Game Club



A couple of days ago, I introduced role-playing to my middle school students. It was the fourth meeting of our weekly game club at school. In the first three meetings we played Catan and Risk. The kids really enjoyed both games, Catan more so. This past meeting, I started our group (three students) on an adventure. The game system I wanted to present needed to be easy to run, allowing me to improvise as we go. I choose Tiny Dungeon 2e to start them. It allowed for character customization, quick character creation, and simple rules. Another possibility was 1974 Style. What cinched it for Tiny Dungeons, is that in my math class, I’ve been using dice games to make the lessons more interesting. The kids are fairly used to rolling 2 or 3 dice and counting up the successes (5’s and 6’s). Using this mechanic we’ve done some simple horse racing, battling robots, and also a Star Wars battle with X wing fighters attacking the Death Star. So it was an easy transition to the Tiny Dungeons. Later on, I’d like to see the kids play Pits & Perils and Whitebox.

The kids selected their heritages (one chose a human, another a Karhu (grizzly bear), and another a dwarf.) It was a quick matter to select some traits and get into the game.

The characters are:

Ymir, a human wizard who is strong and carries a polearm. Traits-spell touched, spell reader, toughness, and strong.

Merek, a grizzly bear Karhu, who carries a greatsword. Traits-toughness, brawler, and berserker.

Ulric, the dwarf, who carries a war axe. Traits-berserker, defender, and toughness.

The kids started on a mountain road which led to a walled town. We brainstormed ideas to the name the village. We agreed on Xaolin.

The kids were naturals at conversing with the guard. They entered the marketplace and each bought a bag of apples. Later on, they met a wise woman and procured some healing salves and settled in to the Duck and Dragon Inn for a rest (student named as well!)

Their sleep was interrupted by a thief in the night. Fortunately, they were awakened. The dwarf chased the thief down the stairs as the wizard tried to slip out the window (second floor) to cut the thief off. The karhu (bear) threw caution to the wind and crashed out the front window to drop on the thief as he fled. Unfortunately he missed his target and bruised some ribs.

They did catch the thief after a few hilarious moments and held him for the guards. The captain of the guard found a coin purse of gold on him and as he put it away for safekeeping, the dwarf declared he wanted to pick his pocket…he rolled a success to the cheers of all at the table!

They learned that the thief was part of a guild of thieves rumored to inhabit an old monastery up the mountain. The party geared up the next day in search of the monastery, but encounter five wolves. The wizard set one wolf’s tail afire and it fled and the others were dispatched or chased off quickly.

We had to leave it there for the day. Our next game will be in two weeks due to parent-teacher meetings intervening. But I have a feeling that they will all be eager to get back on the trail to explore the monastery!

Let me know if you have had success playing rpgs with younger players. It seems to be working out. They are working together, problem solving, and using their imagination. That can’t be a bad thing.


G+ Exodus

No doubt you have heard about Google+ shutting it down by this time next year. It was a curious time to be watching the reactions of my fellow G+ users. There was a momentary pause and then…boom!…most of us pulled up stakes and headed over to MeWe. There’s been discussion among some folks about if this is the best choice, but it seems that a unwashed horde of OSR barbarians swooped down on MeWe and carved out a space.

I am one of those savages, looking for a new land to build on. I like what I’ve seen of MeWe so far. I’m starting to see some familiar faces over there and reconnect and making new connections as well.

The chat feature has been a new novelty for me. I’m talking to more folks and having a good time with it. The problem with G+ and me (regarding posting) is that I often felt reluctant to post…leaving it for those in the know. I don’t consider myself an expert on much of anything…old age doesn’t make you wiser, I guess. Just makes your back start to hurt.

Anyhow, the move to MeWe has re-invigorated me. I will continue to keep writing on my blog and work on my Perils on the Borderlands. Someday, maybe I’ll get back into some kind of DIY publishing. Who knows?

If you want to connect with me on MeWe, I’ll be at

A Quick Map

Here’s a quick map I drew the other night. I used metal nib and India ink in a bottle. Colored it in with Crayola pencils.

