GM’s Day: Things to do for you grumpy GM

It’s GM’s day and what should you do for your grumpy grognard GM.
9. Show up on time.
8. Level up your character.
7. Don’t loose your character.
6. Bring a pencil (and a eraser).
5. Don’t use your phone to play a different game.
4. Pay attention.
3. Ride the plot train for a couple of minutes.
2. Realize that there more options than murder or seduce when it comes to dealing with NPC’s
1. Buy your own damned book.

And remember always have fun.

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BareBones Fantasy Revisited


I ranted about BareBones Fantasy many years ago on the old blog and for some odd reason it popped back into my head. Maybe it’s all my thoughts about non-D20 based games of late.
So the first thing that some might say, “Hey, I thought you just rambled about old-school games.” Well, yes and no. I ramble about what ever happens to catch my fancy at the time. But I will say this. I consider BareBones Fantasy an “old-school” game. Why? Well, first remember StarFrontiers? It’s basically the same system.
So let me give you the low down. It’s based d100 rolls and d10’s. That’s it. Attributes are ranged from 1-100 and the “Skills” actually correspond more to “classes” So there’s skills such as Warrior, Spellcaster, Cleric, Thief, etc. So yes. Thief is one skill. How old school is that? Races give bonuses to Attributes and/or skills. And some races give a bonus only to specific uses of a skill. Characters do game levels in their skills and there is an abstract level system to gauge a character’s overall competency. And that’s the basic of the system.
It’s not more difficult than most games. I wouldn’t call rules lite and it a little more involved than many of the D&D retroclones. But it’s not overwhelming and the learning curve isn’t that steep. Most players will be able to pick it up rather quickly if they are used to role playing games.
I only had the chance to kick the tires on it once. I ran a little one-shot when the game first came out. It was fun but there a little resistance based on the good old “but in D&D we do…” It’s nice little compact game. The basic book clocks in at 84 pages and there’s a few supplements and other little handy things available on Drivethru.
So yeah. It’s another one of those games that got buried on the harddrive but it’s still a good little game to pick up if you want to do fantasy but what a different rules system.

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Episode 10: Genre and Setting and New Socks

It’s OK to use the same setting with different genres. Just do the extra work to tweak it what you want to do. Plus hey there was some powered armor in old D&D. It ain’t all Tolkien. Also, GM’s Day is coming on March 4. And here’s a reminder: Only a few days left on the Swords & Wizardry Boxed Set Kickstarter

Yes. I got n ew socks.

You can subscribe to the podcast on most platforms. Or heck just stream it here.

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Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads!


I had been cruising around the internet and stumbled upon Carbon 2185. To put it simply, it’s a Cyberpunk RPG using the 5E rules.

And this where the fun begins. I mentioned at our last game session and one of the players, “Haven’t we already played a Cyberpunk game?” Nope. “But what about the one that I played that tree guy?” Mutant Crawl Classics? Nope. That’s post apocalyptic. “No the other one.” Then it hit me. He was talking about the space opera game I had run a long time ago and that he no idea what cyberpunk meant as a genre. Welcome to the future, chummers.

Oh boy. Let’s talk a little Appendix N type stuff first. I know there’s a really long list but I think this whole genre while dated is still good fodder for a game. So let’s get on with the inspirations. Or at least the one’s that I think are key. And you can’t talk cyberpunk with out mentioning Blade Runner. This movie defined the whole looks and feel of the genre.

Also, leading up the move/TV list has to be Max Headroom, the original Robocop, Total Recall, and Running Man. Just look those up in case you don’t happen to know. And of course, bridging between books and movies is Clockwork Orange. It’s all about a screwed up future. But I want to go on about more stuff that has inspired by view of the genre. And the comic book that rolls the most, IHMO, is American Flagg.

