Wednesday, December 19, 2018

How To Make 5e More Old School

1. Damage dealing cantrips do not exist. Period. A player can make them first level spells if they want but their damage output does not go up another hit die or anything else because they are now higher than cantrip level. The former cantrip would have to be prepared and treated in every way as any other first level spell would be treated.

2. Death occurs at 0 HP. There is no three save rule. No stabilization or using a healing kit. You’re just fucking dead.

3. Short rests do not exist. Anything that would come back or be otherwise regained after a short rest comes back after a long rest.

4. Players heal at the rate of 5% of their maximum total full health hp per night of rest, rounded down. This is modified by adding their Con bonus as a percentage to that 5%. So a PC with an 18 Con adds 4% to their 5% per day for a total of 9% healing from an overnight rest. For a full day’s rest (24 hours of doing nothing in a totally safe environment) you add 2% more. So in the example above, a player resting for 24 hours straight, doing nothing but laying in bed, sleeping, eating, crapping, gets 11% of their max hp back in that 24 hour period. Have to be in a totally safe place to get that bonus though.

5. Magic Items with charges like a wand or staff have a set amount of charges that do not recharge with the new day. Typically they have a range as indicated in  the 1e DMG.  In order to be recharged, they need to go through the same process as when they were made, lessened a little bit in cost and time because the crafter has a formerly fully functioning item of that type.

6. D6 Initiative: group initiative on a d6 with the players choosing their order of action, or as per the book. Don’t dawdle!

7. Missile fire into melee combat: Firing missile weapons into melee is dangerous for both allies and enemies engaged in melee. Roll to-hit. If you miss, there is a 50% chance it might hit someone else. If a die roll determined that it did hit someone, the DM will roll to see who it might have hit, enemy or ally, by assigning each a number and rolling  to determine which might have been hit, then roll another to-hit roll against that person’s AC to see if it did hit. If so, the player will roll damage. If players take the time to search the battlefield for arrows after combat, they can recover 50% of the ones they shot, and 75% for things like throwing axes or daggers. Magic items will have a higher survival rate.

8.  Sneak attack, or backstab as it used to be called, is only possible if the rogue has surprise on his opponent. Surprise is determined by the DM, and will usually require a successful Stealth check. Yes, this means that sneak attacks can no longer be done in combat unless the enemy does not know you are there. Even then, it can usually only be done once, because as soon as you stick a sword in someone’s back they will know you’re there. Distraction, advantage or disadvantage, or flanking or having party members within 5 feet of the target are no longer factors in a successful sneak attack. Only surprise matters. You cannot hide in the middle of combat or when people are looking at you. Anything in the rules that allows for this no longer does. Being invisible doesn’t automatically give surprise.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tuesday's Gygaxian What-The-Fuckisms

Here you go.  Voicemails and more what-the-fuckisms. Plus the Zombie Apocalypse and why I'll be riding it out in style.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The No So Wondrous Tavern Chat! Recorded Live from a Bar in NYC.

Here it is guys!  I had a great time in NYC with Erik, his lovely wife Rachel, and Judd Karlman. Plus some voicemails!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Podcast Episode 7 is up! OSR Drama, plus voicemails, what is the OSR, and some other goodies.

Episode is here on Anchor!

A bit on the latest controversy
What is the OSR?
What we play v. what we want to play
What we buy v. what we use or find useful

All comments appreciated!  Leave a voicemail on Anchor or an email at

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Adventurers in AD&D vs. Heroes in 2nd Edition. Plus the Code of Ethics!

Hi guys.  Fifth Podcast is up!  Get it everywhere!

A brief follow up on the thief stuff from yesterday, a voicemail from Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor, and then a discussion of the main stylistic difference between 1st ed and 2nd ed D&D---Adventurers vs. Heroes.

Here's the Anchor link.  

Here's the Code of Ethics.  Swiped it from Jeff Rients' Blog.  Not sure who made certain things bold or not. 


There has been a great deal of discussion as of late regarding TSR's policies and their perceived constriction of the flow of information. This should clear up some of the confusion that has been generated.

First and foremost, TSR wants the players of the ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (R) game to exercise all of their creative energies in making the game more enjoyable. Sharing your ideas with fellow gamers is something we encourage. A few methods for distributing your written works appear below.

If you've written the next great combat system or other work for AD&D (R), you can try to get it published. There's nothing quite like seeing your name in print. Below are a few options for you.

