Saturday, December 28, 2013

Set Two Battle Maps Now For Sale!

Exciting news! Set Two of my Battle Ready 25mm dungeon maps is now for sale on Got three dollars rolling around in your account? Want to make your own fantastically detailed 3D-view dungeon rooms that double as battle boards for your 25mm miniatures? Here's the link.
Again, here's a sample page. This one shows various doors and gates from the pro room builder section of the PDF:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dungeonteller, Battle Ready Dungeon Maps, Rock Opera '79, etc.

This post is a bit of a catch-all, so apologies in advance.
1. The full-on version of my Dungeonteller RPG, with full-color player pack, full-color monster pages, and updated core rules, is still very much in play. I'm shopping it around and still hoping it can be published to the general market -- I have big ambitions for it. If I can't get any publishers to bite, I'll issue it in PDF and POD formats myself.

2. Set 2 in the Battle Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps series is waiting for approval from Should be a day or so. Set One is still available if you haven't yet snapped it up. The coolest feature in Set 2 is the Pro Room Builder that allows you to cut and paste elements to create your own rooms. Glue and scissors not included.

3. As Dungeonteller sits on an editor's desk, I've been working on the game mechanics for RockOpera '79. It's based on a standard deck of playing cards. Everyone comes to the game with a deck of cards and a few rock anthems from their collection (mP3 or 8-track, your choice), and when you say, "Let's Rock!", you crank up the tunes and the heroes get buffs and bonuses while the song is playing. The GM (known as "The Man") can play lite rock songs to weaken the heroes or disco songs to buff his evil minions.
This being the '70s, your star sign determines your stats (Chops, Heart, Mojo, and Muscle). The game will come with 12 iconic (fictional) rocker PCs to choose from, each based on a zodiac sign. In play, it really feels like you're in a band, taking (and trading) "solos" as the PCs take on discops, nobots, roller queens, and mud rakers as they battle their way to the penthouse of The Man and the oligarchs of the repressive Discocracy. The game might end up as my first Kickstarter offering.
4. For those of you who expressed interest in Faereich, (The Dirty Dozen fight their way through a dungeon to bring evil magic undead Nazis to justice) stay tuned.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mazes and Monsters and Moms

A few months back I was at my mom's senior living center and ran into a mom whose two sons I had played D&D with back in the early 80s. She pulled me aside and said, "I was so happy to give you boys a place to play Dungeons & Dragons, even though at that time lots of moms wouldn't have." I was put off guard by her remark, because I never felt any disapproval from the adults in my life about gaming, and I wondered what small-town ninnywags had given her a hard time about letting her sons play "Whatsits and Whosits", as her husband referred to the game.

When I started playing D&D in 1977, most folks I met had no idea the game existed, let alone how it was played. If you weren't a wargamer or a college student, you simply would not have encountered it. The mass media weren't all over it until '80. And the initial press was positive. So you could play at home or at school and no one cared. Then in '81 came the steam tunnel years, and depending on where in the States you lived, D&D was either frowned upon or outright banned. Not so for me. I had the D&D Moms on my side, and until now, never realized they caught flack for letting us play.

My mom told me years later, "I loved that you played D&D in high school. I never had to worry about where you where on a Friday night." Because we were in the basement. Drinking. Hot chocolate. And fighting orcs. Ouch, I guess I was a bit peripheral to the dating and party scene then.

But her finest moment as a D&D mom was ambushing Rona Jaffe on a radio call-in show when she was on to promote Mazes & Monsters. Hopped up on TAB and Devil Dogs, she phoned in and said to Ms. Jaffe, 

"You should be ashamed of yourself for smearing kids who play that game and for saying they're crazy. My sons and their friends play Dungeons & Dragons and they're all honor roll students and have never been in trouble a day in their lives."

Ms. Jaffe's reply is lost to history. But years later, my mom would still bring it up, calling the author "That sleaze queen." I love my mom.

Battle Ready Maps Set 2 is On the Way!

I just sent Set Two to be approved by drivethrurpg. It usually takes a day or two to appear on the site for sale. Here are two preview images:
The title page for Set 2.

Thumbnails for Set 2.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

DIY Battle Maps

Development with the hand-drawn battle maps is really humming along. With the floor, door, and accessory sheets, some scissors and glue, you can make your own custom handouts/battle maps. Look for these for sale soon on
Turn this...

