Monday, June 13, 2016

[Now Available] Realmscrawl Campaign Map 05: Tilverton


Realmscrawl Campaign Map 05: Tilverton is the first in what is hoped to be a series of maps and gazetteers detailing the Eastern Heartlands of the Forgotten Realms at a six mile per hex scale.

Click to embiggen this snippet of the map.

Continued support for this line depends primarily if it is worth my time to continue to develop this campaign setting as a product line, rather than merely for my own campaign use. This depends entirely on how well these products sell. If this map doesn’t generate enough interest, then I’ll know there is no interest in the gazetteer, the hex-based encounter and event generator, or other expansions of the product line.

Thus, your donations through the Pay What You Want system will decide if I publish further support materials. In fact, your payments will also guide what products are published after the gazetteer for this map is published (if it is published). As I cannot use Patreon to make this work, here is the way this will be done:

When you make a payment for the map, send an e-mail to jamesmishler@gmail.com, letting me know what you paid and when. Also include your vote as to which of the following items should be published after the Region 05 Gazetteer:

1)      Region 05 Hex Encounter and Event Generator; or
2)      Map and Gazetteer of the Underdark of Region 05; or
3)      Map and Gazetteer of another region.

Regarding option #3, these are the nine regions of the Eastern Heartlands that I am developing. As my campaign has pretty well stuck to Tilverton so far, I am not attached to any of the other regions specifically.

Region 01: Old Arkhosia (includes the Kingdom of Takhasia)
Region 02: Northern Dales (include Palandria, Daggerdale, Teshendale, and Shadowdale)
Region 03: Western Moonsea (includes Zhentil Keep, Phlan, Thar, Hillsfar, and northern Cormanthor)
Region 04: Goblin Marches (includes northern Cormyr, southeastern Anauroch, and western Stonelands)
Region 05: Tilverton (this map)
Region 06: Eastern Dales (includes southern Cormanthor, Battledale, Scardale, Featherdale, Tasseldale, Harrowdale, northern Sembia, and the Dragon Reach)
Region 07: Heart of Cormyr (includes western Cormyr, the Tunlands, the Dragonmere, and the Dragon Coast)
Region 08: Way of the Manticore (includes eastern Cormyr, western Sembia, Highdale, Archendale, and Westgate)
Region 09: Sembia (includes central Sembia and the northwestern Sea of Fallen Stars)

If I reach my goal for sales for this map and the gazetteer, I will tally the total votes by dollars to decide which product will be next.

NOTE: Reaching the goal for the sales on the map and the subsequent gazetteer is NO GUARANTEE that I will necessarily publish further products. So pay ONLY what you want for the CURRENT product, with the HOPE that further products will be forthcoming. There is NO guarantee of further products AT ANY STAGE of this process.

ALSO: Do NOT send me any payments for these products in any way EXCEPT through the Pay What You Want system on DM’s Guild. I CANNOT accept payments or donations for these products in any other way.

My sales goal for Campaign Map 05, which will determine whether I even go on to publish the gazetteer, is net $100 (total sales on this map thus being $200). Running total sales and vote totals will be posted every Friday on my blog at jamesmishlergames.blogspot.com (more often if developments warrant it).

I plan, at the same time, to publish notes on the history, races, cultures, events, and other broader elements of the Realmscrawl Campaign, which differs in ways from the core Forgotten Realms campaign, as outlined below. All these notes will also be Pay What You Want, and any payments made for these items will count toward the overall goal of the current product and votes for the next product… so email me with your votes when you purchase them as well.

Note that the entire background of the Realmscrawl Campaign and all elements thereof are entirely optional; use whatever bits you want however you want in your own campaign. And of course, under the terms of the use of the Dungeon Master’s Guild, you are free to re-use, alter, and expand upon any of these materials for your own products. The maps, of course, remain copyright © 2016 James Mishler, however, if you want to license them for your own products, my terms are simple and relatively cheap.

NOTES ON THE REALMSCRAWL CAMPAIGN
The year is 1287 DR, the Year of the Smoky Moon, near the end of one era and the beginning of a new. The Eastern Heartlands are in chaos, as Cormyr and Sembia are wracked with civil war and the Dalelands and Cormanthor are under siege by dark elves, humanoids, and other monsters.

