Monthly Archives: January 2019

The fate of half-baked ideas …

wolf moonI had this half-baked idea inspired by (or at least building on) someone’s half-baked idea. I wanted to post my thoughts on G+, and see what other people thought, and to see where the idea might end up. If anywhere.

Most of the most interesting ideas I’ve seen (and had) have come about this way on G+. I’ve shared silly ideas that I nearly didn’t post, only to see them evolve into really interesting things. At least in my opinion. There have been duds too of course.

But, it seems G+ has now shut off notifications, and so has in essence killed off the engine that facilitates active discussion.

Post it here? I just can’t see any value in making a blog post about the seed of a seed of an idea; and the rate of any discourse is going to be glacial at best.

MeWe it? I’ve found MeWe to be like a busy nightclub. You can try to have a discussion, but it never seems to work. The proprietor seems to want to encourage certain behaviours, but lengthy inter-customer discussion does not appear to be one of them. The nested comments just seem to (and perhaps are intended to) strangle off any meaningful discussion.

Reddit it? The life span of any discussion is so short (posts even close – Why, What?). And all this voting up and down doesn’t seem to be helpful if you have a niche idea … The ideas I like most are often not the most popular ideas circulating in the OSRZeitgeist . I can only imagine Twitter is even more temporal than Reddit.

Faceb … I can’t even finish it

So what now …

I suppose this post is merely a howl at the moon …. Aruuuuuuugha

Tuesday Toot!! | Ford’s Faeries now in Print

Tuesday TootG+ is closing. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

5E49E4BB-02BB-45C4-832F-36F3D6E06AD0:: Ford’s Faeries: A Bestiary Inspired by Henry Justice Ford ::

This is an example of when G+ really shone. This is a collaborative work by many G+’ers (including me).

Of all the things I’ve done as a result of G+, this is one of my favourites!

As well as the free PDF, Ford’s Faeries is now available in print (POD) from DriveThruRPG : Link

DriveThruRPG bio page: 

“A bestiary inspired by the masterful work of Henry Justice Ford.

Meet the Moon-Headed Giant, the Leechlich, and the Fencer Familiar, and more than 50 other weird creatures fit for campaigns of every level. The full-page illustrations, often taken from fairytale books, have led our 15 authors to create original monsters that will give a quirky twist to your game. They all come with enough material to become the centerpiece of the session.

Contributors: Dan D., Daniel Lofton, Dat Epic Fish, Emmy Allen, Eric Diaz, Eric Nieudan, Goblin’s Henchman, Guillaume Jentey , HD Atkinson, James V. West, Jean-Marc “Tolkraft” Choserot, Ktrey Parker, Magimax, Roger SG Sorolla, Sébastien d’Abrigeon, and Vance Atkins.”

A review can be found here:

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

James V West Gexit
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”
Fight on dear Gexit
(drawing by James V West)

Interesting maps of underwater cave systems

I was thinking about rules for breathing underwater and stumbled on some interesting maps:

caves big.png

The above map was found here:

caves new

Some more interesting maps like the above can be found here:


Not much to add … except a few more drawings:




UPDATE: Reddit user GrendelFriend pointed me to this webpage, which looks neat: For example, clicking randomly about , I found this map (so there must be more great stuff on this page):


– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

Tuesday Toot!! | The ‘Balanced’ Encounter

Tuesday TootG+ is closing. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

drill.jpgThe ‘Balanced’ Encounter’ was a puzzle/trap submitted to a competition organized by the podcasts ‘Gaming and BS‘ and ‘Hobbs and Friends of the OSR‘ (as it was then). I learnt about these podcasts on G+.

The competition idea was to make an OSR-style encounter using one of: giant rats, giant spiders or ogres.

The compilation of the competition entries (including this one) was published on DriveThru and can be downloaded for free here: Link

drill 2How it works: Essentially, the puzzle involves figuring out that a giant Archimedes Screw (see above) can be used as a novelty staircase.

That is, for the PCs to get across the chasm, they  must walk in single file along the groove in what looks like a giant (and slowly spinning) drill bit – see image left.


