Category Archives: Reviews & Culture

Delving Deeper Has Arrived

Last week, in response to various postings about the Delving Deeper on Lulu at less than $5.00, I ordered it. I don’t recall the day I ordered it, but it shipped on the 21st, and was waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home today, the 28th.

The box is much larger than the book itself. When I opened it I found out why. Instead of being packed to bursting with newspaper or packing peanuts, it was wrapped in a piece of thin Styrofoam and that was shrink wrapped to a piece of cardboard so that it would not move. The cardboard is sized for a snug fit in the box. This was my first book ordered via Lulu. I must say I am impressed with the method of packaging and the fine condition that my new book arrived in. I am also impressed by the book itself. I am now much more interested in ordering books of other rules sets, like Swords & Wizardry and OSRIC, to name a couple. The softcover is very good, I’m almost afraid to read it so I don’t damage it.

Delving Deeper Packaged Well
Delving Deeper Packaged Well

So far I have only skimmed it, but I did read through the free PDF, from Immersive Ink. I also looked at several articles and followed along with the week review of Delving Deeper by Adam Muszkiewicz. There is also a Delving Deeper G+ Community.

I like the simplification of the original basic rules. It boils everything down into one book of 130 pages. The print is easy on the eyes, and I look forward to reviewing the whole thing in depth. I like some aspects of these rules. I can see this as a basis for introducing players to the game. I’m not a dig deep into the statistics kind of person, but I like that the author, Simon J. Bull, knows OD&D and Chainmail, and took the time to correct the combat tables to be more statistically balanced. I’m not the kind of DM that gets that deep into the rules to know all the kinds of details and many would consider trivial. When I play a spell caster or a multi-classed character, I look more in-depth at the rules to see what I can do with a character, but still not to this level of detail.

The cover is also much more impressive and clear than the image in the PDF. It is a pen and ink drawing, which is fitting for the name of the publisher, Immersive Ink, and is also dark and does not photograph well. My picture of the cover below looks better on my monitor in a photo viewer. It did not scale cleanly when I did a test preview of this post. The cover is full of action, and you can’t fully appreciate it without having a copy in your hands to peruse closely for hidden gems, like in many of Dave Trampiers ink drawings in the TSR rule books and modules.

Delving Deeper Cover
Delving Deeper Cover

I am curious to see the next iteration of these rules. If nothing else, there are lots of little tidbits that I can use to inform my own style of play.

Original Modules

I wonder why WotC hasn’t released more of it’s original modules to PDF via D & D Classics?

The answer is most likely the bean counters and management at the VP and higher level have revenue targets that must be met and the percentage of expenses to revenue must be low so that profits are higher. They probably also have a “lean business model”. This means doing more with less and teams are made as small as possible to get the work done. Of course, that is just a guess based on my experience working for a publicly traded company in an unrelated industry.

Of course, from my perspective in the trenches, the bean counters often count the wrong beans.

So, I get it, WotC, now a part of Hasbro, is a publicly traded company and the stockholder’s expect lots of dividends for their investment. I have often wondered why the boards of publicly traded companies don’t further increase their profits by paying their presidents and CEOs less? I am sure that market forces have an influence on this, but why does anyone need more than a million dollars a year in salary, stock options, and benefits?

The problem for the fans who want these out of print items, who can’t afford the gouging on eBay, so they can’t get things they want. A good example is Chainmail and the original LBBs for OD&D. Yes, I know you can get the basic D&D rules, which I have, but it is not the same as having the originals. Also the Player’s Handbook is not available in PDF for 1st Edition AD&D, like the other rule books. It was before WotC’s meltdown a few years ago over a handful of people sharing their PDFs with others. I don’t recall if Chainmail and OD&D were available or not. I spent a lot getting PDFs to rebuild my manuals lost to the great water leak incident before I managed to get hard copies of them all.

It would be very helpful to have the Player’s Handbook available in PDF for those wishing to conduct 1st edition games online, so their players could buy it, thankfully, OSRIC helps with that. The Monster Manual (MMI) is another I don’t see available now, this would only be needed by DMs, but again OSRIC helps.

For any of the old manuals, modules, etc. that were once in PDF, it is not that hard to make them available for sale again. Unless there is some technical aspect about the watermarking process that DriveThru RPG, RPGNow, and D&D Classics that require re-working the PDFs. I know that the Player’s Handbook is not as high a quality of the other manuals that were re-released. Yes, a cleaner scan, etc. would be nice, but I would pay WotC for a legible and usable scan before I would spend tons of money on eBay for something I would be reluctant to use at the table.

