Bat in the Attic Blog

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Over the years the sites and means of sharing digital content have changed and OSRIC was among the early adopters. The First Edition Society started with using its website and then shortly used Lulu.

Now the First Edition Society has released OSRIC and Monster of Myth on DriveThruRPG.


Monsters of Myth

I hope this raises the visibility of the one of the two critical rulesets that ignited the Old School Renaissance as we know it today.
Adventures in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy

I made another map. This one showing where all the known adventures and supplements were set in Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy prior to it first shutdown in the early 80s.

Note that some of the great JG Adventures like Dark Tower, The Thieves of Badabaskor, the ADnD modules, etc. don't have a Wilderlands location and largely presented as their own thing. Even some of the locations depicted in Book of Treasure Maps 1 to 3 don't have a Wilderlands location. But all the ones that have a location are noted on the below map. Just open the image in a new tab to get the full scale view.

Plus many of the above modules gained a location in Necromancer Games Wilderlands Boxed Set and Goodman Games remakes for 3.5. For example Badabaskor is located in Hex 2906 on Map 2 Barbarian Altanis.

Link to Map Image
Food for Thought, Megadungeons.

James over on Grognardia talks about the list of upcoming Greyhawk products that can be found in Dragon #55.

Later in the post he focuses on this tidbit

As with most extensive dungeon complexes, much is developed and kept in the head due to actual play, and some areas are so difficult as to be impossible for those not used to our DM style.

A while ago I talked about Minimal Dungeons inspired by my reading up books on the early days of the hobby and this picture of Gary Gygax refereeing where we see part of his notebook.

Minimal Dungeons
Minimal Dungeon Redux

As food for thought, perhaps a megadungeon "fit for sale" shouldn't be focus on presenting a product formatted like a tournament style dungeon. A dungeon map with every room keyed and written with a description. Rather a megadungeon should be focused on teaching the reader how the author ran the megadungeon. Accompanied by any aides the author used whether it is a complete map, geomorphs, or a sketch.

Keep in mind that the work for a dungeon (or even one of my Blackmarsh style sandbox settings) grows by the square of the area covered. A map twice the size is not twice the work but rather four time the works if one try to format it like a tournament style dungeon.

When it comes to the Greyhawk Dungeon, we do know that Gygax was able to teach how to run it at least once with Rob Kuntz. My opinion that any thing we can do as humans can be taught or at least explained to other humans.

Personally I was able to do a lot with the map to Tegel Manor because of the numerous notes and the room labels. The key served as a reference to specific content like monsters, and treasure. Occasionally a room would have a paragraph if it was a special encounter. What Tegel was missing was commentary and notes by Bob Bledsaw on how he ran the adventure. Plus a page or two page introduction for novices to running a megadungeon or for less experienced referees would be a good thing to have.


The popularity of tabletop roleplaying and explosive growth in digital sales.

Interesting DrivethruRPG numbers yet again.

So recently I visited a Barnes and Nobles for the first time in forever. While looking through the store I came across this.

and in a bit of a surprise there was a table full of merchandising much of it typical of folks trying to follow the latest fad.

So DnD and roleplaying are a thing again not longer relegated (for now) to a single shelf in the back corner of the science fiction and fantasy section.

So this got me thinking about something I haven't done in a while. Crunching the order numbers from my sales to get a sense of how DriveThruRPG and other Onebookshelf sites are doing.

I posted on this back in February of 2014 and in May of 2015.

So this weekend I went through my sales and pulled the numbers. Also I wanted to see what effect the pandemic had so I did a month by month starting in December of 2019.

It is rare that a day goes by that somebody doesn't download a copy of the free PDF of Blackmarsh. So for my data, I can get a order number on January 1st (or the first of the month) and produce the above. But keep in mind that this doesn't show absolute sales only relative sales. Many order numbers are probably internal orders used to manage OBS day to day business. And these order are across the various various OBS storefronts like Wargames Vault.

So it looks like Covid pandemic had an effect as April of 2020 and May of 2020 showed sales well above the usual month to month growth. With 1,086,556 orders processed in April and 828,972 orders processed in May.

Year to year, digital sales have achieved phenomenal growth and has grown by an order of magnitude (10x) since 2008.

If folks want to crunch the numbers for themselves I provided a link to the spreadsheet below.

Order Numbers for DriveThruRPG

Here what I see when I run a sales report. I blacked out the customer #.


August Roundup, Original Chainmail Reprint and Harn Kingdom Hardbacks


The other day I spotted the 3rd edition of Chainmail on print on demand at DriveThruRPG. This is a set of medieval miniature wargame rules written by Gygax and Perrin. It fantasy appendix was an important resource used by Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, and other in the early 70s before the release of Dungeons and Dragons.

It price was pretty reasonable at $8.24 so I bought a copy. This is what I got compared to the original. I found the overall quality very good and the image scans to be quite acceptable. Overall the PoD version is a good thing to have if you want to give the wargame or the fantasy appendix as part of a regular campaign.

The interior with a illustration.

print on demand


Harn Kingdom Hardbacks

I also got in my Kingdom of Kaldor Hardback from the Columbia Games Kickstarter. In effort to expand the audience for Harn, Columbia Games has decided to release a series of hardback books each highlighting a kingdom of Harn. These books each contain key articles relating to the kingdom. Typically the Kingdom article itself, and it most important city.

For the Kingdom of Kaldor hardback it contains a 60 page article on the Kingdom of Kaldor, and a 70 page article on the City of Tashal. Both articles are the latest versions which includes details on the personalities of Kaldor as wells as geography and history. Kaldor in particular has a looming succession crisis when it king dies.

The city of Tashal has a long history starting when it was the Elven city of Meyvinel, continuing through when it was Kelapyn-Anuz the eastern outpost of Lothrim the Foulspawner to the present where it is now the royal city of Tashal, the seat of the Kings of Kaldor. Like all recent Harn city it contains many detailed floor plans of various building.

