Monday, June 6, 2011

Red Planet RPG Review by Paladin in Citadel

"There are several things that I feel very strongly about.
"One is that "hobbyist" game designers are producing games and game accessories that are just as ground-breaking and note-worthy as those produced by the so-called "professional" game designers.

"Another is that people deserve to be recognized and compensated for their work.

"Which brings me to Red Planet RPG. That game was written in 1990, and updated in 2005 (presumably to add the OGL, accompanying the current version of the game), by Clovis Cithog of Jasoomian Dreams. The cover illustration is by Elton Robb of The Atlantis Blog, with interior illustrations by Kris Todd and Patric Moore.

"While not the first role-playing game to be based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian Chronicles (arguably, that honor goes to TSR's Warriors Of Mars), this early implementation of rules for a Barsoomian role-playing game is equally true to the source material, and will cost you significantly less to purchase.

"For those of you familiar with the John Carter of Mars series, all of the recognizable Barsoomian elements are included: the races (red, green and yellow martians, therns, and black pirates); measurements (tals, xats, zodes, sofads, ads, etc.); weapons (radium weapons, rapiers); fliers; and, monsters (apts, banths, and white apes).

"Red Planet RPG appears to be a very faithful adaptation of the Martian Chronicles, going into great detail regarding the setting, the peoples, culture and history of Barsoom.

"Clovis has elected to utilize both class and skill systems for character generation and differentiation. I have no fatal objections to that approach; after all, that approach is basically how Traveller works, and Traveller is beloved by many old-schoolers. The classes and skills in Red Planet RPG are well-suited for the setting: classes include scientist, trooper, criminal, warrior and priest. The skills are likewise well-suited to a science-fantasy setting, with both fantasy and high technological skills included in the list.

"Red Planet uses six abilities as the basis for character generation. Those abilities (Strength, Agility, Tenacity, Reason, Intuition and Persuasion) are roughly analogous to the six abilities in D&D. Hit points are also employed, along with saving throws and levels. Therefore, those familiar with the basic workings of D&D will have no difficulty grasping and employing this game almost immediately after digesting the flavour and setting of this game.

"The combat system is more elaborate than what you will find in early iterations of Dungeons and Dragons. The combat system includes, for example, four separate critical hits tables, for blunt, energy, piercing and slashing weapons respectively. Though the combat system is a bit more detailed than the one I typically employ,this certainly adds some interesting cinematic (for lack of a better word) elements.

"Red Planet includes spells for Priests, despite the fact that the author acknowledges that most priests in the Martian Chronicles are either frauds or charlatans. But what would a fantasy role-playing game be without spell-casters!

"At 72 pages, Red Planet RPG is a lot of game, packed in a small package. As a hobbyist game-designer and publisher, Clovis Cithog is humble about his creation, and offers it at the bargain price of $10 to US residents. As I said at the start of this review, I feel strongly about trumpeting the remarkable achievements of the hobbyist game designers in our midst, and seeing them fairly compensated for their efforts. This game is a steal at $10. "

Sunday, May 22, 2011


The capital city of this red Martian empire is located in Barsoom’s southwest hemisphere; however, at one time, its mines, canals, farmlands and territories stretched from pole to pole. The capital city’s gates had “no regular guard, but are covered by sentries, who patrol the avenue that encircles the city just within the walls as our metropolitan police patrol their beats. . . The walls of Zodanga are seventy-five feet in height and fifty feet thick. They are built of enormous blocks of carborundum, and the task of entering the city seemed, to my escort of green warriors, an impossibility.” (PM XIV)

At the height of its power, Zodanga could field an infantry of one million warriors and a navy of several thousand battleships.
"The bravery of the Zodangans was awe-inspiring." (PM XIV) The hereditary enemy of Helium, this red Martian empire also “had for years waged a ruthless campaign of extermination against the green men, directing special attention toward despoiling their incubators.” (PM XIV)

Zodanga has never fully recovered after its capitol was sacked by a mighty alliance of 150,000 Green Martian troopers lead by John Carter and Tars Tarkas of Thark.
“Behind us we left the stricken city in the fierce and brutal clutches of some forty thousand green warriors of the lesser hordes. They were looting, murdering, and fighting amongst themselves. In a hundred places they had applied the torch, and columns of dense smoke were rising above the city as though to blot out from the eye of heaven the horrid sights beneath." (PM XVI)

After Zodanga was conquered, Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium appointed Zat Arras as the new Jed of Zodanga. Zat Arras was a man of thin, cruel lips who turned out to be a disappointing successor of Than Kosis (the former Jeddak of Zodanga who was killed by John Carter). Zat Arras was an ambitious coward, who rather than face the Prince of Helium in combat upon the decks of a battleship, turned, ran and “sprung to the rail and hurled himself headforemost into the awful depths below.” (GM XIX)

Friday, May 13, 2011


INTV….... +0
ATTK….. +5/ one bite OR +3/ two tucks
DMGE…….3d6 OR 2d6 each
AC…….…. 5
HD……… 8d8
Fort..…... +4
Will……. +3
Move…..…. 7”