While the ‘pitch’ of the screw is not quite right in the below animated gif, it might help to explain the idea. Imagine you’re looking down from above and this giant screw spans a chasm. Then imagine walking from right to left between the ‘fins’ of the spinning thread (you can use your mouse icon to recreate the idea; stay between two ‘fins’). Eventually, you will reach the other side. Walk too fast and you out pace the thread and walk off the edge. Stop (or walk too slowly) and the thread spins you off. Also, because of the shape and way the thing spins, there is no way to walk back down the ‘screw’.

To spice things up, when exposed (and separated) on the ‘staircase’ the PCs can be attacked, for example by giant spiders or perhaps flying creatures like stirges.

This puzzle gets a nice mention here on the Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk podcast at 5:50:

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my
procedural adventure ‘
Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony. 

James V West Gexit
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”
Fight on dear Gexit
(drawing by James V West)

The Sky-Blind Spire | Spreadsheet Adventure Module Adaptation

I’ve made a Spreadsheet Adventure Module (SAM) of Michael Prescott’s great little problem solving adventure: The Sky-Blind Spirexls  download YT Demo

Screen shots of the SAM:

:: Credits page: sbs 1

:: Screenshot 1sbs 2 pop

:: Screenshot 2 sbs 3 pop

Original work by Michael Prescott

Michael’s original work (shared under a Creative Commons license) can be found here: Link

Description: Titardinal’s Spire is an ordinary-seeming stone tower at the edge of a large, live-giving lake. Few borderlands towers are so well placed, and it has changed hands many times. Unfortunately, Titardinal wove magic into every brick of his tower, making it a difficult place to hold onto for long. But the wizard’s loftiest ambition was never achieved—perhaps you will claim it!

Michael’s Patron is here: Link

Spreadsheet Adventure Modules (SAMs)

If you don’t know what SAMs are about – then please see the video which explains the ‘Big Idea‘ behind using Excel to present module information in a super compact fashion. There is also a 5 minute How-to-Guide video which shows you all you need to know to get started.


For more SAMs here: Link

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

LinkedIn of Monsters | Monster Matrix

LinkIn of Monsters ii.png

I’d like to know if there is some sort of online resource (wiki, database, webpage?) that shows which monsters are linked to which other monsters …

Let’s consider the curious case of the Hobgoblin and Carnivorous Ape, both of which are listed in the AD&D (1e) Monster Manual.

If you read the Hobgoblin entry you’ll see this (see highlighted passage):

hobs text

But, the Carnivorous Ape entry in the same book is silent on this interesting connection. Essentially, you could get some inspiration by reading the Hobgoblin monster entry, but not the other way round.

This is not the only example. Bullywugs and Froghemoth have a connection (mentioned in the ‘Expedition to the Barrier peak’), but this connection is missing from the FF and MM2. Ettercaps in the FF are mention to “get along well with all forms of spider”, but of course, the earlier MM1 makes no mention of this in the Giant Spider section.

Some of this can be explained by the difference in the dates the various books/modules were printed. There may have even be an editorial choice to save on space.

Either way, I would still like to see some resource that joins all these loose ends together, a LinkedIn of Monsters if you will.

If you know of any such resource, please post a link below!!

Goblin’s Henchman wrestling with the pressing issues of the day … 

This post was prompted by listening to the Monster Man podcast.

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

D&D Cockney Rhyming Slang | let’s build dictionary?

I had this ludicrous thought of building an in-game D&D Cockney Rhyming Slang Dictionary.

ChancerFor example:

  • :: Horse & Wagon = Dragon
  • :: Evil Lord = Sword
  • :: Eye of the Deep = Sleep

So you could have “I stab the horse and wagon with my +2 evil lord”; or possibly more correctly “I stab the horse with my +2 evil” 

It might even make a fun/passable Thieves Cant.

If for what ever strange reason you want to make/contribute to making such a dictionary, see here:  link to Google Sheets 

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

Tuesday Toot!! | Zerten’s Bitter Pearl of Spellfusion

Tuesday TootG+ is closing. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

The Master’s Hoard is a compilation of quirk some magic items which I posted on my G+ page over a period of weeks. The compilation of magic items can be downloaded for free here: Link

::  Zerten’s Bitter Pearl of Spellfusion  ::

mh - zerten_s bitter pearl of spellfusionSummary
Neutralizes the potency of a spell caster for a period of time

Causes a spell-caster to unknowingly jumble up their spells.

