Dungeon Crawl Classics PDF Sale on RPGNow

There appears to be a big sale going on over at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG and I just picked up a ton of great Goodman Games PDFs for $1 each. basically this is a deal on their 3e products, but there’s a few more if you look:

DCC RPG and Metamorphosis Alpha are only reduced 20% which I think is the usual price, listing for completeness. But look at the Hurricane Harvey Relief bundle if you haven’t got these three modules (67, 75, 91) yet!

All these have affiliate links; doesn’t hurt my feelings if you take it off, just letting you know.



Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss II: A Review

Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss II
Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss II

“If you really want to write, the best way to go about it is just start writing.”

And thus, although I’m on call yet again tonight and the pager is blowing up, I’m just going to get started writing a review for this latest book I picked up from Venger Satanis, High Priest of Kort’thalis Publishing. This is Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss II, which is the second part follow up to the original.

Just like the other products in what I call his “Like a Fucking Boss” product line, AWLAFB2 is easy to read, gets you straight to the point without wasting your time, and is chock full of gorgeous artwork that just inspires you to grab your notebook, graph paper and pen and start brainstorming ideas to torture your friends at your next session.

Currently at a mere $4 on RPGnow, this book is 18 pages with an awe inspiring cover, 5 kick ass whole page artworks and 1 sexy half page art piece. All the PDFs in this line are offered in both the full color version and a tree hugging printer friendly version. The layout is excellent, so the large art pieces and the text work very well despite a heavy water colored (or are these blood stains…?) whole page background art. Overall, the layout, color choices, and art are similar to part 1 (which was already very professional appearing), but it’s looking even tighter. Apparently Venger is becoming even more of an expert in his desktop publishing skills.

The text is laid out in 28 small sections with far ranging bits of advice. Each section is typically 3 to 5 paragraphs with a heading that is usually self descriptive like “Interior Art” or “Introducing NPCs” but sometimes something more catchy that forces you to read further like “Let Them Eat Cake”, “Hat Rack Descriptions”, and “Needs More Tentacles”.

The writing style (and art choice) is typical Venger Satanis. Occasional edgy and humorous topics and language along with awesome old school art, some of which is NSFW but all of it is awesome. Included are bits of wisdom spread throughout in easy to comprehend examples that get right to the heart of the matter. Kinda like one of the common themes in the entire book. Your responsibility (as a writer of adventures) is to get to the point so that the reader can get most of what they need without getting bogged down, while at the same time injecting the seeds necessary to allow the reader to expand in the direction they need in real time at the gaming table.

So. if this sounds at all interesting, then just pick it up and read it. You’ll learn something, or at least be inspired. I promise. And then, go write mega dungeons worth of rooms with greater than 3 paragraphs each. Seriously, I dare you. No, really, totally do that cause the High Priest demands it… [you’ll have to read page 10 to see why I say this, seriously the funniest thing ever!]


Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss II on RPGnow or DriveThruRPG


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Converting Descending to Ascending Armor Class (AC)

Armor Class doesn't have to be confusing
Armor Class doesn’t have to be confusing

Practically everything I’ve read from the TSR days are much more interesting than anything published under WotC. So, if you play any OGL based systems (such as DCC, OSRIC, S&W, C&C, etc.), or 5e, then it’s necessary to convert older material in some fashion.

I looked at the D&D 5e conversion guide, and found that it wasn’t very helpful. Next I looked at key types of armor.

  • All systems start with a base AC of 10 except in Basic D&D where it is 9.
  • Leather gives an AC of 8 in AD&D and 7 in Basic. It is 11 in D&D 5e and 12 in DCC.
  • Chainmail gives an AC of 5 in AD&D and in Basic. It is 16 in D&D 5e and 15 in DCC.
  • Full plate gives an AC of 2 in AD&D (but 0 in Basic) and 18 in D&D 5e and DCC.
  • All of the other intervening armors were similarly close (or the same).
  • All systems modify by 1 (either + or -) for shields.

What I found was that you can set both systems equal at 10 (with Basic offset by 1) and simply go up and down by increments of one and it’s practically the same. Especially if you are using AD&D material in DCC. So, as VS would say, “No need to convert, adapt”. So, I created a simple little table that I think would work well.

