Published on 1/31/2011 Written by 2 comments

Awesome PIc of the Week

This piece of art was created by the fabulous artist Kerem Beyit. His art is beautifully crafted and wonderfully unique in style. What I like best about his work is that, although most of it is digital, it has a very organic feel.

Troll Hunter
Check out Kerem Beyit's website and see the rest of his art.

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Published on 1/29/2011 Written by 0 comments

Saturday Sorcery - The Cave of Spirits

This weeks Saturday Sorcery idea comes form India, the land of a billion gods and kick-ass action flicks. I love India, it is hands down the best place on earth for all things strange and wonderful. I first saw this on the National Geographic Channel and it got stuck in my head. I apologize in advance to any Indian readers who actually know what I'm talking about, and am poorly relating (and embellishing) to others to use in a game.

The Cave of Spirits
The cave of spirits is a place to imprison malevolent spirits that have been exorcised by a sorcerer or priest. The front is often a temple or magical hermitage, but it's what's hidden in the back of this unassuming place that is of real interest. Down a long hallway is a sealed door that few ever enter or see. This is the door to the cave of spirits.

This door is guarded night and day, sealed physically with a very strong lock, and magically with powerful runes and wards. This is not a place that is meant to be disturbed by the foolish.

The keepers of the cave are the great and renowned exorcists of the -- insert cool name here -- circle. They are powerful Initiates of the necromantic mysteries, who devote their lives to this place and the practice of their art.

Only the most vile and terrible cases of possession ever wind up at the cave, and it is often the victims last hope.

The ceremony begins. The possessed victims family and friends are gathered around them in the temple, and the victim is restrained. Now the spirit is forced to manifest itself in the victims body. This is a very dangerous portion of the exorcism. The possessed often have superhuman strength and in some cases magical ability, if not properly restrained grave injury or death may occur. Once the spirit has revealed itself the first part of the exorcism begins.

The exorcists use droning music and ancient chants to confuse and beguile the spirit. If this works properly the victim will become docile and limp, having the appearance of sleep, but with their eyes opened and unblinking.

Now the victim is taken to the cave of spirits.

No one other than the exorcists and the victim may enter. As the spirit  passes through the door it awakens and immediately recognizes its peril. It is now that the true exorcism begins. The ritual may take minutes, hours, or in the worst case days, but the spirit must be drawn from the victims body. This is by far the most critical time, and any mistakes can be fatal. The exorcists risk their lives and their sanity while in the cave of spirits.

When the spirit is finally purged from its unwilling host it is magically bound to the cave wall with a rune etched copper nail - there to be trapped for all eternity.

Of course evil spirits don't like being trapped for eternity, and sometimes these caves are abandoned and forgotten. I hope some foolish adventurers don't pull some weird nails out of a cave wall...

Here is the actual footage of the cave of spirits from National Geographic:

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Published on 1/28/2011 Written by 2 comments

Links of DOOM - 01/28/11

You know the drill, read the links or we all get consumed by eldritch horrors and twisted nightmare demons of the abyss.

If you haven't read them yet, check out the two articles written by the new guys here at Rule of the Dice.

My First Time, by C.D. Gallant-King

Gaming Without Borders, by Joe Nelson

Stuff that I haven't had a chance to read yet but will read soon so I can help save humanity from certain doom.

Grognardia - Creation Through Play

Gothridge Manor - Editing RPG Products: Part 1

Gnome Stew - Never Make This Mistake

The Book of Worlds - Nefarious Arts

The Grumpy Celt - Cloakwork Brain Crabs

Rather Gamey - Chekhov's Can of Soup

New blog that I haven't read yet, but like based solely on its name

Cyborg Trucker's Role Playing and War Gaming Blog

The Regulars

Visit the Underdark Gazette for all your OSR news.

Chicago Wiz always has something good to say.

Zak at Playing D&D with Porn Stars is always full of weird ideas.

Visit A Paladin in Citadel, because he's awesome.


Visit my wife's adorable blog My adorable small town life.

Check out the art at J.H. Schmitz Art.

Visit Viking Dad, for a dose of Viking goodness.

Read the Happy Whisk for all the best culinary awesomeness.

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Published on 1/27/2011 Written by 7 comments

Gaming without Borders.

Hi everyone, my name's Joe, and I'll be tormenting you with inane banter acting as your host this fine day. I suck terribly at writing introductions, so let's just say that I am not an old hand at RPGs, having only found this hobby in the last year or so, meaning much of what I say will be redundant and filled with modern hipster slang such as, 'groovy', 'radical', and 'funky fresh'. Try to keep up, please.

Today, I'll talk about something that doesn't get nearly enough coverage so far as I am concerned: Gaming online.