While pricey compared to other RPG companies offering, the strength of the Harn product line is it general utility. It focus on medieval fantasy means that is serves as a good foundation of ready to use content for many fantasy campaigns.

I like the loose leaf format to keep thing organized for reference. But I got the books through the Kickstater because they are easier to use when reading. Plus now that got the Kaldor hardback it looks to be durable as well.

The Kingdom of Melderyn

Soon after I got the Kaldor hardback, Columbia has started a kickstarter for the Kingdom of Melderyn. While Kaldor is very much a Game of Thrones ground type setting, Melderyn has a long tradition of supporting and incorporating arcanist and mages within it's society. It also controls the main port of entry into Harn and it capital city of Cherafir see merchants and travelers through the known world outside of Harn.


Concerning the OSR, Everything is All Right

Over the summer and recently I seen posts and opinions on the direction of the Old School Renaissance or OSR. Just keep in mind that due to how it came about. A result of discussion and sharing on the Internet combined with judicious use of open content like the D20 System Reference Document. Because of this, differences in content, tone, and feel are not only expected but inevitable.

Everybody has equal access to the foundational material and the situation is such that one can do quite a bit within the time one has for a hobby. Even when it something more involved like getting a work in shape for publication.
The result is that the OSR is confusing kaleidoscope of many voices doing their own things. Which is a good thing in my book as this ensure that your voice will be heard if you have the interest and time. Plus thanks to digital technology it only take a few hundred folks interested in particular take to keep it going.

The downside is that if you have a specific interest and it not being handled by anybody then the only recourse available is to do it yourself. Encouragement or promotion might work but the only way to ensure that something gets done is for somebody somewhere to pick up the available tools and starting making stuff.

Which why what I said back in 2009 is still true today, the OSR belongs to those who do.

Finally remember what you see, including myself, is just a slice of a much larger effort. With nearly 8,000 items on DriveThruRPG alone, I would not trust anybody's assertion that the OSR is about anything in particular other than it that probably originated in a theme or set of mechanics associated with the various classic editions of the world's most popular roleplaying game.

But if you look at specific groups and specific individuals, like myself, then that will not be the case, and that there will be a specific focus. For me it been mostly about sandbox campaigns, hexcrawl formatted settings, letting players trash settings ,and when needed using rules based off of Swords and Wizardry. Other folks have their own focus.

One particular thing I want to mention that matured quite a bit since 2009 are virtual tabletops. Even after face to face gaming resumes it former place, the development of VTT software, like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds continue to allow people separated by geography or circumstances to get together and play the games they like and love. And the best part you can switch easily between a VTT and face to face when time and circumstances permit. Both start with the same material and require pretty much the same type preparation although there are differences in how the session are handled.

As always Fight On! and have fun with the stuff. It yours to do as you will whether it is playing, promoting, sharing, or publishing.
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The original release of Dungeons and Dragons was a supplement

It occurred to me recently that the original release of Dungeons and Dragon is best viewed as a supplement. Not to the Chainmail Miniature wargame but to the unwritten rules, systems, and methods the miniature wargaming community of the early 70s were using.

After reading Playing at the World, Hawk and Moor, and other accounts of early miniature wargaming I had a better understanding of why the 3 LBBs of ODnD were organized the way they were. It makes sense to me to view it as a supplement to what folks were doing at the time. And why everybody else who got a hold of it was scratching their heads over the missing parts.

What got me thinking about this was thinking about my Majestic Wilderlands Supplement. This was written for Swords and Wizardry. I didn't bother explaining what hit points, armor class, and levels were. My target audience was hobbyists playing Swords and Wizardry and other classic editions. I assumed that they would "get" the stuff I left undefined. I did receive a few criticisms and comments early on about where was rest of the system was. I explained that it was a supplement to another game. Luckily for me it was free to download.

With all the interest generated in the history of our hobby with the Game Wizards, I figure this would a interesting insight when weighing the original release against later editions of Dungeons and Dragons.

3D printed Miniatures and a JE Shields Kickstarter

James Shields have drawing art for the OSR and RPGs for a while. I have used several of his pieces in my projects and backed several of his kickstarters.

He is always trying new things. For example a project creating stock art that allows you to mix and match different elements to create science fiction art.
His latest kickstarter is also about something different, Uncommon Monstrosities It offers 3D model files suitable for 3D printing but with the miniatures sculpted in JE Shields' distinctive style.
I think it is a neat idea. With 3D printing becoming more popular I figured that folks to know about this. Recently I made some figures with Heroforge and paid for a couple of stl files. A friend of the mind, Josh, had a 3D printer and made the models. The results were acceptable.

Yeah I know the shield is bent weirdly but having the rest of the mini exactly how I wanted it was great. The shield issue resulted because you have to consider proper support when the model is printed partway. Anyway thank to Josh for printing this for me! I am in the midst of painting them and will show them off once I am done.

Best of luck to James and his Uncommon Monstrosities kickstarter and hope it works out great!

GURPS Nordlond Bestiary Kickstarter

Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic is having another GURPS related kickstarter. This time it is a bestiary for his Nordlond setting for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. Nordlond as setting is centered around the culture of Norse Vikings. Normally a RPG supplement like this is fairly setting specific. Some of the creature that Doug has preview have norse origins. But he also repurposes many common DnD style fantasy monsters give them a viking twist. Making this work useful for expanding the number of creature the referee has for a Dungeon Fantasy or GURPS campaign.