Yes, I could scan an expensive hard copy and make my own PDF, but I would have to use a flat bed scanner for one sheet at a time, and based on what my company charges customers for my time (I only wish I made $150/hour), it would be very expensive. Plus, I could do a lot of game prep in that amount of time.

Since WotC turned to members of the OSR for help with D&D Next, it only makes sense to me that WotC turn to fans with skills. I am sure there are D&D players with technical skills that would trade their time for a hard copy of the original rules or at least a free copy of the PDFs they helped create. This would minimize the expense in time for WotC that only requires putting the PDFs on D&D Classics. Granted, they wouldn’t make millions of dollars, but they would make more than enough to cover the salary of the person(s) who coordinate getting PDFs of old resources on D&D Classics.

Problem Solved! I don’t have the skills or the equipment to make decent PDFs, but I am sure there are lots of others out there who do. In the world of publicly traded companies, having a solution for a problem or complaint that you bring, is a big step in getting action.

I don’t know anyone at WotC or personally know anyone who knows anyone at WotC. I’m just a 36+ year player and lover of the game who would like to buy copies of the modules and other things I didn’t have the money to buy when I was in high school.

Does anyone else think this is a good idea?

Kickstarters For RPGs and Related Items

Kickstarter has been very popular for both complete RPG games, i.e. new ones, to new editions, to reprints.

I have participated in a few Kickstarters and have not had the funds to join in on all the ones that I’d like.

The Metamorphosis Alpha Kickstarter was one I was interested in, but it was more nostalgia than a resource for play, as I don’t have a group to do MA with, so I passed. Also because the complete book was at like the $80 level. In hindsight, I wish I had joined in on that one. I GM’d for MA back in the day. My manual was one lost in the water damage incident.

I bought some challenge coins from the Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter. I like the one from the Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkey.”, that is, “It’s not my problem.”

Projects I have backed:

Adventure Conqueror King – Funded. I have the softcover. I like it as a tool. I did not have the funds to support the other Autauch projects.

Hero Forge – Customizeable 3-D Tabletop Miniatures – Funded – Close to on schedule. Currently in beta. (I have beta access and need to make time to try it out.)

Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coins – Funded. Delivered coins on time. Still waiting on document about the history of challenge coins.

Judges Guild City of the Invincible Overlord – Funded – Close to on schedule. Some minor setbacks due to health and family but will be out a month later than initial projections.

The Great Kingdom – Film about the early days of D&D/TSR. -Funded. On hold due to lawsuit.

I believe I pledged to one or two others that did not meet their funding goal, but Kickstarter does not keep track of those, so I can’t identify them.

I have seen some that were obviously so poor that people were just looking for a quick way to make a lot of money. I have seen some that had a good idea and it was poorly executed or poorly planned so that when there was either mild to overwhelming success, the creators were not near the level of readiness they should have been.

Just the last few days, a Kickstarter for an RPG “sandbox” setting was reviewed at Tenkar’s Tavern (Since edited with more colorful graphics than the images from the Kickstarter, after a lawsuit was threatened.) and the creators whined about his critique instead of taking it for what it was and moving on and improving their product. It got very bizarre as someone at this project threatened a lawsuit and made all kinds of other ridiculous statements on the blog. They later deleted all those statements.

I was curious and went to that Kickstarter page and watched the introductory video that is supposed to be the elevator pitch. I was left scratching my head. I had to read more and dig into other things to figure out what it was. It mentioned four “core” books and 25 modules for this “setting”. Why does a setting need four “core” books if it is compatible with Pathfinder or OSRIC? They had a grandiose and interesting goal to have every business and building in every city, town, and village stated out for ease of play. Basically, a ready made campaign world where the DM had to do little more than run it or generate random encounters. At least, that is the way it came across to me. I think they should have spent more time in explaining what this RPG supplement is and why I would want it. Additionally, they need to polish the look of the product more. If they want to hit their timelines, if they had been funded, they should have had things much closer to a ready to go state. They have a map that looks like an old DOS game map, and the way they describe the modules is that it is a railroad for pre-generated characters, instead of something I can bring my own character into it.

After the storm they caused by their thin-skinned reaction to criticism, it was pointed out that they were using named creatures from WoTC that were not part of the OGL. I suspect they got a take down notice from WoTC and cancelled their Kickstarter. Rather than taking the blame for their own poor execution, they blamed the reviewer and those who agreed with the assessment of the reviewer.

