In 48 hours I will be making my annual trip back home to stock up on Mad Overlord supplies (death rays, dangerously experimental chemicals, shoes) but I will also be attending Gary Con once again!

While attending, it is prudent to remind everyone of the difference between old school gaming and dumba$$ gaming (yeah, I said it.) In factt, I wont even tell you, like any good Mad Overlord, I get others to do the heavy lifting while I concoct my evil plans.

The folks at, “wmusswtwbf” put together something  that says it perfectly… so I am just going to share it here….


First – YOU MUST BE SELF MOTIVATING.  In October of 1972, Rob Kuntz introduced me to what would become OD&D by saying “Gary’s got this neat new game called Greyhawk.  You’re a bunch of guys exploring an old abandoned wizard’s castle full of monsters and treasure and stuff.”

That’s it.  No quests to rescue the princess, no magical doohickey to throw into the Zazu Pitts of Fordor, no mysterious strangers meeting you in an inn.  We were in a game to explore, and we did.  We explored a lot of the dungeon.  Then we wondered “What’s over on the other side of those hills,” and we started doing outdoor adventures.

Our characters were entirely self-directing.  Yours will need to be as well.

Second – YOU ARE A TEAM.  The game is not all about how wonderful your character is.  You are part of a team and fulfill your role in that team.  These roles, in this world and in these rules, are derived from the traditional composition of medieval armies; heavy troops hold the line, light troops flank, and missile troops fire from a safe vantage because if they get meleed they’re dead.  The magic users have heavy firepower and can easily dispose of a threat much faster than the fighters can; but if the fighters don’t protect the magic users, the magic users are going to be useless.  Similarly, the magic users represent too valuable a resource to allow to go to waste for the fighters.

It’s not all about you, singular; it’s about you, plural.

Third – GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!  This game is run in a very simulation-heavy way.  For instance, if the players get into an argument and start shouting, it means that the player characters are standing deep in some monster-filled dungeon screaming at the top of their lungs, drawing wandering monsters by the dozen.  Have a leader.  FOLLOW that leader.  If you’re the leader, LEAD.  Make decisions.  When the players discuss things, do so quietly in short, high content sentences.  The game is a game of exploration to find treasure; to explore, you have to MOVE.

We have only a few hours to play; make the most of it.

Fourth – COMBAT IS DANGEROUS.  You’ll have to fight, but like any army, make the conditions as favorable as you can.  If your attitude to combat is “We’re the player characters!  CHARGE!” you’d better bring plenty of paper, because you’ll be rolling up a lot of new characters.  In real life, flanking wins battles, it’s not just a “nice little sweetie.”  OD&D doesn’t have explicit flanking rules, so I made my own.  I’m not going to go into great detail, but I am going to say that, just like real life, flanking wins battles.  And flanking does not have to be the modern lame-ass “two figures opposite each other” bullshit.  If you hit an enemy in the flank, it’s flanked.  And hitting them in the back is far more powerful than flanking.

Of course, the same applies to you.  Do be careful, won’t you?

Likewise, close order is your friend.  Three humans fill up a ten foot corridor.  Fewer than that, and the monsters can get past you to the soft, chewy, unarmored magic users behind you.  Also, spears can strike from the second rank.  Isn’t that lovely?

Fifth – THIS IS MY WORLD.  I am the absolute unquestioned demiurge of this imaginary world.  It works exactly and precisely the way I say it does, and nobody else has any say in this at all.  This is important because my vision of my world forms the basis for all rulings I make.  And there will be far, far more rulings than rules in this game.  I can be reasoned with on the basis of logic, historical precedent, or common sense, but “appeal to the rules” will get you nowhere.

Sixth – DESCRIPTION, NOT DICE ROLLS.  You don’t roll “observation” to look around, you tell me what you’re doing and how.  This subject is covered very well in Matt Finch’s “Quick Primer for Old School Gaming.”  You should definitely read this, and you can find it for free at

Read it.  You’ll be glad you did.


There is not much I can add to that article besides:

Stay Mad.

Be Good.

What would Dungeons & Coffee be if I don’t drink coffee? hah? HAH!?!?!

Hey hey Mad Minions,

I just wanted to drop this here since I know a lot of people stop by to check my thoughts on RPG’s. When I play table top, I rarely if ever use miniatures since I like players to ask questions. I find when minis are used, players tend to view the game more like a board game and focus more on combat (just my observations over my years of gaming, yours experiences might be completely different).

What to do if you like miniatures and are looking for tips for building things?