…into this.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Which RPG would you rather play?

Two RPGs I'm developing:

1. FaeReich. You're a member of a dirty-dozen-style team of commandos in 1945 hunting down Nazis who have escaped not to Argentina, but to a standard fantasy world with orcs, elves, and magic. Think Guns of Navarrone + D&D.

2. Rock Opera '79. You and your friends are members of a rock and roll supergroup fighting The Man and the evil Discocracy in a world where rock and roll has been outlawed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

More Battle Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps

I have 12 new maps done -- caverns, an evil chapel, bridges, stairs. Set Two is on the way!
10 x 10 accessory tiles. For building your own rooms via scissors and glue.

Cavern with sunken floor on right.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dungeonteller Player Pack Preview

Two random pages. Nearly done with the definitive version of the player pack for Dungeonteller, my player-friendly RPG. Look to the sidebar to download older iterations.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rumble in The Dungeon

Another sheet that will be included in Set Two of the 25mm battle ready dungeon maps. The minis include some classic Ral Partha, Mithril LOTR, and a stray Reaper.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Battle-Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps on the Way

It's been a productive weekend. Bad head cold + end of fishing season means more maps for you.

The next set will come with a sheet of plain vanilla squares that you can cut into any corridor/passage/room shape you like. Your maps will be popping off the page, and you can connect sheets to make bigger layouts. The effect is pretty cool, as you can see from this test run I did today.

Friday, November 8, 2013

On the Drawing Table

I'm already working on the next set of battle-ready 25mm dungeon maps. This one shows a bridge over a canal, connecting a big gateway with an landing area. The minis are 28mm Reaper. Thanks to those of you who have bought Set One on

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

[Hand-Drawn Dungeon Rooms] These, You Have to Pay For

I've put up a big set of my dungeon maps on DriveThruRPG (direct link to the product page). The set includes ten 25mm scale hand drawn rooms, 2 dungeon level maps keyed to the rooms, a regional map, and a cool view of a little town where the adventure might start. All this for just $4.

The cover art:
Four dollars you will never see again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quick Dungeon Cheat Sheet

Make a dungeon in ten minutes, using this grid and two dice:

1. Fill in a name for each of the following roles:

Level Boss:
Major Minions:
Minor Minions 1:
Minor Minions 2:
Potential Ally:
Impassable 1:
Impassable 2:
Impassable 3:
Dangerous Passage 1:
Weapon Resource:
Water Resource:
Boss Resource:
Boss's Bane:

For example:
Entrance: Pit descending from surface
Level Boss: Ogre Mage
Major Minions: Gnolls
Minor Minions 1: Human wizards
Minor Minions 2: Dwarf mercenaries
Scavenger: Carrion crawlers
Undead: Wraiths
Vermin: Centipedes
Interloper: Party of were rat thieves
Ambusher: Huge spider
Potential Ally: Naga
Refuge: Room with lockable door
Trap: Collapsing ceiling
Impassable 1: Solid Rock
Impassable 2: Collapsed Tunnel
Impassable 3: Coal Fire with Sinkhole
Dangerous Passage 1: Swing rope over stalagmite-filled chasm
Dangerous Passage 2: Wooden walkway over hot mud pits
Weapon Resource: Quiver of arrows
Water Resource: Old well room
Boss Resource: Magic font of clairaudience/clairvoyance
Boss's Bane: The oracular head of his old master, whom he betrayed

2. Use the 6 x 6 grid to represent the dungeon or draw it for yourself.
Roll 2 dice and use one die for the tens column and one die for the ones column to get random values between 11 and 66 that correspond to the numbered squares. Roll once for each monster on the list and place it in that square. So if you roll a 3 and a 4 for the level boss, the level boss will live in square 34. If the same result comes up twice, bump that feature to the next empty square, going clockwise starting from the square above.

3. Add a random impassable boundary between two squares by rolling a d6 and a d6 once more. Draw a heavy line along the top edge of the resulting square. Roll again, except this time, the boundary is along the right side of the square. Keep going until you have four impassable boundaries. Ignore if the result is along the outside border of the grid.

