Friday, January 13, 2023

Insidious Troll-Werm (Happy Birthday C.A.S.)

Curiously Troll-like visage inspired by Clark Ashton Smith's sketches
“The skies are haunted by that which it were madness to know; and strange abominations pass evermore between earth and moon and athwart the galaxies. Unnameable things have come to us in alien horror and will come again.” 
Clark Ashton Smith

Insidious Troll-Werm

Source: This creature is inspired by a untitled doodle by Clark Ashton Smith that you can see over at Page 7 of the Gallery of Clark Ashton Smith's Art at the truly wonderful Eldritch Dark website.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Shroedinger's OGL

 There's a lot of stuff circulating out there concerning the 'leaked details' of what might be the terms of the new OGL 1.1 from WotC. So far there is a Lot of speculation, emotion, and noise (read: opinion and rumor). There is very little real information that is available as yet. So until things do finally get sorted out, we're going to focus on non-OGL projects. Anything dependent upon the OGL is on hold until we actually know what the status of the OGL is going to be going forward.

Dungeon23 Weekly Progress Report 1


January 1 Dungeon23 Entry
My January 1 Dungeon 23 entry

Today I made my sixth entry to the journal for Dungeon 23. So far, so good. Above is a quick scan of the entry for January 1st. I've starting out drawing and detailing small sub-sections, mostly because that is how it flowed while I was doing things. Right off the bat I realized that space on the page was going to be at a premium, so I need to get more minimalist in my descriptions. I'm keeping a list of tables and sub-tables I need to get drafted as I go along. The monsters mentioned will be stat-less. The whole thing is going to be pretty-much system agnostic. I want to focus on the cool stuff and the encounters and the factions, etc. I can always stat things out later.

In the past I have had a tendency to over-think stuff, or to get bogged down in details. The Dungeon 23 Challenge has given me a way to just draw/write something every day. I am treating the journal as a prototyping sort of experiment, a sketchbook that I can get messy with, make mistakes, scribble-out stuff that doesn't work, generally focus on getting whatever I'm doing down and then going back later to make it all pretty or presentable. It has been a really good experience so far. It has also been great for getting my hands back into working order as well. 

Some of the other entries this week got a little more detailed, so I added some extra pages from another, similar-sized journal. I'm going to try to keep that sort of thing to a minimum, for the most part. I am aiming for a sort of minimalist approach, at least to start out. We'll see how long that lasts. I want to remain open to whatever strikes my fancy when I start drawing each new section or room. My preliminaries came to a stop when I realized that I was recreating a lot of the background for Clatterdelve all over again, so instead of fighting it, I opted to just go along with the creative impulse and now I am exploring and mapping all the various Known, Unknown, Secret, and False Entrances to this place, as well as the immediate surroundings and all that goes along with it. I will explain in more detail in another post.

So, in a nutshell, everything is proceeding really nicely and I am thoroughly enjoying this process of drawing and detailing one (or more) dungeon rooms/sites each day. I also plan on doing some Wilderness Maps for the surrounding areas as well, so I'm looking forward to that. Might just get a chance to try out the very cool Gygax 75 Challenge for part of that!

Lastly, I am considering doing a series of blog posts that dig into the details a bit more for what I'm building for Clatterdelve. There are going to be a lot of tables needed, as this is a very Procedural Space, and there will be a lot of unique treasure items/looty bits, and numerous spells and what-not. I'm loathe to provide stats right now with the whole Cloud of Unknowing swirling around the OGL (and by extension the possible extinction-level event some see threatening the continued existence of the OSR), but should that constellation of crises somehow be either averted or not turn out to be the apocalyptic undoing of everything we hold dear (tm), then maybe once that's all sorted and settled, I can start posting new monsters and spells again. I do hope thing get straightened out soon. In the meantime I am enjoying reading through a number of non-OGL games.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Some Random Resources for the Dungeon 23 Challenge


Dungeon23 logo

Dungeon23 Logo designed by Lone Archivist and generously made available for free through the CC BY 4.0 licenses.

