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Another TSR Interview: Skip Williams

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Random Wizard has done another good interview with a former TSR employee. This time its Skip Williams talking about his first adventure, his early days at TSR, his thoughts on 4th edition, his recent work for WotC, and what he has been up to lately.

Skip Williams Interview

Skip worked on a lot of 2e and 3e stuff I really did not like, but the interview is an interesting read.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive updated with BONUS giveaway items is on. 12 standard giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive (updated with MORE donor giveaway items for Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of 30 March 2013, $135 has been donated toward the Bonus Items. 27% of that needed for the first set of bonus items and 13% of that needed for the second group of bonus items.

Free Delving Deeper Reference Rules (Version 2) are Now Available

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Delving Deeper Booket 1 CoverImmersive Ink has released the second version of their Delving Deeper reference rules -- a 0e White Box clone that many consider to be the closest set of published retroclone rules to the "three little books" that came in the 0e White Box. This new version incorporates the four pages of version 1 errata released last October into the actual rules.

Delving Deeper is a very nice set of 0e retroclone rules. It is very close clone of the White Box set of rules, even to being published in three booklets. One major addition is the inclusion of an optional thief class. Of course, like every other 0e retroclone out there, the authors cannot help but put their personal interpretation of 0e's less clear rules and obvious omissions into their game, but they were obviously trying to stay very close to the original edition rules.

Delving Deeper is free to download (and even has art, unlike the free versions of some retroclones) and it is almost entirely open game content under the OGL. If you are interested in 0e, Delving Deeper is well worth the download and provides a third choice in the 0e White Box retroclone world, the other major free options being Swords & Wizardry: Whitebox and my own Microlite74 Basic.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive updated with BONUS giveaway items is on. 12 standard giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive (updated with MORE donor giveaway items for Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of 30 March 2013, $135 has been donated toward the Bonus Items. 27% of that needed for the first set of bonus items and 13% of that needed for the second group of bonus items.

New OSR Items for my Collection

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cover picI don't allow my players to buy me Christmas presents because I can't afford to give them any (due to cancer bills and the fact that my wife can no longer work but does not qualify for disability). However, they decided to give me an anniversary present (right) this year. A large collection old school gaming PDFs:

Tome of Horrors Complete - S&W Edition
Monstrosities (also for S&W)
MCMLXXV
Grimmsgate
Blood & Treasure
Stonehell Dungeon
Barrowmaze
Arrows of Indra
A1 Lair of the Goblin King
A2 Lost Treasure of Actzimotal
A3 Hunt for the Ogre Lord
A4 Rise of the Bloodwolf

I have to say from brief glances through these that I am very impressed with Tome of Horrors Complete and Monstrosities. These are very nice monster collections, and entirely OGL as well. Expect to see some of these monsters in Lords & Wizards and in future Microlite74 Companions. I'm also quite impressed with Blood & Treasure. It's a old school "retroclone" written by John Stater (probably best known for Land of Nod) which I had completely missed up until now. I'm looking forward to reading Arrows of Indra, RPGPundit's latest game set in mythic India.

I'd like to thank all the Sunday Game folks for this "anniversary present". Look forward to seeing some of this material in future sessions, especially all those monsters.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive updated with BONUS giveaway items is on. 12 standard giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive (updated with MORE donor giveaway items for Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of 28 March 2013, $90 has been donated toward the Bonus Items. 18% of that needed for the first set of bonus items and 9% of that needed for the second group of bonus items.

Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive Updated (with MORE donor giveaway items)

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This is a update to the Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors) post. If you need more info, please check there. This update adds some new donor giveaway items, among other things.

Pharaoh coverAs most readers know, my wife had oral cancer and that I worked on the original Microlite74 as way to cope during her recovery from 6 weeks of radiation treatment in 2008. 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 and related expenses have cost over $120,000 so far. While almost three-quarters of this has been absorbed by hospital foundations or paid by previous fund drives, monthly payments by us, and the like, we still owe quite a bit. Worse, last month, my wife developed an open sore on her tongue that would not go away. It turned out to be nothing more than a sore (which is now slowly fading away), but it triggered over $1700 in tests and doctor visits. It was a very stressful month and left us with no savings and without money to pay some of our basic bills this month.

Everyone who donates anything at all (even a dollar) to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund gets access to a few special downloads (like pdfs of two 1970s D&D fanzines I edited, a special edition of Microlite74, and more) as described on the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund web page as well as in progress draft downloads of my current projects). However, what you are probably most interested in are the special donor goodies....

Special Donor Goodies for the Brown Box/Wee Warriors RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive (Mainly Original D&D Items)

Anyone who donates during the next month -- now through April 8 11, 2013 -- will be eligible for some extra goodies in addition to the special downloads everyone who donates gets. The following was the original list of items that will be given away:

I've included links to these items on the Tome of Treasures (RPGGeek for the magazines) as some of these items are rare enough that you may not have heard of them. Heck, I had not heard of The Strategic Preview until I saw them in one of the boxes from Jay. The Acaeum has good information as well, but it is more focused on collectible value/printing differences than on what the item actually is about.

The following additional items will be given away provided an additional $500 is donated between now and the end of this donation drive on April 8th 11th:
  • Guidon Games Chainmail 1st printing signed by Gygax and Perrin, good condition (donated by John C.)
  • TSR Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set signed by Barker, excellent condition (donated by John C.)
The following additional items will be given away provided an additional $1000 is donated between now and the end of this donation drive on April 8th 11th:
  • To The Aid of Falx (1981 Tournament printing) signed by Frank Mentzer, good condition (donated by John C.)
  • Daystar West Pharaoh (1980) signed by Laura and Tracy Hickman, good condition (donated by John C.)
These items will be given away to first to high donors (the high donor gets his choice of 3 items, the second highest donor gets his choice of two items from those remaining, the third highest donor gets his choice of one item from those remaining). Any ties will be broken with TSR/OD&D trivia questions. The remaining 6 (or more, if John C.'s goals are meet) items will be raffled off: for every $10 a person donates, they will receive one chance for each item in this raffle. In addition, there will be a few additional "surprise items" raffled off. None of these surprise items are directly related to D&D.

I'd like to thank John C. for offering the new donor items and my Sunday Game players for suggesting the surprise items and donating a few of them.

The combination of items for the three highest donors and raffled items should give everyone a chance at a decent giveaway item, even if they can't afford to donate a lot. As always, everyone who donates any amount (even just a dollar) gets access to these special PDF downloads: The Grimoire #1, The Grimoire #2, Microlite74 2.0 Special Edition, Hidden Valley House Rules (B/X D&D), and more and access to the donor area of the new RetroRoleplaying Forum.

If you would like to help but cannot make a donation, please help spread the word around the blogsphere (and other places). In fact, if you make a post to your blog talking about this fundraising drive and post a link to your post in a comment to this post, we'll give you one entry in the raffle. Note: Your blog will have to have some way for us to email you if you get lucky or will will not be able to get your prize to you. I still have not been able to pass Mind Reading 101.

To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned items), 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. Thanks in advance for any and all help.

Ascending AC is Old School: A Rant

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Different Worlds #7 cover scanI've never understood the hatred some old school players have for ascending armor class any more than I understood the hatred some non-old school players have for descending armor class and/or THAC0. Ascending AC, descending AC with hit tables or descending AC with THAC0 are mathematically equivalent. That is, they all give exactly the same chance to hit for a given class, level, and target's armor class.

I saw all of these methods (and others) used back in the 1970s and early 1980s via house rules. However, I sometimes have trouble convincing people that ascending AC and attack bonuses were ever used back in the days when "old school" was the only school in town. Yesterday I was going through some old RPG magazines and I happened to look at the second part of a variant D&D combat article by John T. Sapienza, Jr. in Different Worlds #7 (the April/May 1980 issue). The first part of the article in the previous issue had tried to regularize the combat charts by using 1D100 instead of 1D20 for attack rolls, as it would allow fighters to improve their attack roll every level -- yet another example of the many different systems different campaigns used.

The second part closed by trying modify the d20 tables to provide at least some of the benefits of the previous issue's D100 system for those who wanted to continue to roll D20s in combat. The article provides such as system then goes on to say:

In fact, under this system it is possible to eliminate the Armor Class number system entirely. You would refer to your armor by its Armor Number: Clothing 10, Padding 11, Leather 12, Cuirboilli 13, Chainmail 14....

Do those Armor Numbers look familiar? They should as they are the same numbers used for Armor Class in the 3.x ascending AC system. Hits were determined by rolling a D20 and added one's Combat Class number to the roll and comparing it to the Armor Number, if the modified number rolled was greater than or equal to the target's Armor Number, the attack resulted in a hit. This "Combat Class number" and the Base Attack Bonus of 3.x are simply two different names for the same thing.

Sapienza even pointed out that this system was...

...a more rational system, since its numbers are directly related to combat function, and its pluses and minuses are actually added or subtracted (respectively) to or from the Armor Number, unlike the Armor Class system (in which a plus is actually subtracted from the Armor Class number, and a minus is actually added to the Armor Class number).

There you have it. Whether you like ascending AC or hate it, ascending AC really isn't a 3.x invention given that the basic system was printed in an article in a professional RPG publication in 1980. The point of this rant isn't that ascending AC is old school so old school players should not object to using it, but that there really was a huge variety in variant D&D rules in the first ten years or so of play and that claiming that ascending AC, spell points, or whatever else you do not personally like would have been considered badwrongfun/"not really D&D" by most D&D players back then simply is not true. Very little was considered "not really D&D" by most players at the time. Trying to claim otherwise is just as much revisionist history as 4e players trying to claim that OD&D combat was fought on grids with minis by most players.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome Reviewed

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I was going through my RSS feed today and discovered that JB has already written a review of Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome at his B/X Blackrazor blog. Go and give it a read -- and take a look at some of his other blog posts. B/X Blackrazor is one of my favorite blogs. There's a lot of good stuff there.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!


Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome (House Rules for 0e) Available For Free Download

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Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome: House Rules for 0e Games is now available for free download. I'll probably find a few more typos and other minor issues over the next week, if I find enough, I'll release a version 1.01 later in the month. But I don't expect to find anything truly major -- at least I hope I don't.

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome: House Rules for 0e Games is written for use with any 0e game, the original TSR 1974 edition, Swords & Wizardry, etc. It will probably also work with only minor changes for B/X-based editions. The PDF file is can be printed as a 40 page booklet using Acrobat Reader's booklet printing feature. Here's the blurb from the back cover of Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome: House Rules for 0e Games:

Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is a set of house rules for the original 1974 (0e) version of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game (and modern clones, like Swords & Wizardry). These house rules are modern renditions of the house rules the author used with his original edition games in the 1970s.

Some of house rules included:

• A simple “skills” system based on class and background instead of lists of skills
• A Hit Point/Body Point system where Hit Points represent fatigue and Body Points represent actual wounds.
• Ritual Magic
• An alternate alignment system
• Critical Hits and Critical misses
• A class based weapon damage system that ends class weapon restrictions.
• An optional Armor system that ends class restrictions on wearing armor
• An optional class: the Mnemonic Mage
• Optional Divine Intervention rules

This digest-sized edition of Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is designed to be printed double-sided using the booklet-printing feature of Adobe Acrobat, the pages can be folded and stapled to create a “0e” style digest-sized booklet.

You can download a free copy of Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome from this Mediafire link. It's a 40 page PDF. The file size is just over 1 meg.

Download Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Adding the Mnemonic Mage Class to Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome

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Mazirian stroked his chin. Apparently he must capture the girl himself. Later, when black night lay across the forest, he would seek through his books for spell to guard him through the unpredictable glades. They would be poignant corrosive spells, of such nature that one would daunt the brain of an ordinary man and two render him mad. Mazirian, by dint of stringent exercise, could encompass four of the most formidable, or six of the lesser spells.

--- Jack Vance, The Dying Earth, Chapter 2: "Mazirian the Magician"
Standard magic in TSR D&D is based loosely on the way magic works in The Dying Earth stories by Jack Vance (and others) in that casters must memorize their spells and they forget them when cast. However, the spells in D&D are generally weaker than those in Vance's stories, there were many more "levels" of spells, and powerful caster's could memorize large numbers of them. When we switched to a spell point system with my Body Point and Hit Point rules, one of my players, who was a Dying Earth fan, suggested adding a separate class, the Mnemonic Mage, which would be somewhat closer to Vance's actual system as an alternative magic-user. After comparing the mages in The Dying Earth (at least those where the stories mentioned the number of spells they could hold in their minds), we decided that Mazirian was an 11th level character and built the system around that. Turning D&D's nine levels of spells into two simply did not work, so we ended up with five.

Amazingly, the class worked well. Mnemonic mages could memorize only a very small number of spells, but they had access to more powerful spells right off the bat -- assuming they had them in their spell books, of course. Unfortunately, the class would probably not be popular among modern D&D players as a Mnemonic mage runs out of spells very quickly if played like a combat machine and would therefore be considered "useless" by many and require a "15 minute workday" to be playable. Old school players should not have this problem so I've decided to include this class in the Optional Rules section of Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome. The complete version will be there, but here is the essence of the spell memorization part of the system.

A Mnemonic Mage has his level + 1 memory slots.

Spells are divided into groups that require different numbers of memory slots to hold in memory:

Minor Spells - 1 memory slot (1st and 2nd level magic-user spells)
Lesser Spells - 2 memory slots (3rd and 4th level magic-user spells)
Greater Spells - 3 memory slots (5th and 6th level magic-user spells)
Extraordinary Spells - 5 memory slots (7th and 8th level magic-user spells)
Most Extraordinary spells - 10 memory slots (9th level magic-user spells)

Assuming Mazirian is 11th level in this system, he would have 12 memory slots which would allow his mind to hold 4 Greater Spells or 6 Lesser spells -- just as he can in Vance's story.

1st level mages start with spell books holding 3 minor, 2 lesser, and 1 greater spell. The player may select two of the minor spells, the others are selected by the GM by whatever method he wishes. Of course, they only have 2 memory slots at first level so their minds can only hold 2 minor or one lesser spell.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome for 0e: Planned Contents

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As mentioned in this post, Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome will be a free PDF supplement for 0e and 0e retroclones. Here's a list of the planned contents:

  • Characters
    • General Stat Bonus
    • Arcane Caster Special Abilities
    • Divine Caster Special Abilities
    • Backgrounds
    • Skills
    • Alignment
    • Body Points, Hit Points, and Healing
  • Magic
    • Spell Knowledge
    • Direct Spell Casting
    • Ritual Magic
    • Counterspells
  • Combat
    • Combat Stance
    • Critical Hits
    • Critical Misses
    • Combat Maneuvers
    • Special Combat Situations
    • Special Shield Defense
    • Weapon Damage
  • Monsters
    • Monster Reactions
    • Mooks (aka "Cannon Fodder")
  • Optional Rules
    • Character Goals and Personality Traits
    • Strike Speed Initiative and Action Order
    • Armor for Everyone
    • Deities and Divine Intervention
Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is still on schedule for release early next week (late Sunday is still the target date).


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Huge List of Swords & Wizardry Resources

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Matt Finch has updated his Giant List of Swords & Wizardry Resources. There are a lot of new items, both free and paid. If you are even remotely interested in Swords & Wizardry, go take a look. All of these resources could easily be used with the real 0e, Microlite74, or other 0e clones -- or with a little work with any Old School originals/clones.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Quick Project: Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome for 0e

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I'm working on a very quick project that I hope to have out by Sunday (or early next week at the latest). Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is a quick conversion of my house rules for 0e from 1977 or so to modern versions of 0e like Swords & Wizardry. Many of these rules have appeared in Microlite74 Extended, but the versions in Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome will be specifically written for "standard" 0e games. While the rules in Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome will change 0e enough that some players today will probably decree that games played with these house rules are not "Real 0e", back in the late 1970s few people would have thought considered the house rules all that strange. There was a lot of variety in 0e from table to table and these house rules would just be another example of that.

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome will be a free PDF formatted for digest-sized printing.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Microlite74 Extended Digest-Sized Special (Donor) Edition Volume 3 Available

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I'd added a third volume to the digest-sized special edition of Microlite74 Extended. This volume adds details on treasure. This new third volume, like the first two (which can rules and spells/monsters), is available to anyone who has ever donated to the Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund. All three volumes are available for download from the donor download area and are locked with the password emailed to all donors. This third volume is formatted to match the first two volumes and has more of Håkan Ackegård's excellent art. The third volume is 52 pages and is just over 1 meg. Adding this third volume gives donors a complete 0e game in three digest-sized, illustrated booklets covering rules, spells, monsters, and treasure. The booklets are single column and use a larger font than the standard versions of Microlite74.

Donors can download this new third "special edition" volume directly by using this link. Note that the donor password will be required.

Microlite74 Extended Special Edition Volume 3


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells Now Available for Free Download

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Microlite74 Companion V CoverI'm pleased to be able to announce that the fifth Microlite74 Companion volume is now available for free download. This volume completes my current Microlite74 projects. There probably will be more Microlite74 Companion volumes in the future, but for now I will be switching most of my game design efforts to my new project, Lords & Wizards.

Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells provides more detailed descriptions of spells and provides many new spells similar to those in the first edition of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG. Using the spells in this companion volume instead of the ones in the Microlite74 Standard or Extended rules will make your game more similar the First Edition (1e) than the Original Edition (0e), especially when combined with monsters from Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters. Most of these spells are suitable for use with either the Standard, or Extended versions of Microlite74. With care some can be used with the Basic version of Microlite74. Healing spells list alternative effects for the Basic/Standard HP system and for the Extended HP/BP system.

You can download a free copy of Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells from Mediafire. It is a 52 page PDF file and is about 1.5 megs -- mainly due to the public domain illos.

Download Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters Now Available for Free Download

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Microlite74 Companion IV CoverI'm happy to announce that the fourth Microlite74 Companion volume is now available for free download -- and pretty much on time (for once).

Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters contains descriptions of a large number of 0e and 1e monsters, including demons and devils. These descriptions are somewhat more detailed than those included in the Microlite74 rules. These monsters are usable with any version of Microlite74 3.0 including Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended and the Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition.

You can download a free copy of Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters from Mediafire. It is a 60 page PDF file and is about 2 megs -- mainly due to the public domain illos.

Download Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters

Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells should be available for download tomorrow or Sunday.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Finally on Google Plus

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I've finally broken down and created a Google Plus account. I'm Randall Stukey there -- what a surprise, I know. Like with Facebook, I've had to be dragged kicking and screaming to Google Plus. Mainly because it seems like most of the Swords & Wizardry community has moved there, to the point that the original Swords & Wizardry forum seems pretty dead. As usual, I'm fairly clueless about using Google Plus and probably will take a good while to buy a clue. It took me over a year to really get the hang of Facebook. One thing I do like about Google Plus is that its interface seems much less cluttered than Facebook.

In summary, for what it's worth, I'm on Google Plus. If you have been looking for me, you should be able to find me. At least I hope you can.n I'm not sure I could find you. I have found the Swords & Wizardry community, however, so I'm good. What else should I do (and please point me to directions on how to do it). For example, I know there is supposed to be a way to connect this blog to my Google Plus account, but I can't figure out how.

Update on the Ernie Gygax Fund Drive: I'm not sure how well we did because I'm waiting for a couple of foreign echecks to clear -- both from countries with less than stellar reps hacker-wise. Without either of these checks, we did not do too good, less than 20% of what we raised for Karen last year. If the larger of these echecks clears, we'll do much better, but will still fall far short what we managed to raise for Karen last May.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items) are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

More TSR Interviews: James Ward and Rick Krebs

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Random Wizard has done another set of very interesting interviews with former TSR employees, both friends of Gary Gygax. This time James Ward (author of Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World) talks about Gary,and working at TSR. Rick Krebs (author of GangBusters) talks about Gary, the development process of Gangbusters, and the role of computers with RPGs.

James Ward Interview

Rick Krebs Interview

Our current Cancer Fund drive continues (see below). Don't forget that all donations between now and 9pm Monday evening will be split between the cancer fund and the Ernie Fire Relief Trust Fund (for Ernie Gygax) counting for our giveaway items as explained in this post: Help Gary Gygax's Son Ernie Recover From A House Fire. To be honest, however, any donations made before I get up tomorrow morning will be included in this combined drive. I'll either brain dead from my sinus headache by 9pm tonight or so doped up on sinus meds that I might as well be brain dead and will have to put off handling donations until morning. You can thank the 20-30 mph winds I had to be out in this morning for this.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items) are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!




Spiderman (Almost) Wins White Box OD&D

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It took longer than I expected to get five donors to give me a number between 1 and 100 -- different numbers between 1 and 100, that is. Last night, I finally had them so I emailed Todd to tell him he could finally select the winning number in our Second OD&D Giveawy announced last weekend. Thursday evening, just as I was about to shut the PC down for the night, I got an email from Todd with the winning number. Like a fool I decided to answer the email before I shut down instead of waiting for morning.

To understand how foolish this was, you have to understand that I am a real morning person. I wake up and am ready to take on the world by 6:30am. By 9pm or so, there is little sign of intelligent life -- at least if you judge by how many errors I can make. So it's about 10:15pm Friday and I shoot Todd a quick email with the winner's name and email. At least that's what I intended to do. Judging by the email I found in my inbox Friday morning, I failed. It wasn't an epic fail, just a very humorous one:

P Parker? Seriously? If you are serious, I'll need an email address unless it's spiderman@marvel.com

I'm not quite sure how I managed to type "P Parker" or why I did not include an email address. Just one of those morning person working at night brain farts, I guess. Our actual winner was B. Parks from Indiana, whose guess of 33 was only four off from the winning number of 29. Todd has been in touch with him and he'll be meeting Todd to pick up his set of OD&D goodies Sunday. It turns out he lives only about a two hour drive from Todd and does not want to wait for the mail so they are doing a Sunday lunch meetup. Congratulations to B. Parks and thanks again for your donation. And a big thank you to Todd for providing the giveaway items!

All is well that ends well -- but the silly part of me thinks it would have been neat if Spiderman had actually won.

We still have more goodies to give away in this donation drive as explained below. And donated forget that all donations between now and 9pm Monday evening will be split between the cancer fund and the Ernie Fire Relief Trust Fund (for Ernie Gygax) counting for our giveaway items as explained in my post from last night: Help Gary Gygax's Son Ernie Recover From A House Fire.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items) are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Help Gary Gygax's Son Ernie Recover From A House Fire

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I'm sure almost everyone in the Old School Gaming Community has held that in mid-February Ernest "Ernie" Gary Gygax Jr. (pictured at right) had a house fire at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He, his room mate Scott, and his dog were all okay, but lost all of their possessions in the fire. Luke Gygax reported "Well the good news is Ernie and his roommate escaped the fire that destroyed their quarters this morning. The bad news is that they could not save any of their personal effects. Ernie is currently not working and on disability (deteriorating knees forced him out of his job at Abbott Labs). So this is a tough time to lose possessions, let alone all the irreplaceable games and memorabilia that he had in the house. Keep him in your thoughts. I will see if he is willing to ask for help (paypal or something) to get him through this challenging time."

Ernie and Scott were renting the house. As I understand it, Ernie had insurance that will cover some things (like his computer) but doesn't cover many "personal possessions" while Scott had none. Unfortunately, nothing can replace the original works of his father (Gary Gygax) that Ernie had -- even if his insurance would have covered them. A fund, the Ernie Fire Relief Trust Fund, has been set up to help Ernie (and Scott) replace their personal possessions by the folks at Gygax Magazine.

Last year, we managed to raise quite a bit of money to help a former TSR staff member save her house from repossession save her house from repossession with a combined Cancer Fund/Save a House fund drive. I'm hoping we can do the same for Ernie Gygax and his roommate this weekend.

For the next 72 hours or so (say until 9pm CDT Monday evening -- March 4th, the 5th anniversary of Gary's death) any money donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund will be split 50/50 (after Paypal fees, if any) between the Ernie Fire Relief Trust and the cancer fund. Donors will still get full credit for their total donation in chances to win one of the giveaway items available in our current Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive (these include a 3rd Printing Brown Box OD&D set and all of the rare Wee Warriors D&D products, follow the link for more info) and the full dollar amount given will count toward the largest donations for the "high donor" items. To make this clear, let's say you donate $50 and there are no Paypal fees (as you donated from your Paypal balance), I'll pass $25 on to the Ernie Fire Relief Trust Fund and add $25 to the Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund. You'd get 5 chances in the drawings and the full $50 would count toward being one of the highest donors in our current Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund drive -- and, of course, access to the special downloads available to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors.

So here's a chance to help two decent causes with one donation. If you can spare a ten or a twenty, or even more, it will help so much. You'll help Ernie Gygax and Scott recover from a house fire that destroyed almost everything they had and my wife and I will pay off more cancer bills. To donate and help Ernie Gygax and his roommate, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- via Paypal before 9pm CDT Monday evening (March 4th). If you can't donate, good thoughts and prayers for Ernie and Scott are more than welcome. Please spread the word about the Ernie Fire Relief Trust Fund and our fund drive.



cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items) are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!


Beefing Up the Fighter Option II

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As I mentioned in my Beefing Up the Fighter -- Option I post on February 26th:

Many people seem to think the D&D Fighter class is too weak, especially at higher levels. While I think this is less true in TSR versions of D&D, many people disagree. I've come up with two simple options for beefing up the damage a Fighter does, especially at higher levels. Neither has been playtested, but both look good on paper. If you feel the fighter needs beefing up, you might want to give one of these options a try. Both options are designed with old school D&D in mind, they would probably need modification to work in 3.x and might not even make sense in 4e.

In my Beefing Up the Fighter -- Option I, I gave a simple Weapon Mastery rule that raises the amount of damage a fighter does with selected weapons as he gains levels. Today I have a different way of beefing up the Fighter, special rules for critical hits. This rule assumes that you define a critical hit as rolling a natural 20 that would otherwise hit) and that a critical ht does double damage. If critical hits work differently in your campaign and you wish to use this rule, you will have to adjust to to fit your critical hit rules.

Fighter Critical Hits: While a non-Fighter character critical hits for double damage on a natural attack roll of 20 (that would otherwise hit), when a fighter scores a critical hit and its effects depend on the fighter's level:
  • At level 1-5, a fighter scores a Critical Hit on a natural roll of 19 or 20 that otherwise would hit. On a natural 19 roll critical hit, the fighter does 2x damage. On a natural 20 roll critical hit, the fighter does 2x damage and gets a second free attack against that opponent..
  • At level 6-10, a fighter scores a Critical Hit on a natural roll of 18 through 20 that otherwise would hit. On a natural 18 roll critical hit, the fighter does 2x damage. On a natural 19 roll critical hit, the fighter does 3x damage. On a natural 20 roll critical hit, the fighter does 3x damage and gets a second free attack against that opponent.
  • At level 11-15, a fighter scores a Critical Hit on a natural roll of 17 through 20 that otherwise would hit. On a natural 17 roll critical hit, the fighter does 2x damage. On a natural 18 roll critical hit, the fighter does 3x damage. On a natural 19 roll critical hit, the fighter does 4x damage. On a natural 20 roll critical hit, the fighter does 4x damage and gets a second free attack against that opponent.
  • At level 16 or higher, a fighter scores a Critical Hit on a natural roll of 16 through 20 that otherwise would hit. On a natural 16 roll critical hit, the fighter does 2x damage. On a natural 17 roll critical hit, the fighter does 3x damage. On a natural 18 roll critical hit, the fighter does 4x damage. On a natural 19 roll critical hit, the fighter does 5x damage. On a natural 20 roll critical hit, the fighter does 5x damage and gets a second free attack against that opponent.
Note: Only the Fighter class should get Weapon Mastery. Fighter sub-classes or other fighter-like classes should not.

Like the Weapon Mastery rule, the Fighter Critical Hits rule has the effect of ramping up the damage a Fighter can do as his level increases. The Weapon Mastery rule give the fighter more predictable high damage per round when he is using a mastered weapon. The Fighter Critical Hits has a much more variable effect on the amount of damage a fighter will do with a single attack, but it applies to any weapon the fighter uses. The second option looks more complex, but I think it is more "very wordy to describe" than it is much more complex.

If I were going to use one of these rules in my campaign, I'd likely pick the Weapon Mastery rule. Every campaign is different, however, and I can thing of campaigns and player groups where the Fighter Critical Hits rule might work better. Remember, however, that I'm not convinced that the fighter in early D&D really needs to be beefed up.


cover scanThe Brown Box/Wee Warriors Cancer Fund Drive is on. 12 giveaway items (including a third printing Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors items) are available. High Donors will get get six (their choice), the rest will be raffled off with each $10 donating giving you one chance. You can see the complete list of 12 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: Brown Box D&D and Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!