“The apt was our most consistent and dangerous foe. It is a huge, white furred creature with six limbs, four of which, short and heavy, carry it swiftly over the snow and ice; while the other two, growing forward from the shoulders on either side of its long, powerful neck, terminate in white, hairless hands, with which it seizes and holds its prey. Its head and mouth are more similar in appearance to those of a hippopotamus than any other earthly animal, except that from the sides of the lower jawbone two mighty horns curve slightly downward toward the front. Its two huge eyes inspired my greatest curiosity.
“They extend into vast, oval patches from the center of the top of the cranium, down either side of the head to below the roots of their horns, so that these weapons really grow out from the lower part of the eyes, which are composed of several thousand ocelli each. . . each ocellus is furnished with its own lid, and the animal can at will open as many of the facets of its huge eyes as it chooses, because much of its life is spent in subterranean recesses.”
(WM, VIII, p.79-80)

Without fear and unhindered by grievous injury, apts hunt alone or in pairs, they “rove the dismal north attacking every living thing that comes within the scope of their far-seeing eyes. Even when their bellies are full, and they can eat no more, they kill purely for the pleasure which they derive from taking life.” (WM, VIII, p.80)

B&Wimage is from Kris Todd
Color is Micheal Whelan's artwork
image FROM:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Phaidor is a Goddess

"I can aid you," she said, "and you will need all the aid available when they awaken."
"Some of them will awake in Korus," I replied smiling.
She caught the meaning of my words, and the cruelty of her answering smile horrified me. One is not astonished by cruelty in a hideous face, but when it touches the features of a goddess whose fine-chiselled lineaments might more fittingly portray love and beauty, the contrast is appalling. Quickly I released her.
"Give me a revolver," she whispered. "I can use that upon those your sword does not silence in time."
I did as she bid. Then I turned toward the distasteful work that lay before me. This was no time for fine compunctions, nor for a chivalry that these cruel demons would neither appreciate nor reciprocate.
Stealthily I approached the nearest sleeper. When he awoke he was well on his journey to the bosom of Korus. His piercing shriek as consciousness returned to him came faintly up to us from the black depths beneath. The second awoke as I touched him, and, though I succeeded in hurling him from the cruiser's deck, his wild cry of alarm brought the remaining pirates to their feet. There were five of them.
As they arose the girl's revolver spoke in sharp staccato and one sank back to the deck again to rise no more. The others rushed madly upon me with drawn swords. The girl evidently dared not fire for fear of wounding me, but I saw her sneak stealthily and cat-like toward the flank of the attackers. Then they were on me."

"I ceased my efforts to climb across the gunwale. Instead I took a firm grasp upon the rail with my left hand and drew my dagger. I should at least die as I had lived--fighting. . .
Thurid was beside her now--pushing past to reach me first, and then what happened happened so quickly that it was all over before I could realize the truth of it. Phaidor's slim hand shot out to close upon the black's dagger wrist. Her right hand went high with its gleaming blade.
"That for Matai Shang!" she cried, and she buried her blade deep in the dator's breast. "That for the wrong you would have done Dejah Thoris!" and again the sharp steel sank into the bloody flesh.
"And that, and that, and that!" she shrieked, "for John Carter, Prince of Helium," and with each word her sharp point pierced the vile heart of the great villain. Then, with a vindictive shove she cast the carcass of the First Born from the deck to fall in awful silence after the body of his victim.
I had been so paralyzed by surprise that I had made no move to reach the deck during the awe-inspiring scene which I had just witnessed, and now I was to be still further amazed by her next act, for Phaidor extended her hand to me and assisted me to the deck, where I stood gazing at her in unconcealed and stupefied wonderment. A wan smile touched her lips--it was not the cruel and haughty smile of the goddess with which I was familiar. (WM XV)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Navies of Barsoom

The aerial navies of Barsoom are the force that gives the Red Martians superiority in warfare against the other races. The battleship is the principal warship upon the Red Planet. Proudly displayed on the bow of all warships is the nation’s identifying device or insignia. While the hulls of scientific or merchant vessels are painted grey. “Upon each battleship there are five ten-man cruisers, and ten five-man scouts, and a hundred one-man scouts." (GM XIX)

Smaller and swifter warships such as cruiser or destroyers are used for patrol or convey duty. “If we are high enough our keel plates will protect us from rifle fire. . . . The swifter craft are seldom equipped with large buoyancy tanks, since the added bulk of them tends to reduce a vessel's speed. . . . Our speed must have approximated two hundred miles an hour, for Martian fliers are swift, so that at most we were in the shaft not over forty seconds.” (GM XIII)

Naval crew are referred to as sailors or thans. A lieutenant or padwar is the lowest rank of naval officer and sometimes will command a ten-man cruiser. A captain or dwar is the rank required to lead either a 100 man cruiser or a destroyer. A battleship is controlled by an odwar or commander, while a fleet (some as large as 100 battleships) is under the direction of a warlord or jedwar.

