Posted in: Collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games

Dicing With Dragons: A Review

Earlier this year I was walking through a mall in my city that has a used book store. Like a siren calling me to the depths, I went in not knowing what I was going to find. This used book store has had several roleplaying game books in the past, but it actually had an entire display towards the front of the store. It was probably trying to capitalize on the Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie that was playing in the theater across the mall. Most of the books were ones I already owned or made my savings throw vs buy. But one book caught my eye. A little hardback book with a worn book jacket titled Dicing with Dragons: An Introduction to Role-Playing Games by Ian Livingstone.

I don’t know why this book jumped up and said “buy me”. Perhaps it was a chance to look into the early parts of the role-playing hobby since this book was published in 1982. According to the text on the inside of the jacket, the author co-founded Games Workshop and was (at the time) editor of White Dwarf magazine. Since the price was reasonable, I made the purchase with the intent to read and review the book for the blog.

This version that I had picked up was the book club edition. From what I saw on the internet, this book also appears to be available in paperback as well. This book was printed in the United States by The New American Library. I believe this company is one of the branches of Signet and/or Plume. All three company names were listed in the credits.

My book has 210 pages with several black and white illustrations (created by Russ Nicholson) and several sample pages from various games. The cover on the jacket was painted by Victoria Poyser. The book is broken down by acknowledgements, introduction, nine chapters and three appendixes.

The introduction takes a narration from the characters point of view through a combat scenario in a dungeon setting. This is one that you would normally read at the start of a ‘what is role-playing’ section of a core rule-book. In typical old-school fashion, one of the characters dies in this narration. This leads us directly into chapter one “Mind Games.” The author gives a description on how role-playing games work. What are player characters, working together in a group, using the power of imagination, etc. There is a discussion of the differences between RPGs and board games, the different styles of dice and what the different players do (including the dungeon/game master).

Chapter 2 “A Solo Adventure” talks about the rise of solo roleplaying (which is making a comeback from what I understand). There is a mention of Tunnels and Trolls (a popular solo RPG at the time) but primarily focused on a game written by Mr. Livingstone for this book called Fantasy Quest. It has a character sheet, creation rules and a combat system. Don’t be surprised if I end up creating a character for the next Character Creation Challenge coming up in January, 2024. I didn’t read too much of this chapter beyond the rules section primarily because I wanted to actually play the game after I’ve created my character. But the adventure is in the typical (if you want to go left, read section 17, if you want to go right read section 18, etc.)

“Games You Can Buy” is our next chapter. The author talks about some of the beginnings of the industry in the 1970s and how someone can learn the different games and rule sets. Then he discusses the popular games at the time with a little bit of detail. Not exactly a rule-book, just enough to give you an idea of what is needed to grasp the game. These included Dungeons and Dragons, Runequest, Traveller, and the above mentioned Tunnels and Trolls. The end of this chapter mentioned a few other games that were available on the market at the time, but didn’t go into detail on these systems.

Chapter 4 “Accessories” talks about the various published or authorized books and products that were available at the time of publishing. It broke these down by rules expansions, playing aids, background supplements and scenarios. It also listed their publisher and status (official, approved, etc.). Most of these I had heard about or seen in person or in catalogs. Some I wondered if they actually existed, but at the time of reading I didn’t want to get distracted by internet searches. There was also a description of magazines (yes White Dwarf was listed first) and a very brief listing of fanzines.

“Miniature Figures” was the subject of chapter 5. I really skipped a lot of pages in this chapter so I really couldn’t tell you if the techniques would still be useful for today. The primary reason for this is my lack of patience to put together models or paint miniatures. I love seeing them in play and I admire the person who does have that patience, but I know that person isn’t me. There are color charts and diagrams about how to paint. So, it may be useful to someone with that interest.

Chapter 6 is titled “Playing God” and the author discusses a lot of tips and tricks for new game masters to use. A lot of it made sense and were items that I had thought about (or read about in other GMs guides). But it was interesting seeing the early 80’s viewpoint.

