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Down in a Heap

Down in a Heap

By Rob c
A big pot of old school RPG stew.
Cover art photo provided by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash:
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Roll For Random Thoughts Saturday 13
Random Thoughts on KS Updates, Critical Hits in OSR games, and Monsters I’ve Never Used; plus calls from Jason about playing PC attributes, Anchorite Glue, and Gargantuan creatures.
August 13, 2022
OSR October: What’s it all About?
OSR October is still in the noodling stage. Jason from Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast and Kevin from the Redcaps Podcast call in and I share what my current vision is. Please chime in with your thoughts.
August 12, 2022
Roll For Random Thoughts Saturday 12
Random Thoughts rolled: Occasional OSR October; Lost Plains Compilation; Monsters I’ve Never Used. Plus a call from Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, and the semi-mythical Keith from St. Paul! Welcome to the penthouse, Thundarr!
August 06, 2022
Wednesday Spotlight: The Barony of Starges by Tim Shorts
I spotlight the patreon of Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor with a deeper dive into his product, The Barony of Starges. Check out his Gothridge Manor blog and podcast, and Patreon. Also calls from Joe & Jason.
August 03, 2022
RPG a Day: What’s it All About?
Anthony aka “Runeslinger” from the Casting Shadows blog and podcast and who is one of the people behind RPG a Day calls in to let me know what it’s all about. I wanted to get this out before the event starts on August 1st. Thanks.
July 31, 2022
Roll For Random Thoughts Saturday, 11(?)
Random Thoughts rolled were: The Anchor Apocalypse, RPG a Day, Monsters I’ve Never Used, plus calls from Jason and Joe about the upcoming D&D Movie and other fantasy films.
July 30, 2022
A Wednesday Conversation...Behind a Pile of Dead Bards.
Conversation with Taylor, Jason, Joe, Rich, Daniel, and BJ about potential dice cheats, It’s What My Character Would Do, Bards, Literary Sources for Bards, Playing attributes and class roles, Subtlety vs Absurdity, and Campaign Secrets. It’s a Bonanza!
July 27, 2022
Roll For Random Thoughts Saturday
Random Thoughts about organization, D&D Movies, and introducing a recurring segment: Monsters I’ve Never Used. Plus calls from Anthony of Casting Shadows, Cody of No Save For You, and Daniel of Bandit’s Keep.
July 23, 2022
Are you PLAYING the game or playing THE GAME?
Don’t call it a call-in Bonanza. Well, it kinda is, but a couple questions from Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast direct most of my attention to the topic of a continuum of role playing vs. adventure.
July 20, 2022
Roll For Random Thoughts Saturday
Random thoughts about campaign region event tables, and PC rumor & lore tables. Plus calls from Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast and Daniel of Bandit’s Keep.
July 16, 2022
The Two Most Common House Rules in B/X (OSE) & My Opinions
My guess about the two most common house rules for B/X D&D (or Old School Essentials if you prefer). Likes & dislikes. Plus conversation with Jason, Joe & Taylor about genre, house rules, Bards, and cleaning cheese graters. 🧀
July 13, 2022
Dice Dice Dice
Calls from Jason, Cody, Joe, and Daniel continue the conversation about dice. Bottom line: rolling dice is fun! Plus some talk about genre, house rules, and pre-shredded cheese 🧀.
July 12, 2022
Calls and Thoughts About Dice
Calls from Jason where I essentially say he’s right; Joe & Goblin’s Henchman on cheese, and a final thought wondering why it’s important to some gamers about who actually rolls the dice (and dice superstitions).
July 02, 2022
My Friend Bill
My oldest and dearest friend, Bill, passed away. He will never be forgotten. He had joined me on episode 57 discussing props and handouts in gaming. Love you Bill.
June 28, 2022
Gaming Grab Bag and Cheese Nuggets
Observations inspired by recent podcasts: are house rules part of RAW (or rules as intended)? Genre emulation, Usage Dice, some cheese nuggets on a few common misconceptions and calls.
May 17, 2022
One for you...Two for me. How do you divvy up the Loot?
Divvying up the loot in adventure games. Equal shares? Meritocracy? Bonuses for risks or valiant acts? Chance? How do you do it? Plus calls from Jason, Daniel, Spencer, Joe, and Colin.
March 16, 2022
Ray’s OSE “Dilemma”
Happy to say Ray Otus is back and dropped a few episodes of Plundergrounds lately. His most recent (310 Learning to Love OSE) has me thinking, and rather than boring his listeners with a bunch of call-ins, I’ll ramble here. 😁
March 08, 2022
Call-in Bonanza 29
Calls from Colin, Jason, Taylor, Daniel, and Joe. Announcement of the latest Midderzine prize. And various sundry rambling nonsense from Yours Truly.
February 21, 2022
Quickie Thought: The Lord of Avarice
I often get hung up on some insignificant mental roadblock. Here’s my (likely unoriginal) idea for overcoming one.
January 27, 2022
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall... Who’s the Biggest Failure of Them All? Me.
Some more self reflection as I come to grips with my complete failure as a game referee over the past few years. I outline my plans to turn this around and succeed in just running a *#%&ing game.
January 23, 2022
Down in a Heap, the RPG: Advances
Talkings discretionary special abilities that players choose for their PC in DiaH, the RPG. I call them Advances (for now). Plus a new Midderzine contest giveaway and calls from Daniel, Jason, and Menion (aka Rob). Enjoy!
January 17, 2022
Why the hell do I play these kookie games?
A gap in gaming has me rambling on my commute to work. Self reflection about why I play TTRPGs and what do I hope to get out of them?
