Jan 30, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon #38: Foreboding Gristmill of Alas the Shadowy Mercenary

Under an old grain refinery Alas the Shadowy Mercenary built a different kind of gristmill, one filled with deadly traps. 

Jan 27, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon #37: Magical Cell of Azal the Baneful Bard

Apparently this is becoming the Bookmark Dungeon blog, I'm having so much fun making these. Though I do plan to stop at 50 and move on to the next map idea.


Jan 25, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Noctilucent Palace of Aralert the Rotten Baron

 Aralert, baron of the five realms, is known as Aralert the Rotten by the people under his stewardship. He had his court magician tap into a pocket realm of darkness and submerged part of his extravagant Palace there to protect him in case the people rebelled against his authority and tried to overthrow him. He has amassed great wealth he hides in his Noctilucent Palace.

Jan 24, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Gallery of Alas and Deceitful

 Alas was a collector of the unusual and rare. He was also an accomplished transmuter with the ability to turn people, creatures, and things into inanimate objects. He decorated his morbid gallery with his subjects.

Jan 21, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Weird Enclave of Omunder the Reborn Hydra

 Omunder was a kind prince destined to inherit the kingdom after his benevolent father. Till the day a corrupt sorcerer entranced his family and took power. He had the prince cursed and transformed into a hydra. Supporters of the king stole the prince away and hid him in a strange enclave until the day the curse could be lifted and the rightful king restored.

Jan 20, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Revolting Hall of Queratald the Legacy Wyrm

 Queratald was an ancient black dragon who was permanently polymorphed into a dark drow elf. He raised an army and conquered the realm and became king of the fell lands. Now he reigns from his revolting hall and instills fear and tyranny on all his subjects.

Jan 19, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Fey Well of Makek the Insane

 Makek made pacts with dark forces to learn how to build a portal to the fey realm. It drove him mad.

Jan 18, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Forge of Secal the Distasteful

Secal knew the secrets of forging weapons of such fine craftsmanship that they took well to powerful enchantments. His true secret was the mine he used slave labor to dig rare minerals from. 

Jan 11, 2023

OSR 2.0

 The OSR started out as a fervent movement to bring back the old school style of play from the 70's and early 80's. No one was able to quite nail the perfect definition of what OSR was because it had a certain jen sais qua. Perhaps Mythmere's Quick Primer for Old School Gaming said it best: Player Skill, not Character Abilities.

Then there was Philotomy's Musings that gave a road map of house rules for how to play old school.

Some incredible things were made. Retroclones that nearly perfectly mimicked old rules sets that were arguably better than the originals because of improved production values and organization. There were epic mega-dungeons, and more adventures than you could shake a ten foot pole at.

Like all movements it diversified over time. Just when things seemed to be getting a little stale Hasbro nuked the entire community from orbit. It remains to be seen how the new OGL will really play out. The silence, and barely a response are deafening. Which means it is probably all true. Rather than the end this has served as a wake up call.

Many publishers have said they'll be making their own games with no reliance on the OGL. This is great news! Expect to see a wave of terrific new RPG's over the coming years.

People who have been playing RPG's for decades aren't going to just go quietly in the night. Many of them are still playing with the same game books they had in their youth.

Instead of defeat I see the entire gaming community coming together in alliance. Who knows how long it will last but you love to see it.

What will Night Owl do under these new conditions? We'll be removing any content that may have come from the SRD, which there is not a lot of, if any really. The genres Night Owl has designed games in are far removed from the generic kitchen sink fantasy of DnD. During this review, new revised editions will be made of each of the core books: Guardians, Freebooters, Raiders, Colonial Troopers, and of course Warriors of the Red Planet. This is an opportunity to improve and deepen the books with more content and art.

What of the projects in development? Gunslinger is on the cusp of going to the printers, and the Princess of the Red Planet adventure is about 70% done. They will be completed and free of OGL.

Interestingly all of these things were already in development and heading this way, this just gave these books a good nudge into their own unique and individual direction.

One more thing. For those who may have noticed, if it wasn't obvious, all the Night Owl games were working up to a master game system called Gateway. A universal RPG that will be the beating heart of all NOW games moving forward. It is very old school in its sensibilities and very new school in its refinement. You'll feel right at home in it. More on that when there is something more solid to share.

Jan 10, 2023

John Carter Of Mars Series In The Works For Disney Plus

John Carter and Dejah Thoris by Clyde Caldwell
(picture unrelated)

Somehow this rumor slipped past me, but it has been reported by reliable sources that Disney is in early development for a John Carter of Mars series on their Disney Plus streaming service.

It sounds like a reboot rather than a continuation of the film directed by Andrew Stanton, but it isn't clear.

Considering how the movie came out I don't have a ton of confidence it will be at all true to the books. And the quality of streaming shows on Disney+ have varied quite a bit. A streaming series does seem to be a better media for it though.