AD&D Basic D&D D&D 5e DCC
22 21 -2 -2
21 20 -1 -1
20 19 0 0
19 18 1 1
18 17 2 2
17 16 3 3
16 15 4 4
15 14 5 5
14 13 6 6
13 12 7 7
12 11 8 8
11 10 9 9
10 9 10 10
9 8 11 11
8 7 12 12
7 6 13 13
6 5 14 14
5 4 15 15
4 3 16 16
3 2 17 17
2 1 18 18
1 0 19 19
0 -1 20 20
-1 -2 21 21
-2 -3 22 22



Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook for Pay What You Want

This may be a limited thing, but I see the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook up on RPGnow/DTRPG for “Pay What You Want”. This is normally $34.99.

Written by Matt Finch and Published by Frog God Games, I’ve really been meaning to read through this. I may be a bit wrong, but from my research, regarding retro-clones, S&W is to be based on the 1974 OD&D. And, this seems to have a lot of support.

S&W comes in three versions, an essential “White Box” version, an updated “Core” version with expanded rules, and this “Complete” rulebook which I gather combines all the above.


Review: Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D

Review of

There are many stories floating around the internet regarding the rise and fall of D&D (or at least, TSR). This graphic novel provides a very comprehensive overview of that story and does a bang up job of telling it in one enjoyable sitting.

This 136 page, black & white graphic novel, is a quick and easy read. Illustrated by Koren Shadmi, he does a wonderful job of reproducing all the characters. He further beautifully reproduces a very stylized rendition of all appropriate scenes; from Gygax’s Hawaiian shirts to the D&D books and even a perfect recreation of the 80’s D&D animated cartoon. Although the entire book is B&W, the color front and back cover are gorgeous.

Rise of the Dungeon Master

Written by David Kushner, the book is broken down into 9 chapters and told from the perspective of the various figures in the D&D story. Of course, Gygax receives a considerable amount of this time and next off is Dave Arneson. Also included is a whole montage of the whole Satanic Panic from the 1980’s mostly told from the perspective of William Dear, the private investigator hired to find James Dallas Egbert III.

Rise of the Dungeon Master

I’ve read quite a bit about the creation of D&D, with the various accounts regarding the contributing influences other than Gygax. This story, I think, does a good job of succinctly telling the story as I’ve come to know it. One where Gygax was certainly the visionary, however, Arneson is probably under-recognized as an instrumental creative force in D&D’s initial inception. Furthermore, the differences in the two’s early personalities are still seen today as a split between “rules light” and “rules heavy” styles of D&D play (although the book makes mention of Gygax moving to the rules light side later in life).

We see various examples of how D&D influenced a wide swath of geek culture (which is now “pop culture” in many ways). Then the story gets bleak in chapter 7 with what I’ve best seen referenced to as “The Ambush at Sheridan Springs“. This story is brief in this graphic novel. If you are interested in these sorts of things, then give this a read. It is long, but is a fascinating account of just how badly the Blume brothers and Lorraine Williams fucked everyone over and sank TSR like the RMS Titanic.

The story eventually picks back up again on a positive note as it leads into essentially the reason why I’m posting this right now. That is, the intersection of older players getting back into the hobby, rise of geek culture, what is called OSR, and the release of D&D 5e.

Lastly, chapter 9 is legitimately a little sad as it covers the deaths of Gygax and Arneson. I didn’t know a couple of the things mentioned here. For instance, I actually didn’t know that Gygax was a born again Christian. That’s really awesome and I’ll have to research this further.

This is a beautiful book. Very well written, telling a very good version of the story. One that tells some of the hard truths without minimizing at all the great contributions to the modern of storytelling which these artists brought to life.

Rise of the Dungeon Master

Amazon Listing



10 Years ago on Grognardia

I think it is interesting to read the first 4 posts on Grognardia. Quite prescient 10 years ago.

Starting with “What’s A Grognard?” is important to set a certain stage, that is the wisdom brought to the table by the experienced within a culture.

