RPG Kickstarter loot


I love table-top RPG kickstarters, there are so many great things to pick up!

More are coming as the year comes to an end, but here are photos of some of what I’ve received recently.

1. Castles & Crusades: Digest-sized versions of their core books and those for the world of Aihrde.
2. Old School Essentials. Wonderful books loaded with rules based on the 1981 Basic D&D rules. If you wanted to run a Basic D&D game, this retroclone is probably the best out there.
3. Adventures Dark and Deep. This game is based on an extrapolation of what AD&D 2nd edition might have looked like if Gary Gygax had continued with TSR. There is some great oldschool goodness in these books covering AD&D-type races, classes, and spells, there is an immense bestiary, a rule book for building kingdoms, and a massive dungeon adventure with map and illustration books.
4. Black Oak Workshop. Advent-ure Calendar. This is an advent-type box with custom made dice inside! I will have 24 custom polyhedral dice that will reveal themselves to me on the run up to Christmas. I also got a holiday dice bag, pin, and dice stockings!
5. In the last photo you see a collection of loot I picked up in kickstarters recently:
a. a Low Fantasy Game book filled with numerous charts and flexible, light rules to add more grit to your game.
b. some Handy Maps by Glynn Seal. These are wonderful city and village maps that I can place anywhere in my game.
c. Black Dragon OSR ‘zine and Maximum HP RPG zine and a digest sized pad of old school character sheets. It is nice to see digest-sized zines filled with art, rules, and ideas to spice up your fantasy game.
CnC Digest kickstarterOSE kickstarter
ADD kickstarter
Advent ure kickstarter
kickstarter items

Castles & Crusades Saturday Diary: Cultist of the Ooze God Juiblex, over 30 Derro!


Castles & Crusades Saturday Diary: 50+ bats, Cultist of the Ooze God Juiblex, a dozen Goblins, over 30 Derro, a dozen Orcs!

My Saturday group that plays publicly at Fantasy Flight Games in Roseville, MN is nearly done exploring the Caverns of Quasqueton (B1: In Search of the Unknown). People clearly wanted to be out on this beautiful autumn day, so only two players showed up. But between them there were three PC’s (with a hawk and giant toad animal companion) as well as two NPC’s that I ran, so there was still a decent group number. Although managing a large number of players has become quite easy with a fast system like C&C, when you only have two players things obviously become even faster, so the remainder of the lower level was explored this evening.
Entering a giant cavern with an immense number of bats, the group made their way to a corner of the room, but since not everyone was silent they disturbed the bats and they came down in their dozens. When all was said and done more than 50 bats attacked the group, wearing them all down.
They then arrived at a small room where the ceiling was only 5 feet high. Entering, they ran straight into a gray ooze, and it tried to engulf the witch/assassin and try to eat her away with its acid. Hearing chuckling in the background they discovered there was a Cultist of Juiblex, the God of Oozes. This crouched human was already partially transformed into a slimy, ooze-like being. The group bravely took him on as two more gray oozes made their way toward the group members as they fought within this tight, enclosed environment.
After defeating him they discovered secret corridors within secret corridors which lead to a treasure room guarded by wax statues of Roghan the Fearless Warrior and Zelligar, the Wizard. After defeating them they collected their treasure (which included an ever smoking bottle and a whispering gem which allowed them to summon an air elemental 1/day.
They continued their journey after resting up and next discovered a band of goblins that had just entered the lower level of Quasqueton through a hidden entrance in the back. The goblins were eager to explore and ransack Quasqueton. But the witch cast Sound Burst and that alone nearly took the dozen goblins out of action. The one that ended up remaining surrendered and agreed to be the servant of the witch/assassin. Not long after as he carried a torch and led the way for the group, he activated a pit trap and fell to his unfortunate death.
The group now found their way to the place where the Derro were headquartered. The group had been challenged by these highly intelligent roguish and insane dwarf-like beings in a previous Saturday adventure. But they were prepared this time. One player used the Deck of Dirty Tricks card he randomly pulled which allowed a random encounter to appear and fight on their side. This resulted in a group of soldiers from the Keep on the Borderlands looking for a lost group to coincidentally turn a corner and appear just they were about to fight the Derro.
My Wizard NPC had a Fireball scroll, so the players directed he use it to launch a fireball into a small room where a dozen of these chaotic evil beings were congregated. He did so, and even though they somehow made their saving throws, the damage was still enough to take them all out. The explosion, however, alerted another dozen Derro in a room across the hall, and they began to swarm out. A wizard put a couple of these to sleep, but Derro are smart, so they just kicked their comrades and woke them up again!
My wizard cast ‘web’ which divided a large group of Derro still inside their room from the few that had made it out into the hallway. The Keep soldiers charged forward to attack, and between them and the group, the small number of Derro in the corridor were taken out. But again, Derro are smart and simply used torches to burn away the web and then prepared to close and lock their door between us and them to work out a plan inside. Luckily, this plan was partially ruined because my monk NPC has boots of springing and leaping, and he heroically leaped into the room just as they closed the door.
It took a few rounds for the group to batter down the door, in the meantime my monk managed to take out more Derro even as they strategically surrounded him for flanking attacks. The group did make it in, however, and these Derro were defeated.
But there was still another room with another dozen Derro, and they had simply holed themselves up inside and waited for the group to come into their trapped room. They had several trip wires and pressure plates which activated poison gas, but my wizard NPC used his air elemental gem, and it shot forward into this small room over everyone’s heads and devastated the Derro before returning to the gem. However, their traps were set up at ground level, so even though the Derro were finished, their traps were still in place, and the witch/assassin was not able to discover the traps of these clever roguish Derro and there were some injuries.
With the Derro threat dispensed with (over 30 of them were taken down!). The group made their way up to the main level. There they encountered more than a dozen orcs, but orcs are a wee bit dumb, and the group was able to use organized tactics and take out the charging group of brutes.
The evening came to an end and several of the players gained levels from this adventure. Much fun was had! Because I will be at GameholeCon in two weeks, we won’t have another Saturday game for a month, but when we do meet again in mid-November, the group might be able to complete exploring the Caverns of Quasqueton.
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Castles & Crusades Saturday Diary: 8 Players (with 10 characters) ‘In Search of the Unknown’