Doug explains it best.
The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is purposefully generic: It is Powered by GURPS, after all. The Norðlond setting is not generic, borrowing from the literary tradition of the Viking culture. The sagas of looting, pillaging, and raiding for wealth and fame made a natural match for a game with a tag-line of “Smash Evil for Fun and Profit.”
Even with that in mind, the monsters here can be—and should be—repurposed and transplanted to other campaigns. Many of them are thinly disguised transplants from other cosmologies anyway: The nautamaðr is clearly based on the Minotaur; the Blóðughúfa, or “bloody hat” is the redcap, a fixture of Northumbrian folklore, perhaps derived or parallel to the Irish fear dearg, meaning “red man,” said to wear a red coat and cap. Animals—normal, giant, and dire—don’t require any work to move between campaigns. Much as the player characters pillage loot, GMs should pillage the worked examples here to make their lives easier when running games in any campaign.
My view that this type of work for GURPS needs to be support and encourage. GURPS is great as a toolkit however it needs the same range of support as other similar types of RPGs for referee who don't have the time to sift through all the options. The Nordlond bestiary helps a lot with this.

The Nordlond Bestiary also has a enemies section of NPC characters to use in a campaign.

Nordlond Bestiary and Enemies
Yup, Douglas is a good people. I back every Kickstarter he does. Great communication, good after report on what he learned and experienced and decent speed to get the items out once the Kickstarter ends.

What needs to happen in regards to GURPS though is this, Steve Jackson needs to release his control/grip on what can be done with GURPS a bit. So that more can be done with it because right now it's stagnant and going nowhere fast. :/ My favorite systems are knee capped by stupidity in my opinion.
What needs to happen in regards to GURPS though is this, Steve Jackson needs to release his control/grip on what can be done with GURPS a bit. So that more can be done with it because right now it's stagnant and going nowhere fast. :/ My favorite systems are knee capped by stupidity in my opinion.
And there is this. The product itself uses the open content of Tome of Horror correctly. And itself mostly open content.

And there is this. The product itself uses the open content of Tome of Horror correctly. And itself mostly open content.

View attachment 38593

Yep, they could start taking the approach of how they're handling TFT in regards to GURPS. Since SJG got the rights back to TFT I've backed every Kickstarter full in and snagged everything that they and Douglas have done in regards to it, just to support them and plus I was nostalgic for Melee and Wizard. Which we used to play at the local game shop while waiting for our main game to start. Fond memories of those little back pocket boxes. That and the Car Wars box got a lot of play.

I'm always torn about how I feel about SJG's these days. (sigh) I want to support them but often I feel like they're wasting chances.

SJG books.jpg

Edit: Btw I actually have "two" complete sets of Dungeon Fantasy, the other box is upstairs with me because I was re-reading through it. I keep pondering it to try to re-start my old campaign. I'm just not sold on 4e with all the various versions of impale/piercing etc. (a totally different conversation) So I find myself reading through it. Then sighing and pondering just running 3e/2e with the changes to skill point (getting rid of 1/2 points) and implementing the costs for stat improvements which I do like in 4e.
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Happy Needfest! The Digital Darlene Greyhawk Map

Over on the Flanaess Geographical Society facebook group, I noticed that Zach Henderson started to post a clean up of the original Darlene Greyhawk map. One of the things he did was to go through the map with Photoshop and removed all the hexes. A monumental task.
I realized that you could digitalize that version and make a crisp clean copy of Darlene's original Greyhawk map. I started talking with Zach and it turned out he broke up his work out into layers. We exchanged files and I started to digital the text, fills, and symbols.

Using a variety of tools managed to turn nearly everything on Darlene into a vector. This allow arbitrarily small or large maps to be made from the file. Plus you get a smaller file size for various resolutions.

I then added a few requested bells and whistles like 6 mile hexes, and a black and white version.

I was able to export as SVG file containing most of the map. The only thing that didn't come through are the forest and mountain drawings. The digitization of those layers did not translate well into a SVG file. But I managed to export the rest and sort it into proper layers usable with the free Inkscape illustration software and most other illustration and mapping programs.

This is released under the Wizards Fan Content Policy and the few original elements I have are released under the CC-BY-SA-NC 4.0 license.

The main file is a layered PDF. In testing this I found many PDF readers to be hit or miss on their ability to turn layers off and on. Adobe Reader definitely works.
Digital Darlene Greyhawk Map (PDF and JPGs)

Here is a jpg export of the full map.
Digital Darlene Greyhawk Map (JPG)

Everybody have a happy and safe holiday and Merry Christmas to one and all.

Original Darlene Style

Six Mile Hexes

Greyscale version

Happy New Year, Bat in the Attic Updates, and a bit of medieval trivia.

Happy New Year everybody! Hope folks have a great 2022.

An update on my Bat in the Attic projects.

Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms

I am currently working on Into the Majestic Realms which will be a four map set combining the Wild North, Blackmarsh and Southland. This will be formatted the same as Blackmarsh as well as set in the same world as Blackmarsh and the Points of Light series.

The maps will be offered the 12" by 18" format that DriveThruRPG support. Unlike the Wilderlands where I had to divide the maps, Majestic Fantasy Realms maps will be designed around this size. In addition like my Wilderlands project these maps are cropped from a much larger whole. So as the series progresses in the coming years everything will overlap perfectly along with the option of printing the entire setting as a complete whole. The image is showing the four combined maps.

Scourge of the Demon Wolf Redux
Along with the above, I will be reworking the background of Scourge of the Demon Wolf to set it within the Majestic Fantasy Realms. Which is will hopefully address one of the common complaints of the original that the hexcrawl setting I included was a bit thin. This will also allow me to continue to offer the adventure after the Judges Guild license sunsets.

The Majestic Fantasy RPG
After I get this out I will get the next volumes out for my Majestic Fantasy RPG. Unlike the basic rules this will cover all the levels and options. The volumes currently being planned are:

  • The Manual of Puissant Skill - covering character creation and combat.
  • The Legendarium of the Fantastic - a collection of monsters.
  • The Domesday Codex - a collection of NPCs.
  • The Tome of the Mundane, Strange, and Arcane - rules for campaigns along with magic items and other treasures. For example rules for playing merchants, and lists of herbs and potions.

Like the Basic Rules I will giving everything a sense of "place" that they exist as part of a larger world.