To use the pearl it is crushed while making eye contact with the spell-caster. The pearl can be crushed by biting down on it. The spell-caster now suffers the following ill effects:

Each time the affected spell-caster casts a spell, they instead cast a random spell from their repertoire.

The affected spell-caster is unaware they are casting the wrong spell. That is, until the magic is released.

This mental spell jumbling continues until the spell-caster has exhausted all memorized spells (either by casting, or voluntarily surrendering them), or sleeping for 8 uninterrupted hours.

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

James V West Gexit

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”
Fight on dear Gexit
(drawing by James V West)

Die from Two Dice

Download a (readable)  image_preview .pdf version.  A video demo here: YT

Alternative Dice
Need more dice? Want a D16, D24, D36 or D64? The good news is that you have more dice in your pocket than you think. Below is a system that gives you access to new dice that you (probably) didn’t know you had.

Picture this: You ask your players to roll a D96, offering them a D8 and D12 – a 5 and 10 appear on the pips. You sagaciously announce “Hrmmm … 70 huh, but is that enough …”. DM mystique leveled up, player mutiny probable!

d1Everyone knows that two D10s can be used to make a (‘composite’) D100 die. One D10 is the ‘biggie’ die (hereafter the ‘boss’ die), and the other D10 is the ‘smallie’ die (hereafter the ‘slave’ die). When the ‘boss’ die and ‘slave’ die are combined a random number from 1 to 100 is generated.

In the dice shown left/above a roll of 96 is obtained when the red die is the ‘boss’ die and the white die is the ‘slave’ die.

We are so used to the ‘D100 concept’ that we often don’t realize that we are actually using a simple mathematical procedure to work this result out.

That is, we are multiplying the 9 by 10 (i.e. 9 × 10 = 90) before adding the 6 to get 96 (i.e. 90 + 6 = 96). Obviously, if the white die were the ‘boss’ die, then the roll would have been 69 instead (i.e. (6 × 10) + 9 = 69).

So far, so good!

Plot Twist
There is nothing stopping us using the same (mathematical) procedure with any kinds of dice (i.e. not just with two D10s). By using any two dice you gain access to lots of new ‘composite’ dice (see the table below).

The only catch is that the maths is a bit more complicated than with the simple case of using two D10s. However, fear not, by using three simple rules, the procedure becomes relatively simple.

That said, if you prefer a non-mathematical option, see the ‘grid’ option at the end of this article.

Die Size (the ‘D’ number)
The size of the ‘composite’ die (the ‘D’ number) is set by multiplying the maximum possible values of both dice together. That is, two D10s give a ‘composite’ D100 die, so likewise, a D4 together with a D6 gives a ‘composite’ D24 die (i.e. 4 × 6 = 24), and a D6 and D10 give a D60 (i.e. 6 × 10 = 60). The table below gives the ‘composite’ dice that are available using standard polyhedral dice:

Composite Dice 1st Die
D2* D3* D4 D5* D6 D8 D10 D12       D20




 2nd Die

D2* D4 D6 D8 D10 D12 D16 D20 D24 D40
D3* D9 D12 D15 D18 D24 D30 D36 D60
D4 D16 D20 D24 D32 D40 D48 D80
D5* D25 D30 D40 D50 D60 D100
D6 D36 D48 D60 D72 D120
D8 D64 D80 D96 D160
D10 D100 D120 D200
D12 D144 D240
D20 D400


* = D2, D3 and D5 can be made from the repeating units found in larger dice. For example a D2 could be made by making the odd numbers on a D6 equate to 1, and the even numbers equate to 2. In a related way, a D3 can be obtained from a D6, and a D5 from a D10.

= polyhedral dice of this kind already exist, but this is an alternative option, that might be used to mess with your players. For example, a ‘composite’ D20 (D4 with a D5*) could be used to keep players from knowing if they have passed their saving throw/ability check, or not. This is more so if they don’t know which die you are using as the ‘boss’ die.

Please note, the above table does not include Dungeon Crawl Classics polyhedral dice, which also include D3, D5, D7, D9, D11, D14, D16, D18, D22, D24 and D30s, giving rise to still further possible composite dice.

Dashed cells are repeat combinations and have not been shown in the table for simplicity.