I imagine this as a sacred burial chamber with monoliths arranged in a pattern. Primitive man would bring their dead here and place them within the circle. Niches in the walls could hold some of the tools and weapons the warrior used.

Those entering the cave will first come upon a standing stone. It is taking up much of the space in the corridor. All who enter must squeeze past it on either side…symbolic of passage into the underworld?

There’s much more I can add to this, but as it is, I may drop the image into our Roll20 game.

burial site.png

The Five Kings


The Five Kings is a range of five mountains named for the great dwarven kings of old. It is the centerpiece of my new campaign world. The forest just south of the Five Kings is the northern reaches of the kingdom of Irie. At the edge of this forest is where I will place the Keep on the Borderlands. To the northeast are the uplands with Falmead and its forested hills. Arden and Company are nestled along the eastern edge of this wilderness. The town of Bree lies to the south of this forest a day or two of travel.

To the northwest lies the small kingdom of Ren Cele and below it is a great lake fed by the Five Kings. The western edge of the map holds the Desert of Kos. Within this great cold desert is the city-state of Mathos, ruled by the Triumvirate of Wizards.

It is my first attempt at coloring and drawing in this style. I’ll add labels and more content as time goes on.

More to come…

Day 38 Continued ~ Return from the Bandit Camp

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Returning from the bandit’s camp, the company is glad to be all in one piece. Arden’s men-at-arms took quite a beating, but none were killed. Four bandits can’t say the say. In fact, they can’t say anything at all as they are trussed up on several horses making their last ride.

Two of the company’s horses have been recaptured and although several bandits fled, Arden hopes this will quiet the bandit activity down for at least a little while.

The company rides into the Keep. The guards no longer challenge them as they approach. They are becoming well known among the citizens of the Keep. The guards shout “Huzzah!” As Arden and Company bring the wanted men into the Keep.

The Bailiff is there to meet them [FU die rolled, 6 result…”yes, and…”] and also the Guild Master. He is overjoyed to hear that the bandits have been crushed and wishes to invite the Company to dinner at his apartment this evening.

The Bailiff takes custody of the bandits and all the horses are properly stabled. Arden and Company settle into the tavern to relax and have several ales.

That evening, the Guild Master and his wife host Arden, Thane, and Martin to a fine table. The food is excellent and several bottles of good wine are opened.

“Have you been to the capital city?” the Guild Master asks of his guests.

“Careen was too far to the south for me to see it yet, although I’d do hope to one day to go,” Arden replies.

Thane shakes his head, “I’ve not been, but I would like to see the great armorers of your capital.”

Martin nods his head, “I’ve been there only for a brief time. I received my holy orders from the Cathedral of St. Swithin in Careen. I stayed but a week. I suppose it was my upbringing in the countryside that made me feel trapped in the city. Too many people, too much stonework, too little greenery.”

“Yes, I can understand, but many creature comforts are found in the capital, unlike the Keep here. My dear wife longs for the shops and the culture that Careen offers.”

The Guild Master’s wife smiles pleasantly, but her expression confirms it.

“Soon, dear. Now that these brave men have rid the countryside of the bandits, we can travel with ease again. I plan on returning to Careen before the snow falls.”

He offers his guests more wine and the rest of the evening is spent in pleasant conversation of adventures and sights yet to see.

The Guild Master tells Arden and Company that men with their skills would be very useful to the trading houses of Careen. The trade routes to north have fallen into danger. It is unsafe for merchants to take the Old Trade Road to the north into the mountains of the Five Kings or northeast into Falmead. The route is no safe. Great riches lay in store for any braves adventurers who can make inroads into these areas.

The Guild Master also gives the men a reward for killing the bandits. He hands Arden a linen sack, heavy with silver. [There are 250 silver pieces inside.]

Arden tells the Guild Master that the Company will consider working to help the merchant guild. One task they will continue is the exploration of the Caves of Chaos.

But for now, the Company turns back towards the Inn to rest for the evening.