“My fellow prisoner was Kantos Kan, a padwar (lieutenant) in the navy of Helium. He had been a member of the ill-fated expedition which had fallen into the hands of the Tharks at the time of Dejah Thoris' capture, and he briefly related the events which followed the defeat of the (twenty) battleships. … Thirty days after the capture of Dejah Thoris, or about the time of our coming to Thark, his vessel had reached Helium with about ten survivors of the original crew of seven hundred officers and men. Immediately seven great fleets, each of one hundred mighty war ships, had been dispatched to search for Dejah Thoris, and from these vessels two thousand smaller craft had been kept out continuously in futile search for the missing princess." (PM XIX)

Soldiers salute by placing both palms forward above their head. Advancement in rank for officers and crew is thru merit and courage. \Warfare, is too omnipresent upon the Red Planet for politics and wealth to have a major roll in career progression. Naval crews of the Red Martian are disciplined, virtuous and merciless. “Upon Barsoom, quarter is neither asked nor given, and each dead man means so much more of the waning resources of this dying planet to be divided amongst those who survive.” (GM VII)

A naval battle upon Barsoom is a most spectacular sight to behold; however there is “an extremely pathetic side to the surrender of these mighty fliers, the result of an age-old custom which demanded that surrender should be signalized by the voluntary plunging to earth of the commander of the vanquished vessel. One after another the brave fellows, holding their colors high above their heads, leaped from the towering bows of their mighty craft to an awful death.” (PM XXVI)

“On the morning of the second day we raised the great fleet of transports and their consorts at the first flood of dawn, and soon were near enough to exchange signals (by flags). I may mention here that radio-aerograms are seldom if ever used in war time, or for the transmission of secret dispatches at any time, for as often as one nation discovers a new cipher, or invents a new instrument for wireless purposes its neighbours bend every effort until they are able to intercept and translate the messages. For so long a time has this gone on that practically every possibility of wireless communication has been exhausted and no nation dares transmit dispatches of importance in this way.” (PM XIX)

At its zenith, the fleet of Helium is about 7000 battleships and capital ships and at least 1000 transports. Each transport can carry 250 Green Troopers or 750 Red Troopers or 2000 Red Infantry.

The navy of Ptarth has 4,000 battleships.
The navy of Dusar has 5,000 battleships.
The navy of Zodanga has 3,000 battleships.
The navy of Gathol has 500 battleships.
Protected by a forest of towering trees, the nation of Kaol requires no navy.

The Fleet of the therns is 2000 battleships. while the elite black pirate armada is 1000 capital ships.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Joe Jusko is following MY blog ; - )

What an honor . . .
Check out his great artwork in Dynamite comics

Warlord of Mars #5 came out THIS week
enclosed is the story of Zad

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do SKILLS belong in classical gaming ?

I have never been a fan of feats, yet
I maintain that skills ARE old school. What is NOT consistent with classical gaming is munchkin character builds and complex formulas to calculate one’s proficiency or rank in a skill.
Two examples . . .

This fine argument from Mystic Mogul posted on 17 Sep 2010. . .

"First up is the idea that Skill Challenges are new to fourth edition. Nonsense! We've been struggling with them for years--let's look at a example from the 2nd edition Player's Handbook.A

" ' A freak wave sweeps Fiera (an elf) overboard during the night. Fortunately, she can swim and knows that land is nearby. Bravely, she sets out through calm water. Her Constitution score is 16. After 14 hours of steady swimming, she makes out an island on the horizon. Two hours later she is closer, but still has some way to go. During the next hour (her 17th in the water), her Constitution drops to 15 (her attack penalty is -17!) and she must make a Constitution check. A 12 is rolled--she passes. In the last hour, the 18th, the seas become rough. Her Constitution is now 13 (the DM ruled that the heavy seas made her lose 2 points of Constitution this hour), and the DM decides she must pass an extra Constitution check to reach shore. She rolls a 5 and flops onto shore, exhausted. ' ”

Traveller, the Role Playing game was first published in 1977.
Note that game's heavy dependence on skill usage.

Now, that we established that skills are consistent with classical game play.
Why should we include them . . .

The elegant use of a skill system allows seamless customization of characters without having to propagate an endless series of new character classes. No need for a ranger class, just have you fighter select tracking and stealth as skills. No need for a sage class, just have your mage acquire scroll craft and archaic knowledge.

The use of a skill system provides value for the non-fighters and those characters who lack spell casting abilities; i.e., a thief with climb skill is going to have a much higher degree of expertise or rank than an equal level fighter or priest who also has climb skill.

Long gone are those days of endless time and four television channels when you had hours upon hours to design and craft your own unique dungeons and adventurers. The use of a skill system is a great time saver for the modern, adult game master who has significant work, familial and social commitments.

A skill system (and ascending armor class) makes your rules compatible with the most popular game system of all time
(OGL, v.3.X, and Pathfinder).
The GM can now scavenge a plethora of free or darn near free adventures from the net, E-bay or Amazon for hiser weekly game. An OGL compatible game allows a resourceful GM to more rapidly prepare stories, maps, plot hooks and stat blocks.

“Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”
Attributed to Albert Einstein

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thuvia is hotter than an Elf chic

“She advanced all defenseless and unarmed upon the snarling banths.
When quite close to them she spoke a single Martian word in low but peremptory tones. Like lightning the great beasts wheeled upon her, and I looked to see her torn to pieces before I could reach her side, but instead the creatures slunk to her feet like puppies that expected a merited whipping.
Again she spoke to them, but in tones so low I could not catch the words, and then started toward the opposite chamber with six mighty monsters trailing at heel. One by one she sent them through the secret panel into the room beyond, and when the last had passed from the chamber where we stood in wide-eyed amazement, she turned and smiled.”
(GM, IV)

