Friday, April 30, 2021

a side result of some dice math the other day

How To Roll 1d6 When All You Have Are Two Six-Sided Dice

Roll     Result

2 or 6      1

3 or 5      2

4 or 10      3

   7          4

8 or 12    5

9 or 11    

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

those darn gobbos

In the second installment of my recent look at the authors of the Fiend Folio, I discovered that the co-creator of the babbler, Jeremy (Jes) Goodwin, was also an illustrator for some TSR products. Well, today on my tumblr dash a Goodwin illo appeared, shared by one of my favorite gaming tumblrs, Old School FRP.

Here's OldSchoolFRP's caption: 

Esterelle finds the elves’ forest in flames and overrun by goblins on dire wolves. Jeremy (Jes) Goodwin, from D&D one-on-one module O2: Blade of Vengeance, TSR UK, 1984.

A forest fire sounds like a heckuva a place to fight some goblins.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The coming revolution in role-play games?

LindyBeige here is one of my favorite channels on the youtubes.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Who wrote the Fiend Folio? The Turnbull Epilogue

Just a final note on the editor of the Tome of Creatures Malevolent and Benign. From

Don Turnbull (? - August 5, 2003) was a game designer, writer, and computer programmer who was once the head of TSR in the United Kingdom. He was also the founder of Albion magazine, the editor of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Fiend Folio, an editor of the Games Workshop Ltd. magazine White Dwarf, the designer of Schweinfurt, and the developer for Kingmaker. He is also credited with starting the first postal Diplomacy game in the United Kingdom in his magazine Albion. He died of cancer in 2003.


  • In 1974, inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Charles S. Roberts Awards at Origins I.
  • In 2004, he posthumously won the Kathy Byrne Caruso Award for Lifetime Achievement for founding the United Kingdom Postal Hobby.

Turnbull is also co-author of the class U series of AD&D modules, U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, U2 Danger at Dunwater, and U3 The Final Enemy.

I had not heard Turnbull's name mentioned in connection with Kingmaker before. It's a classic multiplayer game of the War of the Roses that won the Charles S. Roberts Award for best game in the early seventies and was still flagship event at my local convention up into the 2000-aughts. I played in the event several times and always did terribly. I have been unable to find much out about Schweinfurt except that it was a wargame. Along the way to investigating that, I found another game credit for Turnbull for something called Cranwell House, but no further details.

You can find scans of some early issues of Turnbull's Diplomacy zine, Albion, here. I think the importance of the Diplomacy scene to the early development of the rpg hobby isn't highlighted enough. Diplomacy is a mechanically simple game that relies heavily on player negotiation and skullduggery. That created a pool of players who were used to talking themselves into and out of trouble. Furthermore, those cats were organized, with zines and clubs and postal games. The same local convention I mentioned above had a Diplomacy tournament as part of the festivities well into the 1990s. 

Speaking of organized, when I looked up the Kathy Byrne Caruso Award to discover it was given by a central committee organizing international Diplomacy play. Here are the qualifications to get the award:

The qualifications for the Kathy Byrne Caruso Lifetime Achievement Award are that the awardee must have been: (1) Active in the Diplomacy Hobby in at least Three Separate Decades; (2) Multidimensional in their Contributions to the Hobby (e.g. writing, playing, publishing); (3) Taking Retirement or Semi-Retirement from the Diplomacy Hobby; and (4) One of the Hobby’s Unique Personalities Worthy of Being Remembered as Long as THE Game Continues to be Played.  

 I love how every game fandom thinks of its game as THE Game.

RIP Don Turnbull.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Who wrote the Fiend Folio? The final chapter




Author Notes

Oracle, Underworld


Apparition, Death dog, Enveloper, Gibberling, Huecuva

“Underworld Oracle” is obviously a pseudonym. My guess is that it represents the duo of Lou Nisbet and Phil Alexander, who co-published/co-edited the Scottish zine of the same name before a falling out. Lou Nisbet is otherwise a cipher, but Phil Alexander also has a couple Alarums & Excursion credits and one in the UK wargame mag Phoenix.

Patterson, Mary



Some work in one issue of the zine Illusionist’s Vision.

