Saturday, April 21, 2018


The diagram showed detailed dynamics of how a fighting man, armed with a bow and arrow, could storm a keep by leaping over a castle wall on the back of a unicorn. This was one part physics text book and one part Micheal Moorcock. Angles of attack over parapets drawn out in exacting detail; isometric dungeon-scapes like unsolved mazes waiting to be solved. I dismissed the weighty impenetrable document and sat down to play some Dungeons and Dragons.

Over the next 4 hours, at my best friends dinner table, he, me and his older brothers delved into the depths of some unremembered dungeon. I picked up an unused character, already stocked to the gills with magic items and proceeded to blast chain lightning javelins through hordes of undead while simultaneously annihilating my poor dwarf's groin on a balance beam high above the cavern floor. This game had me by the balls.

Still my favorite cover of any D&D supplement ever.
We could rarely get my friends older brothers to run for us, but we thumbed through the pages of countless arcane tomes, barely making sense of any of it, not knowing where to start, but utterly enthralled. In our frustration we made our own role playing game, a simplistic thing based on the JRPG style NES games that were popular at the time. I totally re-drew this character select screen in our 3-ring binder that would be the one copy of our original game.
To this day, that is how I draw a ranger.

My love affair with D&D has waxed and waned since then. I got away from RPGs for awhile, only to be sucked back into 3rd edition, followed by a stint at 'The Forge' community boards where I learned about indie RPG's and story games. I never, however, stopped home brewing pen and paper games. Every old notebook dug up from my past contains some kind of strange game I was working on, and every one of those grew from that formative dungeon delving experience. My experience isn't unusual at all. I know every would-be and wanna-be game designer in the industry cut their teeth on a d20. But lately, it's all come to a head.

5th edition didn't grab at first. Not like it has me now. I ran Lost Mines of Phandelver when the boxed set came out like everyone else, but then my books sat on the shelf for awhile. I focused pretty heavily on tabletop board games for a few years, collecting and home brewing them, and I had a good time doing that. But those games all fell short for me. RPG's were my true love. In a fit of defiance, when asked to write a card game for a friends set of fantasy-themed playing cards he was publishing, I just wrote a full fledged micro-rpg called Swords and Storytellers. Itch, meet scratch.

Storyteller cards are beautiful and you should buy them.
I soon pulled out my PHB, DMG, MM et. al. and started planning a campaign. I won't sit here and wax poetic about the 'need for face to face experiences' and the 'isolation we face in the digital era' you can read on every other site about the great D&D renaissance, because for me, it's never been about any of those things. It has always been only this...

When you play Dungeons and Dragons, you are really on an adventure.
Jack Chick was actually on to something...
Unfortunately it was his randomly rolled spell, Floating Disk.
When you play D&D, you sit in a summoning circle with your closest friends, and you concentrate your willpower on making an imagined world into a real life experience. The dark arts don't get any more dark than that my friend. That is real magic. This is why I play. 

I want to write on this blog about magic, and the strange lines I draw in the sand to summon this other world. I want to share my delusions with you so maybe we can summon it together into our own. In practical terms, this means I'll be posting a bunch of stuff about D&D. Homebrew rules, adventures, campaign settings, game craft, etc. Let's make some magic.


  1. Hi! I saw your blog mentioned on and wanted to ask you whether I could add it to one of the blog Planets I run. More info, and links to the three planets (Old School, Indie, and everything else) can be found on this page where I try to explain it all:
    Please let me know if you're OK with this or not.


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