Friday, January 16, 2015

I Woke Up This Morning... People...

I woke up from my usual beautiful dreams  to the invariable growing nightmare that is our changed and ever changing world of in-your-face realities that most people ignore during "this" our daily life routines.

Item #1:  From a person whom I respect and love...

Item #2, below.  A new "person" wanted to add me as a "friend" on Google+.  I clicked on their profile and immediately got this from "its" current, and only, post (note snapshot I took).

And, as an aside, was forced to deal with and think about another ongoing commentary on a board I answer questions at, this concerning why folks believe that computers used in RPGs do not detract from the human experience thereof but can actually enhance it.  All of that flowing from a mechanical, and invariant, POV that a human interface in RPG is more of an adjunct reality to the game mechanic and organized flow of linearity and bean-counting (adding it all up) than an immersive imaginative experience sans as little artificial constructs as is possible.  Just ask kids at play in the yard whether their experiences (all rather spontaneous and optimal in a self-generating way) would be enhanced if they had to stop and reference books or computers to carry on imagining and being and doing.  And why should they?  They already have the most optimal human interface possible:  The imaginative conduit of the brain.

What all of these things, seemingly unconnected, have in common is a purposeful disregard for the human, though on different levels.

Now onto lunch... Hopefully it has a better, non-bitter, taste than breakfast.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Life, Love and Creativity

Many things have been happening in this writers/designer's life.

I have moved on to a new state, a new state of mind, and yes, a state of change, definitely, and a new-found state of happiness.

In one month I will tie the knot with my better half, a professional writer and feature blogger from France.  More on this as it transpires.  I remain coy at revealing too much of my personal life but as her and I develop new projects together more of our life plans and intellectual partnership will be revealed.

Black Blade Publishing is reprinting the following RPG titles of mine, with the aim of cross issuing them under the DCC RPG system published by Goodman Games:

Garden of the Plantmaster (to be released in the next 6 months)
City of Brass (the original as finished by me) (release date tentative mid next year)
Cairn of the Skeleton King (GaryCon release date or sooner)
Tower of Blood (GaryCon release date or sooner)

I am currently finishing a very large project, Horsing Around, which is a fan-fold mapped special level for Greyhawk Castle (1974).  This will include an extensive historical/design essay on Greyhawk Castle and the Lake Geneva Original Campaign as run by myself and my counterpart, then, Gary Gygax.

After that comes the Machine Level and Ice Grave.

I am at 120,000 words written on my tour de force, A New Ethos in Game Design: The Paradigm Shift Originated by Dungeons & Dragons™ 1972-1977

The book, a seven year research and writing project, was put on temporary hold due to my move, my upcoming marriage and the need to fulfill outstanding publishing contracts.  A very small particle of it will possibly be excerpted for an interview with a Swedish RPG 'zine that I am in the midst of answering questions for (editor: Björn Wärmedal).  More news on this as I get grounded on the many things that are transpiring.  My rough estimate for wordage on this is 200,000, plus diagrams.  This baby wants to be birthed, it demands it, so I am splitting my endeavors between this project and game design lest I lose contact with the former.  An editor has been assigned to the project (more on this development as everything unfolds).

Other news tidbits: I have canceled all convention appearances for the next year due to my busy schedule; to contact me go through Black Blade Publishing for now.

For all of you creative, spontaneous designers and thinkers out there I leave you (for now) with a quote from Viola Spolin. See you 'round the about...

"Through spontaneity we are re-formed into ourselves. It creates an explosion that for the moment frees us from handed-down frames of reference, memory choked with old facts and information and undigested theories and techniques of other people's findings. Spontaneity is the moment of personal freedom when we are faced with reality, and see it, explore it and act accordingly. In this reality the bits and pieces of ourselves function as an organic whole. It is the time of discovery, of experiencing, of creative expression."

Monday, June 30, 2014

_Bottle City_ now available to order from Black Blade

Jon's has updated the Ordering instructions on the Black Blade Publishing web site, and posted the Bottle City transcription and ERKME#10 files referenced in the module.

