This is the blog. Click here to go to the Zenopus Archives website.

Note: Many older posts on this blog are missing images, but can be viewed at the corresponding page in the Internet Archive

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Holmes Ref 2.0

One year ago on Free RPG Day I released Holmes Ref 1.0 (see blog post here), a 10-page compilation of various Holmes Ref Sheets. 

Click here to view/download Holmes Ref 2.0

This year's offering is Holmes Ref 2.0, an expanded version with 18 pages, including:

*Title Page with Monster Face Montage art
Character Creation Worksheet
*Blank Character Sheet - new version posted separately in April
Advancement Tables (previously called Holmes + OD&D "Bridge" Sheet)
Holmesian Random Names
Backgrounds for Humans
Cleric Spells Levels 1-6
M-U Spells Levels 1-3 
*M-U Spells Levels 4-6 - new, posted separately earlier this week
Monster Reference Table - revised to use dice notation (e.g. 1d6) vs ranges for damage
*Tips for using the Monster Table - from the pdf of the Monster Table, slightly revised
*One Hit Point Monsters
Magical Item Reference Table
*Lesser Magic Items - new sheet, material published in Dungeon Crawl #3 in 2013
Pre-generated First Level Characters 
*Pre-generated Third Level Characters - new sheet, not yet posted separately
*Draw and Key Your Own Dungeon - graph paper previously posted on Holmes Ref page
*Zenopus Archives logo with Monster Face Mountain Art 

Starred items are new to the Holmes Ref compilation.

The first and last pages can be used for the player-facing side of DIY DM screens.

I won't be surprised if there are some typos/formatting errors/etc, so please let me know & I'll make note of them for future correction.

The compilation and individual sheets are available via the Holmes Ref page on the Zenopus Archives site. Holmes Ref 1.0 will remain anyone who wants a smaller version.

Also available is the Portown Rumors 3-page pdf posted last month.

Enjoy Free RPG day. I'm playing in a 1E AD&D game at a local store later today.

Update: For reference, I added more links to the original posts about the various sheets.


  1. I'm considering DM'ing D&D for the first time in 25+ years using this. We're currently playing DragonStrike, the 1993 adventure board game from TSR, which is far, far more basic, but in addition to dungeon crawling, it does include aspects of real role playing, i.e., spoken interaction and choices with real agency. Reading through this, I'm not sure I could use it and it alone to play D&D. Do you think it would be possible? One slight hang-up, I didn't notice per-weapon damage . . . Did I miss it?

    1. Oh, and despite never having DM/played Holmes D&D, I've been reading your blog for years and really enjoy and appreciate your work.

      Despite loving all the Larry Elmore comic book advertisements, I unfortunately just missed the red box (which last printed in 1989) and started with the black box at age 11 in 1991, but left D&D in favor of GURPS at age 13.

    2. Hi Richard, thanks for stopping by and saying hello. The sheets are intended to be used with a copy of Holmes Basic, which should fill in any gaps. That said, you could run a decent game at the table with just what is there. The Advancement sheet gives you all the Combat and Saving throw tables, and the Monster, Spell and Treasure sheets give you most of the crunch for the stuff the characters will interact with. What other material would you be interested in seeing that would help you run a game?

    3. Regarding "per-weapon damage", what I usually call "variable damage", it was not included in Holmes Basic for the PCs - everything is d6. It was present in the earlier Greyhawk Supplement and could be used with Holmes without problem. I post a version of this adapted for Holmes Basic once on the blog. I should incorporate it into a Combat Reference Sheet...

    4. Thanks a lot! Let me get back with you on your question.

      Right now, I'm carefully recreating the map for Zenopus' Tower for use on virtual table top. I'm a skilled dungeon cartographer and will be happy to share my art when I'm finished.

      However, one more quick question; the scale seems to be 10' square spaces with one character/figure per square. Surely that's far too large of a square, right? You could easily fit three combatants in such a large space. The squares should be 5', correct?

      Thanks again!

    5. Most of the old TSR maps are 10' per square, including the Zenopus dungeon. But the older D&D rules didn't have a strict limit on the number of characters per square; it was more based on the DM's discretion about what makes sense. Holmes says, "One would not expect to get more than two or three figures fighting side by side in a ten foot corridor" (pg 20). You could easily subdivide the 10' squares into four 5' squares.

  2. A level of awesomeness that made me feel like I was back in 1981 while reading it.