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


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.                    ...

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Ruined Tower of Zenopus goes Silver!

Today the Ruined Tower of Zenopus has reached Silver Best Seller on DMs Guild...!

A big thank you to all of you who have purchased it. Please help get the word out by sharing its release, particularly with 5e communities that I am not so plugged into.

The link to it is here on DMs Guild:
The Ruined Tower of Zenopus

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Ruined Tower of Zenopus reviewed on oldschoolfrp Tumblr

Old School FRP is one of my favorite Tumblr accounts --- I've had them in the sidebar here for years; see the section called "Crystal Ball" --- and they consistently post great old school art from TSR and other FRPG products. Yesterday they posted a review of The Ruined Tower of Zenopus:

"I bought this and gave it a first read-through.  It is an excellent conversion of one of my favorite classic low level adventures, updated for 5e.  There are some new monster stat blocks and minor magic items, a little town map on a peninsula (which makes it easier to locate the town on almost any coastline), options for expanding some areas, notes on factions, rumors, and ways to tie Portown to Saltmarsh, plus even 4 pre-gen PCs. Check it out."

The Ruined Tower is available on DMs Guild

Old School FRP

zenopusarchives: This is a 5E conversion of the original Zenopus dungeon that I wrote and is now up on DMsGuild. Read more on the blog: I bought this and gave it a first read-through. It is an excellent conversion of one of my favorite classic low level adventures, updated for 5e.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Ruined Tower of Zenopus 5E on DMs Guild

I'm pleased to announce that the previously threatened 5E D&D conversion of Holmes' Sample Dungeon is finally available on the DMs Guild as a 18-page pdf for $1.99:

The Ruined Tower of Zenopus (DMs Guild link)

For use with the conversion a free pdf of the original dungeon, which includes the dungeon map, can be found on the Wizards website. (The Holmes Basic rulebook is still not available on DMs Guild).

In the time since I first announced it, I had my friend Scott review & edit it (particularly for 5E compatibility), I added a sample Portown area map, expanded two areas with additional content, added a list for "Further Reading" and basically tweaked it endlessly. 

Introduction, page 2
The Setting, page 3 (Includes a sample map of Portown & Environs)
About the Dungeon, page 4 (Includes a table of Wandering Monsters)
Areas of the Dungeon, pages 5-11 (Includes two expanded areas)
Appendix A: Further Reading, page 11
Appendix B: Dungeon Factions, page 12
Appendix C: Portown Rumors, pages 13-15
Appendix D: Use with Ghosts of Saltmarsh, page 16-17
Appendix E: Pre-generated 1st level characters, page 18 (four 1st level characters)

Includes the following new monsters, NPCs, and Magic Items for 5E: Cleaning Cube, Veteran Smuggler, Thaumaturgist, Monstrous Sand Crab, Lemunda, Monstrous Rat, Brazen Head of Zenopus, Verminslayer Longsword, Lesser Wand of Petrification, Scroll of Stone to Flesh

Original Dungeon: J. Eric Holmes
Conversion & Additional Content: Zach Howard
Content Review/Editing: Scott McKinley
Format: Derived from "Adventure Template for Open Office/LibreOffice” by Dale Robbins
Cover Art: "Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower" by Thomas Cole, 1838. Open Access Image from the National Gallery of Art at
Portown & Environs Map: Zach Howard

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

"Until the Last Ship Sets Sail Into the West"

I was saddened to learn that J.R.R. Tolkien's son Christoper Tolkien passed away on January 16th at the age of 95. Christopher's older brothers, John and Michael, predeceased him; his younger sister Priscilla survives him, as well as his children and grandchildren. Of his siblings, Christopher was by far the most involved in father's writing, having edited around twenty volumes of his father's unpublished manuscripts. He was the best positioned to do so, having become an academic at Oxford like this father.

Christopher was heavily involved in Middle-Earth throughout his life, from hearing the Bilbo stories that became The Hobbit as a child to drawing the beautiful maps for the Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien passed away in 1973, and the first posthumous product was The Silmarillion (with the help of Guy Gavriel Kay) in 15 September 1977, just a few months after both Holmes Basic D&D and the Tolkien-derivative The Sword of Shannara, and the same fall that the animated Hobbit was released. This was all part of the late '70s cultural stew that lead up to the early '80s fantasy/sword & sorcery fad, which included D&D's first round of wide-spread popularity (we are in the second round now).

Christopher was around 55 when the Silmarillion came out and it kicked off a publishing era that did not end until the Fall of Gondolin in August 2018, when he was nearly 94! In a way this work was a continuation of his participation in the Inklings, the literary club at Oxford that would listen to and critique each other's writings. Christopher participated in this with his father, and I read somewhere in the past few days that Christopher was the last surviving Inkling. Thus, his passing truly marks the end of an age - the last ship setting sail into the West.

I have a shelf or two full of his books myself, including the entire HOME series (History of Middle-Earth). AI've noted previously, my blog series on the Holmes Manuscript owes something to his style of text analysis.

The other night I started re-watching the Tolkien biopic - I saw it in the theatre when it was released - and it is just as enjoyable on second viewing. I need to dig out and listen to my J.R.R. Tolkien Audio Collection that includes Christopher reading selections from the Silmarillion. Above I've posted a link to a clip of Christopher reading from the ending of The Lord of the Rings.

Namárië, Christopher.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Dicebreaker Article About OD&D Players

Meet the Original Dungeons & Dragons diehards still playing by '70s rules

Refusing to roll with the times. Most tabletop fans have thrown a rolled a d20 or two in their time - especially now, thanks to the unprecedented popularity of Dungeons & Dragons 5E - but we all have our own opinions about what edition of the RPG rules them all.

Today Matt Finch (of Uncle Matt's Blog) posted a link to this Dicebreaker article on OD&D:

Meet the Original Dungeons & Dragons diehards still playing by '70s rules

I'm not familiar with Dicebreaker or the author Steven T. Wright, but the article is a decent primer/intro to OD&D for a modern D&D audience. Smartly, the author talked to Matt and Delta (of Delta's D&D Hotspot) and much of the article reads as a conversation with them. 

Nice to see general interest attention on OD&D, though sadly the article mentions Dragonsfoot but not the OD&D Discussion forumI left a comment thanking the author and providing a link there.