KODT issue #132 - The Sentry Box

KODT issue #132 - The Sentry Box
Available now at your FLGS…
An all new regional
sourcebook for the
Kingdoms of Kalamar.
This tome includes:
Imagine, if you will, equatorial Africa with cities
and cultures that rival the ancient Roman world for
their glory. Now, in your mind's eye you have a glimmer of what is Svimohzia, a land of diverse cultures,
shining cities, terrifying dangers and ancient wonders. This is a land unlike any other - and a land
that's waiting for you.
Whether you hail from the massive hobgoblin
kingdom of Ul-Karg, a savage wild elf tribe deep in
the Vohven Jungle, or one of the vast human kingdoms from mercantile Ahznomahn to war-torn
Zazahni, this supplement allows you to create and
equip any character for endless adventures in this
incredible setting.
This fascinating 256-page hardcover is compatible
with the current edition of the Dungeons & Dragons
game, and provides players and Dungeon Masters
with a fully realized island continent for only $34.99!
Vast savannahs, deep jungles, detailed city and regional maps, along with historical, cultural and geographical information, provide the DM with unlimited
adventure options! Plus, an array of regional prestige
classes, feats, career paths, weapons, armors, equipment and spells, lets players easily customize their
character, whether hero, villain, warrior or scholar!
• Races and Regional Feats! Learn about the
variety of player character options for human,
humanoid and monstrous races, and build your
character with over 23 feats!
• Classes and Paths! With details about 17 different classes, and 12 career paths with feat progressions, easily customize your character,
whether hero, villain, warrior or scholar!
• Prestige Classes! Become a Disciple of
Zhulurahn, a ferocious Meldiz savage, a transforming primal warrior, a vigilant savannah stalker or an elite Sedizehn killer!
• Weapons, Armor and Equipment! Equip
your character with a wide variety of weapons,
tools, armor, musical instruments, mounts, ships and
other special items found herein!
• Spells and Magic Items! Unlock the arcane power
of cheetah’s speed, nemesis, Onahu’s cloak of courage,
and over a dozen other new spells!
• Detailed Kingdoms, Towns and Cities! Along
with information on each kingdom’s history, rulers,
noble houses, topography and other details, you’ll discover dozens of cities, all with information on population, government, economy, temples, underworld,
interesting sites and more!
• Culture and Society in Depth! Learn about each
land’s nobility, social castes, military forces, religion,
clothing, culture, diet, trading practices, recreational
habits, architecture and more!
• Easy-To-Use Quick Reference Sections! Whether
you need a new name for your character, a listing of
noble houses, or how to pronounce and translate an
unknown word, these sections give you the information you need.
• Monsters and NPCs! This ancient land can be
quite dangerous for the unwary, and some of its terrors lie in wait for you here!
• Adventure Hooks and Tips, Detailed Maps of
Svimohzia and Much More!
© Copyright 2007, Kenzer and
Company, All Rights Reserved.
Knights of the Dinner Table™
magazine (ISSN 1526-307X) is
published monthly by Kenzer and
Company, 511 W. Greenwood Ave.,
Waukegan, IL 60087.
Periodicals Postage Paid
at Libertyville, IL.
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Legal Notice: Knights of the Dinner
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Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Issue #132 • October 2007
Cries from the Attic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Table Talk™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Game Vine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70
Back Room at the Games Pit™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73
Brian’s Small Press Picks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77
Weird Pete’s Bulletin Board™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76
Parting Shots™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80
Rustlers of the Night™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38
Treasures and Mysteries: Part VI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Deadly Trappings™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
Casting Call . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
Bait and Tackle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
All Things Magic™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Close Encounters of the Random Kind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49
Dungeons: Ready to Occupy by Craig Zipse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
Tales from the Table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Hacker’s Guide to Garweeze Wurld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57
Lost Game Safari . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60
Lookin’ at Comics™ by Tony Digerolamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62
A Gamer’s Rant on Movies™ by Noah Antwiler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Summon Web Scryer™ by Kenneth Newquist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
SUBSCRIPTIONS: A one year subscription (12 issues) is only $48.00 (US $66.00 in Canada and US $98.00
Overseas). To subscribe, send a check or money order (made payable to Kenzer and Company) to:
KENZER & COMPANY KODT SUBSCRIPTIONS, 511 W Greenwood Ave.Waukegan, IL 60087
You can also subscribe by credit card directly on our online store at www.kenzerco.com. BACK ISSUES and
other KODT merchandising is also available. First Class Subscriptions are available for an additional charge.
Geek Fu Action Grip™ by Mur Lafferty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Disks of Wondrous Power™ by Rick Moscatello . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67
Off the Shelf™ by Paul Westermeyer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Board Squawk™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Players’ Advantage: Lusting for Evil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Game Designer (filk) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Exploring Viking Themes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52
Players’ Advantage: A Character Driven Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54
THE STRIPS: by the Usual Suspects
The Dining Room of Horrendous Doom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Seven Gates, Seven Fates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
Owner of a Broken Heart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
Journey of Discovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
One-Two Punches™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75
A Convenient Truth (Fuzzy Knights) by Noah Chinn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72
Fantasy Wrongness by the Brothers Grinn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78
Unnamed cartoons by Bill “Indy” Cavalier, Joseph Hellar, Scott R. Krol, Chris
Aviello & Sean Keith Williams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80
Kenzer and Company
Jolly R. Blackburn
[email protected]
Barbara Blackburn
[email protected]
Bev Shideler
Steve Johansson
Jennifer Kenzer
[email protected]
[email protected]
Jolly R. Blackburn
Brian Jelke
Steve Johansson
David S. Kenzer
Jolly Blackburn
Talon Dunning
Mark Plemmons
Brendon Fraim
Brian Fraim
The Brothers Grinn
Craig Zipse
Angi Shearstone
Bill “Indy” Cavalier
James Montney
Jerry Duginski
Jolly Blackburn
Sean Keith Williams
Joseph W. Hellar
Scott R. Krol
Chris Aviello
Talon Dunning has been a professional illustrator since 1997, working for West End Games, Wizards
of the Coast, Kenzer and
Company, Green Ronin, and
many more. His website is
was accidentally created by Jolly R.
Blackburn way back in 1990 as ‘filler’ for his small press magazine,
It was something of a ‘creative burp’ and Jolly really didn’t give it
much thought. Perhaps that’s why he was just as surprised as anyone that
soon KODT was overshadowing everything else he’d ever done and that the
created was now controlling the creator. Fortunately, writing and drawing
KODT strips isn’t the lonely job it was in the past. Hundreds of fans have contributed to
the beast over the years and since joining the ranks of KENZER AND COMPANY and the formation of the KODT D-TEAM, the Knights have gone far beyond anything Jolly or fellow
D-team members, Steve Johansson, David S. Kenzer or Brian Jelke ever imagined. With
over 120 issues under their belts, it’s been a wild ride and the D-Team looks forward to seeing where the gang takes them next. In 2006, Jolly was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Barbara Blackburn
Jolly R. Blackburn
Tony DiGerolamo
Paul Westermeyer
The Brothers Grinn
Rick Moscatello
Kenneth Newquist
Mur Lafferty
David S. Kenzer
Ann McIntosh
Michael Sharp
Noah Antwiler
Nick Medinger
Craig Zipse
Brian Smith
Noah J.D. Chinn
Andy Miller
David Reeder
Ann Jenks
Mike Carniello
Scott James Conover
Kevin Vance
Jack Grayson
omebody pointed out recently the we haven’t dug
through the stack of Reader Questions in a while. Since
it’s deadline time and I have nothing as far as a subject
for an editorial — well, looks like a good time to chip away
at that pile.
Q: Why don't we ever see Whitey Moran or Logan
Foremax at the midnight “Gathering of GMs” at Hawg
A: Actually Whitey was shown bellying up at Hawg’s bar in
Last Call (BOT #17). After the local memorial service for Gary
Jackson. Although readers may have missed it since he only had
one line and nobody referred to him by name.
As hinted in many strips over the years — neither Whitey nor
Logan seem to get along very well with the other groups. Chances
are they aren’t a part of the “Gathering of GMs” because they’ve
never been invited.
Observant readers may have noticed Logan made an appearance in a recent strip (albeit a brief one). He will be figuring in
a story line more prominently very soon.
Q: Who is “Our man in Muncie” referred to by the Hard
Eight staff...?
A: You don’t really expect us to answer that one do you...?
Q: How in the world did Pete come to own a Chimp?
A: You can find a bio/backstory on Squirrely on our website
under “Who’s Who in KODT.” But the short answer is
Squirrely was purchased by Pete for the sum of $586 at a military surplus auction. Which obviously begs further questions.
Q: Any chance of seeing Knights of the Dinner Table as
an animated series/feature...?
A: This comes up a lot. The truth is we’ve been approached by
several studios and interested parties over the years. As much as
we’d love to see it happen — the right person hasn’t come along
Our insistence of having at least some level of approval/input
has probably been the biggest stumbling block. Dave Kenzer
loves to tell the story of the studio suit who was interested in
KODT but wanted to make changes to the characters (Bob,
Dave, Brian, B.A. and Sara). Namely making them more ‘heroic’ and successful in their real lives.
That pretty much sums things up. Obviously we’d like to see it
happen. Who knows.
Q: I was reading some old issues of KODT the other day
and was shocked/surprised to learn that Gary Jackson has
other children besides Timmy. What’s the deal with that?
A: It’s been hinted that Gary had been married several times
and has other children. It’s also been hinted that his relationship
with those children was estranged — which is why he had taken
a special interest in Timmy (hoping not to repeat the mistakes of
the past). Other than the brief mention you refer to, those other’
children have never figured into the strips.
That’s it for this Q&A I’m afraid.
Hope you enjoy the issue in hand. And yes -- the last few
issues have been running a bit late. Blame the summer con
season. We should be back on track by next issue.
Thanks for your patience.
Game on!
Jolly R. Blackburn
October 2, 2007
hey -- LIL’ KNOBBY FOOT is always WHINING because
we NEVER let him do anything -- let’s have HIM do it.
\ got a BETTER idea. let’s make GILEAD do it.
he wants to CONTRIBUTE to the SUCCESS of
this party here’s his BIG CHANCE. \ tell him
if he can RETRIEVE the helmet he can KEEP it.
um. sara -- don’t
forget. you’re STILL
unconscious from
bob set off.
you can’t use my HENCHMAN
like a LIVING mine-sweeper.
thinking, bob.
if the HELMET
turns out to be
WORTHLESS -no loss. and we
can check this
room off on the
MAP as being
above: ten years ago this month -- from \ssue twelve of KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE: JUST FOR THE HELM OF IT.
the KNIGHTS inadvertently create an ARCH NEMESIS out of a LOWLY henchman.
4 ——————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run ™
It’s the GIFT
A twelve issue
for the GAMER
in your life.
Go to www.kenzerco.com for details
or look at the bottom of page two
* Well — at least twelve times a year.
Our Readers Talk Back!
episodes (the biker bar exit was brilliant) or
“Sara Saves the Knights from the Evil Goths”
(her deprogramming in Brian’s basement was
purely sadistic.)
In any case, you always make me laugh,
chuckle and guffaw. To dish out so much
pleasure is a wonderful gift and I just wished
to thank you for all of your truly funny
Like most fans, I also have an imaginary
episode I would like to see done up. It was
prompted by Dave and Bob’s grousing about
other peoples’ online bragging about their
exploits and by a real gaming situation I didn’t believe I could ever pull off.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The mail just never
seems to stop. While we make every
effort to read each and every letter, it is
not always possible to give a personal reply. So
even if your letter isn’t published or if you don’t
get a direct response, rest assured you ARE being
Remember, KODT is an interactive magazine. We want you, the reader, to be involved.
So keep your suggestions, thoughts and opinions
(constructive and otherwise) coming. Opinions
expressed by readers are not necessarily shared by
the editor or Kenzer and Company.
Please be aware that due to space considerations, some letters have been edited and/or
trimmed. — Jolly
My Son. My GameMaster.
i! My name is Tina Fitch. I live in Bella
Vista, Arkansas, am 62 years old, a gamer
and mother of Ford Fitch (aka The Demon
GM from the Lowest, Deepest, Darkest Pit of
the Seven Levels of Hell) who has kindly
agreed to deliver this missive.
As if you haven’t already guessed, this is a
fan letter. I really love, admire and get a kick
out of “The Knights of the Dinner Table.”
Several concepts from “Knights” have
become household sayings around here, such
as “Stay out of the steam tunnels, dummy!”,
“Look out for the Killer Gazebo!” and, “Don’t
kill the llamas!” come readily to mind.
Truly, I can’t decide which “Knights” is my
favorite episode. It is either: all the “Steam
Tunnel” related
Here it is: What if HackMaster had a contest to pick out “The Greatest Gaming Coups
of the Year?” People could submit their greatest feat (attested to by their duly-certified GM
and in 200 words or less) and the feats would
be posted online at the official
hackmasters.com web site.
The voting could be by a panel from Hard
Eight, a selected board of say five certified
GMs picked at random, and by a popular vote
on line. The prize could be something really
“kewl” and be presented by Gary Jackson
himself at Gary Con.
The kicker is that both Dave and Bob are
in the final four for winning. The sad news is
that they lose to me.
My greatest coups happened when my dear
son had us all on a quest to find several artifacts, that put together would save the world.
In his typical devious way he had the last artifiact guarded by a dragon.
Not just any dragon, but the biggest, baddest, smartest, most-talented, evil, people hating (and eating), powerful, nasty, sadistic,
greedy, canny, deranged, all out vile, eat-yourheart-out B.A. Felton, demigod of an elder
Ford created this monster for the express
purpose of killing, seriously maiming, degrading, make the players go broke, lose it all, and
teach you the lesson that you can’t outfox this
was no way that we were going to get out of
this mess alive, let alone with our mission
Therefore, I rolled for a chance to talk the
dragon into giving my companions an hour to
prepare to die, while he and I played cards and
talked. I rolled a nat 20 and accomplished
what I wanted.
In short, my character, a Ranger, talked the
dragon into: not fighting, killing and eating
us, going into partnership with us in opening
a casino, hotel and bar in his cave, thereby
becoming a business dragon and
president/CEO of a major corporation, getting richer, feeding off of human greed and
frailty and creating more misery than just
killing people.
Also, I convinced him to give us the artifact
we needed, and showed him how he could
become a king, make laws and have all sorts of
fun playing bureaucracy and politics. It only
took throwing six nat 20s in a row, with my
sacred, mottled orange, hand-me-down dice.
Afterwards, I could just hear Bob groaning,
“Six nat 20s in a row by a 62-year-old woman
in Arkansas? It’s not natural!” (This of course
is a pun on that fact that nat stands for natural. It is also a bad pun for the little-known
fact that Arkansas is called “The Natural
State,” which naturally makes me a Naturalhum maybe “The Natural” yeh- this is bad,
real bad. Please forgive my natural inclination
to make puny efforts at humor.)
I also heard Dave screaming: “How can
she have won? She didn’t hack anything! You
have to hack something. You can’t just talk.
You have to be a hacker to win at
HackMaster!” Sorry, Charlie, er…sorry, Dave,
you should have read my bio, then you would
have known that my maiden name IS Hacker!
For better or for worst, that’s my dream
episode and if you don’t believe it, ask the GM
from you know where. Thanks for everything!
Respectfully, the Vice President of the Over
the Hill Fan Club of “The Knights of the
Dinner Table” (Weird Pete is President, but
I’ll get him next election!)
Tina Hacker-Fitch
What happened was that I knew that there
: Via ONLINE FORUM — Just pop over to www.kenzerco.com and visit our discussion forums.
: via E-MAIL — Send your strip ideas, reader mail, back room fodder and questions to [email protected]
: via SNAIL MAIL — Or write to us at KODT c/o KenzerCo, 511 W Greenwood Ave., Waukegan, IL 60087.
6 ——————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run ™
some drastic change in
the landscape (such as
readers no longer picking up the magazine)
we’ll continue to bring
you strips and content
month to month.
A Hard Day’s Knight absolutely love the cover for issue 131
— A Hard Day’s Knight. My wife
pointed out something that I hadn’t
immediately noticed.
The artwork shows Sara, Bob, Brian
and Dave portraying their characters
from the current storyline and NOT
the Untouchable Trio (+1) as they normally do. Nice touch (Although, Brian
in fur undies sort of creeps me out).
There’s something else unusual
about the cover. I had the unshakeable
feeling I’d seen it before. Finally, it hit
me (Thanks to the little clue the Fraim
brothers hid in their by-line).
It would appear the cover is a homage to the classic Larry Elmore painting
that appeared in the AD&D 2nd
Edition Player’s Handbook years ago.
Again — nice touch.
Of course it’s fitting that the
Knights’ dragon would be BIGGER
than the orginal (and hence the bragging rights are bigger).
If you ever saw fit to produce a
poster of this particular cover I would
definitely buy it.
(I’ve made it available on our Cafe
Press storefront. -Steve)
I would love to see more classic art
parodies in the future. In fact here’s an
idea for you.
I hear Elmore is a fan of KODT.
Have you ever thought about having
him do a cover? I would love to see his
take on the characters.
Not to mention Parkinson,
Caldwell, Otus, Easley... I’m sure I’m
not the only fan who would appreciate
such greats lending their talents to the
magic that’s KODT.
Keep up the good work. I’m enjoying the Temple story. And the wife
loves the occasional strip with Bob’s
niece and nephew.
Glad you liked the Elmore tribute,
Greg. Hey, I’m with you. I’d love to see a
genuine Elmore gracing the cover of
KODT. Just as soon as we scrounge up a
Wish Ring we’ll make that happen. —
: State of KODT...?
ey question: With Dragon, the magazine
KI grew up with and that has always
inspired me, dead — how viable is a PRINTED version of KODT? I have my trusty check
book out to once again start subscribing but I
have to know, will you survive this "on-line
displacer beast" that appears to have gotten
the best of Dragon?
Will KODT break my heart the way
Dragon has? I want to support a PRINTED
gaming magazine and KODT has fit the bill
very nicely. I miss it. It is far more than a mere
No fears, Marv. We understand your
concerns and you’re definitely not alone.
With several gaming magazines folding in 2007 a lot of readers have been left
wondering if dead-tree gaming magazines are destined to become extinct. The
answer in a word — no.
Still — the question
keeps coming up. Even
one of our regular
columnists pulled me
GenCon because he
had heard rumors
KODT was ceasing
publication. Pay no
heed. Frustrating as
they may be they are rumors and nothing
more. — Jolly
: KODT on Bob
and Tom Radio Show...
ust thought you’d like to know that
JKnights of the Dinner Table and
Kenzer and Company were mentioned
on the nationally broadcast radio show,
Bob and Tom the other day.
I was driving back to Indiana University
with my roommate when a caller broached the
subject. It was a brief mention but hearing the name of my favorite comic
book on the radio really made my day.
I yelled out a proper “Hoody Hoo!”
to celebrate the moment. Several in
fact. Very cool.
I’m sure by now someone else has
already pointed out but I thought I’d
drop you a note.
Jay Shelby
Thanks for the heads up, Jay. Indeed,
several people alerted us (including my
Uncle). No idea how the subject came up
but I’m sorry I missed it. — Jolly ❑
why don’t
we’re HUNGRY
to HEAR from you.
[email protected]
KODT is doing just fine and we have
no plans on going to an online only format.
We enjoy what we’re doing and barring
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ————————————— 7
The Dining Room of Horrendous Doom
with steve johansson
and barbara blackburn
okay -- so, you step up to the
EDGE of the gate and ENTER....
it’s almost as though
you are SUCKED in
as you LEAN FORWARD...
of the FOUR GATES; trial,
tribulation, ordeal and judgement
only ORDEAL remains standing.
surrounding the ruins of the
gates is a VAST battlefield with
dead orcs, hobgoblins, ogres
and giants piled high.
then EXIT this PLANE
an AUDIBLE pop...
just as the KNIGHTS were preparing
to ‘clean up’ and LOOT the battle
field dead -- a LARGE ARMY of ORKIN
reinforcements arrived on the scene.
taking the ONLY apparent avenue
of escape the PARTY leaped
through the PORTAL OF ORDEAL...
you have just been PLUCKED
from the world of LIGHT!!
you have the UNEASY
sensation that you
are being PULLED
through a LONG
what GIVES?
who turned
out the
you would be WELL
and REMAIN seated, brian.
oh gawd...
RECAP: the KNIGHTS arrived
-- only to find THREE of the
portals had been DESTROYED.
by jolly r. blackburn
ummm -- did
anyone happen
to bring TORCHES?
\’ve got a
about this...
\’m gonna
grab a soda.
anybody WANT
things are about to UNFOLD
at an INSANELY rapid pace.
to REFLECT that you’ll
be REQUIRED to make some
QUICK and SNAPPY decisions
for your characters.
casting a
here, b.a.!!
* The sound of B.A.’s “Klap-On” turning off the lights.
“…so then ATHENA turned to HERA and said,
‘let’s get KRAKEN’ -snicker- GET IT? let’s get ‘KRAKEN’?”
—Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #23, Filler
8 ——————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
are USELESS, dave.
you find yourself in
so DARK you can FEEL
it on your skin -- a
-- like one gets when
WALKING through a
DOORWAY blocked
you can’t even see your HAND before your face.
all around you -- deep gutteral SNARLS,
at times you can FEEL and SMELL the damp hot
breath of SOMEONE or SOMETHING panting
over your shoulder -- just for a MOMENT.
as though you were being TAUNTED.
FEAR grips you.
SEIZES your mind..
you TRY to
SCREAM but there
is only SILENcE.
\’m trying to build a MOOD
here, brian -- you’re just
going to have to DEAL with it.
um, b.a. -- would
to turn on
some lights?
\ can’t see
somebody should be taking
notes -- this could be
as \ was saying --- the SILENCE has become DEAFENING!!
you can FEEL your hearts THUMPING madly
in your chests -- but you can’t HEAR them.
you feel like you are HALLUCINATING
-- troubled memories and
you just LEFT behind HAUNT you...
feelings of
REGRET...? or
are you being
this is like that bad ACID
TRIP nitro laid on my
cripes -- this is a
LOT of detail.
c’mon b.a. -- \
need to WRITE
this down.
SSSSHHHH!!! you’re being SUCKED through a VACUUM.
we’re going to observe a few
seconds of complete SILENCE
to help PROPERLY set the....
“\ got three cracked ribs last year after we BIG FOOTED the RISK TOURNAMENT!”
—Dave Bozwell, Bundles of Trouble #18, A Question of Honor
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ————————————— 9
quit clowning around -- your
characters are DISORIENTED.
what the HELL do you
think you’re doing...?
yeah yeah -- just give me a
SEC -- WOULD ya??
\’m trying to CONVEY that.
\ JUST wanna get that part
DOWN about ‘troubled memories’
and ‘unresolved issues’....
aaaah --- c’mon, b.a. -- WE GET IT!!
-spit- -sputter-
yeah, yeah, just let me
finish making a few...
ewwww --- SCARY!! you’ve properly set the tone.
can you turn the frickin’
LIGHTS back on NOW...?!!
no, \ can’t.
you’re just gonna
have to DEAL with...
now -- as \
was sayng...
this reminds me
between the two
why are
you being
so childish,
it’s a player’s RIGHT
to be able to take
proper NOTES!!
so -- it’s a PISSING
CONTEST now is it? FINE!!
we can keep
this up ALL
hey -- what the hell...??
why ain’t it WORKING....?
going FAT
my mom’s
\’m deducting the
from your “TABLE DEPOSIT”.
* Brian has destroyed so many tables over the years, B.A.’s mom requires a “Table Deposit” be maintained.
“leadership must run in the family!! \ have an uncle in the idaho national guard!!”
—Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #3, Balance of Terror
10 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
perfect -- now MAYBE
we can get THROUGH this without
any FURTHER interruption...
oh don’t go gettin’ your
DICE BAG all in a WAD.
wait?!!! we’re
actually FALLING...?
probably just a FUSE.
as you FALL in COMPLETE silence into
bits of MATTER, DEBRIS and gawd
knows what else passing THROUGH you
-- like LEAVES through a SEWER GRATE.
we talkin’ all out FREE FALL...?
\ was under the
impression we
FINALLY -- you see a faint CIRCLE of light
form beneath you. it’s just a dim SPECK really.
or a sort of FLUTTER-FALL?
but within a matter of SECONDS it GROWS.
to the size of a RIPE MELON.
well -- you
can’t be QUITE sure...
your clothes
it suddenly DAWNS on
you that you are
falling toward it --
you feel your HAIR
being SWEPT back.
at a GREAT rate of...
but with no VISUAL
points of reference...
what the...?
* For those interested — see Bundles of Trouble Volume Fourteen:
Temple of Horrendous Doom to compare B.A.’s set up with Weird Pete’s
“SHE WAS NAKED? you had my character running around the dungeon NAKED??”
—Sara Felton Bundles of Trouble #10, Shouldda Been There!!
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 11
-firk- -ding- -blastyou REALLY take the CAKE --
how ‘bout \ start
you KNOW that BRIAN...?
don’t mind
me, b.a. -um..., keep a
your BRIEF
CASE do ya?
how would
you like
went DEAD.
now just SIT
there and let’s
get THROUGH this.
okay -- so it suddenly DAWNS on you that
you are falling toward this rapidly growing
“SPECK” of light at an INCREDIBLE rate of SPEED.
the circle of light
appears to have
as you DRO....
just BIT
me on the
frickin’ ANKLE!!
very, funny,
nice try but...
cripes, dude!!
what the hell’s
wrong with you?
s-something just
RAN across
the TABLE -\
to GAWD!!
“but they’re on a perpetual KILLING SPREE. \ can’t even introduce an NPC without one
of the guys pulling a gun and BLOWING him away before he can get TWO WORDS out.”
—B.A. Felton, KODT Issue #63, Nudge in the Right Direction
12 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
whoah -- EASY everyone.
oh --
just CALM down.
my --
if this is someone’s idea of a JOKE...
um -- b.a...?
this is a SILLY question.
but you DID put PROWLER
in the GARAGE before you decided
to TURN out the lights...
b.a. -- please -- TELL me you did.
um.... er...
you know that FREAK-ASS
CAT goes into ‘BEZERKER
the LIGHTS go out!!!
oh gawd B.A.,
what were you
gotta make a
RUN for
that FUSE
heh -- if yer
lookin’ for
MISSY look
eeeeeasy -- everyone. EASY...
let’s just STAY calm...
oh this is bad.
this is so-SO bad.
‘member that time we had a BLACK OUT
in the MIDDLE Of a game of RISK?!!
\ was TRAPPED the better part of
-gulp- movement!!
nobody MOVE
until we THINK
of something.
“think of
well HERE’s
a thought...
—Brian Van Hoose Bundles of Trouble #10, The DeathMaster
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 13
oh gawd -- he’s
out there -in the DARK.
shya’right -- like \’m
THAT stupid. no way.
