Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2013 is an excellent year for everyone.  I hope it is better, happier and more rewarding in every way.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ghosts in the Moon-Tower

I am so behind on my game related reading that it isn't even funny.  It's amazing how much time a job and family can take up.  Sheesh!!!

Anyway, I've had Dicey Tales #2 in my possession for quite some time and haven't had a chance to read it. Well, I grabbed it last night and gave it a quick look through.  I read only one article thoroughly.  That was "Ghosts in the Moon-Tower" by Garnett Elliott, a.k.a. G-Man.

"Ghosts in the Moon-Tower" is set in Lemuria amongst the Besharoon Mountains.  It is a compact adventure that involves some mysterious ruins of a lost civilization.  It is an imaginative adventure that I would enjoy running.  Only one question niggles at me about it:  Where do the villagers get milk in a lizard dominated world?

I think "Ghosts..." is a great addition to G-Man's series of BoL adventures.  I also think it is pretty cool that it's been published.  His adventures are much more valuable than free.  Hey, I like free but he deserves the recognition.

There are a couple of other adventures in the issue that look promising, as well as a nice bestiary of both regular animals and fantastic creatures.  Another feature I like about this issue is that it is inclusive of other members of the BoL family.  For example, one of the adventures uses the pulp rules laid out in the first edition of the magazine while the other is for the Legends of Steel world.

Good stuff all around.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sword and Sorcery Images

Here are some random images from around the web that I find evocative of sword & sorcery.

First, one of my favorites:

And one from history:

And others:

Another piece of historical inspiration:

And a really cool statuette:

More another time.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Which Star Trek Character are You?

It turns out that I am Geordi LaForge.  Why I couldn't tell you.  I am not an engineer of any sort.  (Well, I take out the garbage.  Does that qualify me for Sanitation Engineer?)

You can take the quiz yourself HERE.

You are Geordi LaForge
Geordi LaForge
Jean-Luc Picard
Deanna Troi
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Will Riker
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Mr. Scott
Beverly Crusher
Mr. Sulu
You work well with others and often
fix problems quickly. Your romantic
relationships are often bungled.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gort Groothkin

Gort was abducted by the Grooth when he was a toddler.  His father was a skilled jungle hunter from Shamballah.  One day he decided to take his family with him for a leisurely hunt in the jungle.  Relaxed and distracted by his family, he did not notice an ambush until it was too late.  Gort's entire family was killed and devoured by the Grooth.  However, a Grooth female had just lost her baby and when she found Gort she defended him against the other Grooths as if he were her own.  From that day on he was raised by the Grooth.  Gort was recovered by humans when he was 14 years old.  His life since then has been one of confusion and tumult.  Unused to human ways he has never fully integrated into society.  When he was older and could return to the Grooth he discovered that his time with civilization changed him so that he could never fully return to his primitive way.  Thus Gort is somewhat of an outcast in both of the worlds that he knows and now, at age 18, he wanders Lemuria using his strength and hunting skill to survive while looking for a place where he can fit in and live at peace with himself.

Gort is tall, brown haired and bearded.  He is well-muscled as strength is valued among the Grooth..  He moves about easily in the wilderness but always seems a bit uneasy in cities.

Called Groothkin

Attributes:  Strength 3 Agility 1 Mind 0 Appeal 0
Combat Abilities:  Brawl 2 Melee 1 Ranged 0 Defense 1
Careers:  Barbarian 2  Hunter 2 Gladiator 0 Thief 0
Boons: Jungle Tracker, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing
Flaws:  Country Bumpkin, Illiterate
Lifeblood 13 Hero Points 5
Languages:  Grooth, Lemurian
Equipment: Spear

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Well, I've finally reached my 200th post.  As I write this I have:

27 - Public followers.  Thanks for sticking with me.
21598 - Views.  Wow.  It really surprises me that the number is that high!
2991 - Views of the Dark Claw Post which is the most popular.  The Advanced Fighting Fantasy post is second followed by Barbarians of Lemuria and Star Wars.
1993 - The number of views referred from Tim Brannan's The Other Side Blog.  I don't know why I get so much traffic from there but:  Thanks Tim!  Google is in second place.  I also get a lot of traffic from Jeff Rients' blog.
10405 - The number of views from the United States. The UK and Mexico are a distant second and third.