Go to Dungeons and Coffee. Not to be a cheap plug, but just look at the cool stuff this guy builds.


Go check him out.

An update on my Nanowrimo, its November 4th here and I am just shy of 10,000 words (9820).

More updates soon.

Stay Mad

Be Good.

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My MAD OVERLORD!

I read a post recently about how someone was making fun of the old Dungeons and Dragons artwork. But I personally really enjoy the old art better than the newer art.

Sure, the newer art looks better. But for me the old art told a story all in one picture.

I was playing Basic D&D since I was 8 and graduated to Moldvay when it showed up. But one thing I can remember to this day is going to the hobby store in Brookfield Square (I had to do chores into order to get my dad to drive me there) and picking up the 1st edition Monster Manual. Upon opening it, this was the first thing I saw:


I can still feel that sense of wonder that washed over me. How is that guy going to defeat that huge manta ray looking thing with just that sword? Will it wrap it up and devour him like those things from the movie Beast Master? I *had* to buy this book. I only had enough money for one, so my players lost out on all the new classes and such from the Players Handbook for a few more months. They soon learned of the unholy terrors of things that crawled in the dark however.

It was glorious.

To this day, I think these feelings I remember have effected my writing and design. That sense of mystery and wonder is sometimes lost in newer editions, but it is up to us as storytellers to make sure it never escapes.

Kind of like the things I have living in the box under the stairs right now.

Tomorrow begins NANOWRIMO. I will try to update as much as I can since I did a lot of planning on this next project.

Stay Mad

Be Good.

And so I wake in the morning and I step outside, And I take a deep breath and I get real high, and I scream from the top of my lungs – where’s my cheese? Oh wait, I mean, WHAT’S GOING ON?!

Another quick update on whats going on… the pictures of GaryCon X are coming… as well, as the D&D adventure based on Castle of Blackwood Moors.

I am going though the book, bit by bit to cut out a lot of the “You see this” and, “you see that,” and “Why are my shoes on the wrong feet?” To cut it down for a D&D style audience. It’s taking a bit… the book *IS* over 500 pages after all. But I am hoping to have this off to the editor by mid-April.  After that, off to the next project!

One thing at a time Ax, I know, I know.

SO! In case you were wondering JUST how bad my handwriting is…  here are some pictures of the rewriting!

Until next time,

Stay Mad,
Be Good.

The Beginnings of the Wanderings in The City.

Hey hey Fun Team.

As I mentioned yesterday in the first episode of Mad Overlord tv (you did watch it didn’t you? If not, go watch it. I sound like a goof since I never really did anything like it before… but it will get better), I mentioned I would start a D&D campaign based on my old game world.

Right now there are only two players (we are running the game over skype). The characters rolled up were Roofie O. the Middenlund Bounty Hunter. Str 15, Int 13, Wis 9, Dex 10, Con 9, Cha 7. And Zanax the Proth Witch Hunter. Str 11, Int 8, Wis 13, Dex 12, Con 17,  Cha 9.

Humans and dwarves are second class citzens in the City. The elves rule the city (this was mentioned in a few of the older posts back in October 2016. in the posts I made about how the game world changed over time.) The elves keep most of those who are not elven into the slums in the eastern quarters of the city. They started in Freilunder’s Gasthaus. The time was 10am and most of those establishing such a place were the dregs of society. In the dirtiest part of the city, in one of the worst inns.PLAYER MAP 2

Rumors flew about bandits who preyed on the locals. But that is where we had to stop.
More to come!

From the last days of 2017… The City stirs.

Two posts in two days! Hoody Hoo!

Hey fantastic fun folks,

As this year draws to a close, it is a perfect time to discuss my future plans for the page (now that I can post here again).
2017 was not good to me. I am writing the main story for a Chinese game company and they keep changing the goal post location.

Them: “Write what ever you want!”
Me: “Oh boy!”

Them: “I just saw Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League (I am so sorry), and I think our story should follow that.”
Me: “You do realize I am about twenty chapters into the book and 2/3rds of the way with finishing the main story line.”

Them: “Yeah but everyone has to change things sometimes.”
Me: “This is true.” (Anyone who has ever worked in the game industry knows this.).

Fast forward to next week (doodlee doodlee doodlee DOO).

Them: “The story line is falling behind schedule. Everyone needs to work on Saturday and Sunday” (In China there is no OT).

The entire writing team: “Whooda whada WHATA? You just changed the whole story and Had to rewrite TWENTY CHAPTERS?!”

