Last Saturday I went to Michicon. It starts on Friday, but I was not able to get the day off. Note to self – Alert social secretary to be more on the ball next time. Oh, wait, that’s me….
I had heard of Michicon last year, but this is the first year I attended.
It was held at Oakland University on the NW side of the Detroit metro area. I had a late start and there was road construction that made it a challenge to get there, but I finally made it about 2:30 or so.
I found +Roy Snyder with his booth and spent money on a few items. I got a second pristine Tramp cover AD&D Player’s Handbook, and another Player’s Handbook with the Wizard cover for the table. I went ahead and got Legends and Lore. I realize it is the same content as the Dieties & Demigods – without Cthulhu & Melnibone, but I didn’t have one. I already had the PDF of Legends & Lore.
I have items I added to my PDF collection of manuals that I did not have back in the day. I have a hard copy of all the ones I have in PDF, except Manual of the Planes. I don’t need it, but want it for “completeness.” While I haveGreyhawk Adventures in PDF and hard cover, I am not interested in the book for Forgotten Realms or others they may have.
Now the only D&D item I don’t have from my original collection is the Greyhawk Gazeteer. I was glad to get it in PDF, but I miss those gorgeous maps. Maybe someday.
I also got a GM screen for Metamorphosis Alpha, I finally gave it a through reading and I like what I see. One less excuse to not run a game.
The con was not well marked. The center where it was held was having remodeling and there was no food available on site. There were only vending machines for drinks. I chatted with Roy and bought stuff from him and got directions from Roy to the registration table. It turns out I came in the back entrance. It wrapped around and I came up the stairs that led to the game room, I just went in the door closest to the stairs – on the left. No outside signs and no inside signs. It is $10 for the day. Not a bad amount.
The big open room had maybe a half dozen vendors along two walls. The tables were numbered on the sign up sheet, but there were no numbers on the tables. Thankfully, I was there to play DCC, and +Jared Randal was running an open game 0 level funnel next to Roy’s tables. I dropped in and played all the way until the con closed. Jared ran a great game. The module was Sailors of the Starless Sea. I only lost one of my original five 0-levels. I ended with a full compliment of five, since we divvied up the characters of players who could not play the whole time. I had not played that one before. We used a d200 table of “special” items that each character got, and we had a blast using them in creative ways.
Finally, I won a door prize, a still sealed dice game of Walking Dead. I don’t play a lot of board games, so if I can’t sell it I plan to keep it sealed and see what I can get out of it in a few years.
Back in the mid to late 80’s I bought a quad ruled desk pad from an office supply store. That was back when desk pads and pen and paper were still the mainstay of business. I have only one sheet from that desk pad that holds the map to the town for Griswald, the longest running character I have played, who is now, essentially retired from play.
I don’t know what happened to the rest of the pad. I used it for mapping out a Boot Hill area, and such things. I think that pad may have been one of the things I lost in the water leak incident, but I don’t recall.
I have in the last few years tried to find such a pad in stock at an office supply store, but no go. I would have to special order or order online. If you search for quad ruled desk pad you will find them. They run a little under $20 each.
I like using them to map out large cities. I am a visual person and like to be able to see them. In my campaign, there are ten ancient cities of a fallen empire. I have taped together 8.5 x 11 quad ruled graph paper for a rough map of the one closest to the action of the current group of players. Having a bigger single sheet would simplify things and make it easier to fold up and get out of the way.
I also like he idea of using them for a megadungeon. Who doesn’t want to design a megadungeon? I think I started to do so way back in the day, but it is lost material.
This all comes to mind as I ran across Peter Regan’s most recent Kickstarter for a Dungeon Desk Pad, over at Oublette Magazine. It is an interesting idea. I am trying to avoid new Kickstarters for the financial responsibility end of it, but man is this one hard to resist. Personally, I prefer a full-size desk pad of grids, but this idea is interesting. My desk pad pages are 16 inches by 22 inches, slightly smaller than the A2 standard. The Dungeon Desk Pads are 16.53 inches by 11.69 inches, which is the A3 standard. The other issue is that Peter is UK based so overseas shipping adds to costs, etc. So far, I have only backed US-based Kickstarters, mainly because I have not had interest in others that were not based in the US. I know that Peter has a good track record, thus hitting the funding goal, and stretch goals are reasonable and fit with the base project.
I was also intrigued by an article that Peter shared that of Ian Livingstone of Games Workshop [former link: http://unpluggedgames.co.uk/2015/02/13/games-workshop-the-inside-story-part-one/] still has his first dungeon on a desk pad on his desk. You can save this photo and zoom in to be able to read the room descriptions. It would be easy to use this for a quick dungeon for your next session.
