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2013 Global Game Industry Survey

The results from the 2013 Global Game Industry Survey conducted by Yehuda Berlinger of Purple Pawn are in and published in PDF form here!

[Friday Map] Aurelon's Keep

Redrawing the Castellan’s Keep for my DCC game put me in flashback mode regarding both keeps and gaming. With crenelated battlements on the mind, I thought back to an adventure I ran using the Rules Cyclopedia when it first came out (back when I was in University).

Aurelon’s Keep

Like most of my older gaming papers, the map is long lost to everything except my vaguest of memories. But I recalled what I could and let my pen guide itself a bit to finish off with this new version of Aurelon’s Keep. Not nearly as extensive as the Castellan’s Keep, Aurelon’s Keep was besieged and rapidly conquered with the assistance of a few earth elementals who built up the ramp leading to the destroyed wall. Today it is home to a few poor clans of goblins and their ilk who base hunting and gathering operations from the old wooden buildings of the keep while keeping away from the old stone keep itself that they believe to be haunted.

So, download a copy of Aurelon’s Keep and have fun with it. I’d love to hear what happens in the keep in your games.

Aurelon’s Keep was drawn using mechanical pencil and Sakura Micon pens on [...]

The Citadel - In Technicolor

On the Effects of Magic, Cantrips and Rules

An interesting wizard is a themed wizard.

The original magic-user had a very limited spell list with spells that were very focused on utility in a dungeon.

The original magic-user only had 8 first level spells, 10 second level spells, and 14 third level spells.They have 12 fourth level spells, 14 fifth level spells and 12 sixth level spells.

This gives them a grand total of 70 spells

A magic user in a second edition game has access to over 2,174 spells.

So how do the effects of magic help solve this problem? They introduce [...]

Travelling Dice 04, Thrigby Hall

  The previous Travelling Dice saw some Elven dice out in the Greenwood.     Another day out with the family, another picture of a die.   Mmmm, blue dice!   Happy Gaming Phil

Should Dungeons go "Wide" or "Deep"?

Dungeons, especially the large ones, seem to be built in one of two manners:

wide - spreading out to the edges of a sheet of graph paper or

deep - smaller levels with stairs and chutes to lower levels

Back in the day, I was very much a "wide" style dungeon mapper. I was easier (and cheaper) to build a large singular level for a dungeon than to spread multiple levels onto multiple sheets.

These days, I find I prefer smaller levels with vertical progression - mostly having the PCs delve ever deeper into the dark depths, but occasionally climbing to higher levels of the "dungeon" environment.

Of course, mid-sized dungeon levels with a handful of levels works fine too.

Next 52: Psionicist

OK, short break from heavy aesthetic slogging. I made a psionicist class for Next 52 Pages and the rules can with little effort be ported to any other system. The spell schools are Enchantment, Divination, Alteration and Destruction (fire, force).

While making it a balanced option I have also tried to preserve the rarity and elitism of the class ("Wow, Skip! You tested psionic!") and the possibility that they open the party up to a whole new kind of attention and danger from big-brained mutations. It's not quite the long-range sensing and communication of the Hiero novels but [...]

A Great Example of a Dungeon World Adventure

We have a short one for you today.

A while back, Delos stumbled upon this little gem. David Guyll of the Points of Light blog seems to try and rewrite the Keep on the Shadowfell (the first adventure to come out for D&D 4E) adventure for different systems to see how he likes it. He even wrote a version for Dungeon World.

I really enjoy the layout and style of crafting adventures the way Dungeon World does, and this adventure is what I consider the epitome of that style. Have a look and try it out.


The post A Great [...]

Monstrous Workshop: Special

Flipping through the "Denizens" chapter of the Torchbearer rulebook, you'll notice most creatures have a "Special" category in their statblock. These entries detail any special advantages the creatures have, ways in which they break break the rules, and further define their behavior. With few exceptions, any creature you make should have a "Special" entry. The book is rife with examples to steal or model your ideas upon, which I've catalogued below.

A simple way to decide what your creature's Special should be is to think what a Lore Master/Hunter roll would reveal about this creature. Sure, we know a red [...]

