Tales from the Magician’s Skull Issue No. 0

Tales from the Magicians’s Skull is a periodical, published by Goodman Games, focusing on Swords & Sorcery fiction. This presents contents from Issue No. 0.

Tales from the Magician's Skull Issue No. 0
Tales from the Magician’s Skull Issue No. 0

Tales from the Magicians’s Skull is a periodical, published by Goodman Games, focusing on Swords & Sorcery in the vein of “Appendix N” authors. It is inspired by classic pulp magazines, like Weird Fantasy. It was initially funded via Kickstarter. Issue No. 1 was released a few months ago (PDF) and issue No. 2 was recently published in print and PDF. No. 3 is in the works. Unfortunately, that kickstarter was just prior, to me realizing what this whole “Appendix N” thing is/was or finally taking the advice of Hankerin’ to read DCC RPG.

I may create another post specifically reviewing the regular magazine, but this is a post focused on Issue No. 0. You also might see it referred to as “Special” since that’s what’s printed on the cover. This small magazine was given out to backers of the kickstarter who pledged at the Legion of the Skull level. And, let me tell you, I’m very disappointed I missed that. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I love to see happen in Kickstarters. Snooze you lose!

I happened upon No. 0 when Goodman Games published on their blog that they found a bunch of limited edition stuff when cleaning out their warehouse up in Fort Wayne. No promises by the time you read this, but it’s currently still in stock. Maybe it’ll get listed on eBay from time to time?

This issue is mostly a collection of essays that were published as public updates to the Kickstarter. It is 22 pages (including the front and back cover) with some classic DCC RPG style illustrations by Ian MillerBrad McDevitt, and 3 illustrations from an artist that I can’t determine (maybe Michael Wilson?)

The short story is a quick and interesting read. I don’t happen to know the author (yet). I get the impression that the main character, Hanuvar, is a recurring character in other stories? He’s a cool guy, is a badass, does a heroic thing and saves a girl. I’d call it a story reminiscent of REH Conan, and certainly in the vein of Pulp S&S fantasy (IMHO). I’m simple. I like these kind of stories!

The essays are certainly interesting. The first one, “Defining Sword & Sorcery”, I think, does a very good job of exactly that. At least, I learned something from it. A couple essays are Excellent jumping points to other authors/books that I’m already making a list to check out. Other essays are just some thoughts on the genre, and others probably give some good advice to an aspiring author…. or to DMs? I think so. I’m gonna mull these over tonight.

In the Table of Contents listed below, the title links to the Kickstarter update. The exception is the single short story titled, “The Way of Serpents” that is exclusive to this print magazine. So, in that way, the entire contents (minus illustrations) is public domain.

Tales From the Magician's Skull No. 0 Foreward
Tales From the Magician’s Skull No. 0 Foreward

Table of Contents:

Tales From the Magician's Skull No. 0 Back Cover
Tales From the Magician’s Skull No. 0 Back Cover

Smoking: Sutliff Aged Maduro Cavendish

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Index of Gods, Demigods, and other Supernatural Patrons found within published official and 3rd party DCC RPG products

I’ve just started this, but I am creating a basic index of all supernatural patrons and gods referred to (or detailed) within DCC resources. There are A LOT! and it’s a great resource to further DIY detail these figures for custom patrons or gods.

The index will be listed in the menu at the top of this blog and I’ll continue to update the table as I read more modules. I’ll also start linking the index to product pages. Some are fully detailed, some are only mentioned by name, and at least one so far is only referred to as “so and so’s patron”. It will remain a simple index. You need to go to the source to read what’s already been written!

DCC RPG Patrons

Hardcore Fan!

DCC Tattoo Brett
DCC Tattoo Brett

I really appreciate hardcore fans, even if it’s not in a fandom I’m into. Well, unless they’re soccer fans, but I digress… So, if it’s something I’m in to, then it’s double cool. So, I present to you this crazy Canadian inking the Doug Kovacs art from DCC #67 Sailors on the Starless Sea on his back! Now that’s just awesome!

From the Goodman Games blog post, he’s just got started, and he’s put up a GoFundMe page to help him get this complete. Give this guy a few bucks! Let’s see what this looks like all inked in!

