Thursday, December 31, 2009

CA Smith: The Rennaisance Man of Fantasy

I am always amazed at CA Smith's versatility in his art and the range of subjects that he learned (self-taught for the most part).  Poet, short-story writer, painter, sculptor, translator (of French and Spanish poetry).  Certainly not the ploymath like Da Vinci, but for a man with little more than a grade school education, more than just quite impressive. Link.

Castle El Raja Key Update 2

Andy Taylor finished the full page print that will be included in the release of this project.  IMO it is his best work to date.  Andy will also be drawing some interior illustrations for it.   Eric Bergeron has finished the HI-RES cover (included on the sample cover was a LOW-RES version).  I am now 5,000 words (plus or minus) into the MS.  I am laying it out inline as I proceed.  The map versions being used are scanned by GRODOG and are better than the original ones scanned during the auction (like 5x better).  I am including historical anecdotes when these occur, mostly relating to EGG's adventures upon the 1st-3rd levels when he was a wee Mordy.  All around this is looking more exciting than the Bottle City adventure.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Updates and an "Ancient Sample"

The progress on Castle El Raja Key is proceeding nicely and it's looking more and more like an end of January release.

I am also preparing for publication (most likely in PDF form because of its immensity) the release of "Lost City of the Ancients" (aka Lost City of the Elders).  From my auction scans I pieced together the map which was unfinished at the time of auction.  However, not all parts align perfectly (probably my inexperience with Photoshop).

There are over 100 jpeg and pdf files related to this as well as many other MS pieces I have added since then.  The product is way beyond PPP's means to publish in print format due to its size and content, which has a heavy weight on maps (with the combined 40 x30 color hex map there are at least 15-20 other maps from interior buildings, sewers, etc) and illustrations, and probably over 60,000 words of text.

Due to this I have apportioned my time thusly:  Castle El Raja Key levels, Old Castle Levels, Memoirs and have added this project as a PDF only, which will allow it to be released, otherwise, it's a no-go.  I have had hundreds of inquiries over the years about this project.  Its scope has always been too large for a print endeavor and would eat away at my time to a severe degree just ordering its parts for print, but in PDF it becomes viable in the not do distant future (mid to end 2010).

Though I generally dislike polls, I would like to poll at least the readership here to get an idea of the reception of such a PDF product which would otherwise leave a part of RPG history resting in the hands of those who bought the originals at auction several years ago.  I have no idea what I would charge for such a thing, as well, but  the content will be huge, including a short story of EGG's first adventure into it.  Here's an extracted part from the Intro:

"...Historically this is the first off-world (or planar) adventure from the Original Campaign.  The city as is historically recorded existed out of the current time stream and out of known space.  It was a place of unknown and unfathomable events.  So too was it an experiment and thus of great interest to those vested in discovering the arcana that derived from it.  Its legend is only whispered among the seekers of arcane knowledge and its mere mention summons images of dread demons and less savory kin called from the depths of cold space.  Its total history will never be known lest the god who created it foretells such a time when this might pass.  Its ancient magics and beings have defeated the greatest of wizards, driving many to an early death or into the oblivion of irretrievable insanity.

The inspiration for creating the city is manyfold:  rolled into its vast and ancient mysteries are the vagaries of a god’s experiment gone awry and the resultant chaos, of loss, rebirth and the horrors unleashed from tampering with the ultimate of forbidden magic. It hints at the mysteries of the Pyramids, of the dreaded wastelands and cities of ancient Hyperborea as richly described by Clark Ashton Smith, of the interstellar intrusions of primordial beings by Lovecraft, of the lost continents of Atlantis and the myths of Lemuria rolled into one, and in many parts it embodies the stricken City of Brass as related in Burton’s tale with all of its vainglorious emptiness and ancient opulence. It is the desert which whispers of curses yet to come, the lonely place on the hill, the twice forsaken edifice, a ruin of ruins.  In awe inspiring streets, beneath burnished towers casting their last and dreadful double shadows, and amidst boney hands still clenching their final triumphs of life, there lurks within and about it an ultimate power that only death will reveal...."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mike Carr

Mike really needs a better bio than this.  Among many other accomplishments, he was the co-designer of Don't Give up the Ship (with EGG and Dave Arneson), the designer of Fight in the Skies (aka Dawn Patrol), one of TSR's earliest officers, editor, designer of In Search of the Unknown (Basic D&D adventure module) and was among Dave Arneson's earliest players in Blackmoor.  An elder IFW member as well, Mike has always upheld great game design theory and has a consummate love of games and the history surrounding them, especially his love of WWI air combat.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Old Happy Holidays

Maybe some of the stalwarts can identify the elder TSR employees in this holiday painting for the Dragon Magazine which was rendered by Dave Trampier back in the day...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Favorite Kurt Vonnegut Quotes

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.
    Kurt Vonnegut
I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
    Kurt Vonnegut
If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.
    Kurt Vonnegut
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
    Kurt Vonnegut
Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.
    Kurt Vonnegut
Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!
    Kurt Vonnegut
Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand
    Kurt Vonnegut
Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.
    Kurt Vonnegut, "Cat's Cradle"
One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.
    Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004
Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.
    Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004
There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
    Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004
Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.
    Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country
Humor is an almost physiological response to fear.
    Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country
I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.
    Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country
1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
The chief weapon of sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was too late, how heartless and greedy they were.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.
    Kurt Vonnegut, breakfast of champions (page 19)
I can have oodles of charm when I want to.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions (page 20)
Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Cold Turkey
Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus
During my three years in Vietnam, I certainly heard plenty of last words by dying American footsoldiers. Not one of them, however, had illusions that he had somehow accomplished something worthwhile in the process of making the Supreme Sacrifice.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus
Well, the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Interview,
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night
Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Novel 'Hocus Pocus' 1990
A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Sirens of Titan
Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse V
How nice--to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.
    Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Noble Knight Games Page for PPP Products

This is the link to PPP's product page at Noble Knight Games.

Pressing on SHOP THE PIPER at our site also redirects you to the same page.

Follow-Up Commentary From Aaron Leeder: PPP & NKG

Aaron Leeder and I discussed the general ideas of what to post about this agreement, but in a follow-up inspired by our meeting, Aaron wished to add this as well:

From Aaron Leeder and Noble Knight Games: "Rob is a legend and further developing our business relationship is a no-brainer for us and hopefully for gamers in general. We're going to continue offering the limited editions and all the things that make PPP products special. Rob let me in on some of his future plans and they are exciting to say the least. Hopefully our involvement will enable more of these products to see the light of day. There is a growing movement that we call "old school renaissance" happening in the underground right now. It's important for us to not just sell these games but to shine a spotlight (torchlight?) on them and hopefully help the entire movement grow into something sustainable and creatively exciting. PPP is the flagship for this movement."

