Thursday, December 31, 2020

Year End and Stuff and Online Gaming

So with this post I will hit 40 posts for the year which is the third most annual posts in the ten years of this version of the blog. Not too bad, though you'd think I could have posted more with the Pandemic and all, but things just did not work out that way.

The big news today is that for the first time I will participate in online gaming, playing some 5E Dungeons & Dragons: Rime of the Frostmaiden using Zoom. Not sure how this is all going to work out, I am a bit of a Luddite, after all but I am going to give it a try. I will be playing rather than game-mastering, which in itself is a rare enough experience for me. But I definitely want to get some experience playing online before I try judging online.

I believe I have also hit upon a format that I will use with my published products going forward. I have never been satisfied by the simple PDFs I've been doing, they don't seem to have any character. Thanks to picking up a bunch of issues of Echoes from Fomalhaut, I have been tinkering with going back to the booklet style format I had used in my AGP days. We shall see what comes of it, but I am really liking how it is working out so far.

Between the works of Gabor Lux and Geoffrey McKinney, I am re-working my prose style, which recently has devolved into an exercise in explosive verbosity, which has been no fun for me to read, and I can't imagine it would be fun for others, either. So I am working on tightening up my various works -- gazetteer entries, geography entries, dungeon room entries, etc. -- to focus on a less explicative and more evocative language, as was used in the old days, and which Gabor and Geoffrey have mastered so well.

Oh, and if you have found my Marvel Cinematic Universe musings at all interesting, let me know... there seems to be far less traffic on those, and no comments, so I am not sure people find it at all as interesting an areas as I do...

Anyway, that's where things stand for now. Next year should see more products published, more reviews published, and I am going to concentrate on doing some interesting blog articles.

Happy New Year to you and yours, and certainly, hopefully, a BETTER year for all...

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

[Marvel Cinematic Universe] The Rise of the Multiverse of Madness

OK, so how is the Multiverse of Madness going to work?

From what we can gather so far, with various heroes and villains from non-MCU film incarnations appearing in upcoming movies it is clear that the Multiverse already exists.

First I should note that the destruction of the Infinity Stones did not create the Multiverse; instead, it unraveled the Marvel MCU Universe – also known as Earth-199999 in the litany of Marvel Earths for the comic-book Multiverse.

And now, apparently, because the Universe of Earth-199999 is unraveling, it is crashing into other Alternate Universes – and other Marvel Universes in the already extant (but unknown to residents of Earth-199999) Multiverse are crashing into it.

There exists a storyline in Marvel Comics that fits this exact scenario – the World Incursions that led to the Time Runs Out crossover event that led to the second massive Secret Wars event.

Now, there is a LOT in that series of stories that just simply won’t work in the MCU. Lots of the characters involved in the MCU are already dead; there is no “Illuminati” in the MCU as most of the characters in that organization don’t even exist in the MCU; and a lot of the super-Cosmic stuff that went on just won’t work for the style they have created for the MCU.

But a lot of the basics from that series of events can be adapted to Phase Four and Phase Five of the MCU.

“The events known as incursions are the result of a contraction in the Multiverse's timeline. They exist in a paradoxical nature, as this contraction was caused by the early death of an unknown universe approximately 25 years in the past, when its Molecule Man was killed by the Molecule Man of Earth-616.”

Of course, Molecule Man does not exist in the MCU; in the case of the MCU, the precipitating event is the “destruction” of the Infinity Stones in Endgame.

In the Time Runs Out series, when two Alternate Universe collide, they are after a short time destroyed. Now, that is not going to happen in the MCU… at first. But that will be the end result unless the process of “Universal Contraction” (the “Multiverse of Madness”) is stopped.

Phase Four is going to show us the beginning of the process, and in the end, the discovery that, without something to stop the process, the entire Multiverse will collapse in on itself, bringing an end to everything.

Well, everything except the re-forming Infinity Stones.

So at about the same time that it is discovered that the Multiverse will collapse in on itself, it will be discovered that the Infinity Stones are reforming, and that the key to stopping the collapse is gathering the Infinity Stones to “set the MCU Universe right” and thus stop the process – Phase Five.

But until then, the process of collapse continues, until like in Secret Wars, all but a handful of Universes are destroyed, and perhaps then we see the formation of BattleWorld.

Possible, but we will see. It seems a little “super-Cosmic” for the MCU. Maybe, like Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok, we will see a “BattleWorld,” but it isn’t a bunch of Alternate Earths (including Earth-199999) glommed together, it is something else… shards of other Earths glommed together, likely leaving Earth-199999 intact but still endangered. But you never know…

Note that it is interesting that Marvel has started bringing back World Incursions only just this summer, in the X-Men title Excalibur; see Excalibur Just Brought Incursions Back Into the Marvel Multiverse.

So… would this not be an excellent way to bring not only the Fantastic Four, but also the recently-acquired X-Men into the MCU?

Saturday, December 12, 2020

[Stuff] Dungeon Defensive Magic

One thing I miss about G+ is how you could just quickly post a couple of ideas and leave them hanging there for later consideration. Doing so on a blog like this is not as easy or as simple, but still is a lot better than scribbling out an easily-lost note.

One thing that has struck me recently is dungeons -- a lot has gone into discussing why dungeons exist in such ubiquity in fantasy game worlds, other than the obvious need for adventurers to go into them, raid the monster lairs within, and bring out treasures. One obvious reason, of course, is that there are actual subterranean races in the world, so naturally, they are going to want someplace to live, and unlike the surface races, who built out and up when they left the caves, the subterranean races built in and down. Another major reason discussed is for safety against large monsters, such as dragons and giants; stone buildings just won't cut it, so dungeons are more common as being easily defensible.

You can't tell me the walls inside aren't enchanted...

Another reason is for defense against magic. Lots of magic spells are inoperative through more than so much metal or a larger stretch of stone, so a home deep within the rock of the earth is going to be nicely defensible against such spells. Add to this the ability to enhance that defense in all three dimensions and dungeons look even more appealing. You can't cover an entire surface city in lead or three feet of rock but if you build your city underground, the entire thing is immune to certain spells... and if you put defensive runes on the ceiling, you have even more defense against magic. If you build out the walls, you have even stronger magic built in to the defenses (why are there dressed walls everywhere in dungeons? Simple... to put magic in the walls, which is even stronger than runes alone).