Castles & Crusades Saturday Diary: 8 Players (with 10 characters) while ‘In Search of the Unknown’ the group fought 50 Skeletons, 4 Ochre Jelly, 12 Derro, 4 Carrion Crawlers, 4 Shriekers, and 18 Stirges!

A full crew tonight, with two brand new players to the Castles & Crusades game. The new players made characters, one player had an AD&D background, and the other player had background in other RPG’s (e.g. RIFTS). They both brought new ways to try and accomplish tasks.

Entering an old museum they found 50 skeletons lining the walls of the room with a table in the centre with scrolls and piles of gold. When the bard lassoed a scroll and pulled it to himself, the skeletons came alive and attacked. The monk and a wizard threw oil on the ground and lit it up with torches and the ‘burning hands’ spell. Another cleric used two ‘sound burst’ spells which blew apart 25 of the skeletons, and as the rest poured through the doorway to attack the players they were able to pick them off. They got the gold and magical scrolls, but it was a tough fight.

They next found a secret room where they were attacked by two oozes – ochre jelly. As they tried to scrape them off themselves, the two ochre jelly divided into four! Careful use of spells finally destroyed them.

From there they found an outpost of Derro (an evil and degenerate subspecies of dwarf). It seemed to be an unguarded encampment but the Derro soon returned. The monk and a wizard dumped oil on the ground and set it alight with a ‘burning hands’ spell. Several players by this point were hurt and several spellcasters were out of spells, so they retreated back to the abandoned museum several corridors away. A few characters stayed behind to try to pick off the Derro.

Derro, however, are quite intelligent, plus they are master thieves, so while the handful of characters remaining gazing through the flames looking for them to attack with their ranged weapons, the Derro retreated out of the room through a back entrance opposite the players and well out of sight. They then resent in a bunch of Derro hiding in the shadows. Through the shadows caused by the flickering flames and the high ceiling, the Derro climbed up the walls and around to sneak attack and backstab the group. The paladin, however, was detecting evil, so even thought he couldn’t visually detect them hiding behind the rocky and uneven protrusions on the walls, he could sense evil approaching from all over, so they backed away as the Derro lunged from the shadows.

