What is the Telengard setting anyway?

OK, if you’ve been following this blog for the past few months, in addition to the usual stuff (posting pictures of minis painted to the exacting standard of “I can kinda tell what it is from arms length” and ranting about games), I’ve been describing the half-baked “Telengard setting” I’m using for my the D&D game I am running. What is it?

It is a pastiche of dozens of sources and influences, many ripped off wholesale, along with some original ideas.

Computer games. I stole the name from the classic computer game Telengard, which provides the namesake for my Mount Telengard, a heavily mined mountain near the default town Skara Brae. “Skara Brae” is in fact the name of a real archeological site, and also the name of the main town in the classic computer game The Bard’s Tale (the name is also ripped off by the Ultima series of computer games). So the two main locations are obvious homages to old computer RPGs. I am using the Bard’s Tale‘s map for the town, and all the taverns and inns of the town are named after Telengard inns, and I’m throwing in various elements from CRPGs, although much of these are still undiscovered in actual play.

Other blogs. Norse Catholic Church? Thanks, Rolang. Combat house rules? Trollsmyth and Rules, Roles, and Rolls. Adventurer’s guild? Save or Die! Skill system? Largely Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Carousing rules? Jeff’s Gameblog and Playing D&D with Porn Stars. Hirelings Guild’s oath? Telecanter. Monsters? Several from Telecanter and Rules, Rolls, and Roles, and I think one from What a horrible night for a curse!

One Page Dungeons. Entries from the 2009 and 2010 OPD contests have been incorporated into settings, as well as maps from various web sites, resources from fan sites, and so on.

Ideas from my brother Tom and various internet forums. Tom’s been DMing for decades, and when he’s not running a game he’s endlessly tinkering and gathering ideas too.

Weird stuff that occurs to me. Under the influence of the above things, I am adding all kinds of details, monsters, NPCs, and so on. In all honesty and humility, my players seem to have enjoyed the dungeon levels and adventures that I made up myself a lot more than they’ve enjoyed the dungeons I’ve taken from other sources. I like to think that even the things I ran “as written” (the LL wiki adventures and Telecanter’s Alabaster Tower and so on), I altered a little in the direction of fun, or at least my sense of fun.

Anyway, my point (and I do have one), is that even though there is always undeniably a lot of effort on the part of the DM to create and run a campaign, I have been unbelievably lucky to have had access to the unlimited riches of all the other blogs out there, and resources other people posted at various places for free, and of course the invaluable input of my players, particularly Tom. I feel much more like an editor than author when it comes to my setting, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So when someone asked me if I’m ever going to “publish” my campaign setting for free or for sale, I realized that even if I wanted to, there would necessarily be page after page of credits to everyone else I’m stealing ideas from. In my opinion 90% of gaming supplements remorselessly steal ideas without giving credit to sources, but I think that morally, it is wrong to deny credit where it is due. So I doubt I’ll ever try to put it all together into a “package” other than this blog. I kind of wish, now, that I’d set up an independent blog for the setting, and will probably do so if I ever get another campaign going, although honestly I could go on with Telengard for years. I think I made several bad choices at the beginning of the campaign that are coming back to haunt me (mainly regarding my own bookkeeping and lack of preparation) but even if the current group decides to move on to another game, or I need a break, I could see rebooting it, perhaps as a sort of “Western Marches” thing at a FLGS or the library.

When Goblinoid Games released the LL files as text documents, I immediately wanted to start cobbling together a “Telengard player’s handbook & campaign guide.” But the fact is, I would be among the last people to want such a product from someone’s home brew game. I was briefly excited when James Maliszewski announced that he meant to publish Dwimmermount, because I imagined he’d edit together his posts on world-building and design decisions along with the session summaries. When it became more clear that he was envisioning a campaign source book with just his house rules, maps, and such like, I was … “meh.” I’d read it but don’t think I’d run it. 90% of my gaming experience has been with home-brew worlds, often house-ruled to hell. The idea of playing in someone else’s world (even Tolkien’s or George Lucas’ as in MERPS and West End Games’ Star Wars), just never appealed that much. On the other hand I have read with interest other people’s adventures, house rules, and “stuff” (monsters, magic items, tables, etc.) and really gotten a lot out of them. So it might be worth compiling for my own amusement and the convenience of future plunderers. Hmm.

Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

Knight Orc

Knight Orc was a “text based” adventure game from the 1980s. My brother and I got it for our Commodore 64. It was sort of Zork-like, and I remember playing a fair amount of it, but for some reason I fell out of the loop and my brother and his friend Tony became obsessed with completing it. (Tony was also the first black guy I ever played a tabletop RPG with — MERP — and I still remember the brief awkwardness when he created his first character and Tom asked him what race he wanted to be, and Tony said something like “I don’t care, I’ll be white” and we had to explain that ‘race’ meant ‘species.’ In hindsight I should have been more proud of the fact that most RPGs recognized the siblinghood of humanity, especially as we were living in the Midwest where Tom & Tony were repeatedly stopped by the police when driving around, I guess for “driving while integrated” or something.)