Of course, there is no system for such kinds of defensive magic at all in the game; but then, there is also no system of magic in the system for clerics of agriculture or druids to enhance harvests and such, yet it is kind of assumed that they do. So that's a system of magic that might need be detailed for long-term campaign play...

Friday, December 11, 2020

[Marvel Cinematic Universe] Thor: Love and Thunder Jane and Mjolnir Theory

Everyone is tying themselves in knots trying to figure out how Jane Foster gets ahold of Mjolnir when Mjolnir is destroyed. Well, Thor: Love and Thunder takes place well into Phase 4, even after or around the same time as Doctor Strange 2: Multiverse of Madness.

So there is no need to explain how Jane from the Mainline MCU has Mjolnir because it isn't Jane or Mjolnir from the Mainline MCU... it is Jane and Mjolnir from an Alternate Universe, one where Thor likely died heroically during the "Malekith Incident" (Thor 2: The Dark World) and Jane Foster took up Mjolnir in defense of Asgard (say, Thor was killed defending his mother, Frigga, and Jane took up the hammer and saved her life).

No death of Frigga, no death of Odin, no release of Hela, no Ragnarok... and Jane is now Thor.

And Alternate Jane is still in love with Thor. Now that's a complication...

And then Alternate Universe Jane as Thor, and perhaps even Alternate Universe Asgard, happens to end up in the Mainline MCU, and is threatened by these new villains (or Thor ends up in the Alternate Universe, it works both ways).

So, there you go, no weird time-space convolutions to bring back Mjolnir... and it all furthers the story of the Multiverse in Phase Four.

[Marvel Cinematic Universe] Marvel Phase Four and Phase Five Theory

So yesterday we all got a HUGE infodump on upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films and streams. Being a huge fan of the series (I was a Marvel Zombie growing up, my Holy Trinity being Spider-Man, Thor, and Hulk), I've been delving into a lot of this to try and figure out where things are going with Phase Four and Phase Five.

Here is my list and rundown of current overall theories:

Streaming and Film schedule for Marvel Phase 4: The Marvel Multiverse
WandaVision (S, January 15, 2021)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (S, March 19, 2021)
Black Widow (F, May 7, 2021)
Loki (S, May(?) 2021)
What If? (S, Summer 2021)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (F, July 9, 2021)
Ms. Marvel (S, Late 2021)
Hawkeye (S, Late 2021)
Eternals (F, November 5, 2021)
Untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home Sequel (F, December 17, 2021)
She-Hulk (S, 2022?)
Moon Knight (S, 2022?)
Secret Invasion (S, 2022?)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (F, March 25, 2022)
Ironheart (S, 2022?)
Thor: Love and Thunder (F, May 6, 2022)
Armor Wars (S, 2022?)
Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (F, Late 2022?)
Black Panther 2 (F, Late 2022?)
Captain Marvel 2 (F, November 11, 2022)
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (SF?, Christmas 2022)
I Am Groot (S, 2022?)
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (F, 2023)

Last of Phase 4? Interim Film? First of Phase 5?
Fantastic Four (F, 2023?)

Projected Film schedule for Marvel Phase 5 : Quest for the Infinity Stones

Main Titles
New Avengers
Secret Wars
Spider-Man: Young Avengers
Infinity Quest
Ultimate Avengers

Secondary Titles
Hulk: Future Imperfect
Doctor Strange: Triumph and Torment

The Phase Four schedule gets weirder and more Cosmic each and every movie. This is no accident.

The entire schedule (possibly including Black Widow) leads up to the unraveling of reality... due to the loss of not just one but all six Infinity Stones. As the Ancient One told Smart Hulk in the past, if you remove even one Infinity Stone from the universe, reality quickly starts unravelling. What happens then when you remove all six Infinity Stones from the universe?

Everything explodes into a Multiverse. A Multiverse of Madness, to be exact. Which leads to Doctor Strange 2, which is really the starting point for Phase 5 -- Quest for the Infinity Stones.

Note: This was before the announcement of the new Fantastic Four movie, which I think now is either the last Phase Four movie, the first Phase Five movie, or an "interim" "bridging" movie that stands between the phases.

Phase 5 will essentially be the reset of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A lot of the best, most famous characters in the MCU have either died or retired, or are getting old (the same as Death in Hollywood). What happens when that happens in the comics books? Well, we get a reset. And everything goes back to Square One (more or less).

And this reset will occur through scrunching back together all the various alternate realities created by the destruction of the Infinity Stones, which... it turns out were not REALLY destroyed. They can't be destroyed -- they were here before the rest of the Universe, so the best can be done by any being that came after is to remove them from reality for a time... and then they coalesce back together.

But meanwhile the Universe unravels into a Multiverse of possibilities.

Phase 5 will be the hunt for these re-coalescing Infinity Stones, because whoever controls the Infinity Stones will be able to determine which parts of the Multiverse remain after the Universe is knitted back together.

It will also likely adapt elements from the recent Secret Wars story (not the original, the latest one, with BattleWorld), as it is a similar storyline, and we know Doctor Doom is going to be involved starting sometime in Phase 4. Heck, one or more of the movies probably even will be called Secret Wars...

Though now that I think of it, it would totally be in the MCU tradition to include some references or call-backs to the original Secret Wars. Maybe they bring in the Beyonder? That would be something!

I think that the one who ends up controlling the Infinity Stones in the end, though, will be Thor. He will be the only one who can handle all the stones, and by that time, he will have gone through an arc to deal with his grief, so he will be ready for it mentally.

He will knit together the unstable Multiverse of Madness into a single stable Universe, incorporating the new (but basically similar) Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, etc. from the various Alternate Universes (and with new, younger actors)... and then either keep the Alternate Universe Asgard or restore Asgard and its people to all its glory, including his parents, Heimdall, the Warriors Three, and all those who died during the Hela and Thanos incidents.