TURNED out the LIGHTS --
you’re the JERK who
now why don’t YOU be the
HERO and make a DASH for
that FUSE BOX, b.a.!!
why don’t YOU go....?
guys! guys!
this isn’t
\ can FEEL his
eyes burning
a HOLE in me.
d-did you HEAR
G-GEEZUS!! he just made a
oh -- t-thank gawd
he only has ONE
EYE and no DEPTH
bob’s right...
he’s just trying
to LURE out the
WEAKEST target...
let’s just SIT here quietly
for a few moments...
maybe he’ll get
BORED and go away...
it was
just a
\ picked a BAD DAY
to wear SHORTS...
with us -- stay
put everyone...
hey bob -- maybe
you could use
the LIGHT from
your CELL PHONE and...
been pretty QUIET for a while...
maybe someone should make
a DASH for that FUSE BOX...?
no way, bro. that
BASTARD is PATIENT he’s been know
for HOURS...
it’s YOUR
house, b.a. -you got the
BEST chance
of making it
in the DARK...
man - \
gotta GO.
really bad...
no way -- it’s in
my POCKET -\’d have to
MOVE my arms
sure wish
\ hadn’t
had that
third DIET
“okay as you reach the center of the canyon you hear a mocking voice coming
high up from the rim of the canyon. looking up you see ahk-tang mooning you!!!!”
—B.A. Felton Bundles of Trouble #3, An Orc Too Far
14 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
LUCKY ME -- trapped in a ROOM
filled with HEROIC MEN TYPES...
huh...? oh -- just ME, dude.
oh --- right.
well we
can’t just
SIT here for...
WAY to play the “\’m
just a GIRL” card.
really SLOW -munchhand-to-mouth
movements... -munch-
oh -- t-thank
nice try SARA
-- won’t work.
oh SUNUVA...
hey -- there’s
an idea. he LOVES dice.
\ think he got
on that LAST
maybe we could HURL a few
across the room and DISTRACT
him -- then make a BREAK for it.
\ gotta couple of BAD-DICE
here -- LOW rollers.
if \ could just SORT ‘em
out from the GOOD ones...
and you can
KISS those
DICE goodbye.
just do it!
he’s DUE
for another
NEVER gives
up his SPOILS.
let me try
lemee check my HEAD LAMP...
sometimes the BATTERY CASE just needs a...
worst case scenario
-- my MOM gets home
around MIDNIGHT.
sara may
be ON to
“\ don’t know who started that ‘BOB PUTS HIS SKIRT ON
ONE LEG AT A TIME’ thread, but he’s a DEAD MAN \ tell ya!”
— Bob Herzog Bundles of Trouble #23, Filler
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 15
Seven Gates, Seven Fates
looks like
\ came out okay.
later that same night...
by jolly blackburn
how does that CAT do it...?
okay guys -you’ve had time to
oh somebody
let’s get back
to the game.
he got the MATE to my
-- \ lost a few
SIX-SIDERS -- nothing
\ can’t LIVE without.
he COMPLETELY ignored my
crappy MUD DICE and went
straight for my
matched CRYSTAL
CASTLE meteor-iron set...
sounds like MAYBE it’s time to organize
another EXPEDITION into the CRAWL SPACE.
okay, so lesee -it’s been TWO YEARS -- he’s probably
rebuilt his HOARD considerably by now.
what...? are
you NUTS?
where were we...?
bob’s right -- BACK BURNER
that idea for ANOTHER day.
oh -- RIGHT.
he’d be
\ can’t believe
he took my
a few moments later...
as you FALL the circle continues
to GROW and GROW and begins to
take on greater SHAPE and DETAIL.
finally you see it -- the “object” below
you is a vast SEA of MOLTEN LAVA.
there also appears to be an
ATMOSPHERE forming around you.
the SILENCE is broken by the
ROAR of WIND as it tears at
your FLAPPING clothing.
and set adrift in the MIDDLE of it...?
\ hope somebody
brought some BLANK
character sheets -we’re gonna NEED em.
an “E”
ticket ride.
floats an ISLAND!!
lava CRASHES on its
rocky shores sending
showers of SPARKS
and FLAME into the sky.
“\ was UNTOUCHABLE until that THRALL-SQUIRREL made a MEAT SNACK out of me.”
—Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #17, Bad to the Gnome
16 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
as you CONTINUE your
PLUMMET you pass
through a THICK
-- your NOSTRILS filled
with the smell of
FOUL gases.
but only for a MOMENT...
for everything around
you “BLINKS” and is gone.
once THROUGH the
clouds the VISTA
below is even
MORE spectacular.
you SUDDENLY find
yourselves STANDING
in the relative calm
of a small ENCLOSED
high on a ROCKY
CRAG you spot
whoah! whoah! back up.
hold that MAP-LOOKING
thingy back up again.
\ BARELY got to see it.
that’s EXACTLY right.
seconds after it
came into VIEW.
sorry -- but your
really only got
a BRIEF glimpse.
very well.
\’ll show it
again - but
VERY briefly...
oh, c’mon, b.a.
it again.
because the
ENTIRE point
of pulling it
away was to....
we were HANGING
on every WORD of
you just BARELY
held it up -- we
what the HELL
do you think
yer DOIN’?!!
thanks for the
MEMORY, b.a.
“what you did to TRISH? that wasn’t right.
—Eddie Ramirez, KODT Issue #129, Fistful of Drama
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 17
-sighjust “CAPTURING” the
moment with my CELL
yeah -me too.
dude -you RULE!!
what’s the big deal?
can you EMAIL
me a copy?
it, bob.
so you are
in this
\’ll blow
it up and
and print out
COPIES for the
NEXT session.
there are SEVEN
huge DOORS.
what the
hell is that?
SEVEN SIDES you moron.
there’s more...
the SEVEN highly ORNATE doors are about
fifteen feet in height and are BRIGHTLY
painted -- EACH door a DIFFERENT color.
\’d be willing to bet
it’s an IMPORTANT detail.
in the MIDDLE of
OBELISK -about 20
feet high.
hrmmphh. the same
PAINTING scheme of my
SISTER’S bedroom when
we were growing up.
hmmmm --the SEVEN colors
of the SPECTRUM? maybe
brian’s on to something.
images of the great
predator demon,
PANG, are
adorned all
over the column...
along with strange
disturbing images of
tortured creatures,
and scenes
depicting the
“EXPULSION” of the
predator demons to
okay -- if \ recall
correctly -- SIX
predator demons
to the PLANE
along with PANG
after the WAR OF
seven demons --
b.a. -- \ try reading
what’s on the OBELISK.
the strange
and runes are
unintelligible to you, bob.
\’ll give it a try.
again that number
comes into play.
me too.
checking out
those DOORS
but not
“cripes -- he’s like a ‘MINI-ME’ version of BRIAN.”
—Bob Herzog KODT Issue #121, A Khaki Situation
18 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
unfortunately -- none
of you are able to
make out what
the WRITING says.
brian, looking
at the doors you
except for their
COLOR -- all the
doors appear
to be IDENTICAL...
the DUST and ASH that has settled on the
disturbed -- there are hundreds a LARGE
foot prints of BARE-FOOTED SOLES.
can we make out what sort of
creatures may have made them, b.a.?
and you
those made by
actually -- they look VERY similar
to tracks you JUST saw recently
back on your home plane.
not only were they trying
to DESTROY the portals…
but they
USED them.
as you guys are STUDYING
the foot prints you
suddenly hear RANDY’s voice.
turning you find he and BUCKY
standing before the OBESLISK.
hoar giants…?
you mean they
came through
the PORTAL…?
something here.
what on earth
were they UP to...?
no idea.
but for
cosm was
behind it.
“BANISHED though \ be -\ PUNCHED a HOLE into
your world and LURED thee....”
the HALFLING appears
to be ‘reading’ the
writing OUT LOUD
damn -- \
ALL about
those two.
“Choose FAST-but CHOOSE WISELY…!!”
“and HERE you shall stay -unless back HOME you find a way...”
okay, sara.
your CUE.
“ONE color
you must CHOOSE...
and QUICKLY -- or your
DECISION you will LOSE…”
“one last bit of
ADVICE for thee…”
* See KODT #130: Shift in the Wind
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 19
Owner of a Broken Heart
by jolly blackburn
we’ve been
for you
what’s it
LOOK like
\’m doing...?
what the
HELL are you
DOING here?
how’d you
guys KNOW
where to FIND
ME anyway...?
\’m tryin’
to TIE
one on.
bob -- we’ve
been callin’
for HOURS.
we didn’t.
what the
HELL, bob....
but when we SPOTTED a SCOOTER
parked out front -- we
figured it MIGHT be yours.
\ KNEW \ should’a
-hic- rolled it
out back BEHIND
we were THIS
close to
your DAD.
dude, you didn’t show
up for WORK at the
GAMES PIT yesterday...
no, bob -- we didn’t.
but WHAT were
we to THINK..?
we’ve been
worried SICK.
oh -- THANK
gawd. coz’ that’s
ALL \ need -the OLD MAN
gettin’ involved.
and your
you didn’t do
this morning.
m-my DAD?!!
oh gawd...
tell me ya
HEY -- \’m a
when you didn’t show
up at the GAME
tonight -- we
KNEW something
really BAD
must have happened.
-belch\ COME and \
“one minute \ was bringing up the REAR,
the NEXT \’m sewing my own wounds and doing a BODY COUNT.”
—Ty Ferfel, Bundles of Trouble #19, Ready, Set, Bet
20 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
grown man my EYE!! dammit, bob.
you’re right, bob --\’m not your MOM.
what the hell’s going on here...?
but \ AM your friend.
you don’t even DRINK.
troubling you -- you
wanna TALK about it?
you ain’t my MOM.
oh no....?
well pay up...
HAA! well, \’m
doin’ a pretty
good JOB of it.
we’re here to
take you home.
a fella can git ha...
-grmmsh- HAMMERED
if he WANTS to.
look -- dis is a
\ didn’t send out -hicany ENGRAVED invitashions.
psst -- hey barkeep -just LEAVE me alone... awwright?
a GUY doesn’t want an AUDIENCE
when he’s WALLOWING in PAIN and...
-chokeSELF PITY.
this isn’t
is it?
how many BEERS
has my FRIEND over
here had tonight...?
how many....?
um, just the ONE.
he’s been NURSING it
c’mon, dude...
TELL us what’s
got you down.
dude -- you can tell us -- it won’t
go any further than this bar.
ease off, guys.
might HELP to
talk about it.
whoah! yer
BEER with a
-sigh\, uh, \ dunno...
\’m a
REAL good
listener bob.
it’s sort
“… \ ALMOST got the part of RUM TUM TUGGER in CATS -- but the damn SUIT was too small.”
—Pete Ashton KODT Issue #100, Role Me Over…
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 21
okay, okay. -- if you MUST know.
it’s SHEE.
nothing like THAT you IDIOT.
she, um.... she
another GUS for
my FRIEND here!!!
what about her?
is she SICK or something?
no, no..
dude -- it’s
my gawd...
it is...
you’re really
HURTING -arent’ you?
ah man -- you guys -belchyou guys are the BEST...
huh...., oh. right -- SHEE.
really. \ MEAN that. \ do.
-sigh- \ think it may
be OVER -- that’s what.
forgidabout what \ said -‘bout wantin’ to be alone...
over...? what
do you mean?
there, there, bob
-- you just
take your time.
want me to WRITE
ya a book? huh...?
PAINT a frickin’ picture?
O-V-E-R!! OVER!!
as in HISTORY!!
\’m really
GLAD yer here.
sure, sure...
so what’s
this about
hey -that’s what
are for.
\ need to
OUT For ya?
\ mean,
so what the hell happened?
you guys have been
gettin’ along so GREAT.
that’s AWESOME!!!
that’s HARSH, dude.
dude \’m SO HAPPY
for, um, er...
\, um, \’m SO
sorry to HEAR that.
whoah -- you and SHEE are breakin’ up...?
that’s what
“dude, \ once had a CHARACTER who drank a POLYMORPH
POTION with a BAD expiry date -- \ ended up with FOUR ARMS!!”
—Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #22, One-Two Punches
22 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
that’s right...
aaah, the
the world...
poor sap.
oh gawd...
you don’t mean...
and to think \
bob, are
you saying
and if \ hadn’t been
GOING through her
BOOK BAG looking
for a STAMP..?
you know what
HURTS the MOST...?
the fact that \ was
she’d STILL be
playing me
for a CHUMP.
my gawd...
what did
you find....?
no idea
it was
are you leaving out
an IMPORTANT detail?
you found a
that’s it?
\’m a little
here, bob.
did it belong to
some other GUY
or something?
did you not
HEAR what
\ said?
“…you gave up ALL five senses? good luck fighting crime -- in a flippin’ NURSING HOME.”
—Pete Ashton KODT Issue #116, Justice Prevails
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 23
it was the
don’t you
GET it???
wait a minute...
s-she’s an...
you mean that’s IT?
the reason your WHOLE
WORLD is falling apart?
GEEZUS, bob -- that’s just plain...
oh don’t you DARE, b.a.
don’t DOWN PLAY it.
but, bob.
coz’ SHEE picked up
the NEW edition
that’s EXACTLY
what SHE DID!!!
she claimed it was just a “READING” copy.
damn, dude.
that she had NO intention of actually playing.
did you
her about it?
oh sure... “reading copy”
but surely there’s
nothing wrong with...
be reasonable...
you’re NOT a
player, b.a.
\ don’t
expect you to
\’ve heard THAT one before.
hell yes
\ did.
“except for BUCKY cold cocking you with a FRYING PAN
and trying to ESCAPE it was an UNEVENTFUL four hours.”
—B.A. Felton KODT Issue #127, Spirit of Fair Play
24 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
oh gimme a BREAK!! \ don’t know what FOUR-E
is SUPPOSED to be but it SURE as hell ain’t HACKMASTER.
we had an agreement!
that we
not by a LONG SHOT!!
ALL our memories
are wrapped up in 3E.
the game is FINE
JUST the way it is.
like GARY wrote it.
\ mean the THINGS they
did to the RANGER CLASS in 4.50.
well, \
of the...
well if she was
JUST reading it,
\ don’t see
the harm.
word, dude. word.
yeah well TRUSTING fool that \ am...
oh right...
\ BOUGHT that line of
CRAP -- hook line and sinker.
a few days later...?
\ found a copy of the
CONVERSION pamphlet”
among her
oh it’s WORSE than that.
intent to
uh oh -- that can
only mean one thing.
tucked in the BACK...?
\ found THREE of her 3e
characters transferred to
you got
THAT right.
darn. \ was
could upgrade
this time
and get this -- in her GAME ROOM...?
all her 3e books have been moved
from the FIRST SHELF to the top...
with YAY so
much space set aside
-- as though WAITING to
be filled with NEW books.
no she
“NEXT TIME you see a sign that reads ‘PRESS FACE HERE’… don’t do it.”
—Sara Felton, KODT Issue #121, One-Two Punches
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 25
big deal!
what.... are you NUTS?
so what if she DOES
upgrade to 4e...?
what are we GOING
to talk about?
she KEPT it from me.
you guys don’t
even play in
the same group.
besides -- no
survive with MULTIPLE
editions in the mix.
you got
my 3e stories aren’t going to
MEAN anything to her if she’s
playing some JACKED-UP, DUMBEDDOWN version of the game.
yeah...? well when THAT happens...?
\’m not going to get into another
“EDITION DEBATE” with you guys.
okay -- \’m
OUTTA here.
just KICK some DIRT
in over my DEAD BODY.
you wanted to stick with
OLD SChOOL hackmaster -\ got no problem with that.
coz’ you won’t be able to PRY
my 3e books from my FINGERS.
you got
that right.
but \’m
tellin’ ya....
sounds like this is a
PROBLEM you and
SHEE are just going
to have to WORK out.
oh..., okay.
to “ADAPT” and
just might find
the GAME has
LEFT you behind.
\ don’t expect you to
take my advice, bob...
oh say -- can you SPOT
me two bucks for gas?
just until FRIDAY...?
but \ wouldn’t let
some silly EDITIONS
WAR muck up
right -- coming
from a guy who
DOESN’T have
a girlfriend.
see ya.
my SCOOTER’s out of gas.
\ had to PUSH the damn thing
SEVEN blocks to get here.
\ got a roll
you can have.
several minutes later...
\’m just
gonna have
to LAY
down the law...
it’s ME
or 4e. that’s
just the
way it is.
a, dude!
into that corner myself for TALKING me into COMING to this CRAP!’”
—Stevil Van Hostel Bundles of Trouble #17, Heart of a Warrior
26 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
Journey of Discovery
by jolly blackburn
shield time...? what the hell do you mean...?
hey guys -- BEFORE we
get to tonight’s game we’re
gonna be doing something
a little DIFFERENT.
\ came READY to RACK up some E-PEES tonight.
don’t you think you should’ve CONSULTED us first?
sara has
a WEE bit of
\ told her it
would be okay.
easy bob -- it’ll
only take about
THIRTY minutes.
we’ll be doing SARA
a HUGE favor.
a little
would have
ben nice.
\ want to use you
guys as GUINEA PIGS...
\ had to
come up with a
as part of my
FINAL grade for
what kind
of exercise?
you really WOULD
be helping me out.
so what’s
the deal?
is this like that “JOURNEY” thing
you ran us through that ONE time?
sort of a DRY RUN to see how
it works before \ turn it in.
\’m sorry, guys.
well -- it’s a
coz’ we NEVER did
POINTS for that one.
\ kicked
ASS in
sort of.
it won’t take
long at all.
it’s of a SIMILAR
nature \ suppose.
only INSTEAD of learning about YOURSELF you’ll hopefully be DISCOVERING things about EACH other as
is this like that
exercise they made
us do at the HOE
gawd -- that was the WORST form of HUMAN PUNISHMENT.
\ was on my dad’s TEAM -- we had to figure out how to
use a BUNGEE CORD and ROPE to transport a BUCKET of simulated
forty-five frickin’ minutes
of getting YELLED at with, “hey
MEAT HEAD -- tip it the OTHER way!!”
well it’s not really THAT
kind of exercise, bob.
we got in a BIG FIGHT.
* See Bundles of Trouble Volume 9 Project Projective: Sara runs the group through a little ‘self-discovery’ exercise.
“\ got a COUPON here that’s gonna make your last five CHARACTERS run CRYING for their MAMAS.”
—Bob Herzog KODT Issue #127, Spirit of Fair Play
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 27
if you ask me -that so called
waste of time.
just a series of QUESTIONS -the answers to which -- when
looked at as a WHOLE -- say
something about you as a person.
you sure that’s
a GOOD idea...?
keep it up
brian got all BENT
out of shape over
that ‘imaginary’
girlfriend thing.
discover my
“FIST” in a
\ didn’t learn a
THING about myself.
and \ NEVER did
learn how much
that souvenir
from the TOMB
was worth.
oh, c’mon guys...
sure - why not. \’m game.
it’ll be FUN!!
maybe \’ll SCORE another PORSCHE.
it might be a NICE change
of pace and we’ll LEARN
something about each
other in the process.
well -- if it only takes
\ guess it
would be okay.
that’s the
\ take after my DAD in
that regard - a real PEOPLE PERSON.
that’s why he was such a
GREAT salesman.
oh dear..
maybe this
wasn’t such a
after all.
will there
\ happen to be a
KEEN judge of
\ doubt \’ll
that \
and \’m an ASTUTE
OBSERVER when it
comes to people
several minutes later...
okay guys -- before we get started let me REMIND you.
this ISN’T a contest. there are no WINNERS
or LOSERS. no RIGHT or WRONG answers.
um, yeah. well -- that’s
good. you might have
some good INSIGHT
should \ need feedback.
there’s a
\’ll be PRESENTING you with a SERIES
of QUESTIONS -- just ANSWER them
as HONESTLY as you can.
so we running our
OWN characters?
PRE-GENS? what..?
maybe \
can help
for ya.
and MOST
importantly -just BE yourself.
“the flesh is SUCKED from your bones like JUICE from a POPSICLE
and then your remains are RUDELY deposited BACK out the breach.”
—Pete Ashton, KODT Issue #100, The Breach
28 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
pay attention...
now \ WILL warn you...
she already
isn’t a GAME.
some of these questions
might seem a bit ODD
-- perhaps even DISTURBING.
just be yourself.
then WHY is she
sitting behind a
they’re MEANT to provoke
THOUGHT and force you
to make DIFFICULT choices.
three years
from today the
WORLD has a
date with FATE.
the trick is to
go with IMPULSE
and use the
comes immediately
to mind.
holy crap!! this is EXACTLY how NORMAN
adventure series started out.
given a
or NOT
to come....
we ARE going
to have a chance
first -- right?
-ahem- as \ was saying given a choice -- would you...
A -- want to KNOW about
the earth’s imminent destruction.
like this
could be a
guys, let
her finish.
it will totally
and utterly be
or B -- remain IGNORANT and
continue on with life as usual.
start with
you bob.
what kind of
QUESTION is that?
it’s really not
it’ll go EASIER if you don’t try to
ANALYZE the questions too much, guys.
just give the ANSWER
that comes most natural.
those are the only
CHOICES \ have?
A or B...?
for this particular
question --- yes.
say this
be FUN.
just HOW is the
WORLD going to
meet its DEMISE?
the WORLD’s
going to end - that’s all
that matters.
whoah -- hold
on sara.
\’ll need more
to go on than THAT.
well SURE it’s important.
“hey mister, da ZOM-BEE grabs you by the HEAD and SQUISHES it with
his HAMMER. -snicker- you CRY like a GIRL ‘coz it hurts so bad.”
—Timmy Jackson Bundles of Trouble #22, Filler
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 29
is it a SUPER NOVA of the SUN?
possibly SECURING myself a
SHIP constructed to save
humanity elsewhere...?
is the world SNUFFED out in an INSTANT?
or are we talking some sort of GLOBAL
WARMING scenario that takes DECADES?
the WRATH of an
gawd -- \ was
AFRAID of this.
look -- guys.
\ APPRECIATE the fact
you like to THINK
things through.
-sigh- okay -- you are
going WAAAY beyond the
scope of the exercise.
would \ have a FULL
three years of PRIOR
KNOWLEDGE before the
EVENT if \ choose “A”?
just pick A or B.
hold on -- he’s got
some VALID points.
if there’s a LIFE
BOAT \ want on!!
yeah. me too.
what if \ were able
that it’s coming?
A or B, bob. pick.
but this is a VERY simple exercise. all that’s required are BRIEF
and SIMPLE answers. otherwise you’re going to SKEW the results.
or \’m moving on.
cripes. \ feel like \ have a GUN to my head.
alright, alright -\ guess \ pick, “B”
what if \ make the WRONG choice?
keep me in IGNORANT BLISS.
c’mon, bob.
give me a
A or B.
\ don’t wanna be stuck on an
some chance BRIAN goes FLYING
off to some NEW paradise.
\ got too much to LIVE for.
\ don't wanna MUCK up my
last few years worrying
\ wonder
how much
be able to
bring along?
hey-- what’s with all the SCRIBBLING?
okay davester -- how ‘bout you?
what are you putting down there?
heh --no brainer -- a three year HEADS
UP? \’d DEFINITELY wanna know.
huh? oh -- \’m
your response.
seems like a LOT of CHICKEN
SCRATCHING just for the letter “B”
but that’s what makes it
bob -- please.
he’s given his
just taking
notes, bob.
nothing to
be concerned
dude that is so WHACKED!!
how can you LIVE with
the shadow of DOOM
hanging over your head?
“how ‘bout when you PULLED A GROIN MUSCLE climbing upon your dwarven warhorse, PETEY?”
—B.A. Felton, Bundles of Trouble #22, Say Uncle
30 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
think about it...
\ can live like a
freakin’ ROCK STAR!!
okay -- so
MOVING along.
sara -- \’m changing
my ANSWER to “A”.
what about
YOU, b.a.
that’s REALLY not
a good idea bob.
RACK up a
your FIRST response
is more indicative of...
GAMING all day long!!
screw that -\’m CHANGING
parking tickets
left UNPAID.
ummm -- put me
down for “B”
no way \’d
WANNA know.
for WEEKS after
seeing “DAY AFTER
put me down for
“KNOWING” sara.
it’s like those reports
of “NEAR MISSES” with
don’t NEED that much information.
gamin’ all day with
my FRIENDS day in and
day out and livin’ off
PLASTIC sounds
good to me.
\’d be more
worried about some
more LIKELY to happen.
heh! and \ won’t be
making any more
STUDENT LOAN payments.
they can
BITE me!
fact is -- my STOMACH hurts a
little bit just THINKING about it.
okay -- NEXT question.
you are MAROONED
hopefully a
version of “THE
HOBBIT” will
come out first
-- then \ can
die HAPPY.
hey, \
\’m up.
it’ll ALSO save me
some BIG BUCKS -no need to RE-ROOF
my house now.
yes bob -- what is it?
how many POINTS
do \ have so far?
yeah, who’s
whoah -HOLD UP,
“sorry sara. \ HAD to do it. \ LIKE your character and all but \’m just
not DOWN with her radical views of LUVIAN DOCTRINE -- she HAD to go.”
—Brian Van Hoose, Bundles of Trouble #19, Filler
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 31
bob -- there’s NO score.
this is SIMPLY a
\’m ignoring you.
it means you can
CHOOSE anybody to
be on the ISLAND with.
if you were MAROONED on a
-- living or dead -- would you
want to be MAROONED with?
oh -- well -- \ guess if \
can only take ONE person...
\ wanna change
my answer
back to B.
it’d have to be my
BUDDY dave here.
well that’s a STUPID question.
who the hell would wanna be
MAROONED with a DEAD person?
seems like |
would be
how ‘bout we
stick to “REAL”
people and leave
FIcTIONAL characters
out of it, dave...?
okay -- dave...?
how ‘bout you?
who would you CHOOSE?
man -- it’s really
TOUGH to decide.
\’m leaning between
GILLIGAN’s island.
\ guess
\’ll just
go with
oh -- then how about
he’s REAL isn’t he?
hey -- \ thought
you said there were
you’re right.
it is then.
what the hell, dude...
\ pick YOU and you
PASS me over for some
stupid TV character?
\ was gonna
pick GARY
you know.
\ gotta think
\ saw an EPISODE once where
of some old MILK CARTONS
and some DUCT TAPE.
don’t talk to me.
sara -- scratch
DAVE’s name -- \’m
going with GARY.
excellent choice, bob.
not only could he run
you through ADVENTURES every day but
he ALSO wrote the
“\ can’t believe we let a MONKEY get one OVER on us like that! if
WORD of this EVER gets out, we’ll be the LAUGHING STOCK of MUNCIE!”
—Dave Bozwell Bundles of Trouble #21, “Some Monkey Business Goin’ On…”
32 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
that says
about the
TWO of you.
aaaah -- that
is SO sweet.
gee..., \ dunno.
well, \ guess \’m up again.
\’m not picking ANYBODY.
we never really
got time to HANG
OUT after he and
MAROONED, huh....?
-sighhow about
YOU, b.a.?
well -- \ guess
\’d wanna
with my DAD.
sweet my ass!!
being MAROONED could be
a long and painful ordeal.
\ wouldn’t SELFISHLY
choose to make someone
go through that just so
\ could have COMPANY.
great. now
the system
didn’t ya?
\ thought
we HAD to
goin’ for points?
shya’right -- “HONEST” response.
sara, \’m changing my RESPONSE.
hey she said to “GO”
with your the first
HONEST response
that comes to mind.
well TWO can play THAT game.