I do not mean to sound like a Dr. Wah, but there is such a thing called realistic expectations. Basically, I stayed awake for three days straigh tto rewrite everything (because I am awesome). But that is the way most of the year went. Sure its a nature of the beast… but sadly, this left little time for me to work on my side projects like the D&D version of Castle of Blackwood Moors, the Gamebook Sequel and The novel I have been working on.

This left a lot of half done projects out there. *Sad Face*

The good news? I will have a lot of projects crossing the finish line in 2018!

This will not only include the three above projects. But two sourcebooks! One for the Blackwood Moor area, and one for the ‘City at the Edge of the World’ which islocation of the novel (Like I said, some of this stuff is LITERALLY done, I just need to find some artists, layout artists etc and they are ready to go. Hear that? I hear Kickstarter calling!)

I am planning on running a D&D campaign taking place in the City as well.

So I cannot show the full map of the City at this time. You guys (and you know who you are) no spoilers here! muhahaha!



I am also planning on documenting more stuff on Youtube or or whatever. To give a look see into my creative process.

So all you Mad Minions! Hang onto your socks! 2018 is going to be a busy year.

P.S. I have not forgotten about Hendl’s Landing! HAW!

Fall out. Fall out with all the leaders and gangs. Fall out. Fall out with all the leaders and gangs.

The first post POST Gary Con 9!

So much has happened the past few days I totally nerded out (as you will see) and I got to run some adventures based on my book Castle of Blackwood Moors. It was a big hit and everyone really enjoyed it. This is a quote from one of the actual people who played in the game on the second day:

“As for how you ran your game, I’d be happy to play at your table again!  While I had good experiences at all my Garycon events, I wouldn’t go back to everyone’s table.”

This means a lot. A lot of times if you design something, you do not really get a lot of feedback. So it means SO MUCH to hear people actually say they like what you did and how you did it. (Thanks Jon! I would like to add I did not kidnap any of his loved ones or threaten to hide his tv remote or anything like that to get him to say nice things).

We will get back to the game in a little bit. Now to switch gears as we come to the first batch of pictures. If you know me, and I know I do, you will know I LOVE the Post Apocolyptical genre. The Mad Max series is my favorite movie series (even Fury Road even though Max is in it for only about 15 minutes, and Beyond Thunderdome ), Brave New World is my favorite book (and the great tv movie with Lenord Nemoy as Mustapha Mond. Canticle for Leibowitz. Love it, love it, love it.

Needless to say, the Fallout series is one of my most favorite video game series ever (I wish it would go a bit darker, but that is another topic for another day). So when I saw these three people in costume at GaryCon I just HAD to get a picture with them, and they happily obliged which is only the start of the awesomeness. After the picture was taken they asked me if I ever played Fallout and even they were amazed at what a nerd I am. So the one woman had a G.E.C.K. on her belt, she opened it up and gave me a small pouch. When I dumped it out in my hand… it was full of Nuka Cola Caps!!!  She said they were mine for being a fan and I was stunned. Remember a few posts ago when I said table top gamers are really a lot nicer and friendlier than some other kinds of gamers? These three really backed up this ideal in my mind. I never got their names, but if they ever read this blog, you three really made my day that day.

Okay. On to the next thing! In the last post, I mentioned Frankenparty! it was a great time and I met friends old and new.This year Frank had a kind of scavenger hunt, where you looked around his house to find clues and those who got all the items won a set of original dice from the original Mentzer Dungeons and Dragons box set!!! I tried my best but I got one wrong. One of the questions was about a type of rock, and I guessed Rose Quartz but it was really amethyst.  Needless to say I was pretty mad at myself (I get down on my self pretty hard when I do not know things like that), but I still had a great time as you will attest to the pictures below.

Not only that, look at the first picture! That is the original drawing Larry Elmore made for the Basic D&D box set! As you can see, they cut some of it out and changed it a little into the picture beneath it.

Also, if you look close at that picture of the books. You can see The Castle of Blackwood Moors on Frank’s shelf! How great is that! For a newb writer like me, its pretty great. I also gave a copy to Jim Ward this year since I took a lot his writing advice over the years, and both Frank and Jim were huge influences on me, and they are both wonderful people. Very no-nonsense , direct people who also both have a lot of experience dealing with social misfits like myself, so I always enjoy speaking with them.

Finally, in the picture of me sitting at that desk… This desk is now at Frank’s house (and I had pictures of this last year if you ever seen them), but this was Gary Gygax’s original desk. The one he sat and created Dungeons and Dragons at. Very cool. The only uncool thing is look at how fat I have got since I have been living in the USA. Bad me.

