Skip navigation

Category Archives: Role Playing Game

We’re getting ready to start a BECMI/OSR campaign and so I decided to review the following BECMI/OSR products:

  • Rules Cyclopedia
  • Labyrinth Lords
  • Dark Dungeons
  • Blood & Treasure
  • Swords & Wizardry
  • Red & Blue Books with B/X Companion

What I discovered was that all roads point back to the Rules Cyclopedia. To me, it’s the best book that I use to look up all sorts of things. It’s not the be-all, end-all of sources, but it’s my go-to.

I have to admit that back in the 80’s when I was playing original BECMI/AD&D, our group jumped on the AD&D products immediately, and I never really played too much in the Mystara setting. It’s a shame because I now believe that Mystara is the best setting for playing the type of BECMI/OSR game we’re going to be playing.

Also, we’re going to be using Chapter 5 of the RC which means Weapon Proficiencies and General Skills will be used extensively. The Mystara section and Chapter 5 are two more reasons why the RC is the source of choice. The following document clarifies certain rules that will be used in the campaign:

Session Zero for Mystara Campaign Using Rules Cyclopedia and Labyrinth Lord

To me, the coolest part of what we’re going to be running is using a very specific set of character classes. My players can only choose from the following 16 classes. These classes come from James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games:






Bounty Hunter




Rune Smith



Sword Master

Undead Slayer


Wild Wizard

I took all of these classes and made a resource for the players to use.

Since we’ll be utilizing Weapon Proficiency and General Skills, I found a character sheet online that has an entire page dedicated to these mechanics. I’m not sure of its origin, but it’s perfect for our campaign.

D&D Character Record Sheet (Knotwork)

Finally, the one area of adventure that I just couldn’t find a system that I truly loved was the Hex Crawl. I’m sure there are numerous systems that are just fine, but I wanted to make travel and encounters have a simple system and use the groups’ skills.

I found the perfect set of encounter tables online. They were created by Jed McClure and he calls them Wilderness Hexplore. The system was designed for a map with absolutely no idea what lies beyond the home hex you start on. Since we’ll be in the Mystara campaign world, I modified his method, but I still think his tables are pretty robust.

Jed McClure_Wilderness_Hexplore_revised

My system utilizes his tables, but it requires the party of adventurers to be more involved in taking on certain roles as the group travels. Here is the revised system that utilizes skills from the General Skills list in the RC.

Overland Travel Rules for BECMI & OSR

One of the first games I ever created was a Gladiator game called The Colosseum. Don’t go buy it, though. It’s bad. I mean, the concept was good in many parts, but the combat was fairly dull. I’ve always intended to go back and re-develop the game, but it was always something on the back burner.

Lately I’ve been getting into the game Labyrinth Lord. It’s basically BECMI re-skinned and quite awesome!

I put together a campaign path that runs through a whole bunch of old core modules set in Mystara. The path (with options to change the path in branching directions looks like this:

  • B-2 Keep on the Borderlands (Lvl 1-3) or DDA1 Arena of Thyatis (Lvl 2-3)
  • X-1 Isle of Dread (Lvl 3-7) or DDA2 Legions of Thyatis (Lvl 3-4) if DDA1 was used and then run X-1.
  • X-13 Crown of Ancient Glory (Lvl 7-10) if players want to remain in Mystara, HWA1 Nightwail (Lvl 6-8) if players want to explore Hollow World.
  • HWA2 Nightrage (Lvl 7-9) if they chose HWA1
  • HWA3 Nightstorm (Lvl 8-10) if they chose HWA1 & 2
  • X-10 Red Arrow, Black Shield (Lvl 10-14) [all paths merge here]
  • CM-9 Legacy of Blood (Lvl 15-19)
  • CM-6 Where Chaos Reigns (Lvl 17-19)
  • M-5 Talons of Night (Lvl 20-25)
  • M-1 Into the Maelstrom (Lvl 25-30)
  • M-2 Vengeance of Alphaks (Lvl 28-32)


You’ll notice under the first bullet that DDA1 begins at 2nd Lvl. I began to think of how character could play first level as Gladiators and this led back to my old game.