Again he caught her roughly to him, dragging her towards his couch. "If you will not be my queen," he said, "you shall be my slave."
"Neither!" cried the girl.
As she spoke the single word there was a quick move of her right hand; Tario, releasing her, staggered back, both hands pressed to his side. At the same instant the room filled with bowmen, and then the jeddak of Lothar sank senseless to the marble floor.
At the instant that he lost consciousness the bowmen were about to release their arrows into Thuvia's heart. Involuntarily she gave a single cry for help, though she knew that not even Carthoris of Helium could save her now.
Then she closed her eyes and waited for the end. No slender shafts pierced her tender side. She raised her lids to see what stayed the hand of her executioners. The room was empty save for herself and the still form of the jeddak of Lothar lying at her feet, a little pool of crimson staining the white marble of the floor beside him. Tario was unconscious.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dejah Thoris is hotter than an elf chick ! !

and her Dynamite comic came out THIS week

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


From Pliny 9:67
“The sea ram commits its ravages like a wary robber; at one time it will lurk in the shadow of some large vessel that is lying out to sea, and wait for anyone tempted to swim. While at another, it will raise its head from the surface of the sea and survey the fisherman’s boats, and then slyly swim towards them and sink them.”

In ancient times the orca or killer whale was also called the sea ram, because the white blotches on its skull resemble horns from a distance. Recall that killer whales are so named, because they used to eat people. With the invention of gun powder and steel hull ships these intelligent mammals made a truce with mankind and no longer hunt us. Of all the marine animals, the orca has best mastered public relations and is the darling of the modern public.

This is a blog about classic role playing games and
the Barsoomian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs . . .
have a look around, you may find something you enjoy !

My original sword & planet roleplay gaming is filed under RP
Those interested in barsoom should head over to the Glossary

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


INTV…... +1
ATTK…. +3/ one bite & +3/ two claws
DMGE…….2d6 & d6 each
AC…….…. 7
HD……… 4d8
Fort..….... +1
Will…….... +1
Move….…. 9”

"The banth is a fierce beast of prey that roams the low hills surrounding the dead seas of ancient Mars. Like nearly all Martian animals it is almost hairless, having only a great bristly mane about its thick neck. Its long lithe body is supported by ten powerful legs, its enormous jaws are equipped, like those of the calot or Martian hound, with several rows of long needle-like fangs; its mouth protruding to a point far back of its tiny ears while its enormous protruding eyes of green add the last touch of terror to its awful aspect. As it crept toward me it lashed its powerful tail against its yellow sides." (GM, VIII, p.34)

Before a banth springs to the attack, it emits a terrifying roar requiring all within 6” to save versus fear (DC 13) or be stunned for one round. Banths are nocturnal hunters (infravision) and are encountered in groups of d6. They accumulate no treasure or loot. Frequently banths can be startled by bright lights or loud noises.

“Human flesh is the food most craved by the fierce Barsoomian lion, whose great carcass and giant sinews require enormous quantities of meat to sustain them.” (TMM, V, p.48)

buy these excellent miniatures

Figures painted by Thomas Nelson on facebook
@ Midwest Miniature Guy

Sunday, February 27, 2011

inspirational poster

I wonder if someone ever developed
stats for these foes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Green Martian Organization

A green Martian community will field 400 to 500 troopers. All green Martian warriors are cavalry whom typically Troopers ride five abreast. In addition, to its warriors a community, also supports 200- 300 youth as well as 200- 230 adult females. Each adult female commands a spacious, three-wheeled chariot followed by a calot and pulled by a zitadar upon whom sits a GM youth. (PM VII, XV)

“The training of myself and the young Martians was conducted solely by the women, who not only attend to the education of the young in the arts of individual defense and offense, but are also the artisans who produce every manufactured article wrought by the green Marians. They make the powder, the cartridges, the firearms; in fact everything of value is produced by the females. In time of actual warfare they form a part of the reserves, and when the necessity arises fight with even greater intelligence and ferocity than the men.

“The men are trained in the higher branches of the art of war; in strategy and the maneuvering of large bodies of troops. They make the laws as they are needed; a new law for each emergency. They are unfettered by precedent in the administration of justice. Customs have been handed down by ages of repetition, but the punishment for ignoring a custom is a matter for individual treatment by a jury of the culprit's peers, and I may say that justice seldom misses fire, but seems rather to rule in inverse ratio to the ascendency of law.”

The regular military units are organized into squads of twenty which are lead by a lieutenant or padwar. Five squads equals a company which is commanded by a chieftain. A community has 10 to 15 chieftains that are overseen by a jed. There exists upon Barsoom about a dozen large tribes of green Martians that are 10 – 60 communities in size. These massive tribes (Thark, Thurd, Torquas, Warhoon) are lead by a jeddak and derive their name from the deserted city that serves as their capitol.

“This, then, must be the notorious Hortan Gur, Jeddak of Torquas, the fierce old ogre of the south-western hemisphere, as only for a jeddak are platforms raised in temporary camps or upon the march by the green hordes of Barsoom. As the Heliumite watched he saw another green warrior push his way forward toward the rostrum. Beside him he dragged a captive, and as the surrounding warriors parted to let the two pass, Carthoris caught a fleeting glimpse of the prisoner.” (TMM V)

Due to their determination, strength, lethality and training, it is estimated it takes 10 unentrenched red Martian infantry warriors to oppose a single green Martian trooper. The greatest detriment of the green trooper in battle is his own bellicose nature. Tribalism runs deep and alliances do not last long.