He then flies down to Asgard, where he is applauded by his family and people, including Loki. Loki then asks him what he intends to do now that he has the Infinity Stones. Thor just smiles, raises the gauntlet, and activates the power… and sends all the stones flying away to different, random, hidden corners of the universe.

And Loki faints dead away...

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

My Keyboard Runneth Over...

Thanks to the pandemic-based fugue I am currently working on a wide variety of projects, and was wondering if anyone out there had any preferences for what they might like to see published next?

Darkness at Red Rose Manor: A “fantastique horror” adventure in the vein of the works of Jean Rollin (Labyrinth Lord);

Dastardly Dungeons: A series of “Save or Die!” small dungeon adventures taking advantage of Dyson Logo’s kind offering of some of his maps for free commercial use;

The Eternal Palace (working title): A science-fantasy Huge Ruined Pile/Megadungeon that is set in a huge ruined imperial palace… think Gormenghast meets the Lost City via Pavis and Big Rubble (Labyrinth Lord);

The Kakonomicon: A series of volumes containing information on demons with 13 new demons in each volume (Labyrinth Lord);

Monstrous Magical Miscellany: A series of volumes containing more monsters, spells, and magic items for Labyrinth Lord;

Realms of Talamhur: A quasi-historical fantasy sandbox hexcrawl campaign setting (5-mile hexes) in the style of the Wilderlands (Labyrinth Lord);

Wilds of Olantis: A map (1-mile hexes) and gazetteer for the Olantis region of Theros (5E D&D, easily used with Labyrinth Lord);

World of Damaria: A high-fantasy campaign setting (25-mile hexes) in the style of Middle-earth or Greyhawk (classic 1E Greyhawk style gazetteer);

Let me know if there are any preferences out there for what you might like to see published, or ideas for other projects that you might like to see someone produce.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

[UAP] Universal Alignment Profile

There have been several attempts to quantify the alignment system from the beginning. OD&D had the alignment chart; Judges Guild released their “Alignment Adders” system on the Character Checklist (likely based on the listing of Lawful/Chaotic and Good/Evil traits in Gary’s article “THE MEANING OF LAW AND CHAOS IN DUNGEONS & DRAGONS” in Strategic Review #6); GAZ7 The Northern Reaches, a gazetteer for the world of Mystara, included “Personality Traits,” likely based on a similar system used in King Arthur Pendragon by Chaosium.

And here is my attempt at a system… for all that anyone uses alignment anymore, hopefully it is helpful.

The Universal Alignment Profile (UAP), based loosely on the Universal Personality Profile from Traveller, is a series of 10 numbers that provide a basic breakdown of the Lawful ethics and Good morals – or lack thereof – of player characters and NPCs. 

The first five numbers create the Law/Chaos axis, the second set of five the Good/Evil axis. Numbers range from 0 to 13, though only Demons and creatures of like ilk may have 0 in any trait, and only Angels and similar beings may have a 13 in a trait. The higher the trait, the more toward the Law or Good state of the trait. An 11 in Honest means the being is very honest; a 2 in Loyal means the being is very treacherous.

For player-characters, let the player set each trait at the beginning of the campaign. If a character is thereafter tempted by Chaos or Evil in regard to any of the traits – say, for example, offered a bribe – and the player is not quite certain how the character would react, roll a d12 against the trait or traits affected. A bribe, for example, might indicate that a character’s Honesty is being tested; if the Honest trait is 8, and the roll is 9 or greater, the character would accept the bribe.

These traits are not intended to remove player agency; they are a guideline only, to help the player better characterize their character’s alignment traits. If the player above decides that the character would accept the bribe, perhaps the player would then lower the Honest trait from 8 to 7.

When creating an NPC, roll for the traits, as listed below. Then list the traits in order using only the numerical value. For example, a character with the following:

7 Cautious (Rash)
4 Industrious (Slothful)
10 Loyal (Treacherous)
9 Principled (Anarchic)
3 Vigilant (Negligent)
10 Generous (Greedy)
11 Honest (Deceitful)
8 Humble (Prideful)
8 Kind (Cruel)
7 Patient (Wrathful)

Would be 33 and 44, thus Neutral Good, and would list the UAP as 74A93AB887. The character is Loyal, Generous, and Honest, but rather Lazy and Careless. He would make a good friend, but a terrible guard.

Note that the overall totals of each lean toward Neutrality and Law, and Neutrality and Good; this is in keeping with Gary’s advice that most people lean toward Law and in general, Good, and that few are truly Chaotic or Evil. Feel free to play with the numbers and the traits as you wish, of course.

Cautious (Rash)
Industrious (Slothful)
Loyal (Treacherous)
Principled (Anarchic)
Vigilant (Negligent)

Each is assigned a number, 1 to 12 (for the UAP 10 is A, 11 is B, 12 is C, and 13 is D).

Demons can have 0 in a trait; Angels can have 13 in a trait.

Individually, 1 to 4 is CHAOTIC, 5 to 8 is NEUTRAL, and 9 to 12 is LAWFUL.

For a known Chaotic being, roll 1d4 for each;
For a known Neutral being, roll 1d4+4 for each;
For a known Lawful being, roll 1d4+8 for each.

Total all five Lawful traits: 5 to 20 is CHAOTIC, 21 to 40 is NEUTRAL, and 41 to 60 is LAWFUL.

Generous (Greedy)
Honest (Deceitful)
Humble (Prideful)
Kind (Cruel)
Patient (Wrathful)

Each is assigned a number, 1 to 12 (for the UAP 10 is A, 11 is B, 12 is C, and 13 is D).

Demons can have 0 in a trait; Angels can have 13 in a trait.

Individually, 1 to 4 is EVIL, 5 to 8 is NEUTRAL, and 9 to 12 is GOOD.

For a known Evil being, roll 1d4 for each;
For a known Neutral being, roll 1d4+4 for each;
For a known Good being, roll 1d4+8 for each.