Jan 9, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: The Docks of Rizopath the Fetid Boatman

The rotting and stagnant waters of the underworld are deadly to the touch. Rizopath the Fetid Boatman will take travelers across these pools of dark magic for a fee. A price that may be too high for some.


OGL Options

DnD isn't the only TTRPG that has an Open Gaming License. Here are some other options, I'll update this list as I find out about more. If you know of any others post them in the comments.

Chaosium BRP

Based on Basic Role Playing, one of the best and most venerable tabletop roleplaying games.

The System Reference Document (SRD): https://www.chaosium.com/brp-system-reference-document/

Also one for the QuestWorlds system: https://questworlds.chaosium.com/

Mongoose Publishing

The Traveller roleplaying game has an OGL! https://www.traveller-srd.com/

Atlas Games

The Over the Edge roleplaying game system known as WaRP has an OGL: https://www.atlas-games.com/otelegacy#warped/

Direct link: http://www.atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/WaRPSystemPackage.zip

Fate Core


Jan 8, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Pyramid of Nolesobad the Treacherous Abomination

 The ancient tomb of Nolesobad is a treacherous trap filled pyramid that no thieves have yet been able to infiltrate and plunder. It is said that Nolesobad is a powerful Mummy Lord.

Room 1: Entrance Chamber

The entrance chamber is a small, dimly-lit room with sandstone walls and a low ceiling. A series of hieroglyphics line the walls, depicting the burial rituals of the Pharaoh's reign. The chamber is empty, save for a set of large stone doors that lead deeper into the tomb.

As the players enter the room, they hear a faint clicking sound. If they investigate, they discover that the door is rigged with a pressure plate trap. When triggered, a series of darts will shoot out from hidden openings in the walls, dealing 1d4+1 damage each. The trap can be disarmed with a successful Dexterity check (DC 15).

Room 2: Mummy Crypt

The mummy crypt is a long, narrow chamber filled with rows of stone sarcophagi. Each sarcophagus is carved with intricate hieroglyphics and adorned with gold and precious stones.

As the players explore the room, they are confronted by a group of mummies. The mummies are animated by powerful curses, and will attack any living creatures they encounter.

Mummies (4): AC 7, HD 4+3, Movement 6", Attacks 1 slam (1d8 damage), Special Attacks Curse, Special Defenses Undead immunities, Alignment Neutral evil

Room 3: Treasure Chamber

The treasure chamber is a spacious room filled with piles of gold, jewelry, and other valuable objects. A large stone altar sits in the center of the room, upon which rests an ancient artifact.

As the players enter the room, they trigger a trap that causes spikes from the ceiling to fall on them (1d6 damage per spike). 

Room 4: Nolesobad's Burial Chamber

The Pharaoh's burial chamber is a grand, ornately decorated room filled with treasures and offerings to the gods. The Pharaoh's mummy rests in a large stone sarcophagus at the far end of the room.

As the players enter the room, the Pharaoh's mummy awakens and attacks. This mummy is more powerful than the others, and is animated by the soul of the Pharaoh himself.

Nolesobad the Mummy Lord

AC: 6
HD: 8+3
Movement: 12"
Attacks: 2 claws (1d8 damage each) or 1 slam (2d6 damage)
Special Attacks: Curse
Special Defenses: Undead immunities, resistance to physical damage
Alignment: Neutral evil
Size: M (7' tall, several hundred pounds)
Intelligence: Average

The Mummy Lord's Curse is a powerful magical ability that can afflict living creatures with a variety of negative effects. When the Mummy Lord hits a creature with its claws or slam attack, there is a 50% chance that the victim will be affected by the curse. The effects of the curse vary, but could include things like reduced strength, drained hit points, or other debuffs. The curse can only be lifted by a Remove Curse spell or similar magic.

The Mummy Lord's undead immunities include immunity to poison and disease, as well as most forms of mental manipulation. It is also resistant to physical damage, meaning that it takes half damage from most forms of physical attacks (such as swords, arrows, and blunt weapons).

In combat, the Mummy Lord will use its claws or slam attack to deliver powerful blows to its enemies. It is not afraid to engage multiple foes at once, and will use its Curse ability to debilitate its opponents. It is a formidable opponent, and will require careful planning and strong tactics to defeat.

OGL And All That Nonsense Update

 I was happily drawing and writing and designing away on Gunslinger when the OGL 1.1 was leaked. Whether or not that leak is legitimate – and it certainly seems like it is – it stirred up a hornets nest on RPG forums and social media. I got sucked in for a couple days of binging legalese to the point my head was spinning. This is why lawyers make the money they do. 