For reference, here are the ordering details, which are posted to


The Black Blade web site is in the process of being rebuilt since the e-commerce package used to drive it is no longer supported by the
original vendor (who has gone out of business).  Consequently, the online store is NOT fully operational (shipping, in particular international shipping, does not
work properly). Please use the Store tab as a reference for details about our books, including prices, but do not use it to place an order.

When you are ready to order, please email us with the following details:

- First Name and Last Name
- Shipping Address
- Email Address
- Online User Name
- Phone Number
- Products Ordered and their Quantities
- Any additional notes or instructions that will help us process to your order

Please email these details to:

We'll then provide you with an accurate shipping quote, and will invoice you via Paypal, our preferred method for payment. If you do not have a Paypal account and/or prefer to pay via credit card, we accept all major credit cards that are supported by Square (Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover; details at  To process such orders, please provide us with a good time to call you to get your credit card details:  please do not email or text them to us, since we don't want your financial information being sent through insecure methods.

Black Blade Publishing also accepts United States money orders in US Dollars, International money orders in US Dollars, and travellers checks in US Dollars.  At game conventions where we are selling products, we also accept cash in US Dollars (USD).  Black Blade Publishing does not accept personal checks.


Thank you for your support, as always! :D

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Edition of Rob Kuntz's _The Original Bottle City_

Excellent news from Black Blade Publishing!:  the new edition of Rob Kuntz's _The Original Bottle City_ will be available to purchase at the North Texas RPG convention this year!  
This new edition of the Lake Geneva Castle & Campaign adventure expands the module from 32 to 44 pages in order to provide a more-complete, plug-and-play gaming experience than the original edition.  The Black Blade edition:

- Details monster and NPC statistics so that they can be played from the module without requiring additional work from the DM---the Pied Piper edition listed many encounters as "5 cloud giants" or "4 enchanters", for example.  Monsters and NPCs are provided with equipment, memorized spells, and other notes as required to run them during encounters.

- Provides four sample god-aspect templates for use in “The Hall of the Gods” encounter; two were designed for use in Kuntz’s Bottle City events at the 40th Anniversary of GenCon in 2007.

- Normalizes monster and NPCs statistics and attributes to first edition fantasy values, especially hit dice and hit points:  HD were adjusted to use d8 HD for monsters instead of d6 and class-based HD instead of d6 HD for NPCs, while hp were proportionally increased based on the percentage of maximum hit points possessed by the monster or NPC in the original manuscript.

- Fixes errata present in the Pied Piper edition and clarifies several ambiguities in the text and map, including text dropped from the PPP edition.

For those who missed it the first time around, _The Original Bottle City_ is a site for high adventure, where strange magic interweaves with nine trapped gods, demigods, and demons who vie for its control---but all are minikins, captive in the magical city in a bottle!  In 1974 Bottle City was one of the largest design projects Rob Kuntz undertook as the co-DM of the original Lake Geneva Castle & Campaign. Found on the second level of the Castle, it stupefied the Lake Geneva gamers---that is until they touched the bottle itself and were drawn into the city, where the fun really began....

The first edition of The Original Bottle City was released by Pied Piper Publishing in 2008, and has been out of print since 2009. 

After the North Texas RPG Con, Black Blade will make available Rob Kuntz’s alternate painting for use in The Gallery (a tribute to David C.  Sutherland III’s classic Dungeon Masters Guide cover art), as well as the original manuscript transcription file for Bottle City.  Both files are password-protected .pdfs that will be published to the Downloads section of after the convention.

Book details: $30 USD, 44 pages + 2 11"x17" map sheets, ISBN 978-0-9842870-3-1, Black Blade product code BBP-4001.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Garycon VI Tidbits

A flash report of what I did, what I experienced, etc. at Garycon VI.  The convention wore me out in many ways.

