D&D Monster Cards from Gale Force 9: Don't Bother

At Gary Con, I licked up the Monster Cards from Gale Force 9. I usually try to avoid negative reviews of a product, but in this case I'm going to make an exception. This is, hands down, the WORST D&D 5 purchase I've made yet. I legit feel cheated.

I bought both the 0-5 and 6-15 challenge sets. I was quite excited at the prospect of not needing to cart my Monster Manual with me when I run games; rather I can just grab the cards I need and have the stat blocks right in front of me. And with these cards, that's true...sometimes.

Here's the problem. This is a company that has the license to produce D&D 5 materials. It's NOT unreasonable to expect that the entire Manual would be represented. Not only is the MM not represented, there are some core, basic monsters which are in the SRD, but are not represented in these cards. The vampire, for example. How do you put out a set of D&D monster cards AND NOT INCLUDE THE VAMPIRE???

What about dragons? It's Dung…

Gary Con post-con report

So last week was Gary Con, and it was, as always, a blast. It's really become in just the two years I've been going, my favorite con of all time. Some highlights of this year:

I got my first-printing Deities & Demigods, and my OD&D Gods, Demi-Gods, and Heroes signed by Jim Ward, who I maintain today is just one of the most wonderful people in gaming. He's a genuinely caring, kind man who I feel honored to interact with on social media and get the chance to briefly talk with every year at GC.

I ran a preview of the 5e Role Playing version of Amazing Adventures, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, to the tune of, "When can we get this?" and "How can we get on the mailing list for the Kickstarter?" It was very positive feedback.

Fun was had by my other two groups as well (a D&D 5e game highlighting our Aihrde campaign setting, and a classic AA game).

Sales were great and TLG made some awesome contacts in and around the industry.

I got…

The Problem of Murder Hobos in Gaming

I was thinking recently (shocker I know), and something occurred to me. My games tend to be based on the kind of stories I enjoy reading and seeing--that is, they're clearly heroic in nature and they tend to involve epic overarching storylines (to varying degrees), with character pathos and drama liberally sprinkled in. I don't allow evil characters (though I have made rare exceptions for specific players I know can handle it.

For the most part, this formula has been widly successful. I've been complimented on my skills as a GM many times over, and rarely have I had complaints about the games I run. There is, however, one trope of these great stories that continually eludes me, and I find it intriguing. That trope is, to my mind, what lies at the core of being a hero and why they act the way they do.

Heroes Don't Kill
Put simply, heroes don't kill. Yet, in RPGs, the heroes might have neutral good or lawful good written on their character sheet, while still engaging…

Holy Crap! Ten Days! What Gives?

Man, time really flies, and it's easy to let blogging get away from you. I'm still working on the next entry in my "Reading OD&D" series, as well as my "Reading AD&D" series. Unfortunately, I'm into monsters and magic items in both, and that takes a lot longer to carefully read and parse than general rules and character classes. I also feel like it's going to yield less useful information, so it may be worth it just to finish reading, truncate those particular entries with some general observations and move on.

What else is going on? My friend and colleague Tim Brannan (of The Other Side blog) and I are working on a pretty big project at the moment. I don't want to say much right now, because there's still a million things that can go wrong between here and release (not the least of which is funding) but if we can get it together it's going to be really badass. I'll be releasing it through Elf Lair Games when it's ready t…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Original D&D

"Why is he doing this?" you ask. "Buffy? With OD&D? That's insane. Why would you even bother?"

Truthfully? Why not? I've done Star Wars and Conan rules. Why not tackle the Buffy crew using the OD&D rules? And when you think about it, the OD&D rules are so broad and open that it's not insane, and they actually work quite well. Yes, it's a modern game, but most modern technology doesn't need different rules to use, and the character classes present mirror the roles pretty well.

Honestly, Tim Brannan over at The Other Side does things like this all the time, and I am kind of stealing a concept from him just for fun.

So the rules for statting characters are pretty basic. I'm going to try and maintain the spirit of the characters from Buffy, while sticking strictly to the OD&D rules and paradigm. That means no new character classes, though I am opening the doors to supplements and The Strategic Review. Given that Buffy takes place…

Reading Original Dungeons & Dragons

If you read this blog, you're probably well aware that over the past decade-plus, fifteen years or so, there's been a wealth of scholarship surrounding the original 1974 D&D rules. I was recently reading over...let's just say, an early printing of these rules, and a few things jumped out at me. There are definitely assumptions we make about OD&D that are based on later developments. Things that were written in AD&D, B/X, even some of the later supplements have colored our idea of "how things are supposed to be."

With that in mind, I'd like to go back and interpret OD&D through the lens of someone who had just picked it up in 1974, without the benefit of everything that came later, without actually having gamed with Gary and Dave, and see what comes out in the wash. This is nothing more than a thought experiement--I'm not necessarily trying to challenge common wisdom about how these things work, but the way they are presented and worded at …

What's With Amazing Adventures 5e?

In my last blog I mentioned the Fifth Edition rules version of Amazing Adventures. I thought I'd take a minute to talk about that for those who hadn't heard about it yet.

Many of my readers are (hopefully) aware that I'm a staff writer for Troll Lord Games. If you weren't before, you are now--full disclosure! I'm currently the sole author on the Amazing Adventures pulp-modern game line for TLG, a modern toolkit game that uses the same system as Castles & Crusades: The SIEGE Engine.

I've been with Troll Lord for about 10 years, now, give or take, and a full staff writer for 3 or 4 years. I started writing for them because I love the C&C system. It's the best of the old-school feel with a simple, elegant, and fast-play attribute check system. I discovered it when it first came out in 2004, and have been hooked ever since.

People are sometimes, however, surprised to hear that not all game designers only play their house system. I actually enjoy a lot o…