Chapter 7 was for something very new at the time, “Computer Games“. The author talks about the wide possibilities that computers could help in gaming (if he only knew). I did skip a few pages in this chapter as well, but not for the same reason as chapter 5 above. The author was trying to describe in 80’s terminology the parts of a computer. “A kilobyte is…”, etc. It is a little dated (remember that a computer year is like a dog year). Having worked with computers since the late 80’s, a lot of it was very dry to me. If you are interested in the early days of computing, this chapter may be of interest to you.

The next chapter, titled “One Step Beyond” was very short. It covered live action role-playing. From the assassin game Killer to the SCA to something in the United Kingdom called Treasure Trap that was held in a real medieval castle. It sounded interesting, but I don’t think it may have gotten very far.

Chapter 9 titled “How Do I Start?” covered the different methods that you could use to get involved with other gaming enthusiasts and groups. It also talks about game shops and conventions. These techniques were good for the time and gives a look on what challenges the players had in getting together. It was a good chapter to end the book on.

Appendix 1 gave the postal addresses for the various game publishers. Magazine publishers were found in Appendix 2. Addresses for companies involved in miniatures and figures could be found in Appendix 3.

As I was reading this, I started gaining an appreciation for those who came before me. I started getting interested in role-playing games not too long after this book came out, but I was stuck in the bubble that most junior-high kids found themselves in at the time. What information we gathered came from local shops or what was published in the magazines of the time. While some of the items in this book are a little dated now, it still gives an interesting look into the introduction that many of our fellow players may have used. I’m glad that I have found this book and added it to my collection.

Have you read Dicing With Dragons? What books would you recommend about the early days of the role-playing game industry/hobby? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

SaltCON-End of Summer After Action Report

SaltCON t-shirts I had picked up at all three conventions

So Father’s Day finally arrived for me on Labor Day Weekend. My wife had purchased my SaltCON-End of Summer ticket as a Father’s Day gift. I had a chance to meet up with some of the friends that I had met at previous conventions. Some people were stating that they had recognized me from before. But I had also missed out on talking with a few others. We saw each other at a distance while getting to different events but didn’t get a chance to stop and talk. So sorry if I missed out on talking with you.

One of the things that I had not mentioned in my SaltCON-Spring and SaltCON-Summer after action reports was the available convention t-shirts (now seen above). These shirts were very reasonably priced for the sizes offered. So I made it a habit of picking one up each con when checking in at the registration desk. I’m grateful that they had a non-blue shirt for the end-of-summer event. And speaking of picking things up.

Some of the loot from this convention

The dealer that I had picked up several Star Trek Adventures sourcebooks now had the Star Trek: Discovery (2256-2258) Campaign Guide. This was one of the last books that I need (I’m only missing the Strange New Worlds Mission Compendium 2 hardback). From the game swap area I was able to track down a used copy of Ninjas & Superspies for a good price. I was also able to pick up a used copy of Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing as well. Both of these will end up being used in the 2024 Character Creation Challenge as well as other future themed blog posts.

Not in the photo was several gifts that I had picked up for my geek wife. But from one dealer I was able to pick up a Boba Fett pin and a D20 pin to go on my convention backpack. Hopefully you can see them at the bottom of the photo.

Some of the characters that I had a chance to play

I was able to attend all of the games that I had mentioned in my Prepping for SaltCON-End of Summer post. Here is how the games went.

Hyperborea– Yes this was definitely weird and ran pretty smoothly. The GM knew the game pretty well having backed the kickstarter. I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to play this game again.

Dragonbane– This game really impressed me. The character sheet made sense and I could see the logic behind both the system and the setup. I was originally thinking this was going to be my highlight game of the con, but another game knocked it off on Saturday. In this game your player character could be an intelligent duck. I played a wolfkin who was an excellent fighter.

Fallout– And the game that did grab my highlight of the con was Fallout. Most of us at the table were playing this 2d20 RPG for the first time and it actually made a lot of sense. I quickly understood how it ran (and it explained some items I had questions on other games using this same system). One of the players let me look at his dead-tree version of the book and I’m seriously thinking of adding it to my collection. Especially after I stated thinking of what a Salt Lake based Fallout campaign would be like.

Low Fantasy Gaming– This ran like a D20 clone. In true OSR style fashion, it was quick and deadly. Luckily the rolls went our way and we actually finished the scenario before the allotted time had expired.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- We had to stop some highway bandits while investigating a logging camp that had stopped sending logs down the river. As it turns out, we had to make peace between the loggers and a Fae queen who was not happy.