It is a time of war, a time of heroes, and a time of villains. It is a time of change, a time of opportunity, for good and for evil. The old traditions of feudal kings and the sacred bonds of barons and knights are giving way to the customs of mercantile princes and the profane contracts of guildmasters and adventurers.

The old world, however, does not give over gracefully to the new, and the fading lords of chivalry cleave desperately to their waning treasure and power, even as the rising masters of trade seek to claim the wealth and authority they feel more fit to wield…

INTRODUCTION
As can be seen from the above scrawl, the Forgotten Realms (hereafter simply referred to as the Realms or the FRC) of the Realmscrawl Campaign (henceforth abbreviated as the RCC) isn’t quite the same as the standard Realms. It is an alternate version of the Realms, with several major and numerous minor changes in history and geography. The reasons for this are several:

First, the origin of this version of the Realms is in my own campaigns and campaign styles. I generally prefer a campaign setting that is more Dark Ages to High Middle Ages than Renaissance, and so my campaigns focus more on knights and chivalry than merchants and trade, though both are a factor.

Second, when 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons was released, and I thought of re-launching my Realms campaign, I decided to make it even more of a “What If?” by positing a whole new beginning for the Realms. That is, rather than adopting all the changes that had occurred over the years, all the great events in the “past” that were caused, in our reality, by new editions of the system, I decided to simply re-present the campaign as though it had originally been developed with 5th Edition races, classes, and concepts from the get-go… though informed by the themes and ideas from the Old School Renaissance movement that is near and dear to my heart.

Third, I decided to set the campaign at a time of great strife, to drop the characters in the midst of world-changing events, though close enough to the original timeline that, if the players chose, they could still be “at home” in the familiar Realms. Thus, I chose to set the campaign at a slightly earlier date than the Realms had been set before (save, of course, for the Age of Netheril mini-campaign). And so the campaign opens in 1287 DR, 71 years before the Year of Shadows (1358 DR), which was the suggested starting date in the original FRC.

The grand struggle between feudalism and mercantilism makes for an excellent backdrop to the campaign. It is a time when players could choose to make a quick buck as mercenaries for either (or both) sides in the broader struggle; righteously defend the rights and prerogatives of feudal society; honorably embrace the new way to the mercantile princes; support one faction or many among above others in the overall anarchy; defend their homes or explore the growing wilderness amidst the sputtering points of light of civilization; or, if they were of the mind, to even carve out an empire of their own.

Unlike the grand events of previous editions, there is no “right” way for a Realmscrawl campaign to end… the future of the Realms, for better and worse, is entirely in the hands of the player characters, should they so choose…

PERTINENT HISTORICAL CHANGES
There are only a few pertinent changes between the core FRC and the RCC that need be mentioned in this gazetteer:

The dragonborn Empire of Arkhosia once stood where now can be found the wastelands of Anauroch. It was from the fading remnants of this empire, not the elves, that the Netherese first learned the ways of civilization and magic. Dragonborn are still found in great numbers in Anauroch, particularly the powerful realms of Palandria and Takhasia, which follow Bahamut and Tiamat, respectively.

The descendents of the Old Netherese, known today as Anaurians, are the dominant culture of the city-states and wild tribes of the wastelands found between the dragonborn realms. The wandering Bedine are found in the Shaar; there are no Zakharan-based cultures in Anauroch.

Thauglorimorgorus, the Purple Dragon of Cormyr, wasn’t a black dragon; he was a purple dragon, born of a union of Dragorgonos (the Dragon-Demon, three-headed son of Tiamat and Demogorgon (with red, purple, and blue heads)), and Khyrexandretha, herself a purple dragon born of the union of a red and blue.

Rauthauvyr “The Raven,” who founded Sembia in 913 DR after unifying the major city-states and most of the regional towns under his banner, kept the new realm as his own, crowned himself king, and founded the Ravencrown Dynasty. Following last year’s untimely death of King Rauthauvyr IV, with no less than seven pretenders to the throne, Sembia has fallen into anarchy. Each pretender is backed by a mix of factions of Traditionalists (feudalists) and Modernists (mercantilists).

