On the OSR New Wave: Chris Tamm of Elfmaids and Octopi

Chris Tamm runs Elfmaids and Octopi. Have you heard of him?

Because I just rolled on the anachronisms table. What's that?

It's what happens when you move so far away from chaos and mutations that your body changes becoming more ordered, the opposite of a mutation. The result?

34 Parthenogenetic hermaphrodite, breeds without a mate and can start a colony

Oh, shit. You know what table I need to roll on? The magical guitars table:

Daemon Guitar
Made from a bound daemon, shoots up to 3 times 3d6 shadowbolts per day, 100y range, darkness 15Y radius once per day, made from tormented bound daemon in agony

Chris Tamm ladies and gentlemen, go look upon his works and rejoice.

Pitch me on you and your blog right now before I get bored and stop reading this article!
Elfmaids and Octopi (http://elfmaidsandoctopi.blogspot.com.au/) is a game blog basically grown form being bedridden, not getting game enough, sick of my art career and basically getting online stuff Ive written for years but not really had a forum for. I also use it to develop my own content for myself. Other people caring is nice side effect. Discovering the OSR since august has been great.

Which cartoon not named "Dungeons & Dragons" is  most like Dungeons & Dragons?
Adventure time - i've seen some older anime that is pure 80s dnd, didn't really follow.  Dragon Pink is DnD cartoon as horny teens ran it.

If you ran across a group of baby orcs in a game;  what do you do with them?
I had one player start a monster orphanarium and a paladin player discovered it and killed them all. I had a party priest convert an ogre they kept in a pit and used as a farm animal to pay of his crimes. Personally id raise them as gang members and get them to more evil people.

You all have highly creative blogs. Bryce over at tenfootpole.org has reviews of adventures that are simple and direct, mostly involving killing things in rooms and getting +1 swords. Describe your philosophy behind why those aren't good enough for you?
I can randomly generate a better dungeon with less effort than reading a bad dungeon. Players probably the biggest factor because good players drive stories and make fun.

What is the most important house rule or change you make to the game?
NWP are the core of my system - thieves  get the most change as i have remove % skills and rather rogues get new weird skills every level and be good at all of them. Ive done some wacky alignment changes and benefits.

What's your favorite edition and why?
Red box with Elmore dragon im fond of but DnD cyclopedia followed by late ADnD and early 2nd ed best for me - basically what my rules are.

Thieves? Clerics?
Have not ever played a straight thief and had very few in play (halfling never used since i started play in 84). I played a cleric to highest level of all my characters. I am into mythology and really like inventing gods so clerics are pretty cool. I probably OD on clerics in 80s as a player.

What are your thoughts on the proliferation of rulesets for sale?
Castles and crusades probably the most influential to me in many ways. I wrote my rule set mostly from memory after having not read any DnD in 20 years so i don't feel attached to any but mine. Best thing about rules is they are all plunderable for ideas and take little effort to convert. 80s White Dwarf and UK game culture was always more into re-skinning and converting stuff even from different genres.   Old Tukemal was probably the first alt ruleset. RQ probably the first to really diverge from the herd. Im just as happy to steal ideas from any system. Gurps 3rd ed historical and sf books were gold. At least OSR systems feel simple and are easy and faster to play. Tons of free stuff available, if only i was a teen now. New editions of RQ, DnD even Cthulhu new editions all bug me.

How long before the inevitable saturation occurs and we go though the classic fox/hare die-off?
I don't really care about fashion. I've been in graffiti culture for 25 years and it has rises and falls too. Comic biz same too. It's good - kill off the try hards and shows the true believers, keeps changes fresh and reinvent the past again and again.

Do you get to play?
Not enough, monthly if i'm lucky but illness has kept me away. I'm trying to get a grip on G+ flail snails and would like to try Skype gaming. I'd like to run old school marvel online.

What is your favorite class?

There is an alternate universe where the tedious 1980's sitcom was bypassed and instead replaced by D&D. What is the worst thing about this alternate reality?
ALF would make a great GM - though sitcoms are Americas greatest artform and i wouldn't watch tv without them

What is the worst player you've ever had?
The above mentioned Paladin - he was 40+ army guy who bullied our 14-16 year old gamer cell. Used rules to take over DM. I saw a skit about this on a TV show so wasn't just me.

What is your favorite base version to use?
I use cardboard minis (im assuming you mean minis) but i do like hexes

You gain the ability to summon anyone living or dead, and if they are dead, grant them a permanent corporeal form. You take this radical power and do the only logical thing with it. Build a bunker where you force anyone you wish to play Dungeons and Dragons with you. Who do you summon? Who is the DM and what are everyone's characters?
Actually I wish i could play with my old crew. Heroes tend to be a disappointment. Part of me says weird tales crew (CAS, HPL, REH). But Wolfram Von Eisenbach, Herodotus, Gothe would be cool.

Which is best: Adventure, hexcrawl or mega dungeon? Why?
Dwellers of the forbidden city and the Lost City - both are brief and and can be expanded to play for years

What is your own personal appendix N?
I grew up on Brit new wave fantasy and SF (Aldiss, Moorcock, Pinrad, Sladek) then got int HPL and friends. I read mostly non fiction and classics nowadays. Kim Numan and Ian Banks only living writers ive really gotten into last 20 years. Pendragon Reading list is worth a look too. Recently reading Agent 13, FREElancers, and Gygax novels for reading on bus.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I'll be publishing a cheap book of tables and geomorphs soonish (Redbrick Dungeon) and will do free pdf's of my Elfmaids and Octopi DnD and Gammaworld stuff. My return to DnD really a product of curiosity of new players and simplicity. I Played BRP system RQ and Cthulhu for years and ran a 20 year Marvel (FASERIP) game. Oldschool to me is anything pre 2nd edition. As my EMO rules has been serialized mostly (spell lists to go) ill probably do a more gonzo weird fantasy world. Also starting on Gothic companion for Redbrick. Still looking for file of my old 80s maps to re-do. Have a one foot stack of my Marvel notes (not in marvel universe) with over a thousand NPCs and hundreds of scenarios id like to work through.

Thanks for reading. I would link a bunch of things, but I'd be doing you a disservice. You'll enjoy yourself more if you take a reprieve and really explore his blog. Your gaming will be better for it. 

Elfmaids and Octopi


  1. thanks for this very cool
    doh - i is bad at proofing my own interview

    What is your own personal appendix N?
    i meant Spinrad not pinrad

    If you ran across a group of baby orcs in a game; what do you do with them?
    I think i meant i would set my orc youth gang onto chaotic evil enemies but it is the kind of flippant thing i might say if i was being a stormbringer dm

  2. my flickr gamer stuff (other 20 thousand pix mostly graffiti)


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