Heady, complimentary words which PPP will live up to with NKG's partnership.

And for those already inquiring:  Yes.  That is the original Deities and Demigods cover art rendered by Erol Otus.  Aaron has owned it for many years now and I suggested we use it as a backdrop for the photos we took.

(Photos snapped of our meeting compliments of Kathy Fletcher)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Noble Knight Games and Pied Piper Publishing Sign Exclusive Distribution Agreement

PPP NEWS:  12/20/09

Aaron Leeder President of Noble Knight Games and Rob Kuntz of PPP signed an exclusive distribution agreement today making Noble Knight Games, one of the largest online retailers of out of print, limited print and hard to find games, the exclusive online retailer of Pied Piper Publishing's product line.

All future sales of PPP product starting 12/22/09 will be handled exclusively by Noble Knight Games.   No PPP branded product will be available on PPP'S site.  This includes all future RPG and fiction, special non-fiction, and special art print releases, representing 100% of PPP's in print and upcoming products.

From PPP and Rob Kuntz:  "This move was a long time in coming for many excellent reasons.  I have been inundated with design work and the management of the company, art direction, accounting and product management as well as scouting for new design talent.  The additional day-to-day chores of shipping, receiving, inventory, order tracking, collating, and numerous other back-end processes related to the proper and timely shipping of product started to weigh heavily upon me and was forcing me to work 16 hour days.  A one-man show, this was taking its toll on my health as I was working an average of 6-7 days a week.  If there is one thing that Noble Knight Games has always done right is ship its products in a timely fashion.  If there is always something I have done right is to make exciting and challenging products for our fans.  With this arrangement PPP insures that everything is being done efficiently and it concentrates what both of us do best, with an end result of "better for all.""

In the meeting which lasted over 2 hours between the two, Rob and Aaron discussed the grouping of their resources for the betterment of PPP's design end and for the promotion of Noble Knight's strength in the market.  Noble Knight Games provides a proven track record of 12 years of expertise in product fulfillment. They have 6 employees which make it their business to quickly, efficiently and safely deliver printed matter, games, miniatures and a diverse inventory of game related mail order product to their consumer's doorstep without fail.  By alleviating the shipping/receiving process PPP's product release schedule will be expanded and many other processes streamlined due to this, making for a growing release schedule over the year 2010.

PPP has made available all mail database records for NKG's mailing of previous PPP customers and these customers will be receiving notices directly from NKG when new PPP product becomes available.  If they wish to be removed from that list, merely note that by return mail to NKG.

Exciting times are ahead for both PPP and NKG.  We will keep you posted on these as they develop!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Original Living Room Product Update

The Original Living Room has sold out and is out of print.  We will be offering an expanded version of this in bound format next year.

Castle El Raja Key, small Partial of the Introductory, Historical Essay

Hereafter follows a small snippet from the accompanying essay which (in full) delineates the first Blackmoor adventure in LG, the initial reaction to this by Gary and myself in a meeting between us the day afterward, the formulation of the OD&D first draft, the crafting of Castle Greyhawk and El Raja Key, the composite Lake Geneva Campaign as it grew, and includes some slices of these adventures later written about and detailed in "Up on a SoapBox" in the Dragon Magazine and at various forums, and in unpublished form (both in EGG's mss and my own).  The whole in depth essay is a wealth of history regarding the advent of FRPG in Lake Geneva in 1972.

"...As I was ostensibly part of the Gygax extended family since 1968, I was at their house and with Gary almost every day.  After the initial Blackmoor adventure events proceeded at a furious pace.  Phone calls to Dave.  Letters exchanged between the two.  During this time EGG noted that he had begun crafting a “dungeon” setting similar to Dave’s Blackmoor. About two weeks after this adventure, Gary handed me a slim manuscript which had been mailed to him by David.  I sat down and read for the first time the rules that David had used during it.  They consisted of “16 pages of [typed] notes” (as EGG emphasized while I was perusing them).  He and I both noted that they were based off of EGG’s Fantasy Supplement to the rules Chainmail (Gygax & Perren, Guidon Games 1971) but with copious additions of formulas which I faintly (at least then) equated to those from the miniatures game Strategos N (David Wesley, 1967) that I had watched being played at GENCON 2.  Gary informed me that these notes were in need of streamlining and that he would be doing this over the coming weeks as well as continuing to craft a dungeon to play-test the refined rules.

The First Draft of OD&D -- Greyhawk Castle is Born -- El Raja Key Quickly Follows.

"Within 4-6 weeks of our first adventure into Blackmoor Gary had a rough first draft of the new rules and several levels of the new dungeon, Greyhawk, to play-test these.  His daughters and Ernie were the first adventurers; the second one consisted of myself (Robilar), my brother Terry (Terik), Ernie Gygax (Tenser) and Elise Gygax (Ahlissa).  Within 4 weeks of this second adventure and the ones that followed on a daily and nightly basis, I crafted the first levels of El Raja Key, at first with the intent of only judging Gary therein, as he had been pulling double duty with writing the D&D rules as well as designing the levels beneath Greyhawk Castle.  After starting his PCs Yrag and Mordenkainen within it, Gary took his first step at making me the co-DM of the Greyhawk “Campaign” as then understood.  As the play-tests had been fast and furious,  many of the earliest PCs had grown very quickly in level and were moving to the outdoor.  I was allowed to DM these outdoor adventures just prior to completing my journey as Robilar to “China” (which earned me the co-DM mantle permanently and on all levels). ..."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Front Cover Preview: Castle El Raja Key

This is in post production and final design and/or prices could change depending on actual printing end costs and options.  Enjoy the preview.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

On The Horizon: Castle El Raja Key Collector's Edition

PPP is finishing, among other planned releases, the first three levels (in color) of Castle El Raja Key.  With notes, keyed encounters, opening essay about the original campaign in which this was shared and adventured in by Gary Gygax, Don Kaye (co-founder of TSR Rules), Terry Kuntz, and others. Historically many rules, iconic D&D magic items, spells, and monsters for the Greyhawk Supplement (and later finding their way into other editions of the D&D game) sprang from this castle and its adjunct campaign, Greyhawk.

We will also be including a special limited edition print of two personages that this product is being dedicated to (more on this later).  The illustration for the cover is by Eric Bergeron.  We are shooting for the end of January for releasing this.

Convention Updates

In March I will  be attending GaryCon 2 at the Cove in Lake Geneva.  During that time I will be DMing select people in my Castle El Raja Key.  For those who will be attending, see you there!