Total all five GOOD traits: 5 to 20 is EVIL, 21 to 40 is NEUTRAL, and 41 to 60 is GOOD.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

[World of Greyhawk] Hexographer Map of the Thillonrian Peninsula

The World of Greyhawk continues to hold my interest and inspire my work, and from time to time I like to clear my head with some general cartographic work on Hexographer. So as I did earlier with the Central Flanaess, now I have put together a Hexographer map of the Thillonrian Peninsula -- the home of the Frost, Ice, and Snow Barbarians, as well as the Hold of Stonefist. This is a big, empty land, By the Map, and so were I to set a campaign here, I'd be adding a lot of new and interesting geography. But you got to start with the basic setup...

The Thillonrian Peninsula, or "Rhizia" as the natives call it, is essentially Oerth's Scandinavian Peninsula, complete with Vikings. I always found it odd that the G (Giants) and D (Drow) series of modules were placed much further south and west, in the Hellfurnaces, rather than in the Corusk Mountains, but that just shows that the various events of the south and central regions of Keoland and Greyhawk, both much more obviously directly derived from Gary's own "True Greyhawk," were much closer to his heart and mind. They could both readily be moved to this region; plenty of room for glaciers and volcanoes in the Corusk.

The map is pretty much as exact to the original Darlene map as I could make it with the classic Mystara-style hexes. As per the original, scale on this map is 1 hex = 10 leagues = 30 miles.

As always, email me at if you want the original Hexographer file or a larger PNG file.

Thillonrian Peninsula

Sunday, November 8, 2020

[Now Available] Necromancer Class for Labyrinth Lord

Necromancer Class
By James Mishler with Jodi Moran-Mishler
Compatible with Labyrinth Lord

Necromancer Class – Masters of Death and Undeath includes the following new additions to Labyrinth Lord:
  • Necromancer Class details;
  • Necromancer Spell List, including 23 new spells and modifications for four existing spell groups;
  • New necromantic magic items – bone armor, cloak of the necromancer, ghoul ring, ring of undead detection, staff of necromancy, wand of wounding, and the mighty vampire cape!
  • Three new lower order demons for necromancers to summon and heroes to slay.
Designed for use with Labyrinth Lord, easily used with any Old School RPG system!

15 page PDF (10 pages of content) – Normally $2.49 – $1.25 for a limited time only!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

[Now Available] Expanded Dragons -- Hatchlings to Elder Wyrms

Expanded Dragons -- Hatchlings to Elder Wyrms
By James Mishler with Jodi Moran-Mishler
Compatible with Labyrinth Lord

Expanded Dragons – Hatchlings to Elder Wyrms includes the following new additions to Labyrinth Lord:
  • Expanded Age Categories and Abilities – From 1 HD Hatchlings to 21 HD Elder Wyrms!
  • Chromatic Dragon Mutations!
  • Linnorms and Orms – Inspired by Norse myths and legends!
  • Lung Dragons – Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood dragons Inspired by Chinese myths and legends, plus the villainous Death Dragons!
  • Pocket Dragons – Look out for swarms of mouse to cat-sized dragons!
  • Dragon Random Encounter Guidelines
Designed for use with Labyrinth Lord, easily used with any Old School RPG system!

17 page PDF (12 pages of content) – Normally $2.99 – $1.49 for a limited time only!

Monday, October 26, 2020

[Found Treasures] Early TSR Correspondence

Proof that the Nerd is strong in this one... 

I am finally going through the pile of boxes that has been sitting in our garage for the last four years, and that were sitting in storage in one place or another for the last, um... eep... 16 years before that?

OK, so I am a pack rat. But sometimes being a pack rat pays off, as when I opened a box I had not opened in... um... 20 years, and amongst other things from my childhood and youth, discovered this letter...

Now, my memory is terrible. I KNOW I started playing D&D when I received the Moldvay Basic Set, which I THOUGHT I had received for Christmas in 1980, though the release date of it was not until January 1981, so... either the release date was early (Mom & Dad did get it from Toys R' Us, so maybe), or I did not get it and start playing until December 1981.

Which means from the dating of my letter of April 5, 1982, that I was bit by the game publishing bug within four months at the earliest (16 months at the latest if that set was available for Christmas 1980).

I have no memory of sending the letter or even of receiving the reply. Shame, that. The next time I would try corresponding with Gary would be when I was in grad school, in 1993. But that's another story...

Sunday, October 11, 2020

[New Spells] Trio of Magic-user and Elf Spells of Some Use in Combat

Here is a trio of magic-user and elf spells I worked up after watching a few episodes of the Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon. Enjoy!

Warrior’s Bane
: 1
Duration: Instant
Range: 120’

With this spell the magic-user causes a target’s hand-held items – weapons, shield, wand, staff, sandwich, beer stein, whatever is held in hand – to fly away from them, 1d4x5’ each away in a random direction. Optionally, the caster may have the items fly to her, stacked neatly at her feet and/or into her open hands. The spell works against all kinds of classes and creatures, not just warriors or fighters. The target gets a saving throw versus Spells to avoid the effect. If any of the items held are magical, the target gains the highest bonus from the items to their saving throw. If the target’s save is a “Natural 1,” non-magical items held are shattered and destroyed. The caster may target an additional being at 2nd level, a third at 4th level, a fourth at 6th level, and so on.

Knight’s Bane
: 2
Duration: Instant
Range: 120’

With this spell the magic-user causes a target’s clothing and armor (suit, not shield) to be destroyed, disappearing into thin air, leaving only such underclothing as the target might be wearing – if any. The spell works against all kinds of classes and creatures, not just knights or fighters. The target gets a saving throw versus Spells to avoid the effect. Magical armor provides its bonus to the target’s saving throw, and if it fails, it simply fades out for one turn per caster level. The caster may target an additional being for every two levels above 3rd – two at 5th, three at 7th, four at 9th, etc.

