Monday Moodsetter 78

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Monday Moodsetter 77

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Vampire Spawn (Undead)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter


Vampire spawn are hideous undead creatures, created by vampire lords and ladies. Vampire spawn remain under the control of their vampire lord or lady until they are released and become full vampires in their own right. Vampire spawn are often sent on missions by their vampire masters.

Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: Bite (1d6)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Regeneration; Slow; Zombie Control
Move: 12/18 (Flying)
Challenge Level/XP: 6/400

Lesser vampire spawn are created by vampires to be servants until such time that they become full vampires. Despite the fact that lesser vampire spawn are weaker than their greater vampire spawn kin in many respects, they are not harmed by running water and sunlight. However, they are repelled by garlic and are turned by clerics as if they were shadows.

COMBAT: Lesser vampire spawn are not subject to fear and their behavior in combat is determined by their vampire masters.

REGENERATION: Lesser vampire spawn regenerate at 1 point per round. When the lesser vampire spawn reaches zero hit points or below, it is no longer able to regenerate.

SLOW: When a lesser vampire spawn successfully bites an opponent or victim, the opponent must make a saving thrown. If the saving throw is failed, the opponent is slowed. The opponent then moves and attacks at half speed for 2d4 rounds.

ZOMBIE CONTROL: A lesser vampire spawn can control up to 4 zombies at a time.

Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: Bite (1d8)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: Regeneration; Level Drain; Zombie Creation & Control
Move: 12/18 (Flying)
Challenge Level/XP: 8/800

Greater vampire spawn are created by vampires to be servants until such time that they become full vampires. Greater vampire spawn turn into a gaseous form and return to their vampire master. Greater vampire spawn can only be killed in the same manner as a vampire: By sunlight, by running water, or by a wooden stake driven into its heart. They are repelled by garlic and are turned by clerics as if they were wraiths.

COMBAT: Greater vampire spawn are not subject to fear and their behavior in combat is determined by their vampire masters.

REGENERATION: Greater vampire spawn regenerate at 2 points per round. When the greater vampire spawn reaches zero hit points or below, it is no longer able to regenerate. It becomes gaseous and returns to its master, where it regains its body after a time of rest.

LEVEL DRAIN: When a great vampire spawn successfully bites an opponent, the opponent must make a saving throw. If the saving throw is failed, the bitten opponent loses one experience level.

ZOMBIE CREATION & CONTROL: An opponent that dies by the bite of a greater vampire spawn becomes a zombie under the control of the greater vampire spawn, one round after death. A greater vampire spawn can control up to 10 zombies at a time.


Gaming Prep But No Blogging

I am working on a small sandbox setting for an occasional Pits & Perils game with my wife. I had posted about it a few weeks ago, but do not have much new to add. My wife reads my blog and I do not want to be posting spoilers since we are doing a mystery-based campaign.


Monday Moodsetter 76

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Monday Moodsetter 75

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Spammed--Word Verification Becomes a Necessity

So after watching my blog get spammed in the Comment section (I lost count at 15 today), I had to turn on the Word Verification. Bummer.


Mail Call

It seems like ages since I have purchased gaming stuff. I did get the 3 core rule books to D&D 5e, but nothing since then. My hard copy of Pits & Perils arrived on Wednesday, just in time for me to run a Pits & Perils game on Wednesday night. I actually didn't the rules for last Wednesday's session, but I will need them now. Having participated now in 4 sessions of Pits & Perils (3 as a player, one as a referee), I can say that I love the game. It is also working very well for our round robin GMing pilot program.

Hard on the heels of this purchase, I will be ordering a print version of Bloody Basic. I think I have settled on Bloody Basic as my rule set for my next Montporte Dungeon campaign.


Pits & Perils Session 4: Murder at Crossing Church

We had Session 4 of our Pits & Perils Round Robin on Wednesday night (Sep 23, 2015), with me running the game as referee (my first session as ref in our round robin). +Tim Shorts posted an excellent summary, so no sense in being redundant.

I wanted to run a short mystery adventure. Mysteries can be tricky to run, particular when the focus of the rule set is combat and spells. I ran The Melford Murder several years ago, a Dragonsfoot adventure module written by Stuart Marshall that I used in a Castles & Crusades campaign. Not we have blast playing it, I also gained some valuable experience in running a mystery adventure. Playing The Esoterrorists, a GUMSHOE-based game, was also a huge help.

It is actually easier to run a mystery adventure with a simple non-mystery rule set, like Pits & Perils, than it is with a more complex game, like D&D 5e. The characters have few abilities to provide an unwanted shortcut, so the players are forced to strategize and discover solutions.

I will post more once we have finished with this part of our round robin. I can't really say much about how I am doing it without tipping my hand about the mystery itself.


Monday Moodsetter 74

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Pits & Perils Prep 2

I finished my overview map of the area. I haven't figured out the exact scale, but I am thinking that each hex is like a half of a mile. It is a small area. At first glance, it appears densely settled, but there is only one village, Twiggleton, with a population of about 150 (the solid circle). The other settlements on the map are very small agricultural hamlets of 10-40 people. Few people live outside of these settlements, as the area is surrounded by danger on all sides.

The road leading south from Darkness Bottom, the Ravensburg Pike, connects this area with the area that was the setting for our first three Pits & Perils sessions (run by +Chris C.).

Visual Tour
Here are some pictures that capture how I envision the area on the map (complimentary tour by Google):
Hill top ruins (ignore the fence, etc)
Imperial fortress ruins
The valley
A hamlet
Another hamlet
St. Amber Parish church at Crossing Church (ignore the modern stuff)


Pits & Perils Prep 1

I started preparation for running Pits & Perils with +Tim Shorts and +Chris C., now that it is my turn to run a few sessions. I decided that it would be too difficult to run a 3-4 session campaign with the Montporte Dungeon, so I am opting to create a small setting that I can also use if my wife and I decide to follow-through on our recent gaming discussion.

I have a rough draft of my map (above) but I will use a small area with Tim and Chris, so I will only detail a few areas. I also have my hooks ready...just need to add detail there as well.


