ImageGreetings, faithful quixotists! I know I’ve been away for the better part of the year, and I apologize. It seems my work on a completely unrelated project and our efforts to find a new place to live have eaten up any spare time I may have had to devote to the old gaming blog.

But I couldn’t let the holiday season sneak by without another installment of 1d12 Days of Christmas, now could I?

First up is an offering from Barrel Rider Games – the Yule Elf, a player character class for Labyrinth Lord or any OSR-style RPG. Yule Elves come from the Northern Kingdom, resemble halflings more than traditional elves, and are usually on a rare quest to determine who is naughty and nice, and report these findings back to their master.

This little class package includes two new Yule Elf abilities (Holiday Cheer and Winter Mischief) and character progression charts (I particularly like what happens when they reach 9th level!).

Best of all, it’s only a buck at DriveThruRPG!


Teratic Tome is a retro-styled monster manual compatible with OSRIC and other old-school fantasy role-playing games. The cover and interior have been designed to capture the look and feel of some of the classic AD&D hardcover books of the early to mid-80s – the fonts, organization, and colors are all there, and a dead tree copy of this tome would fit right in next to the original orange-spined core books.

The monsters within are truly monstrous, not just big and hairy, and could easily cover a shift to let one of Clive Barker’s Cenobites have a day off. There seems to be a strong theme of creatures that seek out specific victims – the Acronical, for example, is an insectile beast created by ancient priests to find and destroy those who have been unfaithful to their spouses, as well as any who have aided and abetted such activity. The Epexiant is a tentacled serpent who seeks out those who are so wracked with grief that they do not wish to carry on with their lives. (What it does when it finds one, I won’t go into.) And these are not even entries from the demon or devil sections!

These are not monsters for a cheerful, fairy-taleish dungeon crawl. The dragons feature a list of horrific events that occur to herald their approach – unnatural weather, animal slaughter, and much worse. The halflings keep hell hounds as pets, and torture their captives for entertainment. If you’ve been looking for a bestiary to flesh out a Lovecraftian mythos styled fantasy campaign, I think you need look no further.

The artwork is superb, and other than a few typos and a section where some paragraphs were repeated, the layout and content is excellent. It’s difficult to read most of the entries without getting ideas about how to work them into a game, even as you’re shuddering at the thought. And that’s really where Teratic Tome shines – the attention to the details and motivations of the creatures really brings them off of the page.

As a side note – there’s an interesting twist on the way treasure is handled that would be worth using in most of your OSR games, even if you don’t get a lot of use out of the monsters.

Because I review a lot of RPG products with young people in mind, I feel obligated to say that these are NOT monsters to put into a campaign that you’re going to run for your kids. Please don’t. Save these for the grownups. And only the grownups with strong stomachs. Please.

My two gripes: The beautiful retro-styled cover isn’t a part of the PDF, and I think reading the monster entries before bed every night for the last few days may have given me nightmares. And some plot ideas. Okay, make that one gripe. (EDIT: Rafael informs me that the cover is now part of the PDF, so I am out of gripes.)

Check out Teratic Tome at DriveThruRPG

Well the holiday season is mostly over – but I’ve spotted a couple of leftover goodies at the bottom of the ol’ bag of holding! Let’s drag them out and see what we’ve got.

– Floor tiles and fantasy buildings: Courtesy of Billiam Babble (who himself creates some excellent floor tiles of his own that are not all free but well worth what he’s charging) is a link to the Black Ronin Roleplaying Games website, which has a bunch of free dungeon floortiles, sci-fi floor tiles, and fantasy wargame buildings that are yours for a click.  If you like what you see and get some use out of it, consider buying some of their other products (only two are available at present – river tiles and street tiles – and they are very reasonably priced) and keeping an eye on them for upcoming releases.

Character development: Someone on Google+ asked about tables that you can use to build backstory and life events for characters, and I mentioned the  Central Casting books which usually provide some very crazy results, but are a goldmine for ideas. While searching for a link for more info, I discovered that all three books in the series are available (legally) for free on scribd – Heroes of Legend, Heroes Now!, and Heroes for Tomorrow. You can read each online or download them as TXT or PDF files. Start rolling on tables and making notes the way Jacquays intended, or just leaf through them and see what catches your eye – either way, you’ll get a more colorful, interesting character in the end. (EDIT: My friend Marques asked if Central Casting: Dungeons was also available, and it is! I didn’t even know that one existed, and it looks like a pretty neat supplement for fleshing out a dungeon crawl. Grab it, too!)  (Sorry guys, looks like these aren’t legal after all. My apologies to the authors and publishers.)