The fateful meeting between King Salember and Prince Rhigaerd, during which Jorunhast slew the Red Dragon King in the FRC, did not happen. Thus today, after two years of small skirmishes and street fighting, Cormyr is rent by civil war, with the Uncrowned King (already called the Purple Dragon Prince) and the Red Dragon King each gathering their forces for major battles…

EXAMPLE GAZETTEER ENTRIES
0814 CASTLE FALCONBRIDGE is a castle-bridge complex, with a five-story square keep and walled bailey at each end and a fortified stone bridge, complete with shops and upper level, crossing the Stonerun River. Built by a consortium of merchants from Tilverton, Bloxham, and Ravensden, Falconbridge is governed by Starjan Coelwren (LN male Cormyrian Human 3 HD Trader) and guarded by a garrison of 60 Guards led by Captain Kharwyn Hastler (NE male Cormyrian Human 5 HD Captain, secretly a Zhentarim agent).

Use of the bridge costs 1 sp per man and beast and per wheel of cart or wagon. The castle-town, which is built on and above the bridge, consists of 90 Commoners, including a Smith, a Wheelwright, a Tavern Keeper (The Dragon & Eel) and an Innkeeper (The Falcon’s Nest).

1611 THE CITADEL OF VALDYR’S FORGE is a massive three-story stone keep atop Mount Moeglidh (“Old Grumbly”), a (mostly) inactive volcano. It is home to the eponymous Valdyr Ironforge (LN male Shield Dwarf 14th level Artificer), one of the mightiest artificers in the Eastern Heartlands; he goes about his forge wearing only an apron, bracers of defense, and a ring of fire resistance. Young when Thunderdeep was overthrown, he has sworn not to rest until the Beast of the Deeps is slain and his people return to their home; to that end he perfects his arts, hoping to forge the blade that will be the Bane of the Beast.

Valdyr is served by 60 dwarven men-at-arms led by his nephew, Valkyr Ironforge (LN male Shield Dwarf 6th level Fighter (Battle Master)), who wears a suit of magical +2 plate and wields a magical +1 battle axe. He is served at the forge by eight 1st level, four 3rd level, and two 7th level dwarf Artificers. His complex system of magma-based forges is maintained by four stone giants. Six brown bears, allies of dwarven rangers among Valdyr’s men, prowl the mountainside hunting any stray goblins from Duskdale or the mountains to the east.

The seven major and three sub-levels of the dungeons beneath the keep are home to many dwarves, half being the remnants of the Ironforge clan, the rest from a mix of clans, including an additional 220 males, 177 females, and 88 children, plus seven 1st level, two 2nd level, one 3rd level, and one 4th level Fighters, plus eight 1st level, four 2nd level, two 4th level, and one a 9th level Clerics of Moradin. The 9th level cleric, Brynd Shieldbreaker, wears a suit of magical +2 splint mail.

1711 THE RUINS OF DUSKVALE consist of the tumbledown remnants of an un-walled village of 656 gnomes and dwarves; these were slaughtered, every man, woman, and child, during the fall of Thunderdeep, when a whole horde of goblins fell upon the village without warning. The bleached bones of the victims are scattered amidst the fallen stones of their homes and workshops.

The ruins consist of the remnants of 72 buildings, including temples of Moradin and Garl, a village hall, a merchant hall, and a large keep. There is a three-level dungeon beneath the ruined keep, home to a guard outpost of 33 goblins, three goblin bullies, and a goblin boss; the bullies and boss are worg-riders, with their worgs stabled in the 1st level of the dungeon. The goblin boss also possesses a pair of boots of springing and striding. The goblins are served by ten gnome slaves; these slaves are from the slave pits of Thunderdeep, have been raised to slavery, are thoroughly broken, and will raise the hue and cry if anyone attempts to rescue them.


