NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People Session 37

For a far fuller session report, checkout Mycelium Mischef for Session 37

For Mayfly's downtime, he spent most of the time looking researching the book taken from the Abbey last week. Unfortunately, it was written in a language unfamiliar to Mayfly, but the book makes references to several magical diagrams like those seen on the floor in the last encounter. The book also makes reference to one for each cardinal direction.

Hmm... worth exploring with this outing. The rest of the party agrees that going back to the third level would be worth the risk given how the party has been able to handle itself so far. [PC NOTE: Also the rule we have imposed that the party can only have 10 members or risk increasing the number of encounter checks seems to work well. It provides enough space for each player but helps keep the action moving.]

  • THE SCREAMING PILLARS: The party charts a course into the Abbey via mapping done previously and arrives at the entrance to the 3rd level without incident [PC NOTE: Mapping- it works! In game, we post a route on Discord, DM calculates how many encounters rolls occur, and we start that game at the desired room, provided there is no encounter.]

  • THE FOUR SIGILS to the OSSUARY: The information from the book is confirmed with the discovery of four sigils on the 3rd level. They glow with divine energy and the area around them appears to be the consistency of cracked, irritated skin as if the Abbey rejecting them. Little else is figured out. The party turns south again and hits an extensive ossuary. Moving around in the four ossuary rooms the players are able to gather 1500 SP from hundreds of biting skulls by popping the coin out of their mouths with spears.

    The party's activities don't go unnoticed as four Breaking Wheels crash into the party! Oil flasks are thrown with torches following! The party's clerics and fighters land solid hits as axles are shattered.

  • THRONE OF VALAX: The party turns southeast and hits a room with a well-worn path leading from the north door to the east door. At the east door, there is a sermon in another language, so the party turns north into a room depicting four dukes of hell. After a brief investigation, the party head south into a room dominated by a demon.

    Mayfly offers up a false name to learn that the book of Elric is in the Lair of the Rulesmaster and this room will be known by the presence of... the Rulesmaster.

  • RUMBLE WITH THE SWORD BROTHERS: The party turns northwest and encounters a room with a band of sword brothers lead by a far more menacing undead knight. The two sides square off with a quick victory established by the party with the liberal application of their remaining oil flasks and torches. All under the (maybe) amused eye of a devilman smoking a pipe. With that fight concluded and a quick sweep of the treasure, the party returns.

The total experience gained from this outing for the party was 6500! With each character gaining 650 SP in the process, which should set us up for some solid carousing the next gaming session.

A few missteps in the maps,
but otherwise roughly accurate


In an effort to keep to my word to make things more blog-centered, I am going try to read, link to, and respond to more blog posts.

Over at Gorgon Bones, there is an OSR origins story of sorts. And I thought it might be fun to tell my version. I don't know how long this will be but I will try to not meander too much.


Despite BX being my preferred edition of D&D, I actually got into the hobby by stumbling upon my brother's comics and 1e AD&D collection. But the frustrating thing is that I had a bunch of adventures and filled out character sheets, but no starting rules. However, I did find in the collection a copy of TMNT and Other Strangeness so that was my very first RPG. A few years later, the second edition of the game was put out and I snatched it up quickly. Fortunately, I had made a friend in middle school who played with his 2 brothers and cousin.

And so I headed off into the RPG wilds, rolling up several characters that I would never play and really only ever getting about 1 Saturday afternoon's worth of adventuring in on any adventure. Eventually, group had bought boxsets, splat books, and such-- Ravenloft and Planescape being the favorites. By 14, it had all accumulated to just too many rules for one DM (usually me). So, things wound down by about 16 with the occasional game of Battletech or 40k in there. And of course Magic the Gathering. I eventually got deep into school and dating and all my RPG stuff lay dormant but the fun never forgotten.


ME: Wait you said you ran games for White Wolf? They do Vampire?
TEACHER: Yeah but before my friends and I did do a lot of
Call of Cthulhu.

ME: I don't play WoW because I've already played that game... its called Dungeons & Dragons 

ME: I never understood where your Player's Handbook was because how did you learn the game?
BRO: Oh, I guess I did have the
Basic Box but must have given it away. I never did understand why people moved to AD&D, Basic was enough.


I was comming off getting big into the US boardgame revival in the mid-2000. There were three games that stuck with me (and continue to do so) all from FFG: Cosmic Encounter, Talisman, and Arkham Horror. 

Of course 5e D&D came out and hearing it was a more back-to-basics D&D and not the direction that 4e had taken, I was all back in. But as I started reading the adventures I couldn't help feel they still were the same on-rails experience a lot of 2e was. Which, in addition to the volumes of splat-book rules we piled on, really made the game a drag. So, remember how much fun Arkham Horror was I wondered if Call of Cthulhu was the same fun. And The King in Yellow was one of my favorite mythos stories-- so I started looking up "Carcosa" as a setting.

And lo-and-behold, I start reading on the internet how someone has published suppliment to D&D called Carcosa and there were calls for it to be banned or censored or burn because it was just too much.

At first I thought this was some sorta gag right? Like a book based on a book about a play that makes people go insane and see visions of a planet called Carcosa was being boycotted? Just like the fictious play. Can't be real.

With a little more digging I, like a lot of folks in the OSR scene, had my first encounter with Lamentations of the Flame Princess. But I still couldn't figure out what kind of D&D it was and no store in my area were carrying the rulebooks. Casting about more I hit upon a few notable blogs like False Machine, Monsters & Manuals, Monster Manual Sewn From Pants, Dungeon of Signs, and Zak's blog. So the first three things I got my hands on were: 

  • Deep Carbon Observatory
  • Yoon-Suin
  • Vornheim

And after reading those books, I all of a sudden I had a version of D&D that I could keep in my head. I realized that unlike 2e, I didn't need to keep a bunch of chats and stats in my head. Instead, I could keep a few relevant numbers and relationships in my head. I had also found Matt Finch's manifesto about the old school scene. That too clicked with me.

