Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ah, I knew this was coming. Goodbye again, my friends!

Time has swallowed me up for the last time. My limited time for gaming has become zero time. I was knee-deep in the middle of the new LL book, but that, along with anything else RPG (or PRG) related, will be stuck on the far back burner.

I know I've said this before, but I also mentioned that soon I will no longer be able to ignore my responsibilities of RL, and will eventually slither away again. This time, I'm afraid, it will be for much longer.

Take care and happy gaming!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spreading the brand name

Although I have no delusions about growing the old-school movement into the multi-million dollar mainstream, I still love the idea of finding new (or tried and true) ways of expanding the hobby.

What made the original D&D game so damn popular in the early/mid eighties? I'm sure some would say it was a perfect storm of something new, different (and even rebellious in some circles), and the internet wasn't around to whisk away most kids' attention.

However, I seem to remember that if there was something I was into, D&D was able to worm its way into the medium (or product) and place its ads in front of my curious eyes.

- Posters at the local book store (when there were still local book stores). Check.
- Tons of cheesy, yet freaking awesome, cartoon ads in all the comics I bought. Check.
- Groups of kids at my middle and high schools for rpg play. Yep.
- Dungeons & Dragons candy. Perfect. One of the easiest ways to reach the young boy demographic, especially with a kick-ass dragon pic on its cover.
- Action figures! Silly for (most) adults, sure. But when I was 11 years-old and out looking at G.I. Joes and Marvel's Secret Wars figures, the D&D figures looked cool to me.
- Board games! Remember Dungeon! and the D&D Labyrinth Game from Mattel? Not only did they help spread the brand name, they were actually fun.
- The AD&D coloring book. A giant coloring book with a stripped down D&D game within. As a kid, I loved this, but the art in it was the key. Plus, it was placed with all the other activity/coloring books and it was bigger than most of the others.
- Animated cartoon. Want to get the product in front of young kids? 'Nuff said.

I know there are a few other example that are escaping me at the moment, and even if I could remember, many of the hobby publishers absolutely do not have the resources for most, if any, of the promotional techniques mentioned.

Most agree that the best way to promote the game is to play and talk about it. Play, play, play and invite as many newbies from the office as possible. Most likely, those noobs have kids. With my limited time and resources, this is what I do and have been fairly successful at it.

Beyond that, if resources were available, what do you think would be the best way to promote, say, Labyrinth Lord (for example).

Let's say that the Labyrinth Lord Society decided to do a fund raiser to promote the game. What would be the best possible use of the funds? It would seem simple enough to sponsor some type of game play at the library or local book/gaming store, but that will only attract people already into rpgs. I'm thinking about different ways to spread the brand name.

- Comic book ads?
- Parenting magazine ads? This can promote to older non-rpg players the benefits of rpgs (reading, writing, critical thinking skills), and the bonus is that most clones are free to download - try before you buy.
- Ads in "men's" magazines? Not necessarily porn mags, but stuff like Maxim or genre mags like Fangoria. Most of these readers are either parents or uncles, and for the genre crowd who might be ex-players, it never hurts to scratch that nostalgia itch. Plus, it might get them back into the game!
- Sponsorships for kid-related events! Get those Labyrinth Lord banners over a big city's Zoobalee function, or school sporting event, or movie marathon, or whatever. Sponsorships gets your name into printed programs, t-shirts, and event signs.
- Free giveaways. Not PDFs, but hard copies. God bless Free RPG Day, but how do we get it into the hands of non-players? When I was in a band, we would spring for a ton of tapes (before CDs were readily available), set them in the area record stores with a big "Take One" sign next to them. At our gigs, we sold our demos for $1. Within a year, most of the area kids knew our songs and word spread about us pretty quickly, even to those not usually interested in metal. Could something similar work for rpgs?

These are just a few pie in the sky ideas to spread the brand name. If enough resources were available for small-scale promotion, what ideas would you have?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Early details about my new Labyrinth Lord book

Here's a few details about my new Labyrinth Lord book, Adventures into the Old Lands.

Adventures into the Old Lands is a campaign expansion for Labyrinth Lord. It will feature new classes, spells, magical items, monsters, and a couple of adventures within some of the more notable Old Lands locations.

Some of the following details are up for change.

Centuries ago, these lands were supported by a thriving fishing and farming industry. It wasn't until a secured evil on a southern island found a way to the mainland, and slowly spread. Many people moved far east, to what is now called the Known Lands.

Those who stayed moved to the northern lands which serve as a vast lair of the dreaded Worm Cult. These vile clerics and tribesmen surround Worm Mountain, a huge lone mountain within the hills of the Old Lands, to worship the Great Worm. Legend has it that the Great Worm is a god from the lower regions of the earth. Thousands of years ago it burrowed up from the earth's core causing a great mountain to form where there are no other mountains.

The southern island as well as the Worm Mountain locations will be used as two adventures to be included in the book.