Deceits of the Russet Lord
This will be the next sandbox adventure. Like Scourge of the Demon Wolf, it is a situation that can be resolved in a number of ways. What is it about?

The Deceits of the Russet Lord is an adventure involving star crossed lovers, corrupt monks, rebellious peasants, tyrannical lords, bloodthirsty orcs, and the one that orchestrated it all, the Russet Lord.

Further out

The above should occupy my release schedule for the next year and a half. I have several less developed projects most of them focusing on the Majestic Fantasy Realms. I do want try my hand at science fiction roleplaying at some point. I have a setting that I call the Majestic Stars centered around the idea that 65 million years ago the dinosaurs had a star spanning civilization that terraformed nearly every world in local galactic space. It was then wiped out leaving many of these planets including Earth to develop on their own. I came up up with the idea to account why there were so many inhabitable planets when you use the Traveller world generation system.

Medieval Filing System
So recently I been watching a Discovery of Witches. Part of the series is set during 16th century Europe. Throughout this portion I noticed this in several places.

Letters hanging from cords or threads. So I dug into it and found that during that era and earlier, places that deal with a lot of paperwork and letters would punch a hole in them and thread along a cord. Related documents would go on the same cord. You can see some of this in this painting. Just zoom to the upper left corner to see the cord those letters are hanging off of.

Hopefully you find this useful as a bit of color when the PCs break into some medieval clerk's or noble's office.

Your own custom RPG rulebook, mini binders

A couple of years back I found a mini binder at my local Staples. There was also various inserts including pouches and dividers you could buy as well. I realize this was the solution to a organizational problem I was having with running my campaigns.
Often core rulebooks and supplements are too verbose to use as references during play. You have to read through a bunch of explanatory text before getting to the heart of the mechanics or details like the modifiers you need.

So since the early 80s I been making cheat sheets for the RPG I used. Especially for GURPS.

Binders were letter sized, often too big to be handy. So I shifted to loose sheets. But loose sheets get scattered.

So when I saw this

I knew I could get the benefits of my old binders but in a convenient form almost as good as loose sheets and without the issue of things getting scattered. So I bought the above as well as some inserts. Then I started to make what I needed for my campaigns. The two that had the most work were for my Majestic Wilderlands using my Majestic Fantasy Rules(based on Swords and Wizardry) and for DnD 5th edition. Also included setting material from the Majestic Wilderlands and Blackmarsh.

Is is one of the binderx open showing the different pages, dividers, and pages.

The binder cover has interior pockets. I printed stuff on digest sized pages and used dividers to organize them. This was followed by a couple of pocket inserts. Then after I added some punched digest sized graph paper and digest sized punched paper with ruled lines. Then finally a pouch with pens, pencils, and index cards.

Here is what I put into each.
The Majestic Wilderlands

  • Pouch with Pens, Pencil and Index Cards

Rob's Notes: I am planning to replace my Majestic Fantasy Basic Rules in the binder with a even more terse reference. Followed by a character class reference so I can quickly answer player questions.
Blackmarsh/DnD 5e
This binder is also used when I run my Majestic Wilderlands using the 5th edition rules.

  • My favorite letter sized 5e reference charts, shrunk a tad, laminated and turned into fold outs.

  • A blank 5e character sheet
  • A terse combat summary

  • A letter sized foldout map of Blackmarsh
  • Pocket inserts with 5e monster stats printed on index cards.

  • Graph Paper
  • A pouch insert with pens, pencils, and blank index cards.
  • I also have 5e reference booklets that I used before this in the inside pockets of the binder.
Handy Amazon Links

Mini Binder
Mini Hole Punch
Mini Binder Inserts

Multiple Fighter attacks revisited for Swords & Wizardry

Inspired by the classic edition rule where a fighter gets one attack per level when attacking 1 HD or lower foes (or in ADnD lower than 1 HD starting at 1-1 HD). I came up with the following rule for my Majestic Fantasy RPG.

Can use a melee weapon to attack a number of creatures with a total hit dice equal to the Fighter’s level. There is always a minimum of one attack allowed. If the creature has a modifier to their hit dice, round up to the nearest whole number. For example, a giant fire beetle has HD 1+3; treat this the same as a creature with HD 2.
In addition, Fighters are allowed to add their to-hit bonus (or the difference between hitting AC 0 at 1st level and their current chance of hitting AC 0) to the initiative die roll.
The conjunction of the two has given fighting in my Majestic Fantasy campaign a much welcome boost in effectiveness without being overpowered in the way the ADnD multiple attacks and Unearthed Arcana options are.
One thing I did think of when I wrote the basic rules was writing about how I applied the multiple attack rule during play.
One thing learned from my career writing software for metal cutting machines is that folks find division harder. While I can do division pretty fast, I do subtraction even faster. So the way I apply the multiple attack rule is as follows.

  • The players pick a target and resolve their attack.
  • I subtract the target's hit dice from the character level and there is nothing left over. I see if it equals or exceeds the target's hit dice.
  • If it does then the character gets to resolve another attack on the target.
  • If it does not then I look to see if anything is within melee reach or within the reach of a single five footstep. If there are I look at their hit dice. If equal to or less than the remaining total. I narrate the result by saying "You see an opening on targets to your left and right, which do you choose?"
  • The player can elect to follow up with another attack or a step and attack. If they do they get to resolve that attack.
  • This is repeated until the players exhausted all the hit dice they can attack.
Since I need to know monster hit dice (or character level) anyway to resolve their attacks, it doesn't require me to come up with any more information than what is already there. Because it involves subtraction it is easy to keep track of the total. Because the totals are small (for example 5 HD worth of attacks at the 5th level) it doesn't take many steps to resolve in most cases.

The times where it is most decisive is when you have a leader type and a bunch of minions. This rule allows the fighter to attack the leader, but also takes out one or two of the adjacent minions.