Here's one actual result.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Thief (Pencil Illustration)

Here's a sketch I made today, trying to channel some of my favorite 70s illustrators, especially Greg Irons and Dave Trampier.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Saving Charisma from being the Dump Stat in OSR-style Games

Last night I was browsing through my 2nd Ed. AD&D PHB and came across a fix I forgot I'd made for Charisma. It was pasted over a ghastly full-page illustration on page 18 that has driven many to the brink of insanity. I'm hardly alone in thinking that CHA got the shaft in early iterations of the game, and I imagine that lots of DMs had handcrafted fixes for it, because, well, we were encouraged to tinker with the rules back then.

1. Extra Proficiency Slots
Characters with high CHA scores receive additional initial non-weapon proficiency slots, which may only be spent on proficiencies that would be helped by having a high CHA:

CHA 13 = 1 extra slot
CHA 14 = 2 extra slots
CHA 15 = 3 extra slots
CHA 16 = 4 extra slots
CHA 17 = 5 extra slots
CHA 18 = 6 extra slots

Allowed Proficiencies:
General: Animal Training, Artistic Ability, Dancing, Etiquette, Heraldry, Singing
Priest: Local History
Rogue: Disguise
Warrior: Gaming

Characters with low CHA scores buy the above proficiencies at a higher rate:
CHA 3 = 5 slots
CHA 4 = 4 slots
CHA 5 = 3 slots
CHA 6 = 2 slots

2. Earn Followers Early
Characters with a high CHA score get their followers at lower levels of experience than other characters, while characters with low CHA must wait longer

(There follows a complex table which I won't reproduce). You could probably do it this way:

CHA 3 = get followers 3 levels late
CHA 4 = get followers 2 levels late
CHA 5 - get followers 1 level late
CHA 16 = get followers 1 level early
CHA 17 = get followers 2 levels early
CHA 18 = get followers 3 levels early

I remember that it made having a low CHA somewhat more annoying and gave you at least some incentive to make CHA a high stat. I should say we used Method V for character generation at the time (4d6, dump low die, arrange stats in desired order).

Hope you find it useful. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pigpimples Academy of Spellcraft and Sorcery: the RPG

So we were finishing up a dungeon adventure a few weeks ago and one kid says, "We should do a Harry Potter game!" Shouts of "Yes!" and "I get to be Hermione!"

So I set myself a goal of one week to modify the DungeonTeller rules for a game of adolescent hijinks at a magical boarding school. If you don't like the HP books, then go watch the finale of Breaking Bad or some Sunday Night Football. Otherwise, keep reading.

I didn't want the young players fighting over who gets to play whom from the books, so I decided to set the game 20 years after the last book, when the children of the main characters are themselves heading off to school on that damned train. Unlike in real life, the kids get to choose their parents: one decided to be the daughter of HP and GW, the other of RW and HG. So I guess they're cousins.

In terms of stats, I came up with four key ones: Courage, Wit, Heart, and Power, which correspond to the four houses (Gryf, Ravenc., Hufflep., and Slyth). You have six points to spend, but you have to put at least three points into one stat to ensure you get assigned to that house. Both players chose Courage and ended up in Gryf. I think it would be a good idea from the outset to canvass the players to find out which house the PCs are going to belong to. Wonder what a Slytherin campaign would be like?

For actions, I did a modified dungeonteller action list:

Brew (potions)
Fly (on a broomstick)

Each player could choose a pet/familiar for their PC that gives them a +1/+1 bonus to a couple of actions. A cat, for example, gives you +1 Notice/+1 Sneak when it's with you.

The spell list had to be just right, because I'm running the game for a couple of experts. Fortunately, the HP wiki has the spell lists done by year learned and all I had to do was sort them into the seven spell types: charms, curses, hexes, jinxes, and so on. Each spell type requires a different pair of stats/actions for the number of dice you roll. To cast a charm, for example, you get to roll your Incant dice plus your Talk dice, whereas for a transfiguration spell it's Incant + Wit.

Characters in HP are often tired out from studying/practicing. The health system in the game gives you checkboxes in five descending states of health: refreshed (+1 die to checks), okay (+0), tired (-1), knackered (-2), and out cold (ZZZ). I created a cool mechanic where the LOWER you set your default health state, the MORE "practice points" you get to add to individual spells that you've been studying. So if you're Hermione-level studious, you are knackered all the time but you may be a whiz (or a which) with your favorite spells.