January 15, 2022
Holiday Hubbub: Call-in Bonanza 28
The holiday rush hasn’t finished me...yet. And with lots of help from my podcasting friends, another bonanza is here, and another year of podcasting is in the books. Calls about advancement in the DiaH RPG and damage rolls in Into the Odd. Happy New Year!
December 30, 2021
Down in a Heap, the RPG Pt 3: Advancement + Calls
How do PCs advance in level in DiaH? Plus a new theme song rendition, a heretical combat option for Into the Odd, and calls and conversation from Jason, Rich, Joe, Daniel, & Evil Jeff. Enjoy!
December 01, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 27: Let’s Talk DiaH, the RPG
Design goals plus calls from Daniel, Jason, and Taylor discussing movement, charges, reach weapons, parrying, ganging up, encumbrance, Xpts, and magic systems. Plus another musical entry!
November 22, 2021
Down in a Heap, the RPG: Pt. 2, Action!
2nd part of the DiaH RPG development focusing on encounters, action, and combat. Plus calls from Jason, Joe, and Daniel...and who is singing the theme song this episode? Tune in to see 😁.
November 20, 2021
Down in a Heap, the RPG - 1st Steps
I discuss the attributes and base mechanics of my Frankenstein game inspired by Into the Odd (Chris McDowall), Maze Rats & Knave (Ben Milton), and Best Left Buried (Zachary Cox). Plus calls from Safer, Jason, and Daniel.
November 13, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 26
Calls about Paladins, small scope games and their potential, and reactions to my current dissatisfaction with classic D&D and my interest in designing a new game. What will it be called? Listen to find out...😁. Plus BluRay Otus styling the theme song!
November 12, 2021
Jason Throws the Gauntlet? Why the dissatisfaction with B/X?
Jason from Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast poses the question: what is it about B/X (classic D&D) that isn’t working- what are you unsatisfied with? Look me in the eye and tell me - I’m Satisfied. 😉
November 08, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 25
Calls and Anchor conversation with Taylor, Karl, Jason, & Daniel plus Smokey Joe Richter belts out a tune! It’s got it all! 🤪
November 06, 2021
Favorite Monster/Horror Movies: Midderzine Contest #4
Seven callers give some of their favorite monster/horror movies for the latest Midderzine contest drawing. Plus my favorite. One that involves a really BIG fish. Enjoy!
November 02, 2021
Roll for Random Thoughts Saturday: Where an Idle Ref’s Mind Turns To?
What does this idle Referee’s mind turn to: tinkering! And specifically thinking about smaller scope rules sets: Into the Odd, Maze Rats, Knave, Best Left Buried. My likes & dislikes, and how I might brew them together in a stew.
October 30, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 24: Paladins Cause Heartburn?
Calls about the last few gaming episodes from Joe of Hindsightless, Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, and Daniel of Bandit’s Keep - mostly regarding Paladins & Rangers, but a dash of other topics too.
October 25, 2021
Rob & Jason vs. The Universal Monsters: The Mummy!
We take the bandages off the 1932 classic, the Mummy. It’s got it all: eternal love, exotic talented (and effective!) heroine, tyrannical director, curses, cats, dogs, a magic jacuzzi, and Boris Karloff in a fez! Plus a hidden gem that Jason dug up for intermission. Enjoy!
October 23, 2021
Ride to Work Ramble: The Paladin/Ranger “Dilemma”
I ramble about the motivation conundrum for Paladins & Rangers in S&W and how they may differ significantly from other classes. Also, the restriction/benefit analysis. Plus a dash of initiative.
October 17, 2021
Rob & Jason vs. The Universal Monsters: Here Comes The Bride
Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast again joins me for more classic monster movie talk. This time, it’s The Bride of Frankenstein from 1935. Enjoy!
October 12, 2021
Apprentice to Evoker in how many sessions?
Listening to Barry’s Shadow of the GM podcast episode S2:E17 has me thinking about PC advancement rates in classic D&D games. And what motivates the players?
October 11, 2021
Rolling Up a New PC plus mini call-in Bonanza
I roll up a new PC for Whispered Tales of Gore after a near TPK, plus calls from Joe, Jason, Daniel, and Tim and a new Midderzine contest announcement.
October 06, 2021
Rob & Jason vs. The Universal Monsters Pt. 2: Frankenstein!
I’m joined again by Jason from Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast as we discuss the 1931 classic, Frankenstein. Just two fans rambling about something they love. Plus pirate singing?!?
October 05, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 23
Calls about narrative meta currency, and magic swords; responses to Melancholy Monday: Covid & why we’re podcasting (sorry for the delays); the Boy Who Could Fly, session recap, and marmalade.
September 29, 2021
Autumn Ramble: Narrative Currency +
I ramble a bit about what I’ve been up to, gaming narrative currency, a magic weapon option, and a preview of the Back to BasiX compilation by Thom Wilson of Throwi Games
September 26, 2021
Melancholy Monday
The anniversary of needing hospitalization for Covid has me feeling gloomy. But some listener calls help perk me up and I do a reading from the Referee section of Swords & Wizardry.
August 16, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 22? Plus a 13th “Tarnished Silver Nugget of Wisdom”
Calls about Kickstarter, Creativity, and Cartoons! And I add another tarnished nugget to my list of “gaming laws”. If you want to avoid Covid talk, skip in about 10 minutes.
August 13, 2021
Cartoons! and the next Midderzine contest.
Calls about cartoons, cereal, and more from Ray, Jason, Joe, Kevin, Taylor, Roy, Daniel, and Evil Jeff. Who is the big winner of the Midderzine from Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design?
August 10, 2021
Middlemarch: What’s it all about?
I go through the setting doc for Middlemarch, my exploration S&W game set in Glynn Seal’s Midderlands. Plus calls from Daniel Norton and Goblin’s Henchman. Enjoy!
August 05, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 21: the Mega Bonanza!