Star Trek Adventures– A session that a friend ran that was from one of the adventure books. He ran it pretty well, but it also went really late on a Saturday. I took some of the stuff I had learned from Fallout and was able to apply it here. I’m starting to get a better grasp for the game.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition- The first game I was in was part 4 of 5 of a connected story ran over the weekend. The gamemaster gave us a “Previously on…” flashback so that we understood where we were in the storyline. In the last event, we connected all of the clues together and confronted the final boss. The GM had a homebrewed system that he used to allow us to put all of the clues together and find our suspect. Luckily we had rolled well and was able to catch the bad guys before they realized we were on to them. Had we not rolled well, they could have been more prepared for the final confrontation.

Ghostbusters- It was weird when this game ran because most of the other games had concluded for the con. We had a big quiet room to ourselves. I could see where this early D6 system eventually developed into the Star Wars RPG by West End Games. We had to investigate dinosaur ghosts at the New York Museum of Natural History. Yea, we made a lot of Night at the Museum jokes while playing.


I had a blast at all three events this year. If you are reading this and can make only one event, I’d recommend making it the spring one as it is the largest. The End-of-Summer event was the second largest in scope and layout at the convention center. I was also able to put a bug in the ear of some people to, hopefully, see more of an expanded used-RPG book swap for next year. The bulk of the convention is boardgames, but I’m there for the roleplaying side of things.

Not only am I making plans to attend next year, I’m also starting to give serious thought about GMing a few games. I really like that classic games such as James Bond and Ghostbusters can find themselves on the schedule. Considering I can play 5E or PF2 anytime, I really want to play the more rare games at conventions to make it more unique.

Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

Prepping for SaltCON-End of Summer

I’m going to need one of these for the con.

So in my gaming convention trifecta, I’m going to be attending SaltCON-End of Summer over Labor Day Weekend. My wife had purchased a ticket for me as a Father’s Day gift. It will be interesting to compare this event to the big SaltCON in March and the smaller SaltCON-Summer that was in June. While I do have to take off for a birthday, I don’t have any concerts scheduled for this same weekend.

Once again, I’m really grateful that I can schedule my games in advance. While scheduling mishaps can (and have) taken place, I’m sure that I’m going to have fun at this event. I’ve got an opportunity to play several common games, but several rare games as well.

Game line up for SaltCON-End of Summer:

Hyperborea– A game of swords, sorcery and weird science-fantasy. Reading the description sounded really interesting. This will be my first time playing this system.

Dragonbane– A fantasy game released by Free League Publishing (the same company that released the Alien RPG). This will also be the first time I’ve played this game.

Fallout The Roleplaying Game– Based off of the video game series. I’ve only played part of one of these games, but the world they are set in sounds really interesting. This game was released by Modiphius and uses their 2d20 ruleset. It will be interesting to see how this compares with Dune and Star Trek Adventures.

Low Fantasy Gaming– A system that I’ve been interested in for a while. This has been on the schedule at the last two SaltCONs, but the schedule had never lined up so that I could give this game a try.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- This adventure is called The Mystery of the Moonstream and it sounded interesting.

Star Trek Adventures– This game is being run by a friend of mine.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition- I actually have two sessions for this system (that’s just how the schedule lined up). I’m wondering how it will compare to the first time I played it at my first SaltCON.

Ghostbusters- The original RPG from West End Games with the D6 system. I’m glad when older RPGs are played at conventions. I’d jump on more of these if they were available.

What should I be on the look out for? Any recommendations for the games I’m going to be playing? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 22: Best Secondhand RPG purchase

Day 22 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge has us talking about our Best Secondhand RPG purchase. While I have purchased a few used books from different sources, the ones that I love the best come from thrift stores. The prices are LOW and I feel like I’ve won a treasure hunt when I stumble across them. Here is a photo of just a few of the thrift store finds that I have uncovered.

Most of these are various flavors of Dungeons and Dragons. I wasn’t really expecting the Everquest RPG when I stumbled across it. I never really played the MMORPG, but I did use it in the first year of the Character Creation Challenge. However the best purchase is the 1979 third-edition blue covered Dungeons and Dragons book edited by Eric Holmes.