For spell duel/combat, the caster rolls to cast the spell and then needs to make an Aim roll vs. the target's Dodge to actually hit. It worked pretty well. One player used Wingardium Leviosa to raise the other's robes over her head, and she countered with an Aguamenti jet of water to the aggressor's face. We haven't had any serious combat yet.

We did a Quidditch game with lots of Fly, Dodge, Notice, and Aim, and Sneak rolls as needed. It was in a narrative style and not strictly play by play until the crucial moment when one player (her team's Seeker) had to race the other Seeker to the snitch while avoiding bludgers aimed at her by the beaters.

At the end of the game session they got to add an action die to one action of their choice but ONLY if they had used that action in-game.

As for the plot, it centered around them befriending an orphan who was another first-year. They figured out that she had been sneaking out at night and with some clever skulduggery tracked the girl to the mirror of Erised, where she had seen a vision of her mother. What the players don't know is that the girl's mother was BELLATRIX LESTRANGE and her dad, YOU-KNOW-WHO, and Bellatrix's spirit is waiting to possess the girl as the first step to returning to power.

There was also a potion-ingredient hunt involving butterscotch, hippogriff feathers, and mandrake, and a visit with a certain gigantic groundskeeper to help him brood and hatch a pegasus egg.

We can't wait to continue the story and I'll share more after the next session.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vecna Wants You!

Spotted on the subway today. Would you like to be Vecna's left-hand man? $4000 signing bonus -- that's a lot of electrum pieces, friend. I'm a little nervous about what the Vecna health care revolution might entail.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cutaway Dungeon Level Keyed to Battle Maps

Here's one of the levels from the upcoming dungeonteller sample adventure. Every room will also be available as a 25mm-scale iso battle map, and in fact, I've already done the drawings.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Player Map: Where's the Dungeon At?

A preview of a regional map from the next module. This is a talking piece for players. It orients them to the area around the start point without giving too much away. Lots of tantalizing hints and places to explore further. I'm going to be dropping about a dozen maps and battle boards on you all pretty soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Roots Check: Name that Dungeon!

If you know what dungeon this is from, you're old-school. Or maybe just old.
By Doug Anderson. Pencil and PhotoShop, 2013.

More Insane Dungeon Mapping

Bosun's chair. Evil mouth that spits victims into the abyss. I'm on a roll.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Another Hand-Drawn Iso Battle Map

I've done a bunch of these in the past week to go along with a dungeon I wrote for the next Dungeonteller book. 25mm figures for scale. Interesting anamorphic effects depending on the camera angle.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The FLGS That Levelled-up into a Non-Profit Youth Center

Positive youth development through games. Read on:

"In 1996, Ray and Patricia Estabrook opened a retail store, All About Games, in Belfast [Maine]. Shortly after All About Games opened, the Estabrooks found their shop filled to bursting with youth of all ages who wanted to play (or learn how to play) non-electronic games. They tried to incorporate the game playing into the running of their store, but  eventually realized their store could not be a business and a youth center at the same time. Instead of just kicking the kids out and going on with their lives, they saw that there was a serious need for a place for the youth of Belfast to go and decided to do something about it..." 

[From the Game Loft website]

So they morphed from a gaming store to a non-profit youth center. And they're still going strong today. In fact, they just got their independent IRS non-profit status so that donations can be made directly instead of through an umbrella organization. You can donate here.

The Game Loft runs table-top games for local teens, often integrates military history and local history into their activities. They run LARP combats, MtG tourneys, you name it. They even feed the kids hot dinners.

OK, here's my challenge to you. Choose your own adventure:
  • go to and donate right now.
  • if you own a gaming store, consider switching to the Game Loft model. Or if you are a patron of a gaming store that's choked full of young people but struggles to make a profit, wise the owners up to The Game Loft.
  • Join the Game Loft's Facebook page and tell them what a great job they're doing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

[Monster Preview] Harpy

New harpy illustration for the Dungeonteller monster book. I've been looking at shopping Dungeonteller to several non-RPG publishers who do more mainstream game/puzzle books, but it that doesn't pan out, I'll still put out the next iteration of the game as a POD physical book or PDF. Meantime, enjoy. 