"Megadungeon for 2023. 12 levels. 365 rooms. One room a day. Keep it all in a journal"

Sean McCoy posted this to Twitter, then to his Win Conditions substack newsletter early in December 2022. I might never have heard about it if Ben from Mazirian's Garden hadn't passed on word of the open challenge, as well as posting an excellent write-up of the Challenge that convinced me join in on this particular bit of nerdery. He is posting periodic Round Ups of Dungeon23 Related Things that I hope will become a regular feature since there are just tons of cool stuff going on all over the place for Dungeon23.

I found the idea of having a simple, daily practice that allowed me to set aside a bit of time each day to just draw/write/create one dungeon room at a time, by hand, in a journal very appealing. After years of my hands getting progressively more painful from chronic pain associated with a really nasty bout of Lyme, I am now mostly symptom-free and I could use the daily practice of this challenge to help get back into things and to get my hands back into working order. I really appreciated Sean's most recent "Slow Down, You're Doing Fine" post over at Win Conditions. This is all about the process, the daily practice. I don't care if I just scribble all over a page, as long as I do something every day. Keep moving forward. 

Sean posted a set of optional Prompts for Dungeon23, Spooky Action at a Distance posted an Alternative Schedule, and soon after Gus L. posted some seriously detailed Dungeon23 Worksheets. Soon there was a Reddit, a group at Facebook, and some excellent articles started to appear such as Narrowing the Focus over at Follow Me and Die, and How to Slay Your Dungeon at Sharktopus Games, among others. I already talked about some of the blog posts/articles/essays I was using to get prepared for the challenge earlier. I'll keep a list of any other articles, essays or whatnot I find particularly useful during the challenge and will post that later.

I started out keeping track of some of this stuff in the right-hand side-bar of the blog, but it quickly grew unwieldy, and besides Duvelmann's Vault of Dungeon23 Resources over at Github has outgrown my effort by a considerable margin. Likewise his collection of Dungeon23 Resources at and the Dungeon23 Jam are both very much worth checking out. Speaking of, Hexed Press produced a very handy Dungeon23 Helper that I highly recommend as well as the Dungeon 23 Logo that Lone Archivist made available for us all. 


There is a Directory of Participating Blogs at Reddit, and there is a handy online form for Tracking Dungeon 23 Projects.

Thank you all for doing such great stuff!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

1d6 Random Generator-sites for Dungeon23

Dungeon23 logo
Dungeon23 Logo designed by Lone Archivist and generously made available for free through the CC BY 4.0 licenses.

 For Dungeon23 I thought that I would assemble a short list of Generator-sites to have handy if I decide to get a little more randomness into the design process, or I get stuck, whichever. Instead of going with the usual suspects, I thought it would be more fun to draft up a simple D6 table of Generators I can roll on when I need one. Here it is:

  1. Chartopia  This site is simply bursting at the seems with all manner and sort of random generators.
  2. Donjon  There's a Lot to choose from at this site as well. Might start out with the Weird Names or Treasure Generator and see what I get from those.
  3. Glumdark looks to have some really cool stuff available like Bad Places, Bad Omens, or Suspicious Strangers.
  4. Mithril & Mages has a nice selection of generators for AD&D1, Labyrinth Lord or Barebones Fantasy, so I expect to be poking about this site off and on. I am especially interested in trying out the Monster Mangler which is a generator that mashes together two monsters to make something new and weird.
  5. Seventh Sanctum offers some interesting options for Settings & Locations that might prove helpful.
  6.  Thieve's Guild also has a bunch of generators worth exploring a bit. There's a Cheapy Art Objects one as well as a series of generators that produce Art Objects that run up to 7,500GP. So that could be interesting to try out.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Campaign Wiki and More Cool Things


Links to Wisdom logo
An incredible resource compiled from across the OSR Blogosphere from wayback-when to right now.

Campaign Wiki is a site that allows you to set up and maintain a wiki for your gaming needs for free. You don't need to make an account. You're not locked in. You can download and migrate your data elsewhere any time you like. Not sure if this is something that is right for you? No problem. There's a handy article on What is a Wiki? right there on the home page, along with another article that goes into the details of Why you might want to use a Wiki. Then there's a handy guide to help you get started, if this sort of thing appeals to you.