Five for Friday 37: Another World War 2 Reading List

Not that long ago, my history reading was focused on WW2 memoirs. The latest batch of books, however, are more eclectic. Here is my latest WW2 reading, in alphabetical order:

  • Attack & Sink: The Battle for SC42 by Bernard Edwards: While it is not a memoir, this is one of those small, up close kind of books that I love. Edwards tells the story of SC42 (Slow Convoy), a large convoy of slow rickety ships traveling from North America to Great Britain. He also ably tells the story of the U-Boats hunting SC42.
  • The Battle of the Atlantic by Andrew Williams: A companion book to the History Channel's series of the same name. A short and simple summary of the Battle of the Atlantic, seasoned with some first person stories.
  • Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun by John Prados: A detailed book that provides lots of background, context, and strategic analysis. Prados balances this by artfully including plenty of first-person narrative that conveys the horror and heroism of the campaign.
  • Stalin's Folly: The Tragic First Ten Days of World War 2 on the Eastern Front by Constantine Pleshakov: An analysis of Stalin's failures in 1941 at the start of the war on the Eastern Front.
  • Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 by Barbara Tuchman: Tuchman is one of my favorite historians and this book, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is one of her best. Tuchman builds her history of Sino-American relations, particularly during the WW2 era, around Stilwell's biography. No one comes off looking heroic in the Chinese Theater. The U.S., China, Great Britain, and Japan all come off looking bad.

Additional World War 2 Book posts:
My Favorite World War 2 Books
My Latest World War 2 Reads
More World War 2 Books
Even More World War 2 Books
Yet More World War 2 Books
A Stack of World War 2 Books
World War 2 Memoirs


In-House Campaign: Anglo-Saxon England, Merrily Watkins, and Pits & Perils

Several years ago we had a Castles & Crusades campaign that involved my wife, my then-teen daughter (the family's most serious gamer), a friend, and the friend's two then-teen sons. It was a blast but came to end when the kids went off to college. Since then, my wife and I have occasionally talked about getting back to gaming as a couple. Nothing came of those conversations... we could not decide if it would just be the two of us or if we would invite others. We also were not sure what we want to play, although we had lots of ideas. One of those ideas was to base something on Anglo-Saxon England. We never did do anything with it. Until now.

Tonight, we were out for dinner and we talked again about gaming. We decided that Pits & Perils would be the ideal rule set for us. We both agreed that a setting based on Anglo-Saxon England would work well. The conversation drifted to other topics and my wife told me that one of her favorite authors, Phil Rickman, is going to have his Merrily Watkins novels made into a British television mini-series (actually, the series has been recorded already and will be released soon).

Phil Rickman describes Merrily Watkins in this way: Merrily Watkins has what is very much a night job. She’s Deliverance Consultant or Advisor on the Paranormal for the Diocese of Hereford. Or Exorcist, as it used to be known. It’s a real job; there’s at least one in every diocese in the UK. They work with psychiatrists, social workers… and also the police. Inevitably, in this series, this is the aspect of the job that predominates. The Merrily Watkins series is set in modern Great Britain and we wouldn't try to duplicate the setting or the characters, just the focus and style of play.

Our game would look something like this:
  • Rules: Pits & Perils, plus an infusion of GUMSHOE (maybe just a simple allocation of investigation points to used)
  • Inspiration From History: Anglo-Saxon England
  • Inspiration From Literature: Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins novels
  • Focal Points: Mystery, folklore, religion, and the supernatural


The OSR and My Horrifying Lack of Products

"The OSR is less about the rules and more about the products you use those rules with."--Tenkar's Tavern post, ENWorld Article - Is the OSR Dead?

Given the empty space on my single gaming shelf and my almost complete lack of use of purchased gaming products when I am GMing, it appears that I am somehow aberrant. Does this lack on my part exclude me from the OSR? If one takes Tenkar's ad hoc definition of the OSR to an illogical extreme, then yes. It is a good thing that stuff like this causes no loss of sleep on my part.

I am not going to quibble with Tenkar's definition because I think it is captures where the OSR is today. It is interesting that the focus of the self-identified OSR has shifted not-so-subtly from "process" to "product." It seems we have gone from rulings, not rules to products, not rules. Certainly there has been a desire from the beginning by many to create OGL-based rule sets that would, in turn, serve as platforms for other published products. 

I have good friends who are avid producers and consumers of gaming products. I am happy for them and excited to watch them benefit from their creativity and hard work. Technology has provided marketing and distribution solutions for both producers and consumers. Oddly enough, instead of jumping in myself, I find myself becoming almost Amish in my approach to gaming. No fancy cars or electricity for me.The more there is out there, the less I want it. I have purchased only those items (mainly rule sets) that I knew I would have to use for gaming sessions. But that has been it during this past year. No Kickstarters. No Patreon. No adventures or supplements. 

The funny thing is that I buy far too many books. I have thousands of them. Despite this, I am always buying more of them (mostly cheap used ones through Amazon). With music, I am both a consumer and a producer. I make money playing music but it just results in more musical instruments in our house. But when it comes to gaming, I just need my dice and a pencil. 


Khoshu'utohtl (Aberration)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Artist: Little Larry the Kobold
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 6 Eye Stalks (1d4 each)
Saving Throw: 5
Special: Modified Wizard Eye; Insanity
Move: 3
Challenge Level/XP: 11/1,700

The Khoshu'utohtl are aberrations from Ioucura, the plane of madness. The Khoshu'utohtl are of low intelligence. Like other aberrations from Ioucura, the Khoshu'utohtl possesses a demented logic and worldview that defies comprehensive by intelligent non-Ioucurans.

The Khoshu'utohtl have round bodies that are about 4' in diameter. They have six eye stalks that extend upward from their bodies. Their skin is mottled gray that slowly moves in swirling patterns.

COMBAT: The Khoshu'utohtl avoid combat when possible, for they are slow moving and vulnerable to physical attacks. When cornered or otherwise forced to defend themselves, the Khoshu'utohtl attack their opponents by bludgeoning their opponents with their eye stalks.