The Archaeology of Minoan Crete (Maps + d87 Random Runes Chart!)

The Archaeology of Minoan Creteby Reynold Higgins
I bought this $2.25 hardcover at the St. Vincent's thrift store and this bad boy is a treasure trove.  It could be shipped to you by the wizards at Amazon for around $5.50 total.  There is a short summary of what has been learned through archaeological excavations at each site, but the floorplans and reconstruction views are the real gems.  87 characters in Linear B script are also given with their phonetic values where known, so if you have a d87 time to break it out (scroll to the bottom for the d87 [...]

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting! - Part 5: Locations

One idea that I vented in my brainstorming on Icons (a post that I removed from the project, to avoid confusion), was that of having some locations in zendikar act exactly like Icons. That is, you can have positive, conflicted, or negative relationships with these places. It works in Zendikar, because the world is literally much more alive than your standard fantasy setting. So I would definitely allow some characters to have bonds to some places, if their story or their concept justifies so.

However, it must be said that even in Zendikar, locations are rather static. Maybe [...]

A Planned Setback

In many stories in books, on television, and in the movies, the protagonists are often dealt one or more setbacks before the story reaches its climax. In these cases the writer crafts specific events with an intended purpose and outcome. In Role Playing Games, we GM’s often rely on the players to create their own setbacks during a session and within a campaignthrough bad rolling and impulsive decision making, but there are times the GM wants to write a setback into the game. Depending on how it is written and executed, the setback session can be a great story building [...]

A to Z of Witches. P

P is for Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Page

I don't hide it.  I loved Charmed. One of my wishes is to write the official Charmed RPG.

Not a real game, but I wish it were.I have talked about Charmed a few times here including the first A to Z Challenge I ever participated in; C is for Charmed.  I also wrote a Buffy/Charmed crossover for the Buffy RPG, "Semi-Charmed Life".

What I liked the most really was the interaction between the sisters.  It was a show about family that also happened to be witches and kill demons. [...]

Strange New Worlds: Pandia

System Name: Pandia
Sector: 5-1
Star Number & Type: 1 - Red Supergiant
Planet Number & Type: 7 - W, D, Q, Q, J, D, T
Inhabitants: Xaviers, Humanoids (various, see below)
The Pandia star is old... very old, and like some old things, it's become strange. It emits pulses of an otherwise unrecorded radiation throughout the system every 10-20 standard years. Its inner system is composed of a lifeless hot rock that skims the stars surface, a venus analog, and a pair of habitable worlds that share the same orbit, but on opposite sides of the star. A [...]

I'm Getting Married In The Mooooorning....kinda....

So, this Sunday I get married. This will mean that there may be slight slowdown in stuff appearing on here as I go on honeymoon and generally take things easy. Next D&D game is organised for the 29th, so it won't be long until the flow of horror begins once more.
Until then, have fun and keep rolling those crits!

3DPBMCSHMtm: in the underworlds

This installment of 3DPBMCSHMtm deals with the dungeons of the three worlds.  There are places where travel between is possible.  These are often well-guarded.  For other dungeons,...

Click the title if you want to know more...

Tonight On Da Vinci's Demons...

Random List -- 20 Spanish Male Names

Need ? Roll a d and check below to see what you get!

D20 Male Spanish Names 1 Adalberto Lechuga 2 Agustn Lafuente 3 Aristides Don 4 Augusto Maduro 5 Benjamn Ponce 6 Candelario Concha 7 Cecilio Vigorito 8 Cirino Portilla 9 Duilio Merlos 10 Eutimio Londono 11 Eutropio Blanco 12 Felipe Rota 13 Germn Soliz 14 Gonzalo Sotomayor 15 Josu Nuncio 16 Marcio Behar 17 Ramon Mathias 18 Roldn Mauricio 19 Telmo Posada 20 Tristn Laureano

Need more? Try the Spanish Name Generator or get “100 Spanish Names – Male“

Bujilli: Episode 85

Wounded and possibly poisoned by contact with a Morlock anathebone, Bujilli and Leeja arrived at the doors to the Athenaeum only to be ambushed by anonymous assassins wielding gonnes...
Leeja was down. Her blood spilling across the pretty jasper tiles in front of the wide-open Athenaeum doors.