I haven't applied these rules to monsters despite the multiple attack rule on page 5 of Monsters and Treasures from the original rules. I feel that this was in part superseded by the grant of multiple attacks in the Greyhawk supplement to various monsters.

However after a recent playtest of my Deceits of the Russet Lord adventure, I may add this as an explicit ability to certain monsters. For example, a Sidhe Lord with 10 hit dice would be able to target 10 HD worth of creatures or characters. But I would stick with the traditional three attacks that an Owlbear would get.

The cutoff would be if the monster hit dice is in part a reflection of skill as opposed to instinct, I would add this to the monster. NPCs are already taken care of as in the Majestic Fantasy RPG they are leveled characters.

Périlleuses contrées: Fangenoire (Blackmarsh in French)

While I enjoy getting the revenues I get from my sales as Bat in the Attic Games. The biggest reward is getting to share my material and doing in it a way that is professional and useful. Since the point is sharing, I like to release most of the material I make as open content. Why?

Part of it is promotion. Making it easy for others to share my stuff so people will seek out the other things I have. But the other important reason is to allow projects to happen that I don't have the resources or time to do, like translation into other languages.
So I am pleased to announce that Blackmarsh has been published in French!

Périlleuses contrées: Fangenoire

This is due to the efforts of Philippe Tromeur and his team. They have a bunch of translations on DriveThruRPG for other products with open content. There will be a print version of this available in the next few months on Lulu

I appreciate this and hope this makes Blackmarsh more accessible for those whose primary language is French.

Important Rob's Note: I am perfectly fine with the fees charged by people who use my open content. A lot of work went into this and folks deserve to be compensated in the matter they see fit. If I had a problem with it I wouldn't have released it as open content. For Fangenoire, Philippe has opted to make the PDF free to download on DriveThruRPG.

Other Translations

Other Versions
Blackmarsh for Heroes and Other Worlds

Blackmarsh SRD

The Fantasy Trip by Steve Jackson Games has a long tradition of offering solo adventures like Death Test. When Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic secured a 3PP license for TFT he and his authors continued that tradition with their own series of adventures.

Now he and his team of authors did the work into making these adventures compatible with Old School Essentials. Given that OSE is a hop and skip from a dozen other classic editions and close clones these adventures can be used by a wide variety of OSR systems.

He has started a Kickstarter to fund the printing and final work on these adventures.

Old-School Solo Adventures

I was given Til Death do Us Part to try and I found it fun and interesting to play out. Its replayability is good as there are multiple paths with multiple outcomes to explore. I think leveraging the TFT community's experience with solo adventures is a great idea and will create a fun niche for classic edition hobbyists to play with between sessions and campaigns.

Concerning Judges Guild, To All Things an End

Currently, I have three main product lines two of which are produced under a license from Judges Guild. For a long time, I had a good relationship with Robert Bledsaw II, the son of Bob Bledsaw one of the founders of Judges Guild, and the current owner of the IP.

In February of 2020, I learned that Robert Bledsaw II was making unacceptable social media posts after which I no longer wished to continue to have a business relationship with Judges Guild. The details of this can be read in the following two posts along with the sources they reference.

Concerning Judges Guild
Concerning Judges Guild, Further Development

The problem I faced was that I was owed a substantial amount of money for the work I had done on mapping the Wilderlands of High Fantasy as a result of the issues surrounding the City-State Kickstarter. Prior to this, in March of 2018, it was resolved by Robert Bledsaw II offering to forgo his royalties until it was paid. I agreed to this and until 2020 it was working out nicely.

With much of the outstanding balance remaining, I decided not to end sales of the Majestic Wilderlands or the Judges Guild Wilderlands remakes. I did inform Robert Bledsaw II that I would no longer be producing any new Majestic Wilderlands products or asking to make another remake. That when the outstanding balance was paid, I will cease sales of all Judges Guild licensed products.

Right now the outstanding balance is less than $90. With royalty percentage for Judges Guild and DriveThruRPG percentage of sales, this is roughly around $1,500 worth of licensed products. Normally three months at the current rate of sales for me. I am aware that once I announce that sales are ending that there will be a last-minute rush. So I decided long ago that when the outstanding balance got this low that I would make the announcement then.

Accordingly, I will end sales of all Judges Guild licensed products by Monday, August 21st, 2022. That will give those interested two weekends in August to decide. It will end early if I reach $1,500 worth of sales. I apologize if this last point creates a gold rush mentality. Personally I intensely dislike sales gimmicks. Given the circumstances, it is what I am willing to do.

Wrapping it up
Going forward I will be making another post concerning Bat in the Attic Games and the status of the projects I have been working on.

As for the situation with Judges Guild and the behavior of Robert Bledsaw II, I will let my actions speak for themselves. I will only add that subsequent events have confirmed for me that I made the right choice in this matter.

There are two issues surrounding Judges Guild, the personal behavior of Robert Bledsaw II, and the business situation regarding the City-State Kickstarter. The reasons why both are still issues in 2022 are why I feel pursuing the Majestic Fantasy Realms and other original projects is the best course of action for me going forward.

I appreciate the support everybody has given and your kind words. Thank you for the feedback on my works and honored that you would buy my products. There is more to come that I think you will useful and above all fun!
Thanks for your post (and continued contributions to the hobby). I've admired the 'Majestic Realms' from a distance for some years but never invested in it because I have a basically complete set of original Wilderlands (etc.) materials. But I would love to own something that nicely represents what you did with the setting. What would you say is the iconic 'Bat in the Attic' product for this setting?
Thanks for your post (and continued contributions to the hobby). I've admired the 'Majestic Realms' from a distance for some years but never invested in it because I have a basically complete set of original Wilderlands (etc.) materials. But I would love to own something that nicely represents what you did with the setting. What would you say is the iconic 'Bat in the Attic' product for this setting?
Blackmarsh for now. Scourge 2nd Edition once I get that back up. I plan to replace the mini Wilderlands sandbox setting with a new Majestic Fantasy Realms based on it. Scourge is a pretty good representative example of what players find themselves getting into in my campaign. Especially at lower levels when they are still feeling their way through.
I appreciate the outpouring of support and patronage. As of 7:00pm eastern time, the amount of deferred royalties is enough to pay off the outstanding balance Judges Guild owes on the Wilderlands maps done by myself for the City-State Kickstarter. Accordingly, I have ceased sales of all Judges Guild licensed products. A follow-up post will be up tomorrow. Again thank you.
Wow, I ordered hard copies of everything n Monday 8 August, I guess I got in just under the wire!

