Monday, December 31, 2012

Chuckin' Like The Doo-Dah Man...

Another Long Strange Trip...
Looks like we're rollin' into another one.  I always have high hopes for the coming year but I must admit that any year with a thirteen in it makes me a bit nervous.

All in all I find 2012 to be about average - new movies on DVD, more used games from HPB, a regular Basic D&D game, the usual.  Guess we got Obama for another four.  Oh well.  Dunno if Romney would be any better but it'd be different anyway (and that's the extent I will dwell on the political climate, thank you).

The podcast(s) are going well, Vince stepped down from Save or Die and so Mike, Liz and myself soldier on.  THAC0's Hammer still tries to come out on a somewhat regular basis.  And so it goes.

One thing that picked up was my artwork.  I actually got some paid gigs which I always appreciate.  Both Vince and Thorkie saw fit to use my stuff and I thank them.  PLUS, I got a couple of panels accepted for Gygax Magazine.  I'll be in illustrious company and I want to thank Art Director Jim Wampler for that leg up.

Heading on to '13 I'll still be doing the Basic D&D game (sometimes with Gage at my side) and, as I mentioned in a previous post, will be running some Savage Worlds with the group.  I've never used the system so it'll be a learning experience all around.

I also want to thank all the folks out there for their compliments on my artwork and my voice acting (my reading of A Christmas Carol got a major bump in downloads off the Internet Archive).  It makes it all worth while.

Okay, onward.  Let's see where we end up...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Role-Playing In The Bluff

At least it isn't a Crisis Crossover...
So, I've recently become enamored with Pinnacle's Savage Worlds, a generic RPG like HERO or GURPS, yet unlike them.  I had a previous printing of the rules but I never really looked at it.  I like the fast character-creation, fast combat and just the all-around loosey-goosey feel of the game.  Unlike HERO, it's not bogged down with minutae and unlike GURPS it's not bogged down with sub-rules you trip over when you're not looking. AND the price is right: the Core Rules are $30 for the hardback BUT they also sell what they call The Explorer's Edition, which is the same book digest-sized (I love digest-sized books) for 10 BUCKS!  Also, there's a lot of campaign books out there, from Pinnacle's Super Powers/Fantasy/Horror Companion to others like Deadlands, Space 1889, original settings like 50 Fathoms, Rippers, Weird War II, third-party campaign books like Andy Hopp's Low Life, Beast and Barbarians...and that's not even counting the fan-made worlds out there.

I talked to my regular Basic D&D group and they said they'd be willing to give it a go next week.  I have a Star Wars SW supplement some fan worked up so I'll probably go with that - but if they like it, I may work in some fantasy sessions too.

Which brings us to Bluffside, The City On The Edge.  Probably one of the best books to come out of the D20 boom, this is a personal favorite and would work well with SW.  In fact, since Green Ronin put out a SW conversion of Freeport, those two would be a good match....

...and I also found a fan conversion of Eberron for SW.  Looks like I got my work cut out for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Check Your Shelf, Respect Your Shelf

Ancient Gygax Secret, huh?
Jim Maliszewski over at Grognardia got some kind of challenge going over at Google+ and his blog.  He wants folks to show off their bookshelves to show (he alleges) what us gamer people use for research/inspiration.  Not the most original idea to come down the pike but seeing as I've been looking for an excuse to show off my game collection I'll roll with it.  Personally, I think he moonlights at IKEA but he games so what the hey.

Here we have the middle three shelves of my only bookcase, which is right next to my computer desk (aka Smokestack Central).  I left off the top and bottom shelves because those are mostly art books and a shoebox full of SFX CDs.

Here's the first one.  The large section to the right is my Judges' Guild collection, plus some Role-Aids books on the far right.  This shelf is mostly for reference and inspiration (and the occasional Marvel/FASERIP game I play - yes, the books are in there next to my Champions BBB).

Now here's my main research/playing section.  All the main D&D books reside here, from Holmes to 2E.  I keep these books on this particular shelf because A) it's the Load Bearing shelf and I have quite a few hardbacks and B) I can easily reach it from the desk - which comes in handy when I have to look something up in the middle of a podcast.