This motivated me to get the rough map of Helmsdale, Griswald’s town, and share it here. The quick story on this town. My brother, Robert,the DM determined that for Griswald to be a half-elf, it made sense for the human to come from a place near the Elven Kingdom. The hillsmen in his campaign are based on the Scottish clans. They live in a series of hills called Carbaen Moor. Griswald is a Fighter/Cleric/Magic-User and we rolled his age. I believe 45 years old, so the backstory is that the hillsmen had a civil war where the Buchanan Clan Kicked the Stewarts out of their territory and became king. They did not maintain control of the Stewart territory so it became infested with Orcs and worse.
Griswald’s father was a duke, and as far as Griswald knew, he was the true heir to the throne. He later learned that the grandson of the king and the grandsons of the dukes higher in precedence had their own band of outlaws called the Red Arrows. They had red fletchings (feathers) on their arrows. Griswald joined up with them, and through creative use of magic and bluff developed a reputation beyond their actual abilities. Tameus, the true king, decided it was time for war. Through lots of favors owed and other factors and army big enough to challenge the Buchanan’s was raised, and while outnumbered by the Buchanans, magic and Elven cavalry defeated them. After reclaiming the kingdom, there was a massive earthquake that devastated most of the kingdom and the old Stewart lands. Since the orc tribes in the Stewart lands bordering the former Buchanan lands were hurt as bad as the humans, Griswald decided to take back his ancestral lands. With the help of a small force of mercenaries and a PC wizard and his own henchmen – two fighters and three magic users, the orcs where driven out.
The town is in a valley of a ring of hills. It has a ditch 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep. The earthquake reduced the walls. Griswald rebuilt a smaller town with an Elven temple, the price of the Elven troops. This works for Griswald as he is a cleric of the Elven moon diety, Isil-nar. There is also the ducal palace and homes for troops and workers and farmers. Outside the walls is an inn, The Merchant’s Delight. The merchants like Griswald, since he does not tax them as heavily as the orcs. He also built a gatehouse at the only way across the ditch.
The two biggest orc tribes were not hurt by the earthquake, and were consolidating their control over the remnants of the orc tribes Griswald had not yet eliminated. These tribes did not like this upstart half elf moving in, so they moved to invade and take him out. Griswald has a crystal ball so he looked for the leaders of the invaders and took Alim, his highest level magic user henchman to teleport to these troops on the march to take them out. While the two most powerful magic users in town, Griswald 10th fighter/10th cleric/11th magic user and Alim, 10th level magic user were gone, the other orc tribe got past the wall across the valley to the south and surrounded the town. Griswald and Alim mangled the rear guard of the larger force and were gone until morning. This was put on hold for 15 years, until we made it work to finish the scenario. Robert wanted to resolve it so the other players would know what happened, as they are ten or more game years past this point in time.
The orcs surrounding the town set up a catapult and started battering the walls. They also attacked the gatehouse with 50 men that were the troops of Logan, a PC who was killed, but the men stayed with Griswald. The gatehouse was cut off from the rest of town and the 30 or so cavalry on hand tried to get through, but were routed and nearly all of them were killed. The archers on the walls of town made long range shots at the orcs around the gatehouse, and nearly exhausted all the available arrows. The gatehouse fell. The high priest of the temple cast insect plague in the area around the catapult to delay the battering. By the next morning the high priest rested and relearned insect plague and cast it again. Somewhere in here, we had a two year delay of getting together to wrap it up, but we finally finished it.
Finally when the time line in town caught up to them, Griswald and Alim read teleport from their travelling spell books and returned to the palace. Griswald and Alim had hardly any spells or scrolls left, but as a fighter with protection from normal missiles, Griswald could mount the walls and fight off the invaders. Finally enough orcs were killed that their morale broke. I don’t know if I ever got a full count of the number of dead orcs, but the image in my mind is of The Battle of Roake’s Drift from the movie Zulu. Thankfully, it was not The Battle of Islandawana.
On this map each square = 40 feet. I found that the width of the squares is the same as the distance between the lines on a standard 3 x 5 index card. Index cards were handy for measuring ranges in the battle. We used a few miniatures, but was mostly scribbles on the map.
Every time an orc was killed we yelled, “Oh no! They got Grignak!” The inspiration for Grignak comes from Galaxy Quest.
First the map of the “north” of my brother’s campaign. This is one half of a TSR hex mapping paper, with the Willingham cover. The other half is the “south”. Only one player has been off this map. It is 10 mile hexes. This is a photocopy. I did the coloring. Robert used the photocopier to enlarge and zoom in in the following images. These are pictures and not scans. You still get a hint of my brother’s artistic talent here.
