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Monday, September 28, 2020

The Maze of Peril video review by captcorajus

The Maze of Peril (1986), cover art by Dan Day

Space and Time Books continues to restock copies of the original 1986 printing of The Maze of Peril in their Amazon store, as I previously reported

Click here or on the cover image in the right side bar to get a copy 
(the link includes my Amazon affiliate number)

Over on Youtube, captcorajus has a new video review of the book, titled "OSR Musings: Maze of Peril". captcorajus is a Holmes fan; I've featured two of his RPG Retro Reviews before, one of the Holmes Basic Set as a whole and the other of the Tower of Zenopus Dungeon. And this past February (just before coronavirus shut everything down), I had the pleasure of meeting and having him play Bardan the Dwarf in my game at Scrum Con!

I will note as a warning that if you haven't read the book yet, this review does include a significant number of spoilers regarding the plot.

OSR Musings: Maze of Peril

Stepping away from game and module reviews this week, I take a look at the Dungeons & Dragons inspired adventure by the author of the D&D Basic Set, John Eri...

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave #1-2 & Intro

This is the start of The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, a new adventure I am posting on the blog as I write it. Below are the Background, Location, Area 1 and Area 2. Subsequent posts are limited to a single area. The dungeon can be navigated using the links surrounding each map. Note that the posts in this series are subject to revision as it progresses.

The coda to the Sample Dungeon (aka the Ruined Tower of Zenopus) poses several unanswered questions that are meant to inspire avenues for the new DM to expand the adventure. One of these asks, "Do the pirates have other treasure troves hidden in the sea caves?", referring to the group in Room M. I used this as the basis of Rumor #13 in the d20 Portown Rumors (also included in the Ruined Tower of Zenopus conversion). Below is one sea cave system that can be used for such a sea cave.

THE FORGOTTEN SMUGGLERS' CAVE

BACKGROUND: Years ago, this natural cave system was the preferred route for smuggling goods into Portown, because it leads from the sea all the way into the town proper. This changed on the night of magical destruction of the Tower of Zenopus, an event which shook the land enough to collapse both the cliff face over the entrance to the smugglers' cave and a section of the main passage through the tunnel. This rendered it unsuitable for smuggling, although it is still possible to traverse the system with some difficulty. After the town knocked down the remains of the tower of Zenopus, the smugglers eventually began using the caves there instead.

LOCATION: This sea cave is located at the base of the sea cliff to the west of Portown, to the south of the Zenopus dungeon.

Encounter Areas:



Area 2



1. SEA CAVE MOUTH: 
What remains of the opening is barely visible at the top of a pile of boulders, coated in barnacles and seaweed, that rises from the water line. At low tide, 10 feet of rock is exposed, at mid-tide, 5 feet, and at high tide, the entrance is just below the surface. 

A boat can be rowed alongside the slippery pile without too much difficulty, but climbing up it will require some dexterity, with a slip dropping a character into 5 (low tide) to 10 feet (mid-tide) of choppy sea water. One person at a time can fit through the narrow entrance by scooting sideways while on their belly.

Once inside, there is a less slippery scramble down to the sea water covering the floor of the cave tunnel, which is of similar depth to the water on the outside, depending on the tide.



Area 1 Area 3


2. SEA CAVE TUNNEL: The cave tunnel is about 10 feet wide, and runs east-west 200 ft., with the eastern end leading into the water in a grotto (Area 3). The tunnel slopes up about two feet along the length of the tunnel. The water of the tunnel is filled with numerous large (2' long), trapped fish. These will bump into anyone walking through the water of the tunnel in an alarming but harmless manner. 

This adventure continues in Area 3.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Grognardia interviews Chris Holmes


If you missed it, the newly resurrected Grognardia blog posted a new interview with Chris Holmes this past Friday. Chris answers ten questions, with lots of stories about discovering D&D in the mid-'70s.

Chris also recently guested on the Save for Half podcast, Episode 26.5: North Texas RPG Con, and back in the spring was on the Appendix N Book Club podcast, Episode 67 Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan At the Earth's Core


Interview: Chris Holmes

Today's interview was a real treat for me. Chris Holmes, son of Dr J. Eric Holmes, kindly agreed to answer my questions about his own experiences with roleplaying, as well as the life and works of his father, whose Basic Set was the very first RPG I ever owned. 1.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Holmes Basic in Sunny Rolls the Dice




Sunny Rolls the Dice (2019) is the third in a series of graphic novels about Sunny, a teen growing up in suburban Pennsylvania in the 1970s. It is co-created by Jennifer L. Holm, a Newberry Honor author, and her brother Matthew Holm, an illustrator, and is semi-autobiographical, inspired by the Holms' own childhood, particularly Jennifer's.

The first two books in the series are Sunny Side Up (2015) and Swing It Sunny (2017), and a fourth, Sunny Makes a Splash, is in production. I've currently read the first and third ones and greatly enjoyed both of them, but 
Sunny Rolls the Dice is a particular favorite for its loving treatment of Dungeons & Dragons in the 1970s. The series starts in 1976 and proceeds chronologically, so with the third book starting in mid-1977, it's the right time for Holmes Basic, and sure enough that's what Sunny encounters when she first plays D&D with kids in her neighborhood, appropriately in her family's newly finished basement rec room:




The Holms take pains to include details faithful to the era in which the series is set, and I'm impressed that here they appropriately show an early edition of the Holmes set that includes a Monster & Treasure Assortment Set 1: Levels 1-3 and a set of five polyhedral dice. In a minor nitpick that only an early D&D fan will notice, the colors of the accessories are off (the M&T Set 1 should be yellow - Set 3 was blue - and the dice are the wrong colors), but the illustrations are spot on, including a d20 showing a "0" instead of a "10" or "20".

The story also heavily features the original Monster Manual, and the back of the book includes a photo of a young Holm with her own copy. I get this; learning about monsters was what originally attracted me to D&D.

The appearance of D&D in this story is not just period window-dressing; the game is a pivotal part of the plot, as you may have guessed from the title of the book.

To hear the author herself talking about this book and her experiences with D&D growing up, listen to this recent Save or Die interview with Jennifer Holm. A big thank you to DM Carl at Save or Die for letting me know that Holmes Basic was featured in this book.

You can preview the first section of the book, up to the beginning of Sunny's first D&D game, over at Amazon:



(All product links include Amazon or DMsGuild/DrivthruRPG affiliate #s)

Friday, September 11, 2020

Blood of Prokopius: Towards a Holmesian Dungeon

Attention Holmes True Believers,

Interesting post alert! 

Today, the blog Blood of Prokopius has a post, Towards a Holmesian Dungeon, that is well worth your time:

Towards a Holmesian Dungeon

What follows is not anything particularly new. Many of these ideas have been present within the hobby and explored throughout the years I have been maintaining this blog. My interest here is codifying what I consider to be the characteristics of a dungeon that can truly be called Holmesian - by which I mean a dungeon that puts into practice what the Holmes Basic Edition presents as Dungeon.