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I'm writing a new gamebook for Adventurer

Adventure Games Guild, publisher of the upcoming Adventurer solo roleplaying system, has announced the books and authors that will be releasing books next year, including my very own book called Blackstorm.

I'll be joining a list of other great authors working with the system in 2013, including Stuart Lloyd, David Walters and Shane Garvey.

You can find the announcements on the blog.

I don't think I can give many details away about Blackstorm, but it's going to be damned good. Well, that's what I'm aiming for anyway. I'll be reporting on Adventurer, Blackstorm and all the other [...]

Mastermind Monday - Santa's Hell-Deer and Sleigh

Here's part two of my Santa's Slay posts. Part One, which features stats for Santa and background on the film can be found here. This was my first attempt at statting a vehicle. I don't think I did a bad job.

PL 3

Str 4, Sta 4, Agl 0, Dex --4, Fgt 0, Int --4, Awe 0, Pre --3

Powers Flight 8,Growth 4 (Permanent, Innate), Protection 4 (Impervious 4) , Speed 3

Skills Perception 4 (+4).

Init +0, Attack +0 (Close, Damage 4)


Defenses Dodge 2, Parry 2, Fortitude 4, Toughness 4, Will 0

More Pacific Rim

I saw the Hobbit this weekend and the new trailer for Pacific Rim just increased my desire to see this film!

"Today, weare  canceling the apocalypse!"

Things Found in the Goblin Market This Week

The first in an irregular series crafted by Sherri based in part on this list.

FROM THE NOTEBOOKMore and more, I see the reasoning behind the Physiker's theory.  She says that each Goblin market gives a trailing history of how the Hedge was re-configuring itself the prior week---of course, she says it in the most dismissive way, implying that I am idiot for not realizing it myself.  Perhaps she is right.  I had held on to my lazy thinking that the Gobbos knew paths or had caravans.  Now I notice that the change-over in stock and new items popping [...]

Discussion: System You Want To Try

So, I'm a stupid jerk and forgot to have a post ready for today. Whoops! My bad.

Rather than try to rush something out, get it up with only 12 hours left before the next post goes up, and all that stuff I figured I'd do an extra discussion this week.

So, tell us, what system do you really want to try out and why?

Personally, I want to try out Fate Core. I like the fate system a lot. I think it hits a happy middle ground between more arbitrarily layed out games like the Marvel [...]

Edit Request

Anyone willing to edit a 40 page Labyrinth Lord adventure?  The working title is "Only the Cold Air is Clean", it's a one-shot adventure set in a 100 room castle.

In return for your editing services, I will provide a free PDF and print edition.  I will also provide credit on the front cover. Let me know if you prefer Word or Googledocs.   I need it back within a week's time.  You can contact me through comments on this blog, or through my email:  hartwell602 at gmail dot com.

I only need one, so please don't feel bad if I don't get your [...]

The Traps of the Santicore

Being a set of tables for generating concepts for traps for any system, with examples and discussion.

Tables Purpose of Trap (d8)
  1. Capture
  2. Impede
  3. Injure/Kill
  4. Resource Sink
  5. Hazard
  6. Practical Joke
  7. Lock/Barrier
  8. Alarm
Trigger Type (d12)
  1. Pressure Plate
  2. Trip-wire
  3. Opening a container/door
  4. Removing pressure
  5. Occlusion
  6. Heat/Light
  7. Magnetism
  8. Guard-activated
  9. Permanent
  10. Sound
  11. Unusual Sense
  12. Timed
Location (roll separately for trigger and trap, d6)
  1. Floor
  2. Wall
  3. Ceiling
  4. Container
  5. Entrance
  6. Other

Obviously, some effort needs to be spent to make the trap coherent; if the trigger is a pressure-plate on the ceiling for a trap on the floor, it should be something like a place the door will brush as it's opening, or be part of a feature on the ceiling like a mosaic or chandelier that the players will be tempted to explore.

Mechanism (d10)
  1. Gravity [...]