Of course all that means is that when Rob pushes out he reworked material I’ll have to pick it up as well :hehe:
Wow, I ordered hard copies of everything n Monday 8 August, I guess I got in just under the wire!

Of course all that means is that when Rob pushes out he reworked material I’ll have to pick it up as well :hehe:
I thought "Should be triple the normal amount of traffic and three weekends should cover it." I rolled a 1 there or a nat 20 depending on how you think about it.

Yes some of it will be reworked and is in fact pretty far along as you will see in the next blog post I will be making.

Concerning Bat in the Attic Games, Voyaging into Strange New Worlds.

First I appreciate everybody's support! I wasn't expecting the amount of traffic and that the outstanding amount would be covered in only three days. I was going by past sales and I figured on triple the normal traffic. Instead, I got way more. Thanks and appreciate the business.
What is still available?
I have Blackmarsh, The Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG, Quick Reference Cards for Swords and Wizardry, and Quick Reference Cards for the Majestic Fantasy Basic Rules at the Bat in the Attic storefront.
I also have Stuff in the Attic. It is packed with a bunch of free downloads some of which probably should been released in their own right like Merchant Adventures.
What Next?
So now that the Judges Guild license is over with, what is next for me and Bat in the Attic Games?

I am fortunate in that prior to getting the Judges Guild license in 2009, I was working on a new setting that was built around the material that is original to me. Folks saw parts of this as Points of Light, Points of Light II, the Sunrise Sea from Goodman Games, and as well as my own Blackmarsh. Originally I was going to call it Lands of Adventures, but now it going to be the Majestic Fantasy Realms.

The Majestic Fantasy Realms is going to build on the techniques I have learned over the past decade. Any regional map I make for the Majestic Fantasy Realms will be cropped from a much larger map that I do my drawing on.

This map is roughly the size of the continent of Flaness in the World of Greyhawk. It has a 5 mile grid at full print size (roughly 3/8" per hex). The advantage of this will mean that all maps will align perfectly with each other.

While I have a sketch and notes on the details of the different regions. I will be building this piecemeal at first. Basically in four map sets. When I get a couple of these done, I will probably release a World of Greyhawk style folio covering the entire setting from a high-level view.

I am doing this to keep the focus on local level detail, the part that matters for most campaigns. Each map campaign set of four maps covers a region 300 miles by 400 miles. Enough to keep a campaign going for several levels.
The first four maps will be released as Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms and it is the main focus at this time. I am about halfway done with the writing and shooting for a fall release.

Some close up views

Currently, Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms will have 10 12" by 18" map sheets. Four referee maps, four player maps, and an additional one or two maps with town maps. Along with a guide book for the four maps. Each map will have an overall background and details on Terrain, Islands, Lairs, and Settlements keyed by hex number.

Wrapping it up
Again thanks for your support. Below is a brief list of what I have planned in the order that they will be released.
  • Scourge of the Demon Wolf, Revised & Updated (for the Majestic Fantasy rules and setting).
  • Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms
  • The Manual of Puissant Skill, a player's manual for the Majestic Fantasy RPG
  • Deceits of the Russet Lord Adventure.
  • The remaining volumes of the Majestic Fantasy RPG (total of three more).
  • Night's Bride Coven Adventure
Ehrr... is there any chance to still get those products? I waited a few days thinking I still had time...
Ehrr... is there any chance to still get those products? I waited a few days thinking I still had time...
Sorry, the only remaining copies, less than 10, are in the hands of convention vendors like Black Blade Publishing for sale at North Texas Con and Garycon.

I apologize I didn't expect ten times the usual traffic. I figure it would be three times and four times the usual amount of sale I got.
Sorry, the only remaining copies, less than 10, are in the hands of convention vendors like Black Blade Publishing for sale at North Texas Con and Garycon.

I apologize I didn't expect ten times the usual traffic. I figure it would be three times and four times the usual amount of sale I got.
Quick derail, if you are in good terms with Black Blade Publishing can you ask what the status of the reprint of Tales of Peril, The Complete Boinger & Zereth Stories of John Eric Holmes short stories is? I’m supposedly on a waiting list but I figured it can’t hurt to ask…
Quick derail, if you are in good terms with Black Blade Publishing can you ask what the status of the reprint of Tales of Peril, The Complete Boinger & Zereth Stories of John Eric Holmes short stories is? I’m supposedly on a waiting list but I figured it can’t hurt to ask…
Sure, email sent.
I know it makes be a bad man but due to the ambiguity of their response I grabbed a copy of that Holmes book from Noble Knight probably paying three times what the eventual reprint will cost :ooh:
I am really looking forward to your Majestic Fantasy Realms setting folio. Do let me know as soon as it's available. I would love to back a Kickstarter for a printed Folio Edition. I like what I'm seeing so far: I love settings with a deep history and fallen empires that left behind ancient ruins for PCs to explore: weather it's Greyhawk, World of the Lost Lands or this.

I love OSR settings because the rules-lite nature of the OSR means they are basically System-Agnostic.

