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Friday, May 11, 2018

Lighten up!

Told you that I would be back! Just needed a three-year nap. Don't laugh. You'll be my age soon enough and you'll learn the value of naps. But I had to wake up long enough to tell you about

Interesting Items of Questionable Quality - Volume Two

Today, Dungeons & Dragons takes itself as seriously as a Scrabble competition. ‘Twas not always so, especially in the first D&D world of Dave Arneson's. His Blackmoor campaign was a deathly dangerous world where funny things happened that could kill you.

B. A. Simon (if that's his name) would have fit right in Dave's campaign or even Gygax & Kuntz’s later Greyhawk. There are fish, helmets, and even a corset which can provide wonderful magic assistance in times of danger - or terrible curses at the most inopportune times. Usually both. And they'll generate laughs for everyone but the player's character - even the player, if they're there to have fun.

It's kind of a shame this is hidden behind the DM Guild site, because it would be good for gaming groups to deal with the unexpected. Everyone knows the hit dice and potential danger of a bugbear, but who would suspect a poncho? The attributes of items are easily transferred to other rulesets.

Used minimally, as salt is to soup, the items in the booklet - and your items that you’ll be inspired to create - will similarly spice your campaign.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Solo With MEAT

Way back in May 2015 ("Before you were born! Remember, kids?) I posted a really short review of Jerry Teleha's Darkshade Chronicles: a Day in Baru-Kesh.  Here's what that little review looked like:

"One of the more entertaining solo adventures I've played, which then turns around and (in the second part of the book) presents the same adventure as a gamesmaster module! You AND your players will be able to enjoy this new city, and you'll find and create portions and adventures that Jerry hadn't imagined!

"You'll love the illustrations too, and they're handy for the GM who runs this for his gamers!

"One of the best bargains to be found on Amazon!"

That was then. This is now. How does DC:DB-K look now that Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls has come out?

Better than ever, and isn't that cool? 

COOL that it's completely compatible with Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls (Hereafter and forever referred to as "dTnT.") and at least 95% compatible with even the oldest edition of Tunnels and Trolls. (Forever and hereafter referred to as "TnT.")

COOL is that the solo offers opportunity to practice any skill, trait, etc that you might think of. Most likely that you'll fail if you think the world revolves around your character ("I immediately jump forward and lop off the head of Odin with my penknife.") but you can certainly attempt anything - and there's almost always a reaction or consequence programmed right into the adventure.

COOL is that the solo also allows and encourages (and this is a HUGE strength) you to make gamesmaster calls and choices as well as character choices. 

and VERY COOL is that it works even better as a regular GM sourcebook/city for your players. I've run this nicely, and I can tell you that once you have Other People running characters, your options and scope is multiplied by a factor of (some algebraic symbol which references the combination of all players' imagination and paranoia) - the adventure will run several sessions, becoming a campaign city if you but let it.

This is a ridiculously low price and a deceptively small page count for what is weeks and weeks of game play.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Asgard & Vikings & Castles & Crusades

Codex Nordica is one of the more meticulously researched books on the Scandinavian lands and legends, not just game-related. There's so much rich material here. Here is the ore from which Kirby and Lee mined and alloyed so successfully and has been put on the screen. No, this isn't the Marvel version of the legends - this is the stuff from which they made their own version, their own adventures.

Now, players and gamesmasters have even more data than Lee & Kirby had, with which to build their/our own adventures, our own cosmic odysseys. We'd have given our eyeteeth for this book in 1978!

How could the book be improved? Color. More pages. Maybe hardback printing. In other words, more of what it already is.

And it's just plain fun to read. Kudos to everyone involved!

*jeep! and God Bless! (Thank you, Red!)
----Grandpa Tzhett

Codex Nordica is available in either PDF or softbound hard copy from Troll Lord Games, publishers of Castles & Crusades, at their site
Of course, the PDF is also available from as well. But you knew that.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Wizard Wuns Thwough It

 A Wizard Went a-Wooing 
by Mark Thornton, a volume of adventure, solitaire and otherwise, for Tunnels & Trolls.

This isn't just a book. This isn't even just a solo adventure! No - THIS is the beginning of a hernia. Your mail person will hate you.

It's huge not only in size and weight, but in scope. The adventure is actually multiple adventures, which can - oddly enough - be played simultaneously or in sequence -- and with one or more characters each time.

You've read the synopsis, so you know the basic plot. It's right there in the title. We never really know why your character decides to risk his or her life to become the mate of one of the queens of various "levels" of a human/bee hybrid species. (I'd love to see the best backstories that players/readers will undoubtedly invent!)

It would help a lot if you have the Tunnels & Trolls rules (cheap at any price, but usually Darned Inexpensive) any edition. And it would help you a bit further if you hung around in Trollhalla where players, writers, and artists of TnT (as we like to call it) have far too much fun and spend far too much time to have a real life. There, you would pick up on hints and tropes which can save your character's life or dignity. But probably not both.

This is so adaptable that Khenn himself (the creator and ever-trollish Trollgod of Tunnels & Trolls as well as Monsters! Monsters!) ran this as a play-by-post game with a dozen or so players.

Let us not neglect the useful, delightful, and rather fun/goofy illustrations by Stanley Ditko, who is rapidly becoming a pillar of art in the fantasy culture. (He MUST get lots of jokes about being the cloned child of Spider-Man's two fathers!) Some of his art in this book is better than other pieces, but you'll enjoy watching his work grow in maturity and expression. Soon, we'll be saying we knew him when.

For twenty bucks, you get probably months of adventure for yourself, scenarios you can use on your players (heh heh heh!) and a chance to give your mailman a heart attack. Do not believe Lulu's claim that the book is only 2.06 pounds! I'm pretty sure that Mark translated incorrectly from that fantasy metric stuff.

And beware the snot monster!

*jeep! & God Bless!
 ----Grandpa Chet

A Wizard Went a-Wooing by Mark Thornton is $20 + much postage from  LuLu, the Other Tunnel & Trolls printer

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FANG RETURNS!! -- unless you don't save him!

Ken St Andre has never made a secret of his type of reading, and it shows: Exciting things happen in his adventures, and it's no insult to say they are as plot driven as the stories of Gardner Fox, Edgar Rice Burroughs, or Robert E. Howard.

This solo can be played as pure action, if you wish -- but there are moments when doing the unlikely or thinking like a crazy man might accomplish something equally crazy. This adds a bit more intrigue, and there are real surprises hidden in this solo.

Ken wrote this to be compatible or based on first edition Tunnels & Trolls, but it's as compatible with the latest edition as with any other.

Simon Tranter's art (especially the cover!) sets the mood eloquently! I might quibble about the supporting (?) character of Cherry, who really should have enough sense to wear at LEAST chainmail for protection, but that would be my only quibble. (Or I might have given Cherry the line from Bus Stop that Marilyn Monroe made famous: "It's not Cherry - it's Sha-REE!")

All in all, an exciting and enjoyable romp, wherein we may (or may not) meet and successfully rescue Fang, whom we haven't seen since 5th edition Tunnels & Trolls. He seems to have just as bad luck as he did in 1976!

I want more adventures of Fang, of Cherry (or Cherie, if you listen to Marilyn), and of whoever it is that we, the solo player, portray when we set out to rescue someone we've never met, in the company of a girl we only met that day, and a troll whom we don't know at all. Am I some sort of an idiot or what?

Saving Fang is available for $10 + postage from the Trollgod himself at or a mere $2.95 downloaded from

More than worth the price!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Playing at the World - maybe the deepest history of rolegaming yet

Playing at the World, a history by Jon Peterson, is available at for $17.99 (ebook) or at most bookstores for around $35 in paperback.

Jon seems to be angry with Ken St Andre, for he bad-mouths him frequently in this volume. Otherwise, the research seems pretty objective - a nearly impossible task considering the meager documentation and vague memories of the principles involved.

It seems so long ago, and yet I was around and occasionally involved with some of the principles and innocent bystanders. (No big feat. If you live long enough and travel enough, you eventually meet everybody.) I doubt any would remember me, but I do remember much of what they said - but only because I journaled it at the time.

Jon captures the freewheeling feelings of anything being possible, of the "can do" attitudes of so many of the principles, and almost - but not quite - captures some of the feuds which inevitably occur in creative endeavors. Business sense and creative sense do not usually reside in the same brain (and when it does, we see self-made zillionaires who stepped on no one - these are historically rare) so there are a lot of stories of creative people who got cheated or fell along the way or just couldn't explain what they could do instinctively.

It probably raises as many questions as it answers, and this is what makes it a good history. People are complex, contradictory, and fascinating. Creative people are doubly so. Gamers and game creators are more off the wall. Combine all these, and you have Jon's very satisfying, very fascinating history book -- which is screaming for a sequel as soon as possible!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Scratch Your Itch! Fleabitten Provides Adventure, Laughs, and Fatalities.

This is one of the reasons why I recommend Tunnels & Trolls to any person who has or hasn't experienced rolegaming: Because the most nonconformist and, perhaps, dangerous ideas seem to run through TnT (the preferred acronym, which does imply its danger) first.

Yes, there have been humorous scenarios before, going all the way back to Blackmoor. Yes, there have been humorous solos, going at least as far back as Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon.

Despite the precedents, there has been nothing quite like Fleabitten, and I don't know how to categorize it.

It's humorous - a lot! And it has the sort of absurdist logic of Lewis Carroll. It's deadly, but only if you treat this adventure as you would most RPG adventures. And it's a solo, which can be adapted for GM use, especially if the GM is just a little bit cracked.

The main track (which you may choose to not take) concerns an underwater adventure of discovery and deduction. You will discover a new type of dwarf and a LOT of things about undersea life that you never suspected. And you would, if this were a Call of Cthulhu adventure (and it could be), lose a lot of Sanity Points.

As always, Mark provides options to options and options OF options. Almost every action has a consequence, and the characters (though absolutely ridiculous at times) usually come off as 3-dimensional - save for those who are not intended to seem realistic at all.

You'll interact with some of your favorite fictional characters from comics and elsewhere...though they may seem a bit more eccentric than usual. They may even carry different names and forms. It's always a toss up whether Mark is seriously challenging your sense of humor, your sense of honor, or your gaming skills. Few people can pull off a comedy which is equally an adventure, or vice versa. There is a difference.

Steve Jackson, decades ago, gave one of my favorite sayings when he stated that there's just not enough silly in games right now. Of course "now" was THEN, but I hope you get my meaning.

And if you understood that last paragraph, much less the previous ones. "Fleabitten" is for YOU.

You'll find it in the usual downloadable places, such as DriveThruRPG/RpgNow, and nowhere else of which I know. But you can always write Mark and annoy him to death. It would serve him right!