Converting THAC0 to Hit Bonus

THAC0. “To Hit Armor Class 0”. How does one convert this to a modern equivalent of a hit bonus when looking to use older modules & monsters in a modern game (such as DCC RPG, or D&D 5e)? As a follow up to my investigation into ascending vs descending armor class, I now offer my interpretation on how to simply convert THAC0. Or not… as it turns out, this wasn’t as nearly as easy as I’d hoped..

TL;DR: There is no easy conversion, but as a start, use table 2 below, and assign the THAC0 to the D&D 5e proficiency bonus as a hit bonus and then add your other modifiers (i.e. strength bonus) for either 5e or DCC.

First off, if you want a basic explanation on how to use THAC0, a good blog post is here and some explanation on the origin here. Basically, I refer to one of the comments in the first link to sum up how one uses THAC0 in an original game:

THAC0 – (d20 roll + mods) = You hit anything of this AC (or higher)

But, that doesn’t really help me too much for what I want to do…

So, maybe the D&D 5e conversion guide has something? And I’ll just use that for DCC RPG? Unfortunately it doesn’t mention anything about THAC0. I’m out of luck there.

Swords & Wizardry uses both an ascending and descending AC, and uses THAC0. But I’m finding there are some discrepancies in the math, which I’ll skip over for now. But it may be a start if you want to look at it, and look at Tenkar’s rules of thumb for converting to pluses.

Maybe if I look at the “base” THAC0 and start there? It is 20. Meaning that at level 1, with no modifiers, to hit an unarmored target (AC 10), you need to roll a 10 or higher. So, essentially, this is like having “no” hit bonus. Now,  what happens when a player levels up? This THAC0 sequentially goes down (or is it “Increase” since you’re getting “better”?… so confusing…), and this is linear for the fighter. Based on this, I made a table with a simple inverse, linear, relationship. Turns out this doesn’t really work out; but it’s easier to show than tell:

Table 1. A Simple Inverse Linear Relationship

THAC0 Hit Bonus
20 0
19 +1
18 +2
17 +3
16 +4
15 +5
14 +6
13 +7
12 +8
11 +9
10 +10
9 +11
8 +12
7 +13
6 +14
5 +15
4 +16
3 +17
2 +18
1 +19
0 +20

If you now compare the fighter in AD&D, 2e, and 5e, and the Warrior in DCC RPG, you see that this Table 1 doesn’t really match up. 5e is “flatter”.

Table 2. Comparing Across Editions

Level* AD&D 1e** AD&D 2e D&D 5e DCC*
THAC0 THAC0 Proficiency Bonus Deed Die
1 20 20 +2 +d3
2 20 19 +2
3 18 18 +2 +d4
4 18 17 +2
5 16 16 +3 +d5
6 16 15 +3
7 14 14 +3 +d6
8 14 13 +3
9 12 12 +4 +d7
10 12 11 +4
11 10 10 +4 +d8
12 10 9 +4
13 8 8 +5 +d10+1
14 8 7 +5
15 6 6 +5 +d10+2
16 6 5 +5
17 4 4 +6 +d10+3
18 4 3 +6
19 4 2 +6 +d10+4
20 4 1 +6
* I am using a convention that one level in DCC is equal to 2 levels in any edition of D&D.
** I think... I found this on a thread; I can't make heads or tails of any of this by reading the AD&D PHB or DMG; and the table in OSRIC is a little different.

Looking at table 2, I come to a few observations based on a level 9 D&D fighter (or level 4 warrior) as a test:

  • Whereas table 1 would convert to a +8 hit bonus, the level 9 D&D 5e fighter has 1/2 this proficiency bonus of +4; so table 1 isn’t close to the same; i.e. this is not a simple inverse relationship (I can’t find any links, but I believe Mearls referred to a “flat math” when designing 5e).
  • However, I find it interesting that the level 9 DCC Warrior in ‘some’ ways is similar. That is, if you looked at the maximum possible deed die result of +7 compared to the predicted +8 on table 1. But, of course, with the random nature of DCC RPG, you’re equally as likely to roll a +1. So, that doesn’t really match 1e and 2e either. HOWEVER, it is equivalent to D&D 5e as the average result of a d7 would be +4.
  • Keep in mind that in D&D 5e, proficiency bonuses are the same per level, regardless of class.