Then on to “Pulp Fantasy D&D” and “What is Pulp Fantasy?” details the increased desire to incorporate Appendix N influences when playing tabletop RPGs. However, these were posted in early 2008, (a month after Gary Gygax passed away BTW) and this is still a hot topic.

Lastly, in “D&D in the NewsJM totally calls the fate of 4e and sets the stage for (why I believe) 5e becomes a success despite all the other potential escapist distractions. That is, by returning to some of the core roots of D&D in earlier iterations. The one irony in this may be the same technology which brought an alternative fantasy escapism (and signaled a downfall of tabletop RPGs), the PC and the internet, have served 5e quite well in the form of virtual tabletops, Twitch, and YouTube which perform quite well with lighter versions of D&D.

Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading



Inspiration for all of the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a lad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted swords, or wicked sorcerers and dauntless swordsmen. Then too, countless hundreds of comic books went down, and the long-gone EC ones certainly had their effect. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies were a big influence. In fact, all of us tend to get ample helpings of fantasy when we are very young, from fairy tales such as those written by the Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang. This often leads to reading books of mythology, paging through bestiaries, and consultation of compilations of the myths of various lands and peoples. Upon such a base I built my interest in fantasy, being an avid reader of all science fiction and fantasy literature since 1950. The following authors were of particular inspiration to me. In some cases I cite specific works, in others, I simply recommend all their fantasy writing to you. From such sources, as well as just about any other imaginative writing or screenplay you will be able to pluck kernels from which grow the fruits of exciting campaigns. Good reading!

Inspirational Reading:



Brackett, Leigh.

Brown, Fredric.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice. “Pellucidar” Series; Mars Series; Venus Series

Carter, Lin. “World’s End” Series


de Camp & Pratt. “Harold Shea” Series; CARNELIAN CUBE

Derleth, August.

Dunsany, Lord.

Farmer, P. J. “The World of the Tiers” Series; et al.

Fox, Gardner. “Kothar” Series; “Kyrik” Series; et al.

Howard, R. E. “Conan” Series

Lanier, Sterling. HIERO’S JOURNEY

Leiber, Fritz. “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” Series; et al.

Lovecraft, H. P.


Moorcock, Michael. STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; “Hawkmoon” Series (esp. the first three books)

Norton, Andre.

Offutt, Andrew J., editor SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III.

Pratt, Fletcher, BLUE STAR; et al.

Saberhagen, Fred. CHANGELING EARTH; et al.


Tolkien, J. R. R. THE HOBBIT; “Ring Trilogy”


Weinbaum, Stanley.

Wellman, Manly Wade.

Williamson, Jack.

Zelazny, Roger. JACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” Series; et al.

The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, REH, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, HPL, and A. Merritt; but all of the above authors, as well as many not listed, certainly helped to shape the form of the game. For this reason, and for the hours of reading enjoyment, I heartily recommend the works of these fine authors to you.

Source: Gary Gygax. 1979. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 224.

To page with links on Amazon for these books.


First Grognardia Post


So, I was curious to read through the Grognardia blog, of which the author (James Maliszewski) stopped posting 5 years ago this month (12/11/2012). I found this thread on Dragonsfoot that addresses the author having family health issues. Not sure what happened after that. Regardless, God bless Mr. Maliszewksi (and his family), whatever happened, this guy was friggin prolific!!! It was actually not easy for me to get to the very first page (I like to read chronologically of course!). I scrolled and scrolled for like an hour!

And so I post the appropriate links here for anyone else searching for the first Grognardia posts:

Beginning of Stream

First Post: What is a Grognard (3/30/2008)

Where I’m At Right Now (My Gaming Confessions)

Here we go. This is my manifesto. I’ll try not to use the acronym “OSR” more than 3 times.