OK. Enough about inspiration. Let’s talk gaming. Let’s face it there two “big” cyberpunk games. That is of course Cyberpunk and Shadowrun. I admit that back in the day, we played the crap out of Shadowrun. I know as written it’s basically cyberpunk D&D but our sessions leaned more towards just cyberpunk with magic. While the Cyberpunk RPG is just humans, guts, and machines. But you could go off to the supernatural path with Night’s Edge or hunt up the old Interface Magazine that converted Call of Cthulhu to cyberpunk. And a great book and where I got the title for this post, Listen Up You Primitive Screw Heads! Yes I still have hard copies of all this stuff floating around some where. But if there’s one book you might want to grab up, it’s Listen Up You Primitive Screw Heads! It’s just a GM guide and inspiration book and even if you aren’t running Cyberpunk, you just might find something useful and interesting in there.
So back to where I started this rant. Carbon 2185 looks pretty good based on what I’ve been able to dig up online. I do think the PDF is a little pricey so I’m a reluctant to dive into it right away. But if the players want to down the crazy world that is Cyberpunk and they still want to keep to 5E rules (which they seem to want) then this might be an option for something a little different. So we shall see. And yes I know this has been a pretty ranty post. But hey that’s also what the blog is for.

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Make Your Own Fantasy Heart Breaker

Another week and things are busy. And here’s another episode. Enjoy!
Here’s a cool thing about all those retroclones out there. They’re largely compatible. So mix and match to your heart’s desire and make the game you want to play. There’s nothing stopping you. Also, Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day is coming soon! So stay tuned for that.

Go ahead and stream it here or subscribe on your favorite service. It’s probably there.

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Return of the GM Notebook/Bag


I haven’t wrote about this a long time and I figured it’d be a good idea to update this rant. Because really you probably should update your GM bag/notebook with each new campaign.
Since I’ve picked up a lot of things since that last post and I’m a way different game than your normal adventure crawl I’ve taken some stuff out the rotation and added a couple of things. Since I’m running The Blight. I, of course, have that book in my bag. And that’s a huge chunk of weight. That thing is dang near 900 pages. I’m running it with Swords & Wizardry so there’s that book. I just got Bill Webb’s Decks of Dirty Tricks so that got added. Before I did have the Encounter, Treasure, and Hireling Decks for Swords & Wizardry but I took them out for this game. The most valuable thing I did add back was the old Chaosium Cities book. That thing is great for random when you’re running a city based game. I’ve kept my notebook very slim. The only things I actually use are some scratch paper and the handy Attack Save Cheat Sheet that I made earlier. And my dice, of course.
I dropped a lot the miniatures out of the big bag. You just don’t need a lot of the standard dungeon denizens if the characters are running around in the city. So the mini’s that I am lugging around are more like the humanoid PC type, undead and the occasional demon. That covers most bases. Remember that bag look like this when I running Labyrinth Lord.

I know this is just a rant but here’s my advice. Redo your GM bag and notebook, every time you start a new campaign. Especially, if you’re changing up rules too. And if you’re a player. Same thing. It’s a pain to lug around things you don’t need.
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Random Encounters More Than Monsters

I was thinking the other day that we get lazy as GM’s some times. If you look at the random encounter tables in most books, it’s generally monsters. So why not throw a little twist in there. Other types of encounters or just other things to keep the players on their toes. With this little exercise, I’m assuming some sort of dungeon or hex crawl of your pretty much standard variety. Let’s roll.

1. Just roll on the standard table. Nothing special.
2. Random character gets the feeling that some one or some thing is watching. 2 in 6 chance that they are right. Roll an encounter.
3. Random character is sure that they heard something. 2 in 6 chance that they did.
4. Random character saw some thing move “over there”. 2 in 6 chance they really did.
5. Dead monsters. Uh oh. Was it another party of adventurers? Or an even bigger monster?
6. Escapee from a bad place nearby.
7. Clue to something interesting nearby.
8. Survivor of another adventuring party that wasn’t so lucky.

Yeah, I know it’s short and simple. But that’s all you need sometimes to freak out the PC’s and get some interesting things happening during a session.

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Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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