“Why, oh, why will you not learn to live in amity with your fellows, must you ever go on down the ages to your final extinction but little above the plane of the dumb brutes that serve you! A people without written language, without art, without homes, without love; the victim of eons of the horrible community idea. Owning everything in common, even to your women and children, has resulted in your owning nothing in common. You hate each other as you hate all else except yourselves.”
(PM X)

Although green Martians have no aircraft, no artillery and no permanent fortifications, their skill with their rifles makes them a threat to the mighty armadas of the red Martian navies.

“The fire from the vessels was most ineffectual, owing, as I afterward learned, to the unexpected suddenness of the first volley, which caught the ship's crews entirely unprepared and the sighting apparatus of the guns unprotected from the deadly aim of our warriors.
“It seems that each green warrior has certain objective points for his fire under relatively identical circumstances of warfare. For example, a proportion of them, always the best marksmen, direct their fire entirely upon the wireless finding and sighting apparatus of the big guns of an attacking naval force; another detail attends to the smaller guns in the same way; others pick off the gunners; still others the officers; while certain other quotas concentrate their attention upon the other members of the crew, upon the upper works, and upon the steering gear and propellers.
“Twenty minutes after the first volley the great fleet swung trailing off in the direction from which it had first appeared. Several of the craft were limping perceptibly, and seemed but barely under the control of their depleted crews. Their fire had ceased entirely and all their energies seemed focused upon escape. Our warriors then rushed up to the roofs of the buildings which we occupied and followed the retreating armada with a continuous fusillade of deadly fire.”

Image is from DC Comics 196?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Flooding in Australia

A Pentecostal man is stranded on his porch in Queensland during the big flood. He is on his knees praying as the wind and rain beats about him.
His neighbor pulls up in a fishing boat and asks him to get on-board, the pious man says
“No thanks, I am waiting on the Lord.”

Hours go by and the water level rises and the wind blows harder, so the man climbs into his attic. A Coast Guard Patrol drives by and implores the man to climb-aboard.
The devote man declines, “I am waiting on the Lord.”

Another two hours goes by and water is now above the roofline and the stranded man is desperately clinging to his chimney. A Channel Three News helicopter flies above the man’s house and a bullhorn bellows for him to grab the rope and climb on up. The shivering man squeaks out,
“No thanks, I am waiting on the Lord.”

Well, the man drowns. When he gets to Heaven he finally meets his maker. He exclaims,
“Lord, Lord, why did you abandon me? I am a faithful and descent man with a large family. How could you abandon me in my hour of need?”

Then God responds;
What more should I do; I sent you two boats and a helicopter"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Under WhiteFang Mountain

Our five characters (cleric, thief, agent* and two fighters) in our party fought our way with ease through the tunnels of the troglodytes. The wily troglodyte shaman unleashed his worse on us; poisonous snakes, flaming strike, devil rays, but to no avail, he and his minions were soaking up damage. Realizing all was lost, the trog shaman tried to flee behind an obscuring mist. But our pseudodragon, Whiskers quickly tracked the cool trail of blood from the retreating shaman to a arrow crevice. The wounded troglodyte made a defiant final stand with his viper rod, but was decapitated by my battle axe.

This all was leading up to a showdown with a scheming dragon, Rathulagon. Our hope centered on the other fighter, George making a lucky hit from his masterwork composite bow with an arrow of evil slaying.

Upon entering the dank lair of the evil Rathulagon, the thief was well-prepared with his potion of invisibility and his stealth sword. My fighter, Clovis drank his potion of haste. The lawful good cleric blessed the party and cast fire resistance upon Clovis (front and center), then hung back in gaseous form waiting to aid the injured or dying with her staff of curing. Whiskers flew high and right armed with a wand of magic missiles. The agent (house rule - mage/thief), Lexus prepared her lightning bolt spell. Our intention was to scatter quickly; the dragon wouldn’t get all of us, but I feared, he would get enough of us. The surprise/initiative dice were rolled . . . Drat, a tie. At least we weren’t surprised, and ties go to player characters.

“Who disturbs my rest?”, bellowed the mighty Rathulagon (AC 23, 152hp).

Clovis’ reply was a solid strike in the chest with a javelin of lightning. Lexus let loose with a lightning bolt to the head. George rolled a ‘2’ and his arrow of evil slaying bounced pathetically and impotently off a stalactite. The red dragon shrugged off the 40+ hit points (hp) of electrical damage and breathed fire, searing both fighters, Clovis and George. Fortunately, we both made our reflex saves and were only moderately injured (18hp).

The next round, our thief pounced from hiding, rolling a natural ‘20’, but Rathulagon had a +12 fortitude save and no critical hit was obtained. The thief inflicted merely 6 hp with his back stab. The thief earned no glory that day, but he did gain the ire of an all ready angry dragon. The rest of our party did their best to inflict damage with melee weapons, but Rathulagon was a brutal and dangerous adversary. This was going to be a brutal battle of attrition; axes, swords and magic missiles, versus fangs, talons and dragon fire.