I procrastinated far too long, and wow!, 36 calls on this megalosaurus bonanza. Thanks everyone! And don’t forget: call me with something cartoon related by 8/6/21 for the next Midderzine giveaway.
July 29, 2021
A Host of Henchmen: calls and the Midderzine contest reveal.
Calls about henchmen and the “name that Henchman!” contest winner. Who just won an issue of the Midderzine by Monkeyblood Design? And how do you enter the next contest? Listen in...😉
July 19, 2021
Happy 10th Anniversary Barrowmaze!
June 24th was the 10-year anniversary from when creator Greg Gillespie started his Barrowmaze game. I give my top 5 features for Barrowmaze Complete and recount the after action reports from my Barrowmaze game in 2017-18.
July 17, 2021
Out on Chaoses Limb with Roy
A few calls from Roy of Chaoses Limb starts a chat on the mindset of players vs. referees as well as “letting the team down” in game. Playing low stats and having different agendas. Just let LeRoy Jenkins die...🤣
June 27, 2021
Swing & a Miss; Swing & a Hit: What do I Mean by “Swingy”?
A response show of sorts to episodes by Colin Green of Spikepit, where he ponders whether or not a d20 is “swingy” and if that idea has been taken as collective wisdom. Plus calls from Ray Otus of Plundergrounds and Karl Rodriguez of GMologist.
June 13, 2021
Take Two - More Thoughts on the Swords & Wizardry Box Set
Calls from Jason and Daniel about the S&W box set review; how it compares with OSE and my additional thoughts on what worked and missed opportunities.
June 12, 2021
A Quick Chat About Thieves
A few calls from Daniel of The Bandit’s Keep podcast & YouTube plus some quick thoughts on issues I hear some discuss about Thieves in Classic D&D. Too pathetic? System too wonky? Retries? Thieves’ Tools?
June 11, 2021
Henchmen, Hirelings, and Sidekicks in your Classic D&D Games
Send in the clowns, the Redshirts, the cannon fodder...or maybe the peeps that will save your bacon. Calls from John of Red Dice Diaries help me examine this fun aspect of classic D&D.
June 10, 2021
Swords & Wizardry Box Set Review
I review the new Swords & Wizardry box set edition from Frog God Games, and also give a brief comp to the popular Old School Essentials box set by Necrotic Gnome.
June 02, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 20
Back from vacation with a bunch of calls from Jason, BJ, Daniel, John Large, Lieren, and Logan with a wide range of topics. Some might prompt something akin to insight from me; some of my rambling might be drivel. You decide😂
May 18, 2021
Roll for Random Thoughts Thursday
My brain is already half on vacation. A ramble about that and what I’m noodling about for game campaign material and themes.
May 06, 2021
Building Bridges with Spikepit
A call from Colin Green of Spikepit about the intent of his statement that “it’s all just D&D” prompts me to attempt a rambling (and hopefully coherent) continuation of the conversation. Thanks Colin!
May 04, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 19
Calls from Logan of Sword Breaker, Randy of Biggus Geekus, Randy of the Dice are Screaming, my friend Brian and some old favorites: Jason, Joe, Daniel, and B.J. plus...a preview of the next one - a call from Colin of Spikepit that requires me, the old wind bag, a separate episode to reply to.
May 01, 2021
For the Record...
What is this podcast about and where am I coming from? A peek back into the dusty archives - has anything changed? It’s still rubbish...😉
April 27, 2021
The Winner of the Lugosi/Midderzine Contest is....?!?
Listener calls doing their Bela Lugosi impersonation in a contest to win their choice of one of the five great Midderzines by Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design. Thanks everyone!
April 22, 2021
D&D Fight Club: 1st Level 5e Fighter vs. 1st Level B/X Fighter with retainers
I delve into the nitty gritty to model a hypothetical fight as specified by Joe of the Hindsightless podcast between a 1st level 5e Fighter vs a 1st level B/X Fighter with 3 Men at Arms. Let’s get ready to rumble!
April 20, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 18: D&D Fight Club
Calls from Jason, Daniel, Taylor, B.J., and Goblin’s Henchman about unarmed combat; multiple PCs and henchmen; the changes in D&D over time; B/X 1st level Fighter + Men-at-arms vs. a lone 5e 1st level Fighter; more input on “the Rant”.
April 19, 2021
Responding to the Rant: Calls & Conversation
Calls in response to my name names rant from: Jason (Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast), Spencer (Keep Off the Borderlands), Daniel (Bandit’s Keep), B.J. (Arcane Alienist), Evil Jeff (Minions & Musings), Menion (Confessions of a Wee Timrous Bushi).
April 12, 2021
Name names & Show Specific Examples, please
No sugar coating it: this is rant. I rail against cryptic allusions, hearsay, and innuendo directed at the “Old School community “. I also name loads of cool people doing cool things. You know, what probably should get the attention.
April 08, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 17: Plus a Contest Announcement!
Yes, a contest for a copy of the Midderzine! Bonanza features calls from Jason, Daniel, Joe, Goblin’s Henchman, and Taylor about dragons, spell slots, unarmed combat, multiple PCs, Henchmen, and the bastard, Covid.
April 07, 2021
Rob & Jason vs. The Universal Monsters: Part 1 - Dracula 🧛‍♂️
I’m joined by Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast as we start our journey taking a long look at the Universal Monster Movies. In part 1, we discuss the original Dracula, the Spanish language release, Dracula’s Daughter, & Son of Dracula. Recorded in November, 2020.
April 03, 2021
Unboxing: Midderlands Goodies from Monkeyblood Design
I unbox and give mini reviews of various products from Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design: the Midderzines, Chewer if Fingers, and the Bats of Saint Abbans. Cut to the chase - they’re all OUTSTANDING! Highly recommended!
