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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.                    ...

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Gary Gygax Day 2022

Graphic by Jim Wampler

Happy Gary Gygax Day 2022!

As I don't have a new post ready, I'll highlight one I made a few months ago:

Gygax's "City on the Edge" Adventure: post-TSR Greyhawk development

See also these previous posts that I made for Gary Gygax Day:

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Holmes' Pellucidar Novels to be Reprinted


In my last post, I featured an episode of a podcast on which Chris Holmes was a guest, and where he made an exciting announcement: his father's two novels set in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar setting are going to be reprinted later this summer by the ERB Inc, as part of their new "Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe" line. 

Holmes' books include Mahars of Pellucidar, originally published by ACE books in 1976 and out-of-print ever since, and its sequel Red Axe of Pellucidar, which was written after Mahars but canceled by the ERB estate and thus never before available in an authorized publication (unauthorized copies have circulated at fan conventions).

Find the pre-order page here on the ERB website

The cover art for each has been done by Richard Hescox, a veteran illustrator of sci-fi and fantasy with credits stretching back to the '70s, and a frontispiece illustration has been provided by Chris Holmes.

Each book also includes bonus written material: a foreword by Chris Holmes, and a bonus story set in one of ERB's worlds by another author.

Each book is available in three different formats: paperback; hardcover; or a limited edition hardcover signed by Chris Holmes. I've pre-ordered the latter for myself.

Pre-orders also include a bonus trading card while supplies last.

It's great to finally have these available again (Mahars) or for the first time (Red Axe)!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Chris Holmes on the This Ol' Dungeon Podcast


While I was at Philmont, Chris Holmes alerted me that he would be appearing on an upcoming episode of the This Ol' Dungeon Podcast. The episode, number 22, is out now and can be found here:

Episode 22: Chris Holmes and the Tower of Zenopus

Here is the teaser for the episode: 

"This episode we are joined by Chris Holmes: artist, writer, hobby game designer, and all-around renaissance man.  Chris recounts his father's, John Eric Holmes, creation of the original D&D basic boxset as well as telling us about his own "made for the con" game designs-that he does as a way to express his interests and creativity.  He tells about an up-coming re-release of his father's Pellucidar books and hangs with us for the This Ol' Dungeon segment where we revisit "The Tower of Zenopus" - also known as the sample dungeon from the Holmes D&D boxset.  So, hang with us for another great episode!"

I've listened to it and enjoyed hearing Chris relate a few anecdotes about his father that I hadn't heard before as well an extensive critique of the Zenopus dungeon.

Links to other podcasts that Chris has appeared on previously can be found on the Podcasts page on the Zenopus Archives site.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Back from a Philmont Pointcrawl

Just before sunrise while ascending the Tooth of Time, a Philmont landmark

Earlier this week, I returned from the most challenging physical activity of my life so far: a 12-day backpacking trek in Philmont, the historic scout camp located in the Southern Rockies of north-central New Mexico. I was one of the advisors joining a crew of Scouts, including my son, that successfully traversed more than 66 miles over 11 days of hiking, at altitudes ranging from 6,700 feet at base camp to over 11,000 feet at the peak of Mount Phillips

Throughout the trek, each member of the crew, including advisors, packed 30 to 40 pounds of equipment, including clothes, camping gear, 4 to 5 liters of water, and distributed food (2 to 3 days worth at a time) and cooking gear, giving me a new appreciation for the oft-ignored rules for Encumbrance.

In D&D terms it was a pointcrawl from camp to camp, which were either unstaffed trail camps, or staffed camps having activities for the Scouts such as fly fishing or blacksmithing. This map, from our crew t-shirt design, shows the location of each as we circled the southern portion of the ranch in a clockwise direction: 

And this chart shows the altitude at each of these camps. On day five, we topped 9,000 feet and I started to feel effects of lessened oxygen, chiefly being more quickly winded when exerting myself.

In addition to the weight, distance and altitude, challenges for the Scouts during their trek included navigation, which meant finding the best trail to each camp and staying on it; setting up a campsite each afternoon or evening and cooking dinner; dealing with the weather, which varied from hot and sunny to cold and wet; planning ahead for dry camps lacking a water source; and avoiding wildlife, such as the black bears that circled our campsite one morning, and ravenous mini-bears (chipmunks) trying to steal food. Despite a few setbacks, the crew did a great job overcoming these challenges and completing their trek, and I could not be more proud of them.

One day even included some "dungeon delving" when we went about a thousand feet into the Contention, a former gold mine. The trek also included a bit of gaming: one of the other advisors brought a reprint of a classic Choose Your Own Adventure book, House of Danger, and on two occasions when we had time after dinner, he read it to the Scouts, letting them take turns picking the path through the story, which was quite fun. 

Prepping for this trip consumed a lot of my free time over the last few months, so hopefully now that it is complete I will have more time for writing. In particular, I'd like to complete the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave adventure series on this blog, and write up the Expedition to Skull Stack Crater, a scenario I ran at the last Gary Con.