This was the rulebook that was released even before everyone could get the common set of role-playing dice. So the book had to come with a set of cardboard chits that you would place into a cup and randomly draw. The chits were still attached to this book.

When I had found the book in the thrift store, I had no cash on me. But I did have my debit card. Not wanting to run the card for the low price they wanted for the book, I poured all over the thrift store just to find something else. When I couldn’t find anything else to buy, I prayed that the store would let me run the debit for just this one item. Luckily, they did and this is how much I paid.

Yea, I found the receipt still with the book when I pulled it out years later. So this was the best second hand purchase that I’ve made.

Do you have a favorite second hand purchase of an RPG product? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

RPGaDay2023 Day 19: Favorite published adventure

For Day 19 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge we were asked to discuss our favorite published adventure. Like some of the other favorites in this challenge, how can I select just one. So in order to make sure this isn’t a huge blog post, I’m going to stick with two that came to mind.

Demand of Honor for the FASA Star Trek RPG

I loved reading through Demand of Honor for the Star Trek Role Playing Game by FASA. There were quite a few good published adventures from FASA that followed up on episodes from the original Star Trek. This one gave us the aftermath of the episode Arena where we first saw the Gorn. From the FASA catalogs we had sourcebooks for The Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Orions, Merchants and more. The planned Starship Recognition Manual for the Gorns was never released. I don’t know if we ever would have received a manual for the Gorns, so this adventure was the closest we got. Insight on the Gorn point of view. It gave details about what the state of affairs after Kirk’s fight with the Gorn. We were also rewarded with a new Gorn vessel (with deck plans) that was probably planned for the recognition manual. This was great to flip through and read. I just wish that I could have played or GMed this adventure.

Into the Borderlands by Goodman Games

I no longer have my original copy of B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. In the mid-90’s when I had to cut down on the amount of D&D books that I owned for various reasons (20/20 hindsight told me that I should have kept them). But I remember reading this module. I remember wanting to play this module. Eventually I even ran this module as my first attempt at being a Dungeon Master. In my conversations a lot of people had this book and loved it as well. So it didn’t surprise me that Goodman Games had obtained the rights to publish a 5E conversion of B1: In Search of the Unknown and B2 called Into the Borderlands. I was able to pick up a copy myself and loved reading through the history and information. I should sit down and do a full review of this hardbound book.

As I mentioned above, there were several other printed adventures that I would love to mention as well. I felt the need to restrain myself at this time. I may make future blog posts talking about some of the others.

Do you have a favorite adventure that was published for a role playing game? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 13: Most memorable character demise

The #RPGaDay2023 Day 13 topic is “Most memorable character demise.” I can see this being a good topic because many RPG war stories probably cover this. While I’m certain that I’ve had a lot of characters die, most of them probably fell into the category of me proclaiming “oh smeg!”

For the Day 8 entry of “Favorite Character“, I introduced you to my Sun Elf, Tovark. I can say that he died at least once, but it was on purpose. The party that Tovark was a member of had been contracted by a god called The Great Oak (hey, he was a nature god) to rescue his chief druid from the clutches of a demon lord named Ballhonith. He was using the druid as a conduit to send his power and attacks against other demons in their various unholy wars. There was a series of dangerous settings that I’ll talk about in my Day 28 entry of the RPGaDAY challenge. But to assist with this, the Great Oak had granted us the power to return to life once (not only back to full health, but back to full power as well).

I figured that when we had our final confrontation against the demon lord, I would need to be back at full strength with all spells and abilities. I tried to finagle it so that my character wouldn’t get killed (and have to re-use my regeneration) before the final boss battle.

I succeeded. Not only did I get a few good spells off before I died, I was able to take out a bunch of the demon’s spell casting lieutenants before I went down. As mystic powers re-charged me back to life (ILM spent a lot of money on the special effects to film it), Ballhonith was shocked to see me get back up and start magically wailing on him with UNLIMITED POWER!!! OK, all of the power for a 14th level wizard, which is still a lot. We were able to hold off the demon lord long enough for the other members of the party to free the druid and get the hell out of Dodge.