Three Simple Rules (Method 1)
As mentioned above, this system uses any two dice to make a ‘composite’ die (e.g. two D10s are used to make a ‘composite’ D100). Decide which die is the ‘boss’ die and which is the ‘slave’ die, and then roll the two dice:

  • Rule 1: Multiply the ‘boss’ die roll by the D-size of the ‘slave’ die
  • Rule 2: If the ‘boss’ die roll is the maximum value for that die (for a D6 that’s a 6), then the ‘boss’ roll equates to zero.
  • Rule 3: Add together the ‘boss’ die value from above to the ‘slave’ die roll

D10’s – Please note:  For the system to work properly the ‘0’ on a D10 should be treated as 10. This is because no other die has a ‘0’ on it.

(Method 2)
Method 2 is the same as Method 1, only Rule 2 is different:

  • Alternative Rule 2: the maximum value on ANY die equates to ZERO, unless both dice roll their maximums, then the maximum values should be taken instead.

In the traditional two D10s method, there are no “10’s” shown on the dice, they are replaced with zeros. It is only when you get two zeros that the zeros flip over and become 10s, and so give 100! Alternative Rule 2 replicates this by ‘replacing’ the maximum values on the dice with zeros.

Therefore, Method 2 works exactly the same as the traditional two D10s system, except the maths is a bit more awkward (because you need to flip maximums to zeros most of the time). Method 2 might work best if you simply paint over the maximum values on the dice, and perhaps paint a zero or add a wild-card ‘star’ symbol. Kickstarter anyone?

Worked examples (using Method 1 only)
:: Example 1:  D24

d2A D24 is rolled (i.e. using a D4 and D6). It is decided to make the D6 the ‘boss’ die and the D4 the ‘slave’ die.

3 (on the ‘boss’ die) and 4 (on the ‘slave’ die) are rolled.

Rule 1:  3 × D4 = 12
Rule 2:  This rule does not apply
Rule 3:  12 + 4 = 16 rolled on the D24

:: Example 2:  D24 (revisited)

Please note, if in Example 1 the D4 were the ‘boss’ die and the D6 were the ‘slave’ die, then a different result would have been obtained, i.e.:

Rule 1:  The ‘boss’ die roll of 4 is the maximum roll possible on the D4. Therefore, Rule 2 applies!
Rule 2:  The boss die result is deemed to be 0
Rule 3:  0 + 3 = 3 is rolled on the D24

So why is Example 1 different to Example 2? Think about a D100 where one die roll is a 9 and the other die roll is a 6. Depending on which you decide is the ‘boss/slave’ die you get either 69 or 96. Therefore, it is very important to decide which is the ‘boss’ die and ‘slave’ die before you roll. Or have a system in place like the smallest die is always the ‘boss’ die (the maths is usually a bit simpler if the ‘boss’ die is the smaller die), or the when the dice are rolled the leftmost die is the ‘boss’ die, etc.

:: Example 3:  D60

d3A D60 is rolled (i.e. using a D6 and D10). It is decided to make the D6 the ‘boss’ die and the D10 the ‘slave’ die.

2 (on the ‘boss’ die) and 6 (on the ‘slave’ die) are rolled.

Rule 1:  2 × D10 = 20
Rule 2:  This rule does not apply
Rule 3:  20 + 6 = 26 is rolled on the D60

If the ‘boss’ and ‘slave’ dice were reversed then the result would be (6 × 6) + 2 = 38.

Combining Examples 1 and 3 (i.e. D24:D60) we can generate a random time of day i.e. 16:26.

Grid Option
Not everyone will enjoy doing this kind of mental gymnastics. Thankfully, if that applies to you, then the maths can be eliminated by making a simple reference grid as explained below:

On one axis (e.g. the horizontal axis) write out the numbers of the first die. On the other axis (e.g. the vertical axis) write out the numbers of the second die. Make a grid. Then simply write 1 up to the ‘D’ number in the grid formed.

For example, for a D24 make a 6 by 4 grid, and write the numbers 1 to 24 in the boxes formed:

D24 1st Die roll (i.e. the D6)
1 2 3 4 5 6

2nd Die


(i.e. the D4)

1 1 2 3 4 5 6
2 7 8 9 10 11 12
3 13 14 15 16 17 18
4 19 20 21 22 23 24

d4Using this D24 reference grid as a tool, the result of a D24 can be easily determined when the two dice are rolled.

