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Preview: The Underdark Gazette

The Underdark Gazette is Closing on January 2, 2012!

Please update your links to my new blog at

Updated: 2012-01-02T19:55:58.301-06:00


Closing Today


The Underdark Gazette will go Down, sometime after 11:00 PM, Central Time, this evening. Please, if you would be so kind, update your links to my new blog at:

Anything I think of particular interest will be archived at the new blog. I'm not deleting this one yet, but it will be closed to the general public.

A big thanks to everyone who has visited, commented, linked, shouted out and encouraged me, during the run  of the Underdark Gazette.

The OSR News at Dreams of Mythic Fantasy


Please update any links, etc., to my new blog Dreams of Mythic Fantasy. The Underdark Gazette will be closing on Jan. 2, 2012.

The OSR News - Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick Question for Encounter Critical Gurus


(image) I recently became aware of and found a link to the Opponent Opuscule.

I don't know much about the provenance of this document and wanted to make sure it was kosher to link it in the News.

Because it's one of the most awesome Monster Manuals I've ever seen! :)

The Underdark Gazette is Moving!

The Underdark Gazette is Moving!


Actually, the Underdark Gazette is closing. The OSR News and everything else I post, is moving.

When I first started this blog, I didn't think that WotC might have trademarked the word Underdark. In fact, I've seen other game companies use the word, even in titles. Not long afterwards, I did discover that this was, indeed, the case, but wasn't too concerned, mainly because I never envisioned the blog lasting so long, or that it would become so successful.

So. What with the direction intellectual property law is moving in this country, as well as other sorts of overall restraints the current situation creates, I will be closing The Underdark Gazette on January 2, 2012.

Until then, posts will appear on both blogs, save for the News, which will have a pointer link from the Gazette.

The Underdark Gazette will be locked, but will escape nuking, for a while. Any posts I think, or am told are particularly useful will migrate over. The News posts, will be archived in PDF form and made available for download, as I occasionally find them useful for research purposes and others may likewise benefit.

The new blog is Dreams of Mythic Fantasy.

On the bright side, moving everything over occasioned a long overdue link house-cleaning.

Everyone's blog is on the new roll, save for a few that haven't been updated in forever. If your OSR blog is missing, was never there in the first place, or is one of the abandoned blogs, but you're about to start posting again, let me know and I'll add you.

And here is where I need a favor from all of you guys. If you would update your links and blogrolls with the new Blog, Dreams of Mythic Fantasy, that would be fantastic.

If you would also follow the new blog, that would be awesome. And really brighten my day. :)

Thanks to everyone who's read, followed, linked, talked about, commented and spread the word about The Underdark Gazette. I'm aiming to make the new blog even better, in every way I can!

Bryce is doing a Module Auction and ERP has a Sorcery & Super Science Sale!


Bryce Lynch of has been doing a ton of reviews! Now, he's auctioning off a bunch of print copies, to raise funds for his next round. Highlights include the complete run of Expeditious Retreat Press' Advanced Adventures Line. Bidding on that one starts at $50. Buncha other stuff, most with starting bids of $2.

And speaking of ERP, Joseph Browning has put the entire Sorcery & Super Science PDF line on sale for $1 each! This is a one day sale, in honor of his birthday. Happy Birthday, Joseph!

"If I Roll a 1, I think it should hit the kid!"


Many years ago, not too far from the end of the Kastmaria Campaign.

Sascha the Archmage, Queen of Korocia was in her private study, attempting to unlock the mysteries of The Orb of Ithquaris. The Orb, an Artifact created by the god of magic himself, was a highly dangerous little toy. Intelligent, holding a potentially limitless power to Alter Reality and designed to eventually, permanently merge its own consciousness, with that of its wielder, the Orb could possibly, totally subsume Sascha's personality.

Sascha was holding her infant in her arms as she went about her studies.

Suddenly, Balston the Usurper, Dwarven King of Korocia, burst into his human queen's study, the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords in hand. He then proceeds to demand that his wife give up the highly unstable Orb.

Which, considering what the Axe was doing to him, was more than a little hypocritical. And considering that his wife was the most powerful Archmage in the world, it was also more than a little futile.