April 01, 2021
Double Vision? Calls about running multiple PCs in the same game.
Call-in show about the issues and merits of running multiple PCs in the same game. Contributions from Freethrall, Jason, Daniel, B.J., and Colin. Thanks!
March 31, 2021
Unarmed Combat in Classic D&D (plus the merits of spontaneous casting).
A couple calls from Daniel of Bandit’s Keep prompts a look at unarmed combat in classic versions of D&D (AD&D, B/X, & S&W) plus a tangent on the merits of spontaneous casting vs. Vancian fire and forget magic.
March 27, 2021
Let’s Roll up a Dragon (or two)!
I follow my house rules and go through the process step by step to create a couple unique dragons. Plus calls from Jason, Evil Jeff, and Daniel. Enjoy!
March 26, 2021
Multiple PC’s? The solution, or a problem?
Do you allow, encourage, or discourage players to run multiple PC’s in the same campaign? What I’ve proposed (failing so far) as a “solution “ in my small group. Plus calls from Joe from Hindsightless and Goblin’s Henchmen.
March 25, 2021
Dragon Deep Dive: Swords & Wizardry and my House Rules for Dragons
Calls from Chad & Evil Jeff (Minions & Musings podcast); talk about dragons in BECMI, 2e, Holmes Basic, plus Swords & Wizardry and a rough outline of my house rules for dragons in S&W. Enjoy!
March 19, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 16: “Spellburn”, Subdual, and Auguries
Great calls and Anchor conversation with Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, Daniel of Bandit’s Keep, Taylor of Clerics Wear Ringmail, Ray Otus of Plundergrounds, and Menion of Confessions of a Wee Timrous Bushi.
March 16, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 15
Topics include testing the limits of arcane casting, channeling, Subdual in classic versions of D&D, Dragons, and Greg Gillespie’s new Kickstarter: Dwarrowdeep. Thanks for the calls!
March 12, 2021
A Couple More S&W House Rules + Call-in Bonanza 14
I outline a few more house rules for my Swords & Wizardry game and calls about new school: old school, Divination magic, Kender, and dragons.
March 04, 2021
Barrowmaze Appreciation Day?
On his last episode of OSR Blether, creator Greg Gillespie revealed that this upcoming June 24th will mark the 10th anniversary of the first Barrowmaze game session. Let’s have a Barrowmaze Appreciation Day then to celebrate!
March 04, 2021
Dragon Deep Dive: AD&D
A close look at the treatment of dragons in the 1E AD&D Monster Manual. Plus, how that changed into a sort of version 1.5 in the first Forgotten Realms boxed set by Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb.
February 28, 2021
My Little Problem: Zinequest 3
Per Ray & Jason’s advice, I started drinking and went on a Zine Bender. Don’t you want to be my little problem? I❤️The Mats.
February 24, 2021
Dragon Deep Dive: B/X
A close look at how dragons are treated in B/X D&D. Plus dragon calls from Taylor of the Clerics Wear Ringmail blog, Daniel of Bandit’s Keep podcast & YouTube channel, Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, and Ray of Plundergrounds.
February 21, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 13
More conversation on a variety of topics from recent shows: Shields, gate keeping, art, new school:old school, playable species in D&D, cultures in D&D, divination magic, and dragons and why we don’t use them more often.
February 18, 2021
Let’s Talk More Dragons!
A big call-in show about dragons in lit & film - focused on the 1981 film, Dragonslayer. Great calls from Colin Green of Spikepit, Joe of Hindsightless, Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, Ray Otus of Plundergrounds, and Daniel from Bandit’s Keep. Thanks!
February 12, 2021
Take Two - a Ridealong Ramble
My first attempt was garbled - here’s an attempt to redo an episode I recorded on my snowy commute to work: sneak look at digital rewards on the new S&W box; the de emphasis of archetypes in D&D; and the folly of “gatekeeping”.
February 11, 2021
Let’s talk more SHIELDS!
The conversation about splintering shields continues with contributions from Menion of Confessions of a Wee Tim’rous Bushi, Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, and Daniel of the Bandit’s Keep podcast and YouTube channel.
February 07, 2021
Do Dragons Have Opposable Thumbs?
More Dragon talk; calls from Joe of Hindsightless; TSR novels, epic play, and a call from a new podcaster, B.J. of the Arcane Alienist.
February 04, 2021
Mixed Tape 3 -Duck & Cover!
I spin some covers I like...and that you might not have heard before. Enjoy!
January 28, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 12
Ring-a-ding-ding: 18 calls from six different listeners on a variety of topics. Bog mummies, cereal, dragons, movies, and a heap of thoughts on Shields Shall be Splintered! Thanks to Joe, Jason, Spencer, Daniel, Taylor, and Evil Jeff!
January 28, 2021
Shields Shall Be Splintered!
A look at the common OSR house rule inspired by Trollsmyth’s blog post of the same name. What are your thoughts and experiences with this rule? Should henchmen be able to, or is it “sorry Nodwick, PCs only”?
January 24, 2021
Swords & Wizardry House Rules
It’s a fantasy adventure game so you have to have house rules, right? Well, I do. I go over the house rules and clarifications for Swords & Wizardry in the Saturday Morning Cartoons game, plus a call from Daniel of Bandit’s Keep.
January 22, 2021
Roll For Random Thoughts...Thursday?
The return of random thoughts: calls from Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast; Controversy Corner - Dragons; Old Man Confessional; The next tier - My Top Movies 21-40.
January 21, 2021
B/X Deep Dive 11: DM Information Pt. 2 by Minions in a Heap
Evil Jeff from Minions & Musings joins me for the final installment of the B/X Deep Dive. We take a look at the DM info from the Expert booklet: building a wilderness area, wilderness exploration and encounters, DM advice, and more!