No, not World of Warcraft. In fact, I'm not talking about any so-called MMORPG. I'm talking about playing real roleplaying games over the shiny box known as a computer. There are a couple of ways to play, each with advantages and disadvantages. None are quite as satisfying as playing face-to-face and watching the expression on your friend's face turn to one of sheer dread when his character wakes up and discovers he's now armed only with a spoon and facing a massive red dragon.1

But they can be extremely fun nonetheless. The most common methods of Internet gaming are:

  • Play-by-email
  • Play-by-IM
  • and Play-by-forum

First up is playing by email, which is a challenge most times as you often need to set up a central depot of sorts to do it correctly. A webmail list is only the beginning here! But it has advantages in that it's much more sedately paced, so is easy to fit in when the hectic reality of life strikes you down.

Secondly comes play-by-IM (or Skype or whatever instant messaging style service you prefer, coupled preferably with a digital map program). The disadvantages of this are immediately apparent. You need to gather with your group at a predetermined time and go through the motions of a traditional game. This is excellent for building friendships and having the same instant-gratification one would get from face-to-face gaming, but it can suffer from lag and other unanticipated delays. Also, just an observation on my part, but a lot of IM games tend to devolve into silliness very quickly.

My preferred method of Internet play is play-by-forum (or play-by-post, whichever you prefer). There are plenty of websites out there to facilitate your play, and the real beauty of this is that you can game with players from all over the world. Of course, the flaw here is that, like play-by-email games, the pace can be slow. Of course, that makes them good as extras in addition to your regular face-to-face gaming.

I got into play-by-forum gaming when my group went through a lull last year. I desperately needed some gaming and so turned to the dark land of the Internet to seek it out, like many a young lad before me. I tried several MMOs and found them to be lacking in what I wanted, namely roleplaying. That is when I stumbled onto the idea of play-by-forum, and it's nicely supplemented my group's gaming ever since.

My site of choice is Rpol.net, due to the great community and vast number of games, but there's plenty out there to choose from, some good, a lot bad. A decent list to start with is here at RPG Gateway.

What about you? Have you ever played games over the Internet? If so, what were your experiences like? And how did you choose to go about doing it?

1 That'll teach him to whine about not wanting to start our campaigns in taverns anymore!

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Published on 1/25/2011 Written by 0 comments

My First Time

It was the summer of 1992. Super Nintendo was still all the rage, and Final Fantasy II was my favourite game (still is, actually). A bunch of artists from Marvel comics started their own upstart comic company, Image, which featured lousy stories but very pretty pictures. Batman Returns was in the theatres, though it was actually Basic Instinct that my 12-year old self wanted to see. Of course, being 12-years old, I couldn't get in.1 I was about to go into Junior High, an awkward, pimply, unpopular kid with ugly glasses (why parents let their children wear ugly glasses, I will never know), and spent my afternoons hanging out on my friend's patio.

One day, one of my friends (I can't remember if it was Carl or Chris) pulled out these green-lined character sheets covered with arcane runes like "THAC0," "Bend bars/lift gates," "Constitution" and "Save versus Death." The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons logo was featured at the top. I had heard of D&D but really had no idea what it was. "It's like Final Fantasy, but you can make whatever kind of character you want," they explained to me. "Then you make up stories and adventures and stuff for them to go on."


My 12-year old mind was blown. I immediately made a character, which I remember vividly (I think his name was Arik). He had 20 Strength, 20 Constitution, 20 Dexterity, 5 Intelligence, 5 Wisdom and 15 Charisma. He had 600 hit points (we all started with 600 hit points) and had a Sword of Elements, which could attack with whatever type of damage was appropriate at the time.

We obviously had no idea what we were doing. We had no rule book, no dice, very little idea of how the game worked besides a few hours one of the other guys had played with some older kids. All he had were those ugly green character record sheets. And we loved it.

Pictured: Gateway drug.

Most of our games looked like this:

DM: You meet an ogre.

Player: I hit it with my katana of destiny.

DM: How much damage do you do?

Player: Um, 500?

DM: It's dead. You find a potion, but it's not labeled.

Player: I taste it, does anything happen?

DM: It was poison. You die.

We played that for awhile, and then tried Marvel Superheroes, which was even more fun. You could make your own superhero? With whatever ridiculous powers you wanted? And I can beat-up Spider-Man??? Once again, we neglected to read the rule book, so that made it even better. It wasn't until Christmas that year when I got the D&D Basic Boxed set, and I sat down and realized that role-playing games actually had RULES. So many things suddenly made sense now, like: "Oh, so Turn Undead doesn't actually mean you transform into a zombie!" The box also came with a set of ugly polyhedral dice. I still have them, and though they really suck (I usually don't believe in luck affecting the probability of dice, but that stupid twenty-sider can't roll a 20 to save its goddam life), they hold a special place in my heart.

I'm now approaching 19 years playing table-top RPGs. Have I learned anything interesting or useful enough that people will want to read what I have to say? Probably not, but I still hope I can sufficiently minimize the suck so you'll stop by from time to time to read my ramblings. While you're here, leave a comment while you're at it. Tell us all about your first time.2

Join me next week when I'll tell you about the greatest RPG ever.