In my initial post I boiled all the opinions I'd read down to two positions: pessimistic or optimistic. The pessimistic view saying Wizards could and will take their toys home and not let anyone else play with them and will punish you if you try to. The optimistic view being that Wizards agreed to share their toys and couldn't rescind that offer. Well, it turns out there is another view I overlooked. Perhaps the most important one. And that is the OGL has been smoke and mirrors this whole time. We've all been hoodwinked.

I've been aware for some time that game mechanics can not be copyrighted. Only creative expression can. There is an argument that anyone could make D&D compatible material without the OGL. Well, the details are far beyond my ability to articulate so all I can do is point you to this practicing copyright lawyer who spells it out in detail. Don't worry it is mostly an entertaining as well as informing read.


This is not legal advice. Just my opinions from what I've read. Don't take my word for any of this, do your own research and if necessary get your own legal council.

Jan 7, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Theatre of Inecal the Divine Guardian

Inecal the Divine Guardian and a master of music and performance was imprisoned by infernal forces and his theatre used as a prison. It is sealed and well guarded. Were Inecal to be liberated the rewards would be well worth it.

OGL 1.0a vs OGL 1.1 Killing The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs

There was once a Countryman who possessed the most wonderful Goose you can imagine, for every day when he visited the nest, the Goose had laid a beautiful, glittering, golden egg.

The Countryman took the eggs to market and soon began to get rich. But it was not long before he grew impatient with the Goose because she gave him only a single golden egg a day. He was not getting rich fast enough.

Then one day, after he had finished counting his money, the idea came to him that he could get all the golden eggs at once by killing the Goose and cutting it open. But when the deed was done, not a single golden egg did he find, and his precious Goose was dead.

-Aesop's Fables


A major change to the OGL has been foreshadowed by Wizards for some time, but this leak by Gizmodo sums up everything that the DnD community feared. The OGL as we've known it for 20 years is being de-authorized, and in its place a new OGL 1.1 is being made that shifts virtually all the rights to Wizards and profits made will have up to a 25% royalty fee (or even more as some analysts have pointed out). The article says:

The new Dungeons & Dragons Open Gaming License, a document which allows a vast group of independent publishers to use the basic game rules created by D&D owner Wizards of the Coast, significantly restricts the kind of content allowed and requires anyone making money under the license to report their products to Wizards of the Coast directly, according to an analysis of a leaked draft of the document, dated mid-December.

Despite reassurances from Wizards of the Coast last month, the original OGL will become an “unauthorized” agreement, and it appears no new content will be permitted to be created under the original license.

Opinions range from the optimistic "they can't revoke the OGL 1.0a" to the pessimistic "not only can they revoke it, they can and will, and will tax you for it."

On the pessimistic side. The term perpetual doesn't mean what you think it does, in legalese it just means until the license is cancelled or revoked. Which Hasbro has the right to do whenever they want. The term authorized just means until it is unauthorized and replaced with a new authorized version.

On ENWorld this lawyer, Davy Greenwind, takes the most pessimistic view with this thread:

There is nothing about the OGL that makes it so Wizards can never revoke it. Some language, at first glance, may appear to contradict this claim. But it doesn't. For instance, the license states that WotC grants the licensee "a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive license" to use the SRD. But "perpetual," in licensing law, does not mean "irrevocable." In fact, unless the word "irrevocable" appears in the license, the license can be revoked at any time, for any reason or for no reason.

As Matt Forbeck said in this tweet:

The word "authorized" in section 9 of the original OGL seems to be doing a LOT of heavy lifting.

On the optimistic side. Perpetual in regards to this particular license, and based on statements Wizards made over the years when the OGL was released means what you'd think: time without end, eternity. And the use of the term authorized seems to suggest new authorized OGL's may be released, but they cannot invalidate this one.

Ryan Dancey, one of the primary drivers behind the original OGL takes this optimistic view.

Yeah my public opinion is that Hasbro does not have the power to deauthorize a version of the OGL. If that had been a power that we wanted to reserve for Hasbro, we would have enumerated it in the license. I am on record numerous places in email and blogs and interviews saying that the license could never be revoked.

In this long form video a contract lawyer also takes the more optimistic view. With these takeaways:

  • Contracts of this type that use the term "in perpetuity" cannot be revoked or cancelled.
  • Wizards itself said many times it cannot be revoked back in 2000 when it was first released, and multiple times after that.
  • In general where contracts aren't clear, they are not ruled in the party writing the contract's favor. And there is some ambiguity in the perpetual and authorized terms used.

This leaves everything in a state of uncertainty. The optimists suggest that there is little risk for those who want to continue publishing under the OGL 1.0a, but that the risk is greater than 0. While the safe route is to wait until this is settled and the future of the OGL is much clearer. We could hope that this was a planned leak by Hasbro to gauge the reaction, and that this leak is much worse than what the final form of the OGL 1.1 will be. 

