Wednesday, May 27, 2009

M1 Blizzard Pass: Basic D&D solo mod'n without the cool invisible ink pen

So recently I've been blessed to have a regular local weekly game of D&D (4e in this particular case) for the past 4 months or so. It began as the WotC/RPGA sanctioned Delve Night series, in which I played an 8th level Elf Ranger (Archery Style) sniper... errr ... "striker." That then morphed into a custom campaign where I played a level 4 Bastard Sword wielding human Cleric of Kord (let's just say he liked to get up in there, ok?). This campaign was created and DM'd by the DM of the Delve Nights at my friendly local game store, Blue Dragon Games.

Now I'd usually link the store's website to that last phrase there, but ya see that's when "teh suck" struck.


Out of the blue, the store closed. Boom. Blam. Done. No warning. In fact I got an email stating from the site's fourms stating that as of right then, they were closed for good. Wow.

I was stunned. Not only was this store a great source of gaming items, which I purchased quite frequently, but this was the place that got me back into playing real tabletop PnP D&D, no matter what version it might be. It just so happened to be about 5 miles from my home, which was the freakin' icing on the cake.

Now look, the economy blows... understood. We are especially feeling it in the metro Detroit area (ugh), so I won't comment on the store owner's reasons. I'm sure it has been tough making money, so my best wishes go out to the store owner in whatever direction he decides to go next.

The part that leads us to this blog entry is that even though I played every Sunday night with the same crew for 4 months, I have no idea on how to reach them, now that the common ground has been removed. Sadly, I never got their cell numbers, or even their last names...jeesh! I guess I just got spoiled on just calling up the store if need be to chat with the DM (he was an employee/manager/etc of the place) if there was ever a question of game on/off.

At any rate, until I either reconnect with the members of that group, or find a new local one, I am in severe need of some adventuring!

This past weekend I got a little fix from the Worldwide D&D Gameday - Monster Manual 2 event, but I had to drive about an hour and a half to the next closest gaming store that was running it. I did have a blast with the gameday, playing the part of the bravura tiefling warlord "Chance" and I think I'll post a little about my xp with that gutsy general. Additionally, I have been to that particular store before (Heroquest Comics), purchasing a fair amount of stuff, and they would be a great replacement for the other (now defunct) store, if they weren't so far away.


Time to bust out the old solo/solitaire modules again. The terms solo and solitaire get a bit tricky with some of these old modules. Sometimes solo means a single player and a DM. Other times solo means solitaire, just you the player, no DM required. I'm talking here about those solitaire mods (even if they call them solo mods...ha!).

Looking back to last fall, I had some fun playing through the Basic D&D solitaire module BSOLO - Ghost of Lion Castle:

I never actually finished that one, so I could hit that again and see if my sucky Elf can get past a Giant Fire Beetle or a Rock Baboon before dying (twice) this time.

I also have tons of Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventures, and those are all kinds of quick and easy fun, so maybe I'll run a couple of them.

However, first I think I wanna take a shot at the M1 - Blizzard Pass, the invisible ink Basic D&D mod by David Cook:

Now, as the blog post title states, I will be taking on this quest sans magic pen. Ugh! Some folks have said that a yellow highlighter can work, and my kids have some more modern invisible ink pens that they use to reveal sections and words in little Spider-man books etc, but I don't think those are gonna work. We'll see.

I do have 2, maybe 3, copies of this thing, but they are all in varying degrees of "revealed ink" status. So I need to kinda watch how I progress thru it, and try not to accidentally reveal a choice too soon. Wouldn't wanna spoil all the fun, right?

On that note, one very cool project that I found online is this one here, where some folks have put some serious effort into compiling (most of) the invisible entries into one big entity. That just might be the route I will have to take, at least for Blizzard Pass. Thanks to all of those who helped compile those notes. Very, very cool.

