Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2020

I wrote an article for the 2020 edition of The Gongfarmer’s Almanac, which is an annual fan produced publication celebrating Goodman Games’ roleplaying games — particularly Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics.* I also helped edit three of the articles as well. The book is available as a free PDF download, so that is nice. I loosen the old purse strings for a hardcover copy for my collection, which is handy because it was a fun read and weighing in at a hefty 792 pages I used it to press tofu a few times before getting a tofu press for Christmas.

I like the art in the book. It has an old school feel that reminds me of some of the art I saw in roleplaying products back in the 1970’s and early ’80’s. Below is the dust jacket for the book.

Dust cover photo used by permission of Shyloh Wideman.

The book is a compilation of ready to use adventures, new classes, monsters, rules, tables and so on. My article is called “Another Man’s Trash,” which features a table of 100 different small, mostly junky, cast off items one might find during an adventure. The idea is to provide the Dungeon Master with a resource to generate some unique items when his players search around instead of having to come up with something off the top of his head or just saying, “You find 16 copper pieces and a bunch of junk.” The DM can pick an item he fancies or roll percentile dice. The choices range from the mundane to the bizarre.

A few examples of items you might find are:

  • Hardwood baby rattle shapped like a pig on a stick. Has been chewed on, probably by an infant with very sharp, little teeth.
  • Firesteel ring from a tinderbox set, in a pouch of moldy tinder.
  • Top part of the shell from a medium box turtle. “Achilles won the race at last,” is scratched on the inside part.
  • A single crossbow bolt that is completely black. The hunting tip is bent as if it hit a bone or punched through heavy armor.
  • Ball of yellow wax bigger than a hobgoblin’s head. Wrapped in cheesecloth. (An earwax collection amassed over many years!)

Many of the items are junk but a few are intrinsically valuable and many of them can be put to some unexpected uses by clever players.

The talented Matt Sutton drew the interior art for my article. He is a versatile artist and I think he also has a special gift for drawing dwarves. Our one-eyed friend is apparently showing off a chunk from an earwax collection he found (number 40 on the table).

Artwork used by permission of Matt Sutton.

Note that the article includes sub-tables allowing for cursed or blessed items or even items that are both cursed and blessed! So, with the right rolls one might get an earwax collection or some other item that is blessed to make a similar copy of itself once a week but also brings the possessor to the evil notice of a powerful devil. (Maybe the earwax collection was hers?)

I hope to contribute to the 2021 Almanac when the time comes. Perhaps another table of items one can find? Maybe something different next time, such as treasures, or in the same vein as “Another Man’s Trash,” so our DM has 200 items to choose from or maybe instead themed for the post-apocalyptic Mutant Crawl Classics game?

On a final, unrelated note, I’ve been having problems getting image captions to center with the block editor, so I had just stopped using captions. I do like my captions so this has annoyed me for awhile and based on what I’ve read on other blogs I’m not the only one who has this problem. I found this little tutorial that allowed me to easily solve the problem. As you can see from this post I now have lovely, centered captions. (At least they are centered on my machine!) I hope some of you reading this find it useful.


* I had no idea what a “gong farmer” was until I became interested in Goodman Games products and noticed this almanac. All I can say is it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

23 thoughts on “Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2020

    • Thank you, Dave. I’m pretty happy to see my little piece in print and happier still knowing people can download it, along with the book, for free. It was a fun read; much of the rules and such from DCC reminds me of rpg’s in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Less polished but they had a certain charm.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mikko! Well, I don’t know how well I’ve grasped the new editor, but I guess I muddle along ok. 🙂 I figured that this is the direction WordPress wants to go in so I might as well give it a try. So far I like it but then again for what I needed I liked the Classic just fine too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Pete. I’m glad I was able to contribute something to the Almanac. DCC is a great game and I’m glad to be part of it in a very small way.

      Like

  1. Congrats on getting your article published, that’s very cool! Yea, the art in their line is very close to the classic D&D stuff I grew up with. On occasion they have even used the old artists for module covers. I’ve seen some by Erol Otus and Jeff Dee. Not sure if they ever enlisted Bill Willingham, but he was busy writing Fables around the time I last looked. I wonder if that Sutton artist is of relation to Dave Sutton? If I remember right, he was another early D&D artist.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you very much. Yes, I recognized some of Erol Otus’ and Jeff Dee’s work in some GG products. I think one of my favorites of the old timey D&D authors was Dave Sutherland. I don’t know if Matt is related to Dave. I’m not sure about BW or DS so far as early D&D goes. Like a lot of kids I mostly just looked at the pretty pictures and didn’t think too much about who drew them, though Erol Otus’ work was so distinctive he entered my consciousness back then. Same with Jeff Dee because we played a fair amount of Villains & Vigilantes before switching over to Champions. I didn’t care for Dee’s V&V work. I thought he made everyone look like they were weirdly stretched.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s interesting, we idolized Dee’s D&D stuff and especially his V&V art. Though I like Willinghams art even better, and they both had that superhero comic style. Erol Otus’s art I didn’t care for as a kid. It was too ugly and weird. Probably as a teen, I developed a taste for it though. Dave Trampier was another amazing artist for those times, and he did the awesome comic strip “Wormy” in Dragon magazine for awhile.

        I think we started to learn who was who pretty quick. Maybe because of our exposure to comics, but also because nearly all the artists in D&D would sign their name.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t care so much for Erol Otus’ art either though like you I developed a taste for it. He certainly had a unique style, that’s for sure. I loved Dave Trampier’s work too. I loved his gun-toting intelligent rabbit “hoops” of Gamma World and of course all of his D&D art, especially the bugbears. I also enjoyed “Wormy,” though my favorite of the Dragon comics was “Fineous Fingers.”

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yea, Trampier was an amazing artist,
            and it’s so sad that he left the business. I should try to dig up that Gamma World pic, didn’t realize it was his. I always wanted to play Gamma World, but could never figure out which edition to go with,
            and their rules were a mess. I think Goodman games or some other publisher released an old school
            post-Apoc game in the same vein.
            That probably works much better.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Indeed he was! 🙂 I found early Gamma World basically unplayable rules as written. I think 4th edition was pretty fun. Back some years ago I ran a game where it was basically 4th edition D&D but I incorporated some Gamma World stuff to simulate a world that long ago had been a blend of magic and technology but had fallen into barbarism after a catastrophe. Civilization had rebuilt to a typically D&D pseudo-medieval level except mutated people and animals were common place. (The main player was a mutated hobbit-sized squirrel.)

              Yes, Goodman Games’ foray into the Gamma World stuff is called Mutant Crawl Classics. I’ve never played it but I suspect it is similar to their Dungeon Crawl Classics, which feels a bit more like OD&D or 1st edition AD&D to me in a lot of ways with more of a Swords & Sorcery spin than most D&D, which I’ve found feels more like High Fantasy. I’ve tried playing Low Fantasy with D&D, but I didn’t find it worked too well and ended up turning to other games, such as Harn or HERO System.

              Liked by 1 person

              • That sounds like a really cool campaign idea!

                Ah, Mutant Crawl Classics, that might be it. I know I saw a few out there, and one looked pretty decent, but just haven’t had the time for RPGs or the group either. Maybe with the little one when she gets older, or maybe just her being more independent will give me more free time.

                Our D&D campaign was close to Low Fantasy. After running straight modules with excessively powerful items and loot. At one point, I had a Halfling with some sort of demon dagger. He was a thief who wanted to take over the criminal underworld. So, he would walk into a bar, ask who the boss was…and if they didn’t have an answer or got tough, he would toss the dagger down. Pretty soon the bar was filled with dismembered corpses and blood everywhere. I think after that kept getting abused, my brother (or I), decided to tone it down.

                We made new characters, and hardly ever saw magic items after that. Our highest level guy was 3rd. And I think in the party, we only had two magical swords. Around +1 or +2. But you’re right, had we continued on…the Mage would eventually become pretty powerful and it wouldn’t necessarily be Low Fantasy anymore.

                We were probably also inspired by books we had been reading around that time, like Thieves World. Which could be pretty low fantasy.

                Never played Hard, but had almost all of the Fantasy Hero books. I mainly loved the art in those books. Pat Zircher, I’m guessing? I think Bill Willingham did one cover. System-wise, I loved the idea of building characters with points initially, and we made a lot of characters for Champions. But the system could be really clunky in a lot of ways. And even though everything should technically be balanced because of point cost, it certainly wasn’t. So I started to head back to the random generation method for characters. I find it more interesting, because also sometimes inspires you to make something new. We had a home-brew game, and gave incentives (little more starting gold, etc.) if you rolled for things like Class and Race.

                Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! I’m told that it is a common hobby amongst discerning hobgoblins to collect their own earwax and exchange it with their intended upon their betrothal. It is considered bad form and somewhat impolite to allow one’s collection to grow larger than one’s own head. Hobgoblins are Aristotelean, apparently, believing in moderation in most things. (I was going to say “all” but that wouldn’t be moderate.)

      Thank you, John. I was pretty pleased when I saw the rough sketches and then the finished product when the book was in production.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dave. I enjoyed writing it and working on coming up with different items. One thing I wanted to do is have some of them be highly unusual but others be a bit more mundane to give a mix of possibilities plus the chance for something very normal looking, with the right rolls or by DM fiat, to have some odd blessing or curse attached to it from the sub-tables.

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    • Certainly, I’m glad it helped and I hope you are able to get it to work on your blog too. It seemed pretty simple. I just followed the directions exactly as they were presented, hit the Publish button and I magically had beautiful, centered captions! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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