Unbeknownst to the goblins, a hidden chamber on the 3rd level of the dungeon (used as a midden, and occupied by vermin and slimes) contains 1,187 sp, 280 gp, a jar of universal solvent, a jar of sovereign glue, and eyes of minute seeing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

[New Spell] Finally got introduced to Samurai Jack, so here is a spell...

Portal into the Future
Level: 5
Duration: Instant
Range: 10’
                           
This spell enables the magic-user to get rid of a meddlesome foe by flinging the target into a one-way portal into the future. If the target fails a saving throw versus Spells, the target is flung into the future… it is a one-way trip, though the victim can find another way back in time, if such exists. If the target makes the save, he or she jumped out of the way of the portal, and the spell fails.

The victim, if flung into the future, arrives at a random safe point on the same planet, d100 miles distant from the original point of the spell per level of the caster, in a time one century in the future per level of the caster, +/- d100 years. The caster does not know when the target will arrive in the future; similarly, if the caster is alive when the victim arrives, the caster has no clue, until this is discovered through normal means.

The caster physically ages one year per century the target is flung into the future, rounded up. For a human caster, this can be quite dangerous, if he does not have access to potions of longevity; for elves and other long-lived beings, such as shape-shifting masters of darkness, such effects are of little note.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Goodman Games releases The Monster Alphabet!

Goodman Games follow-up to the wonderful Dungeon Alphabet, Monster Alphabet, has finally been released in PDF for those who were not part of the Kickstarter. As I have found the Dungeon Alphabet to be indispensable during dungeon crawls, so too do I expect to find this book essential to running a game, whether Labyrinth Lord, Castles & Crusades, Dungeon Crawl Classics, or even 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.


Here's the blurb:


An A-to-Z Reference for Classic Monster Design

What foul beasts slosh and gibber in the furthest reaches of your skull? Unleash your demons with the Monster Alphabet, a compilation of monster design elements keyed to letters of the alphabet.

A is for Android, B is for Breath Weapon, C is for Crossbreed! Game masters of any rule system will find inspiration for creating strange, new abominations: random tables of traits, powers, and lore; awe-inspiring illustrations by your favorite fantasy artists old and new; and rolling handfuls of dice directly on monster generation diagrams.

The entries are accompanied by fantastic art from classic fantasy illustrators and are compatible with all fantasy role playing games.

Featuring a foreword by noted designer Frank Mentzer!

Rules Set: Systems-neutral, designed to be used with any RPG

Writer: Jobe Bittman with Michael Curtis
Foreword: Frank Mentzer
Cover Artist: Jim Holloway
Interior Artists:  Easley, Fritz Haas, Jim Holloway, Doug Kovacs, Diesel LaForce, William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, Erol Otus, Stefan Poag, Chad Sergesketter, Chuck Whelon, Michael Wilson


GMG4386, 80 pages, $11.99 (PDF)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Offline until 2016

 
I'm going to be essentially offline until the new year. Will be back with bells on come January 1st.

Keep an eye on my new blog, the Grymdark Lands. That's where I'll mostly be posting going forward until I have completed the 64-Page Campaign Setting Challenge. The blog will detail the development of the Grymdark Lands, and at the end of the process, I hope to have published my first print, full-color cover, fully-illustrated, 64-page book...

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

[Perilous Lands] Interview with playtester Winchell Chung

Delving deep into the origins of Powers & Perils and the Perilous Lands has one great difficulty – the designer, Richard Snider, passed away in 2009, leaving the “one true source” of information forever out of touch. Fortunately, however, (most) games are not designed in a vacuum, especially games published by major publishers, such as the Avalon Hill Game Company. And thus, as with most such games, Powers & Perils and Perilous Lands have a list of playtesters…

Of the multitude of playtesters listed, one name leapt out – that of Winchell Chung, as both a playtester and artist for the entire series of four products. For the uninitiated, Winchell is best known as “The Ogre Guy,” as in, the guy who designed the iconic style of the Ogre – the gargantuan cybernetic tank used in Steve Jackson’s microgame, Ogre. And Winchell is still active in the gaming community.