But, since his Int was all of a 7...

When married couples argue it can get messy. When both husband and wife are powerful personages, in a fantasy world, it can get dangerous. When this power couple is actually a pair of AD&D PC's, it can also get hilarious!

Sascha told her husband to go to hell!

Player/Balston to DM: "I throw the Axe at her!"

Player/Sascha: "I'm holding the baby!"

Player/Balston, smiling to DM: "If I Roll a 1, I think it should hit the kid!"

Me/DM: "Ok. Sounds good!"

The DM and all five players at the table, think this idea is funny as hell.

Me/DM: "Roll initiative!"

Balston wins, hurls the Axe and...

Rolls a bloody 1!

How perfect was that!

The Axe bites into the skull of the infant, killing it instantly. Sascha teleports out, as the Axe returns to the King.

Everyone laughs their asses off!

Sascha gets her son resurrected. There being a 20+ level PC Cleric in the party, whose god was the same as Balston's and had specific schemes in mind, regarding the young prince, made this a virtual fait accompli. 

It is, perhaps, worthy of note that there was never any question of the party bouncing back from this incident, even if Balston had killed Sascha, or vice versa. No one was trying to permanently remove anyone else's PC, from the game.

Hurling the Axe at his wife, was certainly something the Deranged King might do.

But Joey, who ran Balston, was far too excellent a player, to want to permanently remove a PC, which Rachel had invested some 4,000+ hours into running.

He would never have let "what my character would do," interfere with what we actual people were doing. He ran his PC, not the other way around. 

Help Bail Out the Warden and Jeremy will Hook You Up with OSRIC


Jeremy Deram of People them with Monsters is giving away a brand new Black Blade OSRIC HC, to the first person who matches his donation of $100, to help out Jim Ward. Click the link above for details. It's a great cause. And the BB OSRIC HC is very, very Nice!

Chaosium's Thieves World Box Set!


"Oh, OK. I'll be polite here. TSR in those days was largely run by the Blums, a rather ruthless and careless administration.""They published the first edition of the book (wasn't it called Gods, Demigods and Heroes?) with both Moorcock's Elric and Lovecraft's Cthulhu materials in it. Well, Chaosium owned the licence to both of those works at the time, and so I wrote to TSR and brought it to their attention. "At that time I was doing the first multi-game supplement, Thieves' World. I wanted to capure all the existing games at that time, figuring it would be of curiosity interest in the future for people to compare the original systems. Of course, I wanted to have all the games in it, but TSR was famously reluctant to let anyone use their TM. "Well, since they had violated my TM, I offered to let them keep using it if I, in turn, could use D&D and AD&D in TW. They agreed, we had contracts drawn up, etc. "Then their next edition cut it all out! I was curious about it, and called their PR department (without giving my name.) They said they didn't want those in their books because they wanted to avoid any hint of satanic stuff (which was hot at the time.)"That's what I was told at the time. You can ask me in private if I beleive it.""I had met Robert at a game of SF convention. He told me how his TW project had come about because he had played roleplaying games. One day he and a bunch of writers were complaining how difficult it is to make up a new fantasy setting every time they wanted to write a story, and he suggested the series, with him as the co-ordinator (GM) and everyone could contribute, as long as they followed the rule (i.e.- no killing each others main characters, etc.)"Well, I thought, “Hey, let’s turn it back into an RPG then!” I worked with Bob and Lynn and got the license. I wanted to keep the whole spirit of cooperation, and I knew it could be a fantastic example of the “early days” of RPG if I did it right. I wanted it to have all the major systems extant at the time, so later folks could compare them and write a master’s thesis or something, after RPG gaming took over the world entertainment. "The industry was small in those days. I knew everyone involved, and set to to get licenses from everyone. I got ahold of almost all the original authors of the products to contribute. But I nearly had a breakdown with all the hassles, though. Seven companies, nine games, nine game authors, five fiction writers, a bunch of artists, and just about 300 egos. I’ve related above how I managed to get the then-impossible TSR to let me use their license."Thieves World is one of my proudest achievements from the early days. It was the first multi-game product, and encompassed just about everyone, and a pretty nice product."---- Greg Stafford from a thread at The AcaeumThieves World I was blessed with a father who voraciously collected fantasy, horror and science fiction novels. Also, Heavy Metal, Epic Illustrated and The Savage Sword of Conan magazines, as well as comic books and other interesting media. He was never reticent to share this bounty with his son and well before I discovered D&D, my imagination was being fired by a rather respectable collection of swords & sorcery, high adventure, weirdness and titillating fantasy illustrations, published during the 60's, 70's and early 80's. So, while most of my contemporaries in the south, were learning how to rebuild automobile engines and hunt wild animals, I was in my father's room, listening to his KISS, CCR, and Black Sabbath records and reading Vampirella, Ace Conan's, etc., and on one occasion, noticing a book with a rather evocative title: Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn ed. by Robert Lynn Asprin. A title bound to catch the attention of a 14 year old, for sure. I quickly ascertained that this was the 2nd bo[...]