Harpy, 2013.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's A Dungeon Map... No, It's a Battle Mat

Good to be back after a long fishing holiday. Doug 1, Trout 0. I've created nearly all the monster illustrations for the monster book, and I'm working on another Dungeonteller adventure. This adventure will be bundled with the next version of the rulebook, and will include 25mm scale perspective maps that you can use with miniatures or improvised counters:

Each map can be printed on a standard piece of paper or cardstock. The style is 100% compatible with the cutaway dungeon maps I've been posting here for free. Of course, there's a master map that shows each battle mat in relation to the whole dungeon. You can mark 'em up, color on them, write notes. And they are VERY stingy on printer ink. The effect is pretty wow.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

[Preview] How-to-Play Guide

This is a sample page from the quick-start guide to my game. It's designed for an audience of people who have never gamed before, with a focus on family gaming. "How do you explain RPGs to casual- or non-gamers?" is a design hazard upon which many ships have foundered over the years. I know gamers will skip it, but this is a bananassassination attempt and I'm taking a stab at it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

[Free Map] Swashbuckler's Delight

What I did today when my daughter kicked me off the computer to play Minecraft. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Story So Far... A Blue Boxer Rebellion Primer

Golly, has this blog really been up for about 3 years? Scary. If you're joining us late, here are some highlights from the blog you might enjoy without having to wade through 200+ posts.

A Suggested Taxonomy of Holmes monsters: Including the crucial taxa "Goo", "A Wizard was Bored", and "Turns Your Ass to Stone."

1e Character Creation as a Dungeon Map: Can you find the secret passage to non-standard classes?

2e Character Creation as a Dungeon Map: Recycling of my original character creation as dungeon map idea.

3e Character Creation as a Dungeon Map: Really milking the concept at this point.

Grognard. Yeah.: Why I reserve the right to snicker when you call yourself a grognard.

The Best RPG I Ever Played in, Wasn't One: Wargames didn't stop being awesome when D&D came along.

D&D vs. The Suits: A D&D fable, starring me.

The Forest Oracle: The Best ENWorld Thread Ever: In which we make a stupid dungeon in the style of the Master.

The 8 Gamer Alignments Chart: Reasonable Actor? Dickhead Thespian? You decide!

The 8 GM Alignments Chart: Is your GM a True Enabler? Rat Bastard Judge? Find out!

Fantasy Realm Mixing Board: It goes up to eleven.

Thirty-Minute Template Dungeon: For lazy GMs and their enablers.

Chitty City Worldbuilding Tool: Cut and paste city map.

Chitty Realm Worldbuilding Tool: Cut and paste world map.

Dungeonmatic Chits: Cut and paste dungeon map.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

[Preview] Maw (monster book entry)

Chugging along with some new monster entries. Enjoy responsibly! And if you play dungeonteller, feel free to take it for a spin against your party of heroes and tell me how you did.

Friday, June 28, 2013

[Preview] Wyvern from Dungeonteller Monster Book

Formatting, making templates, doing layout... I'm working on the dungeonteller books like a fiend, powered by iced coffee and enthusiasm. Here's how a typical page is shaping up. Full color, but with no annoying textured backgrounds or olde-timey fonts. Each page will typically have a map of the monster's lair or other handy info as well as the monster illustration itself. A couple of monsters have two-page entries, to accommodate stats for boss types as well as the base creature. There WILL be new monsters that aren't in the plain vanilla dungeonteller PDF, and some monsters in the PDF won't be in the hardcover. I'm using "dungeon adventure" as my focus, so woodland creatures like bears and boars will be in another volume down the road. (A few classic wilderness creatures like griffins and unicorns may survive the cut).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dungeonteller Books Coming This Fall

Three books, called: monster book, hero book, and rule book. The plan is to make them available as POD hardcovers from Each book is an 8.5 x 8.5 square volume. They will look nifty as a set. Will they be pricey? Yes. Will I make money off them? Yes, a bit. Are you done putting up free stuff on your blog? No.
Here is a sample page from the monster book. Most of the artwork I did last year, then took a break to write Welcome to the Plunderdome and create the free player pack.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

[Free Map] Fungal Fortress

Another free dungeon map from my sketchpad, ready for your personal use.


[Artifact] "Into the Unknown" 1931

This module was bundled with the third and subsequent reprintings of the boxed set. The "girl in peril" artwork was considered too lurid, and was covered by a promotional sticker starting with the fourth reprinting. This intact copy is a rare find.  Merritt was the first pulp author to recognize module-writing as a profitable new fiction market, and we all know the other big names who soon jumped into the game.