– Lastly, there’s this marvelous thing – Dave’s Mapper, a widget that spits out random hand-drawn dungeons. You can make a dungeon from a mix of different artists, or narrow it down to a few or even just one, then export the result to PNG to print out and stock with monsters, traps, and treasure. It’s a lot of fun to play with.

Enjoy, and I’ll be back soon to talk about this year’s New Year, New Game project!

Here’s a clever AND nifty tutorial for making classic blue-grid dungeon maps using Microsoft Excel and Paint – Drawing Dungeon Maps in Excel – A Quick Tutorial.

While I personally would probably use a graphics program instead, this is a great alternative for those who don’t have the experience with them, or find them to be too “fussy.” (And I agree quite a bit with that latter opinion, sometimes…)



Here’s a pretty exciting offering in the free old school RPG category – Hackmaster Basic is now available as a free download!

For those who aren’t aware, the HM rules offer some pretty interesting twists to the classic fantasy RPG model, and for the low, low price of absolutely free, you get 231 pages filled with spells, magic items, GM tips, and more. If that’s not enough, the combat examples are illustrated and demonstrated by B.A., Bob, Dave, Sara, and Brian from the Knights of the Dinner Table!

If that’s not enough, then just take a look at that flippin’ sweet Erol Otus cover. That should clinch it all, right there. If it doesn’t, then you’re reading the wrong blog.

You can download the Hackmaster Basic PDF at the Kenzer and Company website.



The 2012 edition of the Microlite20 RPG Collection is available for download – it’s a massive 1300 page collection of material for the retroclone RPG system. The RetroRoleplaying Blog gives us the rundown on what’s inside:

In addition to the standard Microlite20 rules (and a large number of optional systems and expanded rules, The Microlite20 RPG Collection (2012 Edition) includes the following Microlite20-based role-playing games: Microlite20 House Rules, MicroFantasy, Alter Microlite20, Ultramicrolite20 Revised, Ultramicrolite20 Revised II, Nanolite20, Microlite20 Modern, M20 Modern: Expert, Microlite20 Modern-Day, M20 Hard Core Rules, Swords against Sorcery, M20 Heroic, Iron Heartbreakers, Microlite11, WildWalker’s M20 4e, Microlite20 Variant 4e, Microlite 4E, Micro Action Fantasy, MULRAH, Lite20, Mini20, Realms of Renown, Microlite74: Basic, Microlite74: Standard, Microlite74: Extended, Microlite74: Companion I, Microlite77, Microlite20 OSS, Advanced Microlite20 OSS, Argo, M20 Hyborian Age, Microlite Conan, Prehistoric Microlite20, Microlite20 Bronze Age, Microlite Dark Sun, Omerian Tales, Beacon, WarEngine RPG, Yamato M20, Challenges & Champions, Microlite20 Elf Lords, Microlite20 Resident Evil, Microlite20 Cthulthu, Microlite20 Vampires, Microlite20 2012, SpyLite, Giant Bug Invasion, Cyberpunk, SuperLite, Microlite20 Costumes, Tumbleweed, Gunsmoke & Goblins, Owl Hoot Trail, Microlite Storytelling, TileHack, Dragoons, ZombiePocalypse, Relics & Ruins, OmegaLite20, RABID, Microlite20 Vermin, Where No Man Has Gone Before, Galactic Methuselah, FrontierLite, M20 Star Wars, Microlite20 Star Wars, Scions of a Primordial Planet, Micro MechWarrior, Stargate 1895, Blaster D20 Microlite, Pendragon D20 Microlite, Diabolical D20 Microlite, PathfinderLite20, Microlite20 Golden Edition, DungeonFinder Player’s Guide, DungeonFinder GM’s Guide, DungeonFinder Book of Monsters, and Grimm Lite.

And it’s completely free!


…before I give you the link, I’d like you to consider donating to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund, to help out a fellow gamer with her medical bills. You can find out more at the link. It’s a good cause, and not only will you be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped a fellow human being in need, you also get some classic RPG goodies for your trouble, and could be entered into a drawing for even more.

And now, with no further ado, here’s that link to a whole lot of Microlite.


New Year, New GameOkay, here it is – my belated (but better than be-nevered!)  New Year, New Game post.

For those of you just joining us,  New Year New Game is a challenge to roleplaying enthusiasts to try a new roleplaying game every new year, to help inspire us, broaden our horizons, and keep our hobby from getting stale.