Okay! the next, NEXT thing. Here is me running my first game at Gary Con. The people were great and everyone said they had a great time, thank goodness. There is even a picture of one page of the notes the gent who sat at the far left took (His handwriting is so much nicer than mine!). There was a second page, but the picture I took turned out really poorly. I think I must have sold thirty books over those few days.It is always great to see what players do when you run a table top RPG and it made me feel alive in ways I cannot even begin to describe. Running table top RPG’s is really my calling in life I guess since nothing makes me happier. The only down side to running games like this is once all the other people came in at 10 (if you recall I started at 8), the game rooms were packed SO tight everyone had to scream at the top of their lungs to be heard and I was going hoarse by the end of the game. Mr. Luke Gygax sir, if you read this, please, please, please spread the rooms out a bit more next year… or if you can request a smaller room or something. If I could get a smaller quieter, room, I would run 3 or 4 games a day for each of the 4 days.

Welp, that is GaryCon 9, 2017 Fun friends. I hope you enjoyed the pictures. In a few days, I will get back to the regularly scheduled thoughts on game design, rpgs, and blow the dust off of Hendl’s Landing finally.

Do not forget to keep perusing your passion. I know everyone says that. It has almost become kind of a cliche, but if you can touch your dreams, what truly makes you happy in life… I promise it makes the bad days so much more worthwhile.

EDIT: I should start a contest, who ever is the first person to guess which song is used in the title, wins… something. Not sure yet.

Dungeons and Coffee. Review.

A very cool gent named Tracey Puckett has a review site called Dungeons and Coffee, which he just reviewed my book. Sounds like he enjoyed it quite a bit, but do not take my word for it. Follow this link and check it out for yourselves.

And he is correct. More stuff *IS* coming. A sequel as well as a book (or two) so you can base your adventures in the world the book takes place in.

Hope you enjoy it!


Also, watch this space, I have more scans of my old D&D world coming… which I will talk about more and more.  And more. And more. Roger Moore?

Never mind.

I forgot a step. The 80’s.

Yesterday I posted a bit of a history of the world I use for my D&D world that has been around since ’83-’84. But I forgot a step (you will find I will forget a lot of stuff as this blog continues), the world took a huge change in the late 1980s, early 1990s. I apologize for the quality of the pictures, I had to take them with my phone, I don’t have access to a scanner here in China for some reason.


You will notice a few things, first it is blurry as all get out. Apologies, I am HORRID at taking pictures of things. Second, the size, you can see the tip of my foot in the bottom of the picture. Considering I wear size 14 shoes in the USA (size 50 in China, a size they do not even make here, I have to get my shoes custom made), I did not crop the shoe off so you can gauge the size of the map. It is about 3-4 feet from top to bottom, so it is a pretty huge piece of paper. Lastly, you will notice that the other maps were longer from left to right and this is longer top to bottom, so what happened?

What happened with this (short lived, despite how much work my young self put into it) version of the map was that I got a bunch of this huge hex paper for free and I wanted to use it. In my young mind, free was more important than consistency, so why not! I was about 16-17 years of age when I made this. But you will see a lot more of the world get fleshed out and even some things that disappear in the later version you have seen yesterday.

Here we see parts of the map a bit closer, and think goodness, a bit more clear as well.

You can see a few things that have changed, for some reason, I put the Abysmal Swamp west, south west of the Apuno lands, and Middenlund is not even on here at all anymore, I just leave that area blank. I did add the Jupair-Gimesh Hills, mostly because I needed to add locations due to the fact this map was so much more taller than wider now. It was going to be a land run by beastials as a buffer between the Middenlund and the Apuno Lands. Honestly, I am happy this area disappeared, however I do like the name. Maybe, it will make a return some day, some way.

You can also see the original land that started this all, the barbarian lands of Guardias (shown in a blog post here about a week ago), is also not marked. You can see the city of Norcross, and even the tiny town of Blackwater – even the city of Kobur Nogan and the Rust River, but no title. I did include the Shard plains to the west though. I even included red dotted lines for political borders. No Guardias though. Sorry barbarians.


Here are some close up shots of the same map. You will see a few things here. First, in the north west, The city of Mikonec and the area of Ehee-cheeo, close by Yakpu-Qui and Uhili-Qui. This was a huge, huge mistake. Mikonec was the captial of the Miquatica (a race of Aztecs influenced people) surrounded by the lands of the Tian Tang (a race of people based on China. The new map for these lands will appear here some day). Eventually, the Miquatica got moved to the south lands now called the Ash Peninsula, but yeah… in my 16 year old mind, this was a good idea for some reason.