We all will be watching this closely. In the meantime we still have our old D&D books and can continue playing and enjoying this game we love. It just might be a little harder to sell and share fan content online if Hasbro gets their way.

None of this is legal advice. I have no particular expertise in this field, only what I've learned about copyrights and contracts over the years, and binging many discussions the past couple of days on this particular issue. It appears ultimately it will have to be settled in court if it comes to that.

edit: a couple minor typos that do not affect the meaning.

Jan 6, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: the Nest of Ponangar the Cruel

Atop a lonely mount, Ponangar the cruel manticore that stalked these lands for decades has made her nest to rear her hatchlings in. If these foul beasts reach adulthood they will terrorize the good people who live in the villages below.

Jan 5, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Pit of Anisard the Fiendish Trickster

 Anisard stashed his vast wealth in a remote and hidden pit, guarded by infernal beasts.

Jan 3, 2023

Bookmark Dungeon: Armory of Lizin the Belligerent Lunatic

Armory of Lizin the Belligerent Lunatic

  1. Entrance: The entrance to the dungeon is guarded by a group of golems made of old, rusted armor pieces. These golems are slow but sturdy, and will attack any intruders on sight.
  2. Library: This room contains a vast collection of books and scrolls related to the history and crafting of armor and weapons. However, the room is guarded by a group of golems made of enchanted leather and chainmail, who will attack anyone who tries to take any of the books without permission.
  3. Puzzle Room: In this room, the walls are adorned with various suits of armor and weapons. In order to proceed, the players must solve a puzzle involving the arrangement of the armor and weapons in a specific order. If they make a mistake, they will trigger a trap that releases a shower of sharpened blades from the ceiling.
  4. Trap Room: This room is filled with traps designed to test the players' agility and reflexes. Some of the traps include floor tiles that give way to pit falls, swinging maces, and dart launchers.
  5. Golem Workshop: In this room, the players encounter a group of golems in various stages of construction. The golems are being crafted by a group of goblin engineers, who will defend their creations at all costs.
  6. Training Room: This room is used by the dungeon's inhabitants to practice their combat skills. It is filled with weapons and armor of all shapes and sizes, and is guarded by a group of well-trained soldiers.
  7. Shrine: This room is a sacred space dedicated to a deity of war and battles. It is filled with offerings of weapons and armor, and is guarded by a group of zealots who will stop at nothing to protect their deity's holy place.
  8. Prison: This room is used to hold prisoners, and is guarded by a group of heavily-armed guards. The prisoners are kept in cells made of iron bars and reinforced with magic to prevent escape. Some of the prisoners may be able to provide valuable information to the players, but they will need to find a way to free them first.
  9. Final Boss: The final boss of the dungeon is a powerful golem made of magically-infused plate armor. This golem is able to repair itself during combat, making it a formidable opponent. The players will need to use all of their skills and resources to take it down and claim victory.
  10. Treasure Room: This room is filled with treasure and valuable loot, including rare weapons and magical armor. However, the treasure is guarded by a group of highly-skilled goblin thieves, who will defend their hoard at all costs.

Beastie: Parasitic Giant Oviparous Tick

Continuing with experiments in AI art. Much has changed since I originally started this series. The AI algorithms have gotten much better, and more controversial. I still see it as a tool with a lot of potential, but many commercial artists have concerns about images that were unethically sourced to train the algorithms. Not going to dig any further than that into it. This series has been my way of dealing with this new tech.

Parasitic Giant Oviparous Tick
Large Beast, Neutral, Forest or Swamp

No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Armor Class: 14 (natural armor)
Hit Dice: 8+2 (50hp)
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 2d4 piercing
Save: 10
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: 1
XP Value: 1200

Blood Sucking: The giant tick can use its action to attach itself to a creature and begin sucking its blood. The tick deals 2d4 damage each round it is attached, and the creature must make a saving throw versus Paralysis or be poisoned. The tick can be removed with a successful Strength check.

Poisonous Saliva: The giant tick's saliva is poisonous, and any creature bitten by the tick must make a saving throw or be poisoned.

Oviparous: The giant tick can lay eggs inside its host, which hatch and feed on the host's tissues. Each round that the tick is attached to its host, the host must make a Constitution check or eggs are inserted. Each day the host takes 1d4 necrotic damage. If the host takes a total of 10 necrotic damage from this ability, the tick's eggs hatch and emerge from the host's body, dealing an additional 2d6 piercing damage. The tick's eggs can be removed with a painful incision causing 1d6 slashing damage.

Stealthy: The giant tick can use its natural camouflage to blend in with its surroundings, making it difficult to spot; it gets +1 to surprise.

This creature is a massive, grotesque tick with a bloated body and long, sharp mandibles. Its skin is covered in mottled brown and green markings, and its legs are long and spindly. It is capable of laying eggs inside its host, which hatch and feed on the host's tissues.