Saturday, 31 July 2021

The Goblin Thief / One Page Dungeon Contest

This is my entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2021.

It's a simple adventure I wrote for my kids during the winter lockdown when we played a lot of RPGs using an old German ruleset called Das Schwarze Auge. (In my blog post Playing Das Schwarze Auge after 37 years I wrote about how we played the adventure.)

My daughter drew the goblin. She says he looks like me, but more evil ...

goblin thief

You walk through a street at night which is deserted apart from a creature the size of a child, which crosses your path, bumps into you, steals the most valuable thing you have, runs away and disappears in a cellar beneath a worn down building.

old school dungeon map

Stairs go down to a room, 5 m × 2 m. There is an old sofa opposite the entrance and a chest full of fancy clothes and moths in one corner of the room. An unlocked door leads to room 2. A glass cabinet hides the way to a corridor (3).

2 A room, 3 m × 3 m. Three drunk pirates, equipped with sables and knives, sleep on a bed frame or lie on the floor. One of them sings: "Wir lagen vor Madagaskar und hatten die Pest an Bord." (Really no need waking these up.) There are other things in the room, in various states of decomposition: a chair, a turned over table, a barrel, partly filled with cheap rum, a viola bastarda, missing some strings, a bucket full of crabs. The miserable scene is lit by a small lantern, standing on the floor.

3 A small corridor, 1 m wide and 7 m long. There are two doors on the left side, which are unlocked, and one door on the right side, which is locked.

4 A room, 6 m × 3 m, that is used for storing wood. Planks, full of wormholes and covered with spiderwebs, are piled up to the ceiling. There is so much wood in the room you can hardly enter it, and that’s not all: a knight’s armour, a bastard sword (two useful items, but difficult to handle or even carry for flimsy adventurers), human bones, fish bones and rags are scattered on the floor. Beneath the rubble lives a family of large rats.

5 A room, 3 m × 3 m, with two small beds inside. A beautiful lamp stands on a chest beside one of the beds. There are a couple of animal bones inside the chest, potsherds, pieces of floor tiles and a little rusty iron stick.

6 The door to this room is locked. There are two small beds inside. The goblin thief is hiding beneath one of the beds. When discovered he will try to defend himself with a kitchen knife or negotiate.

Around this time, two goblins carrying a spear and a bow return home from the street.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Conquistadores vs Jungle Cannibals / HotT Battle Report


This is a picture of my friend Krüger. It was taken on the 22nd of May when we played Hordes of the Things. He looks a bit like a doctor from a nineties hospital series.

We played conquistadores vs jungle cannibals with these lists:

Blade General, 5 Blades, 6 Shooters


Warband General, Magician, 6 Warbands, 3 Shooters

(jungle cannibals)

The game was over after a couple of minutes because Krüger lost his general immediately.

Since Covid-19 started in Germany, I have only played three tabletop games with Krüger and a couple of games with my kids. That’s it.

I had a relaxed summer in Berlin after a long lockdown and now Corona cases are rising again in Europe, in many countries rapidly.

I wonder if safe gaming will be possible in late summer / autumn.

I hope that I will look at this picture some day and that it will look strange, maybe even funny, reminding me of a time long gone …

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Playing Hordes of the Things in times of the Corona Virus

Hordes of the Things

The last time I played HotT was four years ago, the last time I played a tabletop game eight months ago.

So I invited my friend Krüger over to play Hordes of the Things.

This happened between the second and third wave of Covid 19 in Germany. Krüger and I were wearing masks of course and windows and doors were open. As far as I know this reduces the risk of catching Corona to less than 1%.

I enjoyed re-reading the rules before we played, although it felt a bit like reading a math book.

I played Spanish conquistadors with this list:

Blade General, 5 Blades, 6 Shooters

Krüger played jungle cannibals. He has been painting this army for some years now and it was the first time I saw it in action:

Warband General, Magician, 6 Warbands, 3 Shooters

Krüger was the defender.


We had to improvise a bit with the terrain. First of all we played on a table which used to be my mother’s kitchen table. Its area is 17% smaller than that of a regular HotT table and it’s oval, not square. 

We borrowed a paper mache hut from my youngest son to present Krüger’s stronghold. And we used a cloth with grass printed on it and pieces of yellow felt and toy trees to depict woods.