From what I have read from those who have done successful Kickstarters, the main thing is a laser like focus on the goal and to have a near ready product, if it is a book, module, or manual, that only needs final editing and proofing, and layout if art for the project is contingent on funding. Other projects that require programming or a physical product need to have details of when it will be done, how it will ship, and above all, proper accounting for all aspects, including shipping/delivery, and taxes.

I think Kickstarter serves a useful purpose for getting the word out when venture capitalists are nowhere to be found. However, it requires the producer to actually have something, and deliver it on time or communicate delays early and often. Too many have under budgeted and lost a great deal of money when it comes to shipping, etc. If you don’t have the ability to stick with a project and see it through to completion, Kickstarter is not for you.




GenCon 2014 Cosplay

I took pictures of the cosplayers and boot people that caught my eye. Far from all of them. I left before the parade and costume contest. Many were so well done it looked like they went home after last GenCon and set to work.

There were very few slave Leias. 🙁 Some were obvious comic book or manga/anime style characters, I just don’t know anything about those characters.

This knight has a cool outfit, not sure what video game or comic it is from. Catwoman had a well done costume.

Catwoman and a Knight
Catwoman and a Knight

Very well done Ghostbuster costume.


The line to the vendor room started a couple hours early. I found a bench against the wall so I could be comfortable.

Not Cosplayers but the line for the vendors
Not Cosplayers but the line for the vendors
Boba Fett
Boba Fett
Girl with a sword
Girl with a sword

This was one of two guys around a model cannon for a company selling a battle game. I didn’t catch the name.

Guy with a Prussian Helmet
Guy with a Prussian Helmet

This young woman was attracting attention to a game product. I didn’t catch its name.

Booth babe with red eyes
Booth babe with red eyes

This young woman’s contacts made her eyes look very red. Unfortunately, my cellphone camera did not do them justice. 🙁

Closeup Red Eyes
Closeup Red Eyes

I remember when this came out in 1983, Dragon’s Lair – the first arcade game on laser disc.

Video Game Character
Video Game Character

Have you ever seen a Storm Trooper in a Kilt?

Braveheart Stormtrooper
Braveheart Stormtrooper

I thought this was a cool idea and well executed.

DM Cosplay
DM Cosplay

The Good Guys Are Not Stupid Wimps

Rick Stump over at Don’t Split the Party has an excellent article:

Good Isn’t Stupid, or weak, or nice.

Paladins don’t have to be simple, weak minded, naive fools. They can have depth and edges to them that makes them both interesting and far from an easy kill.

They should be a threat to evil and a threat to anyone who stands in their way.

Just as the evil villain is a threat to the forces of good.

Any DM who allows paladins, and any player who has, is, or wants to play a paladin should read this.

Machinegun Shoot

Today was the first time I ever fired an automatic weapon. I have a 12 gauge shotgun, a bolt action rifle, the Mosin Nagant, and two 9mm pistols – a Taurus PT-99 which is a clone of the Beretta, like the pistol the military has used since 1982 when it replace the 45 cal 1911. My other pistol is a Sccy CPX-2. I have fired several other semi-automatic rifles and pistols, and revolvers. I have a Concealed Pistol License, so I know what is involved with carrying a pistol everyday. I live in Michigan, where open carry is legal and have open carried often.

Today was also the first time I ever encountered bad ammo, had stovepipes, or other major fails to feed.

I shot an AK-74, different caliber than the AK-47, an M-4 (basically same as an M-16), P-90 (Ever see Star Gate?), 1919 30 cal Browning BMG, 50 Cal BMG, 50 cal Barret sniper rifle, 9mm Uzi, 45 cal Thompson Submachine gun, 9 mm Sten Gun, and I think one other, but I am drawing a blank.

I just wish I could have got pics or video of my shooting.

None of them had the kick that I expected.

The Thompson submachine gun did climb, but it is so heavy it did not have much recoil.

The 50 cal Barret semi auto sniper rifle has less kick than a 12 gauge shotgun.

All the hand held firearms were not hard to aim if using single shot or just bursting a few rounds.

The P90 uses such a small caliber that it has no kick and there is no drift from your target on full auto.

Unfortunately, unlike the movies, a 30 round magazine is gone in seconds.