Fortunately, Winchell was very kind to answer my many questions concerning his work on Powers & Perils and Perilous Lands in a series of e-mails back and forth…

“I got started in gaming around 1975, when I saw an ad in ANALOG science fiction magazine for a game called Stellar Conquest by Metagaming Concepts,” Winchell wrote. “From there I went on to play GDW’s Triplanetary and SPI’s Star Force Alpha Centauri. From Lou Zocchi’s catalog I got my first role-playing game – TSR’s Empire of the Petal Throne.

When I was a little boy I had a copy of Avalon Hill’s Tactics II, but that doesn’t count since I only played it about twice…”

It was a small, small world among gamers even back then, in what is often known as the “Garage Industry” era. And while gamers didn’t have Internet forums, they often communicated with publishers through other means, such as through magazine letters or direct letters via snail mail – though in Winchell’s case, the communication that brought him his first publishing opportunity was quite accidental…

“While I was still in high school, I subscribed to Metagaming’s magazine The Space Gamer. Just for fun, I doodled some spaceships on my subscription letter. Metagaming was so hard-up for art that they published the doodles in the next issue and asked for more. Later I was offered commissions for artwork in their microgames, including Ogre.”

After earning his eternal 15-minutes of fame by designing the iconic form of the Ogre, Winchell went on to work in the real world, in computing, but still had the bug to work in the games industry. That’s when he noticed that the Avalon Hill Game Company was local…

“I rented a TRS-80 microcomputer for a week, and wrote a computer game for it. The game was a glorified BASIC Star Trek, with ASCII asterisk for stars and letters for starships. I had an innovative way to allocate energy between movement, offense, and defense.

The game impressed Avalon Hill enough that I got hired for their Microcomputer Game department, programming Atari 800 computers.”

While Winchell’s main interests were in computer games and wargames, he also played role-playing games. Thus, when word passed around Avalon Hill that they were looking for playtesters for a new role-playing game, Winchell signed up. It turned out that, among the several RPGs that were in the works at Avalon Hill at the time (the others including RuneQuest III, Tom Moldvay’s Lords of Creation, and James Bond 007 through Avalon Hill’s imprint, Victory Games), the game Winchell went on to playtest was Powers & Perils in the Perilous Lands, with the designer himself, Richard Snider, as game master.

“Of all my memories of the playtest, the worst was trying to read all the rulebooks in a single afternoon, cramming for the first playtest session. Since this was playtesting, we were expected to learn the game by reading the rulebooks, not by being coached by the game master, Richard Snider. He would answer questions, though. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of gaming in general and RPGs in particular.

“He never spoke about how he plotted the campaign, as game master he was giving a performance, and like a stage magician he never revealed how he did a trick. He only had a few notes, but he performed as if he had reams of prepared notes. I think he had lots of notes, but they were *memorized*. He knew how it all went together and all the details, all at his fingertips inside his brain.

“Richard Snider had a keen mind, and used it to totally control the game.

“He was somewhat precise – one of the things I kept tripping over in the game was ‘experience’ and ‘expertise’. They were distinct metrics, but in my mind they seemed to overlap quite a bit.

“As a game master, he was quite good at delivering the lines of various non-player characters in various voices and with various mannerisms. As the evil demigod Slidranth, he delivered his lines with a cold haughty demeanor. As the guard dog being spoken to via a ‘communicate with animals’ spell, he delivered in a dorky, simpleminded, scatterbrained manner.”

Slidranth makes his offer (Perilous Lands Site Book p. 20) by Winchell Chung

Of course, the main focus of a playtest group is always on the rules, and how they work in play, rather than theory. While there were a lot of rules in Powers & Perils, the playtest group worked hard to break them…

“The general reaction of the play-test group was that we really liked the system. It certainly had plenty of detail. The game system ran fairly smoothly once we got the hang of it. There was a lot of flipping through the rulebooks, however.

“The only thing that I was worried about was it seemed just a little too crunchy, keeping track of a little too much detail, given the small effect it had on one’s character. It was nowhere near as bad as Advanced Squad Leader, but it did have tendencies in that direction. Generating a character was a quite involved process.

“It was also odd the way the various skills had different scales, some were 1-10 while others were 1-100.