The small group of characters pointed out to the Derro that they could take them back to their treasure. The Derro leader paused in his attack and agreed. The Derro followed the group at a distance back to the locked door that led to the museum. The paladin tried to send the group on the other side of the door a warning, but the clever Derro saw through this and immediately attacked. Several characters fell unconscious, and even though several Derro also went down in the fight, the players managed to close and lock the door behind themselves. The assassin in the group tried to set a trap on the door (but she failed). The Derro on the other side then set two traps of their own as the players tried to rest up and regain health and spells.

Somewhat renewed a few hours later, the group left the room, but traps of razor wire and swinging rocks (both undetected by the rogues) caused damage. They then made their way back to the Derro encampment which seemed as though they had left and abandoned their equipment. Failing to detect the traps the Derro had in fact set on their equipment, players were attacked by poison darts as they tried to loot the Derro equipment.

The players were again getting worn down from the clever traps the Derro had left behind. Leaving that room behind they found a room with a pool of water with dead elves lying at the edge. The assassin failed to avoid the contact poison on the elves that was in the water, so she felt herself become physically weaker from the contact poison. She then found a door and failed yet again to disarm a trap that sprayed poison gas in her face, this paralyzed her. Other characters did find their way into the room and discovered that it was once a shrine to Juiblex (a chaotic evil demon lord of oozes). It seems it had been abandoned a while back, although there was enough residue of ooze in some large bowls on the ground for a wizard to fill a vial.

Continuing into a new chamber, their movement and light activated four shriekers, as the players were destroying them, 18 stirges (flying, blood-sucking creatures) flew in to attack. Burning hands again did a good job taking them out, but two more characters ended up falling unconscious before the stirges were all dealt with. When the battle was over, the characters retreated into a small room and the ranger in the group tried to conceal their presence from any other creatures as they again were going to try and rest and regain their health. In two weeks we will see whether they’ll succeed!

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Castles & Crusades Saturday Diary: Deck of Many Things, Alchemical Transformation, Eating Magical Mica.


The gates of chance opened wide open tonight! While in the Caverns of Quasqueton the group spent time in the kitchen and then Zelligar’s wizard laboratory. There the witches in the party got to work mixing and brewing chemicals involving holy water, bone dust, dragon blood, and other ingredients. Inhaling the fumes, drinking these concoctions, and applying them to their weapons, caused some unique side-effects (depending on whether they could make their intelligence check and their constitution save, I had decks of cards and a book of random tables I made use of, and depending on pass or fails on the dice, the players rolled randomly on the tables)!

One witch’s left arm turned into a tentacle! Another witch who had a 14 Str, caused her right arm to bulk up, giving her right arm a 16 Str. Other characters acquired some temporary alterations – one, for example, transformed into a young brass dragon for over an hour!

They eventually found a vertical shaft in a room that led down to the lower caverns. Heading down the shaft they discovered a highly magical slab of mica in a small cavern. Chipping off pieces and placing them in their mouths had all sorts of extraordinary effects (depending on whether they passed their saving throws)! By this point the assassin in the party – after devouring several pieces of mica – was no longer able to sleep, and then lost the ability to know how to drink, then they DID reacquire the ability to sleep again, but only when someone said the word “the” (which happens A LOT)! And finally, they couldn’t stop crying. The player running this character felt this was probably too much to control, so they used the Deck of Dirty Tricks card they had drawn at the beginning of the game (which allowed them to teleport to a previous place they visited), and teleported to Rogahn’s secret chamber and then passed through a magical tapestry in the room which will take them to a far away land up north (which the group will eventually get to at some point). This takes the character out of the game for a while and they will worry about them later.

Deciding to remain in the lower level, they made their way to a chamber with a skeletal wizard – Marevak, once the wizardly assistant to Zelligar – sitting behind a desk with a deck of cards before him, and a deactivated magical portal which had lost its magical capabilities. Marevak was in poor condition, but this lich-like entity offered the characters to pull cards from this deck of many things. One player chose to pick 3, another 4, and two other characters chose 5! Everything was on the line! When all was said and done:

  • one witch acquired +2 to her Wisdom, gained a 19 Intelligence, lost all her non-magical possessions and money, and changed alignment.
  • another witch/assassin lost all her intelligence, but gained 25 gems of maximum value of her choice!
  • the dragonslayer gained boots of striding and springing, had to fight a wraith one-on-one to the death – and succeeded after having a level drained! And finally gained several wishes (which he used to give one witch back her intelligence, and gave the other witch back her alignment, and then gave himself his level back plus more).
  • the dwarven cleric/fighter lost all his magical items (including a dwarven thrower!), and also gained enmity with an extraplanar being, but he acquired a 4th level fighter follower and his own keep (in the northern territories). The players will NOT forget this evening!