Here is where the human race of ‘Proth’ came from as well. But where the city was once called Proth and run by humans of the same name, the city is now just known as “The City at the Edge of the World” and is run by elves (Elves are hedonistic, arrogant jerks in this world and yes, these are the same elves that fought a war against the dwarves of Kobur Illid I mentioned a few posts ago).

In the center of the Great Inner Sea are two islands of note (The small island from yesterday becomes a few larger islands *face palm*) the Ram’s Head Isle: which is kind of like Switzerland, no weapons allowed by visitors and basically there for anyone from the Murk Lands to come and trade. The other isle is Voro’s Isle. Voro is the land’s ‘Gandalf’, or ‘Elminster’, accept he does not meddle in anyone’s business (That is ‘The Benefactor’s job. More on them later). He has had very little impact in any of the game’s I have ran over the years. Some of my player’s are unsure if he (or she) is still alive. Even the name changes depends who you ask. Voro, Vorom, Voromyr, are all names used to describe this enigmatic figure. Personally, I like that a lot better than someone like Elminster, who everyone in the Forgotten Realms knows everything about. Heck, some of my players even spread rumors about Voro in order to achieve things in the game, which is always clever.

The last thing I am going to talk about today is the Mer-Succhur Marsh. Named so for the plague of the Succhur. What is this plague you ask? Well, I will tell you. There are various bloated flies that are a bit more bloated than normal flies, and have a red mark on them somewhere (varies from fly to fly). If some one is bitten by one of these flies and is not treated they become a carrier. Eventually (1d4 days adjusted for CON), the character gets weak. At the end of the gestation period, the carriers head swells up like a pustule and bursts, revealing a mass of rope-like tentacles that are evenly spaced around the area where the neck used to be. The neck is now the mouth of the Succhur and the rope-like tentacles now attempt to entangle a near by victim and drag them into the maw (which now stretches to engulf any victim.

For some reason, my players only ventured there once and after meeting a Succhur, they never returned.

I could have added a LOT more detail here, but life calls. Would you like to know more? let me know. Is my grammar terrible? Let me know. Is there anything you would like to see me go over with more detail? Let me know.

Keep smiling everyone. Don’t get bitten by weird looking flies.

The pictures finally showed!

The pictures finally arrived! Jeepy Creepys that is some SLOW internet….

Okay, here is the first of a few posts of an event I went to called Khankon ( in Shanghai. It is a table top RPG convention mostly for Chinese folks (Table Top RPGs are gaining ground here but more on that later) with a smattering of board games and card games thrown in. First off, the place was VERY COOL. I was an old jazz club from the 60’s and 70’s. Very few bands still played there but the restaurant on the upper floors was still operational (I did not eat there so I cannot tell you how the food was), but the downstairs where the games were held still had original woodwork and everything.


As you can see, it got REALLY packed down there, and a lot of fun games went on both of the two days. One odd thing was the only a few Chinese players and western players would jump ‘borders’ as it were. Most of the English speaking people stuck together and most of the Chinese natives stuck in their own little groups. I was really curious to ask the Chinese gamers what they liked and disliked, but my Chinese is not that good so I didn’t. I also noticed that most of the western players were playing 5th Edition D&D and no one was playing Pathfinder… whereas most of the Chinese RPGers were playing Pathfinder mostly with two groups playing 5th ed and two groups playing Chinese created RPGs (characters will be posted soon).



Okay, here is the portion of the blog where I plug my book. Showing the book to many people at Khankon was a lot of fun. I am kind of an introvert so it was a big deal to approach people and ask them to take a look at something I wrote, but gamers are usually a pretty cool bunch of people (except in that first picture, that is the founder of Khankon being a smartass with my book *CURSE YOU DAN!**).

Luckily, everyone really liked it and I even got a few sales out of the deal. The coolest thing though was the direct feedback. When you write a book you do it mostly in a vacuum and hope people will like it, so when they say things like, “This is fun.” “Where can I get one of these?” and “I suppose I won’t beat you up with a sock full of quarters and ditch your body in an alley.” It makes a lot of it worthwhile (well, maybe not that last one, luckily no one actually said that to me though).



Finally, here is some left over random shots. The Game of Thrones boardgame which is a LOT of fun even though I got smoked like a cheap cigar. The Chinese character sheets I promised as well as the picture of the guy who ran the 5th ed game I was in. Lastly, this little girl that kept following me around and asking me what I was doing, and let me know how bad my dice rolling was in a game of Descent I was playing.

Thanks kid.