1 Which was probably for the best - even when I saw that movie years later, it still made no sense to me.

2 Yes, I mean first time-time playing D&D. But if you want to tell me about other firsts, that's okay, too.

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Published on 1/24/2011 Written by 0 comments

Taking the week off - and a question

I am taking the week off and letting the new guys run the show. I have to finish my already far too delayed game and do some work on other projects. I will be back Friday to post the links of DOOM.

My question is:

What do you think is better, or at least more interesting. A level progression for spells (standard D&D model), or a system based on a difficulty (you can choose any spell, but when you cast it, you must roll over the difficulty number for it to work)? And of course let me know if you have any unique ideas yourself, I would be glad to stea... I mean borrow it and give you full credit.

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Published on 1/23/2011 Written by 0 comments

Please Welcome The New Guys

At the beginning of the new year I posted that I was looking for additional writers to join me here at Rule of the Dice. This is partially because I want to expand the blog and have some different contributors post cool articles. But it's mainly because I'm a lazy and don't want to have to write or work very hard (and I also need time to practice my cage fighting). Luckily some real great chaps volunteered their services as henchmen. Now I'll just sit back while they do all the work and I reap the benefits of being an RPG blog tycoon... it's a thing, it's a real thing.

Please give a very warm welcome to...

The New Guys

C.D. Gallant-King

C.D. Gallant-King has been playing and GMing role-playing games for 20 years, but he would still describe his skills as “fair to moderate.”  He has been a game designer even longer, his first game created in honour of the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games, which featured players racing across the country with torches.  There was also an option to slow your opponents down with oil slicks.  He still doesn’t quite understand how the Olympics work.

He has written eight novels you’ve never read, and has fuzzy d20s hanging from his rear-view mirror. Though it may come as some disappointment (or surprise) to all the ladies reading this, he is happily married.

Joseph Nelson
Joe is still an acolyte among the gaming elite and his sense of wide-eyed wonder has not been crushed (yet) by the harsh realities of the gaming world. He deeply enjoys the old-school games and the new wave games, considering them both part of his dysfunctional little RPG family.

He lives in the Northeast United States, where even the Frost Giants fear to tread.

Andy (aka. Carpe Guitarrem)

Andy, a regular poster at The Player's Side of the Screen, is a relative newcomer to RPGs. He picked them up a few years ago, with a few sessions of D&D, and now he's diving into the world of RPGs with a voracious abandon. He likes studying different game mechanics, and how they shape players' experiences. On top of that, he's multiclassed into a billion different things, like music and art and computers and...a lot more.
So please give these guys a very warm welcome, and most importantly check out their posts.

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Published on 1/22/2011 Written by 0 comments

Saturday Sorcery - Shadows to Lead

This spell idea came from my friend James. We were out on one of our hikes in the woods ruminating over various fantasy and sci-fi related geekiness, when we started on the topic of magic. This was the coolest idea that came out of our long meandering conversation.

I am going to try and write it up in fairly generic terms, with an old school D&D slant

Shadows to lead

Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Max 500'
Duration: 3 Turns + 1/ 3 levels of the caster
Save: Spells or Will or whatever is applicable.
Components: The material component for this spell is lead shavings covered in black ink.

Description: When cast this spell makes the victims shadow the weight of a giant mass of lead weighing 600lbs + 50lbs per level of the caster. If the victim can actually carry/lift this type of weight the spell acts only as a slow spell. But if the vitim cannot bear the weight they are pulled down to the ground and held there under great duress. The victim must make a strength check (or equivalent) every turn or suffer 1d6 in crushing damage.

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Published on 1/21/2011 Written by 0 comments

Links of DOOM - 01/21/11

Read the Links of DOOM, or we're all DOOMED, DOOMED I tell you.

The Links of DOOM

Who doesn't like Modrons.

Some extra-dimensional monsters to spice up your game.

Henchmen cards for your OD&D game.

Dungeons & Dragons is like a crazy ex I keep going back to.

And the winner of the Newbie Blog Award is: Rather Gamey.

A free map making blog that I just found, but I'm sure everyone else already knows about.

Another cool map idea.

Yet another cool map.

Some ruminations on the fall of Dungeons & Dragons.

Check out an adventure for every monster.

The blog with the best name ever

Unfrozen caveman dice-chucker.

The Regulars

Visit the Underdark Gazette for all your OSR news.

Chicago Wiz always has something good to say.

Zak at Playing D&D with Porn Stars is always full of weird ideas.

Visit A Paladin in Citadel, because he's awesome.


Visit my wife's adorable blog My adorable small town life.

Check out the art at J.H. Schmitz Art.

Visit Viking Dad, for a dose of Viking goodness.

Read the Happy Whisk for all the best culinary awesomeness.