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Castles & Crusades Diary: In Search of the Unknown and Viking Berserkers


Castles & Crusades Diary: While In Search of the Unknown, a barbarian/dragonslayer filled with Odin’s Fury battles Viking berserkers until the very end.

On this summer day when many people headed out to the Renaissance Festival and the State Fair, there was a smaller number attending C&C at Fantasy Flight Games. Still, four players ran eight characters and there were two NPC’s, so we still had a strong group. Dragonslayers, witches, assassins, paladin, bard, wizard, barbarian, and monk headed into the Caverns of Quasqueton to once again seek its unknown treasures.

They discovered the infamous room of pools and the hidden chambers of a loyal wizard to Rogahn and Zelligar. A cursed scroll reduced one character’s charisma by one, and a barbarian/dragonslayer drank some wine from a pool which intoxicated him for hours, reducing his combat prowess. They also found elven boots, and a magical ring and dagger.

Temporarily taking leave of the room of pools to grab some materials from the keep’s kitchen for further experimentation, they ran into a band of raiding Vikings of Baduhenna. Combat ensued and these crazed warriors disarmed one dragonslayer of his two handed sword, and the leader of the berserkers cleaved right through the scale armor of another dragonslayer rendering it useless. The vikings were defeated, but their brutality left a mark.

The group then came across some giant rats, which one of the witches charmed, and then had it show the hidden places rats are sometimes aware of. This led them to a hidden door leading to Zelligar’s wizard workshop and laboratory. As they began exploring it they heard the approach outside of another viking raiding party (they were banging their axes on their shields, not caring who heard them, or perhaps to intimidate them). The group tried to ambush them from two different sides, but by doing so left through two different doors and ended up splitting the group.

One group had Sigurd, the barbarian/dragonslayer (who summoned Odin’s Fury greatly expanding his combat abilities) and a witch/assassin. The viking berserkers outside saw the fury of Odin within him and though initially taken aback, chose to take him out for the sake of greater glory. Using their powerful viking cleave abilities, they shattered Sigurd’s two-handed axe, and he fought into negative hit points with a flail, but Odin’s Fury kept him up. Finally, however, Sigurd was taken down to -10hp, but just as he was about to fall in battle and head to Valhalla, the witch reached in at the same moment and healed him up to -2 (which because of Odin’s Fury still kept him conscious). We were now down to the final berserker, but it lunged in with its axe and took Sigurd down for the final time, and moments later the witch/assassin took down the final viking in the corridor.

So we lost one of our characters tonight – Sigurd – but this was one battle that would not be forgotten soon!24_8_2019

Gary Con XI Day 3: Meeting game designers


Yesterday I posted about my 4+ hour, 24 person C&C game, but other great things happened as well. At Gary Con I have found a new way to deal with my disposable income…err, wait, I meant I found a new way to dispose of my income! I purchased more mind expanding game books! 

I already have had productive conversations this Con with Stephen Chenault and Jason Vey (Troll Lord Games), Joseph Bloch (Adventures Dark and Deep), Jeffrey Talanian (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea), and Ben Barsh (Pacesetter Games), amongst others. Well, yesterday I met even more great game designers!

My morning began by walking past someone and realizing “hey, that’s Matt Finch!” So I turned around and said “you’re Matt Finch!” He laughed since he obviously knew who he was. Matt Finch (‘Uncle Matt’ on his You Tube channel) is a big part of the game design and organization of Frog God Games and the Swords & Wizardry game). It was great to be able to discuss those games and have him sign my copy of the ‘Tome of Adventure Design.’

After a long chat with Matt I had to rush to get to the ‘Growing Up Gygax’ event and listened to the Gygax family discuss their life growing up in gaming. Afterward I spoke with and had Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. and Luke Gygax sign my copy of the ‘Lost City of Gaxmoor.’