After MI I may have to keep the solo mode going for a bit, unless I find a good local group. If so, these beauties are all waiting in the wings:

M2 - Maze of the Riddling Minotaur:

XS2 - Thunderdelve Mountain (At least I think I have this, I need to get organized!):

XSOLO - Lathan's Gold (Similar in style to Ghost of Lion Castle, IIRC):

CM5 - Mystery of the Snow Pearls (Ooooooo, a Companion Level mod...nice! - utilizing the Magic Viewer thingie too.):

MV1 - Midnight on Dagger Alley (1st ed AD&D here - using the viewer again to reveal parts of the map.):

Rage of the Rakasta (An early '90s D&D Game Box module, which is mostly spent exploring a palace. It can be played with or without a DM. In pure solitaire mode I don't think it's much more than "enter this room, fight this baddie, rinse repeat" but I could be totally wrong...never played it. I'm not sure if I have the stand-up figs with my copy...hhmnnn. Again the need to get organized.):**EDIT**: When I first posted this, I had this mod mixed up with another in the same series, In the Phantom's Wake. That mod takes place mostly on a boat. See below. **END EDIT**

In the Phantom's Wake (Another in that same early '90s D&D Game Box series. This is the one that features a boat floor plan. It's recommended for 4-6 players, (so not a solitaire mod...kinda), butit can be played with or without a DM....weird. So I guess a person could play solitaire, playing all 4-6 characters, with no DM. So that's like playing in accompanied solitary? Regardless, I'll still include it here because of that possibility. Both of these '90s D&D Game Box mods reportedly can be played with those Game Box rules, the Rules Cyclopedia, the Dragon Quest game, or even 2nd ed AD&D witha little fudging, I presume.):**EDIT**: Added this one here late, after checking them at home and realizing I mixed it up a bit with Rage of the Rakasta. See above. **END EDIT**

Wshew! Well that's quite a little bit of solo-play (man, that just sounds wrong) to be had, if need be. I've only messed with one or two of these mods listed above, and that was a loooooong time ago. I recall buying some of these, but never really needing to play them, as we always seemed to have the old kitchen table group back in '81 (and '82-'85 too). Even if sometimes the "group" meant a whopping two of us. A few others I aquired later in life, and just never really got around to playing them.

So that being the case, do any of ya'll have any favorites in this list, or any advice on which one(s) I might enjoy more? Do you favor the invisible ink over the magic viewer? Or is the good ol' "choose you own adventure" style of Ghost of Lion Castle still the best way to go? I think I'll start with Blizzard Pass and see if I dig the invisible ink thing. But if you have a better choice, please let me hear it.

Until then I'll be kickin' back enjoying a little "solo time" (still sounds just as bad, dunnit'?):


Christopher B said...

Dude - that sucks about the game store/gaming group. Here's hoping you reconnect soon - so you don't have to enjoy too much "solo time." :P

Anonymous said...

I had Ghost of Lion Castle and Lathan’s Gold. Both were pretty fun. Lathan’s Gold has the interesting dynamic of hiring a ship and crew and keeping track of food for all those guys as you go sailing around. Its funny, too, that there are different crews of classed adventurers depending on what class you play. Like a whole ship of Thieves! Good times.

Re: Blizzard Pass, I’ve heard that the invisible ink degrades and may not actually appear nowadays. I think that’s a big part of why people have created the online compilation.

yoyorobbo said...

@Christopher B:

Thanks for the well wishes on my reconnect. I hope it comes back together too.

"too much solo time?"

Is there such a thing? ;^]

All seriousness aside, maybe some of these solo mods will also be a way to get me playing some B/X again too. I've been 4e-ing it almost exclusively these past 4 or 5 months, so it could be agood thing, in the "back in '81" way of things.

yoyorobbo said...


Yeah, the group tracking thing in Lathan's Gold should be wild. Maybe too much book-keeping, maybe not. We'll see. My copy of the module is used, and it still has the previous owner/player's loose leaf notes inside too....and there are quite a few pages! Of course I will do it my own way first, but it might be cool to look at his notes after I run it myself.

On the invisible ink no longer appearing, I think you're right. I have tried the highlighter suggestion, and I just tried my son's Spider-man invisible ink pen thing, and neither one works on my mod. The Spidey pen just barely reveals some of the letters...but they are basically unreadable.

So the online project will be my only way of truly playing Blizzard Pass.

Now the Riddling Minotaur is another project. I guess I'll be googling for some clues on that one.

brandykruse said...

That blows. I know what it's like to be marooned from your game.

Rex Venom said...


Rock on!

yoyorobbo said...


Yes, it really sucks. Especially on a day like today, because Sunday night was the weekly meetup. Ugh.

I think I may have a couple leads on a new place to play, and maybe a reconnect too....we'll see.