Well, when I sat down to read over my old game, I remembered why I hated it and I decided to see what else was out there. One of the first hits I got was the game I’ll be using as the core system to run this game: Are You Not Entertained?!

The game is extremely easy to play and is perfect for running quick and fun Gladiator battles. Plus, it’s FREE!

I printed it in booklet form and then printed the stats for the types of Gladiators on card stock to make their sheets. There are eight types (including a bear and lion).

I found 2 packs of Permes paper minis that were Gladiator themed to make the Gladiator minis. Both packs together was about $4.

I chose to use blue and red dice to represent the colors of Attack and Defense like on the cards.

Hit Points can be tracked using 20-sided dice and since Magic uses nice, big ones for the same thing, I just used a bunch of those.

Finally, I happened to be browsing the hobby store and found the perfect arena by Paizo. It costs about $9.

We ran the game to test it out and two things I chose to adjust. One thing I found was that the battles tended to remain stationary. There’s no real incentive to move around once combat has started. So, in my supplement, I chose to add an incentive to move around more. The second thing I noticed was that combat damage can be hard to inflict. To adjust the option to make the battle move along even faster, I added some additional options to Advancements. I also wanted to be able to import this into a Savage Worlds Weird Wars Rome game, so I added four new types of Gladiator. You could consider this an advanced rules supplement:

Blood on the Gladius

You could very easily drop this into any RPG in various ways. It’s fun to just run it by itself and conduct numerous variations on tournaments and house rules.

Here is a handy Gladiator Tournament Brackets I created.

One final touch is your Gladiator name and background.

Here is a sample stable of Gladiators created from this and ready for fighting in an 8-man tournament. I used Thyatis instead of Rome, but you get the gist.


I had idea of how to use my nifty Chessex Goblin Dice for a non-rpg game for the whole family.

After the conference, I still had 5 dice, so I created Goblin Yahtzee!

Goblin Yahtzee



I’ve been toying around with a method to play Savage Worlds in a streamlined, solitaire style. The method I created requires the following products. The first is the Map & Dice deck from Inked Adventures. Each card includes a small geomorph dungeon section, suit and card number, and die results for a d6, d20, and d100. I created a Setting Rule that allows you to spend a Benny to use the dice results on the cards rather than the number you rolled. If, for example, the card had a 6 on a d6, you could spend a Benny a get an Aced die result!

I, once again, used Gold & Glory to create a random character. That is the character you must use for the 10 rounds of play. You’ll also need the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition and the Fantasy Companion.

I chose to use the Fantasy Companion character sheet for the play tests.

You’ll need a standard set of Polyhedral dice as well as a Wild Die. A set of percentile dice and an additional d10 to help track rounds are handy.

The goal is not only to survive 10 rounds (you could make it longer, too, to see how long you survive!), but to also see how much treasure you can accumulate each time you play. I converted everything to gold pieces just to make it easier. Don’t forget to calculate the value of magic items should you find those as well. Also, monsters in the Fantasy Companion have a treasure rating; don’t forget to loot the monsters you defeat.

Basically, each suit of the cards represents a different type of encounter: Spades = Traps, Hearts = rest and healing, Diamonds = Treasure, and Clubs = a monster.

For my fights with monsters, I chose to use the Quick Combat and Quick Skirmish rules. Quick Combat is just one roll. Quick Skirmish can be several rounds, but is still just one roll. In other words, by using these rules, you never need to roll for the monsters.

Begin with 5 Bennies, shuffle the deck, and follow these guidelines:

SW Solitaire Dungeon

So, I decided to create some fantasy characters using a combination of Sean Patrick Fannon’s new product called A Hero Will Rise: Epic Fantasy and the random fantasy character generator in Giuseppe Rotunda’s Gold & Glory: Seven Deadly Dungeons. This was a fun way to create some interesting characters with good backgrounds as well as bonds between each of the characters.

I also decided I liked the retro look and feel of Middle Kingdoms Adventure and Trading Company’s Basic Savage Worlds Fantasy Character Record Sheet.

The results needed to be fudged ever so slightly with the classes so I could get a diverse group of adventurers; but I really enjoy just sitting down and creating characters using these products! In addition, I think these products go nicely together and have an old school, early D&D feel.

