Classic Dungeons and Dragons and Old School Gaming

D&D etc.

"Heir to a crumbling summit: to a sea of nettles: to an empire of rust: to rituals' footprints ankle-deep in stone."

-Mervyn Peake

"...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped."

-Sir Bedevere in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Centipedes & Spiders

Centipedes and Spiders are from the Fey Realm, but were long ago banished to the Underworld. Most of the Centipedes and Spiders, while larger than in the World We Know, are still merely beasts. There are some of these creatures who are ancient, and these have grown huge over the countless years since they were cast into the Shadow Realm and their intelect has grown with their size.

The many-legged centipedes accepted their place in the Shadow Realm and sometimes even sell whatever information they can gather about the Lords of the Underworld and the Court of the Black Citadel to the highest bidder, which is often the Kings and Queens of the Fey.

The centipedes eight legged cousins, however, have not forgotten their banishment from the shadows of the Green Realm and they hate all fey creatures with an unquenchable seething and malicious passion.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Giant Rats

The giant rats were once the favored pets and messengers of the God of the Underworld. They have been replaced by the crows in this respect and have been banished to the edges of the Dark Sea.
These rats possess a keen animal inteligence and are capable of mimicing speech. They were once able to swim short distances in the sea of the dead, and to facilitate their movement from island to island ancient stones were errected. Many of these stones are still in place.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Black Lodge of Elemental Evil, etc.

I, like a few other people, just bought some old D&D stuff.  I got the Keep on the Borderlands (which I'm now running) and the Village of Hommlet.  I never played through these some I'm coming at them fresh. I'm not going to review or discuss these right now really except to say that when I read about the Temple of Elemental Evil in VoH more than anything it made me think of this place:

When I run this I think I'll associate each of the NPCs in the village with someone from Twin Peaks.  Of course the Inn of the Welcome Wench will serve cherry pie and damn fine coffee.

This is pretty much how most players act, right?

On another note:

Friar Dave recently asked the question, "with cheap and legal PDFs of B/X D&D, do we still need Labyrinth Lord?"  This has gotten me thinking about how there is a retroclone product that I wish existed but doesn't really.  What I want is a pdf primer/player's guide to Fantasy gaming that I can print several copies of and give away to players.  It would have:

  • A low page count, probably 24 pages at most.  I want it to cost a buck fifty or less to print. 
  • Not a lot of art, but some art for atmosphere.  Probably line art so as not to bleed through cheap stock paper.
  • A brief explanation of what the game is and how to play.
  • Have rules for character generation, the first few levels of spells and some simple adventuring rules like time and movement, light, maybe hirelings.
  • Editable forms, so the DM can modify to describe the rules of whichever particular edition or version of the game they are running.  This one is the trickiest I think, but many of the different versions of the game are similar enough that I think you could do it and cover most of them.
  • A character sheet on the back.
The Original Fantasy Player Reference that Paul made is the closest thing that I have found.  It's strictly for Swords and Wizardry doesn't have art and it's not editable though.  Am i crazy, is this a pipe dream?  Is there some complication with the OGL that prevents this?  Or is there something like this already that I haven't found?

And one more thing:
In my last post I describe my preferred vision of orcs, and I've described orc shenaegans in the past.  They look something like this:
I was reminded about these guys by Needles fantastic post of 1d10 Deep Ones loot.  For me, orcs are less Peter Jackson and more H.P. Lovecraft and Roger Corman.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Orcs are the simplest and most fundamental tool that evil gods and demons have to wreak their machinizations upon the World We Know. They enter the World We Know through the waters of brackish fens, dark pools under moonlight, or the sea. They can be found in the Shadow Realm as well, awaiting direction from their masters.

While goblins have pebbled skin which is often bright, striped and be-spiked like a lizzard, orcs are mottled, dark and smooth like an eel.

While goblins are maniacal inventors, orcs are patient builders, constructing monoliths and monuments.

While goblins often sing, orcs do not, though on moonless nights a low inhuman chanting may be heard coming from Orchenges.

Orcs are dutiful in the work they do for their masters, however, this work is merely vocational. The gods that orcs truly worship are much, much older and long since vanished from any world known to orcs or men.

Orcs are fascinated by human women.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Skeletons are the most common creature to coalesce in the mists over the dark sea from the dreams of the dead. The dead often dream of themselves it seems. These skeletons are almost always violent, angry and mindless. There are stories, however, of skeletons capable of thought and speech and with memories of their past life.

Sorcerers are capable of learning a certain unholy and ancient runic language. By carving a particular rune  on the inside of a skeleton's breastbone and carving a complimentary rune into his own flesh a sorcerer may bind the skeleton to his command.  Wizards, rulers of aberrant empires of long ago bound countless skeletal warriors in this way and fought wars amongst each other.  In the Southern Wastes there are tombs full of these silent armies and magical scrolls made from the skin of sorcerers preserve the runes of command.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Goblins sprout from the wounds of devils or ooze forth from the blood of demons. When a demon is killed a ritual must be performed to prevent a horde of goblins from pouring forth from the corpse.  Long have the demons and devils attempted to control goblins for their own demonic ends. They have had little success. Goblins certainly make mischief in the world, but it is their own mischief, not anyone else's.

Goblins love making things, inventing things, and breaking things to reshape them for their own pernicious ends. In the songs of goblins are the secrets to making vile constructs, contraptions and machines.

In the Shadow Realm goblins can be found fishing, usually with a box made of thick copper wire and glass, with one side that may be opened. They affix this box to the end of a line and toss it into the Sea of the Dead. When they haul in the line the box is filled with a memory, stolen from the dead and rendered in physical form: a live chicken, a worn boot, creek water on a warm summers day or a birthday cake.

Goblins never wear shoes.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Kobolds come from their own realm which is not the World We Know, nor the Shadow Realm. Some kobolds say that their world is of a slightly different shape than ours, and other kobolds say that it is shaped exactly the same but is at a slightly different angle. Kobolds apparently can travel to and from their world as long as they are not touching iron, but if they are cut by an iron blade they loose this power forever. When they travel this was they appear or disappear in a puff of smoke. Kobolds revere knowledge above all worldly things. They are especially fond of the written world and will bargain, beg, command or cajole to get a book they have not seen or read. There are groups of kobolds, sundered from their home who live in caves in the walls of black stone that surround the Sea of the Dead. Some say they tunnel to and from the world we know, stealing books and amassing secret libraries.