Sunday, October 13, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Twelfth (of course there's more)

New job and other imperatives have been sucking away my free time and motivation, but there is more to be shared from the project.

More to come...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Eleventh (The (In)Compleat Bard)

So, the bard class debuted in The Strategic Review #6. Some small errors aside, the main point that vexes me during the course of this project is the section on followers. So, for the moment, my draft will incorporate that information as best as I can interpret from the material available.

I've also yet to organize the rules into sections, so Experience comes right after Bard, so far.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Tenth (Been a while...)

Apologies for the lack of update in a while. New job. Tired. Distracted. Grumpy.


Sharing some more pages from the book. Still more to come - I have actually been working on this stuff when time and energy permit. Questions, suggestions, or complaints are most welcome. Thanks for keeping up.

Next time: The (rest of the) Bard.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shameless Promotion Corner (Pathfinder Edition)

A piece of my short fiction appears in this supplement. I also had a little input into the mechanics. Go get it. Tell all your gamer pals.


"If you've ever wanted to play the Robert Downey version of Sherlock Holmes, or Harry Dresden, or even Batman... this class is for you. "

There are some who take on the mantle of adventurer for the gold and the glory. Others have the dubious title thrust upon them through circumstance or fate. Then there are some who seek out the adventurous life for the sheer sake of knowledge and discovery of the unknown. Enter the Deductionist.

The Deductionist is an original base class which will find a niche in almost any adventuring group. Highly skilled, and incredibly perceptive, the Deductionist overcomes his adversaries with reason, rather than sheer brawn. The Deductionist is a fun class capable of a wide array of abilities and their reason powers grant them almost supernatural abilities.

Each Deductionist is a master of a chosen discipline of knowledge, with almost sage-like ability. With over 38 deductive abilities to overcome their foes, no single Deductionist will be the same. Confound your opponents with the truth, avoid their blows with danger sense, exploit their weaknesses and even learn mystic abilities.

This sourcebook also includes 17 new feats, 13 new pieces of equipment and three new archetypes: The Operative, The Eldritch Inspector and the Shadowed Avenger.

TPK Games always strives to make our products easy on the reader. This sourcebook has complete stat blocks, placed in the text right where you need them. The entire text is invisibly hyperlinked to the website for ease of reference and extensively bookmarked.

Knowledge is power, and it is in your hands now.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Ninth (Leaving the Nest)

The project continues apace. The first book is at 18 pages (each page divided into two) and the character classes are being rounded out with the bard.

That's right - bard.

"But, there was no bard class in the original booklets!"

I know that. I also know that the original intent of this project was to incorporate as many official and "semi-official" OD&D sources as possible. That includes The Strategic Review (ranger, illusionist, monsters, magic, and more) and The Dragon (for similar material). Issue #6 of The Strategic Review introduced the bard class and I am adding it to the project in as coherent a manner as I can.

The bard will be the last class for the first booklet. As it is not really a sub-class, the bard is put at the end of the character class section. I will post more pages from the booklet soon.

Wish me luck when I get to the section on spells. Ugh.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the ???th (Visiting Blackmoor)

Another PC class added to the mix right off the bat was the Monk, from Supplement 2: Blackmoor. This supplement contained a lot of material that didn't make it to the later editions of the game, but the two character classes of Monk and Assassin have (in)famously weathered the years in dubious honor. Of all the original classes, these two seem to receive the least amount of love from gamers. The Assassin class will appear in the next installment of this series.

I know there were arguably better Monks in (The) Dragon Magazine.This project is an exercise in compiling and editing the original material, free of personal bias or later variants.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Book of Impudent Japes - Even another page

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Eighth (Dungeons & Departures)

The project has officially strayed from the confines of the official booklets and dipped into the resource that is The Strategic Review. The first such departure will be the Ranger class. As you can probably see, the next one shall be the Illusionist class.

The fun never stops.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Seventh (References and Expansions)

With research and revision comes revelation and reconsideration. I said back here that I would be including all relevant rules and references from Chainmail in my version of the original D&D rules. I have since changed my mind due to the fact that (as far as I can determine) the supplements (mainly Greyhawk) effectively replaced or standardized any Chainmail rules referenced in the first three booklets. That is a big help to me for a project like this. For the most part, I would rather look forward from the role-playing treatment of Men & Magic, rather than back to the game's wargaming roots.

Also, I have decided to include any relevant and developmental material from The Strategic Review and earliest issues of The Dragon which dealt with this pre-Basic/AD&D ruleset. For example, the second issue of The Strategic Review presented the very first treatment of the Ranger class. How can I pass that up?