The end result is a group comprising a Male Human Cleric, a Male Elf Fighter (kind of Rangerish), a Male Elf Rogue, and a Female Human Wizard.

Kaervold Stormcrow

Wylghin Arazord

Skyjard Arazord

Lira Daravik


I wanted to share the high resolution pic of the goblin stronghold I created for Saga of the Goblin Horde.

Vulgorath G&G

First of all, there’s Saga of the Goblin Horde, which is epic, fun, and hilarious! Then, there’s this nifty little system called Gold & Glory  that has a certain reminiscence of Old School D&D – we’re talking back in the late 70’s and early 80’s type of dungeon crawly feel. Add a little home brew notes from Rob Randolph’s running of Saga of the Goblin Horde, and I present my Goblin Stronghold with a Random Encounter Generator.

The complex can be used in many ways. Any time that the gang gets their mission from Chief Bignose, use the random encounter generator one or two draws to determine what antics the gang goes through leaving the caves. Simply draw three cards from a pool of cards 2-10 of all suits (remove aces and face cards). Dice will also be used as well. Interpret the cards per the suggestions in the Gold & Glory core book. You’ll also need to have a copy of Saga, the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition, and the Fantasy Companion.

Another use is to generate betweener missions during the Plot Point Campaign in Saga. Or, you can simply use everything for your own ideas to execute little side missions within the caves.

I tried to keep everything as “theater-of-the-mind” style of play as possible. It’s up to you if you want to actually set out miniatures and set pieces, but it shouldn’t be necessary.

And here is the pdf of the tables:

Vulgorath G&G

Genghiscon 41 is just around the corner and this year, instead of just attending to play in the fantastic games, I’ve decided to run a couple of sessions of Richard Woolcock’s “Saga of the Goblin Horde”.

Genghiscon 41

I’ve been working diligently to prep for the sessions and wanted to go through some of the gaming aids and table props I’ve put together for the convention.

To begin with, there’s the setting book.

I used the files that Richard provided to order the hardback edition through Lulu. It was super easy and quick to upload the ready-made files. The final result looks amazing next to my other Savage Worlds books, too.

Saga of the Goblin Horde

I also wanted to create a convention-worthy map and turned to the files that Frank Turfler made just for SotGH.

Hex Terrain Tile Cave System

I printed the hexes on card stock and affixed them to a foam board.

The final result was perfect!

I also put in a session making homemade Bennies.

This was done by printing the pictures on labels and then cutting them to fit the center circle of some poker chips. I also ordered some dice that fit the theme, but I placed an order with Chessex to create special SotGH Wild Die.

I scrounged around on the internet looking for a deck of goblin cards. I didn’t find anything that specific, but I did find this amazing deck with artwork by Ian Schofield.

It can be found here.

Orcs and Undead Deck

The deck even has a companion smart phone app that is a solitaire game with the same artwork on the cards. Pretty cool!

I also stocked up on goblin miniatures from Reaper Miniatures. I love running games with miniatures and these are perfect for the setting.

Finally, I created a GM screen using the tri-fold version that Pinnacle sells.

All in all, the prep work has been fun in and of itself. Still, I can’t wait to run this setting at Genghiscon 41. Saga is a fun twist on the Fantasy genre of RPGs and I think it will be hilarious. I’ll be sure to get some good pics of the action!





Lately, I’ve been back in the home studio writing some music that fits well with running tabletop RPGs. These songs are written with a generic Fantasy world in mind, but would fit with almost any genre of game.

The Library of the Waves

The Falls of Gathar

The Fire Pools of Athaz

The Battle of Felnuir Bridge

The Goblins of Beolgir Swamp

After the Fall

I plan on releasing these songs along with several others on an album soon.

After watching The Hobbit, I convinced my boys to try out the first adventure in Wilderland Adventures from Cubicle 7’s  Adventures in Middle-Earth setting.

To further entice the boys, I decided to use Legos for character representation.

They thought it was pretty cool to design their Lego Mini Figs to match their character sheets.

And here is the opening scene of the campaign.

The adventure was a success and actually held the boys attention for the duration of the adventure. This setting is a great departure from the stereotypical D&D style of High Fantasy play. The changes made to the system further accentuate the feel of Tolkien’s world of Middle-Earth!