Mar 21, 2023

B2 Keep on the Borderlands: A Timeless Classic


 B2 Keep on the Borderlands is possibly the most iconic and influential adventure in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. Originally released in 1979 by Gary Gygax, this adventure module has stood the test of time, providing endless hours of entertainment for generations of players. Despite its age, B2 Keep on the Borderlands remains relevant and useful for today's players, no matter the edition. Let's take a look at why this classic adventure module still holds up.

B2 Keep on the Borderlands was designed as an introductory module for new players, providing a balanced mix of roleplaying, combat, and exploration. It showcases the core elements of D&D and serves as an ideal starting point for those new to the game. The module places adventurers in a fortified keep, a bastion of civilization on the edge of a dangerous wilderness teeming with monsters and danger. Players must balance their interactions with the NPCs within the keep, while venturing into the Caves of Chaos, a network of monster-infested lairs.

The Caves of Chaos serve as the primary focus of the module, offering a diverse array of monsters and challenges for the players to tackle. The interconnected caverns and tunnels are home to various monster factions, such as goblins, kobolds, and orcs. Each lair features unique environmental hazards and traps, demanding players to think creatively and adapt to new situations. The dynamic faction relationships within the Caves of Chaos present opportunities for clever players to exploit, using diplomacy, deception, or brute force to gain an advantage.

The simplicity of B2 Keep on the Borderlands is one of its greatest strengths. The adventure's structure and content can easily be adapted to any edition of D&D, from the original Basic Set to the latest 5th Edition. The module's generic setting allows Dungeon Masters to seamlessly integrate it into their preferred campaign worlds. Whether it's the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, or a homebrewed setting, the Keep on the Borderlands can fit naturally into any world, providing an exciting and memorable experience.

Beyond its adaptability, B2 Keep on the Borderlands serves as a wellspring of inspiration for Dungeon Masters. The module's open-ended nature allows for the creation of unique adventures tailored to the interests of the players. The Keep itself can be expanded upon, with side quests, political intrigue, or hidden threats lurking beneath the surface. The Caves of Chaos provide a template for designing interconnected, multi-faction dungeons, allowing DMs to craft their own memorable and challenging adventures.

B2 Keep on the Borderlands is a testament to the enduring appeal of Dungeons & Dragons, proving that some adventures are truly timeless. Its engaging blend of roleplaying, combat, and exploration offers a perfect introduction to the game, while its adaptability and open-ended nature make it a valuable resource for Dungeon Masters. 

Mar 7, 2023

Barbarian Kid Character Class


 In the Saturday morning cartoons of the 70's and 80's there was a character archetype you could call the "Barbarian Kid". Examples include Bamm-Bamm Rubble, Prince Dorno, and of course Bobby the Barbarian from the classic Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. What would this look like as a character class for OD&D or B/X? Here is a rough write-up of what he could be.

BARBARIAN KID Prime Attribute: Strength, 13+ (+5% XP) Hit Dice: 1d10 Armor/Shield Permitted: Any non metal. No shield. Weapons Permitted: Any. Club is preferred (+1 to hit) Save: as Fighter class

Barbarian kids are unusually strong children with fierce attitudes, a primitive weapon, and a pet. 

The barbarian kid has somewhat stunted growth, appearing to age slower than others of their kind, and being generally more diminutive. Though at some point they may have a growth spurt around late puberty and grow much taller, larger, and more muscular than is typical of their kind. 

They are highly suspicious of magic and as a general rule will avoid using magic items, except in some circumstances such as being given a magic club.

They will never willingly retreat, surrender, or take prisoners.


Level

Title

XP

Class Ability

Hit Dice

d10

BHB

Fighting Capability

1

Barbarian

0

Berserk, +1 Str

1

+1

Man +1

2


2000

Pet

2

+2

2 Men +1

3

Fighter

4000

Impervious

3

+3

3 Men or Hero -1

4


8000

+1 Str

4

+4

Hero

5

Warrior

16000

Speed Burst

5

+5

Hero +1 or 5 Men

6


32000


6

+6

Hero +1 or 6 Men

7

Drengr

64000

Bonus attack

7

+7

Superhero -1

8


120000


8

+8

Superhero

9

War Lord

240000

+1 Str

9

+9

Superhero +1

10

War Lord, 10th

480000


9+1

+10

Superhero +1


The barbarian kid is unusually strong and gets +1 strength at 1st, 4th, and 9th levels. This may exceed normal race limits.

Barbarian kids also get a +4 bonus to any saving throws vs. any kind of fear (magical or non magical).


Berserk Trigger: This is a small trigger that puts the Barbarian Kid into berserk rage. This is chosen by the GM during character creation and can be a word, a particular food or smell, an action, or any other common thing that may come up in the adventure. When triggered the barbarian kid goes into a berserk rage and gets +2 to all attack rolls, +2 to damage, and -2 to AC. Also they shrug off 1pt of damage from each hit they take. Berserk rage lasts 2d6 turns, and then the barbarian kid is exhausted for 1 hour for each turn they raged.

Pet: Every barbarian kid befriends a cute pet that is semi-intelligent. It is equally useful and not, depending on the situation. It may get in trouble, cause mayhem, or get in the way. Then it also may save the day by fetching the keys hanging on the guard’s belt when the barbarian kid is locked up. They are loyal to the barbarian kid to death and may be very dangerous to strangers, and even friends, as it is extremely protective.

Roll 1d6

  1. Baby unicorn

  2. Baby dinosaur

  3. Baby saber-toothed tiger

  4. Baby dire wolf

  5. Baby cave bear

  6. Baby griffon

Impervious: At 3rd level the barbarian kid chooses one damage type that they are practically impervious to. This can be fire, poison, blunt damage to the head, or something else. The GM must approve this. The barbarian kid reduces the amount of damage taken this way by 1 point per incidence and +4 to saving throws vs that damage type when a save is called for.

Speed Burst: At 5th level the Barbarian Kid gains +10' to their speed during encounters.

Bonus attack: At 7th level the Barbarian Kid gains an extra attack each round, if using their preferred melee weapon.




Mar 6, 2023

Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Master Mind of Mars" is now in Public Domain


The "Master Mind of Mars," is a phantasmagoric novel crafted by the hand of Edgar Rice Burroughs, which is the sixth installment of his "Barsoom" cycle. In the nascence of its conception, the writer bestowed upon it titles both strange and eerie, including "A Weird Adventure on Mars" and "Vad Varo of Barsoom." It first saw the light of day in Amazing Stories Annual vol. 1, published on July 15th of the 1927. Its inaugural publication in book form was handled by A. C. McClurg, and was released to the world in March of 1928.

The fate of this most curious tome may serve as a cautionary tale: Burroughs, it seems, was stymied in his attempts to land a sale with his customary high-paying markets, the Munsey magazines and the Street & Smith line. Some literary critics have posited that the book's scathing treatment of religious fundamentalism proved a stumbling block for potential publishers. Eventually, he found a buyer in the form of the esteemed Hugo Gernsback, who offered him a mere $1,250, a paltry sum when compared to the lavish payouts offered by outlets such as Argosy All-Story, where the previous work in the series had made its debut. Gernsback, a man of discernment, chose the title of the story which remained its name throughout its publication history, and he made it the star feature of his newest magazine.

In this book by the esteemed master of pulp fiction, the thread of the series is shifted for a second instance. The first, I might recount, occurred when the initial champions, John Carter and Dejah Thoris, faded into the background and their progeny took the fore. But, now the author conjured a new hero entirely, one whose fortunes are unmoored from the earlier yarns. This champion, named Ulysses Paxton, is of the same Earthly stock as Carter, and, like his predecessor, is transported to the crimson orb through the mere act of gazing upon it in the heavens above.

The tale of Paxton, who, having alighted upon the red world, found himself in the company of Ras Thavas, a dotard scientist of high repute, and the self-styled "Master Mind" of that place. Ras, as it were, had perfected the art of brain transplant, a most peculiar discipline, which he used to bestow fresh and supple bodies upon the aged and wealthy of Mars, thus fattening his coffers. The youth-starved Ras, ever mindful of betrayal, deigned to train Paxton in his craft, seeking to groom him as his acolyte, in the hopes of someday meeting his own end with a minimum of pain and degradation. But, lo and behold, Paxton was struck by love's arrow, falling for the lovely Valla Dia, one of Ras' duplicitous victims, whose comely form was traded for that of Xaxa, the loathsome empress of Phundahl. Paxton, nobler than his master, refused to operate on the dotard until a promise was made to restore the princess to her rightful flesh. And so began a journey, a quest, in which Paxton and his comrades, all subjected to Ras' experimental scalpel, sought to return the stolen body to its rightful owner. In the end, the victors were rewarded: Paxton wedded the fair Valla Dia, who in a felicitous twist of fate, was revealed to be a princess of the highest rank.

Master Mind of Mars is a middling effort in the cannon of Burroughs' Barsoom stories, which is to say it is a delightful and fast paced read. Because even Burroughs' mediocre efforts are better than the average pulp writer of his day. It does not reach the heights of the better books in the series such as the first three masterpieces, it still fares better than some of the later stories which seem to diminish in quality.


____________________________________________


Ulysses Paxton

Jasoomian, Human, 9th level Fighting Man
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 9/52hp
Move: 120' on earth, 180’ (360’ jump) on the Red Planet
Attacks: saber, or radium pistol +10BAB
Damage: 1d10, 1d12
No. Appearing: 1 (unique)
Save: F9
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: A
Alignment: Lawful
XP Value: 7,100
Str: 15 (+1), Dex: 16 (+2), Con: 15 (+1), Wis: 13 (+1), Int: 12 (+0), Chr: 14 (+1)
Equipment: saber, pistol.

+2 STR & DEX on the Red Planet

Ulysses Paxton was a man of Earth, but his spirit was one of adventure and daring. His body was lean and wiry, with sharp features and piercing blue eyes that seemed to gaze into the very soul of a person. He was possessed of a courage that was unyielding, and a determination that was unshakable. When he first set foot upon the red soil of Barsoom, he was filled with wonder and amazement, but he was also keenly aware of the dangers that lurked around every corner.

Paxton's time on the red planet was marked by a series of harrowing adventures, and he emerged from each one with his spirit unbowed and his resolve unbroken. He was a man of action, quick to draw his sword and even quicker to use it. But he was also a man of principle, guided by a moral compass that was unerring. When he encountered the mad scientist Ras Thavas and witnessed the horrors that he had inflicted upon his victims, Paxton was filled with a sense of righteous anger that burned within him like a flame.

Despite the many trials that he faced on Barsoom, Paxton never lost sight of his ultimate goal: to return to Earth and to the woman that he loved. But even as he longed for the familiar comforts of his home planet, he was forever changed by his experiences on Barsoom. He had become a warrior, a hero, a man of legend. And though he may have returned to Earth, his spirit remained forever bound to the red planet that had captured his heart.


Mar 1, 2023

D&D Classic Collection: Monsters A-C Unboxing

 I recently acquired the D&D Classic Collection: Monsters A-C minis by WizKids that are an homage to classic D&D. I made an unboxing video if you want to see what they look like.

Overall they are a little cheesy and the Beholder is way over the top in garish color and silliness. I get it that they are trying to be accurate to the original art, but there should be a little room to make them a more compelling. The other minis in the set are much better. You can see the video and be the judge for yourself.


Link to the video:

https://youtu.be/oDvYvbVVlag



Feb 27, 2023

Gunslinger Art - Apache Brave and Lots of Art

 As I'm closing in on the final version of the Gunslinger Roleplaying game I'm spending more and more time on the art and layout. I've gone back and forth from how realistic to make the art to how stylized and fantastical I want to make the illustrations. My first inclination was to be fairly realistic, but as the book took shape it became clear that a slightly more idealized art style would fit it better. So that the fantastical elements still felt in place.

Here is a page from the Character Creation chapter on the Brave character class. Along with a finalized illustration. Though I'm being idealized that doesn't mean a lot of research wasn't done on authentic wear and features. In fact I got so lost in the research it delayed the completion of the book by quite a bit. There is just too much history and details to dig into. At some point you have to edit and complete the project. I think this is why so many Western RPG's have gotten bogged down. The history and lore of the period is fascinating and becomes more so with the more you learn.

While a lot of research can be done online, trips to the local library are still important. The book has a very large bibliography and suggestions for further research. As well as a great number of films and novels. One of the best resources were the Men-at-Arms series by Osprey publishing, particularly for a lot of the harder to find images and information.


I spent a lot of time reading and sketching from these books. What will appear in the Rulebook will only be a fraction of what I've drawn. At this point I'm thinking the next step will be to make a "Beta" version available to gather some feedback before sending the book to press. That will be posted soon.