\ got a DEAD AUNT -- \ wanna
be MAROONED with her.
\ should PROBABLY
change my response to
“CLAIRE” from HEROES then.
no wait -- GHANDI!!
how about HIM?
that’s the FIRST person
\ actually thought of.
dude she’s
okay -- sticking with
DESERT ISLE” theme...
if you were allowed to
bring ONE luxury item
and ONE item of
would they be?
she seems
like a really
NICE person.
how ‘bout it bob?
how come | have to
always go first?
\’m just going to
stick with FIRST
well that’s
not fair.
okay? it’ll be
SIMPLER that way.
\ got no problem with that.
not that it
matters -but FINE.
if it makes you
HAPPY we’ll
start with
BRIAN and work
the other way.
lesee -- for
books, dice and CHARACTER
portfolios count as ONE item...?
wait -- what am \ saying?
\’m ALONE on my island.
they get to HEAR my
answer and have
MORE time to think of
who would
\ PLAY with...?
“note how our COSTUMES have a SIMILAR
color scheme -- it’s SYMBOLIC of KINSMANSHIP”
—Gordo Sheckberry KODT Issue #116, Cirque Bizarro
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 33
\ guess \’d just
bring a copy of the
and for my necessity item
\ guess \’d take an activated
PHONE with a new and
FULLY charged battery.
yeah, right.
so you’re
the big
type now
are ya?
\ guess that would
be a copy of the
proper FOOT WEAR is very important.
and what
you, dave?
maybe \ should’a
picked HIM to be
pity \ can’t
bring my
too -oh well.
well -- \ guess MY luxury item would
be a pair of GOOD comfortable SHOES.
shoes? dude yer going to a
DESERT ISLAND -- not the
he’s QUICK on his feet - \’ll give him that.
not a BAD choice actually.
it’s FILLED with survival
tips and what not.
he’s CRAB
FOOD within
five days of
hitting the
foot related
injuries and
are problematic in hot,
humid climes.
\’d bring a GLOCK semi automatic 9mm combat finish,
polymer grip --double action
4 and half inch barrel pistol
with a 10 round magazine.
what about
LUXURY item?
WAS my
luxury item.
as my LUXURY ITEM can \ take
as my necessity ITEM...?
\’m gonna go with
wanted one
of those
you’re choosing
you can’t
do that.
\ think \
answer, sara.
“it doesn’t take him LONG to SPOT the cowering FAT MAGE in the SHREDS
of what once was his tent. the PACK APE mercilessly BEATS the mage with his ‘mallet.’”
—B.A. Felton, Bundles of Trouble #19, Pack Ape Surprise
34 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
The Downsides of Playing an
Evilly Aligned Character
by Scott James Conover
or many players, the typical campaign consists of a
group of nice, happy adventurers on their way to
their next dungeon. They might take a few pack animals, a few hirelings, maybe even a protégé or two for
training. They sign a party charter, they act in concert
when in danger, and they cooperate for the best interests
of the party. This is a tried-and-true formula for success in
the dungeon, in the overland world of the GM, and even
in the political arena of the overarching campaign.
Yet there are some who wish to break from the cast, and
play an evil character. To put it simply, this is not a good
choice for anyone who plays realistically and who enjoys
playing well with others in the long-term campaign. You
can play by yourself and be evil, or you might enjoy the
power-gaming version of playing evil, but it is essentially
impossible to foster a fun gaming environment and to
portray evil realistically as a player character, or as a party
of evil characters.
A similarly aligned party of
good and neutral characters
is one particular commonality of the majority of successful adventuring parties
in Hackmaster.
Characters who are
good can work
together easily, as
their moral codes
promote group
welfare, general
weal (i.e. good
for most everyone), and overall
cooperation during the adventure
and otherwise.
Neutral characters can work
other’s goals in order
to serve some personal need or self-centered motivation.
However, some players are not satisfied with playing
those sorts of characters — they want to play something
with more “freedom” and more power, someone who can
fulfill them in ways that their normal characters cannot
satisfy. They want to play a character that is evil; someone
with the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever
they want- with a hack and a slash and an echoing, disdainful laugh following their path of victory.
To be specific, the so-called “freedom” of evil characters
is the ability to inflict harm upon others without a perceived moral consequence or restriction on your soul or
penalty to your character level. To clarify, the “freedom” of
evil characters isn’t truly freedom, partially because most
societies are generally built on benign rules and edicts
(one must stress “generally” here), and on following those
rules and edicts. Just because you refuse to obey those
nice, happy rules of the goody two shoes, does not mean
that you are unconstrained by their consequences and
subsequent punishments. Moreover, other people who are
evil within a goody-goody society are not automatically
allied with your cause in terms of alignment, because by
definition, an evil person’s cause is only their own.
Evil people also tend to not normally cooperate in concert, because as individuals and as disparate groups, they
tend to solely support their cause at the expense of everyone else. This is yet another reason that if you choose not
to follow a good or neutral alignment, you probably can’t
count on other evil people to rally to your banner and to
your cause. This is also why evil groups do not normally
ally for very long periods of time, because they will turn
on one another in the case that the betrayal will benefit
their cause and harm the maligned party in question.
Basically, if you are an evil character, you are not only
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 35
looking out to be number one in the pack, you want
everyone else to be lesser than you. This will rarely foster
cooperation in adventuring parties of more than one person.
Although many of theses cases apply strongest to those
who play chaotic evil, they apply to neutral evil and lawful evil alignments as well. Generally, a neutral evil character will betray you to their gain, especially if it is harmful to you in some way beyond the act of betrayal itself. So
while a neutral evil character will tend to avoid the psychotic nature of chaotic evil play, they will still betray you
when the time comes. Lawful evil characters are often
worse, because they hide behind lawful and good institutions in order to twist them to their benefit, and they
often contrive strange excuses and reasons for their
actions. Essentially, lawful evil characters the most subtle,
as they often wait until they can use legitimate rules or
legal boundaries to do evil unto others and to their benefit. Basically, any form of evil lends itself to do harm unto
others, to their sole benefit alone.
As any of the evil alignments are not suitable for longterm gaming, a party of all evil characters is just a death
trap waiting to go off on itself. The basic flaw with adventuring with evil characters is their very nature. Evil people
tend to betray and harm everyone around them. They are
not concerned with the welfare of the group — they are
concerned solely with their own benefit. They are not
concerned with the general weal of everyone involved in
their excursions; in point of fact, it would best if their fellow party members somehow came up short — or didn’t
even show up at all — at the division of treasure and
spoils. Basically, an evil character is out for himself at the
expense of others, which is why he is EVIL.
Generally, evil characters that cooperate only do so in
the presence of a dominating and strong leader. On a societal scale, this usually only occurs with the aid of a “deus
ex machina”, a god or god-like entity who says to their followers that “thou shalt be evil”. The societies of the Drow
are an excellent example, as are the Grel and the Grevans.
They are driven by a powerful god-like entity who also
gives out special powers and abilities to their mortal representatives (clerics/zealots), who in turn enforce the will
of the god strictly and in a fashion consistent with that
god’s alignment. In this case of the Grel, it is through violence, intimidation, cruelty, and a twisted code of honor
that serves primarily to preserve the social order and prevent the total breakdown of their chaotic evil society into
total and complete malevolent anarchy.
As an interesting parallel, lawful evil and neutral evil
societies to tend depend on their base, that is, the peasants, serfs and freemen, to be good or neutral, in order for
the social order to remain stable. Generally, this occurs
when the aristocracy becomes corrupt and malign, or
when the society itself begins to decline as a power, and
the upper classes begin to engage in degenerate practices
and behavior. In this case, the majority of the population
(the base), maintains a good or neutral social alignment,
and the ruler(s) take on an evil alignment. In a stable society, this can be a long-lasting situation.
If this is not so, and the societal morals themselves are
evil, there are other, more stable societal parallels to grel,
grevan, and drow society that engage in neutral evil and
lawful evil behavior as a society, without the necessary
intervention of a deux ex machina. In general, neutral evil
societies function on stable hypocrisy that is contained to
the higher social classes and to their direct subordinates,
and lawful evil societies function by doing evil to outsiders, and by engaging in social class stratification.
Neutral evil societies tend to center around
officials and politicians being bribable, corrupt, and fickle. The system of law within a
neutral evil society is ostensibly functional,
but it all involves individual bureaucrats who
have strong control in their sphere of influence, and who must be interacted with in
order to accomplish anything of importance.
In essence, a neutral evil society functions on
the basis of corrupt government, in that while
the basic societal roles are the same, they are
perverted to the benefit of a select few, who
use their power covertly and overtly for personal gain.
Lawful evil societies generally function on a
subtler level of hypocrisy, as the evil is generally contained as a form of social stratification, in which evil is done to a specific or
select group of people and the rest of society
benefits from their suffering in some way. In
addition, lawful evil societies generally function as expansionist entities, as they must do
evil to outsiders only in order to maintain
peace and law within the society itself. In
Garweeze Wurld, the nation of Darkhaud is
36 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
an excellent example of this mentality of chauvinistic
expansionism put into practice as a societal value.
In the perspective of a player character, how are any of
these behaviors “free”? By definition, in such terrible societies, a character is pretty much a total slave to the social
structure and to the mentality of “Might make Right”,
and that the strong shall dominate the weak. At the very
least, it requires a character to be constantly on his toes
and willing do anything, even betray, murder or enslave a
fellow party member to get ahead. This might be fun for
a little while, but eventually one player will emerge as
supreme, and he will dominate the campaign, which isn’t
any fun for everyone else. It must be noted that unless you
play your new character(s) like a “Matrix” style agent
always out to kill the main PC, you will end up dominated as his slave or minion, because the surviving evil PC
will generally get to write the new party contracts and
agreements, and they will generally favor the surviving PC
in question.
Moreover, playing evil can be a little sickening from a
moralist perspective. Evil characters, although they are
generally censored and toned down in Hackmaster, are
people who willingly commit rape, murder, child sacrifice,
and possibly even incest for their personal benefit and
pleasure. In Hackmaster, many people might be driven to
extreme acts of blackmail, murder, or deceit in order to
protect themselves or their friends, or they might perform
morally compromising acts in order to get ahead. Evil
characters, whether NPCs or PCs, are people who enjoy
committing evil, especially on people who do not necessarily deserve it.
Furthermore, many evil characters justify or rationalize
everything they do to the point that when they commit
evil, it’s the victim that caused it. They tend to depend on
the logic of “he/she deserved it, or he/she would have
liked it anyway, or they made me do it because of x and
y”, to the point that they themselves become victims of
their circumstances, forced to do bad things for all the
right reasons. This process of rationalization tends to
demonize their victims and justify their actions to very
extreme ends. The most extreme exception to this mindset is the dark knight, who represents a very “pure” evil,
that is, an evil person that acknowledges evil and loves the
evil in and of itself.
Ironically, the pure evil nastiness of dark knights that
allows them to cooperate and do evil is the very thing that
illustrates the master/slave relationship of evil characters.
A dark knight is promised to an evil demon prince, and he
is enslaved to a code of ethics and behavior that dictate his
lifestyle. In many ways, he is a religious figure, and he follows his doctrine to the letter, if only because he fears the
wrath of his respective demon prince, and because he lusts
for the power that the demon prince gives. He might
cooperate in a party of other evil or neutral characters, if
only to subvert them or convert him to his will, in the
name of his evil master, and for his own lustful purposes.
However, he is still a slave, and he is chained to the will of
his master, who dictates how he will carry out his will, and
to what extent he must go to do so.
In the end, an evil character is not a good choice for
fun, role-play oriented game play. A party that focuses
only on the dungeon adventure aspect of HackMaster can
survive a bit longer and enjoy themselves for a while, but
when the chips come down the evil character will always
bet on his. And the methods he uses to make sure his
chips pay off are less important than whether or not he
wins, because for an evil character, success is all that
counts - that it should come at the expense of others is
even better.
So unless you are sure your GM will force your party to
cooperate and survive, or unless you enjoy harming others
to the point of their personal resentment outside the
game, you are far better off playing a knight errant and
using the methods of villains against them, rather than
joining the side of darkness and becoming the epitome of
pure darkness that is the evil alignment.❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 37
Hoar Giants
Hackfactor: 9
EP Value: 2200
Climate/Terrain: Sub-Arctic/Arctic (Temperate)
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Tribal
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Omnivore
Intelligence: Average (8-10)
Alignment: Neutral
No. Appearing: varies, 1-8 usually
Size: L (12’)
Movement: 14”
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil/Nil
Morale: Fearless (19)
Armor Class: 3 (8)
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage/Attacks: by weapons +7
Special Attacks: Nil
Special Defenses: Impervious to cold
Magic Resistance: Nil
Hit Dice: 9+1-2
DESCRIPTION: Hoar giants are smaller kin to Frost
Giants, typically living in the same frigid climes. They are
approximately half the size of Frost Giants, but are still
extremely muscular and strong (19/01 STR).
Their skin is cobalt blue, and is marked with intricate tribal
tattoos. They wear their hair, and sometimes their beards,
braided and beaded with the vertabrae of enemy combatants, such as polar bears and winter wolves.
COMBAT/TACTICS: The traditional fighting style of the
Hoar Giant is to use two stone axes* at once, with great
effect. They fight ferociously, and rarely, if ever, retreat from
a battle. They have a highly-developed sense of honor, and
would rather die than surrender.
Their hide is robust and offers some protection in and of
itself, but they usually wear thick, rugged furs when on the
They appear in great numbers when there is a call to arms,
with entire tribes showing up to a battle if need be. Even the
women and children have been known to muster to a threat
against their interests.
They are a race with deeply-ingrained ties to nature. They
abhor magical or unworldly tampering with the elements
and are known to perform great and hazardous quests at the
behest of their gawds or in tandem with a powerful cabal
that shares a common foe.
Some Hoar Giants are druids and have powers to heal and
to protect their frigid and desolate lands. These individuals
are rare and are staunchly revered and protected.
Like their cousins the Frost Giants, Hoar Giants are immune
to cold. Some tribes have settled in northern temperate areas
provided the summers are short and not overly humid (and
the winters are very snowy and cold). They have been
encountered in warmer climes while on quests or other vital
business, but they do not settle in such environments.
HABITAT: Most Hoar Giant tribes settle in frigid, arctic
lands where few other sentient species venture. However, as
stated earlier, some tribes have migrated to more temperate
regions and they will not shy away from traveling to nearly
any type of climate if they feel their intervention is warranted.
They construct large dwellings made from tree branches and
covered in furs. Several families will dwell together in an
extended family home, with elders playing an important role
in the education of the young.
They have adapted to snowy conditions, and have little trouble traveling across frozen wastes using large sleds pulled by
dire wolves or dire elk trained for such tasks. Their large broad
feet also help them maintain stability when trekking across the
They have mastered the art of survival in harsh conditions
and as such are excellent herders, hunters and fishermen.
ECOLOGY: Hoar Giant society is noble, very religious and
filled with a love for courageous battle and legendary heroes.
Tribal ceremonies often involve the retelling of the accounts
of famous battles, with re-enactments common. Defeated
kinsmen are not spoken of, and their families live in isolation from the rest of the tribe, but are otherwise not mistreated. Family life is also very important to the Hoar Giant.
Tribal tattoos depict famous past victories.
* treat as standard battle axes for damage but as hand axes for speed factor due to
their size
Creature Field Researched
by Jolly and Barbara Blackburn
Medicinal: Nil
Spell Components: Nil
Hide/Trophy Items: Nil
Treasure: D
Edible: Nil
38 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
Treasures and Mysteries: Part VI
Real Life Inspiration
for your Adventures
By Noah Chinn
More Treasures: Some
Lost, Some Found
t’s the de rigueur of many RPG adventures. No matter how you try
to spin it, it all boils down to a map with a big “X” on it. But in
many ways it’s hard to have a less interesting payoff than just a big
pile of gold at the end of all your hacking and slashing – or alternately,
your complex investigation. What makes a treasure interesting is a combination of the unusual items found in it and the back-story of how it
got there in the first place. Sometimes it’s the map itself that holds the
intrigue. So this month we’ll look at a few real treasure troves, some of
them found, some still missing.
This treasure was hidden in what is today Bulgaria towards the end
of the 10th century (969-972). Preslav had been conquered twice in
this time – once by Prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev, then two years later by
the Byzantine Emperor, John Tzimisces. The treasure consisted of a
variety of jewelry – gold earrings inlaid with emeralds and pearls, double sided necklaces with pictures of the Virgin Mary on them, the delicate jewelry used intricate techniques involving small gold balls and fine
gold wire. It’s believed many of these artifacts were a wedding present
first given to the Byzantine princess Maria-Irina in 927.
In all, over 170 gold, silver and bronze objects were hidden here to
prevent them being looted. This included rare silver coins and other
artifacts dating as far back as the 3rd century. In 1978, this treasure was
found in a vineyard in Castana (2 miles north-west of the second
Bulgarian capital, Veliki Preslav).
greedy bastard he was, agreed, but had no intention of letting Atahualpa
leave. In fact, he had him garrotted the following year, fearing the influence he had over the Incan warriors.
One of Atahualpa’s generals, Rumiñahui, was on his way back with
750 tons of worked gold when news of the murder reached him. He
then returned to Ecuador, took the treasure up into the Llanganatis
mountain range, where it is supposedly buried. Though he was later
captured and tortured, he never said where the treasure was.
So many people have come to tragic ends while searching for the
treasure that many believe the treasure is cursed (naturally). In 1860,
the Royal Geographic Society published an account of the story and a
map, drawn by an Ecuadorian named Don Atansio Guzman.
The Amber Room was a complete chamber decoration of amber
panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. It was built between 1701
and 1709 in Prussia and remained there until 1716 when it was given
to Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, where it was installed in the Catherine
Palace of Tsarskoye Selo (near Saint Petersburg). Due to its beauty and
craftsmanship, it was sometimes referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of
the World".
You probably already know of El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold,
which supposedly exists in Columbia. But another Incan treasure is said
to be hidden in Ecuador: the treasure of Llanganatis. Here a vast treasure of worked gold was said to be hidden away beneath the Llanganatis
mountain range by the Inca general Rumiñahui.
When the Spanish invaded the Incan empire in 1532, Fransisco
Pizarro first founded the town of San Miguel de Pirua, then captured
the Incan Emperor Atahualpa soon after. To try and gain his freedom,
the Emperor promised to fill a room with gold. Pizarro, being the
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 39
The mystery doesn’t begin until World War II, however, when the
Germans looted it and brought it to Königsberg (renamed Kaliningrad
after the war). What happened to it as the war ended is unknown, however it may simply have been destroyed when Königsberg Castle was
burned out, shortly after Königsberg surrendered to occupying Soviet
forces, between April 9th and 11th, 1945. This theory has been challenged, but it’s possible that is due to pressure from Soviet officials who
didn’t wish to appear responsible for its loss.
Because of the bureaucracy and denial-of-responsibility inherent in
the Soviet government of the time, other theories have emerged. One
of which still exists in Kaliningrad. They believe at least part of the
room survived in good condition in the cellars, but this was not admitted at the time so blame could continue to be put on the Germans.
Access to the ruins was restricted for decades after the war, even to historical/archaeological surveys. Then in the 1960s all access was withheld
and the ruins blown up by the Army, sealing any access to the underground area, and a building (the still incomplete Dom Sovietov) built
on top of it. It’s believed the room may still be intact underground.
However, amber that is not cared for will crumble into dust. It’s
believed that even the current government is unwilling to admit what
has happened.
A reconstructed Amber Room was inaugurated in 2003 in the
Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Tied into the Amber Room mystery is the story of the Stechovice
Treasure in the Czech Republic. Supposedly Emil Klein, a Nazi general, buried war booty in the tunnels in Hradistko (near Stechovice)
including gold, diamonds, art, secret files, scientific documents from the
Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, and perhaps even the Amber Room itself.
This steam-powered ocean liner was built in 1903 and sunk in a collision with the Lloyd Italiano liner Florida six years later while sailing for
the White Star Line (of Titanic fame). She was one of the largest and
most modern passenger vessels of her day, but what makes her of interest to us was her rumoured cargo: a quarter of a million dollars worth of
The collision happened on a foggy morning on January 23, 1909,
when the Florida hit the Republic on a right angle. Only three people
from each ship were killed, and the passengers were evacuated to safety.
Despite the best efforts to keep her afloat, the Republic sunk the next
day. But what about her cargo?
Exactly what was carried on the RMS Republic isn’t known. Some
say she carried a quarter of a million
dollars in gold coins to payroll the US
Navy’s Great White Fleet. The money
might have been part of a relief effort
for the 1908 earthquake in Messina,
Italy. A final theory is she carried
three million dollars worth of gold
coins as part of a loan to the Imperial
Russian government. But remember,
these estimates are in 1909 dollars,
when gold was worth $20 an ounce.
Today the value of the treasure could
be hundreds of millions of dollars,
perhaps billions if it were marketed
The Republic was found in 1981
by Captain Martin Bayerle. The ship
lies approximately 50 miles south of
Nantucket Island at Latitude 40° 26'
N, Longitude 69° 46' W, submerged
under 270 feet of water. Attempts to find the gold have so far been
unsuccessful, though it carried many artefacts of historical interest.
But what if someone found the wreck before Captain Bayerle?
The Beale Ciphers are a set of three encrypted messages, which are
supposed to indicate the location of a buried treasure of gold and silver
worth over 30 million dollars in modern day currency. The first of these
ciphertexts is supposed to state the location of the treasure, the second
describes the contents of it, and the third is a list of the treasure owner’s
next of kin.
The ciphertexts originate from an 1885 pamphlet detailing treasure
buried by one Thomas Jefferson Beale somewhere in Virginia in 1820.
The encrypted messages were encased in a box, which Beal entrusted to
a local innkeeper, Robert Morriss. Beale disappeared, never to be seen
again. The innkeeper gave the encrypted messages to a friend before he
died, who then spent twenty years trying to decode the messages. He
only managed to decode one, the second of the three, which reads:
I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from
Buford's, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the
ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose
names are given in number "3," herewith:
The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of
gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited
Nov. eighteen nineteen. The second was made December, 1821, and
consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve
hundred and eighty-eight pounds of silver; also jewels, obtained in St.
Louis in exchange for silver to save transportation, and valued at
The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault
is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are
covered with others. Paper number "1" describes the exact locality of
the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.
The ciphers are made using a series of seemingly random numbers
which relate to a particular published work. The second letter was
decrypted using a particular edition of the United States Declaration of
Independence as the key. The other two have yet to be decoded.
Without the exact edition of the proper book, it seems impossible they
will ever be.
While, this has all the hallmarks of a hoax on it, but would make a
great adventure for an Old West or Modern campaign. Hey, it’s a hell
of a lot more believable than that movie National Treasure. ❑
40 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
Sung to the tune of Nickleback’s “RockStar”
I'm through with shoppin’ online
For games my Pete’ll never get in
It’s like I’m on my last hitpoint
And I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out
Quite the way I want it to be
(Tell me what you got)
I got big frickin’ house
With an indoor pool in it
Some kids that I can play baseball with
And a king size bed big enough
For all of them plus me
(Been there, done that)
I've got 10 credit cards that got no limit
And a big black Lexus with a Nav System in it
Gonna join the mileage priority club
And I get my phones for free
(So what you want?)
I want a new game room full of Hall-of-Famers
A forum full of witty, sarcastic gamers
Another Origins award or twenty,
Game of the Year again is fine for me
(So how you gonna do it?)
I'm gonna trade this life of fortune for fame
I'd even grow a beard and write a western game
'Cause we all just wanna be game designers
And live in rundown houses driving rusty cars
The dice come easy and the games come cheap
We'll all get chubby from the junk we’ll eat
And we'll hang out at the GenCon bars
At the White Wolf party
with all the LARPers
Every good dwarf player’s
Gonna wind up there
Every gamer buddy
With a story to share
Hire freelance writers to design my castles
Sign a couple autographs
So I can eat my fast food for free
(I'll have the quesadilla, on the house)
I'm gonna choose my class
From an old copy of Dragon
Get a front door key to the Arneson mansion
Gonna get a gamer girl that will
Paint my minis for free
(Does this color make my elf look fat?)
I'm gonna trade this life of fortune for fame
I'd even grow a beard and write a western game
And we'll hide out in the HMA rooms
Read the latest dictionary and thesaurus, too
They'll get me anything with my evil smile
Everybody's got a game store on speed dial
Hey hey I wanna be a game designer
I'm gonna write those games
That offend the grognards
Gonna sling my dice with my best friends
I'll get washed-up designers sending in submissions
Have gamers playtest ‘em and pay ‘em in commissions
And we'll hide out in the HMA rooms
Read the latest dictionary and thesaurus, too
They'll get me anything with my evil smile
Everybody's got a game store on speed dial
Hey hey I wanna be a game designer
Hey hey I wanna be a game designer
By David S. Kenzer
Hey hey I wanna
be a game designer
Hey hey I wanna
be a game designer
I wanna be great like Gygax
without the hassles
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 41
AKA: Slampan’s Sinking Sorrow
MECHANISM: Natural hazard
LETHALITY: Medium to High ENGINEER: Ann McIntosh
asty old Slampan the Miser has accumulated, it
is rumored, scads and scads of treasure in his
110 years of existence. Known as a scrounger,
Slampan is now content to sit back in his festering
fortress and fondle his treasures until he dies.
Slampan built his fortress on the edge of a swamp
that has been visited so infrequently that it has not
been recorded on any maps.
1.Well, this looks pretty good. Nice clean room,
shiny treasure. Finally, I’ve hit the jackpot!
There’s got to be a catch.
And, because Slampan is a cheapskate he decided
that a perfectly awesome way to guard his treasure is to
build his treasury room right on top of the swamp.
Putting only a thin layer of shale and slate over the
top of the swampy bog, the miser has placed his treasure in a place where he assumes no one can get it.
Designing the room so that anyone heavier than a
pixie fairy will fall through the thin floor into the
quicksand of the swamp, Slampan doesn’t really care if
he can get to his own treasure or not. He doesn’t plan
on using it, he just likes looking at it.
Anyone who falls through the floor into the quicksand has only a few minutes before he drowns in the
sinking goop. The heavier the person, especially those
weighted down with equipment, the faster they will
sink. A person who falls into the quicksand will last for
a number of rounds equal to his Constitution divided
by 3.
For three rounds he will be visible above the surface.
After that he will sink below the surface. He will black
out one round before death. His only way out is to be
rescued, and, well, that will be difficult since the entire
room is in a similar condition.
So far, no one has even found Slampan’s swampy
fortress to try to loot it. But, the miser figures he will
actually gain wealth with this trap if anyone does try to
steal from him because he will fish the bodies out of
the swamp and loot them.
2. Doh!!! I knew it! Too good to be true.
Anybody got a rope?
through, but, he’s hoping some will try to traverse the
unbroken parts of the floor and also wind up with
their lungs full of goo.
Flying is about the only way to get to Slampan’s
treasure without falling through the floor.
Slampan has a way of getting to his treasure, should
he ever need to. He has a group of pixie fairies imprisoned in his fortress. He keeps them so that they can
retrieve his possessions should he need them. However,
unknown to him, at least two of these small creatures
have escaped.