January 15, 2021
Call-in Bonanza 11
Time to clear the backlog of messages. Topics include: showing compassion, the origins of the Thief class, addressing the whiff factor in BRP, and Swords & Wizardry among others. Thanks for the calls 👍
January 14, 2021
Why Swords & Wizardry?
I’m committing to Swords & Wizardry by Matt Finch as my fantasy adventure game of choice in 2021 for the new Saturday Morning Cartoons time slot. I try to explain why I chose S&W over the plethora of other old school options.
January 13, 2021
Catching Up With Jason
Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast left a few messages regarding the latest B/X Deep Dive. An Anchor “conversation “ ensues, covering roll vs. attribute origins, skill-based vs. class & level systems, B/X Companion, and more!
January 07, 2021
What Color is it?
Joe from the Hindsightless podcast calls in with good thoughts on the example exploration in Moldvay Basic. What color is it? Some thoughts on descriptions in play and the interchange between players & GM.
January 01, 2021
Thieves’ Guild After Action Report: Session 3
The first heists! See what Rasmus Rask, Marlowe Phillips, Finrick the Halfling, and Thorvald the dwarf are up to now. Plus a couple calls from Evil Jeff of the Minions & Musings podcast.
December 23, 2020
B/X Deep Dive 10A: Reading the Sample Dungeon Exploration & Thoughts
I read the sample dungeon exploration from Moldvay Basic D&D and am joined by Evil Jeff of the Minions & Musings podcast for our reflections. There’s something about Black Dougal...
December 14, 2020
B/X Deep Dive 10: DM Information Pt. 1 by Musings in a Heap
Year 3 gets off to a bang as Evil Jeff from Minions & Musings joins me once again to look at the DM Info in Moldvay Basic rules. Building a dungeon; wandering monsters; DMing as a fine art; recommended reading and more!
December 12, 2020
Another Year of Blathering...and what’s in store for a third year?
Yep, two years of Down in a Heap. I discuss goals and plans for the third year, but please make suggestions for topics and improvements. Plus a couple calls from Joe and Jason. Thanks for the support, contributions, & feedback!
December 10, 2020
Nerds in a Variety Heap: Reactions to The Dungeon Dudes
I’m joined by Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast after we’ve watched popular YouTubers “The Dungeon Dudes” episode on Ten Terrible DM Traits. See where we agree & disagree, and why is this popular....?
December 09, 2020
Thieves’ Guild 2020 After Action Reports
Follow the exploits of the “intrepid?” Thieves: Rasmus Rask, Marlowe Phillips, Finrick the halfling, and Thorvald the dwarf. Campaign background plus session 0, 1, and 2 recaps.
December 08, 2020
Player : PC - Where’s your emphasis?
A few calls from Ray Otus of Plundergrounds activates my sluggish brain cells. Where does your emphasis lie on a Player : Character continuum? Calls from Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast and Joe of Hindsightless as well. Enjoy!
December 07, 2020
What’s Popular?
I do some searching on YouTube to see what are popular topics in the D&D gaming sphere. Plus a call from Safer of the Safer Fantasy Crafting podcast.
December 04, 2020
Hi, I’m Rob and I’m a crap 💩 player...
I’ve often considered myself to be a crap player, especially by the standards some assign to good play. Why is that? A little self examination and a call from Joe of the Hindsightless podcast. Happy Turkey Day -watch some MST3K! 😀
November 26, 2020
Call-in Bonanza 10
Loads of calls from Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, Ray Otus of Plundergrounds, Joe from Hindsightless, Colin from Spikepit, and Daniel from Bandit’s Keep. Thanks!
November 20, 2020
Roll for Random Thoughts Saturday 9
Random thoughts: a naming “coincidence?”, Challenging Conventional Gaming Wisdom, Buying Lost Hit Point Opportunities
November 14, 2020
B/X Deep Dive 9: Treasure, by Musings in a Heap
Part 9 of the ongoing deep dive into B/X D&D focuses on treasure: types, approaches, and (trumpet fanfare!) magic items! I’m joined again by Evil Jeff from the Minions & Musings podcast. Enjoy.
November 10, 2020
Calls and an Unenveloping of City of the Sacred Flame
Calls from Joe, Jason, and Evil Jeff plus a opening look at the supplement for Thieves’ Guild: City of the Sacred Flame published by Gamelords in 1983
November 07, 2020
Raking Ramblings 2
Some therapeutic raking and recounting as I attempt to salute one of the good ones: my oldest friend Bill’s Dad, Irv, who passed away early this morning. Plus a feeble attempt at game talk. 2020 really does suck...
November 04, 2020
Happy Halloween! Mixed Tape 2
Release the Metal Mummy! A horror themed metal mashup mix tape tribute to Boris Karloff.
October 30, 2020
Mixed Tape 1
Remember mixed tapes? Here’s the first installment of a few favorites.
October 28, 2020
Uneveloping plus Call-in Bonanza 9
I have a bundle of calls in the hopper plus an “uneveloping “ from Wayne’s Books: Thieves’ Guild VI
October 20, 2020
Raking Rambles
Stream of consciousness nuggets are raked up along with the leaves in my backyard. Topics: My definitions of gritty, low fantasy, high fantasy; some Thieves’ Guild thoughts and other nonsense.
October 16, 2020
Roll for Random Thoughts Saturday 8: The Side Project
I muse about a side project campaign: probably an urban game with thieves as the centerpiece.
October 10, 2020
B/X Deep Dive 8: Monsters! By Minions in a Heap
Evil Jeff from the excellent Minions & Musings podcast joins me for the latest B/X D&D deep dive on monsters. We discuss layout, stat blocks (lines), what’s different from AD&D, art, and some that are unique to B/X. Settle in...