And Now, We Join a D&D Session, In Progress...


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So, What D&D Character Am I?


You Are A:Neutral Good Human Sorcerer/Rogue (3rd/2nd Level) Ability Scores: Strength- 12 Dexterity- 11 Constitution- 11 Intelligence- 17 Wisdom- 15 Charisma- 14 Alignment: Neutral Good- A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable. Race: Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like. Primary Class: Sorcerers- Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast. Secondary Class: Rogues- Rogues have little in common with each other. While some - maybe even the majority - are stealthy thieves, many serve as scouts, spies, investigators, diplomats, and simple thugs. Rogues are versatile, adaptable, and skilled at getting what others don't want them to get. While not equal to a fighter in combat, a rogue knows how to hit where it hurts, and a sneak attack can dish out a lot of damage. Rogues also seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to avoiding danger. Experienced rogues develop nearly magical powers and skills as they master the arts of stealth, evasion, and sneak attacks. In addition, while not capable of casting spells on their own, a rogue can sometimes 'fake it' well enough to cast spells from scrolls, activate wands, and use just about any other magic item. Huh. But, I don't play 3e. And my Dex. sucks. I'm apparently going for some artsy-fartsy role-playing thing.[...]

Need a Favor: Serious Question for all you DM's Out There


I'm doing some market research.

If you've got the time, could you give me a quick list of your top 10 favorite OSR products? Not counting rule-sets? For pay or free.

It's ok to list less than 10, if you would prefer.

Either a blog post, or leaving info in the comments here would be fine, though I would appreciate it if you dropped a quick comment to let me know you're making a post of it. Just to make sure I don't miss anything.

Thanks a million!

May the Gaming Gods Help me, I'm Working on a Monk Class


From Wikimedia Commons. Publicity Still
in the PD, if you need an illo of a Monk
Master of the Deadly Vibration*: 

At 13th level, the Monk achieves mastery of his Martial Art and the secrets of Ki, earning the power of The Deadly Vibration.

To use this ability, he makes a series of special attacks, aimed at three specific Pressure Point within a single victim. He must hit all three Points in the span of three rounds.**

The attacks themselves will do no damage. When all three Pressure Points have been hit, then a disharmonious vibration will be set into motion, resulting in the victim's death in 1d3 rounds. The victim's body will try to right itself and he will receive a Saving Throw vs. Death. If successful, the Monk may not try to use this ability on the same opponent again, for a period of one day.

A lesser form of the Deadly Vibration may also be used, which will, if the victim fails his Save, merely result in Paralysis. The paralysis will take effect immediately and last 2d6 Turns.

Neither form of the power may be used on undead, or creatures which may only be hit by magical weapons. The Deadly Vibration may be used at the Monk's discretion.

*I was going for a more or less generic sounding name for this ability, as I'm not tying the class to a specific setting and have no particular Monkish Flavor in mind, beyond that suggested by the picture above.

**At 13th Level, this Monk makes two attacks per round.

I love the idea of the Monk. Really dislike the AD&D & AEC implementation. 