In June I am scheduled to appear at NTRPGCON2, courtesy of that fine group and Doug Rhea.  I will be using Ramsey's DUNGEON SET #1 as a design template for the dungeon delve I am planning then.  The usual mayhem; and I might DM other things as well as I am bringing along quite a lot of original material including my Castle El Raja Key which is now in production (that was our secret project I have not spilled the beans on as yet).

The adventure for NTRPGCON is very special in that it incorporates the NT Gamers' PCs in several ways.  It should be a hoot.

More to follow on all as these events come up on the calendar.


I don't celebrate X-Mas, but for those that do we have a large stocking stuffer on sale through Jan. 2010.

I knocked off $3.00 for El Raja Key's Arcane Treasury for those wanting a really nice present of a great sourcebook.  96 pages of really imaginative material that will keep you engrossed for quite some time.  Here's a few pieces of the artwork that occurs therein.


Villains in D&D Adventures

© 2009 Robert J. Kuntz

I have often exposed through examples believable and multifaceted villains in my adventures (and upcoming fiction).  While researching this topic recently, I came upon a simple entry on the net.  An extract  and url address follows:

"In terms of a fantasy framework – an excellent example of an unconventional villain might be a coven of druids and other natural magicians whom are conjuring forces of nature to strike at any outpost of civilization, beginning with frontier towns at the beginning of the novel and culminating with a deathly entanglement of a nation's capitol with poisonous, power-leeching vines. The motivation of these politically radical spellcasters is to combat what they see as the destruction of the earth via pollution, urbanization, and disregard for the natural sphere of life. Not only does this allow for a socially relevant commentary to be held within hypotheticals in your own narrative, but it also gives far more emotional and intelligent gravity to your antagonist and allows for deeper reading."

The above bit about the "coven of druids" and their motivations seems almost to a tee extracted from  my adventure, Dark Druids, which is a politically motivated adventure.  The U.S. had gone to war in Afghanistan during the time I was sculpting it and Bin Laden was being sought out for his crimes. Do note certain correspondence to the evil cult of Druids and the Taliban, and their past leader's name, therein.

Note for comparative sake an extract from the adventure itself: 

"Through divination they have learned of a growing evil in Fang Forest, an evil which does not distinguish between humans, plant life, or animal life while committing its foul atrocities.  This group is called, for lack of a better term, the Dark Druids, and their members are inimical to all life.  Their philosophy is simply this:  The advance of civilization threatens the future of nature and all that reside within it.  In order to forestall and destroy the invaders, the Dark Druids have resorted to assassinating key political figures and to destroying any human or demi-human settlement which immediately encroaches upon the wilderness. Their plan is to make that noose tighter, eventually bringing the battle to major population centers.  To help with this plan, they have been changing nature, distorting it to their evil ways, with the hope that this will deter and eventually stop such migrations.  In doing these things, they threaten the fabric of existence.  Their terror must stop!"

Back to the meat of this: What is an unconventional villain?  And by extension, how does this inspire the adventure-crafting and thus your campaign or design?

I have recently written about the expansive qualities inherent to the D&D game and its horizontal and vertical inputs which are constants and variables depending on how the DMs, and sometimes, players, interject to its base thereafter.  See this link.

Here is another example of verticality to measure your villain thereby and gauge (with that Dial of Design) whether what you have is the standard foil or something of merit and thus unconventional when viewed side by side with others in the villainous line-up.

Applying the 5 Ws and the Honorary How?  Who, what, where, when, why and how.  Use this template whenever possible in design and writing.  Let's apply it to a villain you are crafting.

Who? (Well, the Villain, of course, his name and oftentimes in overlap HOW he came to be who he is?)

What?  What are his motivations, goals, desires, race, age, gender (or non-gender for certain aliens, etc), and sometimes in overlap what powers he has and HOW he uses these to define and attain his goals?

Where?  Where is this villain from, where is he/she going, where is he/she situarted and in overlap for the last, WHAT is the villain doing to extend his/her personal range of expression while doing so?

When?  When did he/she arrive in this area?  When will the villain complete his or her plans?  When will they move to strike?

Why?  Why are they doing what they are doing?  Why must they succeed or utterly fail?  Why must they be stopped at all costs?  Why must they have the power or territory they desire?

How?  How did they come into being (history). How will their plan(s) come to fruition?  How can they succeed withe the resources they have?  How can they be defeated or their plans brought to ruin?

Through this little question-answer session you as the creative DM can and more often, will, craft a memorable character worthy of the title Villain, one that will live on in the minds of your players and in the history of your campaign.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Memoirs Extract 2

As I have informed the blog-readers here, I am about crafting my memoirs.  I try to write 2 pages a day and look to publish these in about 1.5-2 years IF I AM STILL ALIVE BY THEN.  :)

In my 42 years of involvement in this industry, as IFW member, TSR employee, owner and operator of 2 companies, convention chairman for GENCON, friend and student of EGG, and generally as an inquisitive, curious and deep thinker, I feel that there is a lot of territory to be covered within these memories and a lot to be derived from them by those who eventually read these:  The history of this game industry, the advent of fantasy in games, my shared experiences with EGG, Dave Arneson and others of note from 1968 onward, as well as my insights into art and its processes on many levels, as well as inspirations and thoughts which continue to incite and extend the creative thinking process, the latter which I feel is sorely lacking in our industry today when compared with the past.

Here are some extracts which you might find strange, enjoyable, or utterly useless:

"It is not the creep of nihilsim that worries me, but the human condition which cannot recognize it."...

"Stating and restating problems is a negative illusion; solutions are positive realities."

"David Arneson always appeared to my inner sense as a fervent and excitable boy.  There was absolutely no way of escaping wanting to play with him."...

"Am I living in the future tense of a past present?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The RJK LEVEL, By Yesmar

Ramsey has posted a dunegon level he conceptualized/drew while talking with me by phone some weeks ago.

The link is here.

The Lake Geneva Campaign: The Ongoing Aspect of PLAY

Here is a letter partial I recently sent to a fan who is transitioning from 3rd Edititon D&D to a more loose AD&D/OD&D play style.  This was recently touched upon at Gene Palmer's excellent blog as well, and my notes here appear as an afterthought.  The real idea as promulgated then was to keep "PLAY" open and moving and not tied to a constant mechanic.  By comparison, one may consider this style as the open mind set expressed and shared among a group of creative children who play together, changing and adapting as they continue interjecting into that endeavor.  Later, they will remember parts of that process and even reincorporate salient parts of those past, shared mechanics and principles, but they will always be seeking to expand upon these self-imposed limits as the search for creative expression continues.

"Hi Johnny,

Fast and loose was the typical game in LG.  The game rules were codified to cover as many circumstances that were common.  As this is a representation of a real world environment, everything cannot be so explained.  That would cover a list of rules which are endless or in turn would limit the same expression if creativity and a flowing probability range was not introduced.

