Published in 1983 and 1984, UK2The Sentinel and UK3The Gauntlet (also known as The Alderweg Series) were a product of the UK branch of TSR. And they were different but excellent modules. Both dealt with the continuing animosity between two magical gloves, one sided with good (The Sentinel) and the other with evil (The Gauntlet).
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a review of either of these modules on RPG.net, so I was reduced to the multiple reviews on Amazon (1, 2)
EX1Dungeonland and EX2The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror were a series of modules that mixed Alice in Wonderland with D&D. Written by Gygax and published by TSR in 1983, they were definitely a different experience. I remember being run through this series and having a great time.
While RPG.net has no reviews, Grognardia has a retrospective (1) on Dungeonland.
B4The Lost City was a Basic D&D module published by TSR in 1982. It starts with the PCs lost in the desert and finding the entrance to a mysterious lost city, filled with weird peoples and horrible creatures. For some reason, this module is really cool to me but I don't remember ever playing it.
RPG.net has one review (1) and Grognardia has a retrospective (2).
T1The Village of Hommlet was written by Gary Gygax and published by TSR in 1979. And it's considered to be one of the finest modules ever produced (at least by me) and a marked contrast to module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. The detail of T1 compared to B2, including named NPCs, is the least of it. Whereas B2's main focus was on the Caves of Chaos, T1 focused equally on the town and the dungeon.
RPG.net has two reviews on this fine module (1, 2).
I got this module with the "Blue Box" for Christmas in 1979. And we played it all to hell. In fact, we wrote all over it in pencil, then erased that, then carefully cut paper and taped it in for use all over again, removed the old paper and did it all again. I think I still have it but have retired it - I picked up another "use" copy a few years ago.
RPG.net has one review (1). Grognardia has a retrospective (2), another post on the characters from the module (3), and lost Trampier artwork (4) that apply to the module.
We'd been playing D&D since 1978 but never owned any of the books or even any dice, until that Christmas.
The box set came with actual dice and B1 In Search of the Unknown (so it must have been the 4th printing) and it was frigging beautiful to my 11 year old self. Now 32 years and countless RPGs later, it's one of my favorite holiday gifts.
Happy Holidays, folks. Keep safe and make some game memories!
I only have the first two of the OD&D Supplements - Greyhawk and Blackmoor. I plan on picking up the other three: Eldritch Wizardry; Gods, Demigods & Heroes; and Swords & Spells, but I'm in no rush. The prices are too high for me yet.
RPG.net has one review each on the first three supplements (1, 2, 3).
Imagine Magazine was the UK TSR house magazine from April of 1983 to October of 1985. Thirty issues (and one special) were published and I had never heard of it until I found five or so issues in a junk game store in Portland, Oregon in the early 90s.
It was different, definitely different. Plus it had a new campaign world called Pelinore, based around a city called the City League (the city stretched a league in every direction).
Of course I picked it up. And I have many more of them, including the special issue, but not a complete set. Not yet.
Unfortunately, RPG.net has no reviews on this fine magazine but the Acaeum has a short blurb on it (as well as pics of the issues).
The Caverns of Thracia was a Judges Guild module published in 1979. This module was one of my first forays into gaming at a game store - my brother and I had just gotten Blue Book Basic D&D and the AD&D Monster Manual for Christmas 1979 and my mother took us to a game shop (and paid $5 each) for us to play the game. The GM ran Caverns.
Even though my brother and I had started playing in 1978 in a home-brewed dungeon (I was a Halfling and he was a Magic-User), so D&D wasn't new, I still have a soft spot for Caverns.
Lair of Medusa is a 16 page generic D&D adventure module written in 1982. Published in Canada (Burnaby, B.C. in fact), it was the first produce from DELF (and if I recall correctly, the last). The art inside included pieces by Eric Hotz! If you don't recognize the name, try looking at Harn products from the 80s.
What's it about? Well, evil medusa takes over a king's castle/cave complex. Enter the PCs years later to slay the beast and free the kingdom.
I am not surprised that there are few reviews on this one.
Much to my enjoyment, I picked up the Dragon Magazine Archive (1999) new and haven't regretted it at all. Containing the first 250 issues of Dragon Magazine as well as the complete Strategic Review issues, all in PDF format, it's a wonderful collection that allows for good reading and info diving.
RPG.net has two reviews (1, 2) and is reportedly a rare find.
I've been a collector of Dungeon Magazine since about issue 30. I have most of the issues, except for some of the first few (I have No. 1 on PDF from one of the Dragon magazine promos) and am missing a bunch from the end of the print run (it went to issue 150 in 2007 before WOTC turned it into an online product). Acaeum has a small blurb on it and a partial issue listing.