They had a full auto Glock pistol, but I did not shoot it. I did get video of someone else shooting it and of someone else shooting the Barret.

The 50 cal rounds were $5 each. The 30 cal BMG rounds were $1 each. Depending on the gun, the price for a full magazine went from $20 to $50.

I was the first to fire the 50 BMG today, and my second round did not eject and the brass got stuck in the barrel and it took about an hour to get it so I could fire my last eight rounds. I then had my 5th remaining round not eject and the 6th remaining round got jammed in it, but thankfully it was easy for the owner to remove from the chamber. Later, the case stuck in the barrel happened to another person firing it.

I plan to do this again. It was a lot of fun, but expensive.

Until today, I did not have real world experience to compare to rules I have encountered for automatic weapons. For example, Top Secret, had a rule for the 45 cal Thompson Submachinegun that it could do 5 shots a round, but each successive shot got harder to make. In reality, it is not that hard to put all 5 rounds on target if you are trained in the weapon. I figured this out after putting one 30 round magazine through one. It is a heavy weapon and does not have much kick, but it does tend to drift up. If you lean into it and know how to use it, it is not hard to get every round on target.

Machineguns on a tripod are very accurate and the bullets go where you want, provided you have it set up correctly. This just emphasized what the armies of the world learned in WWI. They are very loud and you feel the shock wave of each round when you are close enough. Basically, if you are within about 30-40 feet, you will feel the shock wave from a 50 caliber round. Smaller caliber rounds did not have this effect.

The Barret 50 cal was the semi-auto version with a ten round magazine. The owner had a suppressor, what most people call a silencer. It was a LOT more quiet and it stopped the shock wave. I could not feel it in my chest when he fired suppressed rounds. That was very cool. Unlike TV and the movies, a suppressor does not make it silent, but reduces the level of noise such that hearing protection is not needed.

I don’t think you can or should make a rule for every possible weapon or combination of weapons. If you try to model absolute reality in a tabletop RPG, you have so many rules and tables to consult that you get bogged down in the rules and play crawls or halts. There should be very few pauses in the game, ideally only for snack and bathroom breaks.

I will end with a PSA.

I know that the movies, TV shows, and the media have a lot wrong when it comes to firearms, especially gun safety. How many pictures for movie and TV promotions show the actors holding guns with their fingers on the trigger and/or the gun pointed in an unsafe direction? The way people run around on TV and in the movies with their fingers on the trigger, why aren’t they firing all the time when they don’t mean to? You don’t put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot. It would take a very heavy trigger pull to make running with your finger on the trigger not discharge.

The rules of gun safety:

  • Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  • Do not let the muzzle cross anything you don’t want to destroy.
  • Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.
  • Do not touch the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Store guns and ammunition separately and inaccessible to others.

30 posts in 60 days on new campaign setting


  1. Pick a game–any old rules will do. Stick to one set though.
  2. Dream up a campaign setting–it can’t be anything you’ve previously posted, published, or talked about before. It doesn’t have to be “new” per se, just new to the rest of us.
  3. Create a new blog–yes a new URL and everything, but use your current account so we can tell it’s still yours. Name if after your campaign settting.
  4. Write 30 posts in 60 days. (C’mon, that’s less than 1 a day!) You have just that long to outline the major key elements (setting, monsters, rule modifications, classes, races, etc.). This is straight-up worldbuilding using elements you’d normally talk about on your home blog. But here, you’ve got economize and decide what the most important elements are. Here’s some general guidelines:


  • 13 on monsters or villains, one type or one specific individual per post (so “hobgoblins” is one, a “kaiju” is another, “Vader’s granny” another, etc.)
  • 4 on special treasure, a lost artifact, weapons, vehicles, etc., however you choose to parse.
  • 3 on setting, this is all aesthetic so you’ll want to focus on places, maps, NPCs, the way magic works, how the local ruling space authority, uh…rules the galaxy, etc.
  • 3 on classes with each dedicated to a separate player class.
  • 2 on house rules, specifically how your campaign either strays, modifies, or embellishes on your chosen rule set (posts can be as detailed as you like); carousing rules, etc. all apply here
  • 3 on any topics you like, these help you round out the rough edges and could be additional classes, races, setting, etc.
  • 1 intro post to set up your premise for your campaign (e.g., , declare your ruleset and acknowlege participation in the contest
  • 1 report of actual play, which should include at least one picture, be it from the campaign or actual play; you can make this your final post with a big sign off or you can use it as a playtest, but you gotta play it at least once and record it for posterity

My Take:

I don’t like the idea of a whole new blog. A category on existing blog, yes. Whole new blog to manage/maintain, but only for two months. I don’t see the value. If you have to link it to your current blog, it can’t be to hide it from players.