It's all basically inputs which arrive at probabilities.  Plus/Minus until the final influence on the die/dice roll is arrived at.  This is accomplished through taking in what the circumstances are as opposed to what the players are attempting to do within these.  This is then introduced to a curve (Bell curve, for example of a 2 six-sided die roll), which is what EGG and I did in many circumstances where the rules could not define outcomes.  The game is open-ended and mutable.  Some things naturally were seen as doable.  Like hiding.  If you use the base as a thief, then just pare it down by 80% in unusual circumstances or apply other inputs.  Anyone can hide, it is just that thieves are more practiced in it and at instantly accomplishing it over a constant range of application.  In all cases it is specific to the circumstances and is not a general idea which is an abstract applied to a set rule of hiding. Each case will be judged for its variable nuances within the developing situation.

As far as weaponry and classes.  These were included to affect game balance, almost reverse engineered to strike balances between classes, as were the sliding HD system I created for classes in OD&D and thus can be used or ignored at will.  Explain them as you will.

The rules are guides.  The moment you realize this, the realms of possibilities expand as you as a creative implementor of them are outside of the box.  That is how they were designed to be, not set in stone and limited. Fantasy cannot exist within a box, it has no limits, thus it must continue to expand outward, up and away, reaching new levels of extrapolation.   The day this ceases to be so, you are no longer playing an open-ended game of fantasy, but a set-in-stone game with fantasy motifs and elements only, and that is not the game as we designed it back in 1973.

Best Regards.

Rob Kuntz"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Boreal Level Sample: Wynsom's Icicle

Here is a new magic item sample from the Boreal Level due out in December.  Text sampling by me and the illo by great ole Andy "Atom" Taylor.

Wynsom’s Icicle

This is the permanent habitat of Wynsom the ice-sylph.  She was imprisoned herein by the Frost King, Iraggo, many years ago; and he at times summons her to answer his questions of what she knows, or to entertain him.  He has earlier informed her that the more she cooperates with his desires that the more likely he will be disposed to releasing her from the containment.  Wynsom has been no fool, however, and she often tells the giant only fragments of what she perceives he wants to hear and often couches her advice in the riddles of her kind.  The latter infuriates Iraggo, but he has kept an ever-growing journal (see the entry for Ice Sheaves) of their back-and-forth communications.  Most of these unsolved riddles are just the indecipherable remains of their banter, but some have within them traces of truth and wisdom that Irrago cannot fathom.

The icicle has a flat base and tapers to a point at 9” in full height.  Operating it requires setting it base-first upon one’s palm.  However, the icicle emanates an extreme coldness that damages the holder for 6hp/round held.  During this time no concentration can be maintained to invoke the icicle’s power and thus summon her presence. Only those employing protection from cold (i.e., spells or similar) may wield its powers without harm or interruption.

When first observed, its outer surface portrays an opaque ice, rough and encrusted with an icy film.  If held in one’s palm for more than a turn, the film begins to noticeably melt, and as the liquid runs down its length the encrustations are replaced by a clear and polished surface.  An image of a silver-haired and blue-eyed lady rises from its depth, a miniature but animated bust of a white clad elfin-like figure, which is Wynsom. ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shipping Update: Dungeon Sets & Other Orders

Just to let everyone know, I let many of the orders accumulate and will be shipping all of them between Monday and Wednesday of next week.  This rather than making run after run to the Post Office.  There were a lot of orders too, and it has kept me pretty busy.  :)

So, get ready for some playing and reading while munching on your "turkey specials".

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dungeon Set #3 Update/Dungeon Trappings Insert

Dungeon Set™#3 (levels 13-18) will be released at the end of December/beginning of the New Year with The Boreal Level.  Ramsey will be finishing he maps by the 3rd week in December.  As previously announced, we are pleased as pixie-punch to announce that Gene Palmer (of Old Guard Gaming Accouterments) has designed a special 2,000 word+ DUNGEON TRAPPINGS™ insert for it, detailing many bits of magic and treasure that can be used immediately in stocking these levels or can alternately be used in a DM's campaign however they see fit.  I read Gene's first pass with glee, in fact, and wrote him back that it was spot on.  Gene will be doing some design work for the DUNGEON TRAPPINGS™ full sets and is a very fine writer and very creative, so we welcome him to do as much for us as he likes.  More on this as the 'TRAPPINGs take form.

New (Old) Map For Original Campaign/Boreal Level Update/Other

I am redrawing a very large level (see sample) that EGG adventured on with his group back in the day.  The original was lost so I am redoing this from memory:  "The Orcky Level" (or aka, "Grumch's Grotto").  It was originally placed 100 miles NE of the City/Castle.  This is where EGG found the Iron Bands of Bilaro (from Unearthed Arcana).

After I do all of the penciling I then outline in black ink and place secret doors in red and down-slants in green.  I will update on its progress at various stages.  Just like my memoirs I try to do a little on it each day.

Also, the manuscript for The Boreal Level, the first in the Original Castle™ level releases, is over 5,000 words finished and I should have this in the pipeline for purchase by December (mid to late). We have a Frost King, a "strange" white dragon, ice imps and more, but for dessert:  white pudding...  ;)

Also:  The Cursed Village.  This is a cooperative design between myself and another (as yet unrevealed) designer.  My task has been to create all of the history, monster detail and framework (including mood, background, specific adventure/map details and salient magical/curse treatment and introduction) which is about 4,000 words of matter. Then the co-author will give this the once-over, then back to me for the finalization and editing/additions.  I am  currently 2,500 words into the treatment; and then we will announce who is helping with this when it's finished on my end.  The Cursed Village is a design I envisioned for the Original Campaign™ back in 1995, so it is a late addition, but it's quite deadly as a 4th-7th level adventure, and expands upon the release of one of the NINE from the Original Castle™by my old PC, Lord "R". The good thing about this one that I hit my creative stride with it and this will be great for the co-author.  Usually, and as my friends know, if I start a project it will reach its end only if I am satisfied with its total design (i.e., it maintains a consistently high creative component throughout) or else I will not force it. For those who have always wondered why about this, I am kinda like the commercial for Paul Masson done by Orson Welles (though PM is a horrid wine in most cases) where "I never release a project before its time" (or prime).

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Heartening Letter (Partial): Reigniting Imaginations

This today from a person returning to D&D and rediscovering the enchantment again of creation:

"I  am really keen to try out the megadungeon for an online gaming group.  We use Fantasy Grounds II as a virtual tabletop and Castles & Crusades for rules.  Once we've got things kicked off, I'd like to come back to you for [Dungeon] Set #2.  Of course, I will also be interested to check out future related products.  This line of materials is exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for."...