“As playtesters we were required to give our input at the end of each game session. As far as I can tell the game ended up pretty much the way Richard Snider first designed it. All I know for sure is that none of my suggestions were worthy of being acted upon.”

One of the most interesting developments out of the playtest was how the actions of certain characters in the playtest had an effect on the development of the published version of Perilous Lands, the campaign setting developed for Power & Perils.

“One of the other playtesters, David Kuijt, had their character father a child who turned out to be the current incarnation of the dreaded demigod Slidranth aka the ‘Highwayman on the Road to Death.’ If any of the characters died, as their soul moved on to the afterlife, Slidranth would appear as a giant pair of eyes. Slidranth would say ‘here’s the deal: you pledge me your fealty and I’ll bring you back to life.’

David’s character refused to be intimidated by anything, and was fond of treating Slidranth as his wayward boy, instead of a powerful demigod who could squish him like a bug. ‘Hey, Sliddy? How’s it going?’ he would ask…

The concept behind Slidranth I found impressive, a cut above standard Dungeons & Dragons boss monsters…”

David Kujit’s character was, as it turns out, none other than Vlad Stonehand, an iconic character from the Powers & Perils rules set, a major figure in current events in the Perilous Lands, and a featured character in Snider’s article, “Weapons Masters of the Perilous Lands,” (Heroes Vol. 1 No. 3). Therein he is described as being the world’s grand master in the use of the bastard sword.

“We did a campaign-style series of adventures during the playtest. My character was always in hot water, due to my insistence on playing a magic-user character while we adventured in a land where magic-users were considered to be demons who should be immediately burnt at the stake.

“Al ‘Albrecht’ Hess played a character who could speak to animals. Our group was on a mission to swipe a specific item from a mansion guarded by watchdogs. Albrecht told us he had a plan.

“Albrecht walks up to the dogs, carrying a load of meat. As the dogs prepare to start barking he says (in dog language) ‘Hey guys! How goes it? Gee I have a problem. I’ve got this load of meat that nobody wants. Do you know of any lucky dogs around here who could use a meat dinner?’

“Dogs start to frantically yip ‘ME! ME!’

“Albrecht tells them to pipe down, and gives them the meat. He goes into the mansion and swipes the item. Unfortunately, these are dishonest dogs, they do not STAY bought.

“Dogs look up ‘Good meat! Chomp chomp! Hey, what are you doing? Are You Stealing Something?!?? THIEF! THIEF!!’

“Our characters barely made it out of there with their lives…

“I remember another time when Albrecht (whose character was Chaotic) tried using his speak-to-animals spell to talk to some kind of flying snake (I forget, maybe a fire snake). Unfortunately the animal was Lawful, so all it would say was ‘Oooh, you bad! You bad-bad!’

“Later we were trying to convince some villagers (who were Lawful) to help us. Albrecht started to look nervously around. We asked him why, and he said ‘The last thing we need now is that blasted snake landing on my shoulder and telling all the villagers 'He's Bad! Bad-bad-bad-Bad!’”

The playtest group was, to all appearances, a typical role-playing game group – part serious, part not-so-serious…

“I don't think Richard minded, because he was focused on playtesting the game system. He was there to wring out the bugs; our wacky style was superfluous. He could make the world as serious as he wanted, since he was writing the world book all by himself.

“We were not ‘Monty Python’ wacky; we did strive to stay in character. It’s just that we could not resist doing any (in-character) humor.

“When David Kuijt called Slidranth ‘Sliddy,’ he didn't call Slidranth something out of character like, ‘you bargain-basement Sauron.’ He was trying to play Vlad Stonehand in character, but showing Slidranth that he was not afraid.

“When Vlad said that, Richard (playing the Slidranth NPC) played along. He gave Vlad an uplifted eyebrow, and tsk-tsked Vlad as if thinking, ‘Ah, my silly overly brave father, it is going to be a pity when I have to eat his soul...’”