MODIFIED WIZARD EYE: Wizards have long prized having a Khoshu'utohtl in their possession for any intelligent humanoid creature can place both hands on the body of a Khoshu'utohtl and see through all six of the creature's eyes at once. More impressively, up to 4 eyes can be removed from the Khoshu'utohtl's eye stalks at one time and be place in locations up to one mile distant from the Khoshu'utohtl. An person placing both hands on the Khoshu'utohtl can see through these distant eyes. Khoshu'utohtl eyes can be placed in water or in the air, where it will remain floating at the level in which it was placed until retrieved.

INSANITY: Any creature using the modified wizard eye ability of the Khoshu'utohtl runs the risk of insanity. For every hour spent using the modified wizard eye ability, the user must make a saving throw. Each saving throw becomes more difficult. The first saving throw has a modifier of -1, the second a modifier of -2, and so on. When a creature fails to make this save, she or he can no longer detach themselves from the Khoshu'utohtl due to an obsession with the Khoshu'utohtl. They cannot be pulled away by others. Only a Remove Curse will separate the insane creature from the Khoshu'utohtl. The insanity, however, remains and must be cured by a Cure Disease spell.


Unicorn Tortoise--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Armor Class: 1 [18]
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 Horn (1d6)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: Charge
Move: 16
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

Unicorn tortoises are magical creatures that make their homes in deep temperate forests, caves, and the upper levels of abandoned ruins. They are about 2' tall, 3 1/2' long and weigh 180-300 pounds. They are gray in color with two narrow purple strips down the top of the shell.

Unicorn tortoises graze upon all manner of plants and fungi. They are prized as a source of food and their shell has many uses. Unicorn tortoises are surprisingly challenging prey as their magical nature gives them an unnaturally high movement rate.

COMBAT: Unicorn tortoises are not aggressive, preferring to use their speed to escape predators. If cornered or otherwise forced to defend itself, they will seek to charge their opponents where possible, using their speed and mass. While of animal intelligence, they attempt to fight as a herd, by singling out opponents for mass attacks.

CHARGE: Unicorn tortoises can charge, where time and space allow, gaining a +2 bonus to attack and damage, due to their magically-enhanced speed and agility. A bipedal opponent weighing the same or less than than the unicorn tortoise, must make a successful saving throw when struck by a charge or else they will be knocked down.

Note: This creature was originally created by James Raggi's Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and their Modern Simulacra, although it has gone through several iterations since.


Session 2: A Weekend at Fenric's (Pits & Perils)

In Our Previous Session (Session 1)
The summary of our first session of Pits & Perils:
  • We entered the little hamlet of Inwood. Our group consists of two player characters, Chevor (fighter) and Phrandohr (magician). We also have four henchpeople with us: William, Juliet, Elizabeth, and Hogarth.
  • We discovered several things: (a) a young woman named Rose was missing; (b) a young troublemaker named Fenric, Rose's suitor, had also disappeared and was the prime suspect in Rose's disappearance; (c) the well in Inwood had gone bad; (d) Fenric's mother offered to pay us 10 gold pieces to find Fenric.
  • We talked with some villagers, which gave us the lay of the land. In addition to Rose, Fenric, and the well, the village was troubled by a pack of wolves of the area.
  • Fenric's mother told us that Fenric might be hiding out in a nearby abandoned abbey so that is where we went. Underneath the ruins we found a small complex of tunnels and ruins. As we explored, we discovered a trail of blood that led us to a dead human and a dead wolf. Based on the evidence, we decided the dead guy was Fenric.
In Tonight's Session (Session 2)
Session 2 went like this:
  • We continued to explore the underground tunnels beneath the abbey. We were attacked by a wolf, which after many whiffs, a few of us finally connected with our weapons and felled the animal.
  • We explored the rest of the complex and found one more dead wolf surrounded by rats. We left this wolf corpse alone, but removed the heads from other two. The bounty on a wolf? 5 gold pieces for each head. 10 gold pieces would give us one more night at the inn (we are that broke).
  • We returned to Inwood with the corpse that we believed to be Fenric. Sadly, his mother confirmed this for us. We returned her down payment of a finders' fee of 5 gold pieces.
  • We discovered that the mysterious problem with the well had been solved. There was a small amulet fashioned in the form of a wolf's head found in the well. Phrandohr (me) examined the item and determined to be cursed and representing the wolf demon, Lycaon. Some townsfolk had seen Fenric with a similar item. However, a stranger traveling from Ravenswood was also seen with a like item right around the time the well went bad.
  • We decided that we needed to find the wolves' lair in order to find Rose and get to bottom of the problems plaguing Inwood. Session 2 ended with us approaching the lair.
Impressions of Pits & Perils
I am really liking this very simple rule set. It offers a different take on an early D&D style game, using 1d2 and 2d6 for resolving actions. First level characters are more powerful than their early D&D equivalents, but the Pits & Perils' power curve is not as steep. Characters grow in might as they gain levels, but to a much lesser degree than D&D


Undead Earth Elemental (Undead, Elemental)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 2 Slams (2d6 each)
Saving Throw: 5
Special: Level Drain (1 level); Move Through Stone & Earth
Move: 5
Challenge Level/XP: 12/2,000

Undead earth elementals whose life energy has been replaced by negative energy, so that they are a combination of pure elemental earth plus negative energy (see On the Elements and On the Energies).

Undead earth elementals resemble their non-undead relatives, but are looser in form, being made up of gravel, sand, and silt.

COMBAT: Undead earth elementals are unintelligent and will attack any living creature within 30'. It will continue to attack until it is destroyed, its opponents are destroyed, or its opponents retreat 100' in distance from the undead earth elemental.

LEVEL DRAIN: When an undead earth elemental strikes its opponent, it drains one level from its victim. The victim does get a saving throw and a successful save indicates no level drain. The attempted level drain is limited to once per round, so even if an undead earth elemental successfully strikes an opponent twice, only one level drain attempt is made.

MOVE THROUGH STONE & EARTH: An undead earth elemental may pass through solid stone or earth at the rate of 1. The undead earth elemental may not attack when it is fully or partially passing through stone or earth.


Monday Moodsetter 73

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


First Session: Pits & Perils

We played our first session of Pits & Perils, run by +Chris C. (The Clash of Spear on Shield). My character, Phrandohr, is a magician. Most of our session was spend exploring the local, which included a small village. We concluded the session by exploring underneath the ruins of a monastery.