Thanks for all of the support over the last 2 years or so.  I hope you continue to find my ramblings enjoyable.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Heroes and Other Worlds

The gift-giving season must be coming because the good stuff keeps rolling out.  Mr. Brandon (aka Fenway5 of the Sword and Shield blog) has published Heroes and Other Worlds (development blog here).  I am excited about this as it is based on Melee/Wizard/TFT and I loved that game back in the ancient days.  It even contains a programmed adventure from Dark City Games.  I loved those also.  Unfortunately, because of circumstances I can't pick it up right away.  Sigh.  There is even a coupon for it.  Methinks it will be on my Christmas list though.

You can buy the paperback from Lulu HERE.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dicey Tales #2 Part 2

I downloaded Dicey Tales #2 this morning.  Since I am at work I have only been able to glance at it. It contains a G-Man adventure set in Lemuria!  Another reason to be excited about this issue.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dicey Tales #2 is (Finally) Out!

Dicey Tales #2 is out!  I'm so excited.  For those of you who don't know, Dicey Tales is a periodical that supplements and expands Barbarians of Lemuria.  Issue #1 gave guidelines and rules on how to use BoL for pulp games set in the '20s and '30s.  This will definitely be my next gaming purchase.  I was considering QAGS or Barebones Fantasy but they've now been bumped down the list.

You can get more info about Dicey Tales at The Evil DM's blog HERE.

You can purchase Dicey Tales #2 HERE.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Shadow Kingdom

I have read all of Howard's Conan stories in one form or another.  I haven't actually read many of his other works until recently.  I've now read some Bran Mac Morn and Kull stories.  I just finished "The Shadow Kingdom" last night and something interesting happened.  My blood started racing as I read it.  I've re-read several of the Conan stories recently and, with an exception or two, I wasn't as impressed with them as an adult as I was as a teen.  But for some reason "The Shadow Kingdom" affected me in the same way the Conan stories did in those years long ago.  I don't know why.  Maybe it was because I hadn't read it before?  Perhaps.  I didn't find it great literature or any such thing.  I enjoy Howard's work but I don't worship every drop of ink his pen produced as some seem to do.  But I really did enjoy the story and that was refreshing.

(On a personal note, my two favorite authors in the early '80s were Robert E. Howard and H. Beam Piper.  My teenaged mind gave great weight to the fact that they both committed suicide.  Oh, those long ago though processes.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

SWORD & SHIELD: Final Approach

For you fans of Melee and The Fantasy Trip, take a look at this:

SWORD & SHIELD: Final Approach

The development block is here:

Heroes & Other Worlds

Being a big fan of Melee, I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ghosts of Acheron

While I was on hiatus, G-Man produced another outstanding adventure set in Conan's Hyboria.  I think it came out in April.  So, I'm a little late.  I reread the adventure the other day and it reminded me how cool it was and how I hadn't mentioned it yet.  So...

What do the Picts, a Khitain scholar and a hole in the ground have in common?  Download and find out!

You can get it at the Strange Stones blog here.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sword and Sorcery Quotes II

I first read the Conan stories as a young teen.  This stuck with me over the years.

"He was a man," said Conan. "I drink to his shade, and to the shade of the dog, who knew no fear." He quaffed part of the wine, then emptied the rest upon the floor, with a curious heathen gesture, and smashed the goblet. "The heads of ten Picts shall pay for his, and seven heads for the dog, who was a better warrior than many a man."

Conan in "Beyond the Black River" by Robert E. Howard

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sword and Sorcery Quotes

Here is one of my favorite quotes from a sword & sorcery story:

"But what if they come to life again?" she whispered.
"Then I'll keep killing them until they stay dead!" he snapped. 