Slampan’s secret lair may not be kept secret much
longer once these angry pixie fairies tell everything
they know. He could be receiving company any day
now. ❑
He’s not quite sure he will be able to patch up the
floor to fool the next person, after one has broken
42 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
Barlton “Buddy” Stimble
Occupation: Bartender/Saloon Owner (0 level Human)
Age 38 hp 23
STR 15/49, INT 15/69, WIS 10/21, DEX 9/44,
CON 13/56, CHA 19/14, COM 12/33;
QUIRKS: Absent Minded, Greedy
FLAWS -; SKILLS Brawler (46), Brewing (68),
BACKGROUND: Barlton is considered a great bartender.
Not only does he brew some of the finest ale in the land but
he can also can cook scrumptious food — meals finer than
one would expect to find in a back water inn.
The Yellow Eagle is a popular watering hole because of his
skills. Buddy, as he is popularly known, is a very likeable fellow,
a lover of conversation and good jokes. He’s extremely friendly, and is known as the kind of guy who would offer the shirt
off his back should someone be in need.
He is also known to be a wealth of information, with plenty of rumors and treasure maps to make any adventuring
party drool.The only problem with his information is that at
least half of it is not entirely accurate. That’s because Buddy
will say anything to get a little extra gold.
He doesn’t really see it as lying. He’s just passing on a
rumor, afterall, not giving someone a guarantee.
Not only is Buddy’s information unreliable, but he is completely unreliable himself. Many a time has come when the
loveable bartender has agreed to help a group of people, been
paid up front to show up at a certain location, or given money
to hire torchbearers, animal handlers, etc., only to completely fail to hold up his end of the deal.
When confronted about this, he will always have a perfectly good excuse. A sick wife. A dying friend. Some strange ailment that kept prevented him from keeping his word.
With Buddy’s less than stellar record for accuracy and reliability, one might wonder why he hasn’t been killed, or at least
beaten to a pulp, a long time ago. Somehow, Buddy (with his
enormous charisma) is almost always able to talk his way out
of sticky situations. When that fails, he’s not too bad with a
Cooking (66), Culinary Arts (55), Haggle (54),
Joke Telling (42), Liar - Skilled (81), Poker Face
(57), Reading/Writing
TALENTS: POSSESSIONS: The Yellow Eagle Inn, 718 g.p.,
4,978 s.p., 15 assorted gems
Buddy is currently offering a map to a place that he claims
is “bursting at the seams” with treasure and magic. It once
belonged to an extremely wealthy and evil mage who died
without an heir, according to Buddy (who heard the tale from
a friend of a friend who knows). He says the treasure is lying
untouched until now because no one has known the secret
location. He says it is just waiting to be hauled off by the right
group of people. It is possible that he is telling the truth this
time, but, it is also possible that Buddy is lying through his
teeth to get another handful of gold.
Sometimes Buddy will actually have an accurate bit of information, but will not remember every fact correctly. For example, he may remember the location of a rich treasure trove,
but, will forget that there is a band of extremely powerful,
hideous creatures, guarding the treasure. One reason Buddy
has not been taken to task for his wrong information is
because the victims of this misinformation often do not survive to get revenge.
There have been a few rare occassions when Buddy has
gotten, and given, completely accurate information.And, those
who have been fortunate enough to have received this type of
info from Buddy have been so thrilled that they have built
Buddy’s reputation up beyond what he deserves, luring more
unsuspecting victims into his web of lies.
If you don’t mind getting fed a handful of lies along with a
great bowl of stew and a pint of ale, then by all means, stop
by the Yellow Eagle. Buddy’ll be waiting for you.
By Jolly and Barbara Blackburn
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 43
The Good...
Capt. Hurk U. Leon
Occupation/Class: Spaceship commander
Skills/Talents: Piloting, oratory skills, leadership, law,
shirtless brawling.
Motivation: Advancing the cause of the
federation/republic/empire. To establish a legend in the
history of space travel. Safeguarding his ship and crew.
Hourglass shapes, monologuing, can’t think “outside the
box,” self absorption.
Background: "Well, there you are. It looks like I got
here just in time.Yes, your worries are over. It is I. Captain
Leon. Captain Hurk U. Leon, of the SS Preponderance.We
were just passing by this sector when my ensigns told me
of your plight.Yes, this must be your lucky day.
"But where is your ship? I would have thought that
someone of your... ah, there it is! Oh, and over there as
well.Why captain, I am impressed.
Clearly I underestimated your skills that you could salvage anything at all from that wreckage, much less so many
of your crew. I salute you, sir. But this - this situation won't
do at all.You must come aboard my ship. We shall transport you all back to safety at once. Oh no, I see your
reluctance, but I must insist. Why what kind of captain
would I be to leave a fellow citizen to such a ghastly fate
as you have obviously fallen into?
"Come, my shuttle awaits me. Bring your command
crew along and we shall supervise your rescue from the
comfort of my bridge.
I think you will be impressed. It is certainly the fastest
and most modernly-equipped ship of its size in the fleet
Out here on the edge of civilized space, appearance is half
the battle sometimes, and this ship reflects that. Reflects
power. Reflects.... competence.
“Yes sir, a lot of captains were trying for this ship. But
they weren't willing to make the sacrifices that I was. A
lot of good men gave their all for this ship. Some still do.
But that's not to say life is too hard for us.
Oh, no, I go out of my way to give my crew members
everything I can. Nothing is too good for my crew, I always
say.Treating your crew well is its own reward, I always say.
"What? Covert mission? Good gracious no, we are
delivering medical and food supplies to orbital station 344.
Seems some space pirates hit them pretty hard last week.
Yes-sir, we are loaded down with goods and have got the
ol' firepower to back it up.
Mission of mercy.Yep that's what it's all about. One big
fleet. Helping each other out whenever we can.
"Oh I see. You got yourself some classified marching
orders. Well we all have to do our part, don't we. Hey
there, partner, I'll be sure to put in a good word for you
when we drop you off at the station.
"Use My ship? Heh heh, well no, I'm sorry, No can do.
Now don't misunderstand.We're happy to help out where
we can. It just tears me apart, seeing your loss scattered
about the landscape like this, but I'll tell you what.
I just happen to have a few connections and can arrange
to have a new ship meet you at the station as soon as possible. You know: something more suited for reconnaissance-level action. You understand. Well, here we are.
Watch your step going up the ramp.
"Oh, and captain, I don't believe I caught your name?"
By Michael Sharp
44 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
Lt. Richard “Rich” Hurt
AKA: Clax Orion
Occupation: Navigator, 2nd Class/First Mate
Skills: Piloting, Marksmanship, Computer programming, hacking.
Motivation: Earning (or stealing) enough to buy
his own ship.
Weaknesses (including Quirks/Flaws):
Impatient, careless, hunted by authorities (Clax).
Background: "Look, don't get your G-force in a
knot.You said 'only call if there's a problem.' and I'm
calling.You figure it out. ....
"No, nothing serious. Captain Dudley had to
divert and rescue some amateur spacehacks from
themselves. ... Oh, I don't know, tried to fly their
grannyship thru an asteroid belt. Look, who cares?
They got nothing. The point is we'll be about 12
hours behind schedule. No, No, he still doesn't suspect a thing.
"Hey, I told you it'd be simple. The computer on
that spaceport was at least 2 versions out of date. I
inserted my stats, introduced myself to the captain,
and boom. Two hours later I'm navigator for the
night shift.
"What? Oh, no worries. He apparently goes
through support crew faster than dirty socks. And
your little 'distress call' came at the perfect
moment. 'Oh boo hoo we've been robbed by
pirates.' Yeah, it should work just like that job we
pulled last fall over in D sector. No one ever considers we would hang around until the relief ships
come, and grab that booty too!
"No changes, just keep to the plan, and keep the
attack fighters WELL out'a sight until we are fully
docked and unloading all the goods.This ain't no battle cruiser, but it can do us a world of hurt if we
aren't careful. Its sensors are state of the art, too, so
I'm telling you, we....
"NO! That's what I'm telling you.This delay means
I won't be on the bridge when we reach the outpost. I can't disable the screens from here, so we will
have to play it cagey until they are busy unloading
supplies. Concentrate all fire on G Deck.
"... No, NOT the weapons deck. G-Deck.. I've
been studying the power grids. Everything runs
through there. Yes, I know that's not what the
'schematics' say. Trust me. It should work. And
remember. I get TWO shares this ti "Because I planned the whole bloody thing, that's
why! This operation is my baby, and I have it signed
in blood: two shares! I didn't get to be second in
command by hiding in my stateroom, playing it safe,
and waiting for others to tell me when I get paid. I'm
making my own future. What? Glory? pfah! Keep it.
Glory brings attention, brings trouble. You think I'd
be on this ship right now if I was vain enough to use
my real name? Cap'n can keep the glory. I'll keep my
"Hmm? Disable the screens from engineering? Err,
I don't know. That chief engineer scares me. Now
that is one duck who has been in space too long, if
you know what I mean.Well, I'll see, but for now just
stick with the plan as is. Trust me. We are loaded
down with enough stuff, 2 more hauls like this and I
could buy this ship outright. Just tell Cap'n Jack that
when he gets the "Hold on. I think I heard something....."
By Michael Sharp
Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 45
...The UGLY
Dmitri Popolopus
Occupation: Chief Engineer: SS Preponderance
Skills: Invention, Engineering, Mechanics, Math
theory, Drive system.
Motivation: Transferring as much theoretical
science into physical existence as possible.
Weakness (including Quirks/Flaws):
Extreme agoraphobia, hard of hearing, mild paranoia, anti-social (to all but engineers).
Background: “NORTON?!?”
“You know Professor Norton? Well why didn’t
you say so?!”
"Come in, come in, it's such a pleasure to finally
speak face to face with another of the Doctor's
proteges (watch those wires). Come. I'll give you
the tour.
"Forgive my ... brusqueness just now, (that's very
hot, by the way), but YOU know how those pilot
types are, always thinking they can come in here to
engineering and tell you how to run things.
I mean, like they would know their DalseKrwuuyk Triality vertices from their m-state algorithms. HA! I finally had to ban them all from GDeck completely a year ago or so. So when did you
study under the good doctor? Hmmm?
"Oh, sure the cap'n raised bloody heck, but when
I pointed out that his visage on the monitor -ahem
- encouraging me on, during the last three crises had
worked just as effectively as when they came down
here... and this way saves them the extra walking...
well, the "truce" has held this long, anyway (watch
that swing radius, there.) I keep that alcove over
there nice and clean.
Yes, that one with all the... ummm... water pressure gauges, I think, on its back wall, yes.Whenever
they call, one of us can stand in there and reassure
them that we have all the problems contained in a
nice little 3-dimensional box.
"FRANK, you tocker, you left the gate OPEN
again! It's slithered OFF! Go get it before its matrix
collapses again or I'll re-graft your OLD arm back
"Idiot.Anyway. this way seems to ease most of the
surface tension we used to have on the ship. You
know. Now they can pretend punching holes
through hyper-space isn't insanely dangerous, and
we can (oh crep, it's boiling over again. Hang on.) we
can pretend our efforts are going towards something more than a glorified taxi service between tin
can space stations. Huhn.
You wouldn't catch me stepping foot on one of
those low orbit balloons.
"Or most planet surfaces, for that matter....
"Or other ships.
"Well anyway, who would want to? Why, I haven't
left this deck in 296 days, and I'm doing great! Just
look at this place! I've turned a static, boring engine
bay into the galaxy's most exciting transdimensional petri dish.
"And this.And this.This is IT! Do you see? Do you
see how I was able to bypass the ‘Doctor’ Norton
U-barrier? Look! No event horizon. It's stable! I did
it! Can't you just see the old man's face when I finally show him he was wrong?
"OOOOOOOOOOHHH...... I can."
By Michael Sharp
BAIT: to lure, tempt, or entice.
TACKLE: to knock an opponent to the ground.
ait and Tackle™ presents a series of brief adventure hooks that a GM can
take and flesh out on the fly. They can be useful if the GM finds he’s
short on ideas when preparing an adventure, or finds his group has outpaced the night’s adventure and he suddenly finds himself having to improvise.
Each hook is presented in a simple three-part format.
SETTING: This is simply a tag identifying the setting or type of adventure
hook, i.e. wilderness, city, subterranean, etc.
BAIT: Exactly that — the situation or carrot used to lure or ‘bait’ the players and prod them in the right direction.
TACKLE: This is the hammer or twist that makes the situation dangerous,
exciting, or challenging. Without the tackle what’s the point?
As with other features in the magazine, readers are encouraged to submit
B&Ts of their own. Hooks should be generic in nature and brief.
way, the bones will assemble into skeletons and an army of 1040 skeletons will arise to attack. If the skeletons are defeated and
the adventurers recover the rings, they will find that two of the
rings are +1 Rings of Protection. The rest are worth 150 g.p.s
apiece for their gems and gold.
SETTING: Countryside
By Ann McIntosh
BAIT: As the adventurers travel through the countryside, they
may notice a shack out in the middle of a field with no other
signs of civilization for miles around. It is possible that they may
want to explore it, or use it as shelter for an overnight stay.
TACKLE: Once any living being walks into the shack, it transports to the mouth of a cave, where a large dragon waits for its
next meal. The shack is a sort of trap set by the dragon to get
dinner, nothing more. Once the dragon has eaten his dinner,
the shack will transport to the same location, or another remote
location similar to the original one.
By Ann McIntosh
BAIT: Outside the gates of the town the adventurers will be
accosted by a group of ragged beggars. The beggars will pull out
every stop to act pathetic and tug at the compassion of those
they accost, crying, acting faint, etc.
TACKLE: The beggars are really just a gang of thieves and cutthroats who use begging to catch marks offguard. If the adventurers give the beggars any gold, the thieves will know they have
riches to take, and will attack. If the adventurers give no gold,
the thieves will attack, saying, “You stingy no good scivvers, you
deserve to get robbed!” So, no matter what a person does, the
beggars will attack, unless it’s obvious someone has no wealth at
SETTING: A graveyard
By Ann McIntosh
BAIT: While traveling, the adventurers will stumble across a
remote and unkempt graveyard with toppled grave markers and
bones exposed to the elements. It appears some of the bones
have been gnawed by animals. The bones are scattered all over
the three acre square graveyard. Several skeletal hands appear to
have sparkling rings (4-8) on their fingers that seem to be valuable.
TACKLE: If at least two of the rings are touched or moved in any
Generic Adventure Hooks
and Encounters for
the GM to run with.
SETTING: Training School
By Ann McIntosh
BAIT: The next time one of the adventurers goes to train for
their next level, their master will have a proposal for him. The
master will offer to train the student free of charge on a onetime basis, if the student will pass a difficult test of skill.
TACKLE: The master will have a gladiatorial arena set up in
which the student will have to pass three tests in order to receive
his free training. In the first test, the student must fight two fellow students of his same level at the same time, and win. In the
second test, the student will have to defeat one fellow student of
one level higher than himself, and win. In the last test, the student will have to fight and defeat an enraged lion, bear or tiger
of the master’s (GM’s) discretion. (The GM can select different
tests at his discretion.)
The master has been charging admission to these tests and that
is how he is able to offer free training to certain victorious individuals.
SETTING: Town on the coast
By Ann McIntosh
BAIT: The temple priestess within a town has been kidnapped
by a gang of pirates, who are holding her on their ship for ransom. The adventurers have been hired by the temple clergy to
rescue their priestess from the pirates and are promised a great
reward as long as the priestess is alive when she is returned and
as long as she is returned within a week.
TACKLE: The adventurers will have to ensure that they return
the priestess by the end of the week or they will not be paid.
That’s because the priestess must be present at the full-moon
ceremony to take place at the end of the week. If she is not
returned by that time, a new priestess will be named to take her
place. The priestess’ job during the ceremony is to become the
bride of the temple deity by diving into a pit of fire and dying!
She may not want to be returned. The temple guards may try to
recruit one of the adventurers to take the priestess’ place.❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 47
Krigg Stones
By Jolly and Barbara Blackburn
rigg Stones (also known as ‘moonstones’) are unique
and special magical gems forged in the UnderMountain magic studios of the Circle of Sequestered
Magicks on the Island of the Veil.
To the thief (or the uninformed) who might get his
hands on a pouch of these unique stones, they will
appear to be nothing more than walnut-sized rocks.
In the light of a moon, however,
they reveal their true nature — brilliant blood red gems of exquisite
beauty and value. .
COSM created the stones for a
specific purpose — to use as payment for the many clandestine services they farm out.
When someone is hired by
COSM to perform a certain task
they are paid in Krigg Stones prior
to the job’s completion
The person under contract is able
to examine the stones under the
moonlight to ensure that they are more than rocks and
that payment has been secured.
Once their mission is complete and the contract fulfilled, the stones dispel their illusionary magic and
appear as gemstones (200 g.p. value per stone) forever
Krigg Stones are not awarded for simple or mundane
tasks, however. Krigg Stones are often used by COSM
agents and emissaries to help identify each other when
in the field.
Those who have been paid with moonstones have
usually been tasked with extremely grave and important
assignments. Because of this, many agents of COSM are
killed, permanently crippled or rendered helpless, or
imprisoned, and are unable to complete the missions
they have been hired for.
If an honorable person should come
upon stones that have been abandoned
by an agent of COSM due to death or
other mission-stopping circumstances,
they may find themselves tasked to complete the mission that was left undone.
Such persons will discover the nature
of the mission and how they will be
rewarded if they sleep with one or more
of these stones under their heads at
night. Visions will be transmitted into
the minds of such persons in the form of
dreams in such an instance.
Because of the supposed divine nature
of these stones, or perhaps because of
something done by COSM, detect
magic spells will not reveal the nature of these stones.
It is rumored there is a second variety of Krigg Stones
associated with black gemstones that are cursed. Those
who find themselves in possession of this variety are
compelled (against their will) to do the stones’ bidding
and are not ‘freed’ until a specific mission/task is complete.
(EPV 100 each, GP 200 each)
48 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
Close encounters ™
of the random kind
Quick & Dirty Aces & Eights Encounter Table
By Brian Smith
our players are breezing through your adventure and are itching
to lay down some lead. They shot the wrong feller and never
found the plot-important telegram. Maybe even you didn't plan
on them ignoring the poor Widow Jenks pleas for help and instead wandering aimlessly around the general store.
Table One
Your salvation is at hand. You hold the Aces & Eights GM's best
Table 1 is the suggested number of hombres the PCs have gotta contend with. Balance with the party size by adding or subtracting as appropriate.
Table 2 has Column A & B, the folks they are going to end up staring
down. A is more aimed at PCs of the more law-abiding types, while column B is aimed at PCs of the less-than-savory stripe. Which isn't to say a
party of do-gooders wouldn't butt heads with a crooked deputy or the
like, so roll as you see fit.
Column C is what they're armed with. Most folk on the prowl carry
one or more weapons.
In the case of multiple opponents the first one rolled is the leader, with
d2 weapons, the rest have one weapon each. In the case of multiple baddies, they follow the lead of the head honcho, mastermind or what have
you. See notes below.
Column D is an outstanding physical trait that sets this feller apart
from the average citizen, other than the fact that they're blasting on the
So a few rolls show how many they're up against, how much iron
Table Two
1 FLASH – The weapon in question was undoubtedly custom-made. It doesn't shoot any better, but it's Shiney with a capital “S”. Roll d6 for weapon
(from the first 6 entries on column D), it retails for roughly d100% over new
value. Pearl grips, gold filigree, etc.
2 TO THE TEETH – This feller doesn't mess around, he's packin' enough
heat to melt the entire month of December, January and half of November.
He's packing d3+1 weapons. Roll d6 for individual weapons.
3 SLOPPY – Some folk just don't take good care of their gear. Mechanical
mishaps occur a bit more frequently with the weapon in question, mishaps on
unmodified 1 or 2. A good gunsmith could probably salvage it. Roll d6 for
4 TOOLED UP – Who's to say how much of a good thing is too much? This
dude has got double standard ammo for all his weapons. 2 boxes of ammo per
weapon. Roll d6 for the weapon too.
5 EXPLOSIVES ?!?! - Most sane folk know better, but some loco people play
with dynamite, but never for too long. Mostly appropriate for the inhabitants
of Column B. Re-roll otherwise. Or not.
6 OTHER – Roll on table 6.2 – 6 Prejudiced Toward Profession Table in the
A&8 core book.
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 49
they've got, what they look like and who there are.
Now for why; if they're up against the good people of column B, cries
of “They're outlaws!” or “Bounty!” is sufficient, but for the outlaws of
column A roll on Table Three.
Keep in mind that this is the excuse, to be utilized in case of the law
showing up. Their actual motivation is covered in the next table (Table
Four). The smarter the outlaw, the more elaborate the story.
Now for the actual why of why they opened fire on the party.
EXAMPLE: Your party is lounging in the noonday heat outside
Rosa's Cantina and down the street comes an unlikely pair, a squat bandito and a lanky feller with a scattergun balanced over his shoulder. They
advance, hefting their weapons as their eyes never seem to stray from your
own. The bandito senses your discomfort and remarks, in broken English,
that if you toss 'em your gunbelts and gold then hightail it outta town
they'll let you live... probably.
That's it, an encounter that fits. Amazingly the bandito has the important telegram that the PC's should've found at the Widow Jenk's homestead! The plot stays on course and the game keeps up a good head of
steam! Now the PC's are probably off to the sawbones to get healed and
see what happens next. Maybe to collect a bounty on those two unsavory
types too...❑
Table Three
Table Four
50 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
sorry, bob -- your KRELLIAN WAR CRUISER explodes.
the BLAST taking out
your HOME PLANET as well
as your COLONIES
looks like STOCKPILING
was a bad idea, dude.
\ saw it
RIGHT from
the START.
Actual Home-brewed
Legends from our readers.
y friends and I, years before "Federation
and Empire" came out, tried to stage a
Star Fleet Battles campaign embracing the
entire General War. Early in Y168, Tom took a
Gorn Light Cruiser and conducted a recon-inforce across the Romulan frontier. There, he
was ambushed by three Warbirds --- each of
which carried the devastating Type-R torpedo
as their main weapon.
Dan placed his three ships in adjacent hexes
to prevent Tom from turning multiple shields
to take the damage, brought all three out of
cloak at the same time, and fired the Type-Rs
from the two flankers. Tom had no chance to
do enough damage to the torps to prevent his
own death, while Dan's reserved third torp
ensured that using the "wild weasel" defense
would just prolong things a bit. Instead, Tom
kamikazed and unloaded everything he had on
the third Warbird before buying the farm.
It was enough to take out the small, lightly
shielded-and-armored vessel, but a poor trade
all in all for Tom --- until we calculated the
Warbird's blast strength.
Under the rules of the day, an unfired plasma torpedo added its full strength to the explosion. As did the Nuclear Space Mine that every
Warbird carried. This quadrupled the
Warbird's normally-modest explosive value,
with the effect that each of the neighboring
Warbirds took 50 points on their flank shields.
BOOM BOOM. A full third of Dan's
Gorn-border Type-R torps went away in a
lovely flash.
I couldn't help myself. I began howling
with laughter, pounding the side of my bed
where I was perched watching the game
unfold. Tom looked positively embarassed at
his good fortune.
And Dan? Dan stood slowly, shakily. He
was actually blanched white. He raised one
trembling finger and asked politely if he could
use the bathroom. Still clutching my stomach
with laughter, it was all I could do to point at
the door. Dan gathered himself, strode into the
bathroom, and closed the door. We could hear
him screaming into the towel for the next three
solid minutes. — Calbeck
was playing a pick-up game of 2nd
Ed. back in the late '80s while staItioned
at Fort Bliss, Texas. The main
group was already mostly 9th and 10th
level, and on a mission to finish clearing
out a mountain stronghold, their goal
nothing less than an Orb of Wyrmkin.
As per the group's rules, I rolled up a
first-level character, and based on his
high INT decided to go with an
Illusionist just for the heck of it. After
all, it was only a one-off.
I was summarily kicked to the curb for
the duration of the crawl, made to follow behind the party as little more than
a pack mule. From a tactical standpoint,
it made sense: I couldn't sling any heavy
magic, and I couldn't even absorb more
than a couple hits at most from the baddies we ran into. But I still resented
being left with nothing more to do than
watch as the game went on. Finally, the
group came to a corner, turned it, and
discovered a long hallway ending in an
ornate door complete with brass knocker, doormat, and bell. The big shots
walked cockily up to the door while I
waited around the corner to file my toenails. After all, I'd just get in the way.
So what did these guys do? Rang the
doorbell, of course. And who should
answer? A vampire, who nodded politely and asked "May I help you?".
The party promptly focused on Ol'
Drac as the End Boss, ignoring the fla-
vor text about how he was attired in
black and white livery. Several rounds of
vicious combat later, huzzah! The vampire was duly vanquished and the party
collectively (sans me) stepped over the
body towards the open door.
Where then appeared the head of a big
fat Red Dragon. "Ol' Drac" had been
his butler. There was a great
"WHOOSH", which surprised me as
the very tip of a hellish gout of flame
licked around the corner and singed my
eyebrows. The party was ash, leaving little old me as the sole survivor.
Immediately, the other players began
pelting me with directions and orders.
How to cart out their bodies, which
cleric in which town to see for the best
rates, how much to pay for bringing
them back from the dead...I looked to
the DM.
"Can I speak to the dead?"
He grinned. "Nope."
I walked up to the dragon, who watched
my approach with obvious amusement.
"Whadda YOU want, shorty?!" he
In a single round, I cast three successive
Cantrips: Spice (Pepper, inside of
Dragon Nostrils), followed by Salt
(inside of same Nostrils) and Tie
(Dragon Whiskers over same Nostrils).
Miraculously, the DM blew all three
resistance rolls for the drac (or maybe he
was laughing too hard to remember).
Twin jets of flame flashed to either side
as the huge beast sneezed through his
twin portholes, then actual tears sprang
to its eyes and it backed out of the doorway to try and fumble at the difficult
human-style knotting with its oversized
talons. With effort, it waved one claw at
me while holding its schnozz with the
other. "Just take what you want and
I really wonder what I did with that
character sheet after all these years...and
whether or not any DM today would
dare let me play that sawed-off first-level
Illusionist with his pretty Wyrmkin
bauble." — Calbeck ❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 51
by Mike Carniello
“Hearing I ask
from the holy races,
From Heimdall’s sons,
both high and low;
Thou wilt, Valfather,
that well I relate
Old tales I remember | of men long ago.”
The Poetic Edda,
“The Wise Woman’s Prophecy” (Völuspá)
nd so begins the story of the Northmen, dwellers
of the northern lands of Scandinavia and Iceland
... the Vikings! The Poetic Edda (there’s also a
Prose Edda) contains a creation myth – creation of the
Universe, the Earth, big gods, little gods, villains. As you
might expect, it also contains a destruction myth –
The Viking tale-tellers were more than just focused on
gods, though: heroes also got their due, through a storytelling object called a “saga.” These were stories about
gods and heroes, men and beasts – some connected, others not.
This brings to mind a campaign which takes place in
your favorite role-playing world. This article is an exploration of a few Viking themes and how these can fit into
your campaign – both as a player and as a GM.