Six rounds latter, after failing his attempt to take escape, the smoldering dragon corpse lay adjacent to the bodies of an eviscerated thief and a crispy critter, we used to call George. Battered, burned and bleeding, the survivors gathered up the loot; gold, silver, gems, a flaming sword, and a mithral suit of elven mail. It was going to be expensive to reincarnate our fallen comrades, but our previous good deeds had earned us the respect and sympathy of the provincial church. Fortunately, our prior generosity also allowed us access to a high level (10th) priest.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


A sign was placed in an office window:
“HELP WANTED; Must be a skilled typist and have computer skills. Successful applicant must be bilingual. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.”

A short time latter, a wolf trots up to the window, saw the sign and went inside. He looked at the receptionist, bared his teeth, then walked over to the sign, looked at it, howled and pawed at the air.

The frightened receptionist called the office manager. He was surprised to see a canine applicant but as the wolf looked determined, he was shown into the manager’s office. Inside the wolf jumped up on a chair and stared at the manager expectantly.

The nervous manager said. “I apologize, I cant hire you. The sign says you must be able to type.”

The wolf went to the typewriter and proceeded to quickly type a perfect letter. The manager was stunned, but told the wolf, “That was fantastic, but I am sorry. The sign clearly says that whomever we hire has to be good with a computer.”

The wolf went to the computer and proceeded to demonstrate his skills with various programs.

The manager was dumbfounded! He said to the wolf, “Look, I realize that you are a very intelligent applicant with fantastic talent, but you are a dog. No way, that I could hire you.”

The angry wolf jumped down from the chair and pointed his paw at the words, “Equal Opportunity Employer.”
The exasperated manager said, “Yes, I know what the darn signs says. But the sign also says you should be bilingual.”

The wolf jumped up on the manager’s desk, looked him directly in the eye and said “Meow.”

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Future of Tabletop RPGs ?

Before, I leave for today’s weekly gaming session;
It is obvious from reading other peoples’ blogs
that finding an old school game is not easy.
I know, I game with dedicated 3-tards.

Many retroclones will have a hard time drawing in youth or newbies because they require patience, determination, literacy and/or are counter-intuitive;
descending armor class (WTF?)
Roll high to save and hit,
But roll low for thief skills, find secret doors, etc..

Teaching your own children to game, doesn’t count –
they will most likely abandon’s dad’s (and/or mom’s) hobby
when they discover cars or
their own sexuality.

I believe retro cones will have a hard time converting 3-tards and 4-ons.
IMHO the future of our dwindling hobby belongs to game systems with the CLASSIC feel
AND 3.x or Pathfinder compatibility.
Primarily, because those systems have SO MANY modules, splat books and GM materials available for FREE
(or darn near free on Amazon or Ebay)!


From Cyclopeatron   ,  26 April 2013

Relative Popularities of OSR Games

If G+ community size is any indicator...

634 - Swords & Wizardry
551 - Original D&D
549 - Dungeon Crawl Classics
512 - Advanced D&D
329 - Lamentations of the Flame Princes
236 - Adventurer Conqueror King
222 - Labyrinth Lord
209 - Castles and Crusades
208 - Basic Fantasy
143 - Talislanta
124 - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
119 - Adventures Dark and Deep
115 - Holmes Basic
110 - Basic / Expert D&D
97 - AD&D 2e
70 - Delving Deeper

For Reference
2142 - Pathfinder   ( which is more  than S&W, DCC, LotFP, ACK and LL combined)
1465 - OSR Group
1430 - Dungeon World
1195 - Savage Worlds
733 - D&D Next
653 - D&D (4e)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

classic Small Unit Ranged Combat

Just like in melee combat, you roll 1d6 for each attacking unit. If the die result is equal to above the numbered required on the table, a figure casualty has been inflicted on one’s opponent (remove miniature from play).

Attk…… A.….B.….C.….D.….E.….F

Mskt….....5.… ..4…..4.......3…....3…..2
Lngbw......5… ..5…...4......4…...3……3

XBow......6….. 5…...5….....4…....4……3
Bow....... .6….. 6…...5….....5…....4…...4
Sling..……7….. .6…...6…...5…....5…...4

Unlike melee combat, defenders get a saving throw if successfully hit in range combat if and only if they have adequate cover or concealment. Roll d6 for each unit struck (higher is better),
rerolling ones if target is small size
(such as elves, goblins, halflings, etc.):

6+ if wooden shield, brush and/or fog,
5+ if kite shield, low fence and/ or trees,
4+ if tower shield, battlements and/or trenches,
3+ if murder hole, hidden and/or invisibility.

Range is expressed in map squares, not in inches. Each map square or hex represents ten feet of simulated distance. Each unit (5 soldiers) or monster figure controls a single square. Two figures cannot occupy the same square. If figures are touching they are locked in melee; otherwise, missile combat is allowed. Subtract one from d6 roll if long range (twice that listed).

Bow (TL II, Range is 10” ): this weapon is a flexible piece of wood, bent by a string or cord between its ends. The bow is designed for propelling long finned darts known as arrows. Unlike firearms, which kill by shock, bows kill by causing internal bleeding. The bow is 30-40” in length; twelve arrows are usually carried on a quiver on the owner’s side or back. Bows are used by mounted archers (TL III) and many ground units; elves, orcs, goblins, skeletons, etc..

Crossbow (TL IV, Range is 15” ): combining mechanical leverage with archery, the crossbow has more accuracy and lethality than a bow. The owner of this weapon will carry 20 bolts (or quarrels) in a quiver at his side. This is the preferred range weapon of dwarves. Although a crossbow has a slower rate of fire than a bow, it requires less training to develop proficiency.