• The Mountain Man class: The Mountain Man is invaluable in wilderness travel. They have spent their lives living off the shelter and sustenance provided in the harsh outside environment, using their skills to track, hunt, and set deadly traps.

• The Harlequin class: Harlequins are natural performers who have learned trade tricks of thieves and low-level wizardry. Their range of skills includes some thieving abilities and simple spells which produce minor effects (called antics).


Antics are minor spells used primarily by apprentices and harlequins. As a fan of the original cantrips, almost all of the antics are cloned from 1.5e.

Magic Items and Monsters

The new items and monsters from my past module releases with be featured here with a few more added goodies. Relics such as the Staves of Maurath and the Black Jewel will also find their way in the Old Lands book. My favorite magic item so far: the Medusa Scalp.


I had at one time used some house rules regarding shields and dodging. Researching online, I noticed that many others do the same. I may incorporate these optional combat rules here.


As previously stated, the southern (eeeeeevil) island and Worm Mountain will be the sites for the book's adventures. While the Worm Mountain adventure will be relatively short, the setting will have mega dungeon potential.

These adventures will mainly be a spring board for the new classes and items available in Adventures into the Old Lands. I think it's necessary (and cool) for a campaign expansion. Most likely they will be low level, but I am considering making the southern island adventure for intermediate levels…that's when you can bring out the undead big guns. :P


I will handle most of the interior art, but for the cover art, I am in talks with a local guy I know. I respect this guy's fantasy work a lot and I know he will do a wow-wee job. I plan for the cover to be black and white/pen and ink work, similar to the LL and AEC covers.

As I've said in a previous post, this book is still a long way off as my time for a project of this magnitude is very, very limited. However, I do make progress on it every week, so I'm happy about that.

If you have any suggestions, by all means, throw them at me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Player's Expectations, Game Balance and Whatnot

I read a terrific post from Brunomac at Temple of Demogorgon and thought about some of my past players' expectations when coming to my game table.

I am not a complete softy GM. I have no problems with the fact that sometimes characters die. I love a good trap or puzzle that has the potential of splattering a character in a finger snap. It's just as cool when the characters play their way around these deadly encounters.

I will admit that I lean toward the characters surviving the adventure, even secretly rooting for them to overcome the same killer obstacles I placed within the adventure to kill them. Weird, huh?

I also house rule a few things that benefit the characters, but my players are the types to not complain if I decided to get rid of the bonuses. Luckily, the only expectation my players have is that I will provide them with a fun time, with or without house rules or if there are character deaths, they can relax with the idea that I will not screw them out of a good game.

I am thankful that in all my experience as a GM to know of only one player who "expected" his characters to live, and if any of them died, I automatically became the Killer GM who would wring his hands together as each character met their gory deaths.

I'm sure most GMs have met players who want to bring in their characters from other power gaming campaigns (all 17s and 18s on the stats, +5 vorpal weapons, plane-jumping, wielding Thor's hammer, and all before they reach 3rd level). Or players that bring in a stack of splat books that you have never read and never WANT to read, fully expecting you to GM his multi-multi classed/sub classed thief/magic-user/jester cyclops into the town tavern to ask about adventuring rumors.

Some worry about Game Balance when confronted with such ridiculousness, but there are times when I think, "bring it on!" I'm not worried about Game Balance. If some dude wants to bring in his high powered 2nd level fighter with a Ring of Endless Disintegrations, then as a GM, I know how to stack some heavy freaking rocks on the game scale.

This, of course, can lead to some silly game play. Fun at times, but who wants a pissing match between a player with an entitlement problem and a GM who won't allow the offered entitlements to prevent a possible TPK? It's the normal players who will suffer...unless you give 'em all +5 vorpal weapons. ;)

Sometimes it's just best to say, "We're playing Labyrinth Lord (or S&W, C&C, BFRPG) and we're going to stick pretty close to those rules."

If a player has his or her own set of preferred house rules, let 'em start their own game.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Mini LabLord Character Sheet

I know that more than a handful of people have already created mini character sheets, but I thought I would go ahead and post the one I created for my games.

This character sheet is small enough to fit on a 6x4 index card. It has interactive fields you can use if you have Adobe Reader or Acrobat Pro (you can save data typed into the fields only with Acrobat Pro).

If you are printing on 6x4 cards, print at 100%. If you can get any use out of these, have at it. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My personal gaming timeline - 1979 to the present

1979/1980 - Played Adventure! on the Atari 2600 for the first time. I couldn't understand how much awesome could fit into such a small rectangular cartridge. The dragons looked like giant hollow ducks, but they still scared the hell out of me.

1982 - Played my first D&D game and died within the first 3 minutes. What happened in the game: My character went against his god's wishes and was supernaturally crushed to death by the betrayed deity. What happened in real life: The DM thought, "How can I send the little 9 year-old pest home quickly?" However, those 3 minutes changed my life.

1983 - New wave, Quiet Riot, and weird short films dominated episodes of Night Flight as I sat in front of the TV drawing pages after pages of maps. Usually, one dungeon room would fill one page. I went through a lot of paper.