Vikings were the Norsemen – descendants of the
Germanic peoples who started exploring the European
continent some 3,000 years ago. Some of those same peoples were considered “barbarians” later to the Roman
Empire. Settling in northernmost Europe, they became
famed fighters and traders.
Eventually, they turned south and invaded England
and other parts of southern Europe in the 800s. They
adopted Christianity in the 900s – which led to a transition from local chiefs and tribes to a more centralized
authority – call it civilization. During that time, then,
their approach to life and adventure morphed from honor
and retaliation to submission and forgiveness. Heroic
individualism – once treasured – was gone, and things
were never the same again.
Vikings were famous for their seamanship. The waterways allowed them to migrate from their northern lands
in Europe west to Iceland and Greenland, and south to
England and France. A mechanism which facilitated this
was the longship. Living up to their names, these ships
were long – typically having a 7:1 length to width ratio.
Built for speed and efficiency, they are considered today to
be aesthetically pleasing as well. The combination of sails
and oarsmen were the secret of the ship’s success - speeds
of 11 knots were possible in good conditions. Longships
used a single steering oar instead of a rudder. This made
the ships extremely adaptable, able to handle raids up
rivers, and travel in the open sea as well.
RPG HOOK: A “Great Race” on the sea is being
sponsored by a local noble. The players have been given
plans for a new kind of ship – a longship – and charged
with exploring the local forest and village to
find/buy/loot pieces of wood which will construct that
If you’re a comic book fan, chances are you’re familiar
with Thor, the so-called god of thunder. And not only
Thor, but his arch-enemy (and brother) Loki, his pop
Odin, his buddy Baldur, and several others. Actually,
Marvel got it pretty much right when it comes to Asgard.
What happened before Asgard was created was this: the
vast chasm of nothingness eventually produced ice (certainly a dominant landscape feature for the Vikings),
which led to clay, of which was formed Ymir, the Frost
Giant. Other creatures were formed, eventually begetting
Odin, the greatest of the Norse gods. Ymir himself was
52 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
later fashioned into Earth, and Odin and his brothers later
created dwarfs (underground, to dig for gold) and men (in
Midgard, connected to the gods’ home Asgard by the rainbow bridge called Bifrost, guarded by Heimdall).
RPG HOOK: The players are solicited by a pretty big
gawd to take on the biggest task they’ve ever faced: they
are charged with restoring Midgard to its rightful place.
Not being of the superhuman ilk, this may be less a
hack/slash quest and more a diplomacy/charismatic
adventure. In any event, they (hopefully) comply, under
the threat of losing their lives.
This is the battle at the end of the world. In the battle,
gods will fight gods – with the ramification that the world
will end. Unlike other cultures, the Vikings had this story
pretty much nailed down – who was going to fight who,
the winners and losers, and all that. One might argue that
this reflects the fatalism of the Viking culture – men know
their destinies, gods know theirs – and there’s not much
any one of them can do about it. The good news is that
after Raganarok, a new fresh earth will arise.
RPG HOOK: The players are made aware of events
portending the end of the world (Raganarok), and must
take certain steps to prevent it. Depending on a GMs
taste, this might place as participants in a battle, or perhaps as undercover spies trying to prevent the war before
it starts.
There wasn’t exactly a lot of pen and paper around in
the Vikings heyday. They wrote using sharp pointed
objects and carved lines (along with slight variations of
lines) into wood, stone, bone, etc. These were called
“runes” - and were thought to have magical properties.
Being more or less straight lines, they could be easily chiseled in stone or wood. As Christianity was adopted by the
Vikings, the runes brought together religion, language,
and art into a single medium. Nonetheless, the magical
properties remained. From the 13th century Egil’s Saga:
“Let no man carve runes to cast a spell/Unless he first
learns to write them well.”
RPG HOOK: The players pay big money to a fellow
traveler for a treasure map; they later find out that it’s
written using runes. They have to find the old Viking
Theobald Mikelson to help them decipher the map and
find the treasure.
Vikings were notorious hit and run raiders; their mobility was a key to their success. They had command of the
seas, which led to surprise. But they were also familiar
with more static forms of warfare like hand-to-hand fighting. The Vikings were big people, impressive physically –
perhaps due to a high protein diet of meat and dairy; they
averaged 5 foot 8 inches, quite large for that time. They
prided themselves on being impervious to pain, frequently working themselves during battle into a frenzy immune
from pain – the original berserkers. They were also fond
of fighting drunk; again perhaps to ease the pain. Swords
were highly valued possessions, and nicknamed with
appellations “Leg-biter” or “Golden Hit.” They also used
javelins and spears. Axes were also in their armories, but
generally kind of cheap and mainly for those who couldn’t afford swords.
Vikings who died in battle were taken to Valhalla. Not
a heavenly paradise per se, Valhalla was literally a hall –
holding 540 doors, each wide enough to allow 800 warriors enter simultaneously abreast. There, fallen warriors
would feast daily on on boar and mead (drunk from cattle horns).
RPG HOOK: A local noble enlists the players to convince warring bands of nomad to turn from their ways of
war to agronomy and the ways of peace.
Vikings were a restless folk, and on the seas they used
their longships to explore and conquer. Going north and
west from Scandinavia, they were the first peoples to
encounter Iceland then Greenland (and America, their
modern descendants claim). They also went south – to
mainland Europe for conquering, and east as well –
through modern-day Russia and far down, some say, as
RPG HOOK: The players encounter a band of Vikings
who seem convinced that they’ve discovered a new and
prosperous land. No one seems to believe them, however.
The players must figure out that where the Norsemen
landed is indeed America. This might be a bit risky, RPGwise – acknowledging someplace “real” in an otherwise
fantasy game. On the other hand, it’s worked in other
media (e.g., the old “Earth Prime” concept in the DC
Comics multiverse).
As mentioned previously, these giants were yet another
race considered real by Vikings. Considered to have superhuman strength, they weren’t quite gods though, and frequently opposed them.
RPG HOOK: The players encounter a weak coward
who is on way to fight a Frost Giant. The players may voluntarily take pity on him – or get paid to help him –
defeat the giant. This can be played as a spoof on the most
famous Frost Giant story, which concerns the fictional
hero Conan of Cimmeria.
The Vikings were not considered particularly lighthearted types, by themselves and especially from those
whom they conquered. Nonetheless, perhaps their spirit
best captured by considering the final song of one Ragnar
Lodbrok, a warrior thrown into a snake pit for offending
a king:
Gladly shall I drink ale
On high with Aesir
My life-days are ended.
I laugh as I die. ❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 53
Developing a Relationship
with Your Character
by Ann Jenks
t the end of Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker,
impetuous and headstrong, leaves Yoda and his training to help his friends. Yet at the opening of Return
of the Jedi, Luke stands before Jabba, confident, calm, a
Jedi master.
Red Riding Hood’s wolf takes a short cut to grandmother’s house then shows up in Grannies clothes to trick
Red, the old woman having disappeared from the scene.
Romeo and Juliet meet, talk in her room, share moonlight soliloquies at her bedroom window and end the scene
determined to marry.
Clearly in film, stories, and literature, much plot and
character development happens in cracks – between
movies, between scenes, between the lines. We know that
Luke has practiced his Jedi training and gained self-discipline. We know that the wolf ate the Grandmother in a no
doubt heated battle, and we know that Romeo and Juliet
shared more than just a pleasant conversation in the privacy of her bedroom. How do we know all this without narration, without screen time? Quite simply, we see the
results of the characters’ lives outside the narration.
Just as in movies and books, game time passes in creeps,
jolts, and everything in between. Likewise, the narration of
a game never covers every aspect of your character’s actions,
thoughts, reflections, or interactions. Much of what develops your character happens in the cracks - in his head,
between turns, or between sessions. Role playing every
thought and action of every character would quickly
become tedious. However, each player should be aware of
her character’s between scene activities - what she thinks,
when she thinks about it, what she does during down time,
and why. In short, player and character must develop a
Why spend time fleshing out actions for your character
that will likely never be seen in game? Character development.
Creating a rich history, habits, and codes of honor gives
you a solid base for a character. However, unless your character develops, she will soon become flat, dull, and predictable, her own cliché. While your character’s between
scenes thoughts and actions may never see game time, the
results of those thoughts and actions will, if you know what
they are. Developing a relationship with your character
will help you develop your character more easily and
believably. Played well, the other players will see glimpses
of your character’s between sessions life that will leave them
interested and curious. Your character will become an
evolving personality instead of a set of stats on a page.
Start a relationship by getting to know your character.
Be aware of what he is doing both between scenes and
between sessions. Think about the down time your character had last session. Did a four-hour walk through the
wilderness zip by in five minutes? Did your super hero go
to his day job then fast forward to evening? Did your cowboy spend a week home between jobs with his family in less
than a minute? If so, you have some action to fill in.
Quite often, players need to fill in rough details on the
fly. You need to know to some extent how your character
was affected by her between scene actions by the time the
GM moves on to the next scene. If you’ve developed a
solid base for your character – history, habits, etc. – you
should have a rough idea of what your character would
likely be doing and how that fits into his past, present, and
Start by getting an idea of what your character was
doing. No, you don’t need to fill in every mundane detail,
but try to come up with some. Did he let his mind wan-
54 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
der on the walk, talk to someone, play I spy? How was
work? Did he stock shelves, deal with an unpleasant client,
or have a conversation with a close coworker? What was
the week with the family like? Did he do chores, help the
kids with schoolwork, or just try to get time by himself?
Once you figure out rough details of what happened,
think about the effects of that action. Pick up cues from
other players. Their characters are also living between
scenes. If a player announces that his bard is practicing his
flute during that four-hour walk, your character may just
be looking for some peace and quiet when they finally
reach the inn. Maybe he’ll announce, “No, actually, I don’t
want to sit at the group table, I just want to be by myself!”
If your character spent four hours playing I spy with the
half orc in the party, maybe he’s debating whether adventuring is really as exciting as he thought it might be. If your
character’s actions involve another player character, try
spending some time jointly thinking about how the interaction went.
Often times your character’s between scenes actions
involve no other PCs. The results of those actions, though,
are just as relevant. For instance, if your hero received a
compliment from his day job boss and had a great conversation with a close coworker during lunch, maybe he’s having second thoughts about moonlighting as a superhero.
Maybe he won’t jump on that next call right away. On the
other hand, if he stocked shelves all day and got lectured
about not shaving that morning, maybe he’ll throw himself
into crime fighting. In short, all that your character does
with or without other PCs affects how he behaves in the
Often larger chunks of bypassed time fall between
games. Try to take some time before the next game to flesh
out that time for your character. Again, think about what
exactly your character was doing during the missed span of
time. Sometimes no time passes between games. However,
your GM may decide to end a game at the end of one successful run for your cowboy and announces that the next
game will start a week later, game time, when the
characters are ready to head out again. Your
superhero team might take two weeks off
for training and miscellaneous personal
business between sessions. In such cases,
the players have a lot of time to fill in to
make their character’s actions in the next
game interesting and believable.
you, do it. If you keep a journal of your game sessions,
write your between sessions activities down too.
Identify your character’s key activities. Next think about
how your character felt, acted, or reacted during those
activities. For instance, it probably isn’t necessary to decide
how your spy felt at the grocery store while he bought
ketchup, then cabbage, then turnips, then cheese spread.
But it may be very useful to think about how he felt talking to his wife about his latest “business trip” that he concocted as a cover for his recent spy job.
Throughout this process keep in mind the direction in
which you want to take your character. Remember, you,
the player, are ultimately responsible for keeping your character interesting. If your character’s impetuous tendencies
are starting to bug you, find a way through your character’s
experiences in or between sessions to change that behavior.
If your character’s surly, loner behavior is getting old,
decide what experiences might open him up, then manipulate him into those experiences. As long as you’re patient
and wait for appropriate timing, the character development
will feel natural and believable.
When you’re finished analyzing the key actions, decide
how other party members might perceive the change in
your character. For instance, if your superhero is having
trouble in her relationship, she might feel stressed. The
other team members might perceive her stress because she
starts showing up slightly late to scheduled meetings. Or
maybe she used to bring in snacks for the group, but stops
because of her relationship turmoil. On the other hand, if
her relationship is going particularly well, she might show
up a headquarters a bit early, she might be more chipper,
she might show up with a round of coffee for everyone in
the morning. Any of these changes in behavior give the
other characters a chance to
perceive a difference
and give the
Start by blocking out what your character
did. How you do this depends on personal
preference. Some people like sketching out
planners, parceling out activities into time slots.
Others prefer to simply think about it and keep
track in their heads. Others write out a list of
activities and don’t worry about designating exact
times or durations. Whatever way works best for
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 55
players a chance to believe that your character is part of a
world larger than the game time realm. And suddenly your
character becomes deeper and more interesting.
That having been said, remember that sometimes down
time really is just down time. Not every shopping trip,
research work, or rest time is life changing. Leave room for
the daily grind in your time calculations. After all, you
want your character to be interesting, not manic.
Many people feel overwhelmed by the idea of working
on their characters between games, beyond adding points
or leveling up every now and then. After all, we all have
commitments, work, or family. Each player has his own
between scenes life that needs to be lived. How can you
find time to keep your interesting character interesting?
Begin with brainstorming immediately before game.
Most games have at least five or ten minutes before things
start. Try using some of that time to think about your character. Not only will that give you some time to fill in
between scenes action, but it will also help you get into
your character before the game starts. Follow up game sessions with thinking too. Use the time you take driving
home from game, cleaning up after game, or collapsing
into bed after game to think about your character. This
time can be advantageous because your character is fresh in
your mind.
If you need more time than before and after game allows,
multi-task. Make use of time that your are occupied, but
not mentally engaged. Think about your character during
your commute to work, while raking leaves, washing dish-
es, or any activity that requires little thought. If you come
up with ideas, jot them down as soon as you get a chance.
You may even decide to carry a small notebook with you
for such purposes. Time for developing your character is
important, but it doesn’t need to dominate your schedule.
You may find that once you invite your character into
your head, he might build a hitch for his horse, change his
mailing address, and simply refuse to leave. Creating an
interesting, well-rounded, and changing character can be
exciting, but it can also get irritating when that character
starts interrupting or dominating your non-game pastimes
and thoughts. No, you probably won’t start storming the
sewers, but if you find that half your conversations revolve
around your character, or if you just start getting irritated
with how often thoughts of your character pop into your
head, it’s time to back off.
In such cases, try limiting your character brainstorming.
Maybe immediately before and after game provides ample
time for developing your character. If not, expand your
time to only the day before or day after a game. Set a
schedule, then stick to it.
Regardless of when you take the time, getting to know
your character helps keep a game fresh and interesting for
everyone involved. An evolving character can engage players and inspire GMs. So get your character off the paper
and start developing a relationship. It will be well worth
the effort.❑
56 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
By James Montney.
he Ape Gawd chose the great island of Skarish as the birthplace for the Ape Shaman Warriors and modified it to his
will. Volcanoes, rifts, and boiling lakes dot the interior bringing nutrients to the extremely dense and bountiful vegetation. The Apes honor their gawd with many shrines depicting His grumpy aspects and with large stone temples.
The steaming cold Gawdsblud River rushes from a large cavern. A failed Fangaerian expedition searching Skarish's vast caverns also left a ruined keep and a few destroyed villages upon the land. Apes leave the Drunken Monkey Monastery alone
believing that the monks also worship the Ape Gawd.
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 57
Generic dungeons and floorplans for the GameMaster to run with.
By Craig Zipse
Buckville: Black Eyes and Apple Pies
Map 4 in the Wily West Series
omewhere way out west, in bygone days, one
could find adventure to rival any found elsewhere. This series of maps will serve to try and
capture some of that sense of adventure and assist
GMs looking to run a western themed game.
Doubtless, not all the ideas presented here will fit the
feel you want to convey, so feel free to drop and add
as you see fit. These maps are based in and around the
fictional town of Patience located in California along
the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
near the end of the famed California Gold Rush
(sometime in the latter half of the 1800s). There is no
significant effort here to be historically accurate or
technically correct, only to present ideas and themes
to be used by GMs as they see fit. Time to saddle up!
The small town of Buckville is a very loose knit community of farmers and their families. The town itself
consists of a bustling general store, church (with
funeral parlor), mill and schoolhouse (where all matters of import are held). There is no official leader in
Buckville, but the locals look to Jeremiah Stone
(owner of the mill) for guidance. Jeremiah, a failed
banker from back east, is a stern, but fair man whose
bark is fiercer than his bite. Just about everyone is a
farmer, kin to a farmer or going to be a farmer when
they grow up. It’s just what these folk do. Once a year,
they locals hold a relatively large apple festival. It’s
their opportunity to relax, get tipsy and eat some of
the best apple pies west of the Mississippi (or so they
Dr. Clyde Wainwright is the lone physician that serves
the community and he acts as the veterinarian as well
(a critical role in these parts). Clyde makes regular
rounds through the hills and valleys around the area
and is well thought of and respected by the community. As with Jeremiah Stone, his wisdom is held in
high regard. The ladies especially speak highly of him,
for though his bouts of heavy drinking are frowned
upon, his handsome features and bubbly wit are the
talk of the one-horse town. Also from back east, the
good doctor rarely speaks of his past and with good
reason. It seems Clyde Wainwright is actually a wanted man! Having taken up the knife late one night to
treat an emergency case of appendicitis, he’d had too
much to drink and did far more harm than good. It
was a shame indeed, for the victim was none other
than Shannon Holbert, eldest daughter of renowned
Senator Henry Holbert of Richmond. Terrified,
Wainwright said goodbye to his family and headed
west in desperation. The wealth generated by the
Holbert Shipping Company along with Senator
Holberts unflinching need for justice have ensured
bounty hunters from Virginia have been after him
ever since. Clyde is a good man with a bad habit that
will eventually spell trouble for the locals of Buckville.
As for the farmers themselves, they keep busy near
year round and feed most folk for 50 miles distance.
Outside of the troubles that corn whiskey and an
active rumor mill can bring on, the farmers have 3
major problems: Cowboys, Indians and Coyotes.
The cowboys are thugs from the Circle M ranch who
seem to delight in terrorizing the community. There is
always a black eye or shot hog to mark the path of
Bart McDermott’s men. Finding a way to rid the community of the ruffians has long been the aim of
Jeremiah Stone, but he has never had much luck.
Riders who can manage to pull off this task would
surely earn the eternal gratitude of the locals (pie for
The Indians, led by the formidable Shoshone warrior
Ravensky, raid the outlying farmhouses on occasion.
Though rarely is anyone hurt, the Indians are a terrifying lot to the helpless clod-busters. Women have
been kidnapped, but are always released for a small
ransom (usually consisting of food supplies for the
Indian band to help them get through the winter). All
attempts at setting up trade agreements in the past
have failed, but if one could be put in place, the
Indians could make for a strong ally (see Shadow
Canyon next issue for more details).
Despite all their carrying on about ruffians and redskins, the farmers know the coyotes are the most sinister threat to their lifestyle. Lairing in the safety of
caves located in the nearby mountains, the vermin are
rampant throughout the farming community. They
reap havoc on the farmer’s livestock which are critical
– especially in the cold winter months and a regular
ransom is offered for the culling of the devils. ❑
Next Month – Shadow Canyon!
58 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
©copyright 2007 Craig Zipse
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 59
The Hunt for Out-of-Print
Games Worthy of a Second Look
TYPE: Board/Wargame
PLAYING TIME: 3+ hours
DESIGNER: David “Zeb” Cook
$20.00+ on eBay
SCOUTED BY: Andy Miller
he World of Greyhawk is known for its wars, having been
wracked with them throughout its history. The campaign
setting originally conceived of and published by Gary Gygax
has always been one of good versus evil with a strong core of neutrality trying to maintain the balance. However, war has always
played a major part in that campaign.
The Greyhawk Adventures “Wars” boxed set is no exception ...
but that’s obvious, isn’t it?
Wars is a board game with an “Axis and Allies” feel that allows
the players to build up armies and send them across the Flanaess to
fight their enemies. Players can take one of the six major countries
involved in the Greyhawk Wars or any other countries or battles
they wish to recreate and play them out. They can initially choose
between the good countries of Furyondy, Keoland, and Nyrond, or
the evil countries of the Great Kingdom, Iuz, or the Scarlet
Brotherhood, with the chance to send out heroes to make allies, find
magic items, or hire mercenaries; or send their armies sweeping
across the land to conquer their country’s enemies to win for the
side of good or evil once and for all.
The boxed set comes with two large map sheets showing the
entire Flanaess; army, hero, and troop chits; numerous country,
event, mercenary, and treasure cards; an 8-page rule book; an adventure and scenario book, and two 10-sided dice.
The maps show a large portion of the continent of Oerik in the
World of Greyhawk, breaking each country down into sections and
marking off the world with its terrain.
Depending on the country he begins with, each player starts with
a set number of troops, broken down into light, medium, or heavy
infantry and cavalry, scouts, marines, and ships. Add to that a mix
of elves, gnomes, dwarves, orcs, ogres, giants, and even dragons
among others, and each country starts with a decent-sized army.
Each country card shows exactly what troops that country starts
with. Army units begin positioned in the initial countries that the
player starts with although no more than five troop units can be
placed in any single section. These individual armies of up to five
troop chits are each marked with an army marker with the coat of
arms of their controlling country. We found that little rule very useful to help determine who had actually gone.
The scenarios start the players with specific countries, the big six
being the most prevalent in the four scenarios provided. For example, in the two player game, the evil player controls Iuz and the
Horned Society while the good player begins with Furyondy and
the Shield Lands and their respected troops.
Additionally, each player gets a certain number of heroes who can
lend their strength to battles or perform other actions.
The turn sequence starts with the turn order, essentially an initiative roll, making the order of play different every turn. Next,
players place their heroes on the board anywhere they want not
already occupied by enemy units. Heroes can go to the capitols of
unaligned countries to try to act as diplomats, they can search for
60 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
treasure, try to hire mercenaries, or bolster the strength of the player’s various armies.
Once the heroes are placed, each player draws an event card for
that turn. These cards are many and varied and can aid the player,
work against him, or be used against other players. Some event
cards allow for the addition of counters such as giants or dragons
when going into battle, some cause rivers to flood, the Bandit
Kingdoms to attack, alliances to be broken, or even force units to
stay in battle. There are many event cards and though some must
be played immediately, some can be held for later use.
Then comes the action phase in which most things happen.
Armies can move, attack, fortify, or disband and heroes can practice
diplomacy, look for treasure, or hire mercenaries.
Army movement is simple: Infantry can move three spaces and
cavalry can move four. Terrain modifies that: Moving through
forests, hills, or desert counts as two movement places and mountains and swamps halt any movement for the rest of the round.
Certain mountains are impassable along much of their length and
only a few passes exist. Sea areas can only be entered by ships,
which can move up to six spaces while ferries marked on the map
allow troops to move across water spaces. Ships can also transport
up to two other units and this is actually the only time more than
five units can occupy the same area. However, if the ship is sunk,
the units aboard it are lost too.
Combat is very simple. Once an army moves into an area occupied by an opposing army, the defender lines up his troops in a battle line. The attacker lines up his troops to oppose the defender and
any extra troops are allowed to double up on the enemy. Before the
battle is joined, each player can put down up to as many event, mercenary, or treasures cards as they have in their hand to bolster their
troops with mercenaries, extra creatures, or even magic items.
Once the cards are in place, the actual combat begins. The player indicates the unit attacking and rolls a 10-sided die. If the die
roll is equal to or less than the number on the attacking unit, a hit
has been scored. Weaker units such as light infantry and cavalry or
goblins have lower numbers. If they are struck, they are destroyed.
Many chits actually have numbers on both sides and if those are
struck, the chit is overturned to the weaker side to indicate that battalion or platoon is injured but can still fight. These can take two
hits before they are removed.
Battles can be fought for three rounds, four rounds if a hero is
All combat is considered simultaneous except for certain conditions. Attacking over a river or by using a ferry to cross a lake allows
the defenders a single free shot, use of scouts allow them to actually get their attack off before the enemy, and if one side withdrawals,
the other can send cavalry to try to run down their forces, also with
a free shot. Friendly cavalry can be used to screen the retreating
forces if any are available to those troops.
Heroes, in addition to allowing battles to go longer, increase the
strength of one unit he’s placed by one during the fight. Such
heroes aren’t affected by battles and escape regardless of how the battle goes.
Unactivated armies can then try to fortify an area, building castles, or they can be disbanded.
Heroes are more of the meat of the game. Though the battles are
fun, heroes can actually make or break the game. Acting as a diplomat is as simple as rolling a die and comparing it to the red or green
marked number at the top of the country card (for evil or good) the
hero is trying to ally with. A die roll lower to or equal to the num-
ber means a success. Countries are marked as good, evil, or neutral and that affects those numbers. Gaining a country allows the
player to use the country’s troops, which are activated and put into
play at the end of that turn.
Heroes that search for treasure turn the top treasure card, the top
of which lists a monster name, a strength number, and a treasure
number. Another simple 10-sided die roll against the monster’s
strength indicates if the creature defended its treasure or was defeated. If the creature is defeated, the card shows the number of treasure cards the player then draws for himself.
Heroes can recruit mercenaries at military crossroads where they
tend to congregate. When a hero recruits mercenaries, the player
draws a mercenary card, each of which are marked red for evil,
green for good, or white for neutral. If the alignment matches the
player’s or is neutral, he can keep the mercenaries for later battle. If
it is the opposing alignment of the player’s country, it must be discarded.
Any army or hero units that have not been put into play during
the beginning of the phase can be used to heal units that are injured
or add or raise new units from home or allied countries. A few special rules at the end of the book indicate how players can work
together and ways to determine whether a country has been allied
with or conquered. The rules finally end with a few optional rules
for the six main countries.
The adventure book has a detailed timeline and history of the
Greyhawk Wars and contains four scenarios for two, three, five, or
six players. Each scenario includes set-up and victory conditions
though players are also encouraged to devise their own battles.
In play-testing, we found that the rules, though simple, took a
little time to get a good hold on. However, the simplicity of combat combined with actions heroes are allowed to perform made for
a fun game. Greyhawk Wars is somewhat complex overall but the
rules for anything requiring die-rolling are fairly simple. Combat is
easy to pick up very quickly. As each of the units is marked with its
strength, you can quickly gauge what kind of forces you want to put
and where and how you want to fight against your enemies.
You end up with a lot of chits on the board. We ran out of the
army markers (though not troop markers) a couple of times. The
top troop marker can be used as an army marker so long as each
player remembers where their troops are located.
In play testing two separate games of Wars, I still feel I barely
scratched the surface of what is possible with the game. Combat is
very dependent on the dice but requires some strategy as well. Each
game I played lasted about three hours and only got about three
turns in.
Another great feature of the game are the country cards marked
each country’s initial forces (somewhat reminiscent of the original
World of Greyhawk Folio released in 1983). With those cards,
players can start with any country and essentially fight any other
country on the board, making up their own scenarios.
The game is also useful for Greyhawk DMs wishing to more randomly figure out what is going to happen to future of the world or
even how things went in the past. Since each turn represents a year,
the results of the game can actually be used to figure out (roughly)
what overall political action took place that year.