Conan in "Xuthal of the Dusk" aka "The Slithering Shadow" by Robert E. Howard

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Brak So Far

I've read a few of John Jakes' Brak the Barbarian stories now.  I am liking them better than the portion of the Thongor stories I have read.  Perhaps it is the writing.  I don't know.  I do think Brak is a fairly silly name though.  Perhaps created simply for the alliteration?

I thought Brak was a pretty cold-hearted bastard at first.  I still think he is but now I'm a bit confused.  In one story he throws the evil female antagonist to a horde of just escaped male prisoners who she was largely responsible for incarcerating and enslaving.  Fortunately, the author ends the story without describing the particulars of her fate.  However, in a second story he does not strike down an evil female antagonist who is  taunting him by stabbing him repeatedly with a dagger in preparation of killing him.  She does this because she knows he won't slay her because of his "code of honor."  I just don't quite get it.  I guess I'm just not barbarian enough to understand.

Here are the Brak's BoL stats as I envision them so far.  I'll update his profile as I learn more.

Barbarian from the Icy Northern Steppes

Attributes:  Strength 3 Agility 1 Mind 0 Appeal 0
Combat Abilities: Brawl 1 Melee 2 Ranged 0 Defense 1
Careers:  Barbarian 2 Hunter 1 Slave 0
Lifeblood: 15  Hero Points 5
Boons:  Hard to Kill, Plains Tracker
Flaws:  Distrust of Sorcery
Gear:  Sword d6

Edit:  Apparently Brak was the title of some African kings.  So there is a historical precedent for the name.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Of Origins and Serial Numbers

I have always enjoyed sword & sorcery fiction, particularly in my youth.  Franky, though, I haven't read all that much.  Of course, I've read the Conan stories, originally in the Ace editions, then later in their original form.  It may be some form of blasphemy but in my youth I enjoyed the non-Howard stories in the collection as well.   I also read some of the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories by Leiber and a bit of Elric by Moorcock.  I enjoyed his Corum stuff better.

Recently I have been trying to expand my readings with some of the other characters I've been hearing about through the years in order to gain some inspiration for my gaming.  I have started reading Gardner Fox's tales of Niall of the Far Travels that were published in The Dragon magazine.  I also purchased two volumes recently republished in electronic editions.  One is by John Jakes and contains two Brak the Barbarians books.

The second should come as no surprise if you have been reading this blog.  It is entitled Young Thongor by Lin Carter.  As many of you will know, my favorite rpg, Barbarians of Lemuria, is based on the Thongor books.  So I was very curious to find out what was inside.

Young Thongor contains short stories about Thongor's early adventures.  The majority of the book are Carter's original stories but there are a couple of tales written by another author.

I've only read three of the stories so far but find they are written in an interesting style that runs in a slightly different direction than my tastes.  Don't get me wrong, I have been enjoying the stories but there are some peculiarities.  One is that Carter keeps referring to other, particularly later, time periods.  For example, he refers to a building that is larger than the Egyptian pyramids which chronologically won't be build for millenia.  I find this to be a bit jarring and it breaks the flow of the story for me..

I often hear that an rpg or a setting is based on such-and-such with the serial numbers filed off.  I hear this a lot in reference to BoL.  Let me tell you though, BoL's  author Simon Washbourne filed very lightly when creating this game.  It is my understanding that his original version was actually a Thongor game but he couldn't get permission from Carter's estate to run with it.  But BoL is the closest you can come without actually having one.  I think Mr. Washbourne did an excellent job capturing the feel of the stories and sword & sorcery in general.  This only makes me appreciate the game more.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Temple of Silk Adventure

Hello all.  Long time.  I'm going to try to post periodically.  Can't promise anything though.

Here's a something I began working on in November.  It's sat on my hard drive for a long time so I thought I'd try to share.  It is in a rough form so constructive feedback will be appreciated.

An article about the strength of spider silk initially inspired me to write this.  I hadn't seen spiders used in an adventure quite this way, so voila!  Then I saw the way they used spiders and their silk in the Spider Man movie this summer.  Oh, well.