Fireball Range is 20” this simulates the 3rd level magic-user spell. The fireball spell effects a number of units = spell caster’s level divided by two.

Longbow (TL IV, Range is 12”): an advanced infantry design, this bow is as tall as an ordinary man. The longbow requires years of training to use skillfully (‘on mark’), but is capable of killing at significant range. The longbow’s body is shaped from a single piece of rare and highly-prized yew wood. The bow string is woven from flax or hemp. Only gnolls and veteran human archers usually deploy long bows.

Musket (TL V, Range is 9” ): a version of this sturdy 18th century infantry weapon had a service life of over 150 years with the British military. The musket uses a flint striker which ignites the main charge (black powder); thereby propelling a .50 caliber lead ball down a 20” barrel. A skilled musketeer is capable of firing three shots per minute. Although dependable and lethal, these firearms are not very accurate. Muskets and matchlocks were adapted by renaissance armies over longbows, because muskets more readily penetrate plate armor and longbows require an extensive amount of training to become proficient. Musket is also used to simulate spells that attack a single target such as flame strike, blight or lightning bolt.

“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”
William Prescott, June 1775

Sling (TL I, Range is 8” ): a piece of leather that has been shaped to engage centrifugal force to hurl a rock a stone. Rerolls ones if used by halflings. Treat web as a sling that holds enemies in place; it effects number of units= half spell caster’s level. Sling is also used to simulate magic missile.

miniature is bronze age miniatures
>unit casualties includes MORALE
(lawful troops are LESS likely to break)

these rules inspired by wardammer and Maldecon

Monday, January 24, 2011


The volunteer militias of the U.S. colonies that used to be under state authority have evolved into the National Guard through a series of legislative acts. The National Guard is ultimately under presidential authority. The National Guard evolved from the militia, but the militia is not the National Guard
(i.e., Man may have evolved from a monkey named Lucy, but few would call a monkey a man, and vice versa.
i.e., The automobile has replaced the horse and buggy, and you can tell me that the horse and buggy is obsolete, but you will not convince me that an automobile is a horse and buggy.).


“In 1903, a piece of landmark legislation opened the way for increased modernization of, and Federal control over the National Guard. The law provided increased Federal funding, but in order to obtain it, National Guard units had to reach minimum strengths and be inspected by Regular Army Officers. Guardsmen were required to attend 24 drills per year, and five days of annual training, for which they received pay for the first time.”

In preparation for World War I

“In 1916, another act was passed, guaranteeing the state militia’s status as the Army’s primary reserve force, and requiring that all states rename their militia “National Guard.” The National Defense Act of 1916 prescribed qualifications for National Guard officers and allowed them to attend US Army schools; required that each National Guard unit would be inspected and recognized by the War Department; and ordered that National Guard units would be organized like regular Army units. The act also specified that Guardsmen would be paid not just for annual training, but also for drills.”

Only two states, retain a state controlled militia:
Alaska and the great state of Texas,
The latter state is host of
Central Texas MiniCon and
North Texas RPG con., Dallas Texas Jun 2- 5th

Friday, January 21, 2011


In the Roman Empire the highest life expectancy was in the Legionnaires;
half of them lived to forty.

Several factors;
they were always feed,
they were selected for health and strength,
they were usually kept away from the cities, 
(where disease and plagues were common) and
their battlefield losses were minimal as they significantly outclassed MOST of their opponents.

            “They were taught not to cut, but to thrust with their swords.  For the Romans not only made jest of those who fought with the edge of their weapons, but also found them an easy conquest, a stroke with the edge, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are protected by the bones and the armor.  On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal.”                Vegetius    

The highest casualty rate in the Roman Army was amongst the Centurions who were usually promoted from the ranks of ordinary soldiers for bravery and ability. A Roman centurion led from the front. It was not uncommon in a battle for 10% of an armies casualties to be Centurions.
Recall, there was only one centurion for every 80 to 100 soldiers.

Nobles didnt live as long as Legionnaires because of political intrigue; assassination typically included you and your entire blood line.

The Romans had contact with the Norse
(who were large even by today’s standards)
but they did not make good soldiers -
couldnt march for long distances and did not have the immune system of their Mediterranean counterparts.

Norse mercenaries served as Elite Guards, as their large size made them both intimidating and formidable individual opponents.

Roman soldiers attacked in ranks of three;
The front rank armed with shortswords aimed for your face and throat . ..
The second rank armed with spears aimed for your axilla and the neurovascular bundle of the arm …
while the third rank armed with long spears sought the femoral artery in the leg or pelvis .

Caesar’s Civil War & Caesar’s Gallic Wars
by Adrian Goldsworthy


Nero's Killing Machine: The True Story of Rome's Remarkable 14th Legion
by Stephen Dando-Collins

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

classic Small Unit Combat

A unit represents five soldiers or a single monster whose quality is graded on a scale from A thru F. Unit quality is not just based upon attacks, armor class and hit points but also includes less tangible qualities such as adroitness, ferocity, discipline, intelligence and courage. A unit defeated in combat is not always slain or killed; it is more typically captured, routed or broken.

A) = heavily armored and battle hardened crack units such as knights, bugbears, blink dogs or one troll (63hp) or one griffon (59hp).