The game is simple enough that it can be enjoyed by just about
anyone though the strategies are complex enough that even hardcore wargamers will enjoy it and could spend hours if not days playing out a full-scale war.❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 61
By Tony DiGerolamo
’m at Dragon Con this month. I had $20 and five minutes to
purchase. Here’s what I got for my twenty bucks:
Owly; Helping Hands is a free
comic book for Free Comic Book
Day from Top Shelf Productions
(topshelfcomix.com). This issue is
b/w and 32 pages with no ads.
Creator Andy Runton’s Owly is brilliantly cute. There is no dialogue,
just pictures and punctuations in
the word balloons. In this story,
Owly and his friend the worm meet
a girl bunny who doesn’t want to get
her hands dirty. Owly is gardening.
Girl bunny is buying a gift for her
dad. It’s an explosion of cuteness I
highly recommend. The six page
back up story featuring a dog called
Korgi, was interesting, but confusing. It’s about a dog that chases an evil goblin, I think. Anyhow,
Owly rocks. Go buy it. Not much Gaming Fodder Potential here,
the GFP rating is only 1, maybe 2 or 3 if you’re running an impossibly cute Toon campaign.
Tabloia #576 is from Salt Peter Press (www.tabloia.com) and is
$5.95 for 46 b/w story pages. This is an anthology comic. The big
story centers around grave robbers and the cops trying to solve the
mystery of the missing corpses. The thread seems to meander with
secondary characters and the art isn’t as clean as I like it. The ideas
had some potential, but the dialogue didn’t grab me. This issue featured pin ups from Mike Mignola and Tony Millionaire. Kudos to
Salt Peter Press for pushing an anthology with several continuing stories. The GFP rating is a 4 for your d20 Modern campaign.
Sorrow #1 of 4 is from Image Comics (www.imagecomics.com)
and is $2.99 for 22 b/w story pages. A couple and a girl pick up a
mysterious hitchhiker then get into a car accident in the middle of
what turns out to be a strange town. Stranded because of their car,
the hitchhiker gets arrested and the sheriff is more than he seems.
I’m not sure, but this may be a town full of smart zombies or cannibals. It had an opening similar to an obscure horror movie called
“10,000 Maniacs”. Rick Remember’s story is okay, but just getting
started. It’s mildly interesting, but I’d have to see the next issue for
a real sense of where the story is going. The GFP is 5 for your
Horror RPG.
Mystery Manor Haunted Theater #3 is from Silver Phoenix
Entertainment (www.silverphoenix.net) and is $3.95 for 40 color
pages. This is a horror anthology and a “Collector’s Ashcan Limited
Edition”. I wish it were limited to only one so no one else had to
suffer through this. Despite competent artwork from the varied list
of artists (including two pages from my buddy Chris Moreno) most
of the stories go nowhere. There’s an okay story with the Krampus
demon that steals kids, but it shifts abruptly like there is a page missing toward the end. Some of the stories don’t even keep continuity
from page to page, as characters clothes and hair change. Brutal. I
give it a GFP of 2.
Kabuki #8 is from Icon (www.marvel.com) and is $2.99 for 26
color story pages. Okay, this review will probably totally anger the
many David Mack fans out there, but let me assure you that I think
he’s a very nice person. I think it’s cool that he’s trying different art
styles. That being said, I found this issue pretty pretentious.
Basically, Kabuki tells her friend that they’ll use the media as a propaganda weapon against their enemies. I guess the implication is that
the Noh (the enemy) is real and that the comic is being drawn by
David Mack at the behest of the “characters” who are real. There’s a
lot of quotes and philosophizing going on. Maybe it’s lost on me.
It’s hard for me to empathize with what feels like the creator’s musings. It’s like he’s working through his thoughts as I’m reading them.
I guess I’m more of an “end results” fan, so I’d rather not hear all this
rambling. Quite frankly, I’ve probably jumped on board way too
late in this series. The GFP is 0 unless you can find someway to use
philosophy in your RPG.
O.C.T. Occult Crimes Taskforce #4 is from Image and is $2.99
for 22 color story pages. Rosario
Dawson lends her likeness to this comic
book about magic cops that chase down
magic bad guys. It’s like Law and Order,
but with magic spells. I enjoyed this a
lot. There’s lots of rich detail in this
world, especially with the spells. Writer
David Atchison, with Dawson’s help,
Additionally, the art consisted of what
looked like photos transformed into art.
It’s a shame this has to end at four, but
hopefully Image and 12 Gauge (the studio) will bring it back. GFP is 10 as the
back contains descriptions of the spells.
The Mice Templar #1 is from Image Comics. It’s $3.99 for 50
color pages. I know Mike Oeming, who drew this and created the
story with Bryan Glass, who is the writer. That being said, it’s awesome. Mike and Bryan are already getting comparisons to Mouse
Guard (which I still haven’t read). The epic story is about a group of
kids training under a Mike Templar Knight. When the rats, who are
like orcs, attack, they are forced to grow up fast. It’s just a sweet
book. Pick it up. GFP is 8.
Finally, my webcomic pick is Where the Buffalo Roam
www.shadowculture.com/wtbr/index.html. According to Wikipedia,
this is one of the oldest webcomics around. It’s a story about college
students, although the current strips are stand alones. It doesn’t have
much of an archive, but I thought it was funny. The GFP is 3 or 10
if I ever get off my butt and design the Super Frat RPG.
Until next time fanboys, see you at the con.
Tony DiGerolamo is the writer/creator for The Travelers, Jersey Devil, The Fix and Complete
Mafia for d20. He is also a writer for the Bart Simpson and the Simpsons comic books. Don’t
miss his webcomic Super Frat at www.superfrat.com and look for Complete Mafia: West Coast
coming soon. To see more of his deranged scribblings visit www.thefixsite.com. Complaints and
comments can be sent to Tony DiGerolamo c/o SJRP, PO Box 839, Hammonton, NJ
08037you’d like to see covered, please e-mail him at [email protected] ❑
62 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
A Gamer’s
R a n t on
t he M ov i e s
By Noah Antwiler
Babylon 5:
The Lost Tales
ou really want to know why I'm
such a surly fellow? Why I sit
on the sidelines of endless partisan nerd bickerings like Kirk vs. Picard,
Mike vs. Joel, Ginger vs. Mary Ann and
deride both sides for their mutual
short-sightedness? It's because I belong
to a forgotten, displaced minority of
sci-fi geeks, long pitied for our inability
to let go of the past.
Star Wars? Star Trek? Hah! It's true,
at one time I counted myself among the
loyal cults of Roddenberry and Lucas,
but that was before I discovered the
glory of the greatest television program
in recorded history: Babylon 5! You
want best captain? I got your Captain
Sheridan right here. Q has nothing on
Kosh, and I'll take Michael Garibaldi
over Worf any day. Sure, the guy is a
drunk, but he's got instincts and can
whip up some mean Italian cuisine. B5
isn't even mentioned in the same breath
as those other sci-fi posers. I'm from
the old-school clan who still refers to
Joe Michael Straczynski as “God
Himself ” and will utter “praised be His
name” whenever even his initials are
You don't even know the schism that
occurred recently within the ranks of
his own fans, when most of them in a
stunning display of disloyalty jumped
off the bandwagon after his notorious
run writing The Amazing Spider-Man
comics. Damn cowards. Fifteen years
of staunch faithfulness and all of a sudden they turn on JMS (praised be His
name) because they don't like Peter
Parker having bone spurs and organic
web-shooters. Cry me a dang river!
All right, the bone spurs were pretty
I consider Babylon 5 to be the last
Hate the Gamer’s Rant on Movies? Cut along dotted line to remove it completely from your copy of KODT.
truly good sci-fi on television until
Firefly came along. That was a ten-year
gap. You can imagine why B5 fans are
a generally prickly sort, defending a
show that hasn't seen regular airtime in
a decade aside from irregular runs on
satellite and cable. Even Farscape gets
network airtime, and don't think that
doesn't stick in our craw. We can catch
Space Muppets and two versions of
fricking Stargate any time but you want
Babylon 5, you have to get some
DVDs. You're telling me they'll show
Lexx and Painkiller Jane, but B5 isn't
good enough to work into a lineup.
Imagine my surprise when I heard
the news that there was a new Babylon
5 DVD scheduled for release a mere
month before it hit store shelves; news
that would have set the nerd community ablaze years ago but barely warranted
a mention on my own message boards,
and didn't even register on the Sci-Fi
Wire. It's times like these that make me
embarrassed to count myself among the
geek community. To think: we traded
B5 for Stargate Atlantis and the new
Flash Gordon series. It makes me weep.
The Lost Tales is a little hard to
describe. It's JMS's (praised be His
name) way of developing a new series
without actually calling it a series,
because the networks still own the
rights to the television show, but not
the motion picture rights. The general
premise is that this disc (subtitled
Voices in the Dark) is the first in an
anthology, each with a theme, each
with character-driven episodes that
tend to focus on what's happened to
each individual cast member ten years
after the conclusion of the television
In this case, Voices in the Dark is a
skillfully-written two-part episode. The
first half features (the promoted)
Colonel Elizabeth Lochley as she deals
with a threat quite unlike anything the
other station commanders have ever
encountered. Apparently the station
endures, but she's got a crew member
locked in the brig who openly claims to
be a demon named Asmodeus. It's a
hard claim to dispute when the man
radiates a field of intense coldness and a
foul stench, and can conjure of hellfire
and brimstone at will. It's got Lochley
weirded out enough to call for a priest
to perform the first official exorcism in
a hundred years.
Even I'm a little surprised to say that
it's good to see Lochley back. I don't
think anybody ever really welcomed her
character since she was introduced so
late in the series. Even then, she was little more than a placeholder to fill the
station's chain of command, and was
never given anything interesting to do
during the series' run. Her episode
doesn't tie in to galactic politics or any
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 63
focus on individual characters, but B5
like a lot of science fiction had charm
because of its ensemble cast and their
unique interplay. JMS is doing the best
he can, but he may have written himself
into a dozen corners. I don't think he
ever sincerely planned to return to B5.
At the end of the series most of the characters went their separate ways and said
their final goodbyes. But even so, no
Delenn? She's his wife.
It's also empty in other ways. The
computer graphics are leaps and bounds
better today than they were when the
series was new. So good, in fact, that it
makes the old CG look downright childish. And it's so good that almost the
entire series is filmed in front of
Vancouver's biggest green screen. I'm
sure it saved a lot on production costs,
but no matter how good your chromakey work is, when you do this much
of it the show looks fake and vacant.
What few actual sets they use are barely
serviceable blank walls. There's barely
even any furniture! Most of Sheridan's
half of the episode is filmed in the middle of a completely black room occupied
only with a pair of small chairs, because
the Minbari are “minimalists.” Uh huh.
The other interview segments on the
DVD make it clear that JMS does not
intend for this to lead into a resurgence
of the television show. “Hell no!” he says
to the question. This attitude annoys me
a fair bit. It's painfully obvious that Joe
is highly resistant to the idea of pitching
a new series because he wouldn't retain
full creative control over it. And that's
understandable; his work is a disaster
when networks meddle with it. He's
been bitten several times before with the
criminally-bungled Crusade series, the
failed Legend of the Rangers pilot, and
the blink-and-you-missed-it conclusion
to Jeremiah.
Yet, as good as this DVD was, and
don't think I'm not grateful, what's the
point? He just wants to bring in old
actors from the show to fiddle around in
front of a green screen for a while?
There's no money in this. It's just barely above a Brady Bunch reunion in
terms of credibility. If he's not building
up to something greater with all this,
why bother?
Hate the Gamer’s Rant on Movies? Cut along dotted line to remove it completely from your copy of KODT.
never find anything out about the technomages, what they want or how they
can do what they do. This is by design,
of course, but it's a little frustrating to
know that Galen only now reveals that
he can see at least thirty years into the
future, never mind how. This might
have been useful to know during the
Shadow War. And if technomages are
sworn not to interfere in such matters,
why now is he attempting to alter future
events by telling the president to discreetly assassinate people? Of course,
that's assuming Galen really can see the
future, and isn't just screwing with people, which is entirely possible because
Galen is, overall, a smartass with nothing
better to do.
The real question posed here is, if you
could have killed Adolf Hitler as a child- someone who hadn't yet committed
any crime, but would set into motion
untold atrocities in the future-- would
you? My question: if you could punch
Galen in his smug bald head, how many
Anyway, Bruce Boxleitner's performance is a comparatively complex one.
His relationships with the other characters are very complicated, given his position of authority, and he's mentally worn
thin by the constant responsibility of
maintaining the alliance and his own
rapidly-diminishing mortality. Peter
Woodward is also effective as Galen, but
it's amusing to watch him speak with
Straczynski in the DVD's special features, as even he says he knows nothing
about his own character's background,
desires, or drives. Woodward is basically
relying only on his natural charisma and
sheer guesswork. If you ask me, it's inexcusable for a director to leave an actor
hung out to dry like that. How is an
actor supposed to do a good job if he has
no clue who he's trying to portray?
The homecoming to Babylon 5 is
very bittersweet, however. The nowdeceased actors Richard Biggs and
Andreas Katsulas are dearly, dearly
missed. One almost feels like it isn't
Babylon 5 anymore without G'Kar and
Doctor Franklin. The characters refer to
them as having gone “beyond the rim,
out there...somewhere,” which is a classy
way of giving them a sendoff, but going
back feels like ripping open old wounds.
In many ways, they'd become the heart
and conscience of the series. It's just not
as fun anymore without them.
Likewise, while these episodes were
well-done, they seem empty. I understand that these episodes are meant to
of the deep signs and portents we're used
to, but actually for Lochley that's okay
here. It's the first chance Tracy Scoggins
has had to shine, and she proves herself
well here. Lochley was simply not a part
of the overarching storyline and it would
have felt wrong to force her into that
In fact, I was rather impressed with
how quickly the script gave her that elusive sense of importance she'd been lacking until now. There are a few rare
moments early in the television series
when you see or hear something ominous you know will have an awesome
payoff later. I got that rare chill again
when Asmodeus looks Lochley square in
the eye and reminds her “We will
remember you...” It's a bit silly, I guess.
I doubt we'll return to her story. But
man, that tingle was still there.
Lochley's episode has reportedly
turned a lot of fans off for being preachy.
The decline of faith is a central focus
here. Not many people believe in the
divine as technology has marched
onward and humanity has colonized the
stars. Religion struggles to survive as
space, the final frontier is explored and
we find only void awaiting us. Does
faith lose relevance as science explains
those things we could only attribute to
God centuries ago? Personally I don't
care if the episode is preachy as long as
the matter is respectfully handled, and it
is. I'm not a religious sort, but I'm
grateful for the chance to find out who
Colonel Lochley is. It helps that the
episode is superbly acted by everyone
involved, as this material could easily
have degenerated into camp and
scenery-chewing given the wrong actors.
The second half reintroduces us to
John Sheridan, longtime president of the
Interstellar Alliance. He departs from
his base on Minbar, due for a reunion on
Babylon 5 when he starts having vivid
prophetic visions brought to him by the
inscrutable and impatient technomage
Galen (veteran of the failed and mostlycrap B5 spinoff series Crusade). He
warns Sheridan that the Centauri Prince
Regent, his guest, will in thirty years
become Emperor and wreak untold
destruction upon Earth. He gives
Sheridan the chance to avert this genocide by providing the opportunity for an
“accident” that will prevent the nightmare before it begins.
I found this episode to be a little
weaker of the two, if only because I
could never fully appreciate the Galen
character as much as others seem to. We
64 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
By Kenneth Newquist
uneQuest is back in print thanks to a new edition
from Mongoose Publishing. The venerable gaming system uses an updated version of familiar percentile
rules and is set in the established world of Glorantha.
Mongoose's official web site for RuneQuest contains news
about the product line, free downloads (including a previews
for most products and character sheets) and the SRDs for the
core book, companion book and monster book.
If you'd rather have the SRDs in a more web-friendly format, then check out the MRQ Wiki. It features a mediawiki-powered version of the complete RuneQuest SRDs as
well as links to publishers, products, magazine articles, and
web sites.
If you're looking to go old school, visit the Runic System
Reference Document, which presents an OSRIC-style take
on the original Runequest rules. It's got everything you need
to role up a character, but it's been stripped of everything
save game mechanics.
For still another take on RuneQuest, visit RuneSlayer.
This game was originally called RuneQuest: Slayer and was
intended to revitalize the Avalon Hill role-playing line with
its publication in 1998. Then Wizards of the Coast bought
Avalon Hill and the project was canceled. The game lives on
as a download from the RuneSlayer web site, with complete
rules, two WarClans source books, a character sheet, and a
sample adventure.
Glorantha.com is the home of Issaires, Inc, the copyright
holder for RuneQuest. Here you can learn more about the
mythical fantasy world that's the site's namesake, as well as
HeroQuest, an alternative set of rules for playing in the
Glorantha setting
Delving beyond the publishers turns up Ultimate
RuneQuest Resources, a fan site packed with runic goodness. Here players will find archives of mundane and magical items, myriad kinds of magic, and alternative rules. Maps
of fan and official worlds can be found as well as sample
NPC statblocks.
There is 10 years of history behind Pete's RuneQuest &
Roleplaying web site, and it shows. The site hosts a small
horde of old gaming zines from the 1990s, dynamic lists of
found items, mutations and magic from the Chaos Project,
numerous variant rules and much more.
GBC's Portal to RuneQuest & Glorantha easily has the
most comprehensive list of runic sites on the web. There are
dozens of links to sites supporting all major editions of the
game as well as variants such as a RuneQuest-powered
Those seeking campaign inspiration can stop by David
Dunham's Gloranthan Page, which contrary to its title is a
sprawling site including summaries of a half-dozen cam-
paigns. There's also a huge index of Gloranthan products,
including print books, computer games and board games
and write-ups on everything from subcults to pilgrimages to
Elric rules variants.
Basic Role-playing is a web site for Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying RPG system, which is a generic, percentile based offshoot of its familiar Call of Cthulhu rules (an evolution of
the self-same rules that powered the Elric-themed
Stormbringer and the original RuneQuest. It has reviews of
BRPG rules supplements, a fanzine dedicated to the system,
and a growing list of system-related links.
Ken Newquist is the editor of Nuketown (www.nuketown.com), a webzine dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of geekdom. He’s also the host of Nuketown Radio
Active, the zine’s sort-of-weekly geek podcast. Ken's always looking for new
“WebScryer” suggestions, so if you know of a cool RPG web site, or have a subject
you’d like to see covered, please e-mail him at [email protected] ❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 65
by Mur Lafferty
got involved in Orkut, the social networking site, years ago,
when I think there was just Friendster and Orkut. The minute I
got into this social networking thing, I started to feel it. You
know: IT.
If you’re a geek, you know what I’m talking about. If you ever saw
a poster for an upcoming dance, you know what I’m talking about.
If it ever became time to pick sides during recess? Definitely. It’s the
social anxiety that we geeks grew up with, the, “oh crap no one likes
me and here’s another event that will showcase this.”
Orkut was the worst, where you could rate your friends based on
how sexy they were, how cool they were, and how deserving they
were of 1 – 10 smiley faces. This caused great anxiety in me, as I
watched obsessively to see how my friends considered my scores. I
watched my icons line up – ice cubes for “cool” and hearts for “sexy”
– noticing that I was getting many more cool points than sexy. I
found this distressing (you can take the wallflower out of high
school but you can’t take the high school out of the wallflower. Or
something. That made sense when I thought it in my head…) but
it also amused me that someone thought I was cool. Me, the geek
with the glasses and mousy brown hair, cool. Hah! The fools. I finally decided it wasn’t worth it and stepped away, thinking it didn’t
matter. It would blow over.
Ah, the naiveté of youth. I never even stopped to consider that
‘net trends are like mice. Or cockroaches. Or crime dramas. If you
see two, many more are going to spring up soon. MySpace,
Friendster, FaceBook, Pownce, Twitter, etc. They’re everywhere.
Everywhere I turn, I’m being invited to join another site that will do
nothing more than give me anxiety about whether people like me or
not. It will make me obsess over my number of friends and wonder
if my best friend/worst enemy has more than I do. (Not that I talk
to her anymore – that’s another story.)
I’m supposed to get AWAY from this anxiety as an adult, right?
Get this confidence thing, this feeling of how other peoples’ opinions of me don’t matter as much as my opinion of myself, and if I
am a happy geek, confident in my abilities, my intelligence and my
beauty (or, if not beauty, my complete mastery of personal hygiene),
then that will show through and people will like me because of that
alone. People like confident people. That’s why cons are so much
fun; we can be confident with our fellow geeks around us. I may not
be able to discuss the latest Gray’s Anatomy, but damn can I talk
Arkham Horror strategy.
And now we have the strange issue of the fact that the Internet
was ours to begin with. It belonged to the geeks. Sure, they laughed
at us when we stayed up all night chatting on IRC, but now that
there’s Second Life and MySpace, it’s cool to be online all the time.
So we should own those networking sites – no, we should PWN
them. But the networking sites still stink of popularity contests from
high school and therefore I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach
as I think about running for student council (I lost to Valerie
Rupert) or the race for homecoming queen (hah – never was even in
the running, never got a date for the dance, even). Or even though
I was a pretty good kickball player, I was still firmly entrenched in
the third tier of people picked: athletic boys, then popular girls, then
athletic girls.
MySpace, for all its flaws, at least is better for my fragile ego than
Orkut. It’s me and my #1 friend, Tom, together in our never ending
quest for friends. No one rates me, no one decides to give me cool
points, and all that matters is my number of
No, wait, that’s like
high school too. How
many valentines did YOU
get, Mur?
logo by angi shearstone
But MySpace plays on one of our
greatest flaws as geeks – the desire to be liked is so strong that we’ll
friend anyone that comes through. Bands and skanky models are the
worst, I don’t even know how they go through the site and randomly friend people, but I go to their site and realize, with shock and dismay, that they don’t really want to be my friend, that I’m not special, cause they have 20,000 friends and I’m but a voice in the
wilderness. With 20,000 friends, it will be quite difficult to set up a
lunch date with them. It’s the typical geek response of, “gasp! You
used me!” and the popular kids laughing and going off with Andrew
McCarthy to have a root beer float while I go home alone and drink
What really surprises me is people who put utterly offensive stuff
on their MySpace page – sexist images and/or music – and then try
to friend me. Are they stupid?
Oh sure, some people say that the sites are good for connecting
with people you’ve lost touch with. I’ve discovered LinkedIn is a
good place for former coworkers that I didn’t like in the first place
to get back in touch with me. MySpace is an excellent tool for a
semi-stalker I had in high school to keep pinging me, calling me by
my legal name as if we share some sort of bond and he’s privileged
to use it. Yeah. They’re fantastic for dredging up the silt that you had
hoped had settled from your past.
OK, whine whine, I know. Facebook has proven to be a useful
tool, helping me connect with people on a more professional level.
I’ve met several podcasters through that site, as well as some people
with whom I attended the scifi workshop Viable Paradise last fall.
Although people keep attempting to turn me into a zombie, vampire, werewolf, or pirate (how come no one’s tried to make me into
a robot? I’d be a robot…), overall I find it worthwhile. I just try not
to watch too obsessively to see who’s added me to their top friends,
or who has compared me in the super-friendly “compare your
friends” app. And yes, I have several listeners to my podcasts who
want to connect with me via these sites, and that proves a useful outlet to communicate. Although, these podcasts do have websites…
with blogs… and comments…
It’s becoming too time consuming, honestly, to keep up with
them all. I have a limited amount of time to worry about whether
people like me or not, and that angst is spent mostly in real life.
Once we get online, it becomes a time-suck to check all of the sites
to see if I’m liked or not. I focus mainly on Facebook, but peek into
myspace every once in a while to clean out the friends requests and
see if there are any new ones.
But really, these networking sites are both a blessing and curse for
geeks. Sure, it’s an online tool, which makes us automatically comfortable with it, but the playground team-picking, first-second-and
third-best friend-ness of it all lands us squarely back where were half
a lifetime ago. And by “we” I mean “me”. I bet you don’t have this
problem. I bet you were the homecoming queen/king. Dangit.
It’s you and me against the world, Tom.❑
66 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
By Rick Moscatello
wo strategy games crossed my desk this month.
Normally, I favor the old turn based stuff…it’s just
cool to have an opportunity to think about your
moves, and the big bully in me loves to play a solid hour
after the game is won, and the computer is more than obliging. This time around, though, neither really rocked the
The first strategy title was Weird Worlds: Return to
Infinite Space. This is your basic solitaire rpg/exploration
game. Usually, this stuff is done in the fantasy or borderline
fantasy genre, such as the excellent Oasis, or Fastcrawl, to
name a pair of examples in a genre that dates back to the
earliest days of computer gaming, but this game takes the
experience to a sci-fi milieu, with limited success.
The backstory is your basic “we’ve lost track of the
universe, go take a ship and explore everything” storyline,
with financing provided by criminal-esque thugs. You score
points based on what you find, from technology to alien
races, to alien bugs, and other stuff. The economic system
is very crude; everything is rated from 1 to 5 points. When
buying or trading, you just trade an equivalent amount of
points…a 3 point laser cannon is worth a 1 point space bug
and a 2 point space trinket, for example.
When you explore a new system, a variety of things
can happen. Most deadly is encountering an alien race; your
ship is flat out pathetic, and, even with mercenaries (hire for
a random item), and top equipment, your chances are low.
Luckily you always have a chance to run away before the
shooting starts. There are a couple of naturally friendly alien
races; one is particularly important, as they trade item for
item, so you can trade a 1 point item in for a 5 pointer, and
reap mega rewards. Usually you find random loot on each
planet you visit. Granted, space bats and giant snails and
such are reasonable enough, but random hyperdrives seems
a bit odd for a regular event.
Getting superior engines is pretty much the way to
“win”, and score maximum points. You have 10 years to
complete the game. If you never upgrade your engines,
that’s about how long it takes to visit most of the star systems; a hyperdrive lets you go from system to system in 2
days, allowing you to explore everything with loads of time
to spare (although, even with everything explored, you still
generally can’t fight off aliens).
There are loads of little ‘random’ events in the game,
but it’s just not enough. These types of games live and die
on variety, and you’ll see 90% of the possibilities in the first
handful of games. You’ll always find that silly item-trading
race, you’ll always get the ‘random’ thief, you’ll always get
the ‘wish-granting’ dude, you’ll almost always find the
hyperdrive, and so on. There are some extreme events, such
as suns systematically going supernova and alien races living
in black holes, but your chances of fighting off such menaces are so slim that these are pretty much ‘game over’ situations, unless you get extraordinarily lucky.
Once time starts to out, you need to get back to home
base—you suffer a penalty if you’re late. Then, your score is
tabulated based on an unknowable formula (although I
believe ‘more is better’ is the basic theory), and your final
career is chosen. Game over.
Granted, Weird Worlds is a fast game and never plays
exactly the same way twice…but it does play a very similar
way very often, making it just a beginning when it comes to
making a fine solo game in the sci-fi genre.
Next up is Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword. Civ4
is a great timesucker, and horribly addictive, but the one big
flaw it possesses is it doesn’t really handle modern combat
well. A system that works for axes and bows just can’t handle tanks and bombers smoothly. Apparently I’m not the
only one who believes so, and this expansion, as one can tell
from the title, attempts to address this issue, along with a
whole lot more.