October 06, 2020
Buried Treasures?
After gaming for 30 years, you accumulate a lot of gaming stuff. A trip up to my attic reveals buried “treasures”. Do you have any? Plus calls from Jason, Joe, and Roy.
October 01, 2020
When does the Magic end?
Have you played RPGs where magic effects end when the caster is knocked out or dies? What are the ramifications? Plus calls from Roy & Jason and health progress report.
September 29, 2020
The Covid episode and a foggy review of Dice Roll Zine & Hunters in Death
I recount some of my Covid experiences and share a “review” of a couple zines I received when I was still deeper in the Covid fog.
September 23, 2020
I’m still alive!
How the hell did I wash ashore on this forsaken island? Why am I still here?
August 25, 2020
Pick Your Poison
A look at handling poison in your game, and what I’m using in my B/X hack, Wasteland Wanderers. Save or die? Hit point damage? Ability score damage? Pick your poison.
August 04, 2020
This Old Book: Evaluation of OD&D from the Complete Book of Wargames
Calls from Jason & Joe and the evaluation of OD&D from 1980’s The Complete Book of Wargames. Get the bandages - it stings :)
August 03, 2020
Please Hold: A look at Hold Person in B/X & 5e D&D
I reply to and noodle about Colin Green’s episode of Spikepit where he discusses changes in design philosophy in versions of D&D; specifically the Hold Person spell and players missed turns.
August 02, 2020
A mistake acknowledged plus the Boot Hill evaluation from this Old Book
I found an error in my B/X Deep Dive plus Jason’s request to read the Boot Hill RPG evaluation from The Complete Book of Wargames.
August 01, 2020
This Old Book: a reading from The Complete Book of Wargames
I read the intro to the RPG section. What did some groggy old Wargame designers have to say about the new fangled RPG scene back in 1980? Listen to find out :)
July 20, 2020
Call-in Bonanza 8: B/X Encounter Discussions
Calls reacting to the B/X Deep Dive on Encounters: from Joe of Hindsightless, Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, and Evil Jeff of Minions & Musings. Settle in!
July 05, 2020
Call-in Bonanza 7: 24 Calls!
A true bonanza of calls from Roy of Chaoses Limb, Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast, Joe from Hindsightless, ShandyAndy from Unguarded Treasure, and Evil Jeff from Minions & Musings. Thanks everyone!
June 19, 2020
B/X Deep Dive 7a: Reading the Example of Combat from Moldvay Basic D&D
I read the example of combat from page B28 of the Moldvay Basic D&D rules. What does it tell us, directly and indirectly?
June 14, 2020
B/X Deep Dive 7: The Encounter
After a long hiatus, I resume the series: This time a deep look into the micro elements of the B/X D&D game: reactions, combat, evasion, morale, etc.
June 13, 2020
How much is too much? Lore vs. Fluff in your setting.
Inspired by some episodes of Random Screed by Jason Hobbs - a ramble about moderation in setting design and an example from Wasteland Wanderers.
June 06, 2020
Incentivizing what matters in your RPG
How does your game incentivize the themes and activities you want emphasized? Do you try to incentivize out of game activities? If so, how? And does it work? Please call in with your experiences.
May 19, 2020
Cabin Cast! Spellcasting in Wasteland Wanderers
A quick cast from a north woods cabin about Spellcasting in my reimagining of B/X D&D: Wasteland Wanderers.
May 12, 2020
Roll for Random Thoughts Saturday 7: A Taste of Wasteland Wanderers
A quick taste of my post apocalyptic reimagining of B/X: focusing on determining ability scores, hit points, death & dying, and healing.
May 02, 2020
Ettin Cast - Because 2 Heads Are Better Than One: Froth of Thought Eater!
Legendary Anchorite Froth joins me to talk about our personal Appendix N’s, but we ramble on a range of topics, including...what side of fries means!
April 25, 2020
Roll For Random Thoughts Saturday 6
Our foray into online gaming, a turn to the Post Apocalyptic, and casting a wide net for inspiration.
April 11, 2020
Call in Bonanza 5: Champions, Clerics, Cereal, and Player Feedback
Calls from The Lonely Adventurer, Jason, Joe, and Evil Jeff. Hope you enjoy the Anchor Conversation!
April 10, 2020
Roll For Random Thoughts Saturday 5
Conversation with Jason & Lonely Adventurer about my B/X Champions concept plus random thoughts about Lost Plains and player feedback.
April 04, 2020
We Are the Champions!
I outline the concept of Champions for a reimagining of B/X D&D. Goodbye Cleric - Hello Champion...:)
April 03, 2020
Roll for Random Thoughts Saturday 4
A combat option for OS games, Prairie Dogs of the Lost Plains, Cool Game Theme Tee, and a couple calls from Jason of Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast.
March 21, 2020
A Trip Through the Back Catalog with Rui Lourenco of Chaoses Limb
An Anchor conversation with Rui of Chaoses Limb about my back catalog. Hopefully it doesn’t come across as too self indulgent:)
March 16, 2020
Roll for Random Thoughts Saturday 3
Four calls plus: Generosity, a trio of thematic dressings for Lost Plains, and showing appreciation.
March 14, 2020
Roll for Random Thoughts Saturday: 2
Lots of calls, musical talk, reimagining B/X, Clerics vs. Champions, Campaign Musical Immersion, 16 Horsepower
March 07, 2020
Roll For a Random Thoughts Saturday
A new short form series where I share random thoughts and half baked ideas about gaming.