Pulsipher, Lewis


Bat (giant), Denzelian, Elemental princes of evil [x5], Poltergeist

One of the more prolific article writers in the early days of RPGs, with numerous pieces in Adventure Gaming, Alarums & Excursions, Dragon, White Dwarf, Chimaera, Different Worlds, The Dungeoneer, Dungeoneers Journal, Gameplay, Games International, The Hobbit Hole, Imagine, News from Bree, Pegasus, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Space Gamer, Trollcrusher, and probably other mags that I missed. I can’t find any RPG product credits for him beyond articles in periodicals.

Several boardgame design credits include Britannia, Sea Kings, Hyborian Risk, Valley of the Four Winds, Stalingrad Beseiged, and Dragonrage

Author of Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish. Teaches game design at the college level. Has his own youtube channel on the subject. Also has his own webpage.

Reynolds, Colin



Some articles in White Dwarf.

Riggs, Nicholas



No further info available.

Roberts, Mike


Hound of ill omen, Tentamort

No further info available.

Schick, Lawrence


Aarakocra, Kelpie, Khargra, Tabaxi

Former head of development at TSR. Hired Tom Moldvay. Most famous D&D credit is the module S2 White Plume Mountain. Had his hand in several other TSR projects, perhaps most notably the Slavers modules and Star Frontiers. Also wrote the adventure Eternity, Inc for the DC Heroes rpg and Divine Intervention, one half of Double Adventure 6 for Traveller.

Author of Heroic Worlds, A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games, which is my favorite reference book on the early hobby.

Later went into video games. Worked for Coleco during the first video games boom, later went to MicroProse. Former America Online executive. Did work on The Elder Scrolls Online.

Scurfield, Bob



Contributor to Treasure Chest article (ongoing reader submission column for magic items, NPCs, and other small bits and bobs)  in White Dwarf #12.

Shaw, Simon



Contributor to Treasure Chest article in White Dwarf #14.

Shearer, Guy



No further info available.

Shepherd, Rik


Dark creeper, Kenku

One credit in the Call of Cthulhu fanzine Dagon. I cannot confirm that the same Rik Shepherd is responsible for this delightful website.

Stollery, Martin


Mephit [x4]

Contributions in a couple of issues of The Beholder zine.

Stross Charles


Death knight, Githyanki, Githzerai, Slaad [x7]

White Dwarf #33 contains his write-up of Zytra, Demon Lord of Mind Flayers.

Hugo-award winning sci-fi/fantasy author best known for his Merchant Princess and Laundry Files series of novels. The latter was turned into a licensed rpg by Cubicle 7.

Sweet, David


Dragon (oriental)[x6]

A.k.a. Dave Sweet. Article on Chinese undead in Dragon #26. At least one article in e-zine Chaosium Digest. Later did art for the Fading Suns rpg line.

Taylor, David


Ettercap, Goldbug, Hellcat

Created the Mindweb, a gestalt monster appearing in White Dwarf #14.

Tilbrook, Simon


Flail snail, Necrophidius

Also wrote up the Phung, a mantis-headed monster from a Jack Vance novel, in White Dwarf #18. There’s a retired history teacher with this name whose twitter account has a still from Monty Python and the Holy Grail on display, so I’m going to assume that’s our man.

Torchia, Andrew



No further info available.

Waring, Dave



A.k.a. David Waring. Contributor to Alarums & Excursions, Trollcrusher, Demonsblood, and the Diplomacy/postal game zines Gallimaufry and The Tinamou.

Waugh, Ian



Created the Pervert character class published in White Dwarf #1. Another credit in wargame magazine The Phoenix.

Wells, Jean


Caryatid column, Giant (fog)

TSR employee from ‘79 to ‘81, during which time she answered questions in Dragon’s Sage Advice column, among other things. Edited B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. Perhaps best known today as the author of the original version of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, which WotC published as a free pdf back in 2000. Print copies of this rare item now go for thousands of dollars.

Her PC Ceatitle, a 10th level magic-user, appears in the accessory The Rogues Gallery. Wells did the layout for that work.

Died in 2012.

White, Neville


Qullan, Shadow demon, Stunjelly

A.k.a. Alex White, a.k.a. Neville Alexander White. Article in Trollcrusher. Operates a one man game company called Plane Sailing Games.

Wood, Steve



There are a couple of Steve Woods with credits in the hobby. Not sure if the Fiend Folio author is any of them.

Wormell, David


Mantari, Sheet ghoul, Sheet phantom

No further info available.

Wyndham, Jeff


Dire corby

No further info available.