To make this even more confusing, the THAC0 tables for all the other PC classes are different, and monsters use a table based on Hit Dice.. and the table in the 2e DMG is confusing on this… God forbid I can figure any of this out in the 1e AD&D PHB or DMG…. and then 1e is different than 2e….. and this THAC0 stat isn’t used for anything else in the game but combat…… I’m sorry but all those comments that respond “oh, but THAC0 is easy, you just subtract this one number from another number….”, you’re missing the fucking point; as a whole, this is confusing as shit!

One more Table

As just mentioned, Monsters use Hit Dice instead of level (and class) to determine THAC0. You might need this table since my whole point of this is to convert weird monsters found in old modules and references.

Table 3. Creature THAC0 in AD&D 2e

Hit Dice THAC0
less than 1 20
1 19
2 19
3 17
4 17
5 15
6 15
7 13
8 13
9 11
10 11
11 9
12 9
13 7
14 7
15 5
16 or higher 5


Based on these observations, I conclude that there is no simple conversion. How’s that for a conclusion! Ha!

However, you can probably use table 2, and just take the THAC0 listed, and then cross reference to the appropriate D&D 5e level and assign that proficiency bonus as the “to hit” bonus. Obviously, you then add any other hit modifiers as usual (i.e. strength bonuses) and I think that will be helpful to start.

This is merely meant to be a simple conversion to create a starting point. I assume that common sense should guide any further modifications. And, when in doubt, I recommend that you should round up (in favor of the monster!).

Showing off some Pre-Production DCC Lankhmar Maps

I want to share what I got in the mail today. I previously wrote about the 2018 Purple Sorcerer Pledge drive. What a great, free, resource! You should check it out. Well, I am thankful to have been one of the folks who received a special prize for donating 🙂 All of prizes listed were really cool, but I happen to have received exactly the one I was most hoping to see! This is listed as “An amazing collection of hand-drawn pre-production maps created by the one and only Harley Stroh for an upcoming Lankhmar adventure!”


Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard of DCC RPG at the time of the DCC Lankmar Kickstarter campaign. My guess is that these maps are for this box set, which the Kickstarter site says is to fulfill later this year? Maybe all this is ironic, but I happen to be finishing up the Fafrd and Grey Mouser series at this time (I’m on The Swords of Lankhmar); I’m really stoked to look at these. And, I can’t wait to see the final box set; I guess I’ll be trolling the eBays for anyone selling their print stretch goals 😉

I believe this is a street level map of an area in Lankhmar. It is sketched in pencil over two separate pages. I’ll give you one guess as to which street I’d be eying to purchase some prime property 😉

And then 3 detailed maps of “Grindstone” which is listed as 1-1.

You’ve got to love the comment in the corner “weakass attempt at a dirk”ROFL!

And then 2 pages for 1-2, “Dogfish”. I’m thinking this is a tavern? And, the name matches a theme I see now in the naming of other taverns of Lankhmar named after aquatic animals/fish?

And, 1-3, “The Hole”.. surely there’s nothing bad down there for the PCs?

3-1 is “The Aerie”. From my reading so far, I have no idea what this would be. My guess? This is where the military keeps highly trained and armored, man-eating, war wyverns that they ride into battle? Or, maybe this is like a local animal shelter and there is a social program to domesticate and save injured pigeons? I’m betting neither of these are correct 🙂

And, lastly, Sewer Tunnels!

Looking at these sewer tunnels, I notice what look like numbered spots, and then I look at the main map, and Yep, there are the same things there. Then I suspect the little dots look like manhole covers. I wonder if they match up?… Yep! So, a judge has a direct way to guide PCs who wish to go underground and do such things as run away from the guard, or sneak up on a villain, or… you get the idea!

Thank you Harley Stroh for donating these for the Purple Sorcerer campaign. Thank you Jon Marr for creating your free web resources. And, thanks to anyone else who donated this year!