Links to Wisdom This is an OSR House Rules Wiki and it is an incredible shared resource that compiles articles, posts, and resources from across the OSR Blogosphere. As explained in the About page, this was set up to serve as a repository of blog posts and forum posts that either clarified a particular rule or proposed a House Rule, all organized around the classic B/X contents page, as a shared resource open to anyone who wishes to share a link with the community. There is a handy article provided to help make Adding Links Easy. This really is something of an OSR Hive Mind and makes for some fascinating reading.

There is also a secondary wiki for Links to Adventures and another for Cool SciFi House Rules. Both are well worth checking out.

In addition to the wikis, there are a number of Apps hosted at Campaign Wiki.
  • Gridmapper lets you draw out a dungeon map in your browser and export it when you're done so it can be used offline or whatever.
  • Textmapper lets you randomly generate a number of different types of maps based on the text you enter. This is a really nifty tool, but can quickly get a bit overwhelming. Luckily there is a handy reference that walks you through how to modify your text to get decent results. This is a really cool project. There is also a bot for Textmapper on Mastodon that posts weekly random example maps.
  • Hexdescribe is another tool that generates random Mini-Setting Booklets that can run up to hundreds of pages, all drawn from various random tables and open to your tinkering, tampering or customization. This tool compliments Textmapper above. There is also a bot version of this tool on Mastodon that posts weekly links to random Mini-Settings.
  • Face Generator is a dedicated generator for making random faces based upon the artwork submitted by participating artists. In light of the ethical debates raging around AI Art, this might be a cool project to get involved with and they are open to new contributions.
  • Name Generator is pretty much what it says on the tin; a fairly basic name generator, at least until you look at the Help document...this looks like it could be modified to produce some really interesting results.
  • Megadungeon Mapper is a generator of Megadungeon maps to be fed into Gridmapper, but it is still kind of raw and a bit clunky. Maybe with some encouragement Alex might revisit this tool?
  • There are random generators for Gems and Jewelry usable for B/X, Labyrinth Lord or AD&D. Granted these do not provide details or descriptions, but rather they essentially roll up the random values so that tediousness is taken care of, so either one could come in handy in-game.
  • Traveller Subsector Generator This tool can be integrated with Campaign Wiki for setting up a Traveller (or Cepheus Engine, possibly another SciFi RPG) campaign. It lets you roll up either a Sub-Sector or Sector, generating the UWPs. If you designate a URL each system will be linked to the appropriate page. Very handy.
  • There is a Character Sheet Generator for Halberds &  Helmets...which is Alex's own version of Classic D&D as inspired by B/X via Labyrinth Lord, and informed by many of his blog posts. There is also a Halberds & Helmets wiki and a Podcast as well! 
  • Planets are aggregators for Blogs. Indie RPG Planet is for the more modern-ish games (mostly not OSR), while Old School RPG Planet collects the majority of the OSR blogs out there. RPG Planet is a sort of free-for-all that combines the previous two and adds a bunch more blogs to the mix, and then there is the RPG Podcast Planet for, well, podcasts. Kinda self explanatory. If you are interested in Joining the effort to keep the blogosphere alive then by all means click over there and submit your blog's name and url.
  • Speaking of blogs, there is a page dedicated to the lengthy Lists of OSR/RPG Blogs various people have compiled over the years. You are bound to find something interesting if you go poking around and clicking through any of those lists.
  • There is also a very helpful Online Archive for the One Page Dungeon Contest. This archive goes back to the beginning in 2013 and has links to every submission. A real treasure trove!
Whew! That might be everything, but then Alex is a very busy guy so there might well be a few other things lurking about the Campaign Wiki site that I missed. In any case there's a ton of really cool things to play around with or explore: lots more than just wikis or the Links to Wisdom!

Friday, December 30, 2022

Some Housecleaning at the End of the Year

Slowly but surely I've been going back over our blog and pulling out weeds, clearing out dead links, deleting defunct bits and scouring through the old Drafts folder and so on. 