The first big change is the addition of spies; old versions of civ allowed for the stealing of technology, and it’s
good to see this fun idea (and a way to keep up with the still
madly cheating computer) finally make a comeback. You
can get spies once you research Writing, so this really affects
the whole game, and not just the ‘beyond the sword’ era.
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 67
Spies can do a wide variety of things, including even forcing an enemy civilization to change religion to yours (probably the biggest deal, since diplomacy is MUCH easier with
shared religion), as well as civics.
your priests asking you to settle a city WAY outside your
boundaries), usually it’s just little stuff like mines and buildings blowing up, or forests burning down. Again, late in the
game, you’ll usually have the money to cancel the event.
The computer, of course, gets a massive bonus with
spies, and you’ll be overrun with them from time to time.
Luckily, it favors poisoning the wells, causing a horrible pollution/growth penalty to a city for decades, and blowing up
buildings, along with occasionally blowing up your important improvements, such as oil wells and gold mines. You
do have the option to do the same, sort of, but the computer’s growth and production penalties makes doing so
mostly pointless—the turns you spend manufacturing a spy
and moving it out to perform a risky sabotage will be canceled by one turn of success by the computer, which also is
VERY good at assassinating your spies (I’ve yet to pull this
off, myself ).
In theory, the one game change that could most affect
things is corporations. Corporations are great wonders,
although they’re only built by great people—an extra precious resource late in the game, where great people are far
more seldom born. Building such a thing grants some small
bonus to cities where the corporation is located. Alas, corporations are a little bugged, and have tremendous overhead costs; rarely do the benefits (a few extra research or
food) sufficiently pay for the massive expenditure of gold.
I’ve never built one, as there are already too many uses for
great people by the time the option for corporations comes
While spies do add a bit to the game, the computer
AI does spend too much time dealing with it; a new player
can simply ignore them and play a perfectly good game (in
fact, except for the Super Spy great person, the only way to
seriously steal technology, it’s probably best to do so). Spies
don’t much affect the modern era, either, where improved
technologies can negate many of their actions.
There are also ten new civilizations, but, again, the
emphasis is on ancient/pre-modern cultures like
Babylonians, Byzantines, and Mayans. The most advanced
‘special’ unit belongs to the Ethiopians, with their Oromo
Warriors replacing Musketmen (yes, that’s beyond the
sword, but this is the only firearms based land unit in the
new mix).
Another addition to the game is random events. Alas,
they are primarily bad, although you can spend money to
negate them. While some events can be interesting (such as
Some new wonders are tossed in; the highlight is the
Apostolic Palace (i.e., the Vatican), a medieval-era United
Nations that’s well worth controlling, as you can enforce
peace and grant cities to yourself, among other little useful
abilities. The best new national wonder is the Moai Statues,
like the dudes on Easter Island. Curiously, they grant a production bonus to a city’s water tiles, something coastal cities
often need since they’re usually in the lowlands, away from
production-useful tiles like hills.
There are, at least, a few useful modern-era units.
Most amusing is the zeppelin, a feeble way to bomb enemy
stacks. Anti-tank infantry is a close second—before, if one
guy had tanks and the other didn’t, the latter was pretty
much screwed, but the AT infantry gives at least a slight
chance to hold off the treaded menaces. Finally, there’s the
paratrooper, a way to finally get some infantry at the front
lines, a difficult premise, especially on land maps. There are
other units, although only the cuirrasier, a cavalry piece
between knights and late 19th century cavalry, will see
much play, the others being even more specialized than the
AT infantry.
There are also a bunch of scenarios, although such
things are an acquired taste; many of them have very special
rules, a lot to learn for an 8 hour game you’ll only play once.
Still, the zombie-horde scenario Afterworld does merit a
I dispute that Beyond the Sword really adds much,
well, beyond the sword, and it’s not as absolutely critical as
the Warlords expansion. Now’s a great time to pick up that
earlier expansion, especially if it’s already packaged with
Civ4. BtS, as the fans call it, while nice, isn’t necessary, and
it’s worth waiting a few months to get it at a better price. ❑
68 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
A review by Paul Westermeyer
The Historian
By Elizabeth Kostova
n October ghosts and ghoulies usually troop about demanding candy in the voices of children, or haunt the airwaves in
cartoon form. But despite the commercial glitter and traditional fun, at heart Halloween connects to our deepest fears
about the dark, about the sacred, and the profane. Vampires
have stood near the center of the holiday’s stranglehold on the
modern imagination throughout the twentieth century, that bloodiest, most savage
period in human history. Indeed, history
has revealed the deepest, ugliest wells of the
human spirit and we have, in essence, personified that lust for blood and power in the
mythical vampire.
One novelist has taken this juxtaposition
of cause and effect to its logical point, placing the vampire within the history of religious and ethnic atrocity which so bloodily
stains the century. Elizabeth Kostova’s
debut novel is a remarkable effort in the
highest traditions of fantasy, employing the
struggle against a fantastical monster of
mythology and legend in its quest to understand issues of history and family. But the
fantasy is very low key; the magic is offscreen, obscure, and unexplained.
Kostova’s novel follows three strands of events through history, as three generations of a family of historians struggle to
unravel the mysteries surrounding Vlad Tepes, Dracula, and his
remarkable ‘Dragon Books’. One strand wends its way through
the turbulent 1930s, the most detailed account plows through
the 1950s, and the third account ties the threads together diffidently as it meanders through the 1970s. The story is further
connected in time to the first decade of the twenty-first century
as the narrator recounts the tale. The novel is full of mysteries,
and the reader must explore them alongside the narrator as she
uncovers evidence piece by piece, much as a rose unfurls slowly
over time.
The cast of characters is remarkable for containing three historians who act like historians, Bartholomew Rossi, the narrator’s father, Paul, and the narrator herself each pursue the mystery of the Dragon Books with scholarly precision, there are no
archaeological bullwhip’s here! Each displays, moreover, considerable unwillingness to acknowledge the supernatural nature of
the mystery, the supernatural aspect is virtually unspoken for
most of the novel.
The style is very ‘European’ and thus quite appropriate to the
subject but it is also homage to Stoker’s original Dracula. As in
Stoker’s work, much of the story is revealed through letters, journals, and other finds. There is a cryptographic and riddling edge
to the story, quite reminiscent of scholars
struggling with ciphers and lost ‘Rosetta
Stones’ but the hints and allusions tie
together well so that the plot, when finally revealed, is quite seamless. Moreover,
like Stoker, Kostova uses Dracula himself
quite sparingly, he appears in only a very
few scenes, always mysteriously, and
always to great effect. His conversation
with Rossi is a purposeful echo of the first
meeting between the vampire and
Jonathan Harker.
For the game master, the story presents
a text-book example of how to construct
clues and hints that should lead the players from point A to point B while leaving
them with an illusion of free will.
Moreover, it is an excellent example of the
sort of shadowy, mystical warfare that might take place between
an ancient lich or vampire, and the foes that might hunt him.
As a modern campaign example it presents a pleasant alternative
to the hormone drenched adolescent angst of the World of
Darkness and most other modern gothic horror.
The novel is far from action-packed. The excitement and
drama comes most often from the uncovered page or recently
recovered folk-song, rather than machine gun bullets and flashing swords. For some, this will be reason enough to leave it
alone. But if you find philosophical debate, and spiritual peril
thrilling, and if you enjoy examining recent history through
unusual prisms, then pick up the The Historian. I’ll be very surprised if you can put it down again.
Paul Westermeyer is a professional military historian for the United
States Marine Corps. He’s read fantasy and science fiction voraciously since
the mid-Seventies, and has played role-playing games since 1979. ❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 69
e’re exploring the possibility of adding two new features to the KODT
Wline-up (to be rotated with existing semi-regular columns). The gaming
industry has been experiencing a lot of exciting changes in recents months/years
and we’re looking to cover various aspects of the market we don’t feel have been
getting adequate coverage.
Games released in PDF only format has become an increasingly popular trend.
We’re looking for someone to provide thumb-nail reviews for such releases.
Another change in the industry is the growing “Indie” movement. Games that
aren’t likely to be found on the shelf at your favorite local game shop but attracing fanatically loyal followings none the less.
Sample columns and proposals can be sent to [email protected]❑
items to: GAMEVINE,
c/o kenzerco, 511 w. greenwood
ave, waukegan, IL 60087 or
email [email protected]
Back Yard Artillery
ne of our readers turned us on to this interesting website; backyardar-
Otillery.com. The features a collection of toy weaponry ranging from rubber
band guns, to camp guns to 1/20th scale siege machines. They even have toy
Our favorite is the Rubber Band Gatling gun (pictured below). Twelve barrells
(each of which can hold 12 rubber bands) can fire up to 144 rubber bands as fast
as you can turn the crank. You can order a finished model for a whopping
$395.00 or build on yourself from plans ($29.95)
Check out their website — a gamer can truly get lost looking through their
gallery. ❑
ne thing that sur-
Oprised us during
the summer convention season was the
number of people
who came by our
booth to grab up
copies of the award winning Great
Space Race and reporting they had
been told the game was ‘out of print’
or ‘unavailable’ when they asked for it
at their FLGS. This game is STILL in
stock. Plesase help get the word out. ❑
Rubber Band Gatling Gun:
Once assembled the wooden
kit Fires 144 rubber bands!!
Fearsome “Stirling
Warwolf Trebuchet” kit.
Working model is 32 inches high.
aukegan, Illinois, September 15, 2007 — In the face of rampant rumors of doom and gloom
Win the gaming industry, Kenzer and Company would like to announce that Knights of the
Dinner Table Magazine has NOT been canceled. The popular gamer comic/magazine continues to
do well and we have no plans to close shop and get real jobs.
“With so many dead-tree gamer publications folding and closing shop recently a lot of concerned
readers have been worried about KODT’s future.” says Dave Kenzer.
“Add to that the fact that a lot of game companies (as well as local brick and mortar game stores)
have been going MIA in recent months I guess it’s natural for people to wonder, “who’s next?”
“So we want to publicly reassure our customers that KenzerCo and KODT are doing well. Aces and
Eights: Shattered Frontier was a big hit for us. It sold out but a reprint is on the way (along with several new and exciting supporting products). Meanwhile we’re busy working on the next stage of evolution for both HackMaster and Kingdoms of Kalamar as well as a few secret projects. So stick
around. You won’t want to miss what we have coming down the pipe.” ❑
70 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
by Nick Medinger
t's that time of year again, time to give all your friends games for
the holiday. Not sure what to give, never fear this guide will give
you a quick look at some of the best holiday games, from the perpetually popular to the best newcomers there's a game for everybody
this holiday season.
If you read the holiday guide last year feel free to skip right to the
next section because the classics are still pretty much the same as they
were 12 months ago. There are three dominant classics in the designer
game world, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride. All
three titles won the coveted Spiel des Jahre (Game of the Year) in
Germany and all have spun off expansions and become money making
franchises for their publishers. Catan is the most complicated of the
three (though not by much) and the oldest at the ripe old age of 12.
Carcassonne arrived on the scene in 2001 and Ticket to Ride is the late
comer, having debuted in 2004. Any of these games will please the
marginal or casual gamer. If you picked up one last year for a friend
consider getting another.
The Settlers-Carcassonne-Ticket to Ride triumvirate are great for
casual gamers but those who enjoy a longer, more complex game also
have their own set of classics to choose from. Try Puerto Rico, Caylus,
Tigris & Euphrates or Power Grid. All four games have been available
for years now and continually rank among serious gamer favorites. My
personal favorite out of the four is Power Grid, but any of them will
serve a nice present.
A party game for the holidays serves 2 purposes. First you can give
it as a gift and then it can be immediately played with all those at your
holiday gatherings. Catch Phrase, which went electronic a few years
ago has a new music only edition that should provide a welcome
update for fans of the game and music fans alike, plus the game is so
easy literally everyone can play. The best really large group game is still
any of the available games based on the game known as
Mafia/Werewolf, where players are assigned a secret identity and a
gamemaster is needed to run rounds of the game. My personal favorite
is still the Mayfair Games distributed, Lupus in Tabula, an Italian version from daVinci games. There is even a Cthulhu version available for
those who tire of werewolves. My favorite new edition to the party
game genre this year is easily Cash 'N Guns. The irreverent game where
players portray gangsters while pointing foam guns at one another. The
game is extremely simple and just plain fun. If someone you know
enjoys games like Bang! or "out guessing" games this one is for them.
Never overlook game expansions. Like movies and video games if a
game is popular publishers will often follow up with an expansion, and
if your giftee likes that game consider your problems solved! All three
of the classics mentioned at the beginning of the article have expansions and spin-offs with Carcassonne easily having the most. Need a
gift for someone who loves little minis games? Both Battlelore and
Heroscape have several new expansions which have been introduced in
just the past few months. Last year's Spiel des Jahre winner has an
expansion too, look for Thurn & Taxis: Power & Glory. There's also
an expansion to one of the most interesting new titles released in 2007,
Stonehenge is being billed as an anthology game. Inside there are
rules for 5 different games, all from big name designers (Richard Borg,
James Ernest, Bruno Faidutti, Richard Garfiled, and Mike Selinker).
All games use the same pieces but none of them play the same.
Stonehenge: Nocturne adds 3 new games plus pieces for players 6 and
7. It's an interesting concept and for the $50 price tag on the main
game that's only $10 per game.
Kids play a lot of board games. Even with Xbox and Wii, board
games still occupy a large portion of especially younger kids’ time, so a
game gift for kids at the holiday season is a good idea. There are a few
kids game manufacturers which produce high quality good kids games,
if all else fails simply pick a game which shares a theme with the child's
interest and get that one. The publishers to keep in mind are, Haba,
Ravensburger, Gamewright and the Bright Ideas line by Playroom
Entertainment. While most kids games are either matching or memory games there is one in particular which doesn't fall into these genres
and is very fun. Dancing Eggs by Haba has kids rolling large dice and
then whoever acts the quickest to the dice roll gets an egg. Players
might have to shout "cock-a-doodle-doo," or run around the table to
satisfy the dice roll. Eggs must then be held in various ways (under the
chin, in an elbow) until someone drops an egg. The kid with the most
eggs at that point wins. It's a fun game is a little different than a normal "sitting at the table" game.
Games make great gifts. With today's bumper crop of well designed
modern games there's a game for everyone, including people who are
only casual gamers. The problem is picking the right game for the right
person. If those people are already gamers the choice probably isn't that
hard but if there's not the challenge is a little greater. Luckily there is a
fountain of knowledge around. If your area has a good local game store
the employees there should be able to provide some help. Hopefully the
store will have a gift section to help alleviate the issue. If you are without a good local store (and even if you do have one)
www.boardgamegeek.com is the place to go. Boardgamegeek is full of
information about almost any game you could think of, including
reviews, and it can lead you to other resources, such as manufacturer
websites. ❑
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 71
you’re JOKING.
our inalienable rights
as players
are no JOKING matter,
b.a. -- you going to
SIGN off on it or not?
be advised we are
prepared to WALK
if our DEMANDS
are not met.
do the right
thing, b.a. -sign off.
A n Opinion
A r ena
Open For
For um
MAGIC tournament; it's just the same old
s the subheading indicates, this
is a sounding board where
gamers can give their two-cents’
worth on whatever seems to rile them.
So pull back the curtain and come on in
the Back Room.You can leave that thinskin at the door, but be sure to bring
your opinions with you. Note that due to
space limitations some letters are edited.
Got something to say? We wanna hear
it. Just use one of the following options;
: Via ONLINE FORUM — Just pop
over to www.kenzerco.com and visit our
discussion forums.
: via E-MAIL — Send your strip
ideas, reader mail, back room fodder and
questions to [email protected]
: via SNAIL MAIL — Or write to
us at KODT c/o KenzerCo, 511 W
Greenwood Ave, Waukegan, IL 60087.
'm wondering: How much or little sup-
Iport does your FLGS give towards official
tournaments and gaming events?
There are two big Gaming stores in NYC
-- the Compleat Strategist, which has an
awesome inventory but a very small playing
space and short hours; and Neutral Ground,
which has a small inventory but massive
playing area and open to midnight -- and
the only official events they sponsor are
CCGs and the official WizKids Clix
There are no board game days or specific
game days (all-day PUERTO RICO, MISSION: RED PLANET tournament), no
MUNCHKIN events when a new game or
expansion comes out.
And at Halloween -- my favorite holiday!
-- there's no CALL OF CTHULHU or
VAMPIRE rpg, not even a monster-themed
I can appreciate the difficulty of determining a winner in a rpg -- is it the player
who stays in character but dies early? the
one who acts very munchkinly and ends
with the most treasure and XP? the coward
who survives to the end? -- but these stores
offer very little support for the numerous
boardgames and card games that they sell.
Does your FLGS supply events and tournaments for more than just the current big
CCG? — Jim Lynch.
recently decided to stop larping with the
I group around, as I had numerous problems. The root of it, though, is that my local
area seems to be suffering from an abundance of poor GMing skills, and I have
formed up a new role-playing, deciding that
I would form up a group based around the
kind of gaming that I want to be doing.
To that effect, I took the step of writing
out my house rules, so that everyone would
be on the same page there. What came out
became known as the Gamer's Bill of Rights,
which I am pasting in here:
We, the Gamers of this group, The
Companions of the Shield, do hereby lay
down the rules and rights of our table, that
we might form a more perfect gaming society than has been seen before. These inalienable rights are as thus:
1. The GM is NOT always right: yes,
once, 20+ years ago, Gary Gygax was famed
for saying that the gm is always right, back
when there were only three levels, and your
race was your class as well. It was necessary
for the GM to make an interpretive call on
rules back then, because many things had
not been laid out in the rules. Well, we have
better books, with full rules now, and yes, we
can even check those during game real
quick. No more of this “The GM is always
right, even if he’s wrong, he’s still right” crap,
we’ll run it by the numbers, and move on.
2. No Character dies by rules gaff:
Which way to die sounds cooler, and is more
likely to bring you back to the table: Spiking
the door shut, the party safely on the other
side, you turn to face the onrushing trolls,
brandishing your flaming sword as you tear
into them, until you finally collapse, the trail
of troll bodies behind you a final testament
to the strength of your life. Or this: The GM
forgot to figure in your Mage Armor when
he was rolling the trolls to-hits.
3. There will be no fudging: I don’t
fudge behind the shield, if you are near
death, and there’s a trap there, guess what, if
you don’t check for it, or didn’t bring a healer along, then you’re screwed. On the other
side, if we’ve got a paladin in the group, I am
not rerolling that Holy Avenger cause it’s
“Too powerful”.
4. GM-Player argument, is just that: I’ve
had too many points where extra people
jump into the conversation between GM
and player who are not involved in the argument, therefore, we will be setting down a
rule by which only those actually involved in
the problem are going to address it. By all
means, if you want to speed things up, look
up the rule, but no more of this one player
having to fend off multiple people while trying to address the GM.
5. The GM is not responsible in any
way, shape, or form, to keep the party
together: Y’alls differences are yours to work
out. I will not take part in it.
6. Doing disrespectful/embarrassing
things in front of people will have consequences: Jokes are one thing, but I’ve seen
far too many players that get cozy with the
notion of mouthing off to kings, or interrupting repeatedly, especially when it’s one
of their own party talking to an authority
figure. If you need to figure out how rulers
are expecting you to act in front of them,
there is a perfectly good book for that called
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 73
George Washington’s Rules of Civility, and I
can get it for cheap at Border’s. Acting like
an ass to your employers is a terrific way to
no longer have employers, as is bickering in
front of them. These are things Heroes have
to deal with, and so, you have to deal with
7. What your character knows is not
what you know: Just as your character has
no conceivable way of knowing the formula
for gunpowder, nor are any of you professional fighters, martial artists, or master
thieves. Providing more information on just
how you intend to pull something off can
help you out with the roll, as will more indepth intended effects, but it will not hinder
you to simply say, “I want to do this”.
8. Character background is always
appreciated: It does need to be written
down though, so that I can look over it. Just
keep in mind that if your background all
takes place ways away from where we’re
starting, you’re not going to be dealing with
it for a long while. Bonuses do come for
those who write up backgrounds before the
start of game (spelling and grammar do
count), and the better the background, the
better the bonuses. Bonuses include personal story arcs, magic items, small to moderate
amounts of starting exp, as well as possible
cohorts, and other followers. Yes, someone
else can write up your background, and I
encourage the group to work out the story
on paper of how you guys got together. Even
a simple “We met at a tavern” can be funny
if written properly (Note: 10% writer's fee
to the person who writes your background,
minimum 1. ex: you get 100xp for the story,
you get 90 personally, and the writer gets
9. No “I’m just playing my character”: If
you designed a character who’s a complete
jackass, do not be surprised and offended
when you are treated as such by the public
at large. A jackass character can lose the
group jobs they would otherwise get if he is
unable to watch his mouth, and keep in
mind, in most settings we’ll play, dueling is
completely legal, and even expected for
insulting someone’s honor. You can still play
a jerk, but don’t expect that the GM is going
to mystically keep you in the group. The
party CAN fire you, and keep in mind, you
have to be unconscious around these people
for 8 hours at a shot, and are most likely
dependant on them for healing, so, uh, just
watch the degree to which you’re a jerk.
There’s Jayne (firefly/Serenity) being a jerk,
in which he is simply crass, yet still loyal in
the end, and then there’s just being a jerk
period, regardless of class.
was to address the numerous problems I’ve
had with GMs over the past few years, and
these rules are a necessity to that end. Rules
for a particular setting are up to the GM
running it, as long as they do not contradict
these first ten rules. — Sean McTiernan
loved issue 130 of the Knights. The usual
good stuff and a few surprises to boot. I
found myself very envious of Bob as he
roamed the aisles of the “new game store at
the mall.” What an amazing place.
Glorious gaming goodness! The thought
of a gaming store that’s “Walmart Huge”
with laptop centers, free soda, on-site minicon space...
My mind soared at the thought of hidden
treasures lay tucked away on the shelves of
those endless aisles. Could such a game store
10. Respect one another: It would be
great if you liked each other, but frankly, it
doesn’t matter to me if you do, but respect is
a necessity, and if you have to ask if you are
being respectful to someone, then, no, you
probably aren’t.
I have to ask. Since so many things in
KODT are inspired by real life places, people and events — is the Muncie Games
Keeper a real place?
These rules are the base line from which
our group will work, the reason being that
the whole reason I assembled a new group
Sorry, Jeff — if there’s a real store like the
Games Keeper I haven’t personally seen it. But
one can hope. — Jolly‰
Please tell me it is. — Jeff T.
74 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
um, \’m sorry, dave.
my character
doesn’t DATE
outside her SPECIES.
\ don’t wanna DATE
ya -- \ just
wanna MARRY you.
and strikes
a POSE...
immediate PLUS two
that’s right.... the
corridor opens up
to a large SHARK
the only way to get
my gawd...
it was BOUND
to happen.
not on MY watch.
b.a., \ use my RING
we’re about
no -- \ DON’T wanna ‘try my luck’
just gimme my frickin’ CHANGE!!!
\ have to
STOP coming
here on
the day his
RENT is due.
\’ve got a
equestrian massage...?
then how ‘bout a SPIN
on the “WHEEL OF
up to 5 percent off
on your NEXT pre-order.
is that even
in the BOOK?
part of the
skill suite.
skill suite
he means.
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 75
Listen to Kenzerco forum member
Edgelett and her band, The
Unearthed.com! Vote and review
the band’s kewl songs.
Become a FREE
Download our
Writer’s Guidelin DT.
es at
is a meeting place where readers may pass along information, barter, trade and gossip. Readers are invited to place classified ads, announce
group meetings, seek out other players, etc. Subscribers of KODT may place classified ads free of charge with a limit of one ad per issue and a
maximum of twenty-five words. Non-Subscribers may place ads at the rate of 50¢ per word with a limit of 25 words. Companies may place
ads at the following rates: [5.5” x 2” - $160], [2.75” x 2” - $80], [1.5” x 1” - $40]. Non-profit organizations (serving the gaming community)
and Conventions or Seminars may place ads for free. All ads are placed on a first-come first-served basis with subscribers having priority.
76 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
Kenzer and Company
511 W Greenwood Ave
Waukegan, IL 60087
Bent Castle Workshops • www.skallywaggs.com
ith loads of piratey badness, Skallywaggs is a
complete 120-card game that lets 2-4 players
“put pirates in their place.”
When this game talks about putting a crew of pirates
together, it really means it. The 90 crew cards are divided into 30 heads, 30 bodies and 30 legs. You have to
put them together and build enough seaworthy characters to set sail, while using event cards to keep the other
players’ crews landlocked.
Besides the game itself, there’s one more thing you’ll
need to play — lots of room. You need a large space on
a table or on the floor. The game designers say that this
game is actually played best with three players, by the
You can build pirates into your own crew, or into an
opponent’s. Certain pirates cannot sail, and they are
impossible to change or swap parts on unless you have the right cards in your hand. So watch out.
There are so many twists and turns, complexities and strategic possibilities in this fun game that it
can become addictive.
Brian’s Rating: Set sail with this game, or, it just might be Davy Jones locker for ya, Argh!
Looney Labs • www.looneylabs.com
rom the makers of Fluxx comes another Icehouse game involving colorful plastic pyramids.
In Treehouse between 2-4 players use a stash of 15 gaming pyramids to try to be the first to
make their trios and the House look the same. The “House” is a set of three pyramids set up in the
center of the table at the beginning of the game. A diagram is provided to show how this House is
to be set up.
Players start out with a trio of pieces stacked in the “tree” formation, one on top of the other. On
each person’s turn, he rolls the die provided in the game and performs the action dictated by the die
roll. This could be Tip, where a player knocks over any upright piece or stack, seperating the pieces.
Other actions include: Swap, Dig and Wild. Each one of these can get a player closer to victory.
It’s another game designed with elegant simplicity that has become the hallmark of Looney Labs’
games. In fact, the game is so simple that the rules are printed on the sides of the pyramid container. Short and sweet. The game’s simplicity does not come at the expense of strategic play or playability. In fact, it is the simplicity of the game which gives it so many possibilities.
Brian’s Rating: Go crazy with Looney Labs’
great pyramid game. You won’t be disappointed.
Northern Games Co. Ltd. • www.northerngames.com
kay, I’ll admit the title is weird. I was taken aback by it myself, yet inside
of the raucous looking box is a social party game that is a whole lot of fun,
and can jump start any party if you give it a chance.
Basically, it’s a game of telling stories. Between four and 15 people can play
this game, but really, who has a party with four people? I digress. Spinning “The
Wheel of Fun” included in the game, a player whose spinner stops on “Story”
becomes the “Storyteller” and gets five minutes to tell an entertaining story, choosing
one of his story topic cards. The story can be true, exaggerated, or not true at all. It can
be about the person talking, about someone they know, or something that they’ve heard
about. It can’t be longer than five minutes however. (This could make character stories actually bearable.)
Everyone else must listen to the story. Those who butt in may be judged to be “Butt-in-skis” and be issued penalties, accordingly. Other
violations also result in penalties. These penalites are in the form of taking additional Story Topic cards. The player who successfully uses
all of his Story Topic cards is the winner of the game.