As Sloane Peterson once said, "I want to thank you for your warmth and compassion." ;^]

In the meanwhile I actually did play thru Blizzard Pass, once on my own, and then sorta DMing it a little for my son. That was even cooler. I'll post on that real soon, with pics!

AlinCT said...

I know that this is a few days old, but....

Have you heard of a product called Mythic? It's a GM Emulator available on You can play all by your lonesome using the emulator to be the GM.
There's a really good group of people that will help you on yahoo groups as well.

yoyorobbo said...


No, I don't think I have heard of Mythic. I will check it out for sure. Thanks!

And I check out Yahoo Groups a little (Michigan Gaming), and we actually have 2 local D&D Meetups, but they are usually a pretty good hike. I've attended one of them before, but man the D&D weekly game at my local game store being 5 miles away will be tough to beat.

BTW, thanks for the comment and suggestions. A few days old is nothing around here. I've gotten and also posted to others' older posts way past that timeframe...hehe.

Andrew said...

Good luck on your solo quests. I can recommend Mythic. It works wonderfully as a pure story telling tool with more than one player. It also works well as a solo adventure 'regulator'. You need to be disciplined with yourself, but if you can do that it works very well.
I'm in the process of going through all my old AD&D modules from about the same era as you :) in order to enjoy them solo.
Andrew (Shichitenhakki)

yoyorobbo said...


Thanks for the well wishing.

I have not seen Mythic, but you are the 2nd person recommending it (AlinCT being the first), so I should probably go check it out, eh?

On the solo front, I haven't done a whole lot more since I posted here, as I have sorta reconnected with my local gaming group (actually 2 groups merged) and am playing PnP with them once per week, doing 2 different campaigns/characters. So that is good!

Still the old '80s D&D and AD&D mods are all so darn cool, that it is still worth playing (or replaying) some of them, solo or in-group. So good to hear that you are hitting them solo.

Hope you enjoy them too!

Laura said...

Mr. YoYoRobo,
We would like to follow up on you about your experience gaming with Blizzard Pass sans the Invisible Pen. My son found an unused module on my bookshelf, but we also have no special pen. Is there something you can recommend?

Also sorry to hear that your gaming shop went away. I wonder how many of us late 30 year olds have kids that are interested in our early 80's D&D stuff. Is this an underground movement waiting to take off.

yoyorobbo said...


Glad you found this post, as it will most likely lead to your son being able to play M1 without the pen.

In a more recent post, I recounted some of my M1-without-the-pen experience. You may wish to read that post too. My son (only 5 y.o.) played thru it a little too, but not solitaire - I was sorta DMing him thru it. Sadly, and embarrassingly, I have yet to post the audio and pics of his romp thru the module. It was so much fun!

At any rate, in case you don't find the buried link in either of those posts, here is a very cool project that some folks put together to compile the invisible entries/boxes in M1. Using that project was the only way I was able to play thru M1. I think it is an awesome idea and I' so glad that those folks put the effort into it.

Here it is, in case you missed it:

Also, I appreciate your words concerning my local gaming shop group issues, but I am glad to say (and I have posted about this more recently too) that although that shop closed, many of the folks that played there have found each other and found a new shop to call home. So far, so good.

Lastly, in regards to your question: "I wonder how many of us late 30 year olds have kids that are interested in our early 80's D&D stuff. Is this an underground movement waiting to take off?"

You would be amazed. In fact you should poke around my blog reading list, for starters. There are so many awesome blogs by in incredible enthusiasts and fans of the old-school games and systems, you will be blown away! In fact the movement (interest) is often referred to as the OSR (Old-School Renaissance)

My blog here is just a little stop on the side of an amazing which you should start driving on, if you dig old RPGs (especially D&D). I only list a small portion of the blogs I follow, as the page would never end...hehe. You can find the whole list on my profile page. Or just start with a few of them on my main page (off to the right) and you'll find that they all lead you to others. Great stuff. Check them all out.

Christopher B said...

LOL!! That has to be one of the most amusing spam comments I've seen to date! Nice to see the spammers getting a little more creative with their posts. :P

(Word verification: "partio" - it's a party on the patio!)

yoyorobbo said...

LOL, right, Christopher B? Ha! - Does that mean they're (the spammers) are actually reading some of this stuff? LMAO - Either way, I guess that dude is pretty geeked about his viagra usage. Good for him, I guess.

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