Arden wonders to himself, I haven’t heard from Corwin all day, hopefully his studies are nearing their end.

More to come….

Gen Con and Back Again

Gen Con Afterhours Pits & Perils!

Whew! Gen Con 2018 was a wonderful trip. I came away with some great and painful (my feet!) memories. It had been a couple of years since last I attended, so I decided to take in all four days. The best and most welcome news was that my son, Thomas, wanted to go along. He is graduating college soon and I looked forward to spending some Dad-Son time together.

Me and Thomas

Just a quick recap of our time…

We met up with some gaming friends of ours. For the four days, we booked three games (about four hours each). That gave us time to wander the vendor halls and our evenings open to play some pickup games.

Thursday we played in The Aeon Society & the Vault of Destiny using White Wolf’s Adventure! system. It was really pulpy. My character was a “man of bronze” type and Thomas played a multi-millionaire femme fatale. He played her to the hilt…winning the adventure for our group by seducing the villain and then casting her aside!

Later that evening, I ran a Pits & Perils adventure, The Banner has Fallen, that I wrote for the Gen Con trip. The players (Thomas, Kevin, and Joe) played a couple of PCs each. It was a play test and I wasn’t sure how lethal it would be. The scenario was a fog shrouded battlefield just after the King’s army had left the field in a rout. The PCs were remnants of the King’s troops and had to make their way to safety. The guys battled looters, an enemy knight, and then a trio of evil witches with their zombified servant. One of Thomas’s PCs was killed when the chief witch hovered above him on her broomstick and dumped a hat full of spiders on him…one failed poison save and oh well! The hours flew by too quickly, but we all had a fun.

Friday began with a science fiction game called Esper Genesis, built on 5E rules. It was an action filled four hours as our group battled power armored thugs and investigate a derelict spaceship. The final scene was a close one, I thought a TPK would result, but our group prevailed.

Saturday we played in a Savage Worlds adventure called Percy Fawcett & the Temple of Oblivion. It was written by Pete Sauber and he GM’d it for us. What a great experience. We played historical characters from the 1920’s (I was Harry Houdini and Thomas was Ernest Hemingway). We had an exciting trip into the Amazon. Pete Sauber was a very skilled GM and our table was a little raucous, laughing aloud and having a great time. This was a perfect example of the social aspect of gaming. There were very few rolls, only a couple combats, but we as a group talked about the Amazon and the historical characters. Kevin played up his PCs faults, being arrogant and needing to best his mates. All of the players knew each other at the table, but a very nice lady joined us and played her character (Eleanor Roosevelt) with style. It was fun watching the interaction between the characters as our party traveled up the Amazon.

Saturday night, Joe ran a Space 1889 scenario for us in one of the hotel lobbies. He did an amazing job…no notes, no book…just a few dice and flying by the seat of his pants. Thomas played a German spy in our group of Englishmen. He managed to sabotage a British fortress and survive an attack by hordes of Martians. All of this was done right under the nose of our loyal British PCs! What a true spy!

To paraphrase our GM Joe, “As the sun sets in the horizon, you hear loud explosions and smoke coming from the fort. The Union Jack is slowly lowered…”

Sunday was time spent in the Vendor Hall. It was still pretty busy. I picked up some assorted dice, a foldable dice tray, and also the boxed set of Weird War I (Savage Worlds).

Sunday afternoon we played more of my Pits & Perils adventure. The PCs had a crazy encounter with Death, which made the adventure memorable. It was an Oh Crap! moment but funny encounter. The players were really getting into the tactical aspects of Pits & Perils. It’s fun to think about how to use the surrounds and items you have to gain any advantages. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough material for several hours of play, but I had more than enough. It was getting late and we had to return to Southern Illinois. We all agreed that our pickup games were the most fun. It was just pretty cool being able to hang with folks that love to game.

I would love to go back next year. I’m planning on going to Who’s Yer Con in Indianapolis in March, Thomas too!

When I get a chance, I will share the adventure I made for Gen Con. It needs some dressing up, but there may be some ideas you can take from it.

More to come…