OSR News from the Underdark Gazette - Thursday, November 10, 2011


Pre-orders!  Crypts & Things by Newt Newport. D101 Games. Pre-order. There's 22 days left to get in on the Pre-order. The Goal has already been met! Woo-hoo and congratulations Mr. Newport! Crypts & Things is a Swords and Sorcery game based upon the class/level based Old School roleplaying game rules from the late 1970s, with the rules modified to emphasise the genre in play.Its a game where the players play Barbarians, Fighters, Magicians, and Thieves struggling to survive in the dying world of Zarth. Looting long dead cities, tombs and battling Serpent Men and their demonic allies. It is a world where action and exotic adventure is the name of the game.It takes its inspiration form the works of Clark Ashton Smith, HP Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard and the gaming material of the early British role-playing publications of the 70s-80s.It is 150 pages long and is copiously illustrated with black and white pictures.Right now, $10 will get you the PDF. $30 will get you a Softcover and PDF. $40 will get you a Hardcover and PDF. There's some higher tiers, with additional goodies! And those prices include shipping! The first module, Blood of the Dragon will be sent out if the Pre-order exceeds its goal (and it has.) See the page for further details. I'm getting this! S&W based? Check! Uses Akrasia's Houserules? Check! Gets rid of the Cleric? Check! Not that I'm Anti-Cleric, but I really like the idea of having a more Swords & Sorcery oriented version of the game, all prepped up and ready to run! The Hyborian Age calls, as always. Maybe I'll finally get around to writing that Conan supplement/hack that's been on my mind for a while. Or, at the very least get some use out of my Mongoose Road of Kings book. See the video flip-thru will provide some more info. And here's a PDF preview.  Delving Deeper RPG Boxed Set pre-orders! $39.95 ($49.95 after November 15, 2011.) The sets will be shipping the week of November 20th. Delving Deeper RPG closely emulates the rules of the earliest version of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Go back to a time when every weapon did d6 damage, clerics could cast no spell at first level, only fighters could use magic swords, and if you wanted a locked door opened you had to bash the thing in! It is difficult to imagine in a world where multiple, weighty tomes comprise the rules; but this single, small book contains all you need to build a campaign that can span decades of real time! If you’re tired of trying to find the rule for determining whether your fighter is left-handed and is able to swim and just want to kill some goblins, have we got a game for you!This Boxed Set Contains everything you need to play: Volume One: Forging a Hero Volume Two: Codex of the Divine and the Arcane Volume Three: Index of the Fiendish and Malign Volume Four: Vault of Treasures Volume Five: Delving Deeper and Blazing New Trails Robert Conley’s, Blackmarsh Campaign Setting Alchemical Synergy: A S&W:Whitebox Player’s Guide for Delving Deer RPG A set of nine dice (3d6, 2d10, 1d20, 1d12, 1d8, 1d4) A pad of 25 digest character sheets. Tome of Adventure Design by Matt Finch. Frog God Games. The Hardcover is available for Pre-Order for $42 and comes with the PDF, which you can download immediately. The PDF alone is $21.Here's some words from Matt on the subject (follow this link for directions to a free preview PDF: At long last, my Tome of Adventure Design (originally the Adventure Design Deskbooks) is up and ready for sale at Frog God Games. It's a quarter century worth of tables and a couple of places where I fleshed out some "Notes to Self" that were in the 3-ring binders along with the tables. Peop[...]

Attention: An Open Letter to OSR Publishers


I will never again order a Hardcover product you've published, if it's coming from Lulu. Period.

I am sick and disgusted by yet again, really looking forward to enjoying an item, only to have it arrived fucked up, bent and with an utterly shitty glue/binding job.

If a bookseller at a physical location tried to sell me an item like the one I received today I would laugh my ass off and tell him to go to hell!

Now, I get to deal with the utterly tedious process, that is Lulu Support. The last time, my replacement item was every bit as fucked up as the original and I just gave up.

This is the fifth such book, that those bastards have had the temerity to mail to my address!

I've got three more, with merely piss-poor, loose binding jobs. I was willing to deal with those, though, I bloody damn well shouldn't have been willing to do anything of the sort! But, binding that's just shoddy, is typical enough in RPG books, nowadays. Bloody, fucking hell!

There's three other times, where Lulu has gotten it right enough, that I didn't feel like I was being taken advantage of.

Three times out of eleven I was pleased. Three times, I was willing to settle for what I got. Five times, Lulu's service was totally, completely, unacceptable.