I'm thinking someone needs to write an adventure where the two-headed Oracle of the Underworld sends the PCs on a quest where they encounter Apparitions, Death dogs, an Enveloper, Gibberlings, and a Huecuva.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tim Rolls The Dice...

Roleplayers are crazy about their dice. Some mathematicians go gaga over them. These two videos are by a toy collector, which is a perspective on dice I hadn't seen before.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Who wrote the Fiend Folio? L-M


This batch features the most prolific contributor to the Fiend Folio, Ian Livingstone.




Author Notes


Lawrence, Julian


Doombat, Frost man

Has an NPC write-up in White Dwarf #19.


Livingstone, Ian


Assassin bug, Blood hawk, Bloodworm (giant), Bonesnapper, Crabman, Devil (styx), Dune stalker, Eyekiller, Forlarren, Grell, Hook horror, Mite, Phantom stalker, Throat leech, Troll (giant)

Co-founder of Games Workshop and White Dwarf magazine. Author of Dicing with Dragons and many Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. Numerous credits in magazines White Dwarf, Games International, Warlock.


Later went into the video game industry, particularly upper management of Eidos Interactive, where he shepherded franchises like Tomb Raider and Hitman.


A Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. No foolin’. I suspect this guy is a Tory.


Lockwood, Dean and P.S. Barton



Dean Lockwood contributed to one issue of Trollcrusher.

No further info on P.S. Barton.


Louth, Nick


Hornet (giant), Kamadan, Magnesium spirit, Urchin [x5]

No further info available, unless he’s the same Nick Louth that writes crime thrillers.


MacDonald, Michael


Son of Kyuss

This guy has a bunch of designer credits for Mekton and Cyberpunk 2020. Other credits include Dream Park, Castle Falkenstein, Call of Cthulhu, Talislanta, and Teenagers from Outer Space. Articles in two issues of Vortext magazine.


MacDonald, Oliver Charles


Cifal, Troll (giant two-headed)

A.k.a. Oliver MacDonald, O.C. MacDonald. Numerous contributions to White Dwarf and Alarums & Excursions.


Martelli, Alessandro



Alarums & Excursions contributor.


Masters, Philip


Iron cobra, Jaculi, Lamia noble, Screaming devilkin

A.k.a. Phil Masters, a GURPS powerhouse with HERO System credits and a few other things here and there. His numerous magazine credits include Adventurer’s Club, Arcane, Dragon, White Dwarf, Interactive Fantasy, The Excellent Prismatic Spray, Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society, Alarums & Excursions, The Last Province, Pyramid, Roleplayer, Sabledrake webzine, Valkyrie, Shadis, and Visions. Dang.    


McDonagh, Michael


Fire snake

No further info available.

McDowall, Ian and Douglas Naismith



For Ian McDowall, see next entry.

No further info on Douglas Naismith.


McDowell, Ian


Dakon, Guardian daemon

Fiction piece in Ares #1. UPDATE: Author of two fantasy novels, Merlin's Gift and Mordred's Curse.

Mendham, Trevor


Guardian familiar “Trevor has invented many games over the years, most of which were seen only by a few friends and are now lost to history. Whether this is a blessing or a curse for the gaming world is an open question.” Published 3 issues of a magazine called Play It! In 1985. Credits in the periodicals The Beholder, Casus Belli, Chimaera, Imagine, Shire Talk, The Stormlord, and White Dwarf.

Moldvay, Tom


Astral Searcher, Protein polymorph, Retriever

My dude.

Morgan, Nigel


Skeleton warrior

No further info available.

Morris, Graeme


Hoar fox

A big part of TSR UK. Designer credits on modules including UK1-UK5, the classic B10 Night’s Dark Terror, and the super-rare Up the Garden Path, among other things. Credits in periodicals include Imagine, the Fantasy Worlds newsletter, and the [D&D] Players Association News.

Morris, J.D.


Flind, Norker

No further info available.

Musson, Roger


Achaierai, Al-mi’raj, Blindheim, Crypt thing, Disenchanter, Firetoad, Nilbog, Sandman, Scarecrow, Shocker, Symbiotic jelly

Articles in White Dwarf, Imagine, the wargame magazine Phoenix, [D&D] Players Association News.

Muth, Simon


Dark stalker, Skulk, Vortex

One article in the early UK zone Chimaera.