30 September 2012

More Toys from the 80s

M.U.S.C.L.E. dolls, er, ACTION FIGURES were sold in the 80s from, I think, gumball machines. At least that's how my unreliable memory recalls getting these two little guys. The 80s were a simpler time for kids. There was no weird card game associated with these things. You just bought them. Who bought the most, won. It was a good game.

Someone on G+ mentioned these little dudes recently and I happened to have them close by. I keep them around in the same way that one might have shrunken heads in your office.

From eBay, I bought another D&D PVC doll, er, ACTION FIGURE to complement my existing collection. This is a terrible scan of the back of the box. Yes, I bought an unopened box and destroyed it. Why? Because the entertainment value of the dolls far FAR exceeds their collector resale value.

I have to tell you, the bugbear figure is pretty poor. All the PVC D&D figures are a bit impressionist, but I think they gave up on this guy. Here's a close up:

12 September 2012

Thank you


In generally, we probably don't get all the thanks we deserve. In particular, I want to make an extended "thank you" to the people who made my first published module, Manse on Murder Hill, possible. The good parts of the module are all theirs. The bad parts are pretty much all me (and a little bit Libre Office).

Stuart Robertson

You've seen his work. It's evocative, powerful and engaging. Stuart's work represents my vision better than I can. I was lucky to work with him. A prince among men!

Bryce Lynch, Paul Go, Peter Spahn

These guys volunteered their time to go through 20 pages of boring manuscript and each gave detailed and insightful feedback. Each pointed out different (critical) design problems. Manse would be a lot weaker without them. They answered a plea from a unknown author on the Internet and delivered tons of value. I owe them all.

Aaron Beck (Gryphon Editorial)

Readers of this blog will note my perchant for typos, failed conjugation and mauled sentences (I call it "charm"). However, even I know the value of solid editorial clean-up. Aaron not only pruned the most awkward and tangled of sentences, but provided the kind of high-level leadership on the content that I would have effected from a traditional content editor, like those I worked with at O'Reilly Media.

Aaron's service is worth every penny I spent.


Without an easy-to-use, self-publishing site, I could not reach the size audience I have. I am produce printed copies of future modules, just because it is so easy to work with these guys. You rock.


That's right: you. The person staring at the screen. Writers need an audience. Without one, one is a "diarist," which sounds just awful.

I will be spending some time prompting Manse and then thinking about what I want to do next (hint: I am looking at a Kickstarter).

UPDATE:In just over a week, this module has been downloaded over 450 times! This has been a wonderful experience. I hope to do more in the future.

11 September 2012

Manse on Murder Hill available now!

The year-long process has finally ended and the winner is YOU!

Hustle over to the fine folks at RPGNow to get a free copy of my old-school role playing game module, The Manse on Murder Hill.

Manse is a low-level module designed to be completed 2-4 sessions using the Labyrinth Lord rules, which themselves are free.

I welcome any and all comments about module. If there is enough positive feedback, I have 2 follow-on modules that extend the story presented in Manse.


UPDATE: Read the press release.

09 September 2012

New Monster: Plague Zombie

Plague Zombie

No. Enc:2-20
Armor Class:8
Hit Dice:3 + 1
Attack:1 (weapon)
Damage:1d8 or weapon type
Hoard Class:None

A proscribed area of necromantic research, the formula for the creation of the dreaded plague zombie has no claimants among sane wizards and alchemists. That small hordes of these shambling horrors continue to be reported in isolated villages and besieged towns suggests that someone continues to produce them, either for profit or some unknown misanthropic purpose.

The plague zombie is much the same as the commonly encountered zombie: a corpse animated by unwholesome magic and imbued with murderous intent. However, the plague zombie was designed to infect entire regions with the threat of virulent disease. In this way, the forces controlling the plague zombies can move into an area with ease.

A player character must roll save vs. poison each round that he is engaged with a plague zombie in melee combat. A failed save means that the PC has contracted a plague, the effects of which are determined in the table below.

Roll Disease effects Remedies
1-3 Nausea: -4 on "to hit" rolls for 6 turns 1 day of bed rest or magic
4-6 High fever: -6 on "to hit" rolls, -3 to Strength (will not lower below 3) Cured by magic or 3 days of bed rest
7-8 Paralysis of the legs inhibits walking and melee combat Cured by magic or 1 week of bed rest
9-10 Livid boils prohibits all action but sleep, moaning and bedrest. %5 (1 in 20) chance of death per day. Cured by magic or 2 weeks of bed rest
12 Liquefaction of soft tissues leading to death in 2-5 rounds Cured by prompt application of magic

Not that one character can contract more than one aliment per combat session!

The types of magic that cures the plagues above include cure disease, heal and wish. Others spells may be added at the game master's discretion.

Unfortunately, the danger posed by these monsters does not end at their second death. After a plague zombie has been killed, the 10'x10' area in which it died will carry a residual effect for 3 days afterward. Any character walking through an infected area must save vs. poison at a special advantage described shortly. Those who fail the save will contract an illness which will be determined by the table above.

This residual effect of plague zombies can be eliminated with proper disposal procedures. The exact methods are left up to the individual game master, but burning the remains has always been shown to be effective. An area cleansed by fire will be free from the after-effects of the zombie. Perhaps high-level magic or local rituals will be effective too?

Because the effectiveness of the plague born by the zombies diminishes with time, characters gain a bonus to their saves when rolling for incidental contact with it. For each day that the zombie as been slain, the PC gains +2, as this table illustrates:

Days after zombie's death Save bonus

Plague zombies may be distinguished from normal zombies by their bloated and pusilanimous torsos and weeping sores. So bloated are these monsters that they move even slower than other zombies. However, they will not stop until either they or you are dead.