A shot ricocheted from the door.

"Hurry!" the heavy-set man in the armored apron gesticulated wildly, motioning them to pass through the door.

Another shot tore a chunk out of a marble statue's belly, one of the smaller ones arranged along the near wall. Bujilli slipped in some blood. [...]

Preparation and Player Agency in the Sandbox

Player agency is a critical element of role playing games to me. One of the things that great dissatisfies me about most series of modules is how much they tend to need the story to progress in a certain direction. The label ‘Adventure Path’ itself rings player agency warning bells in my head — ‘path’ implies a linear relationship between the adventures.

The GDQ (Giants-Drow-Queen of Demonweb Pits) series of modules is often held up as an example of how a series of modules can be done well… but I have to admit that as much as they could be a [...]

YALP ep. 04 "A Pathfinder Tale in the Desert: Claw and Scale"

Still more or less lost in the Asmodeus Mirage, our heroes eventually find a helping hand. Or paw as the case may be.After some careful trading, a new member joins the party and they set out across the sand with a renewed sense of purpose. What will they find now that they think they know where they are going? What new obstacles will they have to overcome?

by user Unemployed_Bullywug at http://gsarchives.net/hologram/thumbs/

Download and listen to find out! And don’t forget to rate and review us on iTunes.

Today's Adventure is: A Pathfinder Tale in the Desert "Claw and Scale"

This episode features the gaming [...]

Crowd-sourcing NPCs for Alien Menace

As part of gearing up for my Alien Menace campaign, I'm populating the organization to which the PCs belong. I thought I'd throw open the doors to interesting characters from pretty much anywhere. While I've got a small combat team that will do the bulk of the real adventuring, there are going to be lots of other people involved. I could certainly generate and/or stat up these guys, but that will make lots of "cookie cutter" NPCs, since my own biases will heavily influence the results.

So: crowd-sourcing. Here are some types of characters that I will likely need, and general guidelines. The game is set roughly in 2035.

Oliver Industries and Wayne Oliver

The organization is led by a former special forces soldier and industrialist - billionaire, even, named quite deliberately Wayne Oliver. As in (Bruce) Wayne and Oliver (Queen). He is driven, ruthless when he needs to be, but also has a broad view of what success looks like. He likes to quote from movies, and does describe himself as "billionaire, playboy, soldier, philanthropist" and expects people to recognize the reference.

His "industry" has been, much like Tony Stark, very defense related. He controls a large swath of manufacturing and engineering resources. He even bought out Heckler and Koch, a conceit I chose deliberately to give the same feel as in Iron Man and Avengers, where Stark-Tech is mostly reskinned H&K weapons. But he also plays in engines, power plants, and supports fundamental research [...]

Cue the lights...pull back the curtains

With a twinkle in my eye, I would like to announce my newest blog "The Magic Dragon Theatre" which is dedicated to fantasy RPGING - using the best in OSR systems.
so check out Http://www.magicdragontheatre,com and enjoy the freak parade.
You may have noticed that there has been a lack of postings recently, and the reason for that is I have been looking in the real for employment.Yes, thanks to the fates I have found myself without work. but hopefully that will change


The Zombie


Killer Man Eating Sheep [ Movie Conversion ]

Killer Man eating Sheep  STR: 7 (105) WPR: 4 (60) DEX: N/A  PER: N/A AGL: 6 (90) PCN: 5 (75) STA: 6 (90) PWR: * ATT: 2/90% WND: 16 MV: [...]

Eudaimonism, Libertarianism, and Science Fiction

Book Bout-Book review of The Sentinel: The Sundering, Book V

Book- The Sentinel: The Sundering, Book V

Author-- Troy Denning

Price- $8

TL;DR- Not bad, but Sundering formulaic 80%

Basics-How faithful are you? Kleef stands as the last worshiper of Helm, the dead god of law and service in Toril. As a watchman he is dragged into a struggle to save two chosen of two different gods have stolen a power artifact of a third god to inspire a divine love triangle with two other gods. Along the way, a third chosen is dragged into service to try to save Toril. Can Kleef stand firm in the Forgotten Realms as even his god has [...]