You can get it here.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I haven't been very productive lately.  This, combined with things in my personal life, has prevented me from posting much.  So I think it's time to take a break.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another The Fantasy Trip Redo

I just ran across this over at 1KM1KT, the free rpg blog.  It is a little 8 page game call Rage, Precognition, Grace.  On the intro page it states that it is a reworking of The Fantasy Trip rules.  I haven't read this too closely but it seems to be a fairly extreme reworking.  You can find it here.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

John Carter

Short Review:  Fun special effects driven movie.  My oldest loved it.  I enjoyed it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Risus Star Wars

While poking around the Web that is World Wide for resources for my BoL Star Wars project I remembered that there is a Risus Star Wars setting that someone created for Risus.  You can find it here.

Update 5/20/22
The link above no longer works.  You can still find the document at however.  Check here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Two Page Risus

The fine proprieter of the Risus Monkey blog pointed out, amongst other interesting news, that Risus is now available in two page form.  You can find it here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

BoL Star Wars Development Page

I'm really serious about developing a Star Wars version of Barbarians of Lemuria.  Honest!  I know I've said it before but I (more) serious this time.  I admire the work of Fenway5 at his Sword and Shield blog and am inspired by him to try my hand at game development.  Well at least a game conversion.  Well, a conversion that is very derivative of two sources.  So, I've set up a development page as a place to post my thoughts and gather feedback.  I've already transferred the few posts on the subject from this blog to the new one.  I hope making this public spurs me to action.  There is a link to the right which will take you there.  You can also find it here:

BoL Star Wars.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Serena Sal

Serena Sal was born into a family of travelling performers, so entertaining was in her blood. As a young child she would would sell refreshments to the crowd and join the rest of her family on stage to sing, dance and perform tricks. As she grew older she bloomed into a stunning beauty who took men’s breath away. When she was 16 a plague carried her family and the rest of the travelling troupe away to the underworld and she was alone. She managed to get along and make a living by entertaining but was increasingly enraged by men propositioning her. Some did as they pleased regardless of her resistance. Her skills and beauty soon earned her a place amongst higher end troupes and she began to move in aristocratic and wealthy circles. However, the improper propositions continued even if they were now cloaked in a false refinement. Her search for monetary stability combined with her anger soon led her down a dark path. A young noble, not wanting to take no for an answer, tried to force himself upon her and she snapped, killing him with a knife thrust through the eye. This pleased some amongst those who opposed the noble’s faction. These influential people protected her from punishment by concealing her identity. She began using her new connections to earn money by secretly luring the rich and the powerful to assignations with the promise of pleasure and then assassinating them. She has started refining her craft by learning about various poisons and their uses. She wants to seek out an alchemist willing to train her so she can produce her own deadly concoctions.

Serena Sal
Attributes: Strength 0 Agility 1 Mind 1 Appeal 2
Combat Abilities: Brawl 1 Melee 1 Missile 0 Defense 2
Careers: Dancer 2 Minstrel (Singer) 2 Assassin 0 Alchemist 0
Boons: Attractive
Lifeblood 10 Hero Points 5
Knife, Jewelry, Fine Clothing

Please excuse my lame attempt at using Heromachine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Honor + Intrigue

I received my pdf copy of Honor + Intrigue a few days ago.  I'm excited but frustrated because I haven't had the time to read it.  Oh, real life!  How you test me!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Star Wars and BoL Again

Quite awhile ago I wrote a post about combining Star Wars and Barbarians of Lemuria.  Well, as with many of my thoughts I didn't get far with it.  But I'm getting the itch again.  I recently watched the original trilogy with my boys and want to do something with it again.  Let's see how far I get this time.  If I make any progress, I'll share.  Don't hold your breath though.  I'll probably borrow heavily from WEG Star Wars though I want much simpler force rules.  I want to keep the basis as close to BoL as I can, too, but will probably steal concepts from Barbarians of the Aftermath.  It is such a good resource that I can't just pass it by.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Western Washington Winter Wonderland

It's been snowing since Saturday. This doesn't happen much around here. Not this amount at least.

The grey sky, however, is pretty common.