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Published on 1/20/2011 Written by 0 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

This weeks awesome picture comes from one of the masters of Tolkien art Ted Nasmith. Not only is Ted's work awesome and some of the best in the business, he is also a very nice guy and lives here in Ontario. He is best known for his years of work on the Tolkien art calendars. My brother in-law has been lucky enough to visit Ted Nasmith at his studio and has seen some of his originals. Hmmm... I should see if I can arrange some type of interview.

This is one of my all time favourites...

Check out all of his work at Ted Nasmith.com

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Published on 1/20/2011 Written by 0 comments

The Four Gunmen

This is a write-up I did a while back for a steampunk/old west styled campaign that I ran. It's the story (much-abridged) of the four most powerful gunsmiths in the world. They have an absolute monopoly on firearms and no interest in sharing. They are also bitter enemies, and share a dark secret.

The Four Gunmen...

There are four gunsmiths that maintain an almost absolute monopoly in the Republic. Their weapons are at the vanguard of technology, and their names are respected if not outright feared by almost everyone.

The first and most famous of the smiths is Jericho Key. The Key family were for many generations the chief weapons engineers of the empire, and when the empire went into decline they became a private business. Jericho was born during the height of his families power, and he learned his trade directly from his father Anders.

The primary difference between the senior key and his son was that Jericho was a progressive and his father a traditionalist. Anders believed that if it worked why fix it, while Jericho, always looking to the future, firmly believed that without innovation the business was doomed to stagnation. In all likelihood things would have remained the same for Key Weapons if Anders had not been tragically struck down with fever and later succumbed to an untimely death - leaving a very young, very ambitious Jericho Key to take over the family business. It is whispered in some circles that the death may not have been the hand of fate.

Jericho quickly took the reins and under his guidance the business was grew more prosperous than ever before. But he wanted more. He began innovating existing guns but met with little success. Though he was great businessman, he sorely lacked the skills of an inventor. That was until he met Arden Graves. 

Graves, an inventor and engineer by trade had been working on an idea to create a repeating rifle that could carry several rounds of ammunition at once. Jericho, far from viewing his idea as crazy embraced it. Soon things were set in motion. Two other great inventors were called into work on the secret project, Silas Crow and Lucius Black, both geniuses in there own right. Working with Graves and Key, progress was finally made. The four became fast friends, and soon they were the toast of the Republic, traveling everywhere together. After five years they had a prototype and were ready to go public.

No one knows for sure what happened, greed perhaps, or a desire for power, but these four friends became the bitterest of enemies. They went there separate ways, each with full knowledge of their shared secrets, and each man sought investment for their new weapons.

Jericho now no longer had his absolute monopoly but had to share with his three former associates. The irony being that Jericho, having paid them so well and introducing them to so many captains of industry, had in the end sealed his own fate.

Now these four men control all the gun trade in the Republic. The only thing that they despise more than each other is any gunsmith other than themselves. For it's better to have a monopoly with enemies than to have to compete with lesser men.

Game Details
Although the guns are of the same technological make-up, being revolvers and rifles they differ stylistically in accordance to the gunsmith. Feel free to create logos and unique gun designs for each gunsmith.

- Key is most famous for a six-shot revolver.

- Graves is most famous for a small short range 4-shot revolver.

- Crow is most famous for long range repeating rifle.

- Black is most famous for a short range extremely powerful shotgun.

I never actually decided what the "dark secret" these guys shared was, but it most likely had something to do with pan-dimensional horrors and alien technology. The campaign never really got going, but we did have several kick ass gun fights. It's also where this story comes from.

Who else out there loves steampunk and the old west?

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Published on 1/19/2011 Written by 4 comments

New Commenting System

I just added a new commenting system, it's called DISQUS, and it kicks ass. To put it plainly the default Blogger comments, well, kind of suck and I want something that's easy to use and encourages people to comment and talk with one another.

The new system has all the features I want, and is very easy to use. Don't forget to add your website address (it is optional) when you comment so I can stalk... I mean check out your blog.

Let me know if you have any problems with the new system.

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Published on 1/19/2011 Written by 0 comments

Lazy Wednesday Video Post

I am still working on a review for the Temple of Elemental evil and should have it up sometime soon. In the meantime check out Metagame, a great little web series about tabletop role playing.

"Blending animation and live action, Metagame is inspired partly by real players and real game sessions. Let’s face it, if you played any form of table tops rpgs, you’ve met at least one of the characters from Metagame before. Admit it."

 Sit back and enjoy...

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Published on 1/18/2011 Written by 5 comments

Chemically Altered Magic

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." - Hunter S. Thompson
In an old campaign world I created (the one associated with these two maps) magic was practically non-existent.  The only people who had access to any type of magical powers were despotic theocrats who worshipped an alien and malevolent god. They used their powers to control and corrupt people, and generally acted like a bunch of bad guy douche-bags.

