This Ol’ Dungeon

Just a quick shout out to a new podcast I’ve started following — This Ol’ Dungeon. It’s a podcast that looks at old games and whether they need some updating and renovation, much like the old TV show the title references did with houses. I have enjoyed the episodes so far. When they asked for more information on Lords of Creation (a game published by Ohio’s own Tom Moldvay, and featuring an adventure in a future Akron, Ohio), I was flattered to be asked to appear on the podcast, and you can hear my nasally babbling on episode 7. I share what I can about OmegAkron, an adventure set in Akron, Ohio, after a series of disasters and wars leaving the world a hell-blasted fuckscape suspiciously similar to the hell-blasted fuckscape that was Akron, Ohio, in 1983: the Akron that recently unleashed Devo on the music scene. (It’s a little surprising that with all the Akron landmarks and in-jokes there aren’t any energy domes in the adventure.)

Published in: on January 15, 2021 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sister Rebecca speaks!

The good news is that Tom Moldvay’s gaming materials and manuscripts etc. were not destroyed in a bonfire.

The bad news is that they were trashed by a jackhole landlord.

Rebecca Moldvay Weiner, his sister, stumbled upon my blog and set the record straight.

Thanks for all of your memories of my brother Tom but fear that your source has been pulling your leg. I am not sure if I should be upset at being called a religious fanatic or be amused as my brother would have been at the absurd story. Sadly Tom passed while living alone and was not discovered for some time. I was notified by the coroner only after he had been cremated. After contacting his landlord I was given 2 days to go through his belongings which were stuffed into garbage bags. I tried to rescue what I could but it was a small portion of a long and creative lifetime of work. I love and miss you Tom. Sister Rebecca (yes like the character he named for me) This made me cry.

I apologized to her privately for repeating an unconfirmed rumor and I hope she will forgive any hurt that story caused.

In hindsight I can imagine a chain of events where the bare facts (Tom’s stuff mostly destroyed after his death; his sister was there) might have morphed into an urban legend that better fit the typos of the Satanic Panic (Tom’s stuff was burned in a bonfire, just like in Dark Dungeons!  His fanatic sister did it!), and I am sorry I repeated the story.

Published in: on January 6, 2012 at 11:37 am  Comments (7)  
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Memories of Tom Moldvay

Bob Kindel (dba The diceman), was one of the guys who answered my flier looking for players at the library, and has been playing in Telengard.

Bob’s been attending conventions (as a player, GM, vendor, and convention organizer) for a very long time, and seems to know just about everyone in the industry. I met him at Border’s so we could check each other out, as you have to do these days. Turned out he’s nice guy with no obvious social stigmas. When we got down to the crunch and I said I’m using the Moldvay D&D rules, he asked me if I knew Tom. I had learned a few years ago that Mr. Moldvay lived (and died) in Akron, the next town over. But I was stoked to find out Bob and Tom were friends and had gamed together.

When I mentioned that as boys, my brother & I had started with AD&D and considered “Basic” D&D the kiddy version and AD&D the “adult” version, Bob quickly interjected that Tom Moldvay held the reverse to be true. After all, AD&D really tried to cover every eventuality and provide a rule (or at least a random table) for every occasion; Basic D&D leaves it up to the DM and players to work out how they want the game to to play, and invites tinkering, expansion, and customization. Thirty years later I can see that Moldvay was right. The third thing that came up in our first conversation was that after Tom’s death, his only heir was his sister, a religious fanatic who burned all of Tom’s papers, games, and even his miniatures in a bonfire, since they were tools of Satan. <disconfirmed, 1-6-2012>

Gygax, Arneson, and Holmes have been justly celebrated and are well-documented among gamers on various web sites and forums, but I think that Moldvay deserves more recognition. Anyway enough from em; the point of this post is to reproduce the essay Bob wrote after I began pestering him about writing down some of the oral history of D&D and its creators.

Tom Moldvay

I have been asked by Mike to write about Tom Moldvay as a sort of “living history” effort. I don’t know about “living history” but I will give you some living memories before my cerebral cortex shorts out.

I won’t give you the nuts and bolts stuff you can get from I reviewed their entry and it’s about as accurate as Wikipedia gets.

I first met Tom in the mid-70s. He was at Kent and ran an excellent SF con called 1st Dimension Con or something. It had Harlan Ellison (who spent Saturday evening standing outside the film site trying to convince people to boycott the showing of A Boy and His Dog) and Frederick Pohl (who sat in front of me at an Ellison reading and spent most of the time making fun of him). It was such a good con, in fact, that Tom once told me that he and the committee had spent four years paying for it. Tom was always more interested in being an SF writer than game designer. It chagrined him that he couldn’t make a living in SF.

At gaming, however, he was a natural. When Boot Hill was first published, an editor asked him to write a module for the system as soon as he could. Tom finished one over the weekend. “Could have done it quicker,” he said “but I needed to read the rules first.” The module? The legendary Mad Mesa with cowboys fighting dinosaurs (1 copy available on Amazon for $83.19).

When the orange cover Palace of the Silver Princess (D+D module B3) was pulled by TSR, it was to Tom they turned to do a superfast edit so that the revised edition (with green cover) could go out close to schedule. Legend has it that TSR pulled it because of “x-rated art.” The art really wasn’t much worse than one found in comics. It was changed, however, because D+D was under fire from the religious right. Tom insisted it needed to be rewritten because when it was reviewed, the editor noticed that there was no way to get into the 2nd story of the palace. He also cleaned up a lot of detail stuff and gave it the Moldvay touch.

Tom was always a good man to turn to when you needed fast work — both professionally or in gaming. When I needed my 7 figure Asterix minis painted in two days for a con event, Tom did them for me in one.

I didn’t know Tom during the TSR years but got to know him well after he left TSR for health reasons and moved back to Akron. He was always active in the local gaming group, the AKS, and was on the con committee with me at many NeoCons (later NeoVention). If you like, I’ll share some memories of those days in a later post. {©2011 Bob Kindel}

[Comments? Questions? Leave a comment and I’ll forward it to Bob.–Mike]

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 8:38 am  Comments (12)  
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