Monday, January 16, 2012

TFT Clone Resources

So Fenway5’s very satisfactory effort, rechristened Heroes & Other Worlds, got me thinking about other sources I’ve found for The Fantasy Trip/Melee retroclones. Here are a few.

Legends of the Ancient World
This is a commercial effort by Dark City Games. The ruleset closely emulates an abbreviated version of TFT and is free. The commercial portion is that they sell programmed adventures ala Death Test. The adventures come in a ziplock pouch with a rulebook, a map and cardboard counters that you cut out. I own Wolves on the Rhine and am very pleased with the components and the adventure.

Warrior & Wizard
This is a retroclone of TFT. The document is a playtest version and comes in at just shy of 50 pages. Frankly, though this is a good effort, I prefer Fenway’s version.

The Fantasy Quest
This is also a commercial effort. There is supposedly a game emulating Melee and future releases for Wizard and other adventures and rules. The status of this is unknown, however, because although the Melee clone is offered for sale the majority of the website states that the products are coming in 2009.

Melee/Wizard Rules on a Wiki,
The original rules for Melee and Wizard appear on the listed wiki. Ahh, love the original.

If you you know of any other sources for the rules or retroclones or adventures, let me know.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Legends and Other Worlds

I may have mentioned before that perhaps my favorite game of all time is Metagaming’s Melee. At least through my nostalgia colored glasses it is. Melee with Wizard and the solo adventures was my most played game of all time. I never acquired Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard or In the Labyrinth for some reason. I did look through a friends copy but we only played it a bit. Consequently my actual role-playing with Melee et al was limited.

Fast forward a couple of decades. I’ve read reviews of The Fantasy Trip (the actual name of the system) and discovered it had some shortcomings. Words like overcomplicated and unorganized popped up regularly. So, despite my love of Melee, I did not track down and pay for the rest of TFT.

Fast forward to about a week ago. I was delighted to discover that the very productive Fenway5 (Mr. Brandon of the Sword & Shield blog) decided to create his own streamlined version of TFT. Take it back to its roots and keep it simple. As he is wont to do, he created a development blog for this project at Legends & Other Worlds, which is also, conveniently, the title of the project. The game is still in development and Fenway has solicited feedback and errata from readers and players. People with much a much keener eye for such things have been helping out with that.

I have not had the opportunity to play-test the game yet but from several readthroughs it seems to have reached his goals. Simple and playable. The PDF weighs in at about 22 pages and will print nicely as a booklet. Fenway has even provided two different covers for it. Just remember to put the cover on the right way before you staple it. I didn’t, much to my chagrin.

The system, for those of you not familiar with it, is a simple one. Roll equal to or under Dexterity or Intelligence (for attacks and spells) on 3d6. Armor reduces damage and weapons have a minimum strength requirement.

There are, however, a couple of divergences from the original. The first is that Fenway attempts to separate LOW from its board-game origins somewhat. He would like it to be playable without the board and pieces if you so choose. Having said that, some of the extras he has created for this are a board and playing pieces. So you can play it how you want it.

The second change surprised me. In addition to the traditional TFT stats of Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence he has added a fourth: Endurance. Steve Jackson added an extra stat when he expanded TFT into GURPS, so Fenway is in good company. The primary reason Fenway did this was to make wizards more sturdy. The original game had wizards subtract the cost of spell casting from Strength. When your Strength reached zero, you died. So, after a couple of spells a beginning wizard could be defeated with a semi-solid hit from a feather. Endurance now pays the price for spell casting. Once Endurance is depleted then spell costs are subtracted from Strength.

In other areas, workable skill and experience mechanics have been included. The skill list isn’t long but it is pretty inclusive of the type of skills an adventurer may need. Experience points drive advancement. You start at first level and when you gain enough experience points you move up to the next level. With each advancement you get the opportunity to increase stats and skills.

Brief conclusion: I was excited when I heard about this project and now I’m excited to get a chance to play the game. I can’t wait. Fenway is continuing to tune the rules so it can only get better. So, if you like Melee or TFT check it out.

Sunday, January 1, 2012