Starting in 1986, the magazine was mostly black and white and contained adventures from such greats as Willie Walsh, Grant and David Boucher, John Nephew and Ted James Thomas Zuvich.
After Paizo Publishing started publishing in 2002, they went full color (I don't remember which issue), which, while nice, made copying the maps problematic and had more "Rock Star" authors.
RPG.net has one review on the Savage Tide adventure series (1) from issues 139 to 150. And if you are interested, there's an index of all the adventures available here.
Beyond Countless Doorways is a D20 supplement published by Monte Cook's Malhavoc Press in 2004. Believed by many to be the 3.x D&D book for Planescape-like games, after all, Monte Cook gathered Planescape alums Wolfgang Baur, Colin McComb and Ray Vallese together to write it.
I picked up a copy of Return to Keep on the Borderlands (1999) at Half Price Books and found it a fitting tribute to the original. The Keep and Caves of Chaos environs are more detailed and NPCs are named. Plus there's a whole new bunch of monsters and alliances.
Two reviews of this fine module are on RPG.net (1, 2).
Sometimes connections are everything. A very good friend who was working at WOTC at the time provided me with a copy of the TSR Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition (1999), as well as a copy of the Last Unicorn Games Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium (2000), but I'll talk about that later.
The Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition contains a veritable cornucopia of early TSR games and modules: the J. Eric Holmes "Blue Book" D&D Basic Rulebook and modules which include B2; the Giant Series G1, G2, G3; I6 Ravenloft; and S1; plus a never-before-published bonus module L3 Deep Dwarven Delve.
Each of these reprints comes exactly as the original, with the exception of a Silver Anniversary logo on the cover. This is by far one of my favorite D20 products.
Tegel Manor is a module published by Judges Guild in 1977. Several revisions were published in 1980 and 1989. I managed to pick up a copy of the 1977 edition in the late 90s for rather cheap, but, unfortunately, it was extensively marked with pencil. Despite erasing all the pencil, the indentations remain. However, even with the damage, it is still a valued part of my collection.
Grognardia has a retrospective on the module, but, alas, RPG.net has no review.
One of my favorite D20 games is the Planescape Campaign Setting. The box set was published by TSR in 1994 with exclusive art by Tony DiTerlizzi. The setting dealt with planeswalkers, focusing on the city of Sigil, the city of doors.
With this game came a new view of the Planes in D&D and a fun vocabulary. There are 4 reviews on RPG.net (1, 2, 3, 4) as well as one supplement (5).
Malhavoc Press published the Years Best D20 in 2004. I found a copy in a used bookstore in Victoria, B.C. a few years ago. I used the Nightmare Collector monster in a Savage Worlds game a few years ago to great effect. The PCs managed to defeat it, with some serious damage to their psyches.
As an unabashed fan of Green Ronin products, I picked up Mutants and Masterminds at the advent of 2nd edition (2005). I found a cheap copy of the 1st edition (2002) book first then got the 2nd. In the years since, I've collected many of the supplements for it as well but haven't gotten the 3rd edition (2010).
RPG.net has a bunch of reviews (1, 2, 3, 4), including a paired review with Silver Age Sentinels (5) and the 2nd edition (6).
I recently picked up Iron Heroes, a supplement to D&D 3.x, written by Mike Mearls and published by Malhavoc Press in 2005. As an alternative to standard D&D, it presents a game focused more on action than gaining magic items. Interesting, no?
RPG.net has several reviews (1, 2) plus Mastering Iron Heroes (3).
Malhavoc no longer produces it and supposedly it's now at Fiery Dragon Productions but there doesn't seem to be much going on. There is a faq for the game, however.
The Masque of the Red Death was a Ravenloft supplement box set published by TSR in 1994 and based on the 1842 short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Set in the 1890s on this Earth, the setting was gothic in nature and had an evil force known as the Red Death. A decade later, a 3.5 edition D20 supplement was published by White Wolf.
I have the box set and a few of the TSR supplements for it but not the 2004 White Wolf book. I have found several reviews (1, 2) plus another on the 2004 book (3).
Back in 2005, Mongoose published Jeremiah the Role Playing Game, based on the TV show. The system is D20 based, with specific character classes based on archetypes that appear in the show. A single supplement called Thunder Mountain was published the same year (and seems, by forum posts, to be a good supplement).
As a fan of post-apocalyptic games, I picked it up a few years ago - but for cheap. I had watched a few of the first season episodes and read the comic it was based on (still have a few around somewhere). It's on my Netflix queue but I haven't gotten the time to watch it yet (that and Jericho).