I was a bit nervous because of Corona and I forgot that it isn’t useful placing one blade element behind the other when deploying my army.

Krüger, on the other hand, forgot that Warbands don’t get a +1 rear support bonus in woods for a second Warband behind them.

So we both didn’t deploy well.

Hordes of the Things

I managed to destroy two warbands on my right flank at the beginning of the game and then played quite badly.

I lost two blades and four shooters, thus loosing the game.

It felt really good to play HotT after so many years. It was a good break from the isolation I’m currently in.

view from the balcony

After the game we had a chat on the balcony. Krüger said something which sums up some of the stress I’m currently under. He said that everybody is imprisoned in his own particular situation during the Corona pandemic.

A single person is always alone. A couple without kids can only see each other. A couple with kids is always surrounded by kids and children can hardly escape their parents these days.

We made plans to play HotT again, but unfortunately the week after our game Covid 19 cases rose rapidly where we live.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

My Aunt's Dice

two dice

During the second lockdown I painted two dice.

I found them going through my aunt’s things after she died a couple of years ago.

When I started to paint the dots, I noticed that one of the dice had one dot on two sides, two dots on two sides and three dots on two sides.

So I have a D3 now.

I wonder why my aunt, who worked as a French and history teacher and wasn’t very enthusiastic about games, had a D3.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Playing Das Schwarze Auge after 37 Years

For some time I have been locking for a set of RPG rules to play with my children and simple enough, so they could play it by themselves.

I prepared a GURPS adventure for them during our last vacation in Greece, but got lost in the complexity of the rule system. I still have a notebook filled with monster stats and stains of Greek coffee. Who else would sit next to a swimming pool writing down advantages, disadvantages, skills and attributes for a troll and a slime monster? Nevertheless GURPS is still my favourite system and I hope to play the adventure one day.

My daughter started to play D&D with her friends at school, the 5th edition, but their GM disappeared and she can’t be bothered to read the basic rules (180 pages).

So I remembered Das Schwarze Auge, the first German role playing game, published in 1984. It is also the first RPG I ever played. DSA1 is similar to Tunnels & Trolls and basic D&D (the red box).

The rules and some adventures have been re-released recently, both as printed versions and PDFs available through DriveThroughRPG.

The game is well written and has a lot of charm. It has the level of complexity I was looking for. It is a great game to play with children and I think my children would also be able to play it on their own.

a simple dungeon

I was looking for a simple dungeon to do a test run, but finally decided to write one myself as I couldn’t find anything simple enough.

Das Schwarze Auge

We played our first game on a Sunday morning during the second Covid-19 lockdown while it was snowing outside. It was a beautiful bright day.

game master Herr Zinnling

Character creation in DSA1 is random. Lina, Hendrik and Joaquín ended up with two adventurers and an elf. Spells have funny names like BALSAMSALBUNDE-Heile, Wunde! and FLIM-FLAM-FUNKEL-Bring Licht ins Dunkel! and elves are magical creatures who know seven spells from the start.


I told the adventure party that they were walking around the streets of Havena, the classic DSA city, when a pickpocket the size of a child stole their money and ran away. They followed him down a cellar.

The Dark Eye

To my great surprise they attacked three sleeping pirates in room 2, wanted to talk to a rat in room 4 and when they finally found the goblin thief under a bed in room 6, who tried to defend himself with a kitchen knife, they negotiated with him, so that he could keep their money and they could leave the dungeon unharmed.

Hendrik's map

This was my best role playing session ever. I haven’t had so much fun in a long time.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Happy New Year!

The first of January my wife cried listening to Angela Merkel’s New Year’s speech. I guess 2020 was a bit exhausting.


I miss my friends, going to restaurants, gaming conventions, playing Badminton, I miss traveling and, although I’m an introvert person, I miss seeing people who are neither family nor close friends.

What stresses me most is that somebody around me might get sick or even die if I’m not careful enough. These days even going to the supermarket can be a threat to your life. That’s difficult to understand if you grew up in Germany after WWII.

We probably have several weeks of homeschooling ahead of us. It’s hard for children not to be able to see their friends. And it’s hard for families to be stuck together all the time. Nevertheless I’m glad that schools are closed now. I hope it helps fighting the virus.