But all of this was foreseen by the ancient keepers of the occult traditions. These seers knew that one day their secrets would be needed, but they also understood that their was need of subtlety in their transmission. They decided that rather than perishable forms, such as books and scrolls, they would hide their secrets in nature. So they hid all of their knowledge in an unassuming little plant called Yarapay, there to abide until such time as those who have eyes to see should uncover these ancient mysteries.

To most people this plant was just a rare medicinal herb, with some rather fun side-effects. But to those gifted with "the sight" (people with the latent power of magic hidden within them) this plant would unlock their mind and show them undreamed of potential within.

I don't really remember all the details about how I introduced it to the campaign or how I actually used it in game terms. Basically you use it, and bang - big mind fuck weirdness - and from then on you can use magic. Pretty simple.

This drug Yarapay became the catalyst for an entire campaign. The bad guys didn't want the good guys having access to something so powerful, and the good guys wanted to "magically awaken" as many people as possible to help them fight the bad guys. If I recall, for most of the campaign the players were running from the bad guys protecting a plant. It may sound silly, but it turned into an awesome campaign that lasted nearly two years.

I figure anyone could adapt this basic idea into their campaign. It doesn't have to be a "no magic" world. It could be simply that wizards who use certain mind altering drugs get some sort of magical benefit. It's really just a great way to add a little weirdness to your wizards, and some character to your campaign world.

Here is the write up for Yarapay:

Yarapay (the three masters)
Yarapay is a rare and rather ugly plant. It grows in scrub-lands and hills of the desert regions of the world. It is short and only grows to about one foot in height at full maturity. Although it is short it has a very thick stem and its leaves are heavy and very bushy. It exudes a slightly musky odour, and its smell has been noted to repel insects. The leaves of the plant are wide, with a green base that progressively turns to a deep red at the tip of the plant. It is said that the deeper the red is at the tip of the plants leaves the more potent the variety.

Yarapay is called the three masters because there are three distinct parts of the plant that have different effects and are used for different purposes.

The leaves and stem can be crushed and dried, then smoked. It's effect being similar to a certain needlessly illegal plant we have all heard of. Smoking Yarapay is the most common method of ingestion. It is also used as a painkiller and for recreational enhancement (ie. partying).

The seeds of the plant are found in small reservoirs at the base of the leaves. They are can be crushed and used to treat fever, kill pain, and they also act as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antiviral agent. I suppose this could be the basis of a simple healing potion of some kind.

The roots are the where the weirdness is. The roots of Yarapay are toxic (Like food poisoning, but with hallucinations) if not prepared properly. To prepare them they must soak in water for at least 24 hours (leaving them longer amplifies the effect), then the roots are crushed in the water making a pulp-like substance. This is left to dry in the sun, and when the water has completely evaporated it is crushed again into a fine powder. This powder can then be ingested either by eating or smoking. Either way it's taken it fucks you up royally and gives some sort of magical abilities or insight. That's about it.

Have you ever created any strange herbs/drugs for your campaign world?

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Published on 1/17/2011 Written by 5 comments

New Reviews of Old D&D Modules

I recently came into a rather large collection of old gaming materials. I'm really not much of a collector, but I couldn't pass up this deal -- it was free. So I have a tonne of old D&D modules, and not much to do with them. In my twenty-five odd years of gaming I have only played two modules, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and Egg of the Phoenix - and I have never actually DM'ed one. Lack of a FLGS and funds in my youth contributed to a general disinterest in modules. But now that I got them, I want to see what all the fuss is about.

I figure I'll give these a read and see if I can find anything I might like to review. I have never read any of these products, and apart from little tidbits I've seen on other blogs really have no idea what they're all about.  I figure what the hell it might be fun. An old guy reviews old modules that he never read or played in his youth - and now with great wisdom and brilliant insight cynically tears them apart ruining what little remains of his youthful nostalgia... or writes a small review on his RPG blog.

I started reading The Temple of Elemenental Evil over the weekend, so it will be the first one up on for the Old Module Review. I will try and have the first part of the review up by Wednesday if all goes well.

Do you have a favourite classic module? Let me know, and if I have it I will review it.

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Published on 1/16/2011 Written by 3 comments

Another Old Map of Awesome

Seeing that everyone seemed to like the last old map I posted, I figured I'd post another one. This map is actually part of the same world as the previous map. This is the southern part of the world and the other map is the northern part. There is a little evolution in place naming, (not everything is stolen directly from what I was reading at the time) but most of the place names are still pretty cheesy.

Click to embiggen

This map was created exactly the same way as the other map (hand drawn and painted with watercolours), and made at roughly the same time.

I have unfortunately lost most of my notes about this world. What I do remember is that there were psychedelic drugs that granted magical powers and spaceships flown by the evil priests of an alien god. I still love both of those ideas.

I have several maps that I've created over the years, I'll add some more to the site over time.

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Published on 1/15/2011 Written by 1 comment

Saturday Sorcery

The following two magic items are inspired by supposed real world magic items. I came across descriptions of them in a book called Supernatural England by Eric Maple. It is filled with a metric tonne of macabre weirdness from England's sorted past. A really fun read if you can find a copy.

I have written the descriptions in generic terms so that you can figure out the mechanics for whatever your game of choice is.

Let the sorcery begin...

Wizard Post
A wizard post is made from the wood of a sacred tree, etched with runes of warding and blessed under the light of a full moon. The post is then placed, most typically, between the users house and barn.

The wizard post protects roughly a 1 mile radius, preventing any curse like spell from being used in that area. It also prevents any otherworldly beings (demon etc...) or undead from entering the radius, although regular monsters can still get through.

These items are often highly personalized and are a type of hedge magic used by common folk. For more super cool hedge magic items check out

Corpse Candle
A corpse candle is created from the fat of a murdered man and the wax of a candle stolen from the temple of any good aligned deity. They are slowly melted, mixed together and formed into a candle. Then at midnight on the night of the new moon they are enchanted by reciting dark and scary wizard stuff.

When the candle is held and lit it makes the user invisible. They will remain invisible until such time as the candle burns away completely, is put out or falls from the users hand.

There are pretty obvious moral implications for using this item. It's creation is most definitely a type of black magic, but these items would be greatly prized by those of a more nefarious nature.

A bit o' history - The corpse candle is often associated with the will-o-the-wisp and other strange lights. I have no idea what the connection is between the two ideas, but seeing as it's all anecdotal evidence, and magic doesn't really exis...

Have a great weekend.

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Published on 1/14/2011 Written by 4 comments

Links of DOOM

Only you can prevent our cataclysmic destruction by the forces of eldritch horror from the unknowable outer darkness by visiting all of the links of DOOM...

Awesome blogs that deserve to get far more publicity than they do...

Visit A Paladin in Citadel. Why? Because he's a fellow Canadian and a really nice dude.

I really like this post from Christian at destination unknown: Cookbooks Would Make Better Modules. Food + RPG's = Awesome.

A series of great posts From

Get yourself a super cool nerd shirt at A Rust Monster Ate My Sword.

James at The Underdark Gazette gives us all the news floating around the old school blogging community. He also has an amazing list of old school resources that I am going to steal... I mean politely borrow from to populate my own resources page.

Visit my wonderful wife Jen's adorable blog. Check out her post on a knitted dice bag she made, it's awesome.

Visit The Happy Whisk - mmmmmm, food. 

A bunch of blogs that I haven't had a chance to read yet, but look awesome...

The Grumpy Celt

A Wizard in a Bottle

A Year of Frugal Gaming


Warning - Mutagenic Substance

Popular blogs that don't need publicity, but are totally awesome and should get it anyways...

This Gigacrawler game idea Zak has thought up at Playing D&D with Porn Stars seems pretty cool. Also from Zak, some tits and OD&D books (NSFW).

Where's our EPT and Blackmoor? Is the "OSR" doomed to retreads?

, in a smart guy kind of way.

The character sheet for the new Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG Grindhouse edition is up and ready for download. I'm a little disappointed that it didn't have any tits or blood on it.

If you have a blog you want me to check out leave a link in the comments.

... There that wasn't so bad, now we're safe for another week.

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Published on 1/13/2011 Written by 4 comments

Systematic Oppression - Or how I learned to stop worrying and Love the dice

While working on the final draft of my game I came to the realization that making a full fledged, workable role playing system is really f--king hard. I have new found respect for anyone who takes it upon themselves to do something this stupid. Pretty much all of my original ideas about where I wanted to go with the game were chucked out the window about three minutes after I stated them. I would liken the entire process to some type of torture, but having never been tortured the closest reference I have is being stuck in a really long line at WalMart behind the guy with bad B.O and screaming kids - and just when you think the line is going to move, it doesn't.

Now don't get me wrong, there is satisfaction to be found in creating a game. It's just that it is far, far, far more work than fun. But nothing good ever comes about without an ample supply of hard labour, and an even bigger supply of blind rage that you have to do all that hard labour.

So here's a quick breakdown of what I did and didn't use from my original ideas:

1) It is going to be a single mechanic d20 based game. After much consideration this is just the easiest and most familiar route to go down.

I was really lying to myself about this one. I can honestly say that I have had enough of D&D re-makes and retro-clones. I don't quite hate them... yet.

2) It will be easily adaptable and rules lite. 

This is the one thing that has remained completely consistent throughout the entire process. My motto has been -"You have to be able to describe the entire system in a paragraph, and character creation should take no more than 15 minutes." I've done pretty good here.

3) It looks like there will be only two classes: Fighter and Magic User.

This is total bullshit, I am such a liar. There will be many classes, and it will be very easy to create additional classes for the game.

4) The Classes will serve as simple templates with which to build a character. There will be plenty of room for player customization and specialization.

This is still kind of true.

5) The combat system is still being worked on. I am leaning towards more abstract combat but that may change.

Abstract combat still a go.

6) The magic system will not be "Vancian". 

This is still a go as well.

So about half of what I originally thought is still part of the current game idea, I guess that's not too bad.

Well, I guess I should give a bit of an example of what the system is going to be like. Here is a basic explanation of how the mechanics work in the game, much abridged and sloppy:

- All attributes (strength, dexterity etc..) are associated with skills. Pretty idiot proof, and easy to modify.

- The attribute represents your characters "natural talent" in a given skill, while the skill represents your characters training.

- Each attribute is represented by a dice, a d4 to a d12 maximum.

- Each skill is represented by a dice, a d4 to a d12 maximum.

- You roll your "attribute" dice level and your "skill" dice level, add them together, add any other modifiers (magic etc...), and try to beat either a dynamic (dice roll) or static number.

- That's it.

I hope that made sense.

Obviously there's more to the game than just this. I also realize that some game probably already uses these or similar mechanics, that's pretty much unavoidable given the amount of games out there. I was never going for originality anyway, just trying to create a cool game that I want to play, and with some hope other folks might like it too. Now, let the play-testing begin.

If you have any ideas or input, let me know.
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Published on 1/12/2011 Written by 4 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

The picture below was created by my close friend James H. Schmitz.  He is a very talented artist, a regular player in my campaign and all around awesome kind of guy.

James specializes in horror, sci-fi and fantasy art, and is available for commissions.

Check out the rest of the art at:  J.H. Schmitz Art.

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Published on 1/11/2011 Written by 20 comments

Old Map of Awesome

So yesterday I was digging around my RPG stuff. I don't have a lot of books or anything, I mainly have an extensive collection of things I've created over the years. Most of what I've written looks like the scrawling of a madman and only makes any coherent sense to me, and the vast majority of my maps and dungeons have unfortunately been lost or destroyed. But then I found this...

Click to embiggen
I had thought that this map was lost for sure. I made it when I was around seventeen or so, and It's the first real campaign world I ever created. The names are mainly rip-off's from the Forgotten Realms or pseudo-Tolkien in nature, but it was my first real attempt to create a game world of my own. The map itself is hand drawn in ink and coloured in watercolours.

My friend James and I played off and on in this world for nearly three years and many of the seeds for my later ideas were first planted here. It's always nice to find something that reminds you why you started gaming in the first place and what you love about it.

Now to search through my old notes and see if I can find any more awesome scores. I'll see if I can the original write-ups for the world and post them later.

Have you rediscovered any cool old gaming stuff of yours recently?

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Published on 1/10/2011 Written by 9 comments

Introducing New Players to the Game

Since July I have been working very hard at designing a role playing game to go with my campaign world. Don't worry I have no intentions of becoming a serious game designer and only using this blog as marketing tool for my pet projects. I just really want to create a game that's all. But the process of creation has raised a lot of interesting questions for me. 

One of the things I've realized is that a lot of newcomers don't know what they are expected to do in a game. Frankly this is something I've never given much thought seeing that most of my players and myself  have been playing for so long that it's just old hat to us. So I started writing out some ideas so new players could get an idea of how to play a game. This, of course is just my opinion but maybe some other people could get some ideas from it. I might also add that these tidbits are most definitely of an old school leaning.

The role of the Player
The moving force for any role playing campaign is the player. 
In a role playing game there is no story, there are only situations where there is potential for stories to develop. Any story that unfolds in-game is the natural outgrowth of the players interaction with the world that they are playing in. Put simply, you the player, create the story, and the gamemaster provides the world with which you explore and have your adventures in.

The more ambitious you are as a player the better the game will be. Remember that you can do anything and go anywhere in the world (so long as you can procure the resources necessary). Try to create self-motivated characters with their own ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. Treat the game-world as if it were a real place, full of mystery, danger and opportunity.

Always remember that your ingenuity as a player is far more important than what's written on your character sheet. Be bold and daring and explore the world like a true adventurer and carve out your destiny with the roll of a die.
Playing Well
While it may be impossible to define “playing well” in a completely objective way, it is certainly possible to give general guidelines to aid new players participating in a role playing game for the first time. The following is a simple list of general principles that can help anyone play better.

General principles for better play:
  • Your ingenuity as a player is far more important than what's written on your character sheet. Think about everything, be strategic and use your characters skills and abilities to your advantage.
  • Always ask for details. This might be the single most important thing to do during play. A good gamemaster will only describe what is needed, it is up to you to ask for the details. If your character fails to spot a trap or is ambushed, it is most likely the result of failure to examine the details of a given situation. Always, always ask for details.
  • Have the proper equipment. Adventurers need things to help them while adventuring. Never forget your torches, rope and handy 10' pole. Always be prepared, the proper equipment can save your characters life.
  • Get out there and explore the world. Don't sit in the bar waiting for someone to come in and give you a quest, explore the world yourself. Role playing games are in essence games about exploration, the players use their characters to explore the campaign world, and adventure ensues.
  • Be self motivated, but not self absorbed. Do not look to the gamemaster to find out what to do next, tell the gamemaster what you would like to do and see if it's at all possible. Don't be afraid to be aggressive, but be sensitive to the other players and don't steal the spotlight after you've had your say.
  • Be decisive as a player, and as a party. If the game is slow it is likely the result of being indecisive. The best way to avoid indecisiveness slowing down the game is to assign a group leader. When things slow down for too long the group leader can step in and make the executive decisions for better or worse.
  • Combat is not always the best alternative in every encounter. Bravery does not win wars, strategy does. Always rushing headlong into fights is the worst possible strategy, and will most definitely lower your characters chances for survival. And always remember that retreating and regrouping is the best method of survival in harrowing situations.
  • Remember that the game is in no way balanced in your favour. A good gamemaster attempts to be as impartial to the players as possible, but the dice will fall where they may. And only your good or bad judgement will ultimately decide your characters fate.
  • Everything you do in-game has consequences. Remember that guy you beat up in the tavern. Turns out he has a brother, and his brother is a local lord and you are on his shit list now. Think before you do things, and expect consequences for all your actions.
  • The Gamemaster may be impartial, but they will be playing people who are your enemies in the game. This is an important point, that although the gamemaster doesn't hate your character, they will be playing those who do. And those enemies will do whatever it takes to survive, and succeed with their diabolical plans.
  • To play a role playing game, you have to role play. While it may seem redundant to make this statement, it is a point worth remembering. You will be expected to act, react, and speak for your character. The more you are immersed in the character and the world they inhabit, the more enjoyable your experience will be. This doesn't mean that you need a degree in theatre in order to play the game well. Just do your best to imagine what your character's feeling and thinking, and use that when it comes your turn to take action in the game.
That's what I've got so far, any ideas?

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Published on 1/07/2011 Written by 0 comments

I'm Gonna Retro-Clone you


Published on 1/05/2011 Written by 4 comments

Looking for Additional Writers

Are you interested in the extremely exciting (reasonably fun) world (small niche) of RPG writing. Do you like making huge amounts of money, with the possibility of more money. If so, you should probably become a stock broker and not be an RPG blog writer. But if you like the totally cool nerdiness of dungeons & dragons and other table top RPG games and you also like writing words in sentences you should join the team here at rule of the dice.

The image is from Wil Wheatons Flickr
If you've made it this far you're probably interested in knowing what I'm looking for in a writer. Not much really. If you're interested in writing about RPG's that's good enough for me. I started this blog for fun and really don't have any expectations beyond having fun with it. I'm looking for additional writers because, while I spend a great amount of my time writing, I don't spend enough time writing here on this blog.

While I don't really have any concrete expectations for the blog, I do have some areas of RPG related writing where someone could easily take up the reins.

1) 3e/4e Dungeons & Dragons - I don't play these games, and it is unlikely that I ever will in any serious capacity, so my working knowledge of them is very limited. If someone wanted to write about the new incarnations of everyones favourite table top RPG that would be very cool.

2) Old school gaming - If you're like me and have dice that are older than some of your players, you're probably old school. Write about some old school gaming and give the new generation some of your cranky old guy wisdom.

3) Reviews - I don't really buy stuff, so I don't really have anything to review. I also don't like writing reviews so that's also a negative. But if someone wanted to write some reviews here that would be awesome. If you do well you may even pick up some free swag along the way.

4) Adventures and cool campaign stuff - Anything that you've created yourself and want to post is awesome.

5) Play reports - Tell us about your game, that's always good fun.

6) Talking about games that aren't D&D - Reviews, play reports and analysis of games that aren't D&D.

7) Any other cool idea you've got.

I also have a very clear idea of things that I do not want on this blog.

1) Edition wars bullshit - No one cares about what edition of D&D is better. Wait, I'm sorry a whole bunch of loud douchebags care about it,  and they're choking the fun out of the hobby for everyone else.

2) RPG Theory - Take it to the forge, not interested at all.

3) Ranting about stuff and being an assbag - I know, this is the Internet, but please shut up. You are definitely not welcome here.

So if you're interested in writing here at Rule of the Dice let me know. You can contact me at:


Email me your information, and a link to at least one thing that you've written online (preferably RPG related). If you don't have anything online just copy and paste an example of something you've written (preferably RPG related) into the email. I'm not a harsh judge, I just want to see that you can at least make words go together and express yourself.

I would expect a minimum commitment of one post a month, which I feel is pretty reasonable. Of course anything you post here you can cross post wherever else you would like as long as there is some link back to the original here. And I make absolutely no claims of ownership on any post you write. We will talk in detail once I have received your email.

Feel free to leave a comment but do not post your info in the comments, email me directly. Once again my email is:


Have a great start to 2011.

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