A few new RPGs have really caught my attention, and I thought I would make a list of five that will try my best to play in the coming year. I figure making a list of five will increase my odds of getting at least one of them in. So, here goes:

1) Macabre Tales (link) – I reviewed this one a little while ago – It’s a one-on-one RPG (one narrator, one player) that is the most faithful tribute to the stories of H.P. Lovecraft that I’ve ever seen, and it uses dominoes instead of dice. Very intriguing.

2) Toypocalypse (link) – This is another that I reviewed recently. One could call it a mash-up of Toy Story, Small Soldiers, 9, and Lord of the Flies, if one were so inclined – sentient toys living in a human-free post-apocalyptic world. Oh yeah, I’m so there.

3) Cosmic Patrol (link) – This one is in my to-be-reviewed pile. Two-fisted Golden Age science fiction GMless roleplaying that looks like it would be a blast to play. And speaking of GMless games…

4) Fiasco (link)  – Nope, I haven’t played it yet. Yeah, I know it’s awesome. I kn… I KNOW, ALL RIGHT? I KNOW! I’M GONNA! JUST STOP, ALREADY!

5) Lost Days of Memories and Madness (link) – Their teaser text has me very interested – “A storytelling game of intrigue and insanity at the end of the world. The immortal elves of the Eternal Court are masters of the world, enslaving the lesser races so that their most precious possessions – their memories – can be harvested for the pleasure of the decadent elven lords. The greatest fear amongst the immortal elves is madness; the greatest taboo is the mention that the stolen memories of others is the path to insanity.” And I just noticed that it’s GMless, too. Honestly, I don’t have anything against GMed games… it just seems to be working out like this…

So there’s my list. If I get to play and/or run one of them, I will consider it a success. Two will be a critical success, three will be an outright miracle. I’ll check back in when January 2013 rolls around and file my report.

Now, about those new gamers…

I’m happy – and very lucky – to say that I have a lot of opportunities to play with new people right now, and by “new,” I mostly mean folks who have never tried the RPG hobby before, along with one experienced gamer who wants to try a game he’s never played before. And unlike the above list, I’m going to do my very best to check ALL of the items off of this one in the coming year:

Mr. Hudson is a long-time friend of my partner Paula and mine. I used to call him “Dave” (that’s his first name) until the day I bumped into him while visiting a grade school and learned that he was a teacher there.  Now I call him Mr. Hudson. Anyway, Mr. Hudson and I got into a conversation late last year in which he mentioned that his son expressed an interest in playing Dungeons & Dragons – so I told him that if he would like, I would be happy to run a game for him and his son someday. He said he would like. So I’m going to. I’ll probably run a retroclone like OSRIC, which while technically counts as D&D, I’ve never run before. So it’ll count as a new game!

Allie is a theatre friend. She and I have been in many different stage shows together in the children’s theatre group that we are both a part of. In our first (The Frog Princess), I played the storyteller and narrator, and she was a barbarian princess. Currently, we are working together on a new show (The Golden Goose) in which she is playing the storyteller/narrator, and I’m playing the king. She has heard us talk about gaming during our backstage discussions and late-night after-rehearsal dinners at Applebee’s, and mentioned that she’d like to give it a go. For this, I may use Blue Rose – simple rules, and since I’ve never run it before – cha-ching! New game! (Does Blue Rose have barbarians in it?)

Jeremy is my oldest daughter’s boyfriend. He already enjoys console RPGs, so trying out a tabletop version won’t be all that new to him. During one of their phone conversations, I overheard my daughter say to him “You’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons? You can’t truly call yourself a geek until you’ve played D&D! My dad can run a game for us someday!” He has agreed to do so – but it’s likely that his real agenda is to have that much more face-to-face time with my daughter. Regardless, I’m making him chuck some dice, probably in the same Blue Rose game with Allie.

Jenn is another theatre friend who has three energetic and highly imaginative boys. I’ve thought about asking her if I could run a simple RPG for them someday, but she actually popped the question before I could. I’m not sure what I would run, but I did just get a review copy of RAWR!

My friend Chris is someone I’ve gamed with for years, who recently told me that one of his other friends (whose name I cannot remember right now) inquired about giving the Call of Cthulhu RPG a try for the first time. “There’s only one guy I know who can do Cthulhu justice,” says my friend Chris. (Aw, shucks.) Now this doesn’t really count as a new game on my end, but it would on his! Ca-ching!