I then headed to the vendor room where I ran into Casey Christofferson, who designed the ‘Haunted Highlands’ for C&C and ‘Bard’s Gate’ for Frog God Games). He has put out some quality products and as art director for Frog God Games he has noticeably raised the quality of their artwork. He signed ‘Bard’s Gate’ and ‘Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms’.

While at that the Frog God Games booth I got ‘Sword of Air’ and had Bill Web sign that as we spoke. Just like the day before, the Frog God Games folk were generous, and after purchasing Sword of Air, Bard’s Gate, and Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms, they gave me a copy of Stoneheart Valley. Some of these books are already discounted a bit for the Con, but if you purchase a good amount of books – and I sure purchased a lot! – it is nice when they throw something extra in to show their appreciation.

By the late afternoon just as I was about to head to the massive C&C game, I went to the artists room and this time spoke with Jeff Easley. Easley was responsible for some of the greatest cover art for AD&D 1st and 2nd edition. For me his cover art work really defined what AD&D looked like for 20 years. He is a quiet and shy gentlemen, but it was great to be able to tell him how much his art has meant to me over the years, and how even to this day his work inspires me and represents much of what I think a D&D world should look like. I purchased an art print from him and he was kind enough to sign it. I will post a picture once I get back home and get it framed and mounted on my game room wall.

Today’s events will be a ‘Gary Gygax World Building’ talk by those who worked with Gary Gygax, and a talk on the work of Troll Lord Games. Of course, I will be visiting the vendors again today looking to browse some more amazing products and speak with more game designers.Lost Lands supplements

Con of the North Diary – Day 1


I am attending my first Con of the North. I enjoyed my first day! For this Con I wanted to try games or approaches to gaming that I haven’t experienced before to broaden my mind. In my teens and 20’s I don’t think anyone could’ve convinced me that there were better games or even better rules than AD&D – I was a purist. I have a much more open mind now. With my rules-light Castles & Crusades game I am incorporating game rules and DMing styles that have inspired me from other games that I participate in, the options and possibilities have really opened up for me.

This afternoon I spent over 4 hours playing: Tekumel: Jakalla Underworld Crawl. I had heard of Tekumel but never played it. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing new ways to resolve problems with player descriptions and different types of die rolls.

By the end of this weekend I will also play a couple games of Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC). I look forward to immersing myself in their brutal, bare-bones ethos: “Remember the good old days, when adventures were underground, NPCs were there to be killed, and the finale of every dungeon was the dragon on the 20th level? Those days are back. [DCC doesn’t] waste your time with long-winded speeches, weird campaign settings, or NPCs who aren’t meant to be killed. Each adventure is 100% good, solid dungeon crawl, with the monsters you know, the traps you fear, and the secret doors you know are there somewhere.” The game also requires Zocchi dice, which are d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24 and d30, in addition to the standard set of 7 polyhedrals (d4, d6, d8, d10s, d12 and d20).

I am also playing an AD&D 2nd edition game using Dwarven Forge terrain. Although I love the dungeon terrain that is being made these days, I personally sold mine off and have gone back to nearly 100% theatre of mind. Still, for a 4 hour one-off game I will allow someone else to do the work of building a dwarven forge dungeon for me to explore with AD&D 2nd edition!

In the vendor room I also picked up two books for the Midguard setting (Kobold Press) for 50% off. Although these are for Pathfinder and 5E, the setting has some unique takes on (Norse) gods and other things to inspire me in my own world. Sure, there are modern gaming things I don’t like (Dragonborn!), but there are some nice ideas that can inspire me. For example, I am tired of vampires and liches – they are over used. Midguard, however, has a unique Ghoul Empire. That is something different that I want to use in my game, and since I already have their Tome of Beasts and Creature Codex, I have 800 pages of monsters ready to use, now I have 700 more pages of campaign setting to draw from.

Finally, in the mail today I got the very rare Castle Zagyg Yggsburgh setting by Gary Gygax. Before he died he was converting his city of Greyhawk to Castles & Crusades. This book is out of print and cost me a pretty penny (so no one else is touching this book!), but now I have a proper Gary Gygax city setting that is a part of Castles & Crusades and will fit nicely into my campaign world.