I think I was 14 years old when I saw the Frank Mentzer (and whoa boy was he in some drama in 2017…) BECMI Red Box Basic Set, the one with the awesome Larry Elmore cover. As an aside (more on all this later), Elmore’s first Kickstarter was one of the first I supported and I sought him out when I finally went to my first GenCon. He’s a supremely awesome guy!) But, I saw this box at the toy store at the mall. You have to understand that the internet completely didn’t exist at this time, let alone Amazon. I don’t remember the circumstances, but apparently I simply asked for it and my mom bought it for me. What I do remember, is devouring this book while lying on my bed listening to my dad’s Led Zepplin albums. I would read, and re-read that thing. Just fantasizing of what kinds of worlds I could play in. I would create my own characters in my head (I didn’t have access to a Xerox to make character sheets, and even as a boy I was too OCD to writ in my book!). The next time I was at that store, I got the blue, Expert box, and eventually over time I had collected the entire BECMI set. I would then go on to read many of the Endless Quest books as well.

But I was incredibly shy in a small town.

And I had no friends in middle school who was playing D&D, or anything remotely nerdy. Eventually in High School, I did find one kid who was actually really into D&D. He introduced me to Dragonlance, which I read the Chronicles Trilogy, and he tried (operative word is “tried”) to DM DLC1. We had a large group of hoodlum friends who got together. I think we played 30 minutes (I was Tanis of course!) before all the group (except me) got bored and went out to smoke, or get a drink or whatever. That friend introduced me to the local gaming store (Wizards Keep in Muncie, IN), but by this time we were toward the end of High School. Other things started to take precedence over “playing games”. Furthermore, I went to Basic Training for the Army after my Junior year, and when I came back all my former friends had already gone in different directions than me.

I would spend my Senior year in high school incredibly fucking bored.

I’m really not sure how I graduated High School, but I did.

Long story, but I finished Army National Guard training afterwards and then got an exceptionally shitty job. So shitty that I kinda had no option but go to college. Else I think I would have killed myself due to depression thinking of how utterly wasteful “real life” must be. Looking back, maybe College could have been another opportunity to find some geeky friends and get into gaming, but it didn’t happen. I was so shy that I’d go to the Anime club (remember when Anime was only on bootlegged VHS tapes?) and I couldn’t even find myself striking up a conversation with those nerds! I remember going to Wizards Keep (it was on Campus at that time), and I’d steal D&D books (I’m really sorry about that BTW, I keep meaning to go back there, 25 years later, and try to make amends…), but again I had no friends to play with. I had started college “late” so I was a “nontraditional” student, which means I didn’t get that indoctrination into the dorms. I did join a Fraternity, but it was the epitome of the Animal House sort of frat.

Someway, somehow, through all of that I did find that I had a brain.

I’m not trying to brag, but no wonder I hated High School. It was boring. Instead of sleeping through every thing (like in High School), I studied my ass off in college. I finally found something to nerd out about and you didn’t have to have friends to lock yourself in the library all night with textbooks.

Let me tell you, if you want to absolutely waste your personal life away, then go to Medical School. The next 20 years is a blur from a nerdy/geeky/gaming standpoint. I would occasionally read a book; started reading the Drizzt books and re-read Chronicles and Legends. Played a few video games (but I didn’t really have money for it). But I simply “didn’t have the time” to do much else. Don’t get me wrong, I read like a motherfucker. Huge textbooks, one after the other, but not a single one was fiction or gaming related.

I did get incredibly invested into World of Warcraft.

God, I loved Vanilla. I think for the very first time in my life, I actually had friends. A whole group of them. I don’t care if they were “virtual” over teamspeak or ventrilo. I had a group of fellow nerds that wanted to hang out, play games, and talk about nerd stuff any time of the day, every day (and all night!).

But, as I am sure that anyone who’s been there knows, that train can only last so long.

I could only go so many months off 2-3 hours of sleep a night, so many arguments with my wife about “the guild”. Looking back, I don’t know how I did that while being on call every 3rd night as a medical intern and without getting divorced. Eventually, I had a real family and a real job and priorities are priorities. Which is good, I mean I was completely wasting my life away in a fucking video game, but I’m just saying… I really miss those times. Again, anyone who’s been there, knows what it’s like. (this guy sums up my feelings on this 1,000 times better than I ever could).

I suppose life eventually has a way of making things work out.

