Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Contemptible Cube of Quazar

Somebody out there has posted it:


If you run it, I want a full report!

EDIT: For monster stats, see the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Homebrew D&D for Kids

UPDATE: A few people have asked for a PDF of my rules for kids:

(Scroll down the page for a PDF of the Kid's Character Sheet.)

Having nothing better to do the Friday after Thanksgiving, I whipped up a quick dungeon and house-ruled a kid-friendly version of basic D&D. Fun was had by all as knights, wizards, elves, and dwarves braved the strange caverns to rescue the enchanted sword of the faerie queen.

Below are some photos from the session, as well as my new house-rules for kids, a kid-friendly character sheet, the map of the dungeon, and even the encounter key!

There are four character classes to choose from in Kids' D&D: knight, wizard, elf, and dwarf. The knight and wizard class titles may be changed to “warrior princess” or “enchantress” respectively if the player so desires.


Special Ability: In combat a knight gets 2 attacks every round.

Starting Equipment: Plate mail, shield, sword, torch.

Armor Class: 2


Special Ability: Each day, a wizard can use his staff to cast two spells per level of experience. At 1st level a wizard gets two 1st level spells, at 2nd level he gets two 2nd level spells, and so on.

Starting Equipment: Staff, dagger, torch.

Armor Class: 9

Special Ability: Each day, an elf can use his wand to cast one spell per level of experience.  At 1st level an elf gets one 1st level spell, at 2nd level he gets one 2nd level spell, and so on.

Starting Equipment: Chain mail, bow and arrows, magic wand, torch.

Armor Class: 5

Special Ability: When searching, a dwarf will automatically find any secret door in the area (i.e. less than 40' away).

Starting Equipment: Plate mail, shield. axe, torch.

Armor Class: 2

There are no ability scores in Kids' D&D. To create a character, choose one of the four character classes, name the character, and draw a picture of the character (not necessarily in that order). Then, on the character record sheet, note the character's level (1), hit points (roll d6), armor class (2, 5, or 9), and saving throw (15). In the appropriate space, note the character's special abilities and equipment, then fill in the “TO HIT” ARMOR CLASS table at the bottom of the record sheet. The character needs a 10 to hit AC 9, an 11 to hit AC 8, a 12 to hit AC 7, and so on.

For a printable PDF of the Kids' D&D character sheet, CLICK HERE.

At 1st level all characters roll 1d6 for hit points, with an additional d6 each time a character gains an experience level. All characters begin with a saving throw of 15, which improves by two each time the character gains an experience level.

Experience points are gained at a rate of 100 x.p. per HD of monster defeated and 1 x.p. per g.p. value of treasure found. After each adventure, earned x.p. should be divided evenly among the surviving characters. An experience level is gained when a character accrues experience points equal to his current level x 1000. Thus, a 1st level character would need to earn 1000 experience points to achieve 2nd level. A 2nd level character would need an additoinal 2000 experience points (for a total of 3000) to reach 3rd level.

Character's LevelExperience Points Needed

A roll of a 1 or 2 on d6 will indicate success when a character attempts any of the following actions: listening at a door, opening a stuck door, searching for hidden items or secret doors. (NOTE: If the searching character is a dwarf he will automatically find any secret doors in the immediate area. For every failed attempt to open a stuck door, the DM should make a secret check for wandering monsters.)

When miniatures are used, the movement rate for all characters is 3 squares (i.e. 15') per round on a 1” grid or other playing surface where 1” = 5 feet. The movement rate in squares per round for monsters is equal to their base move rate divided by 3. For example, a goblin with a base move rate of 6” would move 2 squares, or 10' per round; a giant ant with a move rate of 18” would move 6 squares, or 30' per round.

Spells for wizards and elves are drawn from the spell lists of both clerics and magic-users. The DM may limit available spells to a few per spell level, based upon their understandability and ease of use by new or young players.


cure light wounds



magic missile

find traps


speak with animal





lightning bolt

remove curse

charm monster

neutralize poison


wizard eye


hold monster



wall of stone


  1. 2 giant ants and a cauldron that produces a magical face in the smoke that rises from within. Once per day the face says, "Ask me three yea or nay questions."

  2. 5 giant rats. In one corner is a barrel of cider. On top of the barrel is a coiled 50' rope and a bottle labeled "cure for poison." Leaning against the barrel is a sack full of apples, and a sack with 250 silver coins.

  3. A golden living statue wearing a gold key on a chain about its neck. He will give the key to anyone who asks for it nicely. The key unlocks the door to room #4. In the corner of the room is a burning brazier. Anyone who approaches it and says, "Use your power, O magic brazier," will be affected by its power. Roll d6: 1). heal 1d6 damage, 2.) turns character into a small animal, 3.) character loses all hair, 4.) character's skin turns color, 5.) character falls asleep for 10 min., 6.) a pouch containing 20 g.p. appears.

  4. The door to this room is locked. Inside are 4 goblins, and an owl bear chained to the back wall. There is also a giant centipede hiding in a crack in the north wall.