DRAGON (R) Magazine publishes virtually everything imagined for the AD&D game except for adventure modules. A copy of their guidelines are available on the internet in the newsgroups as well as on America Online. You can leave messages for the DRAGON staff at or

DUNGEON (R) Adventures publishes adventure modules for various TSR game systems. A copy of their guidelines are also available on both the internet and America Online. DUNGEON staff can also be reached at or

POLYHEDRON (R) Newszine is the official publication of the RPGA (R) network. This magazine publishes both stories and adventures for a variety of different game systems. You can contact the network staff at or

Sometimes, you just want to get something you've written distributed to everyone else. You can do this by uploading the file to an authorized TSR site. These sites are:

MPG-Net ( This is the free access that most users on the internet know about. 

America Online (AOL): TSR's forum on this service draws tens of thousands of gamers every month. 

GEnie: The TSR Roundtable also draws thousands of users each month.

There are currently no other authorized sites to carry TSR-related materials as they relate to the AD&D game. TSR is currently considering other sites (both on the internet and pay services) to provide files to the gaming public. TSR setting up its own web page is also a possibility.

A disclaimer is attached to all files uploaded to any of the TSR sites. This disclaimer provides protection to both TSR and the author of the work by assuring that neither TSR or the author will distribute the work without the other's permission.

Yes. Anything that violates TSR's Code of Ethics cannot be stored at any site. The Code appears below. 


TSR, Inc., as a publisher of books, games, and game related products, recognizes the social responsibilities that a company such as TSR must assume. TSR has developed this CODE OF ETHICS for use in maintaining good taste, while providing beneficial products within all of its publishing and licensing endeavors.

In developing each of its products, TSR strives to achieve peak entertainment value by providing consumers with a tool for developing social interaction skills and problem-solving capabilities by fostering group cooperation and the desire to learn. Every TSR product is designed to be enjoyed and is not intended to present a style of living for the players of TSR games.

To this end, the company has pledged itself to conscientiously adhere to the following principles:

Evil shall never be portrayed in an attractive light and shall be used only as a foe to illustrate a moral issue. All product shall focus on the struggle of good versus injustice and evil, casting the protagonist as an agent of right. Archetypes (heroes, villains, etc.) shall be used only to illustrate a moral issue. Satanic symbology, rituals, and phrases shall not appear in TSR products.

TSR products are intended to be fictional entertainment, and shall not present explicit details and methods of crime, weapon construction, drug use, magic, science, or technologies that could be reasonably duplicated and misused in real life situations. These categories are only to be
described for story drama and effect/results in the game or story.


Agents of law enforcement (constables, policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions) should not be depicted in such a way as to create disrespect for current established authorities/social values. When such an agent is depicted as corrupt, the example must be expressed as an exception and the culprit should ultimately be brought to justice.


Crimes shall not be presented in such ways as to promote distrust of law enforcement agents/agencies or to inspire others with the desire to imitate criminals. Crime should be depicted as a sordid and unpleasant activity. Criminals should not be presented in glamorous circumstances. Player character thieves are constantly encouraged to act towards the common good.
Monsters in TSR's game systems can have good or evil goals.  As foes of the protagonists, evil monsters should be able to be clearly defeated in some fashion.  TSR recognizes the ability of an evil creature to change its ways and become beneficial, and does not exclude this possibility in the writing of this code.


Profanity, obscenity, smut, and vulgarity will not be used. 

The use of drama or horror is acceptable in product development. However, the detailing of sordid vices or excessive gore shall be avoided. Horror, defined as the presence of uncertainty and fear in the tale, shall be permitted and should be implied, rather than graphically detailed.

All lurid scenes of excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, filth, sadism, or masochism, presented in text or graphically, are unacceptable. Scenes of unnecessary violence, extreme brutality, physical agony, and gore, including but not limited to extreme graphic or descriptive scenes presenting cannibalism, decapitation, evisceration, amputation, or other gory injuries, should be avoided.

Sexual themes of all types should be avoided.  Rape and graphic lust should never be portrayed or discussed. Explicit sexual activity should not be portrayed.
 The concept of love or affection for another is not considered part of this definition.

Nudity is only acceptable, graphically, when done in a manner that complies with good taste and social standards. Degrading or salacious depiction is unacceptable. Graphic display of reproductive organs, or any facsimiles will not be permitted.