K is for Kinzassl

Records of the ancient days of the Mezzovian area are scanty and poor, meaning that many of the kingdoms, nations, tribes and peoples of long ago are poorly known, if at all.  The scientific inquiry into the past via archeology, anthropology, parahistory and prehistory is in its infancy in the Mezzovian area, compared to what it is in our own world.  But it is a fruitful area of inquiry to those of scholarly bent who aspire to learn more of such things, and while records may be poor, in some cases there are other sources of information that can be [...]

My Fate Core Star Wars character for tonight.

Krax Inkari

Race: Twi'lek
Description. Krax has a light blue skin and is about 5 foot 6 and has a lithe body. He is a Jedi, so he typically is wearing a grey robe and his lightsaber is purple..

High Concept: Twi'lek Jedi investigator
Dark side: When evil gains hold in the world
Aspect; Some wounds never completely heal
Aspect: Blindly loyal, fiercely protective
Aspect: Everything starts with a plan

Great +4 Investigation
Good+3: Athletics, Rapport
Fair +2 Fighting, Stealth, Empathy
Average +1 Physique, Will, Lore, Notice

Stunt 1. Force speed +2 to [...]

The Hobbit

For many gamers my age The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were our gateway drug to D&D.  Of all the tales, the Hobbit is the most "D&D" of them.  Instead of a lengthy review I will say I loved it, I want to see it again.  Here are some other reviews from other game bloggers.

  • http://overpricedpopcorn.blogspot.com/2012/12/review-peter-jacksons-hobbit-unexpected.html
  • http://tankardsandbroadswords.blogspot.com/2012/12/movie-review-hobbit-unexpected-journey.html
  • http://trolldens.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-hobbit.html
  • http://originaleditionfantasy.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-hobbit-review.html
  • http://www.risusmonkey.com/2012/12/an-unexpected-journey-for-parent.html 
  • http://lordgwydion.blogspot.com/2012/12/movie-review-hobbit-unexpected-journey.html
  • http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-hobbit-unexpected-journey.html
  • http://towerofthearchmage.blogspot.com/2012/12/review-hobit-unexpected-journey.html

Here are the things that I liked or otherwise stood out for me.  In the Rankin-Bass cartoon all the dwarves looked alike.  It was difficult to tell who was who and unless you had read the book a dozen or few [...]

Dresden Files: Sacrifice

We had our last Dresden Files session before the holiday break. I decided that we’d speed up the timeline in the campaign. This way after [...]

New Downloads

Busy few days, and I am humbled with the reaction to the release of Colonial Gothic 2E. I was really worried about the reaction, and worried that people would be angry due to my secretly releasing it. Thank you for making this all possible.

This morning, I have put up two downloads, the original sample adventures for Colonial Gothic. To prove that 2E is backward compatible, I have left them as is, stat wise. You can download them from here.

Daily Cosplay

Word of the Day -- Solipsism

Solipsism is an interesting word.  Let me give you the Merriam Webster definition:  a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also : extreme egocentrism 

This basically says, at least to me (being a solipsist myself!) that we know nothing outside of our own realm, i.e. my own mind is the entire universe in which i understand and make decisions about the world and my environment.  It's tricky, because that last part, extreme egocentrism, makes it sound like a solipsist is an egomaniac.  [...]

Batman No Man's Land Tournament

This past Saturday, I took part in the Batman Heroclix event at Gamers' Haven. it was the first time I participated in such an event. Though I had the opportunity to play before, this time was different for a number of reasons.

First, Action Man is really liking the models. As a growing little boy, he is getting very much into superheroes. I have never been much of a DC guy, but with his growing up, I'm discovering DC heroes and their villains.

As a minis guy, the Heroclix are pretty cool and they come pre-painted (okay I [...]


Its seems that your character's gear includes some type of cheese...at least the rations do. Evidence points to the creation of cheese almost 7000 years ago. Pottery found possessing strange holes were possibly used as colanders to separate the curds and whey. Pottery found in Poland of the period is linked to early nineteenth century methods of making cheese on the American frontier, indicating the method of making cheese began a very long time ago.

Read on.

post script: there is yet no evidence of macaroni.

Armor Up

Pegaso Models

Junk on the Moon

I'm pretty sure NASA just illegally dumped some garbage on the moon, or they will this afternoon. The two probes, Ebb and Flow, are being sent to the surface of the moon this afternoon as their fly by mission to the moon is at last over. Low fuel precludes any other options. Though had I been in charge I would have strapped a Mr. Bill and Sluggo to the capsules and sent them into deep space.

That would mess up the aliens out there!

Top Of The Pile: Spider-Men

Like a great many comic book fans of a certain age I have been known to rail against Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue diarrhoea  It's as though once he starts typing his own particular brand of strained superhero banter he just can't stop and very soon a page of artistic panels is drowning in a cavalcade of word balloons.

However, the one notable time this style actually worked for me was his handling of the Ultimate Spider-Man line and so this landmark crossover title worked for me in that respect.

Spider-Men sees Peter Parker of mainstream Marvel Earth-616 transported to the Ultimate universe where the young Peter Parker was shot and killed and a kid named Miles Morales has taken up the Spider-Man mantle.

The interplay between 'our' Peter Parker and the world of the Ultimates - where the name of Peter Parker is held in reverence by the people [...]

Brainstorming a Celt-Inspired Setting

Dying Gaul, picture by antmoose via Wikipedia

There’s been discussion here in the Intwischa offices about homebrewed rules for using Bronze and early Iron Age weapons in Savage Worlds. We have no game to pair them with, so it’s mostly a thought experiment so far. However, this immediately got me thinking about settings for this still-theoretical game.

When I was young, I read a book called Druids by Morgan Llywellyn. More recently, it was A Sword in the Storm, by David Gemmell. What both have in common, despite being great books, is that they’re (more or less overtly) about the conflict between [...]

Splitting Hairs: Exploring nuance as a source of game ideas

I’ve always found that I can get a lot of mileage out of exploring nuances, fine shades of differentiation between synonyms, when I’m looking for adventure ideas and character concepts. Sometimes I will introduce a character to do nothing but that, especially when the PCs are in the other camp – even if they don’t realize it at the time.

Logic vs Rationalism

For example, ponder the difference between Logic and Rationalism. The dictionary definitions of these terms are almost interchangeable:

  • Logic -The science of reasoning, a scheme or treatise [on the subject], conformity to its laws, the way one argues, argumentative ability, [...]

Getting the Most out of D6 Weapons

Sketch by Jacques Callot

As mentioned previously, I’ve been running a very rules-light game for my younger brother, which I’ve been calling D&D&LB. I was inspired by Brendan of Untimately to use the rules in the three little brown books. Accordingly, many of the gaps and weaknesses in those rules have been filled with the same innovations Brendan uses in his Pahvelorn campaign. I sketched out the rules in about an hour and a half, and they’ve served us well for about two months. But the players are starting to ask about crafting items, dual wielding weapons, and their XP is getting dangerously close to second level. It’s time for the rules to be expanded a bit, and I thought it would be a fun exercise of my game crafting abilities to come up with those expansions myself, rather than pulling them from books.

One of the oddities about the three little brown books is that all weapons have the same damage dice. Everything from a dagger, to a great sword uses 1d6 for damage. To my knowledge this is the only version of the D&D rules which doesn’t use different dice for different weapon types, which is too bad. I think all weapons using the same damage die is an idea with a lot of merit, because it has synergy with another of the game’s old rules: all characters have 1d6 hp at first level. That means any blow, for any character, from any weapon, has the potential to be fatal. And for first level characters, I think that level of danger is thrilling.

The only problem is that the differences between weapons become a lot less clear. What’s the value of choosing a long sword, when a short sword or a dagger is functionally identical? For the most part I haven’t [...]

The Hobbit

Watched the movie last night. Its more than worth your money! Much from the Appendixes is included, to my great joy, the Batttle of Nanduhirion, where the dwarves go to Moria to avenge the murder of Thror by Azog. The battle sequence is really well done and the Dwarves given the just due that they deserve.

Some liberties are taken with the story, but nothing that detracts from it. And the actor who plays Bilbo is wonderful.

Greatest Hits 2012: When the Plus (+) No Longer Matters

While the Dungeon's Master team enjoys some well-deserved vacation time, we're breaking out the greatest hits and shining a spotlight on a few of our favourite articles from 2012. We’ve searched for hidden gems that our newer readers might have missed and our long-time readers will enjoy reading again. Enjoy a second look at these greatest hits from Dungeon's Master.

When I wrote this article it was to make a statement about character development. The idea was that having a magic item with a special power you found interesting was more important than whether or not the magic was +2 or [...]


The Destroyer! Frank Frazetta. But official merchandise here.

Saber Tooth

They've unearthed bones of a saber tooth tiger just north of Las Vegas. This creature is still a mind boggling creature that our not so distant forbearers had to battle whilst wandering the plains. The beast grew to about 15 feet in length (though one species was only the size of a bob-cat) and ranged upward to 900 lbs. Its not known whether they hunted in packs like lions, or were solitary predators, like the North American Mountain Lion. The size of their prey would indicate a pack-like approach.

Of course meeting even one would be enough.

On the Gameable NPC

Telecanter has an superlative post on an implementation of NPC's as locks. The kind of post that kickstarts your game and makes you want to design something that you can use in the game right now.

So, how do we implement this as functional?

Here are my thoughts.

The card design Telecanter made is brilliant. It contains space for an image, visible traits, and what tumblers (interactions) we can make to unlock information.

The picture and the visible traits serve the purpose of avoiding the basic confrontational stance that players always end up in to meet their goals when interacting with NPC's. The image [...]

In the Its Just Cool Category

About 10 years ago a woman we know as Jan lost use of her body after a degenerative brain disease ravaged her spinal cord. It left her a paraplegic, not being able to move her limbs from the neck down. Recently a series of micro-electric relays were set into her brain and attached to a computerized arm; the program that runs the arm is designed to interpret the signals the brain would make when normally moving the arm. To get this to work Doctors asked Jan to imagine moving her arm, the program interpreted the signals, recording the brain's activities.

Heroic Values, Part 2

Thanks for subscribing to TPK! For more posts, check out TPK - Theory, Planning, Knowledge

Mercy, compassion, and humility are just three values that heroes could have. Today I want to explore three more, justice, loyalty, and honesty, as well as talking a little bit more about some values that seem heroic, but don’t quite qualify. Without further ado, on to the heroes!


This is an obvious choice for heroes. Justice is about treating people fairly and acting with honour, that is acting in a way that’s consistent with how you think others should act. Just heroes will intercede when they see [...]

Greatest Hits 2012

With 2012 nearing completion the Dungeon's Master team is taking another look at some of our favourite articles from the past year. In 2012 we posted over 165 articles (down from the 250 we'd posted in previous years when we were running new content 5 days a week). This is still a huge number and there are bound to be a few that you missed somewhere along the way.

Beginning today, and continuing over the next two weeks, we'll dig up those hidden gems that generated a lot of discussion among the gaming community or that we think best represent what [...]

Interview: Quinn Conklin

The Iron Tavern recently interviewed Quinn Conklin, one of the driving forces behind the Toys for the Sandbox series from Occult Moon. In addition to writing the weekly fantasy series he also has a role in the post-apocalyptic and science fiction flavors of Toys for the Sandbox as well.

Because keeping a weekly series churning out is not enough to keep the man busy, he also has taken up writing some adventures for new to the scene, BareBones Fantasy, a rules-light fantasy RPG from DwD Studios.

Quinn also has a couple of side projects that he picks up as time permits. Between [...]

I love you folks! A Delves Update

In case I didn’t mention it up there in the post title (double-checked, I did… but anyways), I love you. You know who, the you who bought Dyson’s Delves in the past 5 days since I released it. Five days. That’s not a long time.