  5. The secret passage leads to the treasure pit. The treasure consists of the faerie queens sword, 2 bags of gold (100 coins each), and a chest containing 200 silver pieces and 10 ruby gems (worth 20 g.p. each).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The fifth session of my SKULL MOUNTAIN game will be running this Sunday at Dragons Lair Games in Austin, TX. If you'd like to join the game, you can sign up at The Austin D&D Meetup, or just show up at 1:00 PM on Sunday, September 19.

Here's the "Kill Sheet" from session 3 (at the Central Texas Mini-Con). Seven characters and 4 retainers entered the dungeon that day; 1 player character and two retainers made it out! But man! Look at all the loot Zerhain the Lucky walked away with!

Friday, September 10, 2010

From The Scrolls of Skrel, Excerpt B

The Elves of Planet Eris

The elves are known as the people of the four stars, for it is said they hail from the stars of Failias, Goirias, Murias, and Findias. On planet Eris, these stars are visible in the northern sky. The elves are a divine race, knowing no death due to length of years or passing of the æons. They came unto Eris twice. The first invasion, in the 11th Æon of this world was repelled by the demons of the icy wastes on the plain of the southern tower. When they returned in the 31st Æon, they drove the giants to the far reaches of the north, and the elves finally established their dominion over all of Eris. But their supremacy was short-lived. The divine race was vanquished in the 33rd Æon, when earthmen first appeared on Eris. It is believed that the “pure remnant” of these conquered immortals retreated beneath the land and sea to a parallel inner world. Certain of their progeny, however, persist on the surface world as half-elves (the product of a visitation of a divine elf upon a human female), or, as changelings (full-blood elves that are swapped at birth with human children). While commonly shunned when their faerie natures are first discovered, the most gifted of these half-elves and changelings come oft into the service of human princes and emperors as expert hirelings, sages, and advisors. The balance of their kind, however, must make their way in the world of men by cunning and wit. And it is from this pool that the typical elven adventurer is generally drawn.

The article above was found among the Scrolls of Skrel, a lesser scribe at the Last Outpost of the Sparn Empire in the 66th æon of Eris.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


The Magnum Opus of 70's Sci-fi Wargames

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back from the Jungle

I made it out alive! I'm back from the jungles of Costa Rica.

Regarding the Central Texas Mini-Con: The con is still on, but due to low registration for the event, my SKULL MOUNTAIN game is cancelled. I'll still be attending as a player in Alex's Mentzer Basic "Egyptian Tomb" game. If your interested in playing there may be a seat left. Contact Alex via the Mini-Con thread at the Dragonsfoot forums. SKULL MOUNTAIN will return in September for the Austin D&D Meetup that is being planned for September 19 at Dragon's Lair games. I'll post sign-up links as soon as they are available.

When not carving my way through the treacherous jungles, I used my two-week vacation to do an intensive study of the LBB's and create this map of the Sparn Empire of Planet Eris (the setting for my SKULL MOUNTAIN game and, of course, home world of the vile wizard, Quazar!). 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Shall Return...

...For Day 2 of the Central Texas Mini-Con!

In the mean time, I'll be braving the jungles of Costa Rica: battling blood-thirsty snake-cults, delving for lost jewels in the misty depths of the ruined ape city, outwitting relentless cannibal hordes, and fending off swarms of poisonous man-eating frogs! 

Well, if I have enough spare time, that is, I'll be doing all those things in my notebook, as I update Skull Mountain for it's next session on Saturday, August 21, 2010 at Scholz Beer Garten in Austin, Texas for Day 2 of the Central Texas Mini-Con.

Sign up at It's FREE!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BUMP for the Central TX Mini-Con

Day 1 of the Central TX Mini-Con is this Saturday, July 31, 11AM-10PM. Thought I'd give it a bump. 

Here's the link to get registered. It's FREE! 

Here's the tentative schedule: 

Alex Johnson: Running a Mentzer D&D Basic/Expert one-shot 

Norman Harman: Running a Labyrinth Lord, modified B2 "Keep on the Borderlands"
Jimm Johnson: Running OD&D/Swords & Wizardy, "Skull Mountain" megadungeon
Additional Game(s): Depends on turn out 

Sign up while you still can!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Austin, Texas Old-School Mini-Con

July 31 & August 21, 2010, 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM 
at Scholz Beer Garten in Austin, Texas.

Several games of the OD&D, BD&D, and AD&D varieties will be featured, including a session (or two) of my OD&D/Swords & Wizardry "Skull Mountain" game.

Sign up Here:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Quick Update: Skull Mt. & Fight On!

Just a quick update-- more when I have time. My SKULL MOUNTAIN megadungeon game forges into its second monthly session. (See my current sidebar for info.) And the much anticipated (and cleaned-up version of) The Contemptible Cube of Quazar (a one page dungeon) is now available in issue #9 of Fight On! magazine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

From The Scrolls of Skrel, Excerpt A

The Apes of Brool

The jungles north of the last outpost of Sparn are known generally as The Jungles of Brool. Not commonly known, however, is the origin of this name. There are several tribes of white apes that habitate within this area. These creatures are uncommonly cunning, and at least some of their number are capable of speech. All of these tribes refer to themselves as "The Apes of Brool," which may, on first blush, seem a simple reference to the name of the jungle in which they dwell. The apes, however, maintain an oral tradition that offers another explanation. Brool, they claim, was their greatest king, ruler of a vast ape empire which existed sometime in the distant past-- perhaps five or six æons ago, perhaps more. According to the white apes, this empire spanned the entire length and breadth of what we now know as The Jungles of Brool. The truth of this account remains uncertain. However, there are reports of ruins and crumbling stones within the jungle which bear carvings of apes and monkeys preparing for war, practicing agriculture, and populating temples and fortresses.