The Stewart Lands shows the fiefs of the various Stewart Dukes.
Below shows the ring of hills with an opening in the hills to the North West and South. The rectangle in the center is where the town goes.
The post it note was added to complete the circle for the area of effect of insect plague. That spell is one of the ultimate battlefield spells if you can buy a high priest ten minutes (one turn) to cast it.
This is in pencil on 20+ year old paper with poor lighting.
I am curious if there are any other desk pad sized maps of towns, dungeons, space ships, etc. That would be an interesting gallery.
I ordered a Dieties & Demigods with the Cthulhu and Melnibone mythos from Wayne’s Books on Wednesday evening, October 29th, and it arrived on my doorstep today, Saturday, November 1st! I am sure it made it to me so quickly is that I live in the lower penninsular of Michigan, which is the Eastern Time Zone, and Wayne’s Books is in Arizona, which is in the Mountain Time Zone, so a one or two hour difference. Wayne commented on my article that it was being shipped that same day! Excellent service!
Below I will have pictures of the unboxing, the contents, and a group picture with the DDG from my son. My son got home from work about two hours after I placed my order, and gave me a belated birthday present. We had a big laugh about that!
Below you will see what you can expect when you order something from Wayne’s Books.
The self-sealing box from the USPS was also well taped with packing tape. It wasn’t coming open without some effort, and care!
It was packed tight with cardboard and paper grocery bags, so it had no wiggle room.
Here’s all the packing material. It is obvious that it needs to come out before the book, so the book comes out easily.
The book is in a plastic protective cover that is taped shut then placed inside a UPS padded mailing envelope.
The book before the final layer is removed. This is kind of like those Russian dolls….
Taped to the plastic book protector is the packing slip with a handwritten note of thanks.
Inside the plastic protective cover is a business card with notes on this order. This is a very good idea! Others who ship things should do this.
At first I wondered if this was a catalog, but soon saw it was a module or something. Was this a mistake? I didn’t order this!
No, it’s not a mistake.
Woo hoo! Free stuff! I read a couple of the Elric books way back. I don’t recall details. This looks interesting and has some cool art. I’ll add this to my reading list.
Finally, my new books side by side. The one from my son on the right, and the one I ordered on the left. The quality of the book I got from Wayne’s Books matches what he advertised, and it is in noticeably better condition than the one my son got me, but the one my son got me had a kid’s name on the front and it was obvious that it had been used at the table, or at least was well read.
The one I bought is going back in the plastic sleeve, just in case.
I really liked the art of the Cthulhu and Melniboe mythos, plus there are some cool critters and ideas in there. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to use them in my campaign world, but you never know.
I have mentioned elsewhere the Water Damage Incident that destroyed most of my original AD&D manuals and other game things. My character notes and campaign notes survived.
Below I will show pictures of what I was left with and then the now end results.
Two manuals, my dice bag, my miniatures, and one half of my Dave Trampier DM Screens survived.
I also had two modules, the Player Character and NPC Record Sheets, and I photocopied the Combat Calculator from Dragon Magazine, rather than cut up my magazine. (I had all the Dragon Magazines from about issue 50 to about 150 or so. I needed money and gave them to my brother. He never gave me any money, and my parents had a water leak in their basement, and all the Dragons were mush….)
I only bought one Hexagonal Mapping Booklet. I still have 6 sheets left. I could make that 7, as one has a lightly pencil drawn star chart for my footsteps into Mega Traveller. I started building a campaign about 25 years ago, and that’s all I did with it. I still have the box for that and the manuals.)
I really wish you could just go buy these like in the good old days….
I only ever bought two modules back in the day. I bought Ravenloft for the cool 3-D style maps. I bought Village Of Hommlet for a low level adventure. I have never ran either of these. If I recall correctly I have played Ravenloft. I do have several of the classic modules in PDF from DriveThruRPG, etc.
What’s not to like about these maps. I think they are cool, and like most players of RPGs, I like maps!
The saddest part, was that one of the books was the Dieties & Demigods with the Cthulhu and Melnibone mythos. Several years ago, when I decided to rebuild my collection, I soon found most of the other rule books at my FLGS. All except the DDG. Then a few days ago, I ordered the DDG with Cthulhu from Wayne’s Books. About two hours after that, my son got home from work, and gave me one as a belated birthday present.
Below is a picture of my rebuilt collection with the DDG from my son, including a Dave Trampier DM screen.
I also added the Wilderness Survival Guide and the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide, which I never had.