1983 - Dragon's Lair appeared at my local arcade. It proceeded to eat my quarters, two at a time. It was twice as expensive as my go-to games (Pac-Man, Food Fight, Popeye, Elevator Action), but playing and guiding an animated cartoon was pure gold to a 10 year-old.

1983 - The Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. Saturday mornings became a weekly D&D holiday for me.

1984 - I bought my first issue of Marvel's Conan the Barbarian. This lone, random purchase brought me into comic collecting. I asked my dad what his favorite comic was. He told me and within a month, my back issue of Howard the Duck arrived via mail order.

1984 - Bought the Marvel Superheroes rpg. I had so much fun with this game, I nearly stopped playing D&D in favor of roleplaying Spider-Man. Plus, they turned Secret Wars into a freaking MODULE!

1985 - By this time, I was playing AD&D two to three times a week at a minimum. We house ruled so much that we may as well have re-written the rulebooks.

1985-1988 - Played through many of the classic D&D adventures. Saltmarsh, Tomb of Horrors, Beyond the Crystal Cave, Slave Lords, and the first Ravenloft just to name a few. By the way - in Ravenloft, our DM's jaw dropped (as well as a few tears) after Strahd was killed with one hit from a Mace of Disruption. Ha!

1989 - Bought all the 2nd Edition stuff. In my game, I kept what I liked from 1e in my games. Loved that the new edition was backward compatible.

1991 - My gaming began dropping off. However, I was able to DM a party through the entire Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Incredible experience, that was.

1992 - Moved from my home town to Lawrence, KS. Not to go to college, but to join a metal band. Occasionally played 1e with a small group of friends.

1993 - Stopped playing RPGs. Stopped collecting comic books. Devoted my time to music and eating Pizza Shuttle pizza.

2000 - 3e came out. This revitalized my interest in D&D. Bought the core books and noticed how completely different it was from my favorite game. I still gave it a fair shake.

2001 - My wife and I joined a 3e group. Played four sessions. The group was full of rules lawyers and combat took FOR-freaking-EVER. After the fourth session, I put my books away. The experience even made me lose interest in any RPG playing whatsoever. I hung it up.

2005 - Graduated from college and got a nice graphic design job working with a bunch of comic book/sci-fi movie geeks.

2006 - Started collecting comics again.

2008, Summer - Spoke to my Brazilian brother-in-law about the old D&D cartoon. Apparently, the show was a big hit in Brazil. He thought the game was based on the cartoon (!!). We talked for hours about D&D and my interest started shifting toward getting a game together.

2008, Summer - I didn't want to relive my gaming experience with 3e, so I researched "old school rpgs" online. After separating the computer rpgs with the tabletop rpgs, I came across the retro-clones - and they were FREE.

2008, Late Summer - I gathered a bunch of RPG newbies from my job and played David Bezio's Lost Daughter adventure using the Labyrinth Lord rules. We quickly decided to schedule another game.

2008, Fall - I took notice of the DIY publishing movement within the old-school community. I wrote The Courtyard of Gerald Red for my group's second adventure.

2008, October - Created Prime Requisite Games and published Gerald Red as my first Labyrinth Lord module.

The rest is history. Let's hope there is a future. ;)

Monday, June 7, 2010

News on Big New Project (early stages)

Dang it, I didn't mean to start on this, but it just happened. I swear.

It began with a couple ideas that I jotted down on paper. Soon I added more notes to those notes and the next thing you know, I'm typing this stuff out on my laptop. Ideas for new classes, monsters, magic and modules.

I am in the process of putting together an all-new Labyrinth Lord book. First I release A Promise of Vengeance Fulfilled, and now this.

Some vacation.

Normally, I wouldn't say anything about this project since I am so early in the process (past incidents have taught me a lesson), but after I gazed over what I have put together so far, I couldn't help myself.

The tentative title is Adventures into the Old Lands. This may change, but I'm keeping it simple.

So far, I have fleshed out (without the fine details) the following:

- Two new classes - the Mountain Man and the Harlequin.
- Cloning a batch of minor spells to be used with the Harlequin class.
- A small list of new monsters, of which I am considering on adding a bunch more. There can never be enough monsters, man!
- A few new magical items.
- A map of the Old Lands, including landmarks.
- Two locations within the Old Lands to be used for adventures. One will have mega dungeon potential (although I will not be writing a mega dungeon any time soon. It's just that this location will be ripe for such a setting).

Things I have yet to kick into for this book:

- Ideas for optional combat rules.
- The two adventures I want to include.
- Details, detail, details.

Just to let you know, I have tons of mixed notes for this book scattered about and I need to get this stuff organized and written out. This book is still a long way off (as my time to work on a project such as this is extremely limited), but I am confident that when the Old Lands finally sees the light of day, it will be a welcome addition to anyone's RPG collection.

I am guesstimating that this book will between 75 to 110 pages, depending on the amount of monsters I add and how long the two adventures will be. If I fall way short on the page count, that would be just fine with me. :)

I'll keep you posted.