The article above was found among the Scrolls of Skrel, a lesser scribe at the Last Outpost of the Sparn Empire in the 66th æon of Eris.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

North Texas RPG Con Photos

Me discussing the finer points of gaming philosophy with Rob Kuntz and Tim Kask.
Convention organizer Doug Rhea with an orange B3 and a 1st ed. Palace of the Vampire Queen from his extensive collection.
Jason "Philotomy" Cone's table delving into his campaign megadungeon, Cromlech Tor.
Tim Kask and Rob Kuntz: Thinking really hard about the early days of the game.
Dennis running his new Swords & Wizardry scenario, Ursined, Sealed, and Delivered, with help from co-DM "Taco John" Hershberger.
Awesome Erol Otus painting.
At the "Megadungeon" panel, Matt Finch and Allan "Grodog" Grohe check out the Megadungeon Quilt!?!
"Grodog," "Philotomy," and Paul Jaquays disect the megadungeon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Secret Invisible Gygax Dungeon

I know this map has made the rounds, but I was futzing around with it in Photoshop, hoping to get more detail, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a strange sunflower-shape dead center of the dungeon. 

What is it? 

A watermark logo on the graph paper? Probably...

Or could it possibly be the outline of the next level of Castle Greyhawk faintly showing
 through the page?!?

Has anyone else discovered this?

Click the pic for more detail...

The original image can be found here:

UPDATE: Grodog at Dragonsfoot sent me a better copy of the image file, and I was able to pull out a bit more detail. Here it is:

Again, click for more detail.

Friday, May 14, 2010

B/X DM Screen

There's a thread over on Dragonsfoot about custom B/X screens, so I thought I'd post some photos of mine. Click on the images for a closer view. (And see my 'Weekend B3 Game' blog entry for a picture of this screen in action.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekend B3 Game

Three weeks ago, my wife Heather and I had a couple friends over. They'd pretty much never done any tabletop roleplaying, but they'd heard that I was working on some stuff for Brave Halfling, so they asked if we could play some D&D. I said, sure, and whipped out the Moldvay Basic Rules and Module B3. After about a half-hour of character creation, they were happily hacking away at skeletons and giant rats in the gatehouse below the Silver Palace. They've been back every weekend since to continue the game. After three sessions, they've gotten through almost 3/4 of the lower level of the palace.

Here's a couple pictures Heather took. In the first one, notice my awesome homemade B/X screen. The second picture shows Lawson, a first time player concentrating on getting every detail onto his map. (He's very proud of the map!)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Moon Pyramids!

If there's anything that comes close to the coolness of a giant granite cube, it's got to be these mysterious pyramids on the moon. Be sure to watch the video clip on the Website: 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Law v. Chaos, Part I

One thing I find interesting about the alignment systems of early D&D is the choice to use a law/chaos cosmology as opposed to one based on the more familiar construct of good/evil. This choice may have been a nod to Michael Moorcock's various novels built around the eternal cosmic struggle of law against chaos, but it also corresponds nicely with the ancient mythologies of many (or even most) cultures where the law/chaos cosmology appears to predate the traditional concept of good/evil. Many mythological heroes behave in ways that could be perceived as evil by modern standards. Yet these ancient characters maintain their heroic status, not by championing good over evil, but by defending order from disorder. In it's most primitive form this concept might even be reduced to a basic struggle of light versus darkness (i.e. the light and safety of the tribal fire versus the darkness and peril of the unknown that lie beyond).

The significance of this, it seems, is that if correctly understood and executed, this sort of treatment of the early D&D alignments might be useful to a fantasy campaign striving for a more primitive, heroic feel. I've title this post "Part I" to allow me to come back to this idea as I continue to wrap my head around it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Contemptible Cube of Quazar

So this is my new blog. Never run one before, so it may be a few days/weeks before I figure out how everything works. I'm titling this blog after my recent submission (and winning entry) to the 2010 One-Page-Dungeon contest: The Contemptible Cube of Quazar. (Such a cheesy-
yet-cool name.)

Not only did "The Cube" place in the contest, but Fight On! magazine has requested a cleaned-up version of the scenario for publication in their 9th issue. Can't wait for that!

Here's the backstory/teaser to the adventure:

Quazar, a powerful evil magic-user from planet Eris has accidentally transported himself and his cube-like stronghold to Earth. He is trapped in his Inner Sanctum until he can be freed by The Four Sacred Keys. In the meantime, the uncontrolled denizens of his fortress venture forth at night to feed and plunder the local villages.