Disparaging graphic or textual references to physical afflictions, handicaps and deformities are unacceptable. Reference to actual afflictions or handicaps is acceptable only when portrayed or depicted in a manner that favorably educates the consumer on the affliction and in no way promotes disrespect.


Human and other non-monster character races and nationalities should not be depicted as inferior to other races. All races and nationalities shall be fairly portrayed.


Slavery is not to be depicted in a favorable light; it should only be represented as a cruel and inhuman institution to be abolished.

The use of religion in TSR products is to assist in clarifying the struggle between good and evil. Actual current religions are not to be depicted, ridiculed, or attacked in any way that promotes disrespect. Ancient or mythological religions, such as those prevalent in ancient Grecian, Roman and Norse societies, may be portrayed in their historic roles (in compliance with this Code of Ethics.) Any depiction of any fantasy religion is not intended as a presentation of an alternative form
of worship.

Fantasy literature is distinguished by the presence of magic, super-science or artificial technology that exceeds natural law. The devices are to be portrayed as fictional and used for dramatic effect.
They should not appear to be drawn from reality. Actual rituals (spells, incantations, sacrifices, etc.), weapon designs, illegal devices, and other activities of criminal or distasteful nature shall not be presented or provided as reference.


Narcotic and alcohol abuse shall not be presented, except as dangerous habits. Such abuse should be dealt with by focusing on the harmful aspects.


The distinction between players and player characters shall be strictly observed.

It is standard TSR policy to not use 'you' in its advertising or role playing games to suggest that the users of the game systems are actually taking part in the adventure.  It should always be clear that the player's imaginary character is taking part in whatever imaginary action happens during game play.  For example, 'you' don't attack the orcs--'your character' Hrothgar attacks the orcs.


It is TSR policy to not support any live action role-playing game system, no matter how nonviolent the style of gaming is said to be.  TSR recognizes the physical dangers of live action role-playing that promotes its participants to do more than simply imagine in their minds what their characters are doing, and does not wish any game to be harmful.


While TSR may depict certain historical situations, institutions, or attitudes in a game product, it should not be construed that TSR condones these practices.

It has come to our attention that some freelance writers are committing plagiarism (literary theft), which is a punishable crime.  Your contract now reflects this (see page 3, no. 3; page 4, no. 5; and page 6, no. 12).  However, TSR feels it is necessary to underscore these sections of the contract in an effort to clarify this important issue.

Please understand that this reminder is not addressed to any one individual.  It is included in your contract in an effort to heighten your awareness of the severity of plagiarism.

If you have any questions regarding your contract, please do not hesitate to contact TSR, Inc.  Your cooperation and understanding in this matter is appreciated.

AD&D, ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, DRAGON, DUNGEON, POLYHEDRON, and RPGA are registered trademarks of TSR, Inc. c 1995. All Rights Reserved.

This document may be freely distributed in its original, unaltered form.

Jim Butler
TSR, Inc.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Episode 3: How to make 5e more old school--Plus my podcast is available EVERYWHERE now!

Hi Guys.  Episode 3 and all older episodes are available everywhere!  From Anchor to Apple Podcasts, to Spotify to Everywhere Else.  Go to my Blog page here and check out the links on the right to access it. 

Here's the Anchor Link!  The others on the right may take a bit of time to upload to them.   Not sure how long it takes.

All comments welcome!  Leave one via Anchor's Voicemail System or via email at and I'll respond on-air. 

Take Care!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Podcast the Second! I talk about city adventures

Hi guys.   Here is the episode!

Here's the link to the Dungeon Magazine index that I mentioned in the podcast.  I know Anchor is uploading it to the various podcast host sites, but that can take up to a week or ten days to set me up on all of them.  Once I'm up everywhere you won't need Anchor to listen.

Thanks for listening!

MeWe Now Has Pages---I Created One For Dungeons and Dragons--Link Below

Here you go guys.  Join and enjoy!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

My First Podcast is OUT! Enjoy!

Hi everyone.  Here's the link.  Thanks for listening!


I'm Back! I'm Blogging Again, Have a MeWe Account and Group, and a Podcast

Long time no see!  :) 

It's been a couple of years now since I posted, and longer than that since I posted anything regularly.  Every once in a while I take a break from things.  I guess it was that time for me and DnD related social media.  Though I wasn't active here, I've been really active as a DM lately.  

The last post I made here was about me helping to start a DnD club at a nearby town's public library.  I'm happy to report that after a couple years its still going strong with about 20 players and a handful of DM's.  Its great to see kids who I helped introduce to the game now running their own games.  I don't DM there anymore, but once in a while I drop in to see how its going.  It makes me proud to see how its developed.  As a guy with no kids, I look at it as sort of a legacy. 