"I stopped gaming in the late 80s and 2e and 3e passed me by.  It was only when 4e was published and the guys wanted to get back together with their sons joining in that I thought of D&D.  The OSR has rekindled my interest in RPGs in general and older editions of D&D in particular.  What you appear to be doing at Pied Piper will help relative novices like me reignite our imaginations."...

I would like to add this as an answer to the above and as a further inspiration from us to creative and imaginative DMs everywhere--from OD&D's Forward by EGG, written just a tiny bit over 36 years ago to the day:

"ONCE UPON A TIME, long, long ago there was a little group known as the Castle and Crusade Society. Their fantasy rules were published, and to this writer's knowledge, brought about much of the current interest in fantasy wargaming. For a time the group grew and prospered, and Dave Arneson decided to begin a medieval fantasy campaign game for his active Twin Cities club. From the map of the "land" of the "Great Kingdom" and environs — the territory of the C & C Society — Dave located a nice bog wherein to nest the weird enclave of "Blackmoor", a spot between the "Great Kingdom" and the fearsome "Egg of Coot". From the CHAINMAIL fantasy rules he drew ideas for a far more complex and exciting game, and thus began a campaign which still thrives as of this writing! In due course the news reached my ears, and the result is what you have in your hands at this moment. While the C & C Society is no longer, its spirit lives on, and we believe that all wargamers who are interested in the medieval period, not just fantasy buffs, will enjoy playing DUNGEONS and DRAGONS. Its possibilities go far beyond any previous offerings anywhere!
While it is possible to play a single game, unrelated to any other game events past or future, it is the campaign for which these rules are designed. It is relatively simple to set up a fantasy campaign, and better still, it will cost almost nothing. In fact you will not even need miniature figures, although their occasional employment is recommended for real spectacle when battles are fought. A quick glance at the Equipment section of this booklet will reveal just how little is required. The most extensive requirement is time. The campaign referee will have to have sufficient time to meet the demands of his players, he will have to devote a number of hours to laying out the maps of his "dungeons" and upper terrain before the affair begins. The third booklet of this set will be of great help in this respect, for a number of helpful suggestions regarding how to accomplish it all have been given in order to help you accomplish the task with a minimum of time and effort. There should be no want of players, for there is unquestionably a fascination in this fantasy game — evidenced even by those who could not by any stretch of the imagination be termed ardent wargamers. The longevity of existing campaigns (notably "Blackmoor" in the Twin Cities and "Greyhawk" in Lake Geneva) and the demand for these rules from people outside these campaigns point towards a fantastic future. Tactical Studies Rules believes that of all forms of wargaming, fantasy will soon become the major contender for first place. The section of this booklet entitled Scope will provide an idea of just how many possibilities are inherent in DUNGEONS and DRAGONS.
These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don't care for Burroughs' Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howard's Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries will not be likely to find DUNGEONS and DRAGONS to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers. With this last bit of advice we invite you to read on and enjoy a "world" where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!
E. Gary Gygax 1 November 1973

Tactical Studies Rules Editor Lake Geneva, Wisconsin" 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Allen Koszowski Samples & Link

I really love his inks and stippling.  Here's his link.

Monday, November 16, 2009

DUNGEON SETS™ Design Contest

With the advent of our new line we will be accepting the most interesting of submissions from DMs who use our Dungeon Sets™ in their games.  Here's how it works:

1)  Submit a keyed encounter describing it in detail.  Don't send boring stuff, only if you feel that in your estimation you've done something unique. 

2)  With it, send a scan portion of keyed area of the map so we know where to insert it.

3)  When we have at least 50% of all areas needed for an adventure, Rob or Ramsey will finish the remainder and publish it as a Cooperative release.  All contributing authors will get co-author credit and 2 copies of the book that they contributed to.

4)  Make sure to include your name and address in all communications.

The scope of this is to create a totally unique product where different levels of creativity and imagination work together.  It is also an avenue for encouraging truly unique design and independent design work that reaches beyond the norm, which is the idea behind creating and stocking your own dungeons, cities and outdoors to begin with. 

NOTE:  Always give us 2 weeks to respond to your email submission before querying us.  We will get back to you.  Send all email submission and queries to:  here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Drive Update: Issued Numbers

I'd like to thank all of our loyal fans for participating in this drive!  :) Here is an update on the early numbered issues:

#1 of Dungeon Sets 1 & 2 went to:  Franklin Mallory

#2  of Dungeon Sets 1 & 2 went to:  The "Toadman" Zach

#3 & #4 of Dungeon Sets 1 & 2 went to:  Stu Davis

Saturday, November 14, 2009


At 12 Noon CST tomorrow (the 15th) our ordering platforms will be live for purchasing DUNGEON SETS™ 1 and 2.

Please note the FRONT PAGE news and the HELP FILE.  I will be on hand monitoring the whole affair and will immediately answer questions emailed to me during the process.  Please note:  If you are not transferred to PAYPAL and pay there, then the order did not go through.  Follow the instructions in our HELP FILE for completing the payment.

> I will be signing and numbering 500 Limited English Editions for each set.<

(Thanks to Allan Grohe for reminding me to post this.)

I wish to thank everyone who has encouraged us in this new product line launch.  We have received dozens of emails in so short a time period and it is encouraging to say the least.  This is but the start of an eager endeavor for us to bring a line of products to bear that will creatively grow with the needs of the DM and his or her players.  We look forward to your participation.

Rob Kuntz
President, Pied Piper Publishing

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Samples of Paul Lehr's Fantastic Art

I have always been a fan of his work.  It always seemed to portray the isolation so inherent to space and the strangeness, always perked up by his Van-Gogh-ish use of color.  I am looking for a comprehensive site of his art, so if someone has a lead, do post it here.


I receive many invites from old friends, associates, past partners and fans to connect at various places on the internet.  I am currently on Linked In, Myspace and Facebook.  I will not subscribe to all placess as I do not wish to be spammed endlessly.  I do not maintain a Yahoo or Gmail mailing account (or other) and for the same reasons.  There is also a Q&A forum specifically dedicated to me on Dragonsfoot where questions may be posted.  Our old forums will be reconstituted into a newer format sans Yuku's involvement, but this is a great chore so right now they are getting little or no attention, but I still do ocassionally get an email through that board's extended services.  To make it easier on me, consider direct contact through the email link provided below.

My email is here.

I receive hundreds of fan mails a year and generally answer them all and quickly, time permitting.  Otherwise I can not offfer connecting outside of these mediums and methods, sorrry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Raising the Barr

Link to Art of George Barr.