This third shelf is reserved for box sets, other game systems and assorted ephemera (or what wouldn't fit on the other two shelves).  That Champions of Mystara box is a misnomer - it actually holds my D&D Gazeteer collection.

And there it is - my working/research library.  I also have a butcher block table behind my drawing table that holds paper (printer and art) and about a half-dozen binders with various DM-related material (including my DM Guidebook).

So now you know, Jim.

And Knowing is Half The Encounter! (PC JOE!!)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rolling In Bat Country

Humping the OSR dream...
We were somewhere around Thaggasoth Peaks on the edge of Lake Hali when the drugs began to take hold...

Of all the material Jim Raggi has produced through his Lamentations of The Flame Princess publishing house, Geoffery McKinney's Carcosa is the one of the two books that light my RPG fire (the other being Zak S.'s Vornheim).  Yet, until recently, I found it resistant to that creative lump of fat in my head.  I do not blame that on anyone but myself, as reading and using Carcosa takes a great deal of letting go of a lot of preconceived fantasy notions that have been rattling around inside me for quite a long time, something that I know I am not alone with.

I knew from the get it would be "different" from the traditional fantasy campaigns: no demihumans, technology, severely gimped magic (and what there is is of the eldritch variety), etc.  Yet I found myself drawn to it's eerie beauty.  When I finally read it, I didn't realize it would still challenge what preconcieved notions I had left.  Things like the air of nihilistic misanthropy, the world as an an extremely dangerous place, and the view of man (men?) as the bottom of the rung of existence.  It's like Lovecraft (complete with a lot of his Elder Critters) without the "inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."*

In addition, the book is tight - almost too tight - with crunch.  Now, I like a nice mix of crunch and fluff in my gamebooks, but if it came down to it, I'd be on the side of crunch (after all, any DM worth his screen can come up with some kind of BS reason for anything in an RPG).  I'm also not saying that it is devoid of backstory and such.  It was just a little on the light side.

BUT, it had a wealth of DM goodness if you got on it's wavelength (and I was part way there already).  It's the RPG equivalent of potato chips - you can't just eat one even though you know it's gonna turn you into a tub.

So that was my opinion for quite a while until three things woke me up to the possibilities of this book.  The first was interviewing Geoffrey for the Save or Die Podcast.  Hearing how this book came to be and his influences opened the door a bit for me.

The second was the Carcosa Wacky Races.  Brilliant, I thought - a bunch of characters trying to go coast-to-coast in the equivalent of R'lyeh or Kadath.  I started to understand you didn't have to be so heavy with the negative (or at least develop some kind of Paranioa-style black humor about it).  I also worried about the tech in fantasy (something which I am dead set against in regular fantasy - except black powder), until I saw my grandson watching reruns of He-Man on cable.  It made me think back to things like that, The Hercoloids, Mad Max, etc.  And Gamma World, Good God, GAMMA WORLD!  I can see it now: crazy bone hermits with alien-powered contraptions!  Petty despots ruling a wasteland where mummy brains are sold by the pound and the native language is tap-danced!  Cultists worshipping a stray dog with wings who passes blue lotus powder gas!  A big fat bigfoot series of adventures where PC's driving across the land in a sweet combustible or a gypsy wagon pulled by a couple of three-legged beasts of burden with jale feathers in order to fight or be sucked up by the goofiness of it all!  Yes, this could work.

The third thing was that the format of perfunctory hexcrawl descriptions and terse crunch (which are actually very evocative) looked familiar.  One trip to my Judges Guild library set me straight on that.  That's where I've seen it before!  That was the way they'd publish it back in the Gary/Dave years!  A paragraph (or even just a line or two) of description and you're off to the races!  I get it now!

With these revelations I now can sit down and figure out MY Carcosa.  My take will be a LOT less deadly and more Conan/gonzo than what's in the book.  Weird tech, mind-breaking spells and weird beasts roaming the land.  I like the different colors of men (I don't even miss the demihumans) and may even reintroduce a limited number of D&D monsters into the place (gonzo goblinoids - oooo, I can have a lot of fun with them).