Wizard’s Bane
Level: 3
Duration: Instant
Range: 120’

With this spell the magic-user causes a target’s magic items – of whatever sort, whether held in hand, in a pouch or pack, or even tied down – and including a magic-user or elf’s spell books – to be pulled out from wherever they are stowed to fly away to the caster, stacked neatly at her feet and/or into her open hands. Items that are in a bag of holding or similar item remain in the bag, though the bag itself might be drawn by the spell. The spell works against all kinds of classes and creatures, not just magic-users. The target gets a saving throw versus Spells to avoid the effect; the effect is all or nothing, not based on individual items. If any of the items held or carried have a magical bonus to hit or to armor class, the target gains the highest bonus from the items to their saving throw. The caster may target an additional being for every two levels above 5th – two at 7th, three at 9th, four at 11th, etc. NOTE: There is a variant of this spell in which the effect appears in the form of flying monkeys that grab the items and take them back to the caster.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

[Limited Time Offer] Advanced Labyrinth Lord Pumpkin Spice 2020 Cover


From Goblinoid Games



The annual Pumpkin Spice* edition of Advanced Labyrinth Lord features a pumpkin/Halloween themed cover and is available ONLY until November 1st. The content of the book is identical to the other cover version of Advanced Labyrinth Lord - but this limited edition is offered at a reduced price.

*No actual pumpkin spice is used in the production of this book.

There is no PDF option for this book.

*    *    *

Labyrinth Lord doesn't waste precious game time.

We're older now. It's hard enough setting aside time to game.

Then you have to wrangle all your players together at the same time.

The last thing you want is your hard-fought game time wasted.

Combats in Labyrinth Lord are resolved quickly. Running adventures isn't bogged down with bloated monster stats and over-complicated combats.

Get right into the fun stuff, squeezing the most adventure out of your time.

Play the game on your own terms. Most of us started out with the basic game, working in advanced elements without even realizing basic and advanced were supposed to be two different games. We all might have created our own Frankenstein's monster of rules in slightly different ways, but Labyrinth Lord lets you play the game the way you want it.

If you want to keep basic classes, you can, and play them right along with the advanced classes. Or just use the advanced options. Pick and choose what you want to place in your game on your own terms.

Play the game like you remember it. Feel the adventure like you remember it.

That's why I want to share Labyrinth Lord with you.


Basic and Advanced

Finally the basic and advanced game rules are in one volume!

This book combines the material originally presented in the Labyrinth Lord core rules and in the Advanced Edition Companion. Play advanced and basic characters in the same group, or choose to play one or the other.

Enter a world filled with labyrinths, magic, and monsters! Choose a basic race-class, advanced class, or even multi-class to combine the two! All of the basic and advanced options are within reach.

Labyrinth Lord is the Rosetta Stone of old-school fantasy rules.

It is easy to use basic and advanced game adventures from other publishers with these rules.

In this book you will find...

  • A complete guide to basic and advanced characters
  • All core basic and advanced monsters
  • Basic and advanced spells
  • The full repertoire of basic and advanced magic items
  • Optional rules to make your game even more advanced

Welcome back to old-school game-play.

Monday, July 13, 2020

On Extended Hiatus

This blog is on Extended Hiatus

I'll be back when I'm back.

Take care and stay safe!

Monday, May 25, 2020

[Hanna-Barbera] Worlds of the Galaxy Trio

Of all the Hanna-Barbera shows I've been watching lately, the one that really surprised me was Birdman and the Galaxy Trio. I had not expected much, but interestingly, not only did I find the stories enjoyable, I also felt that they were very inspirational. They are very much a cut-down version of the long, boring stories with interminable story arcs that are so common today, much like comic books from the same era would have two or even three self-contained stories that still moved along the overall story line and character development.

The Galaxy Trio (L to R): Vapor Man, Galaxy Girl, Meteor Man
The inter-galactic milieu of the Galaxy Trio provides a ton of ideas for fantastic space-super-hero adventures. You can use pretty much any system, though it naturally lends itself very well to the classic TSR Marvel Super-Hero RPG. You could even use a mix of Labyrinth Lord and Starships & Spacemen. Characters with abilities like Gravity Girl, Meteor Man, and Vapor Man could be represented by the Elf class, with both combat abilities and special abilities as per spells, but tightly grouped to the proper types. Evil Scientists would be magic-users; doctors and medics would be clerics, and so forth.

Here is a list of the worlds encountered in the Galaxy Trio stories:

Worlds of the Galaxy Trio

Amzot: Humans (Refugees from Quasar), Many Native Races; Primitive; Amzot is the twin of Quasar (below), the two form a Double Planet, revolving around a common point in orbit around their sun; Amzot is 2/3 the size of Quasar but has many metals, especially the rare Organite; they revolve around their barycenter every 24 hours, and as Amzot rotates every 24 hours, almost 1/4 of the planet, the "Dark Side," is always cast in darkness (1/16 twilight, 1/8 darkness, 1/16 twilight); creatures native to the cold, barren Dark Side are either weakened or harmed by the light of the sun; World of the Herculoids, where refugee humans work with primitive native life forms to protect their world from would-be conquerors, pirates, and invaders. Never featured in Galaxy Trio, but easily fits in the same universe.

The Herculoids
Aqueus: Aquatrons (Fish-Folk, Water-Breathers); Super-Science; Advanced Heat Rays, Giant Robots, and Domed Cities; Prince Lotar overthrows his brother, King Neptar, and seeks to melt the Earth’s Polar Icecaps. [2] Later attempts to re-take the throne using a giant robot fire-breathing lizard. [X]

Centauri III: Earthlings (Humans); Super-Science; Home to the Intergalactic Treasury. [12]

Crimson Zone (Stellar/Planetary Region): Frontier on fringes of Unexplored Space; Unnamed world where Elraf used a Molecular Beam to kidnap people from across the galaxies to work in his mines, especially psycho-sodium, used to create ankle-bands that helped keep victims under his power. [15]

Earth: Earthlings (Humans, Homeworld), Many Nations Not all Peaceful; Super-Science, ships can fly using Blur speed (warp-speed, traveling light years in hours or even minutes) and limited use of Displacer Technology (molecular disintegration, transportation through space, and re-integration, usually from near orbit at best); Home of the Galactic Patrol, led by the Chief, and the champions of which are the Galaxy Trio. Once attacked by the Eye of Time (Sends Ships Back in Time, effect usually lasts 24 hours). [8, 10]

Galaxy Trio on the Displacer in Condor I
Gravitas: Gravitons (Gravity-Empowered Humans); Super-Science; Evil Scientist Gralik sought to conquer the planet using his Ultra-Gravitizer Ray, which can increase or eliminate gravity for objects from interplanetary distances; stopped by Galaxy Trio; Gravitons have the ability to manipulate gravity, to a greater or lesser extent, to move people and things as per telekinesis, to move up and down as per levitation; and even to fly. Homeworld of Gravity Girl, who is the daughter of the King of Gravitas, and so is a Planetary Princess. [19]

Magnetron: Magnetrons (Planetary Apes); formerly Super-Science; Destroyed in a war, with only a handful of survivors spread throughout the galaxies. The people had the ability to manufacture advanced exploding androids.