More to come as I continue to delve into fantasy gaming history. In the meantime, a couple more page samples. Due to some substantial edits among the previous work, there will be some previously-shared material among these previews.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Sixth (Decisions and Compromises)

We saw in the previous installment that the class advancement charts included the "Fight As" column. Yeah, well, that's gone. Since this project is incorporating all the material from the three brown booklets and all the supplements that follow, I see no reason to cling to the few references to Chainmail that were optioned out later anyway. It will be less confusing and also less work for me. Everybody wins.

Now, on to the next page.

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Fifth (Magic-Users, Clerics, and Thieves - oh my!)

Continuing from the last update for the project, here are a few pages to preview, including the revised version of the page shared previously. The project proceeds - if slowly.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dungeons & Novels

A nice chap in one of the Facebook gaming groups I endure brought up a subject close to my shriveled black heart and I'd like to address it here. In brief: Why don't I write fiction set in my D&D campaign setting(s)?

In not-so-brief:

I am a writer. Well, sort-of. I have been published in a few semi-pro venues. I've written a novel that I hope to have published in my lifetime, and am working on a number of others - along with a plethora of short stories. See that there? Only a real writer could get away with using "plethora" in a sentence.

Recently, I've also done a little freelance RPG work, and hope to do a lot more. See the left side of the blog for those RPG credits.

For as long as I can remember, I've written. I started my first novel at the age of 5 or 6. It was a ripoff of The Hobbit, but set on Mars. It was called "A Martian Adventure." I've always been torn between my two first loves: fantasy and science fiction. I was also illustrating the book, since I've supposedly been drawing (well) since the age of 3. But that's a blog entry of a different color.

I was probably about 9 or 10 when I started creating my first fantasy world. Here's the first monster I ever created for my D&D setting (I was never afraid to aim big):

Yes, I still have the handwritten page. I'm just that kind of crazy. I have just about everything I've ever written for the D&D game - though most of it has been transcribed to digital files and the original pages recycled.

Okay, back to my dubious point.

I create. All the time. On varying scales. I've come up with ideas for short stories and had them become milieus for entire novels and series of novels during development. I'm all about the details. The color. The texture. My D&D campaign setting is not about telling stories.

---Brief pause for effect---

My D&D campaign world is about providing a setting for boundless adventure. I'm not telling stories with it. I am presenting plot points and adventure hooks for players to follow where they may. Some DMs run their games as if they are writing a story. These games tend to be known as "railroading." Players tend to feel as if they are being led around by the nose from scene to pre-planned scene. To each their own. I don't enjoy that.

Could I write stories based upon my D&D setting and/or campaigns? Of course I could. And, maybe someday, I will. In the meantime, I am currently considering, developing, and writing roughly:

A dozen novels.
30 novella-length stories that could easily become novels.
100s of short fiction pieces - I genuinely cannot keep count of how many.
Dozens of microfiction pieces.
Along with 20,000+ words of random notes and blurbs designed to bookmark various concepts and thoughts for possible future development or inclusion in stories being written.

I can't help myself. But, for now, I prefer to keep my gaming concepts and my fiction concepts in separate worlds. It is easier for me. I have no shortage of marketable ideas. I do have a shortage of marketable time to develop the ideas. Writing something I know to be a story will help set my mind one way, while crafting material for a campaign setting puts me in a different frame entirely. To be honest, I don't want my D&D setting to form the basis of fiction right now. I like leaving it open and rife with possibility.

Both pursuits are a lot of fun for me. So is keeping them separate. Is my D&D campaign world of Avremier more interesting than my Snowglass "sixguns-and-sorcery" fiction milieu, or my Ophelian Age of Enwonderment "Wonderland-Cthulhu-Mythos-alternate-Victorian" fiction milieu, or my Age of Runes "modern-day-alternate-norse-myth-cosmos" fiction milieu? That's not for me to decide. My job is to present each one as best I can for others to (hopefully) enjoy.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Feature - The Book of Impudent Japes

This feature will offer a page from this infamous tome with each installment. Scholars and those desperate for an occasional dubious distraction are encouraged to partake. Luck be with you.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Third (The Things I Do for Love of the Game)

Yep - still working hard on the OD&D Handbook Project. In an effort to organize the often disparate pieces of data involved in such an undertaking, I've started to compile all relevant points into a single worksheet. Thus far, I've plowed through Chainmail, the original three booklets, and the Greyhawk supplement.

The results can be found below. More to come.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Borrowing from the Past

While it is widely known that I do not run published campaign settings or adventures, I do like to see what other people are doing, and to read through some of the classic material. It can be fun to take a good idea presented in one venue and tweak it for my own use. Even something so innocuous as an interior illustration - or, more specifically, an unimportant object from that illustration.

From the pages of Allen Hammack's classic adventure module, C2 - The Ghost Tower of Inverness, I bring you a few brief notes for the Trump Blades.