*Don't get me wrong - I'm not really against the cosmic horror thing - hell, I'd love me some more Call of Cthulhu - I just like a lighter touch with them than most.  It'e more interesting to me to have a party survive a meeting with the Great Old Ones and have half of them in the asylum and the rest shattered alcoholics than a regular TPK.  Besides, I hate places where you can't take a step in any direction without taking your life in your hands.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Poser Poseur

Spidey-Ray Vaughn
I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil.  Mostly cartoons, as my style and preference lean that way.  It's only recently though that I've done it in earnest as I've always been a Lazy Artist.  That and I never fully mastered the drawing of the human body (another reason I leaned towards cartooning - funny animals and such).

Anyway, one of my shortcomings (in art, anyway) was that foreshortening has always eluded me - it was VERY hard for me to see a body or object in perspective, no matter how much I read in art books or saw on the net.  Oh I can do a street in one-and-two-point-perspective, but getting, say,  ol' Nick Fury to reach out to the viewer is well-nigh impossible.  Therefore, seeing the writing on the wall, I knuckled under and decided to get a model.

"Hmm...Spider quaint..."
At the time I came to this realization, luck was with me - Spider-Man 2 had hit the theaters and one of the mercandising items was perfect for my purposes: The Amazing Spider-man 18" Ultimate Super Poseable Action Figure.  I picked him up at Wal-Mart for about 20 bucks and it was probably the best art investment I made.  This bad boy has 67 points of articulation.  If you don't get that, take a look at the picture - you can pose each individual finger!  His feet!  This guy was made for modeling!

He does have a few downsides: 1) he's heavy, which makes it tricky to pose sometimes, because of that and 2) the knees got weak after a while.  Plus, I had to use a rubber band to keep his head posed the way I wanted to (due to my 3 year old - at the time - grandson getting at him and twisting his head too much).

Other than that, he's great for the perspective-challenged like me.  We quickly fell into a routine:

1. I pose him the way I want
2. I snap his picture with my digital camera
3. I feed it into my PC and use PSP 8 to cut, crop and make him B/W
4. Print and transfer (via pencil rubbing or lightbox) to paper
5. Draw away

This figure has been a real boon to my art.  I thought it was time to give him the props he's due.  Thanks, Spidey.  You really DO whatever a spider (and more than any other figure model) can.

P.S. You can find these on eBay or on Amazon but, as you can see (via the link above) be prepared to pay a king's ransom for one.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

You CAN Go Holmes Again

NOT Your Typical Gaming Group
Okay, full dislclosure: my friend Vince created it and I did most of the artwork.  There.  I feel better now.

That bring said, I encourage all the OSR folks out there to download the new Mazes and Perils and give it a go.  Vincent Florio (with a lil' help from his friends) did a rewrite/expansion of the version of D&D written by Messers Gygax and Areneson and reworked by Dr. Eric Holmes first released in 1974.  Vince and Co. have re-reworked it a bit (you can now play up to 12th level) but kept the feel and flavor of that classic edition.  Best of all, it's free.  You can get it at RPGNow (here's the link):

Go download, print and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Just roll with it...
Gen-Con 2012 is getting ready to happen in Indy in a few days.  I've been to a few RPG conventions in my day (DunDraCon, Orccon, hell even went to Origins once) but I've never had the desire to go to the Big Daddy of role-playing.  In a way I wish my life would just fast-forward to the following Monday so I don't have to listen to all the folks getting ready, oh boy, I'm taking this and that, let's meet up, etc.  Must be my age but I don't wanna hear it.

I'm not even pretending to be fair about this as I've gone on and on about the North Texas RPG Con.  I seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with the Big G.  There are a few reasons for this:

1. I can't seem to afford it - I went to Origins when it was in San Jose because I was living there at the time and other cons were either affordable or I had a few generous friends to whom I will be eternally grateful for helping me (in some cases 100%) foot the bill (yes, I'm talking about you, Wayne).  But GenCon always seemed juuuust out of my reach, financially.

2. I love my wife, but she seems to take a dim view of my hobby (nothing to do with the anti-Christian thing, she just thinks I'm too obsessed with it).  So I feel that going to one con a year is about as far as I can push it.

3. It's in Indy (or Milwaukee before that).  Taking a plane to a convention used to be too much for me (financially and otherwise).  Most of the conventions I've been to have been at the most 4 hours away.