Meteorus: Moltens (Rock-Folk, Subterranean), Meteorans (Density-Empowered Humans); Super-Science; Moltens sought to drive Humans off world using explosions and lava. Meteorans have the ability to increase or decrease their size and manipulate their density and strength, to a greater or lesser extent; the most advanced can even control these abilities by body part(s). Homeworld of Meteor-Man. [3]

Moltens of Subterranean Meteorus
Moonoid-49: None; none; Moonoid in the same stellar system as Gravitas; the Evil Scientist Gralik was exiled here, developed his Ultra-Gravitizer, and deployed it against Gravitas from this moonoid.

Nova: Novans (Alien Space Halflings); Super-Science; the Evil Scientist Growliath uses a gas he developed to increase the size of small creatures to giants to conquer his world, the Galaxy Trio forced him to give them the antidote and they shrank him to a size where he was kept in a cage by the Novan King. [16]

Orbus 4: Orbans (Humans); Super-Science; Advanced Robotics; Robots Revolt led by Computron defeated by Galaxy Trio. [1, 9]

Robot Rebellion on Orbus 4
Outpost A-15: None; Moonoid; Space Ranger Outpost; One of several outposts attacked by an un-intelligent Spore-Monster that uses a Sleep Gas, it is never discovered who sent the monster or why. [18]

Penitentius, the Prison Planet: Various; Super-Science; Use robot drones to track down and capture criminals; Prisoners rebelled, tried to escape but could not figure out how to use the Galaxy Trio’s spaceship in time; now home to three of the galaxy’s remaining Magnetrons. [5, 14]

Planet K-7: Humans; Super-Science; Pirates used paralyzing/sleep gas to render inhabitants into a trance to steal valuables, used robotic vehicles to gather treasure, Galaxy Trio defeated and got antidote. [4]

Planet Z-10: Abandoned; Super-Science; Was home to factories of War Machine Robots re-activated and used by Computron to try to destroy the Galaxy Trio. [9]

Computron directing the War Machine Robots of Planet Z-10
Planet Z-11: Alien Space Halflings; Super-Science; Plastron threatened to freeze the planet by blocking of their sun using the rogue moonoid Plastus (a planet of rubber-like substance filled with gas); the Galaxy Trio popped Plastus, which blasted off into deep space. [20]

Plastus: Unknown; Super-Science; Rogue moonoid consisting of a rubber-like substance filled with gas; Plastron and his followers threatened the people of Planet Z-11 with extinction using the moonoid to blot out their sun; the Galaxy Trio popped Plastus, which blasted off into deep space. [20]

Primevia: Cavemen; Primitive; Natives attacked by men from Vaporus (home to Vapor-Man) and forced to mine gold and gems. [11]

Primevia under the rule of Rogue Vaporions
Quasar: Robots, many Human slaves; Super-Science; Once ruled by an advanced human civilization, the humans of Quasar were overthrown in a robot revolution 10 years ago (if only the Galaxy Trio had been there to help). Since that time the Galactic Patrol have kept the entire system under interdiction, both Quasar and Amzot, the primitive twinned world of Quasar. See Amzot, above, for information on their status as a Double Planet (note that Quasar does not have a Dark Side, as it rotates every 32 hours, but Amzot causes many partial eclipses on a daily basis).

Titan’s World: Uninhabited; Super-Science; Titan the Titanium Man (Scientist) lured Galaxy Trio to destroy them with his Super-Cybernoid Robots to get them out of his way of conquering the galaxy. [7]

Tranquility Belt (Stellar/Planetary Region): Frontier, with human settlers; Primitive Frontier with some Super-Science; Drackmore (unknown alien) captured and enslaved settlers using advanced technology. [6]

Drackmore and his Robot Soldiers
Unknown: Unknown; Super-Science; Home of Specter and his Duplitron Machine (makes doppelgangers of people, under his control). [8]

Vaporus: Vaporions (Gas-Empowered Humans); Super-Science; Vaporions have the ability to transform into and wield various types of vapor (gas), from fiery vapor to freezing vapor, and enabling them to become gaseous and fly, among other power; not all Vaporions have the same range of powers or skill at their use. Homeworld of Vapor-Man of the Galaxy Trio. [11]

Vector V-16 (Stellar/Planetary Region): Frontier; many unexplored worlds, including the unnamed world of the Rock Monsters once used by Braton, a criminal and escaped convict, to try to destroy the Galaxy Trio. [13]

Braton and his Rock Monster servants threaten the Galaxy Trio

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Skull Mountain, Cross-Section Dungeons, and Birdman?

So as mentioned before, Jodi and I are viewing a ton of old cartoons, especially of late classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 60's and 70's. One that we are viewing is Birdman and the Galaxy Trio (the original, not the post-modern remake, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law).

So there we were, watching some real old-school super-hero antics, when in episode 12A: The Wings of F.E.A.R. (first aired November 25, 1967) the enemy base ends up being "Death's Head Peak" high in the Andes:

Death's Head Peak
Now, this is already cool enough, because, you know, villains lairing in skull-topped mountains is always cool. But then shortly thereafter, this scene popped up:

Cross-section of the F.E.A.R. lair in Death's Head Peak
And what have we here, an actual cross-section of the lair/dungeon of F.E.A.R., inside Death's Head Peak! Now what did that remind me of? Well, of course, this:

Sample cross-section of levels in Holmes
Now, of course, the original cross-section of levels as featured in OD&D Vol. III showed much of this, just not without the skull element. And there are plenty of other "skull lair" motifs in all sorts of literary and other sources.