You get to a point in a career where you actually start knowing what the hell you’re doing. It’s why they call it “practice” in medicine. Unfortunately, that time was at the height of D&D 4e

Looking back, I may or may not have even heard or read the term OSR (#1). I think I wish I did, but I didn’t. I did know about Pathfinder, but my God does PF suck. So, it’s kinda like “I didn’t know what I was missing”. What I did do was try to get into (what was at that time, THE D&D) as much as I could. I was reading the horrible D&D 4e rulebooks, and as many of the shitty WOTC published novels I could find the time to do. I went to as many Wednesday D&D Encounters that I could get to. I even signed on to every Meetup I could find in the little rural area I was living at the time. But probably the biggest problem reared its head again. I was too shy to get my ass out there and do anything more with real people and I was relying on finding others to entertain me.

It is really disappointing, but that’s like 3-4 years kinda wasted despite the best intentions.

However, we moved. Back to civilization (relatively). Back home to Indianapolis. And, you know the first thing I did? I bought Colts season tickets… OK, so that was a waste… The second thing I did was go to GenCon. This was actually the second time I went; first time I was poor as fuck and couldn’t justify more than a single day pass and too shy to have signed up for anything (I just browsed the vendor hall), so didn’t count 😉

This happened to be 2014. The release of D&D 5e. And, I decided I was gonna actually play games with other people. I signed up for D&D All Access. I took my brother (of course I paid his tickets too!). Wow what a blast! I remember having to get used to how 5e played differently than 4e, but right away I was going home and reading all the material (schwag) I got from the game, signed copies of the Player’s Handbook and the (at the time unreleased) Monster Manual.

Around this time, I had also discovered Kickstarter. You know, I actually credit Kickstarter for introducing me to “OSR” (#2).

I stumbled upon Larry Elmore’s The Complete Elmore Artbook. That got me to thinking about all those hours, sitting on my bed in the middle 80’s, listening to heavy metal, and thinking about truly fantastic things while my soul dissolved into such gorgeous artwork. I started reminiscing, sure, but it also got me searching the interwebz about the old things I used to read. In that mix, the first Dwarven Forge Kickstarter came out. I gladly laid down $1000 for something that I never knew if I’d get, cause I found a whole community of like minded people willing to do the same. The comments section for a DF KS is a real site to be hold, filled with fanatical miniature enthusiast nerds. I feel truly naive now, but I had no idea!

Who knew there was actually a whole bunch of dudes doing the same exact thing! From there, it simply became a rabbit hole!

Somewhere in here, I also have to mention Gygax Magazine #1. How did I find this? I don’t remember, but for me was another piece of the puzzle.

It was around this time that Of Dice and Men came out. I still haven’t read that book, but the press the book received sums up what I see as the beginning of a revolution in our culture. Nerd became cool. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was a smash hit (fuck the Hobbit trilogy, let the universe forever forget it was ever made…) and you started seeing YouTube channels, Twitch streams, Kickstarters galore, and a true Renaissance (in the truest sense) take off. Yes, I am now fully aware that there were active Google+ groups already before this, I’m aware there was apparently a movement 2 years before OSRIC, I missed some awesome Kickstarters, and I totally missed that there was a whole slew of Retro-Clones and Variants already out there being enjoyed by many. Not to mention the tidal wave of recommendations to “read the Appendix N!!!” But, I’m sorry, I showed up to the party a little late.

Nevertheless, it is now on. And, I found a group of other middle aged, working, parent, nerds. And they made me their Dungeon Master… muahahahaha!!!!!

And, you get to a point when you are a little too old to be shy anymore.

So, is this YAOSR blog? (I’ll give that #3) I don’t intend it to be. Too late for that to be relevant. And, I’m not one of these guys trying to craft a career in the ever popular and highly lucrative field of RPG design. I’m just a dude trying to catch up on a couple decades of fun. Fantasizing about swords & sorcery. And sometimes I like to write stuff; thought I’d post my own musings from time to time.

I’m going to stop here. For me, to list some links to other sources which have inspired me over the past year better sums up my “research” from the time where this story ends and possibly where things will be going in the near future:

In no particular order: