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Free 0e Supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome now on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow

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Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome CoverI decided to go ahead and try listing my free games on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. I'm starting by listing my generally forgotten 0e supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome as a test. I listed it yesterday in the afternoon and it already has 31 downloads, so it seems listing items on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow does get them exposed to a different audience.

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is a supplement for 0e games -- either the TSR original or retroclones like Swords & Wizardry (which which it is fully compatible). It is a compilation of my 0e house rules from the late 1970s -- along with a few current day additions. Here's the "product description":

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.


Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is free and is still available in all the usual places, it is just now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

I'd like to thank everyone who replied to my Experiences Publishing Free Games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? post from a couple of weeks ago. Without the information in the replies, I would have never bothered to try this. Thank you very much!

A Microlite7x/81 Games Patreon Account?

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Patreon LogoA couple of my friends have suggested (very strongly suggested in one case) that I set up a Patreon account for my ongoing Microlite7x/81/etc. game design work instead of ongoing donation drives. After looking into Patreon, I am willing to consider giving this a try.

I would release 3-5 updates to the games I'm designing each month (that's 3-5 updates total each month, not 3-5 updates of each game I'm working on) and Patreons would be charged every release I make. Patreons can set a maximum donation limit each month, of course. (These releases would also be available to people who have donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund.) Public Betas and release versions would still be available to everyone for free, of course.

There would also be additional releases of material that would only go to Patreons if certain goals are reached. Special monsters, magic items, classes, etc. for my games that only Patreons would receive. These would sometimes be grouped together with a mini-adventure.

Is this an idea worth doing? If not, I am open to suggestions to make it "better" -- although I am limited as to what I can provide to what I can actually produce.

My wife suggested a separate Patreon campaign to support my photo to line art work. I'd release 10-15 conversions every week with Patreon support. Assuming multiple Patreon accounts are allowed, I will probably do this one. Artwork would still be released to everyone for free, Patreons would just be supporting the work and getting first access to my newest conversions.

OD&D Boxed Set Available as Legal PDF

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OD&DGuess what I just saw on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? The original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed Set (White Box version) is available in PDF for $9.99! Finally. Now they just need the supplements.

More Free Drawings for Old School Games

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A few days ago i posted some line drawings I had converted from public domain illos for old school fantasy games (see Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games). I was asked if I could do modern stuff for games like Shadowrun or Top Secret clones. I played with this in my spare time over the last couple of days and have come up with the following. My technique works for modern stuff but I think I will need to play with it more as it doesn't seem to work as well on modern stuff as I would like. Anyhow, here are a few images I did. The original picture were under a Creative Commons Zero (aka basically public domain) license -- as are my sketch conversions of them.

Image of Alleyway

City Alley


Image of City from Above

City From the Air


Image of City in the Fog

City in the Fog


Image of Factory Floor

Factory Floor


Image of Lab

Scientist working in a Lab


Image of Spacecraft in Orbit

Spacecraft in Orbit


Image of Used Bookstore

Used Bookstore

While I am not as happy with these as I was with the pictures I posted a few days ago, I think I will be able to improve modern conversions with practice. I think part of the problem is there is a lot more "bright and shiny" stuff in modern era photos and that gives my current conversions system issues. I know one of the pictures I tried to convert (but did not post) has lots of problems with the shiny plastic in the chairs people were sitting in.

Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive Drawing Delayed to January 24th

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Tekumel Journal #1 CoverMy wife takes a massive dose of steroids once a month to help her energy levels -- extreme fatigue is one of the many issues MS can cause. Unfortunately, she took them last Friday and experienced a steroid crash over the weekend. As house guests were the last thing she could handle, my Sunday game (and the donor giveaway items drawing to be held during my game) was cancelled. She is finally back to semi-normal this morning, which means it was not as bad for her as it is for some people.

She should finally be starting an expensive MS drug (fortunately almost all of the $5000-$6000 a month the drug costs (of course, it is not covered by insurance) will be covered by the drug company's program for people who aren't rich -- that's most people as few families can afford $60,000+ a year for a single drug. Of course, getting in this program has taken months. With luck this drug should make this monthly dose of steroids unnecessary. I sure hope they do as massive doses of steroids are not good for the human body.

Anyway, the drawings have been rescheduled for next Sunday's game. My apologies to Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund donors who are waiting to see if they are lucky enough to win one of the groups of giveaway items from our Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive.

On another note, my Samsung Tablet seems to be stuck in a bootloop. I rebooted it last night when it would not come out of ultra-low power mode (which I had accidentally turned on by fat-fingering a button). Even more annoying, I had just charged it to 100% and it will now not turn off. So it is sitting at the Samsung logo until it runs out of power. I suspect some of the boot data in the cache partition is corrupt. I've found a reset procedure, but the damn thing needs to be powered off to try it. Worse, it needs to be charged up to 100% before doing this and pushing the three buttons I have to push at the same time to restart it in a the special mode needed to clear the cache partition looks like it will be hard to do just right. If I don't manage, it will just start, be in the bootloop, and I'll have to wait for the battery to run down again. With my klutziness and general poor luck and I can see it taking weeks of this cycle before I manage to hit the buttons just right. I really hope I'm wrong.

Added: I've just been asked if someone donates (or donates more) before Sunday will they get chances in the drawing? I suppose so.

Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games

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If you look at the art in my Microlite75/78/81 games, you've probably noticed that I tend to use public domain line art, either from old books or from the sets of art Sine Nomine Games has released into the public domain. However, this means I end up reusing a lot of art from publication to publication. Given that I can't afford to pay for art as my games are freebies, this probably is not a surprise to many readers.

If I wanted to use photographs, there are literally hundreds of thousands of photo available on the web with Creative Commons Zero or other very liberal Creative Commons-style licenses that allow modification and commercial use. Unfortunately, photos really do not fit the style I'm aiming for. I have been trying programs that convert photos to sketches on and off for several years. Unfortunately, most either are so "sketchy" that you can't tell what the drawing is of or so detailed that they look more like half-toned pictures than line art. However, last week I stumbled on a program on my Android tablet that does a decent job of converting photos to drawings -- especially if I do a bit of pre-processing of the photo before I use the sketch filter.

Here are fifteen examples of photos converted I have converted to drawings by this process. The original photos had a public domain like license (that only prohibited releasing the unaltered photos as a collection). I'd like to know what people think of "drawings" like these for using in old school gaming projects. If people like them and think they would be useful for people who need free art of old school games, I will do more of them in the future. If I did 10 or 15 a week, within a few months, I could have quite a collection available. These samples are suitable for fantasy games, but I would not always limit myself to fantasy.

I understand that these drawings will not appeal to those who believe that every game (even free ones) need original art done especially for that game. However, many hobbyists designing games cannot afford this. Also, note that the originals of these images are much larger and these larger illos would be the ones I make available for people to use in their publications.

Image of Intelligent Critter

Image of Bubble Monster

Image of Building

Image of Walled City on Hill

Image of Dice

Image of a Dungeon Entrance

Image of a Dungeon Entrance

Image of Explorers in Forest

Image of Manor House

Image of Dark Path

Image of Pagoda

Image of Ruins

Image of Spiral Stone Stairs Down

Image of Funeral in Stone

Image of Tiger Guarding Dungeon Entrance

Experiences Publishing Free Games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow?

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DriveThruRPG logoI've been asked why my Microlite74, Microlite78, and Microlite81 games are not available on DriveThruRPG/RPGNet. I was under the impression that OBS (the parent company of those sites) frowned on people who only made free games putting them on their sites. I also thought that they required their PDFs to be formated very differently than mine -- something like the covers (both front and back) have to be before the rest of the book (which seems silly to me as it just makes the book hard to print out). I'm also not a fan of their watermark DRM -- I see no point to it on free stuff like my games.

However, I'll admit that I haven't really looked into this in several years (probably since I released since version 1.1 of Microlite74). If anyone has any recent experiences publishing free games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNet and feels like commenting on how much trouble it is (or isn't) to do so compared to just putting it up on their website, I'd much appreciate it. If you don't want to comment in public, email or a private message on Google+ is okay as well.

Thanks and a tip of my GM Viking Hat in advance!


Imagine#1 CoverThe Winter Holidays (formerly the Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holiday giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $3500 dollars have been donated. That's 100% of our goal, however, any donations made before noon on Sunday, January 17th will still earn chances in the drawings listed above. Donate now before it is too late.

Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive -- Last Chance to Donate and enter the Giveaway Drawings

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Thanks to some extremely generous donations (some from family) the Winter Holidays Fund Drive has reached its goal of $3500. The drawings for the prizes listed below will be held at the next Sunday Game. Barring bad weather or other real life issues issues, that will be this Sunday, January 17th. You can still get a chance in this drawing by donating before noon on Sunday. Every $10 donated gets you one chance in each of the following donor giveaway drawings (and yes, you can win more than one -- I believe it has happened before). Donations of $25 or more also receive a sponsor listing in all the upcoming Microlite75 games.

Here are the groups of items being given away in the upcoming drawings. Each group will go to a lucky donor.

Empire of the Petal Throne BoxDrawing 1: S1 - Tomb of Horrors, S2 - White Plume Mountain, S3 - Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, S4 - The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Drawing 2: All TSR Tekumel games: Empire of the Petal Throne, Legions of the Petal Throne, War of Wizards.

Drawing 3: Gamescience Tekumel Boxed Sets: Swords & Glory Volume 1, Swords & Glory Volume 2.

Tekumel Journal #1 CoverDrawing 4: Imperium Publishing Tekumel games: The Tekumel Journal #1 and #2, Book of Ebon Bindings, MISSUM!

Drawing 5: Adventure Games Teklumel material: Deeds of the Ever-Glorious, Tsolyani Language, Parts 1 and 2, Armies of Tekumel, Vol 1: Tsolyanu, Armies of Tekumel, Vol 2: Yan Kor and Allies.

Drawing 6: TSR early SF/F wargames: Star Probe, Star Empires, Warriors of Mars, Lankhmar, Divine Right.

There will be a separate drawing among only the top donors for a copy of the relatively rare The Artists of TSR portfolio from 1980 (containing two black and white illos from each of the following artists: Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway, Harry Quinn, Jim Roslof, and Tim Truman -- only a couple of hundred copies of this portfolio were printed), a shrinkwrapped copy of FEZ I, and a set of the 30 regular issues of TSR UK's Imagine magazine from the early to mid 1980s.

To get help us pay the medical 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. Every $10 donated gets one chance in the above giveaways. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated (or will donate over the next few days) and made this donation drive a success. If you cannot donate but wish to help, please spread the word about my request and offer. Thank you all very much.


Imagine#1 CoverThe Winter Holidays (formerly the Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holiday giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $3500 dollars have been donated. That's 100% of our goal, however, any donations made before noon on Sunday, January 17th will still earn chances in the drawings listed above. Donate now before it is too late.

Initiative, Healing, and Fairness in Old School D&D

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Microlite75 2.0 CoverI received a complaint about group initiative in my games and in old school style games in general, I suppose. The complaint when like this: when you roll initiative every round it's possible the monsters will get two rounds of attacks in a row before the PCs can take a turn. This is unfair because it means the PCs cannot heal before the monsters get to attack again.

I blinked several times as I read this comment as it was the first time I can ever remember hearing something like this. In combat healing in old school games has always been very rare in my experience. TSR-era healing spells require the cleric to touch the person to be healed in most cases. Healing magic that works at a distance is rare. In games I've ran and played in, clerics healed between combats unless a party member was obvious about to die or something rather than both give up an attack (perhaps more than one if they have to move to the victim to touch them). Healing potions could be taken in combat, but they were always costly and requiring one not to be in melee combat to grab, open, and take safely.

I can see why some would object to rolling initiative every round as it does mean that sometimes one's enemies will get two back-to-back sets of attacks. Of course, it also means that sometimes the PCs will get two back-to-back sets of attacks before their opponents can respond. Real life combat is seldom neat and orderly and rolling initiative every round helps prevent it from being too orderly in the game.

I'm curious about in combat healing in other old school D&D (or D&D-like) games, however. I'd like to hear how often clerics or other healers cure people in the middle of combat in your games.


Imagine#1 CoverThe Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1397 dollars have been donated. That's about 39% of our goal and about 86% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.