I certainly don't expect perfection from POD. And very, very few publishers of any sort, go to the trouble of crafting a decent book anymore. But this repeated, egregiously slipshod quality control from Lulu is one bit of bullshit, I refuse to put up with, any longer. They have, to my mind, proven themselves unwilling to go to the trouble of producing even an acceptable low-quality hardcover with anything, anywhere near consistency.

I am not blaming anyone but Lulu here, but I would urge you to look into other options, when it comes to POD. Lulu is just not making the cut and it will factor into my decisions, about where I spend my money.

Because enough is fucking enough.

An Introduction to Game-Mastering an Old School FRPG


This piece was originally written for a planned Brave Halfling publication, geared toward younger gamers. Alas, that project fell through. When John gave me the go-ahead, as he had dibs, I revised it for another intro type game, that was being planned out on the OD&D Boards. That project took a different turn and looks stalled out now, as well! My recent post, asking if the article was still wanted, went unanswered.So, I've made another, rather extensive revision and I'm posting it here, for archival and easy retrieval. Any criticism is most welcome.An Introduction to Game-Mastering an Old School Fantasy Role-Playing Game  by James A. Smith I Imagine you're the designer and caretaker of a magical place. A fantastic world, built in your imagination. You’ll have a lot of fun creating this world, entertaining your friends and yourself with challenges, thrills and adventure! Your friends will be making their own contributions, as well, but as chief builder and host of this realm, you'll have to own a lot of the responsibility for bringing it to life. You can name your world, whatever you want. A French word, Milieu, meaning "setting" or "environment," is often used when referring to RPG settings in general. You may guide your friends through a single adventure, or instead, run a series of adventures, set in in the same milieu and incorporating its own fictional continuity. This latter mode of play is called a Campaign and may last for a few sessions, or many years!  The use of the terms "Campaign" and "Milieu," comes from the Miniature Wargaming hobby, from which the first Fantasy Role-Playing Game, arose. If you've read The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, then you're already familiar with these ideas, as they appear in the form of a novel. Middle-Earth, with all its history, features and lore, is the Milieu. The  action, which creates and unfolds the story, is the Campaign. The Fellowship, of course, is the Adventuring Party, which will be comprised of your players’ characters. Through playing in your game, your players will build the Milieu in their imaginations as well. Their actions during play will drive, shape and flesh-out the campaign. Allowing them to contribute ideas to the Milieu itself is a good idea. If a player creates a Fighting-Man and thinks of a cultural, or historical background for his character, which he finds enjoyable, consider incorporating those ideas. Another player might take the role of a Cleric and have an idea for his character's god and religion, which excites his imagination and fits his conception of what he wants to play, closer than the material you've already selected for inclusion.  There are times when this sort of player input can clash with your vision of the Milieu and there are valid reasons for wanting to establish limits on this kind of thing. If you're going for an Arthurian mood, a la Sir Thomas Malory, then you don't want Monty Python and the Holy Grail thrown into the mix. But, allowing room for the imagination of your players is always a good idea. For your first campaign, I would suggest a loose framework and generous allowance for player input, as the experienced gained from that approach will prove useful in future endeavors.  Pre-existing Milieus, or Campaign Settings, may be purchased, or downloaded for free. If you're going this route, I would recommend picking up one of the smaller settings of this sort, as it will allow you plenty of elbow room and facilitate your making the setting your own. Pre-made worlds make for a good set of training wheels, but you might also consider consulting them for instruction [...]

I Don't Do Nostalgia


I've been gaming for about 30 years. I'm a gamer. I'm not much given to nostalgia, to begin with and even if I were, why would I feel "nostalgia" about something I've been doing more or less continuously for three decades? Most of which, has been spent running TSR era versions of the game.

On rare occasions, I might look back, fondly on my initial gaming experiences. Or my first real campaign, which was epic and everything a DM could hope for. But, no even that's not nostalgia.

And when I pull the DMG off my bookshelf, I don't feel "nostalgia." I feel wonder, excitement, the awakening of my own creativity, easy familiarity, respect and a sense of the numinous, which I find devilishly hard to articulate, but partakes of what I feel when involved in any creative endeavor, as well as what I feel when perceiving any work of art I find especially meaningful. Particularly older works, dealing with certain mythological and esoteric subjects (e.g. Arthurian legends.)