*GMed Lost City of the Elders three days.  No one liked flying items/spells, it seems, which really limited general movement/evasion, tactical advances, exploration and such in this dimensional city.  More on these in a later post.  Overall good fun had with some nip-n-tuck situations where one party was surrounded and surprised at once and fought a pitched battle until worn down physically by the waves of enemies!  Keyword concept overlays for the adventures:  Darkness, Terror, Pressure (atmospheric).

*Seminar on open form processes.  Went very well with some avid note-takers who were having difficulty keeping up due to the wealth of information.  Attended by Luke Gygax and my brother Terry, the latter who had some very pointed questions that only one with a design mind can pose.  In the followup Q's Luke got me OT by asking about Robilar's TOEE adventure which I turned to Gary's and my own sparring with jokes and puns over the years, and with a few laughs coming from those exchanges.  Lots of open ears and eyes in this seminar as I am upping the ante as I approach finishing the book related to same.  It included a handout from one of the chapters about linear vs. granular design.

*Had good talks with my brother Terry.  He was busy adjudicating several games at Gary's old house on 330 Center Street.  He's in the process of compiling some game material for publication, including a battle board game design.  We will be staying in touch.

*Attended the 330 Center Street breakfast and met with Yolanda, the current owner of the house, who is very gracious and has the patience of a saint in allowing it to be "invaded" for the convention by all sorts of oddities.

*Had prolonged and in depth conversations with David Wesely, David Megarry, Jon Hershberger, Dave LaForce, Paul Stormberg and many others.  The talks with the former 2 'Daves' were of specific interest due to their historicity, design path inquiries/exchanges and related.  Once a designer, always a designer.

*Paul Stormberg and I visited with Jeff Perren at a healthcare facility in Illinois, about 45 minutes from Lake Geneva.  He is in good spirits and humorous, as usual, after having sustained major surgery.  I will be visiting with him in the future as he is relatively close to my location, which I had not been previously aware of (in fact, there had been an errant rumor circulating that he had died!).

I'll post some pictures and some more convention details in between my writing, including a poem I am composing for my old friend of days gone by, Tramp.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lost City of the Elders + Mood Music

I looked (that is, listened) around a lot over the years to find music that would typify a party's seeing the LCotE and then entering its mysterious environs.

Matt Uelmen is the composer of eerie and inspired music for the early Diablo games, and the  selection below for D2 fits in with my conception of the eeriness of the city.

I use a very intricate template to ascertain what "phase" or "phases" the city is currently in, which I will be describing in a future book on the subject of models and formats.

The current phase for the Garycon VI LCotE adventures is darkness and terror.  Think of these in terms of overall impacts upon the environment, the mind, the visuals and the emotive levels and you will start getting the gist.

Link to music

Friday, March 7, 2014

Just A Little Bit...

Here are some quickie updates:

I am hovering around 85,000 words on my first non-fiction book dealing with the pre-TSR to TSR's earliest days, roughly 1969-1977. A massive chore with at least five differing areas of converging content: historical, game design theory, play theory, creativity and the open form concept, the latter which I am describing in detail. I estimate the finish of this project at 130-150m words.  Black Blade has already agreed to publish it.  It will include about 10-20 diagrams, most of which are finished.

The Dungeons and Dragons Documentary crew will be around the area just prior to Garycon VI.  The weather has crippled their activities over the winter months but they will be filming an extended session with me at my abode days before Garycon.  They had suggested filming it at Yerkes Observatory; but we ultimately decided upon another clean, well-lit place--my home.

Black Blade Publishing might (greater than 50% chance) have Bottle City (2nd printing) ready for Garycon.  They are pushing on that schedule but I have yet to hear about how that might play out.

My seminar on Open Form at the upcoming GC 6 is about half full, a good sign for those eclectic DMs and designers out there who I guarantee will benefit by attending it.

My brother will be in attendance at the con and is running a Chainmail game there.  That's right, the first person offered a job at TSR in 1974 contingent upon his remodeling of the Dungeon Hobby Shop/TSR offices (rewiring, re-carpetting re-plumbing, etc.).  He's also been approached by the D and D Doc crew to give his story from those days.

These are very interesting times, but the weather sucks, so here's a pre-taste of warmer days ahead.