And there we have it – my big RPG plans for the year. Check back with me in 2013 to see how they went!


(Yeah, it’s the second post in a day after an absence of over a month. Try to contain yourselves.)

About 10 years ago, Wizards of the Coast put PDFs of a lot of classic AD&D 2E modules and supplements up on their website. I can remember begging a (non-gamer) friend of mine to download all of them for me and burn them to disc, because I didn’t have a CD burner yet. Then, after I got a burner, I forgot I already had them, and downloaded them all and burned another copy.

Then a few years later, when backing up files from my old, ailing computer, I forgot I had already burned them to disc… and burned another copy.

But back to the point. Recently, Wizards took all of them down, sending lots of ten-year procrastinators into a panic. Thankfully, Michael Curtis at The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope has discovered a way to still get them, through the Wayback Machine at

Not only that. but this good gentleman has graciously supplied a list of links to every one of the classic AD&D products!

Now I can finally download them all and burn them to disc! And so can you!

(Thanks to David Shepheard for the link!)

Yeah, I warned you about the erratic posting, didn’t I?

Here’s a nifty gadget I discovered on StumbleUpon today – Dyson’s Random Morph Map! Just let it know how wide you’d like your dungeon to be and how many squares to fill, and you’ll get an instantly generated dungeon map, just waiting to be populated!

There’s a book I’ve been working on that I keep tucked into the backpack that I carry with me where ever I go. It’s not something I’m writing myself – I’m more of the editor/compiler of it.

It’s one of those paper folders with bendy metal tabs in the spine to hold three-hole punched pages into place, and it’s full of various things that I have printed out or photocopied that I find helpful in brainstorming RPG ideas. Whenever I have a bit of free time (and don’t have a anything else to read at the moment), I pull it out and read something at random out of it.

Here is a list of what I keep in that book:

  • The Big List of RPG Plots by S. John Ross – A list of 30+ basic plots that you can use as springboards for an adventure. Includes tips on how to use them creatively – combine two, reverse the roles, etc.  This is great for those times when you have to come up with something fast, but it’s also good for laying down the basic foundation of your plot.
  • Yes, But… Part One and Yes, But… The Scenario (from “See Page XX”) by Robin Laws -Two great columns on how to answer player requests with “Yes, but…” instead of “No.”  In the second column, Laws suggests running a full-freeform game in which the PCs ask you questions that are all answered with “Yes, but…” (To get these two, you’ll have to purchase a PDF of the first 24 installments of this column, but there is a lot more good advice to be found among them, and the price is right.)
  • How to Play Role-Playing Games and How to Run Role-Playing Games by Greg Stolze – Two free PDF pamphlets by one of my favorite RPG designers. Both of these cover the basics of the hobby, but I always find myself reading them to remind myself what those basics are. “How to Play…” is also handy for giving to anyone who would like to understand the hobby (when you’re too pressed for time to explain it yourself).
  • Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering by Robin Laws – Tons of incredible GM advice packed into 33 pages – focus, mood, story structure, improvisation, and a lot more. It’s hard to crack this open to a random page and not get something from it that you’ll want to try in your next session. (Thankfully, Steve Jackson Games made this one available as a PDF – the original print run sold out quickly, and dead tree versions are going for ludicrous prices on eBay!)
  • The Seven Sentence NPC (from the August 1992 Dragon Magazine) by C.M. Cline – This one will be a little tougher to get than the others, unless you have access to back issues of Dragon or the CD-ROM archive of the first 250 issues that came out a while ago.  The basic idea is simple, however: when creating NPCs for your campaign, describe them in seven sentences, based on seven character qualities. The article gives specific qualities, but you could certainly come up with seven of your own, that would custom suit your campaign.
  • The Adventure Funnel by Dr Rotwang! – This was one of his posts from his blog I Waste the Buddha With My Crossbow on how to brainstorm the basic elements of a story on the fly. I liked it so much that I use it almost every time I’m coming up with a plot – but I usually need to remind myself how to do it.
  • A Quick Primer to Old School Gaming by Matthew J. Finch – A brief manifesto on the old school style of roleplaying. Debates on old- versus new-school roleplaying have been running rather hot lately, and I’m not interested in getting into any of them.  I can appreciate and enjoy both forms. What this doc does is to examine the freeform style of old-school play, and shows how creative and intuitive it can be.

And that’s my RPG inspiration book… for now, anyway. There is still room for more pages, and I’m always open to suggestions.  Have any? Leave them in comments!