But... did this brief scene perhaps help influence the development of the Great Stone Skull Dungeon in Holmes? Holmes would have been 37 when this show first premiered, so it is unlikely he was watching Saturday-morning cartoons at the time. Perhaps he saw it when his son, Chris, was watching? Inquiring minds want to know...

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Scooby-Doo Based Adventure Ideas

What with having plenty of time at home, Jodi and I have been watching a lot of classic cartoons lately, from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies to Herculoids and Thundarr the Barbarian to the many, many various incarnations of Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo has had 43 films, 27 short films, 14 TV series, 5 television specials, 8 television shorts, 6 television films, 34 direct-to-video films, and 5 plays in the last 51 years (Scooby is only a few months younger than I am, it seems)!

We started out at the beginning, with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! the original series that aired from 1969 to 1970 (and which was on reruns forever and ever and ever during my youth). Though it was hokey, and even a child could see through most of the mysteries (which was kind of the point), even now, all these years later after not having watched it in some 40 years, it was a lot of fun to watch. Unlike many of the TV shows and movies of my youth, it aged fairly well.

It also explains a lot of what I still see today in my mind's eye when, in games, I am in a dungeon, or dealing with tricks and traps and chases and monsters, especially ghosts of course. And those pit traps? I think the villains from Scooby-Doo give Team Rocket from Pokemon a run for their money with the pit traps.

Anyway, I took the 25 episodes from the original 2-season run from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and created a quick and dirty inspirational chart for adventure locales, villains, and motives. Enjoy!

Click to embiggen
Roll once for each column. Not all combinations are necessarily going to make sense, but they will offer a springboard for imagination. If nothing else, maybe it will inspire you to give this 50-something year old show another look!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

[Lands of Ub] Campaign Notes and Other Orders of Magic

To fully run a Lands of Ub campaign you will need either Labyrinth Lord AND the Advanced Edition Companion OR Advanced Labyrinth Lord, by Dan Proctor published by Goblinoid Games; and

Here are some suggested rules upon which the material in this book are based:

1) Races and Types: The world has human, demi-human (dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, halflings, half-orcs, pixies), humanoid (bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs), and four-fingered talking animal (animal-folk in a wide variety of types) races. These many different races have always lived together in the Lands of Ub; cave paintings from the days of cave men, cave elves, and cave rabbit-folk show all three and many others living and fighting together. Nobody thinks it is at all unusual, as it has always been so.

Lands where only one racial type are found are unknown; lands where one type is overwhelmingly dominant are fairly rare (usually these are areas where demi-humans (dwarves, elves, gnomes, and halflings) are found). Most areas are relatively cosmopolitan, having a mix of three or more races and/or types; major cities are fully cosmopolitan. Humans are a plurality in the world, but only just.

Racial animosity is quite rare; unusual individual cases generally stem from a negative personal interaction, or applying a rivalry/enmity with a land and its people to the broad general type (for example, many mouse-folk and rabbit-folk citizens of Carrot County loathe the pig-folk Svinings of the Southern Consolidated Jarldoms due to generations of being raided, but very few apply that enmity to pig-folk as a whole).

The only major exception is in the case of humanoids versus everyone else, but then, generally, humanoids don’t much like each other, let alone others!

Note: All human, demi-human, humanoid, and animal-folk races can interbreed; children take after one parent or the other, only half-elves and half-orcs “mix” of the two parents. Though some of the animal-folk can look more human than others. Note that there is a 1 in 20 chance that a child is a “throwback” to a random ancestor other than the specific races or types of the parent (so for example, a rabbit-folk man and a human woman have a 1 in 20 chance of having a child of random racial or type sort, depending on their own ancestry). The Leonine Clans of the Highlands are an example of this type of ancestral mix; two Highlander lion-folk might have a human child, and two Highlander humans might have a lion-folk child, as the two groups have thoroughly mixed over long centuries.

2) Classes and Level Limits: All races and types can take any class, can multi-class (per AEC/ALL rules), and are unlimited in class level attainable.

3) Death & Healing Rules: Player Characters and Important NPCs have Resistance to Death. Upon being reduced to 0 hit points, PCs and important NPCs are merely knocked unconscious for 1d6 rounds (if a 6, roll 1d10 minutes; if a 10, roll 1d6 turns; if a 6, roll 1d12 hours). When the time ends, the character awakens with 1 hit point. If another character is able to tend to an unconscious character’s wounds for one round, they awaken with 1 hit point.

A character who is unconscious and naturally awakens or is given first aid and awakens is wounded, and all attacks and saving throws are at a penalty of -2. Such wounds are cumulative, occurring each time the character is knocked unconscious (-2 “stunned,” -4 “groggy,” -6 “witless,” etc.) A cure wounds spell or similar magic that restores hit points restores unconscious characters and eliminates all wounds the character has suffered (with no need for bed rest).

PCs have a pool of Self-Healing Dice equal to their Hit Dice number and type; they may use these during a rest that lasts at least one Turn (10 minutes), rolling any number of dice they wish, and modifying each by their Constitution modifier, to restore hit points (each die heals at least 1 hit point). A full night and day of bed rest heals all hit point damage, cures all wounds from unconsciousness, and fully replenishes the pool of self-healing dice; a night of rest heals/restores only half.

4) It is suggested that you use PC Boons, Luck Points, and Nature as outlined in R&R.

School of Black Magic
The School of Black Magic is the domain of wicked witches (female and male, both called witches). It is not prestigious like P.U., in fact, it is quite frowned upon, and witchcraft is outlawed in many realms. The school itself is hidden by magic; doors to the school can open just about anywhere, usually wherever beings of flexible morality and weak ethics seek power to smite their enemies, gather wealth, or rule over others untrammeled by law or ethics. There a door appears, and a voice promises them power, in return for service…

After 666 days of training at the Black School a witch is released into the world. The process has transformed them; their skin (fur/scales/etc.) has been transformed to a sickly green, their hair black and frizzy, their grin one of sublime villainy, and a mad glint of nastiness dances in their eyes. They leave the school with a ghoulish grimoire, a witching wand, a broom of flying, a wicked cauldron, and a horrible hat.
  • The ghoulish grimoire contains all 12 of the basic 1st level magic-user spells plus a 13th – summon familiar (they start play with a familiar already summoned, always an imp or quasit).
  • The witching wand enables them to zap their enemies with a bolt of black magic (1/round, roll to hit, range 30/60/90, 1d6 damage).
  • The broom of flying is a standard broom of flying that can also be ordered to attack enemies as a broom of animated attacks.
  • The wicked cauldron enables them to brew potions at half the normal time and cost, regardless of their level (i.e., a 1st level witch can brew potions). Once per month per level the witch can draw forth from the cauldron one vial of any potion she has ever brewed therein in merely 1 turn.
  • The horrible hat is a traditional black-brimmed witch’s hat; it acts as a bag of holding.