I am intrigued by the Pits & Perils rules. It feels like my earliest days of D&D (Holmes) but it is not a d20 system. Character generation was a snap as I only rolled dice twice. The first roll was to determine which attribute of the six attributes my character has (you only get one of the six attributes). It turns out that I have constitution, which gives me a bonus on poison and disease saves.

The second roll was for my starting treasure. I rolled a "1," which gave me 10 gold pieces to start. Fortunately, I did not need armor and I my weapons were inexpensive. My three spells are bolt, heal, and know.

We did not have the opportunity to test the resolution rules but I am sure we will in short order, as we are following a trail of blood. I certainly like what I have experienced so far.


Concluding Episode: The Esoterrorists

The Prize in the Mail for Saving the Universe
So, first of all, I get a prize in the mail from +Tim Shorts after +Chris C. and I save the universe in our Esoterrorists' campaign, run by Tim. How cool is that? Thanks, Tim! Much of the campaign was centered on several Ouija Boards carved in the floor of the Beckett house.

Secondly, I have to say that Tim deserved the title master in Game Master. We were on our toes and off balance the whole campaign. Tim does a great job of putting you on "the clock," so you have to be quick with your strategy and tactics. No time for hand-wringing or babbling. In the end, you have to make your decisions based on imperfect knowledge. The longer you poke around looking for information, the more the situation deteriorates.

Thirdly, I thought the GUMSHOE system was a blast. It supports a very fast and intuitive style of play, with the focus on clues, evidence, and interactions with NPCs and locations. Not having played it before, I found that it worked best if (a) I didn't challenge the game system and just went with it; and (b) I focused on telling Tim what I wanted to do to letting him figure out the resolution. I did not find that to be a struggle, but I think others might find it a bit difficult to wrap their minds around it if they are coming from a system that has a lot of rules governing tactical options and actions. It is much better to think of The Esoterrorists as a strategy game, not a tactics game.

Finally, the goal is to stop whatever evil is plaguing our little corner of the world. It is less about character building and advancement. By time we started the last session, my character was completely mentally unstable, almost dead physically, and had few other skill resources left. I had to make decisions throughout the last session, not knowing what was real and what was simply a product of my fried brain. The two player characters ended up getting separated temporarily, or so it seemed to my unstable mind.  It was trippy, frantic, and fun. In the end, we barely managed to complete our mission, but it was at a high personal cost. My character was alive but a mere shadow of his former self. 


Monday Moodsetter 72

Pat Presley
RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Dungeon Rules: Four Classes

In thinking of streamlined rules to support dungeon play and exploration, I have one last approach. This approach falls into the "race as class" category. If I used it, I would either bolt it onto Swords & Wizardry Core or Blood & Treasure. The four classes:

Human Fighter
  • HD: d8
  • Armor: All
  • Weapons: All
  • Skills: A small selection of thief/rogue skills (optional)
  • Other: Feats (Optional); Additional attacks per round at higher levels (optional)

Human Mage
  • HD: d4
  • Armor: None (or light non-metal, optional)
  • Weapons: Typical magic-user/wizard
  • Skills (Optional): ???
  • Other: Spells (maybe include a few lower-level cleric spells, such as Cure Light Wounds)

  • HD: d8+1
  • Armor: All
  • Weapons: All
  • Skills: The usual dwarf stuff. Maybe Find/Femove Traps and Open Locks.
  • Other: Extra damage with a battleaxe (optional)

  • HD: d6
  • Armor: Light
  • Weapons: Wide selection
  • Skills: Some thief/rogue (Move Silently and Hide In Shadows, optional); Tracking (optional); Short/low bow specialization (optional)
  • Other: Spells (as per Druid or Ranger, or combination)


Glyff (Fey)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: Dagger (1d4)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Sleep; Spells; Teleport; Spell Resistance
Move: 11
Challenge Level/XP: 5/240

Glyff are fey creatures that stand about 3' tall. From the waist up, they have a human appearance, only smaller. The lower half of their body is canine, with short white fur and black spots, similar to a miniaturized dalmatian. Glyff are nominally members of the Summer Court of the fey, but by treaty and decree of both Summer and Winter Courts, they are considered neutral. Glyff are the keepers of the Seelie Accords. In this capacity, they serve as the official keepers and interpreters of all documents, decrees, contracts and actions related to the Seelie Accords. Older and more accomplished glyff attend to their duties the archives and Courts of the fey on the plane of Umírající (the home plane of the fey). Younger fey often accompany fey traders, travelers and diplomats to serve as mobile counselors and jurists in matters dealing with the Seelie Accords.

Unlike most fey, glyff are silent and sober creatures. They typically remain silent and inactive except in matters pertaining directly to their work. While each glyff has an individual name, their names are known only to themselves and other glyffs (and possibly the highest-ranking members of the Summer and Winter Courts). To the non-glyff, they are simply called "glyff."

COMBAT: Glyff avoid combat, unless it is absolutely necessary to defend themselves. Where possible, they will seek to use their magical abilities to escape rather than harm another creature.

SLEEP: When a glyff successfully strikes its opponent with a dagger, that opponent must successfully make a saving throw or fall asleep for 2d6 rounds (this does not affect most undead).

SPELLS: A glyff may use the following magic-user spells:

  • First Level: Detect Magic (at will); Hold Portal (1 time/day); Light (at will); Read Languages (at will); Read Magic (3 times/day); Shield (1 time/day).
  • Second Level: Invisibility (2 times/day); Mirror Image (1 time/day)

TELEPORT: A glyff may teleport one time per day to its own home, but only when threatened with serious danger or death.

SPELL RESISTANCE: A glyff gains +2 to its saving throw against magic spells, wands, and rods (and similar spell-like items).


Monday Moodsetter 71

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Blue Cave Ant--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Blue cave ants live in colonies that make their homes in large stone caverns. They are able to slowly carve a large underground nest out of the hardest stone. Blue cave ants live in large colonies, led by one or more queen ants. There are four types of blue cave ants living in the colony: (1) Workers--75% of colony; (2) Soldiers--15% of colony; (3) Drones--10% of colony; (4) Queens--1-4 individuals.