Richard Snider was one of the earliest players in Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor Campaign; he went on to work with Arneson on Judges Guild’s First Fantasy Campaign supplement that detailed the original Blackmoor Campaign, and later worked with Arneson on the Adventures in Fantasy RPG, published originally by Excalibre and later by Arneson’s own publishing company, Adventure Games.

From Richard Snider’s experience in Arneson’s Blackmoor Campaign, I’d always assumed that the extensive level of detail he provided of the Perilous Lands, notably the various military forces, naval forces, income, and so forth, was designed to enable the classic “end game” of early fantasy campaigns. This “end game” being, of course, the goal of characters, once they rise to a certain level of ability, to forge their own kingdoms or take over existing kingdoms and build their own empires. Unfortunately, Winchell does not recall any mention of such an “end game” being part of Snider’s goals for the Perilous Lands

“I do not remember him saying anything about characters becoming rulers of the kingdoms. But he did want to ensure that the various nations and tribes were actually different from each other, instead of being Generic Nation #1, Generic Nation #2 and so on. He wanted to produce an impressive useful product for game masters, not some flimsy useless item just to pad out the product line.”

Nor, unfortunately, is there any known record, written or verbal, of Snider’s literary inspirations for Perilous Lands

“He never mentioned any of that when I was around,” Winchell wrote. “He did not want his work to appear to be derivative of anything; it was all to be original from him.”

Winchell says his fondest memory of working on Powers & Perils, Perilous Lands, the Book of Tables supplement, and the Tower of the Dead adventure module, was working on the art for the rulebooks.

“For me, working on the art, it was mostly the same-old same-old. You were given a written description of the required illustration, general dimensions, and a deadline. And there were a lot of pieces… the Barbarian Warriors and Civilized Peoples pieces at the end of the Culture Book in Perilous Lands? I drew every single one of them. Took me forever….

“Most of the reviewers really liked James Talbot’s illustrations, but hated the work from all the other artists (including me). There was a stink when somebody noticed that one of the other artists was plagiarizing from Frank Frazetta’s work for the Powers & Perils illustrations. She got fired for that…

“The cover of the Perilous Lands boxed set was originally a bit spicier. The woman was topless – totally topless. But cooler heads prevailed. The Powers That Be hesitated a minute, then said, ‘Uh-uh,’ and sent it back to have a bikini top painted on…”

Today, Winchell mostly plays boardgames, wargames, and computer games. He manages his website, the WeirdWorld of Winchell Chung, wherein can be found links to his various interests, including the 3-D Star Charts and Atomic Rocket sub-sites that are dedicated to assisting science-fiction gamers, writers, and other aficionados in maintaining scientific realism in their games and stories.

Of the other playtesters, almost nothing is known. If anyone has a lead on any of these playtesters, please let me know; I’d love to get more information on the Powers & Perils and Perilous Lands playtests!

David “Vlad Stonehand” Kuijt*%&
Al “Albrecht” Hess*&
John Huff*&
Charles Kibler
Ron Hall*
Winchell Chung*&
Dan Coggins*&
Martha Larkins
Larry McCauley
Jeff Sussman
Rorik Rorikson
Tom Murphy
Jeff Suzman**
Al Roireau**
Bill Peschel**%
“…and a multitude of others”

* Playtested both Powers & Perils and Perilous Lands
** Playtested only Perilous Lands
% Edited Perilous Lands
& Playtested Tower of the Dead

I also would like to do a full feature article on the art of Powers & Perils and Perilous Lands. Here is a list of artists from the products:

Powers & Perils
Jim Talbot (Box Cover and Booklet Covers)
Stephanie Czech
Paul Dame
Winchell Chung
Bob Haynes
Charles Kibler
Ed “ECM” Morris

Perilous Lands
Jim Talbot (Box Cover)
Winchell Chung
Michael Creager
Bob Haynes (Color Maps)
Unknown (Interior Maps)

Tower of the Dead
Richard Barber (Box Cover)
Mike Creager
Winchell Chung
Bob Haynes

Book of Tables
Roger Norton
Winchell Chung
Michael Creager
Jim Talbot


This piece by Winchell Chung (Book of Tables p. 17) depicts game designer Richard Snider climbing a tower...