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Partial Grimoire #3 and Thanks for Donations

While I still haven't found all the master pages for issue #3 of The Grimoire (and fear they no longer exist), I have found the last few pages of the third issue -- a complete set of rules for a "Star Trek" boardgame called "Warp Nine" with another Loubet illo: some not quite (for obvious copyright reasons) Federation vessels fighting somewhat familiar looking alien vessels. I've been volunteered to spend the next few days helping my mother-in-law with house repairs, however, I plan scan these pages and convert them to PDFs late next week and add these pages to the material available for download.

Speaking of which, I'd really like to thank all the generous people who have donated in the last couple of days. Thanks to a number of wonderful people we don't need to worry about having utilities shut off for two weeks. Thank you all so very much.  I've also received more comments on the two issues of The Grimoire from them than I remember receiving in total when they were originally published. If you've already donated, you'll be able to get the additional PDF when I get it created and uploaded.

You can still donate and get pdf copies of The Grimoire #1 and #2 and the BECMI campaign house rules -- and the Warp Nine pages mentioned above when they are uploaded. Just send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal or use the button below.






Help Randall and Get Grimoire Fanzine PDFs

This post is all about something I don't do that well. Asking for help.

Many long time readers know that my wife is recovering successfully from oral cancer and that I worked on the original Microlite74 as way to cope during her recovery from 6 weeks of radiation treatment last year. What I've never talked about is the cost. We are some of the 40 to 50 million people in the US who do not have health insurance and do not qualify for government aid as we live in Texas and have no children. The cancer treatments have cost over $110,000 so far. While some of this has been absorbed by hospital foundations and the like, we still owe a lot of it.

I haven't talked about this before because we've been coping -- barely. Unfortunately, I work on commission and I was told yesterday that over $800 in commissions payments due me this week will be delayed a month (or more). As we no longer have any savings, this leaves me unable to pay for utilities and food at the end of this month -- I'm almost four hundred dollars short after delaying all the bills and expenses I can.

I know I'm not doing this well, but if you can afford to donate toward our expenses, I'd be very grateful. If you donate anything at all, you'll get pdf copies of the two issues of The Grimoire I published in the late 1970s (which I blogged about here: The Grimoire #1 and The Grimoire #2) and a pdf copy of The Second Grimoire of Pharesm the Bright-Eyed, a set of house rules for a BECMI campaign I ran at a game shop in the mid-1980s. A number of people have asked if it was possible to get copies of The Grimoire issues, so this is a way to get copies of gaming material few people have ever seen and help a fellow gamer at the same time. It's not much, I know, but its really all I have to offer.

The person who donates the most (by the end of May 2009) will also receive a one-of-kind special edition digest-sized printed copy of Microlite75 2.0. This edition will have special artwork -- mainly characters from my campaigns that I've had artists draw over the years. Only one copy will be printed.

To get pdf copies of The Grimoire #1 and #2 and the BECMI campaign house rules, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. My apologies for having to ask for donations and my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donates. If you cannot donate but wish to help, please spread the word about my request and offer. Thank you very much in advance.




The Grimoire #2 (Summer 1979) - A D&D Fanzine

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As I mentioned on Monday, after a lot of searching, I found my master copy of The Grimoire #1 and #2. The Grimoire: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy Gaming was my attempt at a gaming fanzine in the late 1970s. I produced 3 issues with a manual typewriter and rubber cement to paste in artwork -- primitive by today's standards, but fairly normal for the 1970s. The first issue was the Spring 1978 issue. Over a year passed before the second issue came out. A number of things changed over that year. I had decided to turn my Empire of Arn campaign into a complete set of variant D&D rules and was bitten by the "complexity bug" in the process. Fortunately, I got over both, but this issue reflects what was going on at the time.

This issue had much better artwork, three very nice pieces of art by Denis Loubet. These were done when he was still in college and before he started to work professionally. This issue was also full size and cost 50% less. Kinkos had arrived in San Antonio and the cost of photocopies had taken a huge drop.

The Grimoire #2 also included material for the San Antonio Wargame club, a then new club that met in the basement of Jefferson Hobby Shop in downtown San Antonio. I'll just mention SAW material in passing.

The second issue of The Grimoire was 30 pages plus the cover page. The cover had a very nice illo of First Campaign Arn characters at their most powerful -- just before the campaign ended. Front and center was Stonn in his infamous invisible and highly magical plate armor which had the unfortunate side effect of turning the wearer's clothes invisible so it looked like the wearer was unarmored and naked in the dungeon. And yes, that's a phraint and a lich in the back row. You probably do not want to know.

The next two pages had the table of contents and my editorial. Ho Hum.

The first article was "More Spells for Magic-Users." Five pages of new spells from 1st to 15th level. Many were from my games, others were from some of the other campaigns running at the San Antonio Wargaming Club. Unfortunately, they were not credited in the article and I no longer remember which spells belonged to which campaign. There were about 80 new spells listed. I think my favorite is probably "One-Way Stone Wall" which worked like Wall of Stone but only existed on one side. You could cast it behind you in a corridor where it would block pursuing monsters -- but the party could see through it and shoot arrows at the monsters.

The next pages had more rules for Metagaming's Melee and Wizard microgames and an article on Pregnancy in D&D. Then came a couple of articles on Chaosium's White Bear & Red Moon boardgame: Flying Unit Rules for White Bear & Red Moon and Additional Magic Rules for White Bear & Red Moon.

These were followed by The Monsters of Arn: two types of Horny Hordes and the Flickering Doom. The Horny Hordes were nuisance humanoids (and very silly) but the Flickering Doom was a fairly nasty low hit die monster than caused discord in those around it. It was based on a creature in ST:TOS episode "Day of the Dove." Some of "The Treasures of Arn" were next. This included one of my favorite cursed items: the wand of deluded detection. It worked like the wand of detection it was supposed to be the first time a person used it, but from then on it would not detect items that were there but would falsely "detect" items that were not there.

The Treasures of Arn article was followed by a picture of Cheryn, Empress of Arn with her "Sword of Ending" -- the last of a set of five identical swords that were artifacts associated with the Empire of Arn.

Next up was "New Independents for White Bear & Red Moon: Fanla the Witch." This was another of my independent creations for WB&RM. Fanla was unique in that she could be played as an independent (with her power at its ebb point) or as another side played by an additional player (with her power at its peak).

Fanla was followed by "Weird Techno Weapons for D&D." These were basically magic wands in the form of guns that could only be used by Technos. Over three pages of new rules for Melee and Wizard followed, including a good number of new spells. An expanded version of the Spell Points article from the first issue was next, this time including spell point formulas for many of the early Arduin classes.

Page 20 has an article on adding Explorer and Dreadnought ships from SPI's Outreach game to SPI's Starforce game. "Spell Effectiveness in D&D" added a strange system for determining how effective a spell was cast. I'm the author of this article, but I can't remember even using this system. At the end of this article is the third piece of Loubet art, a cartoon titled "Those Damn Teleport Spells."

Next up was a expanded for Arn version of the first issues "Divine Intervention in D&D." It is probably useless for campaigns other than First or Second Campaign Arn.

The last article before the four page SAW section at the end of the zine was a humor piece titled "From the 666th Plane of the Abyss." It describes RPG designers as demon lords based solely on their writings about each other and other games in magazines of the time.

The SAW section closed out the second issue.

About 50 copies were printed. Players in my campaign and authors got free copies, the rest were sold to SAW members and at a convention in Austin. Cover price was $1.50. Like the first issue, I haven't seen a copy since 1980 or so and I doubt many survive. I don't have a copy other than my typed master.

[BTW, I'm working on scanning in both issues so those who would like copies will be able to get them as pdfs.]

The Grimoire #1 (Spring 1978) - A D&D Fanzine

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After a lot of searching, I found my master copy of The Grimoire #1. In late 1977, I decided to produce my own gaming fanzine, The Grimoire: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy Gaming. As it would have to be reproduced by photocopy -- and photocopies were very expensive in San Antonio at the time -- it was typed on legal size paper which was cut in half so two pages could be printed for the price of one legal-sized photocopy.

Each page was hand-typed on a manual typewriter. It took forever to produce. It was finally ready to print in the Spring of 1978, so Volume 1, Number 1 of The Grimoire had a publication date of Spring 1978. The first issue was 30 half-legal-sized pages. It contained a wide variety of material for D&D and boardgames. It even had a couple of pieces of artwork drawn by a friend who I played Stellar Conquest with. These were pasted to the page with rubber cement.

The zine started off with a table of contents and my editorial. The editorial, naturally, talked about my plans for the fanzine.

Next up was a one page article "Divine Intervention in D&D" which presented a system similar to the one in Empire of the Petal Throne for determining whether a D&D character's cries for help were hear and answered by the character's deity. The system was obviously intended to be used with Gods, Demi-Gods, and Heroes as there were tables for gods with more than 175 hit points and for gods with 175 hit points or less. Sacrificing magic items really increased your chances of success.

This was followed by an article entitled "Terraforming and System Reshaping in Stellar Conquest. This 1.5 page article provided rules for very high technology in Metagaming's then popular game that would allow players to terraform planets and even create ringworlds. Yes, we actually used these rules.