Those three books also kinda represented a mix of what I wanted out of D&D-- a game where creativity moves to the front, instead of numbers. They also encouraged me to develope at-the-table tools and to creatue situtions, instead of trying to create a "story" the players are to follow. The tone of DCO and Vornheim appealed to my inner meloncholy while I found Yoon-Suin sorta reminded me a little bit of Planescape in that it was a D&D setting, but pretty removed from traditional D&D.


In the near present, I started running BX in earnest when I was asked to start a D&D campaign for some folks who worked around me.

5e of course was a natural start, but it quickly became apprent that it was just too much for complely novice players. They really didn't "get" how to play an RPG so I needed a system that was stripped down. A few sessions with the Black Hack and then I transitioned to BX. At first with a lot of LotFP as it was about the best BX out there. But, I finally looked on ebay for a copy of B/X D&D. Found a good copy of each book along with a copy of B2 Keep on the Borderlands and as a treat I had them bound together in library binding (left pic). A now very cherished relic. But so much so, I hate to use it unlike my very well worn copy of OSE.

An really from there the rest is on this blog!

BLOG!: Good God! What Is It Good For?

How Twitter views blogging

With the recent Twitter turmoil caused by its new owner, there has been a call to return to blogging as a means of communication in the OSR pond I swim in. And I absolutely agree.


Slower & more in-depth: To me, one big reason is blogging's slower, cooler, longer form is a good counter-balance to Twitter or TikToks rapid hot-take environment. Blogging allows for a deeper discussion, better dissection, and/or a more balanced review of whatever RPG topic is being looked at.

"Quieter": Blogging too helps muffle the other voices in the same space. Responding on Twitter to trending topics presses you to prioritize rapid response and a bit more group think, but with a super spicy twist, in order to get those likes and reshares. Blogging on the other hand is far quieter- you, your thoughts, and a blank sheet. I find it a relief.

Archival & stable: The last broad reason to blog is that its comparatively more long-lived and archival and therefore paradoxically easier to share than something like Twitter. Less on an individual post level, but its easier to share things from years ago or share like or grouped things-- like all monster posts for the "Sky Castle of Violet Spires" series.


Rule Zero- write about what interests you and don't worry about anything else. Seriously. That is the simplest piece of advice I can give. The more you drill into what interests you, the more the blog will develop its own voice. I love reading people's idiosyncratic views on the game.

Like, start A Fist Full of Fighting-Men (great name!) a blog all about fighters and fighter-centric campaigns. Its fine to hyper-specialize because that will lead to more novel posts of even well-worn topics like reviewing B2 again for the 1000th time.

A close second is writing about what you have recently been playing. I still think there is a surprising lack of this sort of content in the RPG space. A lot of theories exist. A lot of ideas about what works, what should work, and what is the correct way. But still few people showing their work. And for new players and DMs, being able to see this work is important because it helps explain the "why" especially in a lot of old-school play cultures. 

This is primarily my reason for blogging all my Nightwick games. To demonstrate that GP = XP, mapping, and rolling a random 3d6-down-the-line magic-user can work. And it had a knock-on effect of generating ideas about how to make the classic d4, one-spell at level 1 MU successful in-game-- resulting in one of my highest read posts and having it featured in KNOCK! Vol 3. But let me say again, this MU advice didn't arise from me theorizing, it was from 20+ sessions of megadungeon play with this PC.

Write about problems, campaign-wise, you are trying to overcome. This is similar to writing about playing, in that its starts with experience first not just an idea about how things should be done without actually attempting it first. Like a house going up in a neighborhood, people often find the process more interesting than the finished product because they can see "inside".

Here at ICL, this is why I started blogging at bit about my "Super Cleric Bros." campaign. I thought it might be useful to describe problems or content that needed to be generated for the game and then just show the "think-through". Nothing is incredibly novel about the campaign, but it generated some good responses. And I think represents more the sorta campaigns/game people are running.

But this also can something as simple as, "I'm running a swamp campaign.  Here is my d6 random encounter table for the next session." Even that is blog-able. Why? Because of Rule Zero, you are interested in it.


  1. I keep a Mead Five-Star grid-rule notebook close at hand for jotting down anything that pops into my head. Its also great for responding to hot takes without responding to hot takes. Occasionally review it just to see what good ideas I've forgotten.

  2. I just use Blogger because its easy for me. But just use whatever platform is low effort. But when blogging, content is king, so I'd not worry about more than just a banner to convey what your blog's "thing" is. Some famous blogs don't even do that.

  3. Then I am trying to post once a week- so 52 times a year. And I do want maybe about 1/3 of those posts to be something from play. So far I am at ~40+ posts and really I think I could do more if I would just relax, post more idiosyncratically, and leaning into posting about whatever I want.

  4. Tags do help! I wish mine were a little better and I think a good way to start might just be to use the OD&D titles as tags themselves (ugh- that IS a good idea):
    • Men
    • Magic
    • Monsters
    • Treasure
    • Underworld
    • Wilderness
    • [Campaign Title]

  5. Here are some topics (from an OSR perspective) that might help: 
    • Last RPG post that lit a fire in your brain and why? 
    • Description of the last session you played in. 
    • What are 6 pieces of "terrain" to add to any dungeon room encounter? 
    • Who are the gods of law, neutrality, & chaos in your campaign and what if my fighter gives an offering to each?
    • What are three illustrations that define some part of your ideal D&D?

  6. Finally after you've built up a good bit of material, try to organize it in your sidebar for ease of reference for yourself and the folks who start dropping by!