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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Saturday, July 23, 2016


If you haven't heard, the original PLANET OF THE APES (1968) will be back in certain theatres tomorrow (Sunday the 24th) and Wednesday (the 27th). Check your local listings!

The title of this post references an obscure PLANET OF THE APES-themed RPG from the Holmes Basic-era, 1978's SIMIAN CONQUEST. Read more about it here on Dragonsfoot.

1973 Promotional Poster for a Planet of the Apes movie marathon


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Save or Die Interview

The latest episode of the Save or Die! podcast, Episode 124, features an interview with yours truly. Here's the teaser:

"The Dmigoes welcome to Save or Die….the Mad Wizard Zenopus from the Holmes Basic set! Ok, not the wizard himself, but Zenopus from the esteemed blog Zenopus Archives. We talk about J. Eric Holmes, Purple Worms, and why so many dungeons have rivers flowing through them at one point or another?"

It was great fun recording the show & I'd like to thank Jim, Liz and Mike for having me on!

The Episode 124 page has several links for topics we discussed. Here are a few more:

Dungeon made with Lego Heroica

Gygax's Castle Greyhawk Dungeon Level One handout from Origins II

Holmes Manuscript series - index of posts

Monday, July 4, 2016

NTRPG Con 2016 Report

It's been about a month since I attended North Texas RPG Con (aka NTRPGCon) 2016, my first ever multi-day con. I had a fantastic time, and here's my brief report.

On Saturday morning I participated in the Holmes Reading/Discussion with Chris Holmes and Allan Grohe (aka grodog, co-publisher of Black Blade Publishing). At 9 AM, it was an early slot with only 8 registered attendees, but more showed up (15-20?). A comfortable number for the small room. There were some technical difficulties: Allan had a set of slides and the Con provided a projector but there was no connecting cord, and there was a live feed but afterwards I noticed the camera was pointing the wrong direction. 

However, Allan recorded the audio on his phone (starting a few minutes late, after Chris Holmes had introduced himself), and it's now available on his website now (think of it as a podcast), along with the slides and handouts we provided:

John Eric Holmes Reading and Panel Discussion

In addition, I played in five great games: two Friday, two Saturday and one Sunday.

(1) The Misty Isles of the Eld - written/run by Chris Kutalik

The teaser from the convention program: "Come bring the fight to those fiendish space elves, the Eld. Players will explore a point crawl of a weird fantasy, extra planar island searching for a flying monument and fragments of a shattered god".

This game was drawn from Chris' new publication, Misty Isles of the Eld. Chris Holmes was also playing in this game, and I met him in person for the first time at the table. Since he was playing, Chris K. prepared some special pre-gens. Thus, I came to be playing a Wereshark thief by the name of "The Son of Ondrj", who met a brutal end, impaled by 5 or 6 Eld simultaneously. Then I picked up another pre-gen: Zereth the Elf!

I like getting copies of adventures that I've played through, so after the game I bought one of the brand new copies of Misty Isles, which Chris signed, "Killed Before Your Time".

(2) grodog's Castle Greyhawk - Enchanted Orchards of the Arimol, written/run by Allan Grohe (grodog).

The teaser: "Play test grodog's next Castle Greyhawk dungeon level, GC-02 Enchanted Orchards of the Arimol ... an extra planar sub-level accessible from GC-01 Iounic Caverns"

Here our group tested out this adventure with higher level AD&D characters than Allan had run previously. The star of the evening was the Druid, who ferried us around on a Chariot of Sustarre and took out the BBG with a Feeblemind spell and a failed saving throw of 1!

(3) Death on the Mssuma River - written/run by Victor Raymond

The teaser: "An item of great antiquity has been stolen from a noble clanhouse in the city of Jakalla, rumor has it that the burglar is proceeding north on the Mssuma River, headed for Bey Su "the Beauteous" he capital of Tsolyanu, the Empire of the Petal Throne. You have been hired to retrieve the precious item and return it to its rightful owner, preferably without bloodshed, but by force if necessary! This is an event for newcomers to the World of Tekumel, as originally published by TSR in 1975!"

This was a "Death on the Nile" style murder-mystery. We had a large group (10?) but it worked beautifully for the investigative mission. Also, we were in one of the private "boardrooms", which were great for immersion; while you lose a bit of the con atmosphere it's more like playing a game at someone's house.

Chris Holmes also played in this, and we were the only two non-humans in the party, who were all members of the same clan. I was a Shen warrior hired by the clan, and he played a Pe Choi. During the climactic battle my Shen experienced the temporal stasis produced by an "Excellent Ruby Eye". Victor was a long-time player in M.A.R. Barker's games and knows Tekumel as if he had lived there - because he did.

(4) AdLiD ("Ad-Lib Dungeon") - improvised by Frank Mentzer on the spot.

The teaser: "You decide what monsters and treasures will be found... and Frank creates an adventure on the spot. Anything can happen!".

Frank runs this game periodically. He give out notecards before the game and each player writes down something to be encountered during the game. If I thought about this more beforehand I would've written "Bargle". On the spot all I could muster was "H.P. Lovecraft". Thus our group encountering H.P. himself, complete with bat wings and tentacles, as the BBG. One of the other players in this game was a grandson of Bob Bledsaw, founder of Judges Guild, and I chatted with him during the break.

(5) Professor Monkey vs the Friends of Entropy written/run by Steve Winter

The teaser: "Professor Monkey's radium-powered lab represent everything the Friends of Entropy despise: science, machinery, and being alive. To no one's surprise, a volcano of trouble erupts when the..." 

From what I gather, Steve runs a Professor Monkey Gamma World game every year. The PCs all work for the Professor, who outfits them with gear. We spent the first hour creating characters. I ended up with a 5-meter-long (!) mutant fox. We zipped about a hex map, investigating different points of interest and trying to root out the Friends of Entropy, one of the original GW Cryptic Alliances.

Steve has a previous Professor Monkey adventure available as a free pdf on his blog.

After the game I asked Steve about the original Holmes Basic Set art, which he had reported was found in a crate by WOTC a few years ago. He said he believes it is now hanging in a safe location in the WOTC offices.

* * * * *

I was also able to chat with former TSR artists Diesel (aka DSL aka David S. Laforce) and Jeff Dee. I had them both sign a copy of the module A1 that I bought from Diesel. They were the original artists for the cover (Dee) and title page (Diesel) of A1.