After Stellar Conquest was the "Minidungeon Feature," The Tomb of Lord Advandey. In this small hill tomb housed the remains of Lord Advandey and -- according to legend -- his gem-encrusted rod of solid gold. A small dungeon but with a nasty surprise.

The minidungeon was followed by "New Independents for White Bear & Red Moon: The Oathbreakers." This was a tribe who had sworn allegiance to the Red Emperor, but refused to serve and were cursed to an undead existence.

Next was the major article for this issue, six and a half pages on "Demon Conjuration in D&D." This article gave a fairly complex demon summoning system for D&D based very loosely on medieval texts and heavily influenced by the SPI pocket game "Demons." Had this be published in a publication with better distribution, this article would have given the fundies a lot more ammo for their anti-D&D fears of the early 1980s.

One of my players wrote a BASIC program for generating hex paper. We published it. This was probably one of the earliest published computer GM aids.

A short article on "Spell Points for D&D" and a large illo filled up blank space on the two pages of program listing.

This was followed by a one page map of the area of the island of Arn in my Arn campaign and, much to my embarrassment, almost eight pages of truly awful background fiction setting the stage for first campaign Arn. "Voyage to R'lyeh" was supposed to be continued in future issues. Fortunately, people told me it was awful and issues two and three were free of my poor attempts at fiction. (And there was much rejoicing.)

A few short pieces rounded out the issue: Rules for a thief character for the TSR Dungeon! boardgame, a couple of scenarios for Metagaming's Warpwar, the start of a play-by-mail D&D game, a Lensman find-a-word, and some feedback questions.

About 30 copies were printed. Players in my campaign and authors got free copies, the rest were sold at Aggiecon and at Dibbles Hobby Shop in San Antonio. Cover price was $3.00 which just covered the cost of printing. I haven't seen a copy since 1980, I doubt many survive. I don't have a copy other than my typed master.

Busy Times But the Games Play On

The last two weeks have been very full with tests and doctor's appointments for my wife (who is still cancer free one year after radiation), computer issues, and relatives visiting. This hasn't left me much time to blog or follow message boards (as is probably obvious to regular readers), but both Sunday games went on as normal. This certainly shows where my priorities are.

Two sessions after a TPK (see Tickled to Death by Tiny Spiders: TPK), the players' new characters are doing fine at what adventurers do. They are on the run after being blamed for killing the owner of the Lucky Seagull Tavern in a bar brawl. The sad thing is they aren't sure if they did it or not. It seemed like half the town was in that brawl. They are heading for the "safety" of the dungeon.

"Alignment Map" of Gaming Style

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James Mishler has proposed an "alignment map" of RPG style:

And I like it. Find out more about what this diagram means in this post on Mishler's blog: What's Your Game Style?.

Tickled to Death by Tiny Spiders: TPK

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I don't usually talk about events in my weekend campaign because I'm not very good at writing up interesting accounts. Fiction -- even at the session report level -- just isn't something I do well. However, we had a TPK in the ninth session of my S&W/M74 game Sunday. A TPK caused as much by fancy equipment as by bad player decisions.

Fancy Equipment: The characters had acquired a bundle of continual light torches a couple of sessions ago and quickly decided that they could carry a lot more treasure out if they did not pack in extra torches and lanterns that they would never need. Those continual light torches could not be blown out by gusts of wind nor did they go out if dropped.

Bad Player Decisions: The party had found a map to "a treasure that would make a dragon jealous" the other side of a section of caverns connected to the first and second levels of the dungeons. Caverns they had avoided because they did not want to map them. They found their treasure map accurate enough. It even warned that that a bridge over a chasm was a "dangerous bridge."

Unfortunately, they interpreted that to mean that the old and rickety bridge was itself dangerous and spend their time looking at it instead of checking out the chasm. Had they looked down the chasm they would have seen it was full of webs, a few giant spiders, and hundreds of 1hp hungry baby giant spiders. A couple of real torches (or any other type of fire) dropped down the chasm and almost all of the spiders would have been toast. But they were too busy trying to decide if the bridge was safe to cross to look. That was a mistake.

A wave of tiny hand-sized spider came out of the chasm and took a couple of hired warriors by surprise. They were soon covered with spiders. The players decided to wade in and fight instead of run. That mistake was their last. Real torches would have at least let them hold the spiders at bay, but those fancy continual light torches would not. Within three rounds the five PCs and their eight hired warriors were dead. A couple of their hired bearers managed to run away and I arbitrarily decided they made it back to the surface with their terrible news. This will activate the wills left by the PCs which will allow their new characters to start with a few hundred gold pieces each -- even after Baron Smeldley gets his 25% inheritance tax.