Trump Blades: Also known as Wild Blades or Urikaen Blades – after the original creator. Each is a longsword (some say bastard sword) of identical design – except for a hole cut into the blade, near the hilt, and one half with black hilts and scabbards and the other half with red hilts and scabbards. Each hole is of a shape corresponding with a suit found in real-world playing cards. A talisman was made for each sword, designed to fit within the shaped hole in the blade. It is thought the talismans were created by some other artisan – possibly Urika’s apprentice. It is also said that this apprentice completed the forging and enchanting of the fourth blade – after the demise of the master. This fourth blade is not quite as powerful as the others. Each sword has a base magical bonus equal to the corresponding ability score bonus possessed by the wielder – to a maximum of +4.
  • Sword of Clubs: Life. Based on user’s Con. Bonuses against undead and fae.
  • Sword of Diamonds: Desire. Based on user’s Int. Exceptionally hard and sharp. Known to damage other weapons. Rumored to be vorpal.
  • Sword of Hearts: Passion. Based on user’s Cha. Wounding and Charming.
  • Sword of Spades: Death. Based on user’s Dex. Deals superior damage to objects and constructs.

While an illustration of the Sword of Spades is provided above, the graphic below shows the Sword of Hearts.

In closing, I will mention that I know there is no such item in the module. I was inspired purely by the excellent illustration and wondered what the heck that sword could be. Of such stuff are legends made.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The OD&D Handbook Project - Part the Second (Progress and Sharing)

Yesterday, I mentioned the newest project on my overladen plate. To avoid keeping anyone in undue suspense, I'd like to post a brief progress report.

In brief: This is tough going.

Because I am me, the details are almost as important as the content. I want to capture the feel of the original, as well as offer a comprehensive and cohesive final product. It is important that the material look a lot like the original, but I also want the content to be presented in such a way that the player is not forced to flip back and forth through multiple sections and volumes just to make a single character. A tall order, you can trust me on this. Not to mention correcting the errors in the original and hunting down various bits of errata. I even tracked down a special font or two.

Because I care, that's why. So, without further agonizing ado, here is a sample of what I've created so far. It isn't much, but it should give you an idea of the pain to come. Enjoy!

Still missing you, Jack

Since the passing of the irreplaceable Jack Vance (May 26th, 2013), I've been re-reading some of his stories of the Dying Earth. I tell myself it is part of my research into the origins of the D&D game.

It has been pointed out time and time again that one of the great attractions of my own campaign settings lies in the extent and proliferation of memorable details which enhance and solidify the gaming experience. I do detail without noticeable effort. It's just how I am.

So, while I was reading Rhialto the Marvellous, I was immediately struck by the Foreword, which lists a great number of 21st Aeon magicians, often with a brief description of each worthy. The idea tickled me to the core. Of course, my feverish brain began to concoct similar characters for my own game world.

As this is intended to be but a brief sojourn into quasi-Dying Earth arcanology, I will offer the alphabetical listing of those magicians which came to mind as I jotted as quick as possible in the notebook found at my bedside.

The brief descriptions will have to wait for another time. It may also be worth mentioning that I am a great fan of Fritz Leiber's Nehwon, Lankhmar, and the various mad wizards that occupy certain parts.

Magicians: Much like the Dying Earth milieu, the setting is greatly influenced by powerful arcane spellcasters. Throughout history, there have been a number of these puissant men and women...and, other - things. Their names and titles are often ostentatious or downright inscrutable - but they are very, very rarely those of their birth. The following is an incompleat listing.

·         Alaq of the Burning Robe
·         Blue Whisper
·         Bornewine the Collector
·         Cacophonous
·         Carrion
·         Certitude Glim
·         Crethe the Lesser
·         Darl Writhing
·         Diaphon Azor
·         Dim Cunac
·         Dread Unstromm
·         Eye of Impunity
·         Fatan Morganthe
·         Foreshadow
·         Glaomaer the Unmortal
·         Glizzar Half-Glyph
·         Gryphon Azor
·         Haero of the Inverted Labyrinth
·         Irunor Five-Shadow
·         Javelin IV
·         Kailu Wandwright
·         Kalumvar Whence
·         Kestrel Synn
·         Khafac the Importune
·         Logom Sporefane
·         Lord Ratbite
·         Meduin Dawndance
·         Mounce-In-Iron
·         Mulfescance Coil
·         Muntorboq Aun
·         N'roth of Onkse
·         Peculiar Wuel
·         Phoenix Prowl
·         Piper Fray
·         Polemus Lightbane
·         Porcelain Howl
·         Scintillic Briemel
·         Seil-Vartha
·         Shuel of the Final Rune
·         Shunned Topola
·         Sulaes the Impressar
·         Tainoimin
·         Tirithion
·         Uboc Cloudmonger
·         Veil Ephemeral
·         Wayfarer, The
·         Xibrun Eille