Day 16 P is for Players

Players are the people who generate characters and role play those characters in the world presented by the DM or GM. Without players, the work of a DM will never see the light of day. A game can be run with a single player, but usually two or three is considered a small game. Many […]

Discussion: Music For Game Prep?

Do you listen to music when prepping for games? Does your game have a specific sound track? Do you use music to get you in the mood for session? If so, what do you do and how does it work?

Currently I'm trying to build a sound track for the coming arc of my L5R game but it is slim pickings so far. I do like using music to help encapsulate the feel of a game though. One of my better games, a teen hero game, had a ten song sound track with the key tracks being "This Isn't [...]

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Captain America-The Winter Soldier

Movie- Captain America-The Winter Soldier


tl;dr- Better than the original 100%


Basics-Captain America is back! This time, something is dirty in SHIELD. Can Cap find what’s wrong before the three new helicarriers are launched? Along the way a new villain appears., but WHO is the Winter Soldier?


Plot- This is the best spy thriller I’ve seen in a long time. All the plot elements make sense for the established characters. This even follows the good sequel rules by expanding the characters AND building the world not just repeating the same things again. Top Notch. 5/5


Acting-Again, this is amazing. All the actors make the [...]

N is for New Palace

The foundations of Marienburg were laid down over two and a half millennia ago, before the time of Sigmar and the rise of the Empire. The city has stood, in one form or another, under a handful of different rulers, this entire time. However, this isn't to say that all of the buildings have held firm.

Due to Marienburg's great economic value, the city has been sacked at least five separate times: by Norscans, Bretonnians and Imperials alike. In all these attacks, few buildings have survived to this present day, with most of Marienburg's real estate being less than [...]

The Anfauglir, or Plains Elves

I'm hanging in the desert of Bishop, California, so here's more on the elven tribe who made their appearance in this narrative.

SourceIf an arboreal or "High" Elf is questioned about the Anfauglir, or the Plains Elves, a typical response will be a disgusted sniff, and an under-the-breath comment about "Rustics..." or "Barbarians...", as most High Elves consider them little more than a devolved group of primitives clinging to some distant cultural myth.

These observations are not entirely untrue, as travelers who encounter the tribes report them to be covered with ritual scarification and tattoos, not bearing the grace [...]

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Champions of Balance

Product- Pathfinder Player Companion- Champions of Balance


Price- $20 or $13 for PDR

System- Pathfinder

TL;DR- Slight story concerns, but awesome character options.93%


Basics- Time for the epic battle of good vs. neutral! Champions of Balance covers the hows and whys of neutral characters. The first section covers the types of neutral characters (LN, N, and CN). Next the book discusses neutral countries and organizations. From here, the book introduces new character options from new subdomains, ninja tricks, feats, spells, orders, archetypes, magic items, and a prestige class.


Fluff or Theme- I liked and didn’t like this one. The story and backgrounds of neutral characters [...]

Fantasy Art Thursday: "Echoes of Glory" by Ralph Horsley

((Click HERE to go to Ralph Horsley's DeviantArt page))Last year when I started this series, one of the first artists I featured was Ralph Horsley. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Horsley is mostly known the work he's done for Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Talisman, and World of Warcraft.

The above piece is the cover for the Pathfinder Player Companion Taldor: Echoes of Glory. The picture depicts two different battalions from the empire of Taldor clashing as the sun slowly sets over the horizon. I love how Horsley has captured the chaotic nature of battle, seeing the two knights clashing [...]

Dr Wholmes - The Final Chapter: The Exile.

     And now we come to the final installment of comparisons, where I take my premise and stretch it truly past the breaking point. The other three have been pretty clear parallels, but this one even I'll admit pushes it. If you're a Doctor Who fan but haven't seen the 50th anniversary special, you might tune out for fear of spoilers. Likewise if you're a House fan and haven't seen the finale.

     After spending who knows how long avoiding the Time War, the 8th Doctor was mortally wounded attempting to rescue a brave [...]

Starter Adventure Proof in Hand

As the title reads, I got my proof copy of Starter Adventures.  It looks good, but the cover needed tweaking.  The reds were muted.  That was my fault.  I used a textured red and it didn't translate well.  I changed it up with a more striking red that will make the words and cover pop a little more.  Ivy also said, "put your name on the damn cover, that's where it belongs".  So I added it at the bottom.  That's a light glare in the bottom right corner.

On the back cover, the picture's colors and reds were [...]

O is for the Owl

The Owl is second creation of cartoonish Martin Filchock to be featured on this trip through the alphabet by way of obscure Golden Age comic book characters, with the previous one being Electric Ray.

The world gets its first look at the Owl! From Funny Pages #1 (vol. 4)The Owl is a young librarian named Jack who uses the hi-tech  flying suit to take revenge against the crimnals who crippled his father. The suit gives him the ability to fly "faster than an airship" and to communicate with his father via radio.
Like all of Flichock's creations, there is [...]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the big screen again!!

As you well know from regular reading of this blog, I like the TMNT franchise, well parts of it, always have since the days of the old palladium RPG (which is how I got into it in the first place) So other turtles fans will be pleased to hear that the new movie is almost […]

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Fantasy Coins from Fantasy Coin on Kickstarter

While I have the time off from sculpting and modelmaking tonight, I thought I’d catch up on doing some posts, this time a crowdfunding spotlight article featuring some rather nice coinage from Fantasy coin LLC. These lovely looking tokens are intended for use with everything from RPGs, Live Roleplaying games, board games and possibly even […]

Clown News: Creepy Staten Island clown, Manchester and Cambridge Clowns also on the loose!!

  Here’s something I never thought I’d be revisting, but once again I’m back with more new Clown News, a feature that has been rather popular here on the Grinning Skull blog. Ok, so I thought as many did, that the clown craze was just a fad that had died out, but I was wrong. […]

O Is for Oppressive

oppressive: (adj.) unjustly inflicting hardship and constraint

Ogres have long been a threat to civilized peoples. Strong, brutish, given to looting and pillaging, gangs of ogres are menaces that cannot be tolerated for long. Ogres revel in the misery of others. When smaller races aren’t available to crush between meaty fists or defile in blood-red lusts of violence, they turn to each other for entertainment. It takes a forceful leader to keep an ogre gang focused.

Within ogre tribes, few leaders prove more forceful than harridans. An ogre harridan rules by fear and violence, using her superior strength, intelligence, and magic powers [...]

Menoth: pKreoss

Today's warcaster is pKreoss (as in Plastic-Kreoss). When I got to this guy, I had already painted the warjacks from the mega-lot. So I painted him with a scheme that unified the jacks with the infantry. I added the flames to his robes. I like how they came out, but after I was done, I got a different idea on how to paint them, which I later tried on Severius.

But JP, you say, you posted Severius more than two weeks ago! And you would be correct. Although I posted Severius first, I had completed Kreoss WAY before - [...]

Racial Prejudice - Do You Have a Favorite PC Race (or race / class combo)?

I know I'm guilty of it. Given the choice, I'll play a dwarf every time, hands down. If the rules allow multiclassing, he'll be a fighter / cleric or fighter / thief. That's how I roll these days, even tho back in my early days of gaming, just about every PC I had was a human. Racial restrictions were tough to stomach when campaigns often hit their higher teens in level.

I'm not hugely keen on elves. No idea why. Maybe it's the bad taste Bladesingers left in my mouth as a 2e DM.

I have players that will always play an elf (magic user or m-u / something) or some other favorite. Others seem to have no such racial (or class) [...]