While you are at it enjoy some music:

Monday, November 9, 2009

EGG Anecdotes/Remembrances Of (selected from my Memoirs)

Copyright 2009. Robert J. Kuntz. All Rights Reserved.

"'Rob, I could give two pieces of coon shit what people think of me."-- EGG in an email to me circa 2003.

... This nature was so true of EGG. But it also true that this did not suggest a lack of caring attitude or warmth, for which he was noted to have in great abundance. His detractors, mainly in my estimation jealous piss-ants found at various fora on the internet, were very vocal, but also very cowardly as they seldom if ever, unlike in the days of honored exchange in magazines or by post, ever had the gumption to say anything to the man's face or to direct their enmity towards him in personal exchange; and of course this example betrayed the very nature of the acts and the people behind them. Gary was a heated debater. His letters to the editor in Panzerfaust magazine, the International Wargamer or in The Courier, often developed into slugfests, with a notable one carrying on for many pages and issues between Jerry Pournelle (before the latter's rise to fame as a SF author) ...'"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So Many Paths

There have been some concerns or guesses (speculation?) that our new line of products equates to me no longer crafting adventures. This is not so. The OC levels are still planned, and one named the Annex is in the works as is Dhalt. I have received lots of complements for my adventure crafting. Then again, a time does arrive sooner or later that a general design plan for my upcoming years will kick into effect. I wish to write essays and am doing so, instructive works, my memoirs, special projects and fiction, non-fiction and other. I do not have time to do all, so I must weigh against what makes me happy and what fans want (some at least) and arrive in middles. And I've always avoided middles, as one gets run over from both directions...

It has been 42 years in the industry (AND) in thinking, pondering and writing on many, many subjects other than RPG--I have always been a writer and a deep thinker first and only a designer second. That is a long time by some standards at least. I have a lot of thoughts on my life experiences, and only a fraction, not even a percent if I had to quantify it with haphazard human measuring systems, has been expressed. And I consider these the essence of my being and worthy of expression.

I've recently admitted to myself that the many mss and notes and maps and other that are contained on disc (3 cds) from my various auctions to date, well, there is going to be no way that this matter will get published as a greater whole in my life time--there is just not enough time and resources for it, even though there is great interest on my part to do so. Because of this, and at some future time, I will hand off these discs to someone who is competent in reordering and classifying/arranging their contents so that these could then be offered to the public. So this has been a recent question mark as well, and not only by myself but by close associates and friends.

Back to Dungeon Sets/Dungeon Trappings.

Historically, I can sense things changing but yet, again, remaining the same. DUNGEON SETS is also, in some part, a comment by me. At the beginning there were no booklets, EGG and I and Dave Arneson drew maps and invented things. TSR lost the early vision as they bought into the adventure business as influenced by outside forces (Palace of the Vampire Queen, et al, and then the plethora of JG material for AD&D). Then when the vision workers left TSR the whole marketing machine kicked in (like WotC has emulated today) and pumped out gobs of stuff, mostly junk in my estimation. What had happened was the pursuit of the dollar and that will always pinch out the truly creative kind and products spawned by them. I had always remained true to the vision and promoted quality above quantity; but surely without a staff of excellent designers and vision workers such efforts rarely succeed in making but a modicum of push in a market/sales driven model of OLD TSR's day or WotC's today. However, we have a game which on different levels is appreciated by all, including the idealistic creative types like me. It is extra painful for myself to watch the vision I helped create be raped over and over and then regurgitated as a truth to be bought into by others who will so readily listen and believe. To me it is a sin against all of what was the truth back then and an insult against the years spent working towards an unselfish end as comrades and friends. Adventures are becoming like pancakes, even in our grass roots movement to "FIND" the past--just add adventure batter and water and stir. There is no blame here, for look at what the model historically rests upon by comparison. Indeed, it is time for true creators and teachers to start creating and teaching again and to show the way to the youth who always inherit the "before-time"; and the barbarians are at the gates threatening the young as I type. "Back to basics" has only one meaning to me. Draw and craft and learn which is the only path I had in 1973. Very simple. Others rise to their own level and/or for their own reasons. But that's my level and a lot of other DM's levels as well. Ultimately it is all about fun, yes. But we also set the examples for the future, and in this I will speak only for myself as this is my truth and mine alone.

So I am returning to the start that I neever really left, part as an example, part out of hope, part of fear that we may be carried away in the tide of exhuberance too often noted when TSR rose and then so quickly fell. Negative? No. Just look at the examples. History has repeated itself time and again within this industry. Everyone has once again discovered the fountain of youth and the grail. Remember when...? And yes we do. Many "ancients" returning to their boxes in closet, basement, attic or garage remember fondly the FUN on many levels, and that includes crafting such adventures themselves.

Now if I had a PR Manager he would have shot himself by now, as I seem to be railing against my own existence as a publisher of booklets at least of the type I abhor on so many levels. But I have been doing this for years. Up the Bar, push the envelope, reach for excellence. It can only create more good and thus spur and inspire more positive growth. DUNGEON SETS/DUNGEON TRAPPINGS will allow me to get pieces of my creative mind to paper sooner than longish adventures would. That is both good for fans and for myself, for I always look at what I do with the idea of outdoing myself in the next round. :)

Though I have carried on a bit, ranted only slightly, and came close to uncontrolled egoism several times, I remain Galadriel... Uhhh... RJK ;)

"There is nothing at the end of twisting, twiddling paths; it is on the journey to Ithaca that all is revealed." -- Sah The Estranged.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sample & Updates to DS Line

We are excited about this new product line. This has been thought out carefully and Ramsey and I have discussed the possibilities of this line by phone and have traded many, many emails to get it down right and into production. Andy Taylor has been commissioned to draw all exterior and interior art. We may have other "spot" artists doing some add-ins here or there.

Future DUNGEON SETS™ will include 1,500+ word inserts on heavy card stock, three-hole drilled, entitled DUNGEON TRAPPINGS™ This matter will resemble in type what we will be including as separate DT set releases, which as discussed in the news release will be supplemental material of various kinds, such as new magic, spells, monsters, tricks, traps and special set pieces, etc. There will generally be a pleasing mix matching the range of each Dungeon Set. I will be contributing heavily to this material in their special DS forms and as separate releases (I am already 1,200 words into DUNGEON TRAPPINGS™ #1 and have contacted another crafty designer to help with future sets). For my design end this will also include primary matter gleaned from my Original Campaign files dating back to 1973, with salient art re-rendered from my illustrations done then. None of the information will be duplicated from one line (DS>DT) to the other, but each insert will be numbered for sequential ordering and different colors will be chosen for the stock as well. We are looking at no less than 65# color stock for this, and as noted, these will be three-hole drilled, making them easily organizable in a 3-ring binder for storage and reference/extraction.