I’m looking forward to Spring and Summer …


It’s the time of year to look back and make plans and this is a gaming blog, of course.

In 2020 I wanted to finish all of my old hobby projects (some of them I had started more than ten years ago) and I made a great effort to do so.

my desk

This is a picture of my desk. The palm trees and mud huts still need some work, but I’m pleased about how far I got.

Also I’m happy that I played a couple of strategy games with my children last year.

My plan for 2021 is to paint a small tabletop army for my children to play with, to improve my painting skills this way and to take the miniatures on the road, to play Dragon Rampant or something like that with a friend if that’s possible.

I have been thinking about a theme for this army for some time, dark ages or colonial, orcs or humans, Spanish or British, dinosaurs or pangolins, but it doesn’t really matter.

In 2020 I enjoyed reading your blogs a lot and having little conversations about the hobby in the comment sections of our blogs. I would like to thank you for this. It made life a bit more cheerful in otherwise stressful times.

Happy New Year!


Friday, 11 December 2020

Q&A with Bob Cordery about The Portable Wargame

I'm interested in "The Portable Wargame" and have a few questions about it.

I would like to play the game using hexagons.
How many hexagons do I need to play the game?


The rules are written for square and hex grids, and I suggest a minimum of 8 x 8 squares or 9 x 8 hexes. You can use a larger grid, and I’ve fought games with a 6 x 9 hexed grid, but 8 x 8/9 x 8 are what the rules were originally written for.

>> And how many figures do you need on each side?

Sides are made up of units (aka bases), and most players mount their figures on multi figure bases ... so there is no pre-set number of figures. I recommend each player has 10 to 12 unit/bases. (Some players use blocks of wood for units.)

>> To play ancient battles do I need the book "Developing The Portable Wargame" or are the main rules sufficient?

To play Ancient battles, then I’d recommend the rules in DTPW. You don’t need the first book in the series to fight wargames, but you might find it useful to read TPW at some point.

>> It would probably be easy to transfer DBA army lists to your game, wouldn't it?

The DBA armies should work with the PW Ancient rules.

>> What is the difference between "The Portable Colonial Wargame" and "When Empires Clash!"?

WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! is a forerunner of TPCW, but is a different set of rules with different mechanisms. That said, the Army Lists in WEC! are useable with the PW rules.

>> Is your book "The Portable Colonial Wargame" also a standalone game?

All my books are stand alone, although quite a few people have bought all of them and ‘mix and match’ from them to meet their particular requirements. For example, I know someone who uses the basic 19th century rules for PW with the naval rules from Gridded Naval Wargames and the campaign rules from PCW.

>> I thought "The Portable Wargame" was your core rulebook and the other books were supplements.

Does "The Portable Wargame" have a historical theme as well or is it a generic wargame?

The PW book was originally intended to be a ‘one off’, and contained a brief history of gridded wargames and several explanatory chapters about the different types of grids available, lines of sight, basing models, solo play etc. There were also two sets of basis rules, one for the 19th century and one for the early/mid 20th century.

The PW rules are generic BUT are designed so that the mechanisms can be adapted for specific historical periods or to meet individual players’ requirements. The DPW shows this as it contains Ancient rules, more detailed mid 20th century, and Air Combat rules. It also has chapters about different ways the rules can be adapted, an example of a mini-campaign, and some examples of Army Lists (including balanced and unbalanced forces).

PCW has two sets of rules for those who want quick games with a few figures and longer games with more figures, a more developed campaign system, and a terrain generator.

PNW has four sets of rules, one that is really very basic and three for different levels of command (brigade, divisional, and corps-level battles). It also looks a different types of card-driven move mechanisms, as well as unit and commander grading.

>> Is it possible to play ancient naval battles with "Gridded Naval Wargames“?

The GNW rules are designed to be used with steam-powered, iron & steel warships BUT I know that several players have adapted them for earlier periods, including ancient naval warfare where ramming was the main method of combat.

I hope that this has been helpful.

All the best,

>> Thanks a lot. This has been very helpful.
All the best,

I got your books The Portable Wargame, Developing the Portable Wargame and The Portable Colonial Wargame on Lulu.

I'm looking forward to reading them and trying out your game.