I searched around for reviews but only found forum posts on it (1, 2, 3, 4).
Many tacticians believed that the horse's role as a military vehicle was done by the end of World War I. At the start of the conflict in 1936, mounted cavalry was quickly re-implemented by all sides because, despite wanting armor and trucks, the horse was actually more readily available in parts of Britain.
While the Household Cavalry, consisting of the Blues and Royals and the Life Guards, already have horses, and excellent horseflesh at that, many of the other units range from old plugs to the cream of upper-class stables, with the majority being draft horses or country-bred nags.
Horse thievery, as expected, is now an acceptable (and common) method of warfare.
"I am the child of Fortune, the giver of good, and I shall not be shamed. She is my mother; my sisters are the Seasons; my rising and my falling match with theirs. Born thus, I ask to be no other man than that I am." -- Sophocles
The statue has quite the history (1) before it was removed by the owners. The graves around it had been vandalized and the urban legends around it were pretty weird, so they donated it to the Smithsonian. Now it is in Washington, D.C.,where it was placed in a minor courtyard off of Lafayette Square. Next time I go visit my sister in D.C., I'll be sure to stop by and pay my respects.
Statues with a secret history is a great way to add mystery and suspense to a game. File the serial numbers off of Black Aggie and put it in your game.
The Martian War Machine becomes HMS Thunder Child's bitch
The HMS Thunder Child was a fictional torpedo ram in the novel The War of the Worlds(1898) by H. G. Wells. When the masses of Engishmen and women fled London following the Martian Invasion, many attempted to escape by boat. Three Martian war machines threatened their flight and the HMS Thunder Child fought them.
Charging one of the machines without firing shot, the Royal Navy ship took it out, then turned on the other two. Despite taking direct hits from the heat ray, it managed to ram the second, destroying them both.
The HMS Thunder Child's story is useful in an alien invasion game, as a backdrop to a scene that shows the aliens are less powerful and more vulnerable than they appear.
Quenya is an elvish language invented by J. R. R. Tolkien. Begun in 1910, he worked on it for the rest of his life. There are several online resources for this language (1, 2, to name a few).
The usefulness of the language for special place-names, character names (good guys and bad guys) or even evil magic items (a cool Elvish name is awesome but make sure it doesn't rhyme with a feminine hygiene product).
Long before Princess Diana, another fine lady named Diana served the British Empire. In 1775, HM Armed Schooner Diana was under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Graves. Built in Massachusetts in 1774 and beginning life as a fishing boat, she was purchased for £750 by Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves (Lieutenant Thomas Graves was his nephew), refitted and loaded with twelve swivel guns and four 6-pounders. The Vice-Admiral used her to enforce the Boston Port Act.
During the Battle of Chelsea Creek, she ran aground on May 27th under heavy fire by American forces commanded by John Stark. Attempts to tow her failed as the American kept shooting the rowers. Reinforcements arrived but not for the British - and they brought two cannon!
Refusing to surrender, the sailors continued the fight, firing their own ordinance even as the schooner shifted in the low tide. Finally abandoning the ship in the early hours of May 28th, the sailors escaped to the sloop Britannia (commanded by Thomas's brother John). The Britannia was the tender of HMS Somerset.
The American boarded the Diana, stripped her of her weapons and equipment, then fired the ship. Many people have searched for her remains in the creek but no one has found them yet, despite state sponsored efforts.
Nikolai Yazhov (1895-1940) was a Soviet politican and former head of the NKVD. He was a factory worker, in the Tsar's army (1915-1917). He became a Bolshevik in 1917 and fought for the Red Army in the Russian Civil War (1919–1921). He worked his way up the Communist Party, making head of the NKVD in 1936.
Yazhov ordered many executions during the Great Purge. At it's height, over 600,000 were shot as enemies of the state and the same amount were exiled to gulags. Stalin, suspicious of anyone and everyone, eventually pulled back his support for him and by 1939 he had lost his power in the NKVD.
Denounced and arrested on April 10th, he was tortured and confessed to espionage, embezzlement and the usual "state crimes." His trial in February 1940 ended with him vowing to "die with Stalin's name on his lips." Two days later, he was ordered beaten by his NKVD successor (much like he ordered his predecessor humiliated) and then executed, but, in the interests of secrecy, not in the basement of the Lubyanka (which was the main NKVD execution chamber).
But his story doesn't end with his death. In fact, he was declared damnatio memoriae by Stalin and all traces of him were removed from books and photos.
Now you don't
Disappeared and removed from all knowledge. That looks like a situation the PCs would investigate, whatever the genre.
The Name of the Rose, written by Umberto Eco, was first published in Italian in 1980 and translated to English three years later. A film was made in 1986 starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater.