I can run them RAW with Old-School Essentials, or covert them to OpenQuest or Against the Darkmaster if I want to run something crunchier and d100.
I am really looking forward to your Majestic Fantasy Realms setting folio. Do let me know as soon as it's available. I would love to back a Kickstarter for a printed Folio Edition. I like what I'm seeing so far: I love settings with a deep history and fallen empires that left behind ancient ruins for PCs to explore: weather it's Greyhawk, World of the Lost Lands or this.
Thanks and appreciate the compliment.
I love OSR settings because the rules-lite nature of the OSR means they are basically System-Agnostic.
Back in 2008, a key part of my pitch to Goodman Games for what became Points of Light was that I was focused on creating interesting regions with the standard D&D list of stuff. Since the creatures and items I used were found in nearly all editions of D&D, it would useful for folks using OD&D to the latest which at the time was 4e. In PoL II, Joseph Goodman had his own editor put in some 4e verbiage but it wasn't too bad; Some Monster (CR 4, Blocker).

I can run them RAW with Old-School Essentials, or covert them to OpenQuest or Against the Darkmaster if I want to run something crunchier and d100.
For me personally, I think I have an advantage in this as I actually ate my own dog food so to speak by running the Majestic Wilderlands with many different systems over the years; AD&D 1e, Fantasy Hero, GURPS, Harnmaster, and so on. If the system has all or some of the creatures and items found in B/X D&D I am good. If the magic system requires the character to be a trained scholar then I can make that part work as well.
So One D&D?

Today Wizards announced some details about what happening to DnD.

DnD News Catch Up

The one thing they hammer on in the initial press release is that Wizard does not what you to think of it as the next edition. In the press release, they are stressing that One DnD is 100% compatible with 5e. Using Curse of Strahd as an example of something that can work equally well with the current 5e rules now and the One DnD core rules later.

I believe them. If the authors make that their goal it is totally doable given my experience dragging the Majestic Wilderlands through multiple systems. And we have actual examples of how this would work with Adventures in Middle Earth versus DnD 5e Core rulebooks.

But there is a catch.

A catch?
The feel of a campaign is determined by the referee's personal style, along with how the systaffand stuff work together. Using AiME as an example again, it uses the 5e system but with radically different stuff (classes, monster, abilities, etc.) that turns it into a Middle Earth RPG.

An AiME campaign doesn't feel like a core book 5e campaign. Even if you were to use the same adventures for both. Which happened to me when I ran an adaptation of Scourge of the Demon Wolf for AiME at Con on the Cob a few years ago.

One DnD likely is 100% compatible by continuing to use the 5e system. It may have a completely different feel because of the stuff the authors choose to use for the RPG. If it is different enough my guess is that most hobbyists will consider it a new edition despite the marketing.

Another observation the closest analogy we have is the transition from 3.0 to 3.5. And that didn't go over well for 3.0 products and put the final nailing into bursting the d20 boom. But the Wizards as a company deliberately decided to design 3.5 so it is not quite compatible with 3.0.

Here the design team wants the system to remain 100% compatible limiting changes to the stuff (classes, skills, spells, etc.).

Wrapping it up

We will see how they do as they are having a somewhat open playtest on DnD Beyond.

One DnD Playtest

I will have further comments later on DnD Digital and the initial playtest on Character Origins.

One D&D, Character Origins

As part of their announcement yesterday, Wizards of the Coast released the first playtest document for One DnD, Character Origins.

One Dnd Playtest
The bulk of the document is about how they are going to handle Character Races and Backgrounds in the next version of DnD. Interestingly they include snippets of other sections of the rules to give some context for the other mechanics they mentioned in the section about Origins.
Rob's Notes: So folks understand where I am coming from I care far more that the mechanics reflect the nuances of a setting or genre than "game balance. I am a strong proponent that having a consistent view of the genre or setting is more important. As opposed to making Option A, B, and C have equal weight in the campaign.
Character Origins
It looks like they want to bind Character Race and Background more tightly in One DnD. Emphasize roleplaying more by giving background equal weight to character weight. In core 5e, background is almost an afterthought. Later Adventures in Middle Earth ditched the idea that the two are separate and combined them into cultures. For example, a dwarf of the Lonely Mountain has some things in common with a Dwarf of the Blue Mountain and some things are different. Each has its own section in the AiME books.
Controversially they shifted some of the benefits around race and background. A character race still grants distinct special abilities but now the attribute bonuses are determined by the background the player chooses. For example, picking the Guard background will get you +2 strength and +1 wisdom in addition to a set of skill proficiencies, tool proficiencies, an additional language, and what they calling a 1st level Feat.
I think this was a poor creative choice. In DnD fantasy it is well established that elves are more dexterous, dwarves are hardier, and so on. This change doesn't feel very DnDish to me. But my choice would have been to split the bonuses between race and background. Just like in AiME a dwarven guard would have of some the same bonuses as a Dwarven Pilgrim and some that were different.
My final analysis is that in comparison to 5e core, characters are going to get a tad bit more with Character Origins. Like AiME there is more emphasis on the roleplaying details. That the difference between the 5e Core and One DnD is small and incremental in this area of the rules.
Starting Languages
One DnD Character will know common, a language from their background, and a language from the list of Standard Langauge: Common, Common Sign Language, Dwarvish, Elvish, Giant, Gnomish, Goblin, Halfling, and Orc.
I find the addition of Sign Language interesting and plan to do some research into the historical use of sign language and incorporate that as an option for my Majestic Fantasy RPG. I also watched the movie Prey and the protagonists of the film, Comanches, also used a type of sign language.
Feat Description.
In my 5e campaigns, I didn't often use feats having a negative experience with the mechanic as a result of 3.X. But 5e's take on feat is far more laid back overall so sometimes when a player makes a good case that a particular feat fit his character background, I will allow the pick.
However when it came to AiME, they recast the feat mechanic as virtues. And it worked rather well and really enhances the feel of the system as a Middle Earth RPG.
This section includes feats like Alert, Crafter, Lucky, Magic Initiate, Musician, Savage Attacker, Skilled, Tavern Brawler and Tough. I find it to be a varied mix of combat and non-combat options that are somewhat laid back overall like the core 5e feats. Some like skilled may have to be tested in actual play to see if they are too generous or not. Skilled give three proficiencies in skills.
Given the limited of 5e skills that could be overkill or maybe it is just right. I would judge this on the basis of "Does this make sense for the DnD fantasy genre that a character starting out to be proficient in this many skills?" compared to the overall skill list.
Feats also have a level requirement baked in as part of the standard description. Will have to see the full description of feats before making a call on whether this works out or not.
Rules Glossary
The author explains some of the mechanics they referenced in the preceding sections.
Types of Magic
There are not three instead of two types of magic. Primal joins Arcane and Divine. Could be a good roleplaying flavor.
Tool Proficiency
They list Artisan's Tools, Gaming Set, Musical Instrument, and notes on Tool Proficiencies in general. Some observations.