As I once wrote:
"Gary's writing in the AD&D rulebooks was a brilliant synergy of fantastic imagination, prose and game mechanics.

"He expressed all that mythological and archetypical lore in such a way that his mechanics created another level of resonance, one not seen in such mediums as film and literature.
"As far as I know, his performance here, has never been matched."
And when I sit down to run a game of D&D, nowadays, I don't feel Nostalgia at all!

Why in the hell would I? I'm Playing the Fucking Game, right then and there! Besides, my 43 year old self is a much better DM, than my 15 year old self, on his best day! And gets far more out of the game, to boot! I ain't got no damn reason to "look back on longingly."

Speaking for myself, Nostalgia has nothing to do with it. While I might miss gaming with particular friends, it's now a better time to be playing Old School D&D than ever before!

I'm not wistfully yearning for a damn thing! :)

In Honor of Gleichman


"He was a man," said Conan. "I drink to his shade, and to the shade of the dog, who knew no fear." 

He quaffed part of the wine, then emptied the rest upon the floor, with a curious heathen gesture, and smashed the goblet. 

"The heads of ten Picts shall pay for his, and seven heads for the dog, who was a better warrior than many a man."

Robert E. Howard - Beyond the Black River


And let those two horrid villains, Lenny & Squiggy know that a price has been put on their heads and the news spread far and wide, via the most effective means of mass communication that has ever been devised!

Warhammer Stuff Looks Really Good on My Bookshelf!


One of the things I like to do is go out yard-selling, looking for a good sized box full of marketable books that are still in decent condition. I'll offer five or ten dollars for the whole box, take out what's worth putting on ebay, then set the remaining books aside, to trade in at used bookstores.

So, today I headed out to 2nd & Charles, traded in some crap and picked up that copy of Rogue Trader! As well as a Black Library 40k paperback, since buying the RPG's got me in the mood to work on my WH novel collection.

Several years ago I was over at my father's apartment, looking at his bookshelves and I noticed he had started another collection. Warhammer and WH 40k novels.

They looked cool! I mean not just that they looked like they'd be fun to read, though they did. And not just that the covers and overall design of the books were aesthetically pleasing, though they did indeed look badass!

It struck me that they looked really, really good as a collection.

I was a tad bit jealous! I eventually decided to start a Black Library collection of my own!

It's starting to get respectable. :)

"...for in the grim dark future, there is only war."


I don't know if I'll ever get around to running this. When it comes down to the wire, I always choose The Game. But, expanding my horizons would be nice and I picked this up at my favorite used bookstore, 2nd & Charles, yesterday. I had some store credit, which made it fairly cheap, so I couldn't resist. While I've never played it in any form, I've got a soft spot in my heart for Warhammer! This is mostly from reading Black Library fiction, which I've been collecting for the past few years.

I read the first chapter. Random chargen. Emphasis made on the rules being subservient to the will of the GM. d100, d10 & d5.

2nd & Charles has also got a used copy of Rogue Trader and if it's still there next week...

Can Someone Tell Me How White Wolf Could So Totally Drop the Ball???


Urban Fantasy has been big, real big, for several years.

Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy blurred into one another and Laurell K. Hamilton started writing porn.

Sparkly Vampires, Southern Vampires, etc. More vampire slayers, hip witches and obscure lycanthrope types fucking like rabbits than you can shake a stick at.

Cool Wizards, like Jim Butcher's Dresden.

The Fantasy section of bookstores no longer look like most of the books were written by guys who grew up playing D&D.

White Wolf laid the groundwork for the 21st century rise of all this vampires & werewolves in love stuff! As well as the less raunchy, but still very urban adventures of Harry Dresden, et al.

They don't seem to be reaping the rewards. Why the hell not?

Lo! The Old School Magic of the Judges Guild!