Grimtooth’s Trapsylvania Kickstarter Announcement

Goodman Games, in license from Flying Buffalo, has put up on Kickstarter, the Grimtooth’s Trapsylvania campaign setting that is system neutral, but with stats for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. There are some other goodies with this Kickstarter, and looks like there will be a few, well thought out and appreciated stretch goals. Also, some add ons. I got the  Ultimate Traps Collection awhile back, and it is a very well put together (and hefty) tome! Also, GG announced recently a mysterious, 8th lost Grimtooth book… that’s available as an add-on book too!

Greenwood of the Fey Sovereign for DCC RPG Review

This is a review I posted on RPG.net with a few corrections and links and added to Adventure Lookup.

Greenwood of the Fey Sovereign is a low level adventure (zero level funnel, or small group of level 1’s) for the DCC RPG, which is suitable to be used in any other OSR style of RPG with minimal adaptation. It was successfully kickstarted by 357 backers in 2018.

Set in an otherwise typical fantasy setting, Greenwood is a kingdom within the land of fey. Think King of Elflands Daughter, sort of realm, where usual laws of nature are not what we “mere mortals” are used to, and magic is the norm, rather than the exception. In fact, I’d highly encourage the judge to read that book so they could better describe the world in this adventure.

This adventure consists of 10 encounters, starting with the players being conscripted by a rude and rough taskmaster who leads them into the Greenwood to fight for their human Earl who has declared war on the Fey King. In the adventure background, there are some key pieces of information, which don’t seem to play any further role in the adventure. (think Grima Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings; behind the scenes controlling this mortal Earl). However, these are certainly some nice story hooks later for when (if?) the PC’s escape the Greenwood…

After a couple encounters (and introduction to a kleptomaniac brownie), the players enter the fey King’s stronghold: a tall and magical tree which forms a tower. There is a beautiful hand drawn map on the inside cover which shows the layout of the tower and it’s six encounters. Encounters are varied between a couple that are potential straight up fights but with alternative methods to handle them, as well as some puzzles and traps (again with alternative methods offered for dealing with these). In typical DCC RPG fashion, the adventure ends with a deadly escape that will feel epic for any group of zero levels lucky enough to make it out alive.

In addition, there are some interesting magical items discoverable in this adventure. A new idea for a patron or deity, as well as an optional class (the Wild Elf, which is a variant of the standard Elf class) that I think is well thought out.

Overall, the entire module is well written and there are some things left open to serve as hooks for the Judge to fill in and make it their own. I have yet to run this, but I don’t see anything here that would keep one from running directly as written.

The artwork in this module is exceptional. The credits list the author as the artist and I see the ACK initials on each piece. This lends to a very cohesive feel for this entire book. The cover is a mysterious and colorful depiction of the final encounter. Every single interior art piece is hand drawn in black & white and I could see any one of them in an official GG DCC RPG module. My favorite is Mythcoat on page 11. On the back cover is an awesome OSR style, hand drawn character sheet.

I like how this adventure uses a setting that is probably underserved in this genre (Appendix N version of the fey lands) and is of a high production value. I hope to see more like it to come.

Kickstarter: The Peasants’ Fell Bargain – A DCC RPG Zero Level Funnel

Let me tell you. I just love these things. I love seeing other people create interesting things. That’s why I like hobbies like tabletop gaming, why I am more and more interested in “OSR” styles of TTRPGs and why I’m a sucker for Kickstarters.

So far there is no sway in my obsession with DCC RPG, and there have been some good 3rd party Kickstarters lately (for zines and for adventures). This one strikes me as particularly interesting. It’s a 0 Level Funnel titled “The Peasant’s Fell Bargain“.

The two things that catch my attention:

First, I love the idea of “striking a bargain with the devil”. Just on the way to work tonight, I was listening to a Podcast about paranormal experiences in Rock & Roll, and of course the idea of Selling Your Soul at the Crossroads came up (See one of my all time fav’s Robert Johnson). This is one of my all time favorite legends!

Second, you can’t watch this video and not want to play anything these guys have cooked up. Seriously, you they just look fun. So, I’m glad to give my twenty bucks. I’m signing (in blood) on the dotted line!