I've only seen the film but I plan on reading the book, after I finish all the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (another monk-solving-mysteries series). The monastic view of the world that is presented in these sorts of books will be an interesting dimension that can be added to any game.
Incitatus ("at full gallup") was EmperorCaligula's favorite horse. He lived in a marble stable with rich, purple blankets and jeweled collars. Caligula appointed the horse as a consul, and some historians think that the horse was used as a prank and insult against the Senate, as Incitatus would invite important people to "dine" with him.
In most games, it's normal for PCs to escape prison cells, handcuffs and death traps. Few opportunities arise for the PCs to escape in full view of an audience except when they're in an arena and that's all good fun. Instead of just fighting the arena beasts, throw in a locked cage, a straightjacket or a pair of handcuffs, as the beast attacks!
The basket-hilted military sword, also known as the broadsword, was different from the rapiers of the time due to it's wider blade.
The earliest recovered sword of this style was found on the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545. Varieties of the sword were developed over the years, including the Scottish Claymore, the Italian Schiavona, and the English Mortuary sword.
The cavalry saber from the 18th century up to WWI is the descendent of this style of blade.
Scrooge McDuck is Donald Duck's rich and eccentric uncle on his mother's side. Created by Carl Barks in 1947 and based on (and with the same miserly qualities as) Ebenezer Scrooge, Scrooge McDuck gained his own comic book six years later and has been going strong ever since.
From 1987 to 1990, he starred in the animated series DuckTales with his great-nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, where he globe-trotted on treasure hunting expeditions. His wealth was the subject of Forbes Fictional 15, appearing in all of them from 2002 to 2011.
Need a wealthy NPC? Look no further than Scrooge McDuck.
The text is nearly 200 pages long and divided into two parts. The first part is called the Book of Worcester and the second part was written by a monk named Hemming.
The contents of the manuscript is listed in the wikipedia article and you should look through it. It contains some unusual things besides the legal records, including lists of the kings of Mercia, jurors, and royal gifts.
Witold Pilecki (1901-1948) was a Polish soldier and resistant fighter. He fought in WWI in a Polish self-defence unit until the unit was destroyed by the Russians. For a time, the survivors acted as partisans. He joined the Polish Army and fought in the Polish-Soviet War (1919–1920).
Before the outbreak of WWII, he rejoined the Polish military and after the fall of Poland to the Nazis and the Soviets, he was one of the founding members of the Secret Polish Army.
In 1940, he came up with a daring plan to be captured and sent to Auschwitz to gain vital intelligence. While in Auschwitz, he formed a united resistance movement to provide the underground with information about the camp. He escaped the camp with German documents in 1943 after overpowering a guard.
In 1944, he participated in the Warsaw Uprising. He was captured and spent the rest of the war in a German prison camp.
Liberated in 1945, he worked with the Polish government in exile against the Soviets. Captured in 1947, he underwent torture and was tried in a mock trial in 1948. Sentenced to death, he was executed in May and buried (presumably) in an unmarked grave.
The M/V New Carissa ran aground in February, 1999, in Coos Bay, Oregon, blown onto the beach by a storm.
The ship, empty at the time, still had fuel onboard, which the authorities tried to burn out. The stresses on the structure caused the ship to break apart a week later and the bow section was later sunk by two US Navy vessels.
The stern remained on the beach until 2008, when it was dismantled. The oil spilled in the breakup led to an environmental catastrophe in Oregon, one of the worst in the history of the state.
The wreck of the New Carissa is a neat bit of action in a modern game. Perhaps there was a reason that the stern section was allowed to remain on the beach for nearly a decade.
The Voynich Manuscript is a 240 page 15th century manuscript filled with illustrations and written in an unknown script and an equally unknown language. Believed to be a cypher-script, the book is "the world's most mysterious manuscript."
Since it's discovery in 1912, it has successfully resisted all attempts to translate. Cryptographers from both world wars and beyond have all failed to learn it's secrets. The text has nearly 200,000 distinct glyphs and illustrations that cover everything from herbs and botany to cartography and astronomy.
What secrets does this book have? And what language was it written in? The secret history possibilities alone are extensive.
A fourth alchemical sandwich from my ancient grimoire produced an interesting concoction. As an open-faced sandwich, it was quite good.
2 slices of bread
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2-4 tomato slices
4 strips of bacon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Prepare bacon (I used microwave bacon) as usual. Toast bread and spread peanut butter on both slices. Layer bacon and sliced tomato (I used sliced grape tomatoes) on bread. Sprinkle each slice with brown sugar and a dash of paprika. Broil and serve open-faced.