Lo! The Old School Magic of the Judges Guild! In Which I Go Forth to War and Begin a Judges Guild Buying Campaign! 1. The Follies of Youth Way, way back in the day, a couple of years before dedicated gaming stores first appeared in the area where I lived, a local hobby shop, one mostly dealing in model trains and the like, also carried a few rpg items. As far as I know, they were, at the time, the only store in the area that stocked Chaosium products, as well as items from another famous publisher, from the early days of RPG's. Judges Guild. The Chaosium stuff looked cool, but at the time, I was ignorant and careless enough to dismiss the JG offerings as: ", imitation D&D knock-off stuff." (Cue Imaginary sounds of Booing, Hissing and exclamations of "Fie!", from the audience.) Now, hold on! Wait just a Minute! It really wasn't my fault! Seriously! I never had a chance to read any Judges Guild books! No one I knew at the time, was into JG. Nobody told me! No one at all, to properly guide me through the world of RPG supplements! And oh, how I have paid for my youthful ignorance and arrogance! Literally! I was left on the Outside of the Hallowed Halls of the Judges Guild! And wasn't even aware of what I was missing out on! Relegated to being a DM, like so many others. Instead of a Judge, wearing cool robes and a stylin' powdered wig. Silencing Rules-lawyers, with an authoritative swing of my gavel! Many years later, I had the opportunity to cursorily examine a few JG modules and was pleased to discover how cool they were! A few years after that, I dived into the OSR blogosphere and was exposed to a lot of discussion about and praise for Judges Guild in general. In particular, the widely celebrated City State of the Invincible Overlord and Wilderlands of High Fantasy. "Well, damn!" 2. I Blame Dave Arneson! And All of You Guys!  So, a little over three months ago, I blogged about finding one of my Grails. The First Fantasy Campaign! $29 for an excellent, beautiful copy! Groovy as Groovy could be! It was Awesomely Awesome, Awesomeness! It was then, the one and only Judges Guild product in my gaming library. I continued running across blog posts, where you guys mentioned and praised the Wilderlands, City State, Caverns of Thracia, etc. I wanted to join in on the discussions. Share in the ideas all of you were exploring. Own some more cool gaming stuff! When it came to JG, I was left out of the loop. I was loopless! And not having those classics in my gaming library, was a serious blow to my Old School cred! It was bad enough, that I didn't have an original copy of the LBB's! Or, that my Greyhawk was the 1983 Box Set and not the 1980 Folio. Or, that I had a copy of the Epic Level Handbook sitting on my shelf (which I recently sold on ebay, because, seriously, what a piece of shit!) Was the fact that I began DMing AD&D in 1982, enough to make up for such ignominies? Did my recent acquisition of The FFC, in any way ameliorate my library's deficiencies? Could I possibly be thrown out of the OSR, for not being a Member of The Judges Guild?!?! I kept my mouth shut and said nothing! "Damn! Why didn't I buy this stuff, way back when? I missed out! Big Time!" 3. This is Going to be Expensive! So, with the FFC sitting upon my shelf, I knew what I had to do! I began a campaign to acquire a hoard of Judges Guild Goodness! Once completed, my status as a legitimate Grognard would be secured! Or, at the v[...]

Knights of Mayhem


Knights of Mayhem - coming to the National Geographic Channel on November 15.

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"Charlie Andrews and his Knights of Mayhem are determined to make professional full-contact jousting the next extreme sport."
"Will full-contact professional jousting be the next extreme sport? For some, it is a real-life passion and thrives outside of the movies and Renaissance fairs. Charlie Andrews leads the “Knights of Mayhem,” a group of modern-day Lancelots and Galahads dedicated to transforming this medieval sport from a staged act to a professional sports phenomenon that will sweep the globe. For these “knights,” jousting is no dinner show. Donning 130 pounds of steel armor, they mount 2,000-pound horses and charge at each other with solid hemlock lances at speeds up to 30-mph, while peering through a quarter-inch eye slot in their helmets. When lance and knight collide, riders struggle to control their horses and absorb devastating impacts with potential for concussions, broken bones and far worse."

Thanks to Sir Timothy of Kent of I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters for reminding me of this.

OSRIC - A Tale of Two Player's Books and No, It's Not the Same Guy


I noticed some confusion in the comments to this post by Tenkar and thought I'd make a quick post to help clear-up any unintentional mis-information.