Worker Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: Bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 17
Special: Electrical Shock
Move: 10
Challenge Level/XP: 1/15

Worker blue cave ants are 4' long and 1' tall. They typically are involved in scavenging activities outside of the nest or, when inside the nest, building onto the nest or caring for ant eggs and larvae. Their exoskeletons are cobalt blue.

COMBAT: Worker blue cave ants will not attack anything that is over half as big as itself, unless it is acting in self-defense. Self-defense includes attacks on itself, other nearby ants, or an attack on the nest. In combat, worker blue cave ants will attack the opponent nearest to itself and will fight until it or its opponent is killed.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK: When an opponent successfully strikes the worker blue cave ant in melee with itself (touch, strike, bite, etc) or a metal-containing weapon, the blue cave ant sends a powerful electrical shock to its opponent. This electrical shock does 1d4 in damage.

Soldier Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 2 Bites (1d8 each)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Electrical Shock
Move: 15
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120

Soldier blue cave ants are 6' long and 3' tall. They usually guard strategic points inside the nest, such as cave entrances, junctions, stored, food, and the colony queen(s). Soldier blue cave ants also accompany workers when they are exploring new territory or transporting particularly large quantities of food. Their exoskeletons are midnight blue.

COMBAT: Soldier blue cave ants are aggressive and quick in combat, gaining two bite attacks due to their agility. They will attack anything that is perceived as a threat, basically any other living creature that comes within 30' of itself or its fellow colonists. They fight unto the death.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK: When an opponent successfully strikes the soldier blue cave ant in melee with itself (touch, strike, bite, etc) or a metal-containing weapon, the blue cave ant sends a powerful electrical shock to its opponent. This electrical shock does 1d4 in damage.

Drone Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: Bite (2d4)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: None
Move: 8
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

Drone blue cave ants are 4' long and 1' tall. They are the fertile males of the colony and are rarely found outside of the nest. When they are not tending to the queen(s) of the colony, they guard the eggs and larvae. Their exoskeletons are sky blue.

COMBAT: Drone blue cave ants will not attack unless defending themselves or the colony. They are slow moving, but have heavily armored shells and large, strong mandibles, which they use for bite attacks.

Queen Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 12
Attacks: Bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Lightning Bolt; Electrical Shock
Move: 3
Challenge Level/XP: 13/2,300

Queen blue cave ants are 15' long and 5' tall. They are typically found in the center of the colony's nest, being well defended by soldiers, workers and drones. The head and thorax of a queen looks similar to a worker blue cave ant, being cobalt blue in color. The abdomen however, looks like the body of a giant, bloated larvae and is about 12' long. It is very light blue in color, almost white, and pulsates with the continue production of eggs for the colony.

COMBAT: A queen ant will aggressively defend itself and its nest. Its melee combat ability is limited because of its physique.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK: When an opponent successfully strikes the queen blue cave ant in melee with itself (touch, strike, bite, etc) or a metal-containing weapon, the queen cave ant sends a powerful electrical shock to its opponent. This electrical shock does 2d6 in damage.

LIGHTNING BOLT: A queen blue cave ant is able to shoot a lightning bolt from the mid-section of its abdomen once per round at one opponent. This lightning bolt has a range of 30'. The lightning bold does 4d6 of damage. The victim is allowed a saving throw and suffers half damage is the saving throw is successful.


Dungeon Rules: d20 Generic Classes + Blood & Treasure

I am indebted to +Rob Conley for pointing out the Generic Classes on the d20 SRD. This could easily be bolted onto Blood & Treasure, a rule set I particularly like and one that most in our gaming group have played (and own). This approach, I think, would work particularly well in a megadungeon-centered campaign.

All player characters would be human and there would only be three classes: Adventurer, Mage, and Warrior. If I used Blood & Treasure, I would beef it up with some additional skills and feats, borrowed from other classes within Blood & Treasure or from the d20 SRD. Here is a basic outline of what the classes would look like:


  • Hit Dice: d6
  • Armor: Light armor + shield
  • Weapons: As per thief (B&T)
  • Skills: 10 (d20 SRD calls for 12*)
  • Feats: One feat to start plus one additional per every three levels


  • Hit Dice: d4
  • Armor: No armor (or light, nonmetallic armor)
  • Weapons: As per wizard (B&T)
  • Skills: 4
  • Feats: One to start plus one additional per every five levels
  • Other: Spells (here I would allow almost any B&T spell**)


  • Hit Dice: d8 (d20 SRD calls for d10)
  • Armor: Any + Shield (d20 SRD calls for Light and Medium armor)
  • Weapons: Any
  • Skills: 6
  • Feats: One to start plus an additional one every second level
  • Other: Additional attacks per round at higher levels

*12 skills would require a fairly lengthy list of meaningful skills.
**I would allow the mage to construct a spell book from any spell, but I would probably eliminate some spells, such as Resurrection and a some other cleric spells. Some of the lower level healing spells would remain.


Monday Moodsetter 70

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Five For Friday 36: Five Off-The-Beaten-Track Inspirational Books for Table-Top RPG Gamers (Appendix N)

If nothing else, I think I set a new personal best with the length of this post title. Here is an eclectic collection of books that were great reading and, for the purposes of this blog, surprisingly inspirational for gaming. Presented in alphabetical order:

  • Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky. This book is perfectly described by its title. It is an atlas of fifty of the world's most remote islands.
  • The Book of Legendary Lands by Umberto Eco. Italian scholar and novelist (The Name of the Rose) Umberto Eco's fascinating description of the legendary lands that we humans have come up throughout the course of our history. Eco's writing is, as usual, amazing and the illustrations are worth the price of the book.
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This novel is set in the city of New York at the very end of the nineteenth century and tells of the unlikely friendship between a golem and a jinni, both of whom find themselves lost and friendless in a foreign land. Just a really great read.
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This book has a lot going on, more than I can even attempt to capture in a brief description. Just two things: (1) I absolutely loved this book and (2) there is a house that grows a megadungeon at the heart of the story. Oh, and it is really creepy.
  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Calling this book a novel might be a  bit of a stretch. A fictional dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, with Marco Polo describing fictional cities of Kublai Khan's empire, each city more fantastical than the one before it.
Related Post


Dungeon Rules: Holmes Dungeons & Dragons + GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

I am a big fan of GURPS DF. I also have very special place in my heart for the Holmes D&D Boxed Set. My original experience with D&D back in 1977 was with the first printing* of the Holmes boxed set. My little thought experiment today is mashing these two together, using the race and class configuration of Holmes D&D to create the list of GURPS DF templates.