For example, if the D4 rolls a 4 and the D6 rolls a 5, then by simply cross‑referencing the rolls on the grid, a value of 23 is obtained (i.e. the red cell). Likewise, rolling two 3s would give 15 (not shaded in this case). Simples!

No doubt, a DM type screen with such reference grids could be made up. Also, I’m sure a program/app could be whipped up to do the same.

I suspect, you’ll either like this idea or hate it.

Edit: You could of course make some custom dice, e.g. like the below crude prototype D24 and D30 (where to use, you simply roll and sum):

The red circled number is also telling you what D die to roll it with. In the D24 the D6 starts at 0 and goes up in 4s (i.e. 0, 4, 8, 16, 20), and in the case of the D30, it starts at 0 and goes up in 5s (i.e. 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25). In the above cases, the D24 has rolled a 23 (i.e. 20+3) and the D30 has rolled a 15 (i.e. 10+5).

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

Carapace | Supplement – Queen Encounter

Some will have seen my free ‘Carapace‘ procedural adventure (details here).

thumb - carapace supplement – queen encounter coverI thought Carapace would be more interesting if the ‘boss’ encounter with the Giant Queen Ant was made more detailed, and had some links back to the NPC goals. So, I’ve made a one page supplement to accompany this adventure to cover this. Basically, the Queen tries to communicate with the PCs using pheromones. Each PC only gets part of the message (i.e. a single word in the form of a smell). Hopefully, this should provide the players with some quandaries, rather than a simple combat resolution  …

Hopefully a .pdf version of the suplement will appear on my DriveThru page in the next few days …

Set up: When encountered, the true Queen will be near an archway excavated from the surrounding earth. The Queen cradles a naked human youth (or the youth is mindlessly licking her free of parasites). Periodically, she dribbles juice from her delicate mandibles into the human’s begging mouth. The human’s sole possession is a glowing beetle-shaped amber broach. The archway is inscribed with worn man-like creatures. Worker ants come out of the Archway and feed something odd to the Queen. Some workers are incinerated as they traverse the unstable portal.

Pheromone messaging: Tapping into its human vassal’s memories, the Queen attempts to send a message to the PCs. It sends them a cocktail of pheromones; these smells to stimulate the PCs thought centres. Each PC perceives one dominant smell from the cocktail of pheromones, and understands this as a ‘word’ (see below). Smart PCs may smell two words. False Queens transmit messages 1 or 2 only.



D6 – Message 1 (Attack) Message 2 (Mission) Message 3 (Help) Message 4 (Deal) Message 5 (Parley) Message 6 (Surrender)
1 soft-skin find remove safe parley beg
2 intruders seek human passage submit sorrow
3 alarm false away portal yield mercy
4 protect queen fear temple entreat regret
5 attack destroy death enter truce vassal
6 overpower purge hive loot tribute retreat
7 dismember memories threat chambers harvest gift
8 flense reward unstable friends take gold
9 feed tithe peace share leave groom
10 dispose treasure please nectar prosper empathy

Explanation: The Hive was built over an abandoned temple. The temple was sealed off by magics long ago. One of the magical seals is faulty due to the close proximity of a magical amber broach. This has allowed worker ants to enter the temple. The workers have found something unusual and have been feeding it to the Queen.

This unusual feed has given the Queen (the Prime) a heightened sense of consciousness, although her thoughts like shards of glass, are alien to soft-skins (i.e. humanoids). Recently, the One (the ant colony) found a soft-skin intruder (the missing apprentice druid from Tnat’naig). The soft-skin sent the Queen a smell of submission and joining. Curious, and buoyed by her newly acquired consciousness, she assented to this request and allowed the soft-skin to join the One.

But … the soft-skin had impossible thoughts of being part of the One but also a Prime. The Queen’s smell finally dominated the soft-skin, and it became part of the One. The soft-skin’s memories were also joined into the One’s memories.

Most problematical of these memories is a memory of a soft-skin colony made entirely of Queens, entirely of Primes. The Queen battles to purge these dangerous memories from the One’s memories. But, these memories are leaking out of her as unwanted smells, dangerous smells. Some feeders have been acting on these pheromones, and are now making new Queens, False Queens. There can only be one Prime in the Hive. This must end. But, how to unmake the One, the Hive?