The RPG Blog Alliance is undergoing some sort of evolution or going into hibernation or hiatus, so I pulled that logo and the links associated with that organization off of our right-hand side-bar. Sorry to see the group go away, but I really do appreciate having been part of that network. I found a few bloggers through the RPGBA that I still enjoy reading when I get the chance.

The RPG Spotlight Network appears to be defunct, at least the site has been unreachable for a good long while now and the RSS feed hasn't updated since 2018, so I deleted that logo and the feed-thingy for that as well. Not sure what happened, but I am in pruning-the-deadwood mode, so I removed it; if it returns or revives, or whatever, I can always add it back onto the side-bar later.

The link list for online Generators was going to be converted into either a Page or a Post (or multiple Posts), but as I was going over it I ran across sites that were no longer accessible, or were flagged as malware, etc. so I'm dropping those just because Ain't Nobody Got Time For That. I also realized that in looking over some of the really interesting things that Alex has produced over the years at Campaign Wiki, in addition to Old School RPG Planet and Links of Wisdom, that I probably ought to do a post just about some of those projects. Yeah, I will be doing that in the near future.

As for the Generators in general, I see the whole Dungeon23 thing as an opportunity to review the links I have on-hand and to maybe look for a few new ones and put together a more curated list that includes my brief but pertinent observations on the ones I include in the list. So there will be a new and improved list, probably as a post that I can include in a Handy Resources link list on the side-bar.

The rest of the right-hand side-bar needs to get swamped out. Oh wait. I did clear out a lot of dead stuff earlier this morning. Just need to move a few things about, add some links, delete a few, that sort of minor stuff. 

I also need to draw-up a little Planet icon for the side-bar to help make the RSS feed-thingy more easily findable. I'll do that today over lunch.

The current blogrolls are a bit messy. Basically I've just been tossing everything into one catch-all, but then added a special blogroll for Dungeon23, which now feels a bit redundant, since so many bloggers are joining in the challenge. Back in the Olden Times, before the Lyme-demons dragged me down and the rise of the Plague that made WotC rich, we had multiple blogrolls sorted out by alphabet. That kind of worked, but it was also clunky and really ought to have been some sort of open source RSS feed or simply a link to OSR Search or Old School RPG Planet and just let them sort it all out. But I'm a fiddly old bastard who likes to tinker with things, so that was never going to be quite enough. Maybe I'll go with the curated approach once again and do something along the lines of a Top Ten or Top Twenty (d30?) Blogs I actually read on a semi-regular basis. We'll see. Right now I'm leaving well enough alone.

Then it's time to swamp-out the Drafts folder. As of now there are 200+ drafts in various stages of completion in there. I plan on going through and deleting everything that is just a placeholder, raw formatting, or not particularly well fleshed-out. Any interesting fragments or notes or raw posts will get cut and pasted into Scrivener so they can be gone over later and maybe even grow into real posts.

Once all that's's time to sort out some sort of schedule or some-such. That can wait until after I wrap-up some of the projects that have been hibernating in the hard-drive since nearly forever. Yikes. I'd almost worry about what I'm getting myself into, but really it's actually pretty cool to finally be able to feel well enough to get going on stuff for real. I won't discuss anything that's in progress, so no speculative teasers or any of that rubbish. You'll see things as they get done and are made available. 

So that's that for old stuff, mostly.

Here's hoping we all have a wonderful end of 2022 and an excellent fresh start for 2023!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Getting Ready for the #Dungeon23 Challenge


My Drawing Table is a mess!
My drawing table needs some organizing...

By now you've either heard about the #Dungeon23 Challenge, or you've turned aside and gone on to saner pursuits. Good for you.

Slowly, over the last week or so, I've been gathering my supplies and collecting what look like pertinent resources. I ordered a very nice Worldbuilder's Notebook in royal blue from Swordfish Islands. You can see it there on the lower left-hand corner of the table. It's sitting on top of a Fabriano dot-grid sketchbook, just below my truly beat-up first edition DMG that lost its cover more than a decade ago. I've printed out a few articles that looked like they'd be handy or thought-provoking, like Gus L's So You Want to Build a Dungeon? and his excellent Dungeon23 Worksheets. I also printed out a copy of Goblin Punch's Dungeon Checklist, and a few things from The Alexandrian, as well as the latest revision of the Hexed Press Dungeon23 Helper from over at There are a few other bits and pieces I scraped together from around the internet, but those are plenty to get started.

Pencils, pens, markers, the old steel rule, some erasers...all the usual art supplies are ready to go. Tiny sketchbook (for extra details or monsters), little index cards for NPCs, and some post-it notes just in case. Yep. That's about as prepared as I know how to get for such an undertaking. So wish me luck, if you will. Starting January 1st I will be devoting one hour a day to drawing/writing/creating one room/area at a time kept in a journal, done by hand, with a goal of producing 12 levels, 365 rooms/areas that may or may not form a Megadungeon by the end of 2023. Nothing quite like a daily practice to get back into the rhythm of things. I'm really looking forward to this.

Dungeon23 Logo designed by Lone Archivist and generously made available for free through the CC BY 4.0 licenses.

No Dice: RPG Blog Carnival (December, 2023)


RPG Blog Carnival Logo
The Theme for this Month's RPG Blog Carnival is No Dice and it is being hosted by Rising Phoenix Games. Link:
If you're interested in participating, it's super easy; just post something pertinent to the month's topic and leave a comment with a link to the post over at Rising Phoenix Game's blog.  At the end of the month the host will write a round-up post for the moth and include links back to all the participants. Any questions? Just click over to the RPG Blog Carnival Home Page for all the details, including how you can sign-up to host one of the monthly carnivals at your blog!

No Dice: Diceless Games

I remember the Amber RPG from back in the Nineties. That was one of the first, practically only Diceless RPGs I had either heard about or had a chance to look over. I was, and remain, a big fan of Roger Zelazny's Amber stories, especially the classic first series. But somehow I never really got into this particular game. Getting my established game-groups to try out new rules was worse than pulling teeth more often than not. So I let the Amber RPG pass me by at the time. But the idea, the notion that you could play an RPG without dice stuck with me, as heretical as it sounds to so many (like myself) who got their start with D&D and all the other dice-rolling games.

Over on I have compiled a collection of Diceless Options that has more than 30 entries now, many of which are PWYW or free. Over on Indy Press Revolution I did a search and found a handful of results, some of which sounded interesting. At DrivethruRPG I did another search and there appears to be a lot of diceless options there. I was especially interested in Rococo Space Ninjas, which sounded quite fun, as well as Square Dungeon and Diceless Dungeons, all three of which I picked up. I also noticed that Precis has Active Exploits Diceless Roleplaying available for free, so I grabbed that as well.

Clearly I am not going to have the time needed to try out these games before the end of this month's Carnival, but I am looking forward to reading through these rules-sets and seeing what ideas they spark. Of the lot, Square Dungeon is the smallest (a simple pamphlet), but looks like a fairly elegant and robust system aimed at facilitating a role playing game for very young players. That is so cool. There just are not enough such games available. Active Exploits is 161 pages and is a Serious RPG System. That's one that I'll have to make time to read over later. I expect to post an update regarding Diceless Games in the next month or so, depending on how much Dungeon 23 takes over my writing time...

Something that I have had the chance to examine more closely and actually try out a bit, and that is not only Diceless, but incredibly versatile and usable in just about any game is Obsidian Serpent Games' RPG Inspiration Cards that are available via Gamecrafter. Back in 2012 John Till, of the Everwayan  and FATEsf Blogs, served as a guest blogger here at Hereticwerks and posted a really nice, in-depth interview with Chad from Obsidian Serpent Games and they delved into some of the details about the RPG Inspiration Cards. Definitely, go check out the interview and see what they have to say about this truly incredible resource for RPGs. John also has a series of posts at The Everwayan about using the RPG Inspiration Cards in Everway that provides a really good introduction to how one might actually use these cards in a game. Highly recommended.

No Dice: Old School Alternatives to Dice-Mechanics
While it seems a bit weird and contrary even to try to not use dice in an RPG session, especially when so many of us have become accustomed to rolling handfuls of dice, or still use the old Exploding Dice Mechanic from EPT, or play games with Dice Pools...sometimes setting aside the little plastic polyhedrons can lead to some rather interesting results.

Ever since the Seventies and first getting into OD&D, I've had players who preferred to pick from a list rather than roll for starting gear, for example. Since that often times sped things up, I was happy to accommodate them in that regard. 

Likewise instead of arbitrarily using dice rolls to distribute treasure found, I started having the players negotiate amongst themselves, sometimes even doing a sort of private auction between them, in order to divvy-up the loot. The more successful groups tended to draft a contract or compact amongst themselves that spelled-out just how things were to be distributed amongst the survivors and dependents of the group. One group in particular even began to sell shares to the local aristocrats and nobles in order to get the funding needed to go after some of the more notorious and difficult dungeons or treasure hoards. 

This approach worked pretty well, most times. Fighters were able to get weapons or armor without bothering with things they clearly were never going to be able to use, and the spell-casters were able to grab-up all the tomes, scrolls, wands and what-not that they really had the best chance of figuring out or putting to use...and of course the Thief PCs would always try to snag a few scrolls--ostensibly on behalf of their uncle, some hitherto unnamed sibling, or mysterious patron, since they were careful not to reveal that they were Thieves to the rest of the party (they received an XP bonus for not being detected). It was fun to see how long they could go before someone worked out that they were a Thief and not just working for an uncle who was a rich merchant or some obscure scholar who had them under contract to discover and turn over occult books or whatever to them for research. Not every Thief character chose to keep their class a secret back then, but it did have a certain appeal. 

Greed can make stupid decisions sound almost reasonable at times. One player gave up a massive pile of gold and weapons in order to get one magic tome that they already knew they could not read, just because they suspected it was a Manual of Puissant Skill at Arms, but one that had been written in a cypher or dead language that another player--a Thief pretending to be working for a scholar based in a distant Citystate--assured him repeatedly it was, all the time telling the spell-casters (in private, of course) that it was an incredibly ancient grimoire of powerful spells thousands of years old and thus nearly priceless. He had them bidding against each other while he acted as a trusted, disinterested third party (despite his stated interest in acquiring the book, but on behalf of his uncle, of course). It was quite a lot of fun...until the Thief over-stepped and tried to rope-in a local Cleric by claiming the book might well be a priceless artifact of their faith. That got ugly, violent and quite entertaining very quickly. Suffice to say the Thief skedaddled in the middle of the night and steered clear of his former adventuring companions from then on. The party pooled their money to hire an Assassin to track the Thief down. They received detailed reports on a regular basis from various ports of call where the Thief had allegedly been spotted for over a year. Then nothing. Huh. Funny how that worked out.

Another Diceless approach to things that I tried during the OD&D+DMG1 phase was to have spell-casters/Magic-Users pick their starting spell(s) instead of randomly rolling them. They also had the option of using their Research Class Skill to track down lore and clues concerning specific spells and types of spells and thus they could adventure into places where they stood a better chance of finding spells they were most interested in acquiring. Likewise when it came time for level advancement and the training necessary to make the transition to the next level, they could spend some time, and of course invest a little gold, in locating a suitable person or organization to train them in specific techniques, skills, spells, or whatnot. Instead of assigning a score to roll over to gain the information, I set a minimum price. Once they had spent enough time or money, they gained access to the information. This worked pretty well. I used something similar for the Fighters and Rangers, etc. Thieves were a special case and money might open a few doors or make things a little easier, but they needed to prove themselves, commit daring heists or participate in various schemes, scams and shenanigans being carried out by other members of their gang, guild or organization. They needed a good reputation, and that was built through actual play. It meant less dice getting rolled, at least in these instances, but resulted in a good bit of depth, and a lot of plot hooks and adventuring opportunities. And it was fun.

Okay. Enough about Ye Olden Times.
I've got some fresh new stuff to go read over...