Anyway Knight Orc appealed to me because I really liked orcs and half-orcs and the back of the box suggested that this would be a game where a lowly orc rises up and turns the tables on the merciless adventurers who usually have the upper hand. In fact, the game quickly changed (I think in Act II) to a surreal, fourth-wall breaking adventure where you discover that the whole thing is taking place inside a sort of virtual-reality/LARP theme park place, and you are not an orc but a robot, and the adventure becomes more like Westworld from the robot’s perspective.

I briefly thought about adding something like this to my campaign — a pocket dimension where the PCs realize they are being used as pawns by a bunch of nerds in someone’s basement, etc., but realized that it would be the end of the campaign, either because I would have finally pushed my players’ sense of what D&D is too far, or because they’d find it insulting, or because it would destroy any semblance of “realism” and immersion, or all of the above. There is irony and there is cynicism, and maybe that level of irony is just too cynical for a fun game. It seems a little too clever and snarky and hip, and may even be disrespectful to the players in a way.

A while back when I was sorting through some papers I found the “hint sheet” we had sent away for when Tom & Tony got stuck at some point in the game and it struck me that you really don’t see text-based games any more, as far as I know. As a kid we marveled at Zork and I briefly flirted with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy adaptation, but text-based games really couldn’t compete with graphics in the long run. Even so, we took up Knight Orc AFTER we’d played through the entire Ultima III game, so there must have been something about the text adventure games that could appeal even to jaded gamers.

As an afterthought I checked a little around the web and apparently there are
a lot of text-based game sites (the modern term is “interactive fiction”). Cool.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 9:05 am  Comments (2)  

Top 11 C-64 games

There is some confusion online about which games for the C-64 were the best. Silly internet. After about 5 or 6 years of intensive testing in the mid-late 1980s, I can say authoritatively that they are:

Ultima III
Raid over Bungeling Bay
Blue Max
The Bard’s Tale
Brue Lee
Realm of Impossibility
Impossible Mission

Those were the games my brother & I played over and over again

Honorable mention to:

  • Wargames construction Kit (for hours spent developing scenarios and armies that were never palyed)
  • Spy Hunter
  • Mail Order Monsters (for a kick-ass idea and which I would have played the hell out of had I owned a copy — I only rented it once)
  • Defender of the Realm (for an ambitious idea of combining arcade action, RPG, and strategy)
  • F-15 Strike Eagle (I never liked cockpit games but this one was lot of fun)
  • Gemstone Warrior (for an indelible memory of fleeing wtih the gemstone with “Diary of a madman”‘s chorus chanting in the background)
  • Realms of Arkania (an awesome CRPG that my brother played a lot more of than I did)
  • Phantasy II (a very fun CRPG that let you play various humanoids like orcs and kobolds as well the standard fantasy stuff)
  • Orc Knight (a text-based game like Zork, but with a seriously demented story)
  • Zork (mind-blowing)
  • Gauntlet (but no comparison to the arcade version)
  • Forbidden Forest

But will they run on this?

Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Is that flyssa in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

As I’ve mentioned before, I really used to love the Ultima series of games (at least I-V… I don’t think I played the later installments), and along with Telengard, Phantasy, The Bard’s Tale, and a few others, mostly on the old Commodore 64, I played a lot of the older CRPGs. (more…)

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 10:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

Snarf it!

James at Grognardia recently posted something about the Atari Adventure game, and it was my first intersection of D&D & video games too. Year later when I had a Commodore 64, I discovered all sorts of great early CRPGs, but the first and in some ways dearest to me is Telengard.


Published in: on February 19, 2010 at 1:48 am  Comments (9)  
Tags: , ,


Going sort of off-topic, I’ve been discovering a tin of blogs since I started my own, and  great idea someone else had was to run through all the Ultima computer games, in order, and blog about it.

Ultima III was the first one I played, but I also made it through U2 and U4, and stopped somewhere in U5. Actually I pretty much played these all with my brother (except U2, which was pretty simple) and mostly acted as notetaker, although we switched off sometimes.  We played them without the benefit of rules, making the spells and such a trial-and-error process.  I believe I still have some of the notes we typed on the C64 printed out somewhere.

We both loved Ultima so much we based several RPG campaigns on it, oncein GURPS back in the 1990s and once in D&D a few years back, although the D&D campaign didn’t last very long.  I was excited to find someone has been porting Ultima to the original 1975 D&D rules too. But there are other efforts too (altohugh the links to the forum are broken).   Ultima characters in the  d20 system of 3rd edition D&D: here.

I never realized there were so many people who are still fans of the games.

Another good site is this Ultima wiki. Wow.

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 12:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,
Wayne's Books

Game Gallery ~ Photo Blog

Ann's Immaterium

Writing, gaming, miniature painting, physical culture, and other dark procrastinations.


Collecting, modelling, painting and wargaming in 28mm

Dragons Never Forget

What were we talking about again?

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Tabletop games and adventures

Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Hey Did You Know I Write Books

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut


Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs


The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.


Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.


Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Dagger and Brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides


A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.


I bought these adventure and review them so you don't have to.

9th Key Press

Maps, supplements, and inspiration for roleplaying games.

The Rambling Roleplayer Archives

This site is no longer being updated. Check out the new site at www.rpgrambler.com

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time


Just another WordPress.com site

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: