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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!

Friday, June 14, 2013


Review: Deathbed, a Tunnels & Trolls solo by Mark Thornton, aka Khaghbboommm. $1.99 at


Mark has a talent for creating solo adventures which are NOTHING like the plots which came before. When he has options, he has options for the options; and the results may or may not be to your liking - but you probably won't know until you hit that Hitchcock twist in the plot!

I was overjoyed to play this adventure, and even emerge in a - um - better (?) status than my PC started. If nothing else, he now is wiser and has some facts in hand that will help in the future.

Yes, your "Deathbed" character has a future of adventure and intrigue. If Mark doesn't create sequels for this, an obvious prologue to a long epic story, then you should immediately prepare a long epic campaign and draw in more players.

At one pivotal point, you may choose to be quested, in any number of ways, in any number of forms (literally) and I was lucky enough to have a chance to AVENGE the epic murder of one of the better characters I've seen. No, it was not one of mine - let's just say that "Deathbed" ranks high in honor for cleverly and effectively sequeling from perhaps the best campaign in which I've played.

Mark, you actually lived up to a legend. Go forth and write more chapters!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Liche is Back!

And we thought Tomb of Horrors was scary...

That was a long time ago, when we learned, after several attempts, to cheat egregiously. It could never get that bad again, because we were smarter - and we started using systems which not only made more sense, but which enabled us to learn from our failures as well as our successes.

Welcome to a new place, one which is not Tomb of Horrors, nor even an emulation of it. For one thing, you're going to walk into it expecting, at worst, a band of brigands and raiders under the direction of some dim-witted ogre. Dangerous, yes, but less so for you and your hardy band of highly-seasoned warriors, specialists, and wizards. Human and non-human you be, and you've never tasted defeat nor fear.

That was before you discovered the secret of the Forest of Maugaral and the mausoleum it hid. And that's just the beginning of your trouble --- no, this is not "Tomb of Horrors for Tunnels & Trolls." This is its own nightmare -- and yours.

"Deep Where the Liche-Lord Lies" is Andy Holmes again proving that he can send a shiver or two up your spine. Disguised as a simple hack-and-raid mission, this adventure holds secrets and puzzles to keep your group occupied for at least three sessions, if not more. And they WILL keep coming back, because Andy has the knack of throwing JUST enough at the PCs where they think they have a good chance to press their luck just One More Time.

Plus, of course, your players' characters realize that they're in it all the way now, and that backing out is worse than suicide. The various monsters and traps aren't the real challenge; that real challenge is to the players...What will they decide at different moments, different places?

The only thing to fear is fear itself.....they say.

Inviting your presence is Vasarax himself, on the cover by Simon Lee Tranter. The liche looks almost neighborly, having decomposed comparatively little. He seems cordial and friendly. Chilling!

Inside, illustrator Jeff Freels strips the facade away. Your more pleasant foes have a look of greed and vice to them which is truly disturbing as you study their features - for some reason, it's what Jeff DOESN'T include in the portraits and settings which is unsettling. Don't dwell too long on the frontpiece for Level 6. If you thought Jeff's humorous cartoons were "cute," don't be surprised that he turns that impression against you.

Tavernmaster Games continues its impressive output with this high-level adventure that is designed for Tunnels & Trolls - but suitable for anyone you want to feel the crush of despair.

Available in PDF or hard copy through the following:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Everslow Traveller - not a review of an SF game

It came as no surprise to me to learn that my name, Chester, indicated "traveller" (from various forms which meant a camp of soldiers or soldiers on the march). What surprises me is that it doesn't also mean "slow" and/or "procrastinator."

Which is my excuse for how often (or the opposite of "often") these posts appear or shall appear. I could blame illness (I have a letter from my neurologist which gives me excuses for clumsiness and short-term memory failure.) I could blame other demands of my time.

But it's not really "my" time, and excuses aren't what you're here to read. Therefore, I solemnly promise to update this blog as frequently as I can, except when I forget.

Return of the Gamesmen: a look at "When Good Games Go Bad"

(This review originally appeared at which is where all those backslashes came from.)