In fact, it turns out five days is enough time for you (you know, the you that I’m telling that I love – in a totally platonic way mind you) to go out to the storefront and buy more than 50 copies of the limited edition.

That’s right, half of the limited edition hardcover run is already sold. I did mention that it’s a limited run of 100 copies, right? Yeah man. 100 copies. Now less than 50 left. This is the same limited edition run that includes one additional name-level adventure that will never appear on this blog and that doesn’t appear in the unlimited perfect bound softcover edition.

Here’s a link to an overview of the adventure in question – The Twisted Halls of Mornard’s Revenge.

And the overview of the books – Maps, Dungeons, Adventures! Dyson’s Delves.

Or, if you are worried that with this post the last fifty copies are being snapped up while you are [...]

[L5R] Clan Analysis Now Accepting Requests

I’ve been giving it some thought as the Crane Clan articles have been rather enlightening with regards to the themes and topics that make for interesting games. Because of that I’m considering what to tackle next. I have to admit that after the Lion and the Crane, the rest of the clans start getting more and more… exotic, and should be an interesting exercise in study.

And so I turn to you guys, is there a particular Clan that you’d like me to start checking out and dissecting in the same manner for Legend of the Five Rings? I’m open to [...]

"You Are the Hero" Kickstarter

There is a very cool Kickstarter in progress attempting to fund a coffee table book that will recount 30 years of the Fighting Fantasy book series.  See more on the book here and the Kickstarter here!

Also, Russ of EN World was able to upload an interview with the Final Fantasy creators as well as a seminar from Dragon Meet to his YouTube channel.  Enjoy!

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Let’s imagine for a minute that you’ve been playing a level 2 monk with long hair who likes to kick people in the face. He doesn’t wear any armor or long monk robes, and shows off all his tattoos by running around shirtless no matter how much snow is on the ground. You’ve been using a standard figure, but it’s an elf, or female, or it’s a halforc with a chain weapon. One day you are at your local friendly game store when you come across this guy:

He’s perfect. A monk! He’s kicking! He’s got long hair… but then there’s [...]

Witch Hunter: A Child's Game

Introductory adventure, also legal for Dark Providence shared campaign play.

By Megan Robertson

Publisher’s blurb: “A child, blessed by the Almighty with visions to aid the fight against the foul Adversary, has been spiritually assaulted by vicious devils of …

Feats of Agility

All right, you know the drill by now, from Abandoned Arts - 3 ages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's check out these feats!

News from Arunia, the Summer War

In the North, rumors abound that the brief and furious summer war between Essad and Soloth has come to an end. Hyrek Thur, the Slaver King, has agreed to pay the City of the Wyrm an annual subsidy in gold and slaves in exchange for the aid from Soloth to help put down the widespread revolts inside Essad. Already Solothen forces are gathering at the Fields of Blood to march south and sweep into

New Game Ideas...

Real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of things, and at the moment, the real life pressures of work for some of my players has seen the wonderful Ormid, Veteran and Llewellyn game grind to a near halt. It's still ongoing (no damn way I'm stopping so close to epic tier), but finding a night when we can all meet up is proving almost impossible most weeks.

So, to stop those of us left behind withering, a new "side game" is to be started, and I have been busy coming up with some ideas. I [...]

Monstrous Monday: Reptant & Simiandros

Both of the monsters below are from my adventure model, SIX SECTIONS OF THE VEILED INVOCATION.  It's a Labyrinth Lord game in which the players are tracking down a powerful magical book... and get more than they bargained for.  You can buy a PDF for $2.99 by clicking HERE.  Or, the print version would make a great stocking stuffer.

No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 (short bow or charm)
Damage: 1d6
Save: F2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: VII
XP: 29

Reptants are sentient, bipedal lizard-men. They live [...]

Between the Pages : Marvel NOW! Review...

Grace Randolph and Jessica Boyd give a more in-depth review of the early issues of Marvel NOW! than I did.