Anyway, there it is.  If I sound a bit curmudgeonly (or worse, whiny) I apologize.  I'm sure if I ever go I'd probably have a blast but I don't see it happening in my lifetime.  C'est la vie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dice Station Zebra

Pilgrims in a strange land, dice in hand...
Now that I've had a couple of days to mull it over, I've got to say that the 2012 North Texas RPG Con was a success.  While there were problems, they were overwhelmed by the sheer fun and goodwill of the event.  Once I got my autograph hound duties done (it felt like I had a metric buttload of stuff for the guests to sign) I got down to business: schmoozing and planting my rear at tables, rolling dice.  Here's the breakdown:

The Good:

Playing BadMike's B1 game is an annual treat for me.  I didn't have my dwarf with me so I played a fighter along with my friend Liz.  Watching her battle, subdue and conquer an intelligent dancing sword was a highlight of the game.  We didn't get rid of the necromancer but put a big hurt on him by taking out his Dragon (a wight), stealing his treasure and beating feet out of there.

The panels.  The 2E panel with Steve Winter and Zeb Cook I found especially informative.

Meeting and hanging out with my fellow Save or Die podcasters Mike, Liz and Vince is always fun.

Lounging around the lobby, talking to Jenell Jaquays.  She's always got something going and she's a font of gaming information.  Hope to be in one of her games next year.

Seeing FulOnGamer for the first time and helping him settle in for his Battletech game.  Gotta go up to Lawton and game with that nut soon.

Winning a couple of silent auctions: FINALLY getting a set of Dungeonmorph Dice and a copy of 2nd Edition TOON (Mike Stewart would have been disappointed if I hadn't got those rules).  Other swag: Jeff Dee's Pocket Universe, signed by the man himself and Frog God Games were in attendance so I got me a copy of the Tome of Adventure Design - a book that, after I looked through it, is right up there with Ultimate Toolbox in versatility and thoroughness (it says it's for Swords & Wizardry and Pathfinder but useful for any RPG).  Alas, no Tome of Horrors Complete for me - the S&W version would have been a nice addition to my collection.

Playing The Schnozz in Jeff Dee's Villains and Vigilantes game Friday night.  I'm gonna have to make time for that next year too.  I still don't quite understand the rules but it was a blast.

The impromptu Marvel Super Heroes game that erupted between myself, Mike and another con-goer with Vince GMing.  Didn't take it seriously at all (which is why Mike dubbed it a "MSH/TOON hybrid").  We're hoping to get our Saturday night Skype group to play.

Sitting in the closed bar until the wee hours talking to Steve and Zeb.  I'm a sucker for gaming history and these guys really know their stuff (but I was surprised that Steve had bought the Judges' Guild Ready Ref Sheets but had never read them).  Next year I owe you both a beer.

The Bad:

The stopped up toilet in our room.

The restaurant/bar left something to be desired (although they stepped up their game as the con wore on).  The hours were also bizzare (bar closes at 11 PM?  on a Saturday?).

The smoke that came out of the kitchen vents - Smelled good, but hard on the eyes.

The Ugly:

The freeway construction around the hotel.  Nothing really within walking distance food-wise and the construction made getting to a restaurant a tricky affair.

Now, in the hotel's defense, they did seem to be a tad overwhelmed by us - guess they never had the gaming/scifi/fantasy fandom stage a con there before - but they did their best and I give them kudos for that.  Always friendly and courteous.  Unfortunately, looks like we already outgrew the space so the organizers are already looking for a bigger place for next year.

All in all practically everyone had a good time.  This is a great con folks (a real laid-back, friendly type of convention where you can walk up and meet the early movers and shakers of the RPG industry - hell even THEY have a good time running and playing and meeting the people) and if you can make it next year, do.  It's worth it:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Drop 'Em

Gettin' the drop on some NPC's
Ever since I got ahold of a copy of Vornheim by Zak S. (the same gent who brought you the blog Playing D&D With Porn Stars - kinda NSFW so Caveat Emptor) I've been fascinated with dice drop tables.  At it's simplest it's a graphic table on which you drop dice and read the result.  You can make tables for everything from coming up with quick NPC stats to (my favorite) equipping characters.  Brilliant idea for DMs who like to run games on the fly.  Some are very simple to use, some can be a bit involved and some can take care of more than one thing (as the tables on the cover of the Vornheim hardback demonstrate).