My boxed set of Holmes D&D goodness did not contain an adventure module. Instead, it came with dungeon geomorphs and monster/treasure lists. The two lasting effects of this were: (1) Each person in my original group created a dungeon to use when it was their turn to DM...my first year of D&D was homemade megadungeon only; and (2) We never used adventure modules (it is only in the last 10 years that I have even owned an adventure module).

GURPS Templates
Here is what I think a Holmes-inspired GURPS D&D game would look like in terms of templates:

  • Dwarf Templates: Dwarf Cleric, Dwarf Fighter, Dwarf Fighter/Cleric.
  • Elf Templates: Elf Fighter, Elf Fighter/Magic-User, Elf Magic-User.
  • Halfling Templates: Halfling Fighter, Halfling Fighter/Thief, Halfling Thief.
  • Human Templates: Human Cleric, Human Fighter, Human Magic-User, Human Thief.

If my math is correct, that is 13 different templates, which I think still gives players a fair amount of choice. The beauty of GURPS DF is that the template for an Elf Fighter can be very different from a Dwarf Fighter.

A key part of GURPS is determining the starting points players receive to create their characters:

  • 250 Points: This is the default number of points for character creation in GURPS DF. There are some good reasons for it as 250 points provides more options in character building and more tactical options in play. Characters are tough but still vulnerable.
  • 200 Points: Characters are still hardy but would have fewer options and more vulnerability.
  • 150 Points: This would more closely mimic the experience of low level Holmes D&D but GURPS doesn't have the same kind of power curve, meaning more experienced GURPS characters are left in the dust by their D&D counterparts. The dual class character templates could be particularly anemic at 150 points.

Eric Smith has some additional thoughts on what GURPS DF character templates could look like at different point levels.

Right now, my schedule is not allowing me to do much gaming. Weekend evenings are filled with music performances and weekday nights are spent on other things. It is fun, however, to do some thought experiments and blogging as a substitute.

*I wish I still had my copy of the Holmes rule book as it was the first printing. "Hobbits" were one of the four races and this was later changed to "Halflings" in later printings.

Related Posts
Comparing GURPS and D&D on Dungeon Design
Systems Matter: Exploration, Encounters and Intent in the Megadungeon


Dragon--Montporte Campaign Critter

Armor Class: -9 [28]
Hit Dice: 24 (12HD + 72HP)
Attacks: Bite (3d8+16hp); 2 Claws (2d8+8hp each); Tail (4d12+24hp); 2 Wings (2d6+6hp each)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Breath; Bite; Regeneration; Fire Resistance; Magic Resistance (60%); Immune to non-magical weapons; Spells
Move: 18/36 (Flying)
Challenge Level/XP: 35/9,200

Dragons are among the most powerful of all creatures in the five planes . Each dragon is said to have the power of 10 wizards and can breathe fire enough to melt the very roots of the mountains. Fortunately, they are rarely encountered on the plane of Aarde (the plane of Montporte), as they make their home on the remote and mysterious plane of Zaj. It is believed that dragons spend 90% or more of their time sleeping.

Dragons are not cruel and do not delight in the suffering of other creatures. Yet, at the same time, they have very little regard for anyone other than themselves. When they are awake, they care only for gathering knowledge and treasure. Dragons are known to visit Aarde on rare occasion in gather updates on the history and happenings of Aarde. They particularly delight in oddities and esoteric facts. Dragons have an unquenchable thirst to study and know every aspect of the universe. There are few creatures or beings in all the planes that can rival a dragon for intellect and knowledge.

Dragons also visit Aarde in search of treasure. Dragons are notorious hoarders and will travel to Aarde to gather large piles of precious metals and gems to haul back to their abodes on the plane of Zaj. Their stay on the plane of Aarde can last several centuries. More than one dragon has been found sleeping on top of a heap of treasure in a remote cave, mountain crevice, or glacial crevasse. Dragons will often nap in such places for centuries before traveling back to their home plane.

COMBAT: For mortals on the plane of Aarde, it is a good thing that dragons prefer to trick or intimidate their opponents rather than fight them in combat, as dragons are terrifying combat opponents. Dragons get up to six attacks per round (1 bite, 2 claws, 2 wings, 1 tail). Their wing attacks are limited to one wing per each side of the dragon. A dragon can use both wings to attack opponents immediately in front of it. Dragons have long and limber necks and tails and each of these can attack opponents in the front, rear or flank of the dragon.

In the rounds when a dragon uses its breath weapon, it is cannot use its other attacks or spells except for its tail attack.

BREATH: Few creatures wield as powerful a weapon as does a dragon when it breathes its cone of flame. The cone of flame is 90’ long and 30’ wide at its base. It does 12d6+36hp of damage to all caught within the conflagration. All caught within the fiery breath must make a saving throw. A successful saving throw indicates that half damage is taken.

A dragon must take one round to prepare its breath, which causes its throat and chest to glow bright red-orange. The dragon then can attack the next round with its breath. If the dragon does not use its breath weapon within two rounds of the preparation round, it must prepare its breath once more. There is no limit to the number of times a dragon can use its breath weapon but it can only use it once every three rounds. As noted above, a dragon can use its tail attack in the rounds when it uses its breath weapon.

BITE: In addition to doing significant damage, the bite of the dragon can drain knowledge. On a successful bite attack, the victim must make a successful saving throw or lose 1 point of intelligence. Lost intelligence can only be regained through magical means, such as a Restoration spell.

REGENERATION: A dragon regenerates 1d8+8 points per round until it is fully healed. Unlike trolls, dragons are not able to regenerate once they have been slain.

FIRE RESISTANCE: Dragons are immune to normal fire. They have +2 on saving throws against fire attacks, suffering no damage if they make their saving throw and half damage if they fail. Dragons suffer half damage from fire based attacks that do not permit saving throws.