February 29, 2020
Call-in Bonanza 5
d12, Languages in Game, Minnesota Dwarves, and likely inadequate responses to Lieren
February 28, 2020
Call in Bonanza 4: R.E.H., Gaming Art, Swedish Dwarves, & B/X Talk
Calls about Sinister Red Kickstarter, Time & Place determining character, Robert E Howard, Art in older RPGs, Swedish Dwarves, and a continued discussion on B/X with Evil Jeff.
February 18, 2020
B/X D&D Deep Dive 6: The Adventure!
A look at the macro elements of the B/X game system: the procedures of dungeon and wilderness exploration. Plus some Kickstarters I’m interested in.
February 11, 2020
Call-in Bonanza 3: B/X Spells and further conversations about OSR.
Another big call-in show with continuing conversations about B/X spells and defining the OSR and OSR games.
January 23, 2020
Is the term OSR meaningless? Only if you’ve made it so.
My take on what OSR means, and how some have redefined it and watered it down to make it meaningless.
January 19, 2020
B/X D&D Deep Dive Pt 5: Spells
Back after holiday hiatus with part 5 of my deep dive into B/X D&D. This time, a look into the spells.
January 17, 2020
B/X D&D Deep Dive Part 4: Spell Casting
Lots of calls and discussions, so the Spell Deep Dive is covering the basic casting principles. Specific spells in the next installment.
December 16, 2019
A Year of Blathering
It’s the 1 year anniversary if Down in a Heap. I’ve spliced together some of my favorite segments from year 1. Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to listen and call in since I started this project!
December 09, 2019
Another Call-in Bonanza!
B/X call-ins featuring Jason, Joe, Spencer, & an in-depth discussion with Evil Jeff.
December 06, 2019
B/X D&D Deep Dive Part 3
Exploring alignment, equipment, languages, and more in B/X.
December 04, 2019
B/X D&D Deep Dive Part 2
The 2nd episode of a close look at Moldvay/Cook, Marsh B/X. This time, attributes and character classes.
December 03, 2019
Call-in Bonanza!
Discussions continue with a flurry of calls from Josh, Joe, RFED, Jason, and Evil Jeff.
November 22, 2019
B/X Deep Dive: Part 1
Calls from Spikepit, Joe, and Tim plus the first part of a deep dive into B/X D&D. The intro & setting the stage for its place in time.
November 18, 2019
Setting Flourishes: Holidays & Festivals
Do you create holidays and festivals for your game settings? Some ideas for spicing up the game.
November 11, 2019
One if my white whales: Initiative
Take two: My endless (hapless) quest for the perfect initiative system and sequence of events. Pointless or worthwhile?
November 09, 2019
One of my white whales: Initiative
The endless (hapless) quest for perfect initiative system and sequence of events. Pointless or worthwhile?
November 09, 2019
No train, no pain, no gain: Leveling Up
Do you require any procedure or narrative cost in your game for leveling up? Or is it all abstraction?
November 06, 2019
Is there a magic-user in this village? Setting demographics.
Do you use any sort of demographics model for settings in your fantasy adventure games? How easy is it to find someone to remove that pesky curse?
November 05, 2019
Time Capsule
A look back to 1981 through the lens of the D&D Basic Box by Tom Moldvay.
October 13, 2019
Dedicated to Dave Arneson on his birthday.
October 01, 2019
Lord I Was Born a Ramblin’ Man
I try not to ramble about rambling in gaming casts. This isn’t an offended rant - rather a call to appreciate a good ramble.
September 26, 2019
Hand Waving & d6 Discussions
Lots of calls and Jacksons from Froth, Spikepit, Cody, & Pete about hand waving & d6 damage in D&D.
September 19, 2019
Hand Waving
How does abstracting or hand waving rules & physical realities affect your game? Where do you draw the line? Why do these things become conflated with the idea of story?
September 02, 2019
It’s Hip to be Square?
d6 Damage vs. Variable Weapon Damage. Is a straight d6 for everything really a good game feature?
September 02, 2019
The 1st Record with Friends Episode: Handouts & Props
I test the Anchor record feature with Bill as we talk about handouts, props, minis, and player aids in table top gaming.
August 25, 2019
The Anchorites Respond!
Lots of calls about podcasts and the potential of Anchorite collaboration.
August 24, 2019
A Podcast about Podcasts
What factors determine what you listen to? When and where do you listen? more podcast collaborations please!
August 17, 2019
The Discussion Continues about new game editions...
Calls from Colin, Spencer, and Froth expand the discussion.
August 05, 2019
New Game Editions - do you get excited or dread them?
Some thoughts on new game editions prompted by Electric Bastionland, Thought Ester, and Random Screed.
August 03, 2019
Return to The Odd
Talk about a return to Into the Odd by Chris McDowall and some of my house rules for it.
July 25, 2019
Stick a fork in it!
A commute-cast pondering about campaign endings, and potential causes. Chime in with your views.
July 12, 2019
World Building 101
An email asking me to give tips for world building from Agorok Doomington provides the topic for the day.
July 07, 2019
Rip-off Wednesday: My Top 7 Songs for Gaming
The top 7 songs that put me in the mood for fantasy adventure games. Be sure to listen to this one with Anchor app to hear song snippets :)
July 03, 2019
Movie Chat & Neglected Drummers
Call-ins from my top movies plus a look at the drummers discussed by Froth & Co on Thought Eater. One notable omission really sticks in my craw :)
July 01, 2019
Rip-off Wednesday. ;)
Topic stealing time: my top movies.
June 19, 2019
Calls, ANA, job crap, and adventure recap.
Calls from Froth & Whisk, a question, and adventure recap: another 1st level MU goes Down in a Heap.
June 03, 2019
Take a little trip; take a little trip with me.
A look at The Fantasy Trip from Steve Jackson Games, plus calls and replies about the worst podcast ever.
June 01, 2019
Lead Balloon
A couple lead balloons.