DUNGEON SETS™ Product Line New November 15th

PPP Will Launch a New Product Line. DUNGEON SETS 1 & 2 will be available November 15th. See You There.

DUNGEON SETS™ was an idea conceived to bring maximum game value to each DM’s table, whatever FRPG system they are currently using. These are un-keyed, color maps with integration notes and a comprehensive legend that are presented as a contiguous, and exacting, dungeon setting. In studying the needs of DMs who all have specific campaigns with real histories, characters and plots of their own, it became apparent that the idea of mainstay adventure modules, such as many based upon TSR’s old model of assumed expediency, has shifted greatly with the contraction of that market and an ever present need over the years for specific game material created by each DM. In keeping with that honored ideal, PPP will make a leap in two areas: in presenting challenging maps for expansion along different creative lines by individual DMs; and in offering supportive materials for these, such as booklets containing new and innovative monsters, NPCs, spells, magic items, magical areas and set pieces which can be incorporated into the map designs as each DM sees fit, thus expanding the range for them to continue “branding” their own campaigns as creatively unique.

The last part of the term, ‘Dungeon Master,’ is ‘Master’. Thus PPP sees this product line, and those others forthcoming that will support its implementation via each creative DM, as not only sound as it is keeping with the actual vision of the game as first earmarked for the public, but these will allow an immediate expansion of the DM’s design process which until this point has had its purchase in a pick-and-choose, or almost scavenger-like, basis, the last in the sense that DMs cannot always use specific adventures offered by small publishers (let alone larger ones) and that they glean what they can in an endless search for good, or more importantly, “useable” material to extract from these.

DUNGEON SETS™ is the first step towards making sure that we as a publisher are doing as much as possible to reach each individual DM’s needs and to thereby inspire their immediate and imaginative use of our products, this rather than letting “NICE, BUT…” products from us languish on their bookshelves as collectibles or until a time arrives in their campaign, perhaps years later, to use them. One of the key elements in this game has always been “utility” and with its inclusion in the design and implementation of each campaign DMs’ creations tend to soar as they continue to find and hone their imaginative juices. This is of course what our grand game is all about, reaching for creative horizons while having fun on its interrelated levels. Pun intended!

The Future of Dungeon Sets™

I will be designing sets such as the Fortress of Fyarz and the Cloud Castle of Aer (as noted in the Bottle City). Ramsey will also be creating increasingly imaginative and challenging sets to test the tenacity of your players! The integration notes for DMs will increase as each set expands upon the base we have realized. They will include creative additions not seen at “basic” levels and in concert with supplemental source material will allow for an ever-expanding range of imaginative material to be used in stocking these dungeons and settings. Within that context, Ramsey Dow and myself have concluded that a treatise—an in depth essay—on dungeon-crafting in its many facets should be of interest, so we are gathering notes to add to my already 10,000+ word MS which describes the creation of Greyhawk™ Castle, Castle El Raja Key and Maure Castle™. This historical and instructive treatise will cover the beginnings of this honored endeavor and track some of the changes that have taken effect with the modernization of the game.

We wish to thank the hundreds of loyal fans for continuing to support our diversified game through the purchase of our products.

Happy Gaming!

Rob Kuntz, President
Ramsey Dow, Production Manager for the Dungeon Sets™ Line

Greyhawk and Maure Castle are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Their use here is for historical reference only.
Dungeon Sets™ is a trademark of Pied Piper Publishing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Books That I am Reading/Want to Read

In between the mounting chaos and perilous journeys of the mind, body and soul that I have experienced over the last two months either corporeally or otherwise, I never lost sight of the books that I have been perusing (or stacking about me in piles, neat piles, however). They include but are not limited to:

The Selected Writings of Lafcadio Hearn
Selected Poems of Luis de Gongora

Selected Poems of Antonio Machado


We thought that we could
make our love a grand festival,
kindle new aromas
on unknown mountains,
and hide the secret
of our pallid faces,
because in the Bacchanalia of life
our cups are always empty
while the golden juices of the vine
laugh with a crystalline and foamy echo.
A bird hidden among the branches
of the lonely park
whistles mockingly…
We squeeze
the shadow of a dream into our glass…
And something that is earth in our flesh feels
the moisture of the garden like a caress.

Deep Play by Diane Ackerman (a monumental book IMHO)

Deep adj. Play n. : 1. A state of unselfconscious engagement with our surroundings 2. An exalted zone of transcendence over time 3. A state of optimal creative capacity

Fantasists on Fantasy (highly recommended, especially Moorcock's essay on humor in Fantasy)
The Philosopher and the Wolf by Mark Rowlands (given to me by a friend)

I am also teaching myself conversational French (no kidding!), though with my schedule the way it already is this seemingly will only be accomplished if I am able to duplicate myself. I'll have to read a book on that latter process... I'll let you know how it goes... :)

The Lord of the Blog Has Returned

Well, The Lord of the Blog has returned.

If you believe I was on vacation, guess again. :)

With the failure of 3 free-lance manuscripts (2 of which PPP paid a heap of advances on) to materialize I have been about staunching the wounds and now announce that with Ramsey Dow's help, that they are staunched. Six Weeks of schedule reordering to redo the schedule, art ordering, cost estimates, etc. was but the start. Then came the new products, two of which will be released the 15th of this month and which some of you know about (more on that in another post), and the ordering of the release schedule for the new line (DUNGEON SETS™) and the re-convening on my GH Castle levels (which were pushed in the 9 month slash of time and revenue as a dominoes effect of the previous aforementioned products not materializing).

In between I suffered great fatigue and a bout of depression (No Kidding). I had encouraged others to post here, but, alas, no one has opted to do that. So, between fire and foe and burning flesh (to Odin and Thor) we are finally rolling again, and with solid wheels.

For those who believe a life of an artist is easy, couple that with self-publishing and doing all the work (now with Ramsey's help) and you would be wrong on both counts. In fact on my birthday I was at home writing and planning, did not have a drop of liquor or cake (someone ate that a long time ago...), and would not have remembered it if the Facebook crew and those here had not wished me one. Thanks again, btw.

More... I have agreed to a very, very, very long interview and am readying notes for that, I have rough-designed an award that will be presented at next years Texas RPG Con (which I will be at as a guest and DM and as the presenter of said award), and I have started writing my memoirs (a two year chore which I am long-handing on vellum with a M200 Pelikan fountain pen--I long-hand about 2 pages/day), I considered a relationship in between, thought better, and instead made linguini in clam sauce....

I am at the moment drinking coffee (can you tell?), though I do not consider it coffee so much anymore, rather blood as it appears to have replaced my own these days. That should bring me right up to date for the moment, plus or minus 10 other things.