MAGIC RESISTANCE: A dragon is 60% resistant to any form of magical attack used it against. A magic resistance roll uses a 1d100 and a score of 60 or below, indicates that the magic used against the dragon has failed. Even if the dragon’s magic resistance fails on a particular spell (on a roll of 61 or above), the dragon still can use a saving throw, if one is permitted by the spell.

NON-MAGICAL WEAPON IMMUNITY: Dragons are immune to attacks from all non-magical weapons.

SPELLS: Dragons are actually not as powerful as 10 wizards, but they are able to cast a variety of spells. A dragon cannot cast a spell during a round in which it is using its breath weapon. Dragons have access to the following magic-user spells and can cast one spell per round:

  • Level 1: Charm Person (1/day); Detect Magic (at will); Light (at will); Magic Missile (2/day, 6 missiles per spell); Read Languages (at will); Read Magic (at will); Sleep (1/day)
  • Level 2: Darkness 15-foot Radius (3/day); Detect Invisibility (at will); Invisibility (2/day); Levitate (2/day); Magic Mouth (1/day); Pyrotechnics (2/day).
  • Level 3: Clairaudience (1/day); Clairvoyance (1/day); Dispel Magic (2/day); Hold Person (1/day); Suggestion (1/day); Water Breathing (1/day).  
  • Level 4: Confusion (1/day); Fear (1/day); Polymorph Self (2/day); Remove Curse (1/day).
  • Level 5: Feeblemind (1/day); Telekinesis (1/day); Teleport (1/day, no chance of failure).

Related Posts
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Planes


Monday Moodsetter 69

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Montporte Dungeon Mysteries: Vardray's Discontinuity and the Deep Dark

Deep under the earth lies the Vardray Discontinuity. It was discovered in ancient times by the sage and wizard, Vardray. His writings have been lost to us, but Pliny the Alder, the great elven scholar and encyclopedist, has preserved excerpts of Vardray's work in his Gazetteer of Arcane Geography. Pliny lived in late antiquity and some of his works have not been passed down to us. Fortunately, we do have a number of reliable and complete copies of his Gazetteer of Arcane Geography.

Pliny on the Vardray Discontinuity
In his Gazetteer of Arcane Geography, Pliny records the following with regards to the Vardray Discontinuity.

The mighty elven wizard Vardray is the first to describe what is now known to sages and scholars as the Vardray Discontinuity. How Vardray discovered the discontinuity is shrouded in mystery, but many stories come to us of Vardray’s unique and creative laboratory spells and his renown courage as an explorer. 

Vardray, in his Observations from the Field: Volume 2, writes:
And it came to pass that I learned of an odd and major arcane feature in the eastern mountains. The dwarves, in the Elder Days, named these mountains, Dragonfang. I have found that there is a very narrow zone that separates an upper region of the earth’s volume from the deeper region below this narrow zone of separation. 
Above this separation zone [now known as the Vardray Discontinuity—Pliny], the rock and soil contain very little magic. This is the earth—the rock, stones and soil—that we see around us every day. I call this the Mundane Zone. However, below this zone of separation lies a region permeated by magic and wonder. I call this the Deep Zone. 
This Deep Zone is permeated by a magical energy such that certain kinds of plants are able to draw sustenance from it much like our trees, grasses, vines and crops draw life from the sun. In turn, these plants support a wide variety of other creatures. Indeed, I have learned of races living in the Deep Zone and raise crops of Deep Zone plants for food and trade. Stories of these societies can be found among the dwarves. 
The material of our universe is somehow altered in this Deep Zone so that has the most amazing and wondrous properties. I have discovered some of these properties during my investigations. Firstly, in the Deep Zone, the material of our universe is stretched thin, for lack of the better term. There are places where powerful creatures find it easy to pass from their home plane to our plane of Aarde and back again. This, of course, makes the Deep Zone both interesting and dangerous.
The Deep Zone also features areas where the laws of geometry do not match the geometry of our surface world. For example, there are many areas where careful mapping would tell a Deep Zone traveler that their destination is 2 days distant, when in fact, the destination is 5 days distant. Goblin traders from the Deep Zone have told me that special maps are required to navigate between locations in the Deep Zone. The goblins, keeping these maps to themselves, have become masters of Deep Zone trade. 
The goblins have also told me of cities and lands that lie outside of our dimension, yet have access or a portal via the Deep Zone. These cities and lands are part of our plane, the plane of Aarde, yet they are not. The goblins’ descriptions of these lands are beyond belief, but I would not be surprised if they contain much truth. 
Much to the delight of dwarves, great riches can be mined in the Deep Zone below the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. Dwarven history is filled with the establishment of mines and cities in and above the Deep Zone in the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. The stories of these settlements have the same sad plot, the discovery and extraction of obscene amounts of metals and gems of all sorts followed by horrible and complete disaster from below. As I noted above, the Deep Zone is a dangerous place. 
In terms of geography, the Deep Zone lies closest to the surface in areas of the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. The narrow zone that separates the Deep Zone from the Mundane Zone plunges deeper into the earth as one moves west away from the mountains towards more civilized lands. In fact, I was unable to determine any evidence that the Deep Zone exists beneath our own settled lands to the west. On the other hand, my preliminary work in the laboratory and field indicates that the Deep Zone does exist beneath the wild land to the east of the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. The Deep Zone lies deeper below the surface of the wild land than it does in the eastern mountains [Dragonfang] but it is clearly there below the surface. I believe that the existence of the Deep Zone beneath the wild land might be the reason the wild land is so wild.
I, Pliny, have in my own humble travels come across interesting settlements and history in the Dragonfang. For example, there is a settlement of humans who have dedicated themselves to understanding the fundamental fabric of the universe by studying the elements and energies. I believe that they have found this easier by living in close proximity to the Deep Zone. There are also dark and ancient tales of kobolds abiding in the Deep Zone and master the magic of the elements and energies for malevolent purposes. Fortunately for us today, kobolds have lost both the knowledge and interest in such dangerous magic. I have written more about this in other writings.