While the Great Oak rewarded us greatly. I’m pretty certain that some where, out there, Ballhonith is plotting revenge against Tovark and his companions. It’s probably a good thing he took a very good reward from the Great Oak that could protect him. Or would it?

Do you recall a death scene of one of your RPG characters? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Comic Books, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 10: Favorite tie-in Fiction

While I believe that the subject for Day 10 of the #RPGaDAY Challenge “Favorite tie-in fiction” probably refers to some of the many different novels written in RPG settings, I knew I had to pick another medium. Well they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go.

Just some of the Dungeons and Dragons comics in my collection.

Back in my Comics Utah days I was collecting the various Dungeons and Dragons comics by DC Comics. I actually just re-read most of them a few years ago and recalled how much I loved them. While there have been other publishers that have picked up the D&D line, I don’t think they ever hit it quite right like the DC comic run.

One of the things that I really liked is that they gave you Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition stats for characters, spells and items that came up in the various comics. I really liked that one of the characters in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons comic was a Centaur. I felt that this could have been a player race in the game.

Had there been an option for a non-Fiction favorite tie-in, I would have been tempted to post the Heroes’ Feast, The Official D&D Cook Book that I reviewed last year. That was a good book.

What is your favorite RPG tie-in fiction? I’d love to hear about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 8: Favorite Character

Alright we’ve made it to Day 8 of the #RPGaDAY2023 challenge and the topic is “Favorite Character”. I was thinking of selecting one of the past Character Sheets that I had posted on this blog. But then I realized that my most favorite character isn’t on a physical character sheet.

My friend Jeff Sullivan had run a Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition campaign for his friends from 2013 to 2019. I played a Sun Elf Wizard named Tovark that I had advanced from 1st level to 14th before the campaign had ended. Tovark had graduated from the very prestigious school run by Elminster (he even had student loans that he had to pay off). There was even a series of rolls that I had to provide during character creation that Jeff had used to come back with some background information (Are parents still alive? Any siblings? Career prior to becoming an adventurer? etc.) Plus the world that had been created was one that operated with lots of magic affecting people’s lives.

Jeff had created an Excel character sheet that had different tabs for stats, gear, spells, etc. They were all connected together so that if you raised an ability score, it automatically updated your skill stats as well. I took that character sheet and added hyperlinks to the online spell descriptions so that if I needed to look something up, I just clicked on the link.

A quick screenshot of the spell list on the Excel character sheet

I’ve actually thought up scenarios where the players would have to find Tovark in order to gain his assistance with a quest. Tovark, like most wizards, highly valued his privacy. He didn’t just have a tower in some land, nope, you would have to find the god that owed him a favor to find out where he went.

What was a favorite character from a role playing game that you enjoyed? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 5: Oldest game you’ve played

I have to think about this question for Day 5 of the #RPGaDAY2023 challenge. Oldest game you’ve played. I know it’s one of the early flavors of Dungeons and Dragons, but which one? When I was playing with my buddies in junior high, one friend had the blue cover Dungeons and Dragons book written by Eric Holmes (but I don’t recall if we actually played it or just referenced the book), another had the Basic/Expert Dungeons and Dragons book and another had Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (back before it was called 1st edition) and my first official purchase was the Basic Dungeons and Dragons book that was the start of the BECMI line. The version we played depended upon who was the Dungeon Master.

So my answer is, one of these three versions of Dungeons and Dragons. We didn’t limit ourselves. I preferred B/X (later BECMI) but played any of them.

Do you recall what was the oldest roleplaying game that you have played? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 2: First RPG Gamemaster

For Day 2 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge the topic is “First RPG Gamemaster”. From what I’ve read on the message boards, this could have (this year) on it like the Day 1 entry.

So the short answer is, I haven’t gamemastered anything since January 1st. However, I did run a session of Basic Fantasy RPG in December. I was introducing an OSR style game to some 5th Edition players over a holiday break. When I had offered to run an OSR game for them, their first request was “No 4th Edition.” I had to laugh and explain that OSR was a lot earlier than that.

Instead of re-typing everything about that happened in that great gaming session, I’ll give you a link to the blog entry where you can enjoy the after-action report and see the artwork the players came up with while we were playing. 5E players trying OSR for the first time.

Do you remember your first game that you GMed this year (or in the past year)? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

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