I’m not sure I will be blogging on this topic. I know I won’t be any time soon. I can see the value of using the topic ideas and counts on certain topics to help build a framework for a campaign fast. I may use this for ideas, but use a NoteTab outline.

What are your thoughts on this?

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space is a TSR board game by Tom Wham. I have my original game. I only lost one weapon effect chit over the 30+ years I have had it. I just made one from the boarder for the card stock chits. Tip: Always keep the boarder for cardstock chits so if you lose some, you can easily make new ones that are the same thickness. All the pieces are still in the pre-ziplock sandwich bags from the 80’s. All the original five red minidice are still there too.

When looking for a Wikipedia link, I discovered that the game is back in print, thanks to Steve Jackson Games. the SJG version is here. You can find a PDF of the SJG rules online. They have added other combat options for outside the ship. I have not read the full rules, but it looks like it takes some of the devastating effects of a totally random game out of the mix and gives the crew more options.

My son, David, came over Saturday to spend the day with me, since his girlfriend is out of town for ten days. Also his dog, Picard, a pit bull, and my dog, Lucy, a lab-pit mix were both going stir crazy because of all the cold and snow. When they get together an play, they are quiet and peaceful for the next two days.

David wanted to spend the day playing boardgames. He did not want to try rolling up a new character and try solo adventuring. He did not want to try Waterloo (It is only in a list of Avalon Hill Games on Wikipedia, there is no separate article.), or Imperium. I always beat him at Risk, so he wanted to try Awful Green Things.

So while he took the dogs out to do their business and run and play, I got out the rules and read them quickly and got out the crew pieces and made placements. I would have let him change the placement of the crew for those that had alternate placement options, but David wanted to be the green things. So he separated them into adults, babies, eggs and fragments and rolled a die for starting, and he rolled a 5, then rolled a die for placement. The AGT basically cut the ship in two. One of my crew was trapped in a room with the only exit into the area with the AGT. David knows strategy pretty well and he played the AGT very well. He grew the right group of AGT into the best next category for continued expansion.

Every game is different in such a way that any advantage of the AGT starting with a lot of adults can easily be offset by weapons effects. However, the weapons effects are random for every game. There are some great area of effect weapons, but they can either have no effect or make fragments, which is another way for the AGT to spread. I had a couple crew grab rocket fuel, but I drew the “no effect” chit. At least that was better than fragments. For the Comm Beamer I drew “3 dice to kill”. Unfortunately, he only had adults in most of the areas I could get those crew to and I could never roll a 16+ on 3d6.

Since we just jumped in and started playing, and we had only played the game once together over five years ago, the last time I had played; I did not pay attention to the Electric Fence and Fire Extinguisher being available in any area. I finally noticed this towards the end of the game when the AGT had trapped the captain and three other crew in the central corridor with them totally surrounded and cut off from the means of escape. I did have the Mascot and two crew get away in saucer and the scout ship saved another crew member. I drew well for the Electric Fence and Fire Extinguisher effects. The Fire Extinguisher did “5 dice to stun”, and the Electric Fence did “4 dice to kill”, but it was about two rounds to late to make a difference.

Once the AGT had eaten the surrounded crew, I then had to roll to determine the fate of the crew that escaped. The crew in the saucer were within a year of running out of food when they contracted a fatal disease and died. The crew member in the scout ship managed to make it home.

David was amazed at how easily he beat me. He usually doesn’t beat me very quickly or easily. I pointed out that the totally random nature of the effects of weapons and number and placement of AGT’s made every instance of the game unique.

We only played the one game, but I suspect we might play it again sometime.

My brother, Robert, and I played this game non stop for dozens of games in a row. We laughed at how ridiculous it was for some of the random effects. Robert is an artist and he even made a few of his own comics about the crew and AGT. I remember one where he had all the crew amazed that something killed all the AGT, and one crew said, “Sarge farted.”, and it showed Sarge blushing. LOL good times.

Below are some pictures of the setup from Saturday’s game:



Game Board
Game Board
State Of Game Before The Effects Of Fence And Extinguisher Known
State Of Game Before The Effects Of Fence And Extinguisher Known
Weapons Effects
Weapons Effects