     A solid hit. It\'s going over the center fielder\'s head! It\'s going - it\'s going!! It\'s GONE, right out of the park!! A solid HOME RUN!!

Sequels are rarely as good as the originals. Hardly ever do they TOP the original! I can only think of two in the movie field: Bride of Frankenstein and Spider-Man 2. As for games, there\'s this, the sideways-sort of sequel to the Gamesmen of Kasar - and a partial answer to the riddle of what IS the motivation of these Gamers? And who are they?

You\'re a person of some note in this solo. That is, you\'re of interest to the government (such as it is) of the planet, and they\'d just as soon jettison you into the nearest star. But if you can solve the problem/mystery of why the bizarre building, which houses an arena or something (No one really knows.) has gone berzerk and sent out robots to kidnap citizens -- well, that\'s just unseemly! And the robots and building being impregnable to their enforcement agents -- that\'s a disaster in the making!

So you courageously (?) walk up to the entrance, announce yourself as another of the many who used to play their game in their arena, and wait to be show in --

To what?

Robots, aliens, monsters, and a big honking -- no, I shan\'t reveal it. But one of the most glorious of the classic monsters can be yours for the low, low price of taking the wrong turn.

And you\'ve got to love Jeff\'s art - If H.P. Lovecraft merged with Earl Otis and had a pawkish sense of humor, this is the art he\'d create. To make it even more bizarre, Jeff is blind - and still one of the best artists in the business.

This solo opens up what may be a campaign, and delivers more mystery even as it answers some of the mystery of the Kasar solo.

Roy Cram has been absent from adventure creating for far too long! His return with \"When Good Games Go Bad\" has us excited for further adventures in this series.

Creepy as it might be.

(Did I remember to add a Comments section this time? If so, don't you want to leave a comment?)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Guess Who Forgot to Include a Comments Section?

We'll take the five best answers and force them to enter a pbp rolegame that I'll be running. Probably Monday afternoon.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Deceptive Solo Adventure

One problem with reviewing products at DriveThruRPG/RPG Now sites is that creators' feelings get hurt, they gnash their teeth and rage, and one is courteously requested to never review anything of that rule system again. At least not on DTRpgNow.

But this is my own site, and I think I'll review that which I wish to review, and type about what I want to type about.

Right now, I want to talk about Deception: Strangebrew's Chambers of the Unknown by Mark Thornton. Mark is competing for the coveted Longest Title award in any category he can manage. The solo is even longer.

For yes, this is a solo adventure - AND it's a great Gamesmaster adventure also, with added fiddly bits for the GM. It's TWO great games in one, and just look at that shine! (Apologies to Shimmer.) Using the Tunnels & Trolls system, Deception invites you to rid the general area of an alchemist/wizard/EEEEEvil dude (maybe) who is just about to revenge himself upon the community and take over a whole lot of the world.

And there's hardly any way to prepare for this mission, because Strangebrew (That's his name. Don't
blame me!) already grabbed most of the things you need and has them guarded and/or hidden and trapped
within his stronghold.

IF you can find all these things and IF you survive and IF you can figure out how to use them correctly, you MIGHT survive and MIGHT find this isn't the end of things. The adventure continues - which may be good or bad. Literally.

Because temptation is very real in this adventure.

You have several choices, and it's not a clear good vs evil type choice. The Deception is that there may be advantages for everyone ... IF----

Well, it's not black and white..

Mark outdid himself here. It's huge (and needs a POD option, so you won't use three ink cartridges) and
replayable in so many different ways. And then it can become a GM adventure for your players - which you can run as if you never played the solo - or which you can run as if the solo adventure happened and the players' characters are now dealing with the aftermath.

This is good solid adventure with meat on its bones. Plenty of opportunity for the gamesmaster to "make it his/her own" yet plenty of information if you don't want to do a lot of work.

I want more. Because this definitely calls for sequels, and I can't count on someone to gamesmaster it for me. If you are such a gamesmaster, report for duty right now! But first play Deception. It's the most fun a gamer can have.
Deception is only $5.99 at DTRpgNow