The wonderful thing is their views are often totally contrary to my own, but they highlight a point that I didn't that this is Marvel's attempt to make their comics more like their movies.

Issues covered in this half-hour show include:

  • Uncanny Avengers #1
  • Uncanny Avengers #2
  • Avengers #1
  • Thor #1
  • Thor #2
  • Indestructible Hulk #1
  • Iron Man #1
  • Iron Man #2
  • Iron Man #3
  • Captain America #1
  • Fantastic Four #1
  • FF #1
  • All New X-Men #1
  • All New X-Men #2
  • All New X-Men #3

Dungeon Dressing: Archways

By Thilo Graf

This installment of the Dungeon Dressing-line from Raging Swan Press is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with …

Choose your own adversary

If you've ever wanted to see a given Hereticwerks creature in action, time to say so: next episode Bujilli and Leeja go up against whoever we pick. The list is here, the voting here._Explore more at the Expanse proper, or with Triffles: Abandoned Space...

An Unexpected Journey (for a Parent)

Almost two years ago to the day, I began a series of posts to document my experience of reading The Hobbit aloud to me two young boys. It was a wonderful experience in many ways. Not only did it rekindle my adoration for the book and open my eyes to the similarities of Bilbo's adventure to all that is good about old school Dungeons & Dragons, but it was also one of the first big steps in my efforts to share my love of fantasy with my boys boys. The actual reading took many months. My boys were five and [...]

Supplement Review: Journeys to the West by Christina Stiles and Open Design, Part I

Just to let you know ahead of time, I was a supporter of the Journeys to the West project through Kickstarter so I’ve had an interest in this collection of locations and adventures in Midgard since I first heard about it. And I’ve even had the opportunity to ask Christina Stiles and Adam Roy a few questions here and there while they were working on it. That said, though I was a project patron I really didn’t have any time to participate in the design process at the Open Design forums.

So when I received my copy of the book, I [...]

2012 Map-a-Monday (week 51)

It's Monday again ...and that means another little map:

Review - Pathfinder Beginner Boxset

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box
Jason Bulmahn, Sean K. Reynolds

Pathfinder hit the shelves to fill the gap that Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 left behind. The hefty 500-plus page rulebook has everything you need but it can be daunting and seemingly complicated, especially to new gamers, so what better way to introduce new people to the hobby than with an introductory game.
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Boxset is a lovely looking 23 x 29 cm box and at 6.5 cm deep with a decent weight you immediately feel you've got your money's worth. The Wayne [...]

The 'No "Out-of-character"' Rule.

This post is about an argument I’m having with myself. In a previous game, I’ve insisted on there being absolutely no Out-Of-Character (OOC) between any of the players/characters. This worked very well indeed and without it, I don’t think the game could have survived as long as it did. I’m thinking about how best toimplementthis in other games I’m going to run, or if I should. Or if I even need to. So, expect Pros, Cons, and examples and by the end, me pleading for other input, as I would love to know what other people think about this concept.

What [...]

The Day The World Became A Much Smaller Place...

The Wright Brothers First Flight, December 17, 1903.

This news clip shows Orville and Wilbur Wright's first recorded flight caught exclusively by British Path in 1903. On December 17, news came through that two brothers had flown a curious air machine for more than a minute.

To the sceptics, this footage proved that it was true.

A Day That Shook The World is the classic series that recalls the days of the 20th century that proved to be era-defining and pivotal in the course of modern history.

The 7 RPGs You've GMed the Most, and the 7 RPGs You've Played the Most

Over on Google+ someone started the meme #7rpgs, which I think is quite clever. When I posted mine, I picked the seven games I've played the most often. The leap from that concept to the seven games you've the most run (#7rpgsrun, which I started last night) was a short one. Years ago, our own Don Mappin wrote an excellent post on his now-defunct personal website about ranking your favorite campaigns. While I think the original is gone, my personal list of 10 (as of 2007) survives on Treasure Tables, so you can at least get the gist of the idea. I [...]
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