A couple of weeks ago, an OSRIC Player's Reference was released, which was basically just a cut n paste from the main OSRIC book. Unfortunately, the person who put this together used an old TSR piece (Elmore, I think?) without permission. Once this got around, the document was pulled from RPGNOW.

Also, unfortunately, Steve Robertson of the Bree Yark! blog had been working on an OSRIC Player's Guide, for quite some time, consisting of a reformatting of the Player's info in the original OSRIC rulebook and a slew of new artwork, which Steve created for this release.

The gentleman who released the first mentioned, illegal PDF, recently garnered some more attention by releasing another questionable document. Again, unfortunately at least one person has understandably confused the two OSRIC Player's book authors and as it's likely to happen again, I wanted to make this post to point out to any non K&K Alehouse regulars, that Steve Robertson's OSRIC Player's Guide is very much on the up-and-up and he is not associated with the author of the other two documents.

As I reported earlier, the OSRIC Player's Guide is available from RPGNOW as a free download, is full of some very cool and amusing Old School art and is worth downloading for that reason alone! The cover of Steve's Player's Guide can be seen on the right. A Print release is planned.

OSR News from the Underdark Gazette - Saturday, October 15, 2011


Let's Talk Some New Releases, First!  Darker Paths 1: The Necromancer by Joseph Bloch. BRW Games. Available in PDF for $5.00. 20 pages. The necromancer is a master of death and the undead; his spells are centered on dealing with crypts and tombs, creating and treating with the undead, as well as emulating some of the powers of the undead at higher level.The Necromancer is an optional character class suitable for either PC or NPC use, with details on more than 75 new spells. It is suitable for use with any RPG compatible with the basic or advanced versions of the world's most popular role-playing game.Take your campaign down a darker path with the necromancer!A New Release from DwD! Dark Times in Brighton by Bill Logan. DwD Studios. Available in Print for $12.99 and in PDF for $7.50. 54 pages. Dark Times in Brighton is an adventure for four to six characters of 1st - 2nd level. Although designed as a Labyrinth LordTM compatible product, It is easily compatible with most fantasy RPG systems. In addition to the adventure itself, contained within these pages are details of Brighton and its people, a town that could easily become an important part of your character's careers as adventurers.The town of Brighton exists in the north, at the source of the Daakencraags where the Darkenwolde Forest shades the winding Brother’s River. The legendary adventurer, Richan Thatcher (along with his party of adventurers) carved the place away from a once mighty goblin kingdom. It has prospered for many long decades, until now.Townsfolk are disappearing from the surrounding countryside. Goblins are on the march once more. If that wasn’t enough, a terrible blighting disease has infected the waters and not even the curative magics of the Temple of the Winds can thwart it. This is indeed a very dark time for Brighton.Too old to do anything about it himself, Thatcher has sent out a call to any adventurers who will swear their swords to his mighty town and its innocent people.Are your players hero enough to face down a growing goblin horde? Are they brave enough to fell the mighty goblin shaman, Vir-Kayik? Are they clever enough to find the source of the blight and cleanse the town’s water source? Are they the light to end these dark times in Brighton?A New Release from Johnny Rook! Of Hunger and Lies by Dominick Pelletier. Johnny Rook Games. Available in PDF for $10.00. 44 pages. This hasn't shown up on the publisher's homepage or Lulu Storefront, yet. It is available at RPGNOW. The link will take you to the publisher's RPGNOW page, but the item will not show up unless you're signed in, as the adult content filter is turned on for this module. This is an OSRIC and 1e/2e-style compatible adventure module designed for 4-8 characters of levels 5-8. Mature Readers only.A creature stalks the streets of Westgate Town, feasting on the humble lower class citizens. The locals believe the monster to be a werewolf and hire both a famed werewolf hunter and a party of adventurers to seek out and defeat the beast before it strikes again! But, things take a turn... Can you solve the grisly mystery and save the folk of Westgate Town or will the killer continue to subsist on hunger and lies? This 44 page game module includes: • A large area of Westgate Town to play in, covering over 190 ground and upper floor locations! • Numerous NPCs! Every NPC who lives and works in the area mapped is[...]