Getting back to the “Basics” II

I am loving my D&D/C&C experience right now. I am a player in an AD&D 1st edition group, and I am running a C&C (Castles & Crusades) group which structured in an old school way, with some modern innovations.

However, I recently got a hold of the good old (Moldvay) B/X Basic D&D box set from 1981 as well as the B/X Essentials (which includes the 1981 Basic and Expert rules that take characters to 14th level and organizes the information differently for easier and quicker reference). The fact that it currently comes in 5 separate books makes it an easy reference for different people at your table (one person might be choosing a character class, another might be choosing spells, someone else checking up on a rule, etc).

Now I have a desire to be part of a B/X campaign! It would take me back to when there were only four classes, and the races like elves and dwarves were races and classes in one. The simple elegance of this is attractive.

BX Essemtials

BX Fighter

Gaming Diary – AD&D Character Death.

Gaming Diary – AD&D Character Death.

Last night was pretty crazy. We gamed at Fantasy Flight Games from 4PM till almost closing time at midnight (nearly 8 hours).

We nearly had two Total Party Kills (TPK’s) even though we had 6 players in our group managing 10 characters (old school games are tough and you need to have as many capable bodies as possible!). In the end two characters did die – a player lost their paladin, and I lost my 1st level, half-elf, cleric/fighter/magic-user.

I still have a human 2nd level magic-user, but now I need to create a second character again. In fact, I’ll be creating a third and possibly a fourth character just as a backup(s) to the other two!

I love these challenging games! I suppose for those who make modern D&D characters where they never expect the characters to die because all encounters are supposed to be “balanced,” this old school game style can be a bit jarring. But I have to say it is a real rush when you see your DM rolling on the encounter chart for the monsters as well as the number of monsters and not know what might come up! So many modern games feel like a video game where the random encounters are just “trash mobs” that you are meant to wipe away with no real threat, and if you have to worry at all it will be during the “boss fight” at the end. This makes the game too predictable, in my view, and I think it can get a bit boring. In old school games your random encounter in the woods could be a wandering dear, or ten hungry trolls – you might have a simple encounter with nature, or a total fight for your lives using everything in your backpack, saddle bags, and wagon, to desperately stay alive!

When you succeed at an encounter you feel a much stronger sense of satisfaction, and if you lose a character like I did last night, you still feel a genuine sense as if something was still accomplished. In nearly 40 years of gaming I’ve lost plenty of characters before and I can say when it was happening during the 3E era I got upset and sometimes, I think, felt a bit entitled and would think “you can’t kill my character (again!), I wrote a backstory for him and that story is unfinished!” But as I said above, the feelings are different in old school. Just hours before the game I had written up backstories for both my characters and shared them with my DM – I finally knew more about where they had come from and what they wanted to do – and hours later one of them died. But I didn’t feel that it was a waste, it was simply how life goes in a world that is filled with constant danger. Any sense of entitlement in old school games gets dispensed with quickly, for you are not a hero and not that special unless you actually manage to survive a few levels, before that you are simply a nobody with a dream and the world doesn’t bow to your will. It is a humbling but worthwhile experience.

D&D Diary. Adventurers League.

I attended my second Adventurers League last night at my local game store. I had a lot of fun! I had the same Dungeon Master (DM) and nearly all the same players, so we continued right where we left off.

It is nice to be able to show up to a game as a player with a bunch of others who just want to sit back and relax, and have your game run by informed, professional DMs who know the rules. Over the 5 hours we gamed last night I became aware of several things which I had let pass in my game which I shouldn’t have. It is also a great way to watch and observe other players in action.

Far too often we might find a group of players we game with and never deviate from them. This can be good when they are our close friends and we are all comfortable sitting around the table laughing and socializing together. The bad part is that you tend to acquire a narrow perspective on game play and can lose perspective on other possibilities, you’ll even end up doing things wrong, but because you haven’t seen it done another way you just continue doing it since it never dawned on you that it was wrong. This is true if you’re a veteran gamer and can be especially true if you’re a new gamer – new gamers need to have fresh interactions with people to see how things can be done, and veterans need a shot of creativity to break them free of bad habits and dead-end ideas.

And speaking of leaving dead-end ideas behind and abandoning bad habits, I will cover what I’ve decided to do to start over in my next post.