These items are not replaced if lost, stolen, or destroyed.

Witches are not always Chaotic nor necessarily Evil; some are just power-hungry and misled, or have delusions of grandeur, believing they can avoid “paying the bill when it comes due.” But the “sponsors” of the School of Black Magic always get theirs in the end. Witches are required to travel to a regional Assembly of Witches eight times a year, and the annual Grand Assembly on the Isle of the Dark One; the witch’s broom can travel to these and back in merely an hour (on these occasions only). Failure to appear at an assembly means the “bill is due,” and a collector will be sent.

Most witches and warlocks wear whatever they please, especially when they are in public, but when at home wear the traditional witch and warlock clothing of dark blue or black robes, long pointed shoes, and of course, their black brimmed hat, accompanied by silver or bone jewelry featuring skulls, spiders, black cats, and similar creatures and motifs.

School of Fairy Magic
The School of Fairy Magic, like the School of Black Magic, is not as prestigious as Prestidigitators University, but it and its graduates are generally far more welcome than those of the School of Black Magic. This is the school for good witches –  men are not unwelcome, however, they are definitely in the minority.

The school is in the Fair Realm, in the city of Grandshee; however, like the School of Black Magic, it has many doors that go elsewhere, and the Fairy Godmothers of the school travel far and wide to find those with the magical talent and proper disposition. [Note: Graduates of the School of Fairy Magic are always known as Fairy Godmothers, even when male; Fairy Godfathers are the leaders of the Fairy Mafia, a completely different organization.]

Usually after 777 days of study a student graduates with her book of shadows, containing all 12 of the basic 1st level magic-user spells. She also starts out with a witching wand, a tiara of disguise, and a magic mirror.
  • The witching wand allows her to make a stunning attack of shooting stars at a target within 60’. The target must make a save versus Wands; failure indicates it is stunned for 1 round.
  • The tiara of disguise allows her to appear to wear any kind of clothing she wishes – from something a fishwife might wear to a ball gown worn by a royal princess.
  • The magic mirror is a large wall-hung mirror that allows her to speak with any other fairy witch she knows who also possesses a magic mirror, over any distance; however, it must pass through the Magic Mirror Exchange Tower at FT&T (Fairy Telepath & Teleport) in Grandshee, so it takes 1d6 rounds to put through a connection per mortal realm between, and then there is a chance the target of the communication is not home. A message of up to three rounds length may be left if no one answers. Magic mirror calls cost 1 sp per round, due on the 1st of the next month, collected by fairy courier.

In addition to the usual magic-user abilities, a fairy witch possesses the following powers and responsibilities:
  • A fairy witch can grow wings and fly like a pixie or sprite (180’ (60’)); must rest 1 turn after 3 turns of flight. If already a  pixie, she can fly without need for rest; if already a sprite, flying speed increases to 240’ (80’).
  • At 4th level a fairy witch can shrink to sprite-size or back at will (if already a pixie or sprite, the fairy witch can grow to human-size or back at will).
  • Starting at 8th level a fairy witch becomes a Fairy Godmother and is assigned a “hard case,” a poor young woman (or sometimes man) who deserves better out of life, and the fairy godmother must help them realize their goals (even if they do not know them yet). She must help this hard case before she can rise in level, regardless of total experience points. Each level a fairy godmother gets a new hard case.

Right Honorable Order of Legerdemainists
A lesser regional guild considered one step above hedge mage, the RHOL trains both arcane illusionists and stage magicians. Based out of Burrowburgh, it has nowhere near the respect as P.U., nor even that of the Fairy Witches, but it is a legally chartered guild, operative in most of the Frelengian successor states. Local guild halls assist members to find gigs and stay out of the way of Johnny Law (no few members of the guild, and even whole guild chapters, are tied in with the local Thieves Guilds). After a three-year apprenticeship, a newly-minted illusionist begins play with a spell book with three 1st levels spells of choice, and one 2nd level spell of choice.

Hedge Mages and Meadow Witches
Those who learn arcane magic outside the university or school system are known as hedge mages or meadow witches (also called wise-men, wise-women, wise-guys, mountebanks, charlatans, quacks, crones, addle-casters, granny-cantrips, gaffer-crack-spell, and other pejorative terms by the “better-educated” of good old P.U.). These magic-users learn at the knee of a master, having been taken on as an apprentice (read “indentured dogs-body”), and sometimes actually manage to learn magic. Some even rise to great power and prestige; after all, even Frelengo DeFriz started out as a hedge wizard, and he founded P.U. (the fact of which graduates are never happy to be reminded).

Hedge mages and meadow witches have no special benefits, privileges, powers, abilities, or tools – however, they are also not bound by any restrictions or requirements, other than local laws about the use of magic (and hedge wizards are often more than willing to break these). They start out with a spell book with read magic, two 1st levels spells of choice, and one 2nd level spell of choice.

Bonus Spell for Magic-users and Illusionists
In the Lands of Ub, magic-users and illusionists gain the benefit of additional spells to memorize, or perhaps a chance to fail in casting a spell, based on their Intelligence score, as clerics and druids do based on their Wisdom score.

Use Wisdom Table II and give a magic-user or illusionist bonus spells or a chance of spell failure based on their Intelligence on that table, rather than their Wisdom. Thus, an illusionist with an Intelligence of 16 would gain two 1st and two 2nd level spells, while a magic-user with an Intelligence of 10 would have a 15% chance of spell failure every time he casts a spell!