= elite units such as lizardmen, sahuagin, mounted archers, elves, Legionnaires , or one unicorn (42hp).

= veteran units such as heavy infantry, light cavalry, dwarves, gnolls, hobgoblins, skeletons, mermen or one ogre (29hp) or one hippogriff (25hp).

D) = standard units such as light infantry, orcs, mercenaries, buccaneers, stirges, zombies or one worg (30hp) or one centaur (26hp).

E) = green or unreliable units such as militia, pirates, goblins, halflings or one boar (20hp).

F) = poor units such as conscripts, kobolds, levies, bandits, giant rats or one mastiff (12hp).

Elite…..…..5.… ..4…...4…...3…....3…...2
Vtrn....…...5… ..5…...4…....4…....3……3
Stndrd......6….. 5…...5…....4…....4……3
Green..... .6….. 6…...5…....5…....4…...4

Reroll ‘1s’ if minor advantage such as
height, terrain, blessed, charging, or
infantry weapons deployed in formation.

Add +1 to result if significant advantage such as surprise, haste, invisibility, blurred or
if attacking opponent’s rear or right flank.

Subtract one if attacker is entangled, heavily encumbered, climbing ladders, slowed or webbed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First War Game

My friend Dr. Dean is a Chess Master;
I never got into that game in youth, because to my young analytical mind
(graduated magna cum laude in college with mathematics degree)
the movement of the pieces made NO sense.
It wasn’t until my 30s when I read the book Born in Blood
by Robinson, that the game of chess became rational. Paraphrasing . . .

Chess is a Persian game that was brought to the west by the Crusaders –
the Catholic Church was against anything that was from the east and/or distracted from religious devotion.

Hence, the game of Chess was banned and deemed satanic
(sound familiar ; - );
however, the game proved too popular to legislate away;
THEREFORE, the church tolerated this new game as long as the pieces were ReNAMED.

Hence, CHESS pieces are as follows:

The PAWN represents spearmen or pike men, defensive units,
that slowly advance, but have to attack a flank for success.

The ROOK is actually the elephant (a Pagan animal) –
 unstoppable and fierce, but only capable of linear attacks/ charges.

The KNIGHT is heavy cavalry,
charges forward, but needs to strike a flank for maximal effect.

The BISHOP (the most important piece on the board?) represents a sailing ship;
notice how it tacks along the board unimpeded while delivering mayhem.

The QUEEN is guarded by elite, light mounted archers;
she can move and strike in any direction with full effect, but vulnerable to attack if isolated.

The KING is surrounded by his elite body guard; however,
  he is loaded down with the TREASURE of his house; therefore,
he may move only one square in any direction.
Even the term ‘check mate’ is a bastardization of the Arabic
“sheik mat”,
which translates to ‘the king is dead.’

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Helicopter Joke

Morris and His Wife Esther Went to the State Fair Every Year.

Every Year, Morris Would Say, "Esther, I'd like to Ride in That Helicopter"

Esther Always Replied, " I Know Morris, But That Helicopter Ride Is 50 Dollars And 50 Dollars Is 50 Dollars."

A Few Years Later, Esther and Morris Went to the Fair.

Morris Said, "Esther, I'm 85 Years Old. If I Don't Ride That Helicopter Now, I Might Never Get Another Chance."

Esther Replied, "Morris, That Helicopter Ride Is 50 Dollars and 50 Dollars Is 50 Dollars."

The Pilot Overheard the Couple.
He Said, "Folks, I'll Make You a Deal.
I'll Take the Both of You for a Ride.
If You Can Stay Quiet for the Entire
Ride and Not Say a Word, I Won't Charge You!
But If You Say One Word, It's 50 Dollars."

Morris and Esther Agreed -- and up They Went.

The Pilot Did All Kinds of Fancy Maneuvers.

But Not a Word Was Heard. He Did His Daredevil Tricks over and over Again, But Still Not a Word.

When They Landed, the Pilot Turned to Morris. He Said, "By Golly, I Did Everything g I Could to Get You to Yell Out, But You Didn't. I'm Impressed!"

Morris Replied, "Well, I Was Going to Say Something When Esther Fell Out,
But 50 Dollars Is 50 Dollars!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Critical Hits example from World War I I

'Operations resumed on 11 April. An attack was scheduled to win back the lost sections of the main road. The attack failed, however. The next morning three tigers moved forward to halt probing Soviet forces. Commanding the lead tank was Sergeant Major Sanderring, one of the “old hands” of the Panzer arm. This attack provided a demonstration of the damage a lucky hit from a Russian anti-tank rifle could inflict on a Tiger tank. A well-concealed Soviet soldier took aim at the tank of the sergeant major as the Tigers approached. He fired his antitank rifle from a range of fifty meters. The round penetrated of one of the copula vision slits. Sergeant Major Sanderring was killed instantly. A single Soviet soldier had accomplished what several T-34s were often unable to do: put a Tiger out of action.'

Frank Kurowski,
Panzer Aces

Monday, January 3, 2011

Origins of Myth

The bones of the dimetrodon discovered by ancient Greeks were the inspiration for a classical and persistent mythological monster.

What do we have here?

body and tail of a lion,
head and claws of an eagle,
and long support bones,
. . . it must be a GRIFFIN !