The DnD club went over so well at that library that I decided last year to start one at my hometown's public library.  We 'e up to about half a dozen players now, most experienced and older.  I DM that game a couple times a month.  I'm also DM'ing a game at a local hobby store about once a month.  About six months ago we got the old bastards back together---I DM a game for my brother, a few long time college friends, and some newer ones as often as we can get together.  Its seems to average 1-2 times a month there.  One long time friend and player has his 14 year old daughter playing with us too.  Other than watching the language, it's pretty damn cool.  My 13 year old nephew was playing for a bit, but school and sports ended up taking up too much of his time to really commit so he had to drop out.  

I'm running 5e for all of those games.  Heresy, I know, for an OSR guy.  The main reason is because I've grown to like it.  It's gone from second choice DnD that I'd grudgingly play to something I enjoy playing.  I started out with a massive set of houserules to make it into my version of 5e, which was really OSR'-ified.  The groups I played with didn't like it.  They were used to the regular 5e.  I finally gave it a chance as written and it really grew on me.  I still have some houserules, I love picking at game mechanics.  But for now they are mostly to clarify things in the rules so they know how I will adjudicate certain situations, and get a glimpse into my style as DM.  There ARE some big changes though--mostly exclusions. I don't allow Bards, Warlocks, or Sorcerers as classes, nor Tieflings or Dragonborn as races.  I've taken all that stuff and wrapped it into other stuff which I'll share with you later, once my players all experience it.  That way they don't read it all here first.  I'm pretty excited about it though.  My houserules for both 5e and for ADnD and OSRIC games are in links up on the right.  They will change over time as I hack away at them, adding things as situations arise in game I hadn't considered before.

I also started getting into making terrain lately.  Bought the materials and just take my time and make hills and trees for now.  It kind of a Zen-relaxation  thing for me.  I hope to get into the more complicated stuff as time goes on.  The Terrain Tutor on Youtube is great for learning how to do it.  

Another thing I'm into lately is miniatures.  I never really used them before, preferring theater of the mind style play, but after using them in a few games I did grow to like them for certain types of situations.  Soon I'll try and paint some and show you how they turn out.  

About a month or so ago I started feeling out the OSR waters, seeing if they calmed down a bit with the drama and bullshit.  I checked G+ and didn't see much action other than non gaming stuff.  I blamed that on my not curating my feeds for a couple years. The blogs were dead (at least my blogroll that i hadn't updated in a couple years was.)  Turns out G+ is gonna be turned off.  I hopped onto MeWe and made an account and started a Dungeons and Dragons drama free discussion group.  Links are up on the right.  The group has well over 1000 members.  It's grown to be the biggest generic DnD discussion group on MeWe in less than a month.  DRAMA FREE.  No politics or stirring the shit please.  (I know, ironic coming from me).  There is also an updated list of OSR blogs I've added to my list.  You can get access to it here.   Thanks to James Young for putting it together.  Its really easy to add that to Feedly.  

Lastly, after listening to Erik Tenkar, Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor, Spikepit, and others over on Anchor, I've decided to start my own Podcast.  I'll be using it to give mostly opinion related stuff, talk about gaming issues of the day, etc.  My goal is to post a couple times a week.  I'm also going to use it to talk about whats going on in my games.  All feedback is welcome!  Feel free to leave voicemails over there.

In conjunction with the Podcast, I'll be blogging here again.  The blog will mostly be used as a repository for stuff I create, pics I want to show, things I want to share that I found on the internet,  etc.  For example, If I discuss some houseruled monster, you'll find the stats here.  If I discuss some bit or terrain I made or mini I painted, you'll see a pic here.  If I'm referring to something on the internet I read, or quoting someone, you'll see a link to it here.

It seems there's a new energy to the OSR as it shifts into new areas and mediums of expression, as there is with DnD in general.  It reminds me of the early days of the OSR when it just jumped over to the blogs, when I hopped on board the crazy train.  Look how far we've come!  Our ideas really influenced the latest version of DnD.   Stuff we write is winning awards.  While the style of a lot of the things making big waves doesn't fit the style of game I run, I'm still glad they are out there influencing a whole new generation of gamers.  

Anyhow, I'm back and looking forward to interacting with you all again, and meeting new cool and interesting people.  Game on!