Tracking magic item 'quirks'

Whilst I really do appreciate a magic item can provide an excellent spring board for interesting roleplay I often find that they inevitably take a back seat in the story or are forgotten completely. So i'm thinking of a way to enhance the experience at my table - Im looking at giving each magic item (that is powerful enough to have a personality and quirks) a requirement that must be satisfied in order for the item to function. I'll do it per session, not fixed to any in game time scales, so if the requirement isnt met this session - [...]

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting! - Part 4: Minor Icons

I still haven't finished the full list of icons in my Detailed Icons mega-post, and I'm already thinking about more icons.

The idea is a bit different though, than just adding more icons. I just noticed that some of my icons were very close to some other powerful figures that should have influenced them somehow. So instead of creating "dual icons" (which might be an option anyway), I will put here these kind of "minor icons" that complement some of the standard ones for my Zendikar adaption.

The write-ups will be smaller, and having relationships directly and [...]

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting! - Part 3: Detailed Icons

This post is going to be big, because I want each Icon of Zendikar to receive a treatment comparable to the Icons of 13th Age if not more extensive. However, it would take me too much time to post all Icons altogether, so I'm going to update this post over time, adding Icon over Icon, or possibly even expanding on Icons I already wrote about, although I will try to limit that.

I'm gonna post a small index here at the start of the page, with eventual updates on existing entries, so that if you're interested you can [...]

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting! - Part 2: Quick Icons!

A flash of insight hit me suddenly about the icons in Zendikar and I had a stupid idea that proved less stupid than first thought.

It started thinking about the "everything goes" philosophy I was beginning to think was the only solution to the Icons in Zendikar. I thought: "At this point, you could even just take the cards that most closely approximate the 13th Age Icons, and call it a day." - And then I tried the experiment..!

The Archmage: Seagate Loremaster

It can definitely be a legendary (aka unique) figure in Zendikar, even if [...]

Yithalin-The Lord of Shadow and Silence

Yithalin-The Lord of Shadow and Silence(Deity)

He is coniving and sudden. He supports quick thinking and cunning, but especially stealth. He mocks clumsiness and openness.

He is a lonely god as the evil gods know well of his trickery, many of them having been used by him in his tricks. The lonliness suits him. The thieves of the world are eager to befriend him for their shadowy acts. He sees into all shadows and hears every whisper. His dark scouts are in many places. He has a home in the chaos realm.

Alignment:Chaotic Evil (-4, -5)

Worshipers:Thieves, Assassins, Shadow Hunters

Symbols:shadow, closed lips, crow


Blessing: +1 [...]

Crazy Campaign

Recently I was responding to a Google+ post by Gavin. He was putting together a list of potential goals for the wizards in his campaign because he felt that players tend to shy away from doing cool stuff.

I started thinking about the cool things that have happened in my campaign, and the cool things I wanted to happen in my campaign but which didn’t.

First, the failures. These were goals I had hoped players would set themselves but they did not.

In my games, I’ve been trying to let players find books on particular topics. I never went all out and maintained a page on the campaign wiki with the actual books they own. My idea was that the books would allow them to research spells related to these topics (one of my house rules says you can only learn spells from other casters, so this sort of research would be the only alternative). I’d say that “building a library” didn’t happen.

Another thing I had hoped for was that players would actively seek out wizards with particular spells but as it turns out, I have not been placing a lot of rumors about particular spells. All the casters they befriended they befriended because of an adventure they were having and they happened to meet and connect on some level. I’d say that “meeting and befriending other casters” went well, but “actively seeking out other casters and befriending them” didn’t happen.

There have been successes as well, though.

One character is sponsoring four sages (and plans to hire more, each costing about 2000 gold pieces per month; usually one week passes in-game for every session). For one, money spent generates XP (one of my house rules). At the same time, every sage writes a little something about the setting. It’s great for me to provide [...]

Cast Off - Launching of a Kickstarter Project

I've been pretty quiet on a lot of fronts because I've been working hard on a variety of projects (Veronica Monsterhearts, Rent's Due, Third Life, AIR to name a few) but one of them is near completion. Cast Offis now live and we're hoping to get some people to be interested by movie trivia and funny voices! It's the first "big print run" game that I've done. Suitors was a bigger total print
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