  • If you have proficiency in a relevant tool and skill you gain an advantage on the d20 roll
  • It appears One DnD is simplifying the price list and acquisition of equipment.
  • Their attempt at terminology to avoid naming editions is to say "see 2014, Player's Handbook".

Creature Types
Like the 2014 rule books, there are creature types and certain ability may work differently for a specific type of creature.
D20 Test
One DnD will introduce D20 Test as a term to describe any use of the 1d20 high mechanics. Ability Checks, Saving Throws, To-Hit Rolls, etc. It appears to be a way of consolidating the die rolling mechanics under a single header.

  • Rolling a 1 on anything a D20 Test is a failure
  • Rolling a 20 on anything grants inspiration.
  • Critical Hits rolling a 20 on a weapon or unarmed attack will double the damage dice.
There is currently a lot of controversy over whether the last this applies to monsters or not. Ever since I have been involved with later editions of DnD starting with 3.0 in 2000. There have been two broad camps regarding the system. One side believes that X can happen only if it is explicitly allowed. The other side believes that unless it is specifically not allowed X can happen. I happened to be part of the latter camp.

The text in question says

As you can have NPCs with class and level taking this literally will lead to logical inconsistencies as to how the genre and setting are depicted.

Grappled Condition
I think it is written up better in One DnD than in the 2014 rules. Speed is zero, attacks on anybody but the grappler are at a disadvantage, you can be moved except the grappler is considered slowed, and the escape conditions are expanded and explained better.

Incapacitated Condition
The original 2014 rule is intact and the following has been added; concentration is automatically broken, can't speak, and if you have to roll initiative while incapacitated then you roll at a disadvantage.

Mentioning concentration is probably wise, while it stated in concentration that you lose it if you are incapacitated it makes the rulebook more user-friendly to mention it in the condition as well.

The can't speak part is stating the obvious in my opinion.

I can see a point in mentioning the last. Combat can ensue when the character is already incapacitated and the 2014 rules taken literally would mean that the character makes a normal init roll.

Many aspects of Inspiration are the same as the 2014 rules. Spending it grants advantage on what is now called a D20 Test. It still can be awarded as a result of good roleplaying. You can only have one. There are now additional opportunities to gain Inspiration like the crit roll. However, now you lose any Inspiration when you take a long rest.

Inspiration was a controversial part of 5e from the start. My view of this take it is that more akin to luck mechanics or system that give you some type of ongoing benefit as a result of a critical.

I used Inspiration occasionally as part of my 5e campaign. I don't see any particular issue incorporating this as an additional crit result.

Long Rest
The same with a new addition that if you are interrupted over an hour in, you get the benefits of a short rest.

Slowed Condition
One DnD adds a new condition Slowed.
  • spend 1 extra foot of movement for every foot you move using your Speed.
  • Attackers have advantage on you
  • Disadvantage on Dex Saves
A new sense has been added. Basically you can locate (but not see) anybody in a radius around you as long as they are in contact with the same surface as you are on.

Unarmed Strike
They combined the 2014 version of Unarmed strike, grappling, and Shove into a single ability with three choices for when you make a successful attack. Also to escape a Grapple is DC 8 + strength mod + proficiency bonus. Not the opposed skill check of the 2014 rules.

New Spell Lists
Take the cantrips and 1st level spells from the 2014 rules and divides them into the three categories of Arcane, Divine, and Primal.

Wrapping it Up
So far it looks like pretty much still 5e. If I had to guess I bet for most of you reading this it reads like somebody's list of house rules or even your own house rules. A bunch of tweaks and reformatted sections to suit the author's sensibilities. Still seems like 5e to me and more importantly doesn't alter how easy it is to hack or tweak 5e into the system you want to use. Plus some of it makes sense and would be useful like the Slowed Condition and the grappling changes.

Stuff in the Attic updated with Faeries and Demons!

I shared these PDFs on other forums but forgot to update my Stuff in the Attic page.

Demons and Divine Servants
This booklet contains how I handle demons using my Majestic Fantasy rules along with a first pass on what Divine Servants are like. It also has a short essay on the nature of evil and demons. Note that when it comes to my take on fantasy settings I am not a fan of Milton's approach where Lucifer is a anti-hero. Although I did thoroughly enjoy the Lucifier series.
Demons and Divine Servants

Sometimes I like to do things because I find them fun like making a in-game religious document. This is the Scroll of the Beginning which is a version of the Bible's Book of Genesis for some religions of the Majestic Fantasy Realms. This also relevant to the origins of the demons.

Scroll of the Beginning

For a long time, I struggled to come up with a "hook" that allowed me to roleplay Faeries. Faeries in the Majestic Fantasy are born from magic coalescing around strong emotions both positive and negative. In order to grow and thrive, they seek to recreate these emotions. The more emotions they master, the stronger they become. This booklet contains a short essay about their nature.

Wrapping it up
Hope you find both of these useful for your campaign. As for Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms, I am in the midst of southern mountains and deserts describing what I find. Currently, I am about 75% of the way through all four maps.

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