate post on its awesomeness.

Fifty Fantastic Functions of the D50 by Goodman Games and the GameScience d50. This was a quick Kickstarter and delivered lightning fast. I got Lou Zocchi to sign it at Gary Con. There are lots of cool ideas in this book.

I backed the original ACKS and hadn’t backed any of their other Kickstarters until now. This time, I went with Lairs & Encounters. I must say, the preview of the lair maps are awesome! I backed at the $50 level. It is slated to deliver in March, 2016. Even if it slips into April, I won’t be disappointed.

I’m not much of one for card games, but the original Dungeon Solitaire rules intrigued me, so I gave into the KS for Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls.  I went for the $50 level for two decks. the art alone is awesome! It is slated for June, 2016 delivery and so far, everything is on track.

Because +Peter Regan is involved, I gave in to the Black Hack. As I was writing this article, I got notice of the need to fill in my survey. The PDF coupon will be sent to my email soon. This is slated to deliver in April. I backed at the 8 pound level, about $13 I think it was. I have no doubt, barring an issue with the printer or mail, I will get it on time.

I gave into the cuteness of the Baby Bestiary Vol. 2 and Vol. 1 Reprint. It funded on March 8th, and is slated for delivery in August, 2016. It was cool to see all the art in progress. I look forward to this. I gave in to the $75 level, since I missed volume 1.

Finally, there are three Kickstarters that are in their final days and weeks.

World Architect Cards are cool cards for building locations for a new world, or running a figure out what’s there style hex crawl. The fund drive ends March 16, so there’s still a couple of days to get involved. I went for the $35 level, which includes all the stretch goals. They need almost $500 for the final stretch goal: Layered Tiff Files Released to all backers at $10 and above.

The ABCs of RPGs – Books and Coloring for Adults and Kids! is a bunch of cool art. I’m a grandfather, so my granddaughter might like this when she is older. I also got one for myself. I hope I can get more in the future, if I am ever blessed with more grandchildren. The two coloring books and two activity book option is $30. The funding for this one is solid. If they get another $40,000, they’ll do it as a board book. Delivery is slated for August, 2016.

Finally, I have backed a gemstone dice Kickstarter, Cat’s Eye Gemstone Dice Polyhedral Sets, d6’s, & d20’s. I went in at the $45 level. The funding drive runs through March 30, and they are not yet halfway to their goal of $12,500.  Delivery is slated for June, 2016. I won’t be sad if this doesn’t fund. Yes, I want cool dice, but I went a bit overboard adding so many new Kickstarters to the list.

The year is young, and I need to hold back, in case there is something I just can’t do without. Just remember, I don’t have a problem….



A Solo Presentation and Chat With Michael Witwer

Following the presentation, Growing Up Gygax, there was another presentation by Michael Witwer, Genesis: Unexpected Journey of Gary Gygax. The word that this event was moved did not happen, or else I was the only one signed up. There was audio visual trouble, so we just sat down next to each other and he ran the Power Point on his laptop.

Michael identified the correct name of the sanatorium Gary explored as a youth, with its below ground tunnels. He referred to them as steam tunnels or laundry tunnels. At the mention of steam tunnels, I found it oddly ironic about the “steam tunnel guy” in the 80’s.

Gary called it the Oak Hill Sanitarium. It was actually the Oak Wood Sanitorium on Catholic Hill, so Oak and Hill were put together, causing the difficulty. When Gary was young, the building still stood and the steam or laundry tunnels were still accessible. There were also holding cells, very much a dungeon setting.

It was cool to sit down and talk a bit about his book, Empire of Imagination, etc. Recently, the audiobook version came out. Next the paper back is forthcoming and will have additions and corrections. Michael is super cool and a nice guy. He has ideas for other books, but he’s not sure if he’ll ever do another biography. I bought a copy of Michael’s book, and got his autograph.

On Saturday, before I left, I ran into Stephen Sullivan, and got a copy of the color print of his map for the end pages for Empire of Imagination.

I only wish I had the energy and drive to brave the cold and find some of the sights. It’s only fours hours or so away, so I might try when it’s a bit warmer, and make a weekend drive of it.

Stephen Sullivan map for Empire of Imagination
Stephen Sullivan map for Empire of Imagination

D&D Documentary Number 3 – Rebuilding Trust

While at Gary Con, I attended a session titled, D&D Documentary Teaser and Q&A. Pat Kilbane is working on a D&D documentary. It is a third documentary totally unrelated to the other two documentaries now tied up in litigation*.  There is enough about this documentary to impress me, that I decided on the spot to write up a separate article to give it the focus it deserves. In short, I will do what I can to promote it.

My new friend, +Satine Phoenix, is one of the interviewees in the three clips we were shown, and she happened to join in, as she was early for Frank Mentzer’s D&D game in the same room, following this 1 hour session.

I wish I had the foresight to record this. It was a good discussion, and my notes were only on the high points. As more comes along, I will mention it here on my blog.

Satine & Pat after the presentation.
Satine & Pat after the presentation.

The three interviews in the sneak peak were with:

So far, shooting for those on the West coast has been done. Next, while at Gary Con, he is interviewing all the old guard from the beginning to get their perspective. He filmed a session by Tim Kask on the first five years of TSR. I had the honor of asking the last question.

Rather than have yet another Kickstarter for a D&D documentary, when the previous two are tied up in litigation, Pat wants to focus on building trust with the intended audience. His idea is to do small two minute pieces as part of a Patreon to create a track record of delivering smaller bits, until there is enough trust to do some form of fundraiser, such as Kickstarter.

An example of the short videos he envisions is the Gary Con Two-Minute History video, featuring Luke Gygax explaining what Gary Con is.

You can follow Pat’s efforts on the Facebook page, Dorks of Yore.

*Full disclosure, I am in for and most likely out $50 for the second documentary’s Kickstarter, The Great Kingdom. The first film that Kickstarted is Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary, which I missed the Kickstarter altogether. You can find details of the trials and tribulations of these two films with your google-fu. I want to stay positive and show what Pat is doing. As with most of us, I think we just want any film, that is well done, to come out while the old guard is still available.