More posts to follow after my caffeine high has subsided. :)


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Lord Robilar!

Happy Birthday Rob!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tower of Blood 2nd Printing Shipping

The ordering platform was enabled for ToB 2nd Printing at 12:19pm CST.

Thanks to the fans who voiced such strong interest in this!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tower of Blood 2nd Printing Available July 29th

I received the booklets for Tower of Blood late yesterday and am now collating them and packaging. Sometime after noon on the 29th I will enable the ordering platform so that purchases can be made. I will announce this not only here, but at our forums and by email to those who have been on the waiting list since it went OOP.

The demand for this title is extremely high, so I doubt that even with the extra batch I ordered that these will last longer than 2 weeks max.

Boreal Level Map (Sample)

Ramsey and I are conferring by phone this week over the next map he's rendered, a sample of which should be an appropriate teaser. Next in line after we've put this one to bed is the Machine Level which EGG's main PCs playtested (just as Robilar did Tomb of Horrors) before we placed it in the Castle precincts.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Original Castle Levels Project

I have been receiving many inquiries regarding this project and the book of tales, essays and other early day commentaries, Lord of the Green Dragons. An in depth synopsis of the Castle project follows.

When PPP put these into the production schedule we had two projects due out at the time which would float, so to speak, the publication of the Castle project and LotGD. Unfortunately, the person that was to complete these projects did not do so. This set us back with everything thereafter, and the publishing schedule had to be remade (as is now being addressed). In between, Ed Kann finished the FC illustrations (4, with 2 having already been finished by ATOM); Ed was then to do what Ramsey Dow is now doing, re-render the six (6) castle levels. Unfortunately, again, Ed had to drop out of gaming and associated creating due to very personal issues, which I understood. While taking up the slack for the missing two projects to keep us on target with releases, I now found myself scrambling to get all the pre-press stuff juggled as well, and that is where Ramsey, Hextor bless his soul, came in (with help from his beautiful lady, "Z").

Ramsey and I are working at breakneck speeds to get everything finished. The Castle levels (at least these first 6, as there are more to follow), will be released in 2 sets of x3 levels each, with an estimated page count of 24-32 printed pages per booklet and with three booklets per set. Each will have a color map and a reproduction of my hand-drawn original map. The levels will either be available as single issues or as sets, as noted, with a sizable discount if one purchases the sets. This will also allow a reduction in combined mailing costs as opposed to being purchased separately over time.

There is so much Original Campaign material slated for future publication that I am quite sure that I will be kept busy for many years to come. Beside the Castle Levels, there is the City, the extensive sewers beneath, Special levels (like the Annex), Demonworld, more magic, NPCs and PCs from the OC, spells, one-off adventures and army/unit organizations, etc., etc. Though I contributed about 15 levels to the OCastle, by that time many of the PCs were moving to the outdoor and city adventures (or specials); so as EGG continued crafting rules and such, I was busy with campaign crafting, and was getting more detailed about things from the way they originally appeared in our sketch notes. Major work was done by myself on the City and Sewers, for example, and that is why I have elected to add that to a growing list of future products for the line.

I hope that explains a little and more of my intent and position regarding this project. It has the highest priority after our next drive, which I hope is a successful one. :) After the Castle levels we should be in a poisition to do LotGD, which is for the most part finished except for 10,000 additional words and then editing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wrapping Up a Very Busy Month

I have been too busy as usual what with an upcoming drive. Let's see, some tidbits...

I am in the middle of organizing the pieces to get Black Festival ready for the layout person.

I am ordering the details of an adventure to be to written with another chap having to do with the Original Campaign: The Cursed Village.

I am ordering another part of a secret project PART 2 for another person to draw the maps for.

Ramsey (Yesmar) finished secret project PART 1.

Ramsey Dow and I had a phone conversation the other day (whew, 2 or so hours long) and finalized the go ahead for the next Original Castle map, The Boreal Level. He is now rendering it. Ramsey is real cool and so is his lady, Z, who helps as well. Real neat.

I am about to get my remaining short stories off to our editor, David Coalter.

I am waiting on Tower of Blood, which did not ship today, so I expect it to be available next week Tuesday.

In the middle of outlining a new project as well as plugging away at a new essay length post for the blog.

In between, reorganizing the Living Room adventure to be reprinted as a saddle-stitched booklet with a color cover and with additional material. This might take the place of DHALT which I am falling behind on with so much organizational stuff, but we'll see what reserves I have left for it.

Also communicating with NTRPGCon on a very special adventure I am crafting for next year's event.

I also keep up a steady stream of research each week as well as scratch my ear on occasion...

Did I mention that I went shopping today? Home made tacos for dinner. :) Afterward, if I am not already dead to the wind, I will savor a flute or two of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut to help issue me off to Dreamland...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wolfar: Black Festival Art (Sample)

Wolfar is a barbarian, an educated Frank, who I created back in 1989. I wrote a lone novella of 20,000 words on his most daring exploit entitled, "Black Festival." This will be available soon. I have other stories outlined that I will write and publish which pertain to his various adventures here or there throughout Francia and the Mediterranean world. The action for Black Festival takes place in historical Aquintaine, Lombard and other remote parts of the area as the action shifts. The story has many fantasy elements and thus can be considered a "historical fantasy," but I chose the locale mainly due to the colorful nature of Francia at that time and the admixture of pagan and Carolingian Empire spices. It does not compare to Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne in as much as it follows the bent of a Fafhrd minus the Gray Mouser, with some attention given to the far-ranging story line which even touches upon Wolfar's past wherein he was a Moorish galley slave. I hope that our fans appreciate this when published and support our line of fantasy fiction that I intend to publish, with this being the first of the batch! :)

Tower of Blood 2nd Printing

Tower of Blood (2nd Printing) is off to the printers and should be available as early as the weekend or at least by early next week. I ordered double the number of reprints for this than I did for CAS1
(120) as there has been a larger demand for it, presumably because we only issued 350 of them (as opposed to 500 for Cairn) in the initial print run. These will go very fast, so stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cairn of the Skeleton King 2nd Printing Sold Out

The limited reprinting of this adventure has been sold out.

There may be more reprints in the future based upon demand.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tormented Trees

Long time no post. Been busy with work, life and preparing some material for the Lord, among other things (that is Lord as in Green Dragons, not Yahweh or Jehovah - just so we're clear - I'm not preparing anything for the Other Guy just now)

Anyway, in recent fiddlings about seeking inspiration from natural sources, I stumbled up against this weird little website, and especially the section of pictures pertaining to unique trees. There are some decent dendrites with tales to tell in that lot.