Brian’s Rating: Don’t be a Party Pooper, try this game for your next get-together.
Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 77
Player 1: “I’ve made a halfling
thief called Roscoe Tealeaf. I’m
going to play him with a cockney
accent, like ‘heyup, I’m Roscoe
Tealeaf Gov’na!””
Player 2: “You COULD do that.
But, then I would have to stab you
in the eye with a pencil.”
Player 1: “ok….no accents.”
“yes sir - \ KNOW \’m the
LOWEST form of life.
\ AM a GOBLIN after all, sir.”
80 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™
By Sean Keith Williams
By Chris Avellone
By Joseph W. Hellar
By Scott R. Krol
disc rupturing,
hernia generating
Check www.kenzerco.com for details
Available for a Limited Time only!
hope you enjoyed this free issue of Knights of the
Dinner Table. For those of you unfamiliar with
KoDT or if you haven’t read a copy for years, you
can see that there’s a lot more to the magazine than
gamer gags. This is the reason we started calling it a
magazine rather than a comic book.
to the store owner should suffice to get him to carry
it). For those of you inconveniently located or with a
preference for subscribing, we can fulfill that need as
Each month we aim to deliver a full featured gaming magazine that has a little bit for everyone.
Although Kenzerco does have a few RPG lines, KoDT
is not a house organ. Yes, we do run articles that support our systems but we also run a great deal of content that is either not rules dependant or is written for
d20 and other game systems.
Economics and technology have conspired to eliminate many of the old stand-by gaming magazines.
That’s really a shame as we strongly feel that the gaming community will be worse for the passing of a real
monthy publication - something that you can read
away from the computer screens that so many of us
find ourselves trapped behind for hours both at work
and home. And, if I may be so bold, passing along a
magazine at the gaming table still beats lugging a laptop around.
Speaking of sharing, please pass this file (or a link to
it) around to your buddies! We want to spread the
word that there is still a general interest gaming magazine being published monthly. It’s amazing to learn
how many people are unaware of this after Dragon’s
If you haven’t read KoDT for awhile and want to
catch up on what you’ve missed or if this is your first
exposure and want to read more, we offer a line of
trade paperbacks called Bundles of Trouble. These
package up three to four issues of KoDT and are available at the same gamestores carrying KoDT (or from
e-tailers like Amazon or on our own website).
Are you a veteran or aspiring writer? We are always
on the lookout for interesting gaming material. As
stated earlier, we are not a house organ and want to
publish solid material that will appeal to a wide gaming audience regardless of rules system. If you’re interested in writing for KoDT, please read further as
writer’s guideline and submission information can be
found on subsequent pages.
In conclusion, if you liked what you’ve seen in this
PDF, take a moment to visit our website
(http://www.kenzerco.com) and check out what we
have to offer as well as our notoriously friendly message boards. And spread the word that “dead tree”
magazine publishing is alive and well.
If you like what you see here, KoDT is carried by
most gaming shops that stock RPG books. (If your
particular store does not carry KoDT, a gentle nudge
wait a minute -- you KILLED the guy...?
a FELLOW teammate?
in the MIDDLE
eh -- no idea
wasn’t gonna
the bottom of
out AFTER \
if he DIED -- \
CLIMB down to
that PIT to find
shoved him in.
well the
guy DID touch
your dice.
like you said...
he had
it coming.
ased on the letters we’ve been receiving (as well as reports from accounting that sales continue to rise), it’s become very apparent that there
are a LOT more of you reading this magazine than ever before. That means we have some fresh meat in the ranks. So if you’re reading this,
it’s quite likely this is the FIRST time you’ve ever seen a copy of KODT. Welcome! You’re among friends here. Make yourself at home,
take off your shoes and kick back. Stay a while.
If this is your first time with us (or, if you just recently started reading KODT) you’re probably feeling a little lost. Jumping in on Knights of
the Dinner Table midstream is like tuning into a soap opera for the first time. The cast of characters can be intimidating to the Newbie and trying to match names to faces is a bit daunting. One of the best ways to get up to snuff on KODT is to pick up a copy of Tales From the Vault 1,
2 or 3, or one of the ten Bundles of Trouble (these are compilations of earlier strips and back issues). Not only are they great reading but they
include detailed bios for almost ALL the characters that have appeared in KODT over the years. Chances are you’ll find these books at the very
same place you found your first issue of KODT. If not, simply ask the friendly guy behind the counter if he can order them for you. If that doesn’t work, then you can pick them up at www.kenzerco.com. In the meantime, the following information will help get you started. We’ve included some abbreviated bios of the five primary characters along with some background notes.
of the Dinner Table (KODT) began life as a poorly drawn, one page strip in the back of a gaming magazine (Way back in 1990). Okay, it’s STILL
poorly drawn, but for whatever reason it’s managed to gather and hold onto an ever growing audience for nearly 13 years. The name of the comic is taken
from a gaming group comprised of five misfits that seem to enjoy each other’s company. (Though it’s not always apparent based on the way they behave toward
one another.) The ‘Knights’ are, and always have been, the central focus of KODT. So if you get to know them, you’re half way there to coming to understand
the series. Over the years other characters (and groups) have been added to the mix. At last count there were over FIFTY characters in the cast. Don’t worry
— you’ll get to know them in due time.
B.A. is the group’s
GameMaster. He lives with
his mom and it’s his ‘Dinner
Table’ where most of the
action in the strips unfolds.
B.A. is a night manager at a
local 24 hour Pizza Shop.
Somehow he manages to prepare and run an adventure for
the group week after week.
His players give him a tough
time. It’s a constant battle —
trying to win them over to his
style of role-playing.
Bob was the first dues
paying member of the
group. He’s from the old
school of role-playing and
believes it’s all about breaking things and killing people. He’s made the local
papers twice for getting lost
in the steam tunnels under
Ball State. He’s known to
excite easily and has a bit of
a temper, and everyone
knows not to touch his
Dave claims to be a student at BSU (though no
one has ever seen him crack
open a book). He was
introduced to role-playing
by Bob, who he met at a
local paintball tournament.
He’s a true blooded hack-nslasher who becomes bored
easily if the experience
points aren’t flowing. He
has a reputation for being
‘clueless’ at times.
Sara is B.A.’s cousin. She
moved back to Muncie,
Indiana from Wisconsin a
few years ago and is the
newest member of the
group. Unfortunately, Sara
is also the only female in the
group and fights a lonely
battle to bring more roleplay and less hack-n-slash to
the group’s gaming sessions.
So far, it’s a losing battle.
Even so, Sara continues to
set the example and hope.
Brian lives alone in the
house he inherited from his
parents (they died in a car
crash a few years ago). He
manages to make a modest
living operating a fee-based
gaming website and selling
painted miniatures. Brian
can’t remember his own
phone number but he can
recite entire passages of various rule books from memory. He’s the classic ruleslawyer and is proud of it.
your FLGS
needs you
NOW more
than EVER!!
no need to embark on a MAJOR QUEST.
we’ve GOT THEM!!
Back Issue Blowout!
Looking to get your hands on some back issues of KODT but unsure which ones to
get? Well, problem solved. For a limited time, we're selling two massive collections of
vintage Knights of the Dinner Table magazines.
Collection #1 includes 27 issues and weighs in at over five pounds. This includes issues
31-39,41-42,46-48 and 51-63. Over 450 pages of strips and gobs of gaming material!
Collection #2 includes 24 issues and tips the scales at over six pounds! Included are
issues 64-68,70,72-74,77-78,80-85,88-91,93-96. Over 500 pages of strips, and gobs of
gaming material!
Each collection is shipped via Priority Mail (US customers) WHICH IS INCLUDED
Get yours today - only $24.99!!
Knights of the Dinner Table MAGAZINE Subscription
Shipping is included in the price.
BULK MAIL – Knights of the Dinner Table™ Magazine (monthly):
Domestic (USA)
6 issues - $24.00
12 issues - $48.00
24 issues - $80.00
FIRST CLASS – Knights of the Dinner Table™ Magazine (monthly):
6 issues - $32.00 6 issues - $34.00
12 issues - $60.00
12 issues - $66.00
24 issues - $110.00
24 issues - $120.00
All Others
6 issues - $52.00
12 issues - $98.00
24 issues - $190.00
UPDATED SHIPPING RATES: As of October 13 2006, we have updated our Canadian and Foreign
shipping rates to more accurately reflect shipping costs. If you are purchasing a renewal, or new subscription for an address outside the USA, please note the new shipping costs above. Military subscribers who have their subscriptions forwarded by a US address (APO, FPO, etc.) should continue to
choose the US shipping option.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Are you planning to move or have you just moved? If so, don’t forget to
send us your new address right away. Issues that are sent via BULK MAIL will NOT be forwarded by
the post office (even if you put in a forwarding request) nor will they be returned to us.The only way
we will know to change your address is if you notify us via email at service(at)kenzerco.com, or by
phone, fax or postal mail. Please inform us of your new address, so your subscriptions will not be
RENEWING AFTER A LAPSE OF ISSUES: If you let your subscription lapse, please note that your
subscription will begin with the next current issue number - your subscription will not retroactively
restart where you left off. You should order your missing issues separately. Contact us at
[email protected] if you have questions.
Bundles of Trouble
Twenty-three Volumes in all -- Each bundling THREE or FOUR classic issues of KODT between TWO covers.
The perfect way to catch up on all those OUT OF PRINT back issues you may have missed.
Bundle #
KoDT Issues
1-3 + ~20 page special section
4-6 + ~20 page special section
7-9 + ~20 page special section
10-12 + ~20 page special section
13-15 + ~20 page special section
16-18 + ~20 page special section
19-21 + ~20 page special section
22-24 + ~20 page special section
25-27 + ~20 page special section
28-30 + ~20 page special section
31-33 + ~20 page special section
Tales from the Vault
These hefty volumes compile all those hard to find Knights of the Dinner Table strips that have
appeared outside the comic book throughout the years. Ripped from the pages of SHADIS™,
Dragon™ and RIFTERS™ magazine among other places. FIVE VOLUMES in all.
Bundle #
A complete compilation of all the KODT strips
appearing in other magazines: 1990 - 1997
A complete compilation of all the KODT strips
appearing in other magazines: 1997 - 1998
A complete compilation of all the KODT strips
appearing in other magazines: 1999 - 2000
KoDT webstrip storyarc
KoDT webstrip storyarc
Knights of the Dinner Table
Submission Guidelines
So you want to submit an article to Knights of the Dinner Table, eh? That's great, because we're always looking for new
material to cram between the covers of each issue. The door is wide open - we accept articles on any game system or
game-related topic of interest to Joe and Jane Gamer. Following these simple guidelines is no guarantee that we'll publish
your work, but it is the best way to hedge your bet and see your name in print.
We accept for consideration articles on any game system or product, articles pertaining to any game-related topic, game
rules or mechanics, and anything of interest to the general game-playing community. Please use common sense and
courtesy when writing your submission. Since Knights of the Dinner Table readers are of all ages and backgrounds,
please do not include any questionable or offensive material. Your article must represent your own work, and not infringe
upon the work of others.
We accept submissions of all lengths, but reserve the right to edit your work for space and other concerns. Please
include, along with the submission, the following information:
1. Your pen name as you wish it to appear in the magazine;
2. Your legal name and mailing address where we can send payment and a complimentary copy of the issue in which your
submission appears;
3. Any other necessary payment information;
4. The name of the game(s) or game system(s) that you've written the article for (or the genre type, for generic articles);
5. A description of who the article applies to, i.e. GameMasters, players, everyone, etc;
6. Credits including all contributors; and
7. A Submission Release form and/or an Assignment of Rights form.
If your submission uses or references rules from a published game, be sure that the game information included in the
submission is correct. Also be sure to include all the necessary game information including game statistics, quirks/flaws,
abilities, equipment, attacks, and any pertinent personality information. Do not reprint material from published works or
material that is not your own original work.
All submissions become the property of Kenzer and Company, and Kenzer and Company is under no obligation
to publish any work. All article submissions will be paid a standard rate of $0.03 per word published (excluding letters to
the magazine and similar categories as noted below). Payment will be sent, along with a complimentary copy of the issue
in which the submission appeared, after we receive the issue from the printer. Payment may take up to four weeks to
arrive after the release of the issue.
A Hacker's Guide to…: If you like to draw maps, this is the feature for you. Send us a map (with key, if needed), along
with a 75-100 word background history or description of the area. Your map (including key) must fit within a 6" wide x 7
7/8" tall space, and be easily legible. Submissions should be for HackMaster's Aldrazar, Kingdoms of Kalamar's Tellene,
or Aces & Eights' western frontier. Payment rates may vary.
All Things Magic: We accept descriptions of any new magical item, weapon, or device for this section. Each item should
have all the necessary game information, and a description of its appearance for art purposes. Items may include
extraordinary items, not just those that are strictly magical. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Your article
should be between 300-350 words, including game statistics. If the item has unusual features not described in the article,
be sure to include a full description so that we can commission artwork.
Bait and Tackle: This feature presents a series of brief adventure hooks a GM can take out and use on the fly. They can
be useful if the GM finds out he suddenly needs a quick adventure idea. Each hook must be presented in three-part
format: Setting, Bait, and Tackle.
Setting: a short tag identifying the setting or type of adventure hook. (Examples: city, wilderness, rural,
subterranean, any treasure chest, in an empty room, etc.)
Bait: The situation or carrot used to lure or 'bait' the players and prod them in the right direction. (Example: The
adventurer's have just completed combat with a monster, gaining access to its treasure. A massive oaken chest is part of
the haul. It is filled with gold coins, some of which have a large, deep cut on their edges.)
Tackle: This is the hammer or twist that makes the situation dangerous exciting or challenging. Without the
tackle what's the point? (Example: The coins are old pirate treasure, and have been cursed. Every eighth coin in the hoard
has the cut along its edge, and whenever the coins are counted, any counting of one of the edged coins causes eight uncut
gold coins to disappear from the hoard.)
Submissions should be generic (not tied to any particular game system), but can be of any genre (fantasy,
western, espionage, etc.). Each submission should be brief in nature (200-250 words).
Board Squawk: If you've got a review of a board game that's still in print, this is the place for it. Try to briefly discuss
previous editions and changes in publishing houses (if any), give a synopsis of how the game plays, what components are
included, what makes certain rules (and the game overall) so good, and any complaints or problems. Be sure to include
the game's: Name, Number of Players, Designer (if known), and the retail price. A typical submission should be within
750-850 words.
Casting Call: This semi-regular feature presents NPCs that come from the lower rungs of life (hirelings, merchants, minor
officials, city guards, etc). Characters the party is likely to deal with on a one-to-one basis during their daily travels, so the
GameMaster can simply drop the NPC into his campaign. Submissions must consist of one such NPC with the appropriate
game statistics and background story. Articles are usually 600-750 words, including game statistics. Submissions for all
game systems are welcome.
Close Encounters of the Random Kind: If you've got a fun and exciting random encounter chart/table you want to share
with the rest of world, we can use it here. Please keep in mind that, due to space limitations, we cannot print giant
encounter tables. As a general rule, your chart must fit within a 6" wide x 7.5" tall space, and be easily readable.
Critical Mass: This is our independent reader review column. Write a review, fill out the form (at the end of these
guidelines), and send it all in. Remember, be as honest and impartial as possible, making a point to inform the reader
rather than just praise or complain. Submissions for all games and game systems are welcome, and should be between
750 to 800 words.
Deadly Trappings: Invented a special trap you enjoy springing on your players and want to see it in print? Deadly
Trapping submissions must include: Trap name (such as Marklem's Slimy Golden Death Trap), AKA (trap nickname),
Lethality (Low, Moderate, High, Certain), Intent (Entrapment, Injury, Humiliation, Transport, Liquification, etc.),
Mechanism (Pressure Plate, Trigger, Hydraulics, Rope Release, Weakened Floor, etc.), and Suggested Damage (2d8 fire
damage, 1d6 acid damage, turn to slime in 1d4 rounds, per system rules for crushing damage, etc.) Include a simple
sketch showing how the trap works so we can commission art. Submissions should be around 300 to 350 words.
GameMasters’ Workshop: This category covers all general submissions that would be of interest primarily to
GameMasters. This includes articles specific to any game system, as well as articles of a general nature. Submissions for
all game systems are welcome. Submissions for all games and game systems are welcome. Minimum article length 600
words (no maximum).
Game Mechanic: Have a house rule for your favorite game? This is the perfect place to share it with the world. Any rule
is welcomed, and there is no limit to the number of rules or games. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Keep
article length between 800 and 1,000 words.
Gamer's Pulpit: We occasionally run guest editorials, written by gamers who feel strongly about a particular topic.
Typical word count 700 to 800 words.
Good, Bad, and Ugly (GBU): Submissions for this section must consist of three NPCs, each with the appropriate game
statistics and background story (the story should connect all three). They must include one “good” NPC, one “bad” NPC
and one “ugly” NPC. How you choose to interpret those words is up to you, but you need to indicate in your submission
which NPC is the good one, the bad one, and the ugly one. You should also include a physical description of each, so we
can commission art. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Each NPC should be between 500-600 words,
including game statistics.
Homebrew Art
Homebrewed, un-commissioned 'filler' artwork is not paid for but, if published, the artist will receive a complimentary
copy of the issue in which the artwork is published.
Lost Game Safari: This popular feature presents reviews of out-of-print games that are worthy of a second look. Be sure
to include the game's: Name, Type (board, card, miniature, role-playing, etc.), Number of Players, Designer (if known),
Date Published, Frequency (common, uncommon, or rare), and the Going Rate for a Copy (the average online or game
store prices). Articles should be approximately 600-700 words, or 1,300-1,400 words if you're verbose.
Off the Shelf: For this feature, write a review of a book that you believe will be of interest to many gamers. The book
could fall into one of many genres (although these are typically fantasy or science fiction novels, you need not limit
yourself to those). Be as honest and impartial as possible, making a point to inform the reader rather than just praise. Be
sure to include your thoughts on how this book could provide ideas and inspiration for role-players, with specific
examples. For example, the book might mention a cool magic item, discuss a new aspect of alien life, provide specific
adventure hooks, and so on. Submissions should be approximately 450-500 words long. Be sure to include the name of
the book and its author, and please let us know if you can point us to a good cover image of the book.
Players’ Advantage: This section covers all general articles that appeal primarily to players. They can be general articles
or game specific. Submissions for all game systems are welcome, as long as it is indicated in the article. Minimum article
length 600 words (no maximum).
Rustlers of the Night: New monsters or creatures should include all the necessary game information, a reference to the
game system(s) it is designed for, and a physical description to help us commission artwork. Be sure to separate the game
statistics from the descriptive text so that we may format the submission easily. Submissions for all game systems are
welcome, and should be about 650-750 words, including game statistics.
Under the Hood: This section is for the designer notes and behind the scenes history of published games, and is open to
any professional game designer or publisher. Talk about how you designed your game, letting us look behind the scenes
of its history, and at the how and why of rules creation. Minimum article length 600 words (no maximum).
Other Articles: This category covers all submissions that do not fit into one of the previous categories. Any material that
you believe would be of interest to gamers is acceptable.
These categories include letters, stories and other details you just want to share. You can send letters to
[email protected] or just pop over to www.kenzerco.com and visit the appropriate forum for each category. Note
that all these are unpaid submission categories. All entries become the property of Kenzer and Company.
Back Room at the Games Pit
This is a sounding board where gamers can give their two cents worth on whatever seems to rile them. Leave your thin
skin at the door, but bring your opinions with you.
Brian's Picks
In this feature, we review games that we like. This feature is not currently open to freelancer submissions, but if you've
got a game you'd like to see featured, you can ask the manufacturer/publisher to send us a copy. (We can't review it if we
don't have it!) If we don't like it, sorry, it won't appear in Brian's Picks.
Face Off!
This semi-regular feature comes from our Face Off! discussion forums at www.kenzerco.com, where each month we
instigate a question and then step out of harm's way. Face Off! articles reprint well-written, insightful or just plain funny
views and opinions of our readers, on both sides of the discussion. Visit our Face Off! forum to see the latest question.
Game Vine
You can send us newsworthy items, rumors, press releases, announcements, and so on, for publication in the Game Vine
KODT Strip Ideas
We also welcome any ideas, anecdotes, experiences, or stories that you think might make a good Knights of the Dinner
Table strip. Strip ideas need not be scripted or complete. Sometimes a good idea or punchline is just as good as a fully
fleshed-out strip. If your idea is used, you will receive a complimentary copy of the issue in which your strip appeared.
Table Talk
This category is for letters to the editor. You can send letters to [email protected] or just pop over to
www.kenzerco.com and visit our Table Talk forum.
Tales from the Table
Tell us about a special character or event that happened in one of your games. We accept stories about any and all game
systems. While being published is not guaranteed, those who write shorter tales have a better chance, due to space
Articles should be sent electronically to [email protected] The subject line should read: YOUR NAME HERE,
ARTICLE CATEGORY submission (for example: Barbara Blackburn, Rustlers of the Night submission).
Format: Files should be attached as a Microsoft Word or text file, without art or special formatting. Be sure to include
your name and all contact information in the body of your email AND in your document, since cover letters and emails
can get separated from the document, leaving them in limbo.
Artwork: If you have artwork that you would like to accompany your article, send it separately in .jpg or .tif format. If
you are submitting art with your article, include the name and address of the artist.
Release form for Submission: You should include the following text with your submission.
Kenzer and Company Submission Release Form
I, _____________________________________________ , am submitting this work known as
_________________________________________________________________________to Kenzer
and Company with the understanding that it will be considered in whole or in part for publication as
an adventure, fantasy world supplement or fantasy role-playing game aid. I certify that it is my own
original work and is not published or submitted for publication elsewhere by any individual or
I agree to exclusively grant all rights to Kenzer and Company for all work which they agree to pursue
for publication. I further understand that my work may be edited at the discretion of Kenzer and
Signature: _________________________________________________________________________
Date: _____________________________________________________________________________
Address: __________________________________________________________________________
Phone: ( ________ ) ___________________________________
Release Form for Publication: All writers and artists should fill out and submit the Assignment of Rights form (see the
following page) before we can publish your article. This form grants ownership of your submission to Kenzer and
Company, and is a necessary condition of publication. Before sending, put the name of the article or a brief description in
the form's project line. The completed form can be faxed, mailed, or even scanned (72 to 150 dpi; JPG) and emailed along
with your article.
KODT Submissions
511 W Greenwood Avenue
Waukegan, IL 60087
847-662-6600 (phone)
847-680-8950 (fax)
Remember that the most important guideline is that you enjoy writing and reading your article! Good luck!
Assignment of Rights
The following should be printed, filled out and signed for each Project. Compensation will be triggered by
receipt of properly executed Assignment document.
I, ______________________________________________________________, an individual residing
at ________________________________________________________________________________, herein
referred to as “Assignor,” hereby grant, transfer and assign to Kenzer and Company, an Illinois corporation,
with offices at 25667 Hillview Court, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, its successors and assigns, all right, title and
interest in and to all work and materials relating to Assignor’s creative work known as Project
_________________________________________________ including the copyright, patent, trade secret rights
and all other right, title, and interest therein and consisting of all existing written materials relating thereto
(collectively the “Works”). This exclusive grant of rights shall include, but is not limited to, the rights to
publish, reproduce, transmit, adapt, prepare derivative works, sell or otherwise make use of the Works
(including all subsequent additions, revisions, supplements to and versions of the Works, regardless of length
or nature) throughout the world, in any form or medium and in any language, and to license or otherwise
transfer to others the rights commensurate herewith in connection with the Works, for the entire term of the
copyright or patent, including any renewals and extensions.
I hereby grant Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns, the right to file copyright or patent
applications in the United States and throughout the world for the Works in the name of Kenzer and Company,
its successors and assigns. I hereby agree that Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns may act as
attorney-in-fact to execute any document that Kenzer and Company, it successors and assigns, deem necessary
to record this grant with the United States Copyright Office, the United States Patent and Trademark Office or
elsewhere. If requested, I agree to execute any and all copyright, patent or trade secret documents requested by
Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns. The cost of recording and registering ownership rights in the
Works shall be borne solely by Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns.
I hereby confirm that this assignment of rights is fully supported by consideration that I receive in the form of
salary, royalty payments or other compensation.
Signature: ________________________________
Printed Name: _____________________________
STATE OF _________________
COUNTY OF _______________
Critical Mass Game Review Form
Game Title:____________________________________________________________________
Retail Price:______________
Reviewer:_________________________________ Overall Rating:_________________
Art:________________ Overall Production:______________
Rules Presentation:______________________
Replay Value:__________________________
Entertainment Value:__________________
Would you recommend this game to a friend?
Grading Scale: (feel free to use fractions)
5: Excellent - I am always willing to play this game
4: Good - I am usually willing to play this game, and will only object in unusual circumstances.
3: Average - I like playing this game regularly, but not too often.
2: Fair - I will play this game only occasionally.
1: Poor - I avoid playing this game if possible.
Rating Categories:
Basically, rating each category is a judgement call. Opinions among gamers vary greatly. Put two gamers in a
room and toss them a new game - chances are they won’t agree on its merits. For some gamers art is not as important as
the writing. For others it is equally important. For most gamers it’s ‘how it plays’ that matters above all else.
The Review Ballot box is not meant to replace the good old-fashioned game review. It is meant to supplement
the review — to provide an impression-at-a-glance of how other gamers feel about a specific game.
The following are only suggested guidelines for rating each category.
This is a measure of the overall quality of the writing. This could include typos/grammatical errors as well as the
author’s basic writing skills and his ability to engage the reader and convey his message.
Art and Illustrations:
Was the quality of the art sufficient for the product? Did it lend itself to the game and its presentation? Did it
detract from the overall quality of the game?
Overall Production:
This would cover the quality of such things as printing, packaging, binding, components etc. Keep in mind that
this is relative. A five-dollar El Cheapo game should not be expected to have the same production qualities as a thirtydollar core-rules book.
Rules Presentation:
Did the rules adequately explain how to play the game? Were there omissions? Were they confusing or
incomplete? Keep in mind that while the game itself may rock, poorly written rules could impede learning and raise the
frustration factor.
Okay, so you have finally learned the rules and have sat down and actually played the game. This is what
everyone wants to know - is it playable? Is the game unbalanced or otherwise flawed?
Replay Value:
Now that you have played it, is there enough to the game that you would play it again? Is this one of those games
that will quickly be banished to the games’ closet or will it get played over and over again?
Entertainment Value:
Was it worth the cost of admission? Forget poorly written rules, bad production qualities, etc. Did the game
entertain you and your friends?
Overall Rating:
This is an average of all your scores above. This is the rating that will be used to stack the game up against all
others in its category.
Play Fair
We ask that you do not evaluate games or game product which: 1. You haven’t taken the time to actually play in
the environment they were designed to be played in. (For example: Don’t review a set of Live Action Rules if all you did
was read the book in the comfort of your favorite easy chair.) 2. The game/product is of a genre and/or gaming-form you
dislike by nature. (For example, if you hate the AD&D™ system, please don’t evaluate an AD&D™ boxed adventure.
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