May 31, 2019
Xpts & Advancement: Incentive & Rewards
Answer some calls with a ramble about cultures plus experience points and PC advancement.
May 27, 2019
Endangered PC Species: Humans
Why are humans so unappealing in fantasy adventure games, and how can you change that?
May 22, 2019
Movement, Encumbrance, and other physical realities in games.
Why does everyone move at the same rate in most games? Plus a Jackson from Tim Shorts.
May 08, 2019
Turning the Preference Dials: Role Playing
A call from Rich sends me on a tangent talking about role playing and adventure - two aspects of the game.
May 07, 2019
Game Design Feedback 1: I get lots of calls...even some “Jacksons”!
Feedback from Tim, Ray, Froth, and Cody. Thanks!
May 03, 2019
2d12 Game Design Pt 3: Class vs. Skills
Third installment of the 2d12 game design series. Class based PCs or skill based?
May 01, 2019
Game Design series 2: Attributes
Part 2 in the game design series. I do a recap and go into which attributes PCs will have.
May 01, 2019
The Logan Howard Challenge! Top 3 monsters!
Calls from Froth, Ray, Tim, and Rich and I list my top 3 monsters.
April 28, 2019
5e D&D Analysis - Part 3: “The Ugly”
I finish the 3-part 5e Analysis with the Ugly - aspects that are a mixed bag.
April 23, 2019
5e D&D Part 2: The Bad
The 2nd episode in my 3-part examination of 5e. This time Lee Van Cleeve takes the stage - The Bad.
April 20, 2019
First in a series about the pros & cons of 5e D&D. I start with the “Good”.
My opinions about 5e will be covering the good, the bad, and the ugly.
April 19, 2019
The Ray Otus Challenge!
Ray on Plundergrounds suggested a podcast topic for all the OSR Anchorites to tackle. Here’s mine.
April 12, 2019
Game Design: the first steps.
My initial foray into designing a new game. Many considerations and decisions to make...let’s have a conversation.
April 10, 2019
Island of Misfit Games 2: Searching for Atlantis
A look at another largely forgotten game system from the hazy crazy 80’s.
April 09, 2019
It’s broken!
A lunchtime cast with calls and pondering balance vs. broken game elements.
April 05, 2019
Calls x4 plus new game series?
Call ins and pondering about starting a series of episodes that walk through the process of creating a new game.
April 03, 2019
Punk Rock Podcasting and Comfort Zones.
My podcasting philosophy and noodling about comfort zones in gaming.
March 27, 2019
What’s a DM to do?
What should a DM be doing in adventure games?
March 20, 2019
Decoding the song.
I try to explain what old school gaming means to me.
March 20, 2019
Gaming Grab Bag
A grab bag of game topics: board games as RPG settings, B2 Redux, a list of podcasts I listen to.
March 13, 2019
No limitations!
A quick mention of one house rule for magic-users that I forgot this morning.
February 28, 2019
Poor Old Magic-user.
A look at 1st level Magic-users and my house rules for them.
February 28, 2019
Tinkering 2, Electric Bugaloo
Calls, and more thoughts on tinkering and house rules; including more for B/X.
February 20, 2019
Poor old d12. Why is the d12 so neglected in DnD?
I ponder about why this one die is overlooked and what it actually is used for and could be used for.
February 15, 2019
Tinker, Tailor, Molder, Why?
Tinkering with games, and my own B/X house rules for Fighters.
February 08, 2019
Background or Baggage?
How much backstory and background is too much for a PC? When does it become baggage for a game?
February 07, 2019
Healing in old school games - the fine line between loss and recovery.
February 03, 2019
Clarifying the rant?
I (hopefully) provide more clarity to my recent rant on DM Expectations. Maybe not...
January 31, 2019
Survey says!
A look at the OSR survey results posted on
January 31, 2019
DM Expectations - when is enough?
An impromptu rant - maybe the real balance we should strive for is game responsibilities between players and GM.
January 30, 2019
Call ins and Wrestling my Inner Grognard
I answer a few calls and ramble about self reflection.
January 25, 2019
We go Into the Odd
A smaller gathering prompts a go at a rules lite game, Into the Odd. A walkthrough and thoughts on it.
January 23, 2019
Morale - another easy (and perhaps essential) way to have that old school feel.
Morale mechanics in B/X. How they work, how to use them, and why they’re important for capturing the old school vibe.
January 18, 2019
Reaction rolls in RPGs
Reaction rolls: an important aspect to getting an old school feel. How I use them and mechanical tweaks.
January 14, 2019
Luck mechanics revisited.
Colin Green from Spikepit has a great idea and a silent commute helps to get my imagination going...and jogs my memory.
January 12, 2019
Luck, Bennies, Fate plus a call from Colin Green of Spikepit fame!
Some quick thoughts about Luck mechanics in RPGs and what I’m currently using for Whispered Tales of Gore.
January 11, 2019
The Isle of Misfit Games: Thieves’ Guild
I take a look at one of my old games from the 80’s that doesn’t get much discussion: Thieves’ Guild from GameLords, Ltd.
January 06, 2019
Who are you? Character generation.
What’s this? Singing?!? A call in? Character generation: rolling vs. building.
January 05, 2019
The 3 “E’s” of being a great player.
My 1st call in! Plus, I describe the three “E’s” players can focus on to make the game more enjoyable for everyone at the table.
December 17, 2018
0-Level Hit Points
One simple house rule for old school RPGs.
December 14, 2018
Rob’ Rules of Gaming
I outline 12 “rules” to follow for happier game play.
December 14, 2018
Tastes and Time
Rambling about how tastes in gaming are formed, and what will the future be like?
December 13, 2018
The Name Game or...Game Name
My intro to the Down in a Heap podcast. Topic - names in RPGS.
December 10, 2018