Related Posts
The World of Montporte
The Montporte Region: History and Geography
The Deep Dark: That Which Lies Beneath the Montporte Dungeon
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Planes
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Elements
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Energies
Goblins (Fey)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter
Peoples, Tribes, and Gangs in the Montporte Dungeon
Little Larry the Kobold (an NPC's story)

Related Maps
The town of Montporte and surrounding area
The Montporte region


Dungeon Rules: Super Simplified S&W

After running 46 sessions of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign with three different rule sets (in succession, not concurrently!), I am thinking of how or what I would differently in terms of rules. Just as an FYI, the three rule sets were: AD&D 1e, Blood & Treasure, and D&D 5e.

Anyway, this is just a little thought experiment on rules and their impact on play, particularly in a dungeon environment. In this post, I want to write out something that I have thought about for a bit: What if the dungeon (in this case, a megadungeon) was a unique feature in an otherwise mundane and non-fantasy medieval world?

Start with the Sword & Wizardry Core Rules. Allow the players only two character choices: (1) Human Fighters and (2) Human Thieves. In this world--at least on the surface--there is no magic. And there are no elves, giants, or dragons. Just a mundane, medieval world. However, the dungeon and its connection to the mythic Deep Dark fills in the blanks with weird and magical creatures, plus magic items that are not part of the surface world's experience.

There are several objectives in running such a narrow, stripped down version of an already rules-light system:
  • Focus play on exploration, rather than tactical combat.
  • Focus the players to find different and creative solutions to challenges poised by having such limited options.
  • Highlight the sense of danger and weirdness with regards to the dungeon.
  • Magic items become highly prized.

There are lots of challenges to running this sort of stripped down dungeon campaign:
  • YIKES! No healing spells! Part of this could be offset by adding some first aid skills, dropping in healing potions, pools, etc, and/or allowing some sort of slow recovery of hit points.
  • Not much character class choice. 
  • Lack of magic reduces the party's tactical options and abilities.
  • It could just really suck and be boring.

Variations and Options
I have thought of some variations and options:
  • Just have one class--Fighters. Perhaps players could add one or two thief skills of their choice to their characters.
  • Allow all 3 (or 4) character classes from S&W Core: Cleric, Fighter, and Magic-User (and Thief). Just restrict the race to human.
  • Bump up the technology so that player characters have access to early gunpowder weapons.

The tendency with RPGs and gamers is to push for more options and choices in character builds, classes, powers, spells, skills, and abilities. What does a game look like, feel like and play like when the rules go in the opposite direction and provide only very limited options? Does it make it less interesting or more interesting in terms of challenges in play?

Response Posts By Others [Later Edit]
Streamlined Gaming (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Low Magic With Swords and Wizardry (Bat in the Attic)
Minimalistic Gaming (Gothridge Manor)
Weirder Fantasy (Tales of the Rambling Bumblers)
Megadungeons with Streamlined Rules (Circle of Dar Janix)


Monday Moodsetter 68

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


D&D 5e: My Ambivalence

Having played D&D 5e both as a player and dungeon master, I have developed an ambivalent opinion of the game. On the one hand, of the 5 major editions of D&D/AD&D, I believe 5e is the best designed and presented official version of D&D. While it is not a simple game, much of the game has been streamlined and the complexity that remains is both well-designed and, for players, digestible in small bites. This being said, I found it not fun.

I did not enjoy dungeon mastering D&D 5e. There were a number of factors involved:
  • I personally did not enjoy the extra time it took with the rules out of game to plan encounters, etc. That's just me. I would rather have spent my time on more creative aspects of the DMing. I am sure that with time, this aspect of the DM experience would have changed for the better.
  • Dungeon combat became both more complicated and less interesting with 5e. I quickly noticed that there was a blandness to encounters as every PC was able to take some sort of action almost every turn. Often, it didn't seem to matter what specific type of attack was used by the PCs. Each option seemed to have about the same chance of success/failure and did about the same amount of damage, whether melee, missile or spell attack. Lots of options every round for players but the effects of those options felt very generic from the DM perspective.
As a player, I simply did not enjoy playing it. As Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson note in a presentation to International Game Developers Association, player feedback during playtesting indicated that players wanted fewer options and less complexity during combat but they wanted more complexity in the game outside of combat encounters (see the video below at about the 50 minute mark). The result is that D&D 5e offers streamlined combat (compared to 3e and 4e), but it offers the players plenty of character build options with every class at every level. I am not much into out-of-game character building, so this does not appeal to me. However, I can see where D&D 5e matches the sweet spot for lots of gamers.


Five for Friday 35: World War 2 Memoirs

Thanks to the influence of Max Hastings' Inferno, my WW2 reading has been sprinkled with more first-person narratives. Recently, I read these five books as a group (presented here in alphabetical order):

  • And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway Breaking the Secrets by Edwin T. Layton, Roger Pineau, and John Costello. Layton, a U.S. Naval intelligence officer stationed in Hawaii, provides a front row seat to much of the decision-making prior to and after the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. I found the narrative weighed down by Layton's apologetics with regards to the faultfinding and fingerpointing that occurred for decades after the Pearl Harbor attack. For those interested in that subject, on the other hand, this is a critically important source on that topic.
  • Going Solo by Roald Dahl. Author Roald Dahl's little memoir of his days as a British fighter pilot in the opening years of World War 2. A quick and entertaining read.
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front by Gottlob Herbert Bidermann. Starting the war as a private in the infantry, Biderman spent the entire war on Germany's Eastern Front. He was captured in 1945 and spent several years in Soviet labor camps until returning before returning home to Germany. 
  • Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II by George MacDonald Fraser. Fraser, author of the Flashman novels, writes about his time as a British infantryman in Burma. Funny and heartbreaking, it is considered by many to be a classic WW2 memoir. It is interesting to me that Fraser is able to express his understandable lifelong dislike of the Japanese while Gottlob Herbert Biderman and Saburo Sakai are silent with regards to their post-war feelings about their former enemies...perhaps expressing this is a privilege of the victors.
  • Samurai! by Saburo Sakai: Memoirs of a Japanese fighter ace. It is actually a composite of Saburo Sakai's original memoirs and his interviews with journalist Fred Saito. Interesting and surprisingly even-handed.

Additional World War 2 Book posts:
My Favorite World War 2 Books
My Latest World War 2 Reads
More World War 2 Books
Even More World War 2 Books
Yet More World War 2 Books
A Stack of World War 2 Books