My OTHER Dropbox
There aren't many of them out there but I managed to find a few at Rolng's Creeping Doom - he even gives you a blank one for making your own.  I didn't like the idea of rolling on the table where the dice go everywhere so I got me an empty cigar box, reformatted the tables I had for that size, cut, placed 'em on the bottom of the box and roll baby roll.

Great stuff.  I might take a whack at making one myself.  Also, if anyone knows about other dice drop tables drop (heh heh) a comment here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Align In The Sand

For the schizophrenic in all of us
Although I started with 1E around 79-80, I consider myself a 2E baby due to the fact I took the long way around to get back to TSR's shining jewel.  It is only recently that I have been experiencing the joy that is Basic D&D (something I completely missed out on the first time around).

I say all this because by the time 2E rolled around I'd been deeply entrenched in the 9-point alignment system.  Some people even then considered the whole concept a dinosaur leftover from D&D's wargaming roots.  Me, I just took it as it came, finally realizing that alignment was, with the exception of clerics and paladins, NOT a hard and fast set of rules, but more like guidelines for the player in figuring out the character's personality.

Now that I'm dealing with Basic though, I've come to appreciate the 3-point alignment.  Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic, that's it.  As much as I like a story that's told in black and white terms, I enjoy the wiggle room that the three point system gives me.  Seems more believable that someone can be Lawful and still be evil or Chaotic and still be a good person.  Even Neutral gets in the act.  I look back and see that the AD&D alignment is way to specific for me.  The 3-point system makes the PC think more about their character's motivations (plus it gives those clerics and paladins something more to worry about seeing as the morals are more vague) and gives the DM more variety in the types of NPCs and adventures he can use.  You can still have characters that are obviously pure and good or black-hearted and evil too.  When I get back to 2E I may import this.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tripping The Rift 1: The Critters In The Keep

But wait!  There's more!
Well, Gage and one of his friends managed to convene with me for more D&D in Thunder Rift (we lost one player due to a move).  Previously I was going to run Rage of The Rakasta for just Gage but since his friend showed up I decided to run the kinda-prequel Quest For the Silver Sword and save Rakasta for later.

The party consisted of Logan Semester, cleric of Poseidon (Gage), Shadowkill the Elf (his friend Zack) and two NPC adventurers: Theodora Kelp a friend of Logan's and also a cleric of Poseidon and her other friend, Selper the Thief.

After the preliminaries (being contacted by the Burgormeister of Torlynn, offerd help, etc. - which, BTW, Logan refused any payment (the boy's got this Hero thing down pat) the party arrived at Barrik's Keep.  Seeing the front door hanging on one hinge, Logan and Shadowkill decide to...climb up to the roof to see if they can "sneak up on them."  Who I don't know, but after a DEX check, they were on the roof.  I told them there was a nice view of the area and a roof, with two towers.  They climbed down and walked through the front door.

Instead of going straight up the hall they went right down a side hall to the kitchen.  There they surprised four ratlings and soundly trounced them.  Shadowkill found a Bell of Sustenance and they proceeded to the kitchen, where they three more ratlings carving up a dead orc.  They were also defeated.

Interesting thing about these ratlings - they only have one attack (I'm assuming a bite).  Even the ones with the cleaver, so I added a second attack with the weapon.  Personally, I don't even know why these aren't rat-men or were-rats.  The author probably needed something with human-like intelligence but not as deadly as a were. I rolled with it.

That was about it, as by then it was suppertime.  Should be playing again this week some time.  Keep ya posted.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bet You're Sorry You Asked, Huh?

And for this I went to DM School?
Seeing as this little bit of quiz is making the rounds of the gaming community courtesy of Zak S., he of  the Vornheim OSR supplement and the D&D With Porn Stars blog (thanks loads), I thought I'd take a whack at it.  Dunno if it'll give you some insight into me or my game style but it's a cheap laugh at my expense for your entertainment.  Don't say I never gave ya nuthin'.  Enjoy:

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
Death Knights for my old 2E game.  They get a +1 to hit/damage if they smear the blood of their freshly slain enemy on them.  Made the PCs go NUTS.  Even the neutral cleric wanted their heads.  Ah, memories…

2. When was the last time you DMed?
Last night.  Ran the first part of Quest for The Silver Sword for my 8 Y-O grandson and his friend.