Also this past summer, I stopped by Table Top Game and Hobby, on my way to my baby sister’s wedding, and picked up the core book re-prints. (This is the 20th year of operation, and the owner, Phil Kilgore, who was a year or two behind me in high school, but we gamed together often back then, had customers roll a d20 for a percentage off. I rolled bad, a 2, and he let me re-roll and I got 8% off, I think. Phil said back in high school that he wanted to open his own game store, and he did.) I am keeping them in their plastic wrappers, just in case.
I also have another Player’s Handbook with the Dave Trampier cover. It is in near pristine condition, but I could not find it to include here.
I also managed to get most of the PDFs before WotC halted them. I got the Player’s Handbook, which is now unavailable since they started selling them again. I didn’t get the Oriental Adventures PDF, I don’t remember if it wasn’t available, or because I kept mis-remembering and thinking I had the book. I picked up Oriental Adventures last year, and the Fiend Folio this past spring.
Here is an inside shot, of my precious…. I mean, the birthday present from my son. Now my collection is restored and expanded.
Here is the “final” stack of my AD&D Manuals, less the like new Dave Trampier cover Player’s Handbook, and the Dieties and Demigods I order from Wayne’s Books, on Wednesday, October 29th. Of course, just after I finished uploading these pictures and putting my manuals away, the mail came with my new precious. I will write up another post with the unboxing.
I did it. I saw that Wayne’s Books is having a sale, so I found a Dieties and Demigods with Cthulhu and Melnibone for 99.00 and bought it, the coupon lowered the price to 84.99. I went with the free shipping, so it should be he in 3 to 4 days. So there is a minuscule chance I could have it Saturday, November 1st, but more likely, Monday, November 3rd.
Once I have that book, I will have completed re-building my set of AD&D books lost to the bust water pipe so long ago.
I can’t wait to look at the art again!
I’ll post pictures of my re-built and expanded collection, when it arrives.
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.
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.”
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.
I snagged both of them for about the price as back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. With tax, I got both for $30.72. I don’t think I could do that via eBay or other online retailers. I definitely avoided the wait, and worry about the package getting left in the weather.
A few weeks ago I got a new complete DM Screen with the Trampier art. So now my physical collection is “complete”. I have the Legends & Lore, which replaced Dieties & Demigods. I had one of the original Dieties & Demigods with Cthulhu and Melnibone, but it too, was lost in the water damage incident.
I have a nearly complete PDF collection, but the Unearthed Arcana is not available in PDF. I don’t know if it ever was back before WotC pulled them. I think it was, and because I had the book, I did not get it. Some have bad things to say about Unearthed Arcana. I only use some of the stuff from it. I don’t like all the new classes, for example. I like some of the spells, but not cantrips. The great thing about RPGs is that one never has to use whole cloth for anything. One can pick and choose for what works for them.
The first D&D product I ever bought was the blue box basic set with rules up to 3rd level. I never bought the white box set as we had the opinion that it was “old” and not the same thing.
This was before the AD&D Player’s Handbook came out, the first of the three main rulebooks. We had the idea that “advanced” was better. I think a lot of that was judging a book by it’s cover.
I got the Player’s Handbook for Christmas the year it came out, then it was wait and wait for the Monster Manual to come out and go plunk down twelve dollars. Then wait and wait for the Dungeon Master’s Guide to come out and it was the expensive price of $15.00. When you made $10.00 for an hour or more of mowing one lawn in the hot and humid Missouri summer, that was a lot of money. What I remember was that there was never a huge line for the release of these books and they were always available when you went to buy them.
I don’t remember when I did it, but I gave my blue box set to my brother, Kent. He may still have it. I did keep the dice that came with it, see tomorrow for that story.
I still have my original Player’s Handbook, but it is worn from use. My ex is anti-D&D so I left my stuff boxed up most of our marriage. It was boxed up when we lived in an apartment in Kansas City, Missouri. There was a small water leak that we did not discover until it had damaged a lot of my gaming stuff. My DM Guide, Monster Manual, and Dieties & Demigods with the Melnibone mythos, Unearthed Arcana, Monster Manual II, Fiend Folio, one of the two DM Screens (The one with the combat tables and the fighter and the dragon.), World of Greyhawk Gazetteer and map, and some other game materials for other games, like Metamorphosis Alpha. The information on my characters and ideas for my own games were undamaged.
Thankfully I have managed to rebuild my books with both hardcover and PDF copies from before Wizards of the Coast stopped the PDFs. I have updated the PDFs as Wizard has updated them since they resumed allowing them. eBay has also helped in rebuilding my collection.