3. When was the last time you played?
Last week, DM Brian's 2E Mystara: three PCs, a dwarf myrmadon (me), a half-orc swashbuckler (DM FulOnGamer), and a half-elf  mealiden (I have no idea what that is) (Allie, DM Brian's ex-fiance) plus a few others as NPCs.  We're heading to The Horror on the Hill.  Oh boy.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven’t run but would like to.
The PCs have to help a farmer save his druid sister from being kidnapped and getting "hitched" shotgun-style by a clan of redneck/hillbilly orcs.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Look over my notes and keep an ear open in case they say anything "interesting.".

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Anything from salt & vinegar chips to a full meal, although we usually pause the game for that.

7. Do you find DMing physically exhausting?
Yeah, unfortunately.  Must be my age, although it doesn't make me anywhere NEAR as tired as running Champions.  Those battles really take a lot out of me.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
A wizard character of mine in a long-ago 2E Forgotten Realms game using the Grease spell on a set of stairs, waiting for the orcs to come down and landing in a heap at the foot of the stairs, and the DM determining that the Grease spell is flammable.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
It's hard to take any games I run serious when you're dealing with a nutjob like me behind the screen.

10. What do you do with goblins?
Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew…

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
None that I can recall, although I do like to add Steampunk elements into my world.

12. What’s the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
A recent Labyrinth Lord Skype game DM Chrispy ran.  A low-INT PC was fighting what he thought was a dragon but was actually an illusion thrown up by another character.  The character controlling the illusion dispelled it at the exact moment the PC thrust his sword into the beast's breast.  He is still convinced he defeated an actual dragon.

13. What was the last game book you looked at–aside from things you referenced in a game–why were you looking at it?
The D&D Rules Cyclopedia, as I was prepping for the last game I ran.

14. Who’s your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
A tie between Jenell Jaquays and Jim Holloway.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Nope.  Then again, they're about 8…

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn’t write? (If ever)
Running Goblin Gully with my grandson and his friends.  Nothing like watching fledgling gamers stretch their role-playing muscles.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
My own game room with a nice big round table with plenty of room to walk around, all the dice I need and reference books at hand.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Carcosa and TOON.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Film Noir and The Three Stooges.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
One who likes being part of a great adventure and not afraid to contribute to it.  A player who takes chances and thinks out of the box.  It may be more work for me, but in the long run it makes the game all that better and more fun.

21. What’s a real life experience you’ve translated into game terms?
None that I can think of...

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn’t?
I'm sure there is, but nothing comes to mind right now…

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn’t play? How do those conversations go?
I don't.  Aside from my grandsons, no one in my family has an interest in RPGs.  My wife will occasionally listen to something, but on the whole I really don't talk RPGs around them.  It would be pointless.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I've Been Everywhere, Man...

Run rodent run rodent run run run...
Now that the new year has begun it's time to think about starting up that Basic D&D game I'm running for my grandson and his two friends.  Unfortunately, between one of his friends moving away and the other not coming around much the group is reduced to Gage and I.  A minor setback, as I can keep him busy 'till more players can be acquired.

Gives me a chance to work on the world.  I've already changed my mind on the world they end up in (Mystara) once they poke their heads out of Thunder Rift, but that took a lot of dicipline.  See, I tend to suffer from Toomanyworlditis.  In other words, I have a hard time deciding which setting I want to use.

The main contenders were Mystara (I got the first Gazeteer - Karameikos - and it just whet my appetite for more), The Wilderlands (I'm a sucker for all things Judges' Guild), my own world of Skye and that map I found in that copy of the 2E PHB a while back.  All of them had their pluses and very few minuses but in the end I went with Mystara.  I'll keep looking at the others and maybe I can get some ideas off them.  I'll keep the map I found in reserve for a future campaign and save Skye for a 2E game I may start up on Skype in the future.

It's difficult when you have too much of a good thing, but better that than not enough.  Onward, player(s)!