Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How Long Before Hasbro Buys Out OneBookShelf?

How long before Hasbro buys out OneBookShelf? Sure, it's a question that can't be answered yet, but it is an interesting thought.

All of WotC's digital products are being sold through OBS (except it's VTT products, which are on Fantasy Grounds - that's a whole 'nother post)

At this point, WotC / Hasbro is the dominant publisher on OBS and the Dungeon Master's Guild is going to lead to a HUGE amount of licensed D&D 5e products. That glut has the potential to seriously tilt the online market towards 5e if it hasn't already. Assuming a limited pool of money to be spent by consumers on RPG products, the Dungeon Master's Guild can seriously drain that pool.

When does it become more profitable for Hasbro to own it's online distributor for it's PDF releases?

What does this mean for the smaller publishers?

When the Dungeon Master's Guild was announced, most of the fear I heard was "it's going to be the D20 era again, with a few gems hidden in piles of dung." Now, I think the fear should be for the market shift and the potential harm to publishers that aren't in the DM's Guild Market (which has huge restrictions and lack of ownership - again, another future post)

The last event that had this much influence on online distributing of RPG products came with the RPGNow / DriveThruRPG merge. Was that merge good for consumers and small publishers? I truthfully don't know, but less competition rarely benefits those spending the cash.

Now, has the current trend benefiting WotC / Hasbro and has it boosted D&D 5e? Is it adding dollars to the coffers of OBS? Of course to all. The question is: What is the long term cost to the hobby?

Some New Gear for StarSlinger

Hey guys, it's +James Spahn  again. Wanted to throw out some more StarSlinger stuff your way. So here's some cybernetics, weapons, armor and equipment. Hope you like it.

Palm Shuffler: This enhancement can be installed into a cybernetic hand. A small chamber inside the cybernetic hand stores a single deck of cards which can be shuffled and dispensed at the character's mental command. These can be (and often are) modified to shuffle the cards in a fashion that ensures that specific cards are dealt to specific players. Because of this, the gamblers who use them are regarded with particular distrust. They do not count against a character's normal limit on cybernetic enhancements.

Dead Eye: This large, bulky modification to the a cybernetic eye is obvious to anyone who sees it, typically appearing as a single goggle-like cover over one of the character's eyes. It is typically colored red, though others are possible. Characters with this modification have a +1 to all ranged “to-hit” rolls.

Lasso Launcher: A coiled cable of highly flexible steel mesh is installed into a character who already has both a cybernetic arm and cybernetic hand. At the character's command, a length of this cord can spring forth already knotted in a lasso. If the character declares they are using a lasso before initiative is rolled during combat, they receive a +1 bonus to initiative.

Knuckleduster: These are little more than retactable metal studs installed into the knuckles of a cybernetic hand. The character must already have a cybernetic hand to make use of knuckledusters. They grant a +1 bonus to all unarmed melee damage and do not count against a character's normal limit on cybernetic enhancements.

Internal Holster: A portion of the character's cybernetic leg is hollowed out, allowing for a retractable holster to be installed. This holster can hold pistols and other one-handed weapons. Some characters even store daggers or other small melee weapons in them. The character must already have at least one cybernetic leg to receive this modification. These are often used to conceal weapons, but do not count against a character's normal limit on cybernetic enhancements.

Hand Laser: Similar to a Lasso Launcher, this modification for a cybernetic hand allows the character to fire a laser beam from their index finger if this is installed. This does the same damage as a laser pistol. Larger versions of this can be installed, doing damage as a laser rifle, though these larger modifications are obvious. Hand lasers require an energy cell, and large hand lasers consume energy cells twice as fast as normal and are capable of only ten shots before the cell must be replaced.

Teetotaler's Filter: Characters with cybernetic modification cannot get drunk, no matter how much alcohol they consume. They also receive +1 to all saving throws made to resist poisons.

Counter's Computer: This small chip is installed at the base of the character's neck, easily concealed by a human's hair. It allows the character to count cards without error as well as perform basic mathematical equations instantly.

Buckstar: Similar to Star Swords, these are heavy handles (often of ivory) that cause a short broad bladed blade of laser energy to spring to life. They do not do as much damage a Star Sword, but are still quite deadly. Any character capable of wielding a Star Sword can use a Buckstar.

Electro-Lasso: Favored by those who herd cattle and atomic bovines, these long cords of flexible metal mesh can be used to restrain and subdue creatures large and small. Once a target has been roped (see below), the attacker can activate a small power cell which causes target to suffer the listed damage.  Robots suffer double damage from the charge of an electro-lasso.

Plasma Shotgun: These double-barreled monstrosities are short ranged and brutal. Their long barrels are often sawed down to make the weapon more concealable at the expense of a shortened range. They fire a massive blast of white-hot plasma that does extraordinary damage, but are only capable of two shots before requiring a new power cell.

Boomer's Rang: These appear to be truncated boomerangs, but when thrown two small laser beams (similar to the full length blades of a Star Sword) spring to life, making this a deadly weapon. After being thrown the attacker must roll a d20 and score equal to or under his Dexterity ability score. If successful, the weapon returns to the attacker's hand whether or not the attack misses.

Atomic Duster: Made from the hide of atomic bovines, these dusters can be worn over light or medium armor and provide some minor additional protection. These long, bovine leather coats are often dyed black or brown for style. Any character who is able to wear light armor can wear an Atomic Duster. It can be combined with the benefits of light armor, medium armor or shields, but not with heavy armor.

Peacemaker Pack: This special cylindrical energy cell can only be used in laser pistols and laser rifles. These laser weapons require special modification to even accept the Peacemaker Packs, which costs 25% of the weapon's purchase price. Peacemaker Packs draw enormous amounts of energy to fire deadly, but short ranged blasts. They are expended after six shots and any weapon using a Peacemaker Pack has its range reduced by one-half. However, the weapon receives a +2 bonus to damage.

Melee Weapon Damage Cost Weight
Buckstar 1d6+2 75 credits 2 lbs
Eletro-Lasso 1d6 50 credits 3 lbs

Ranged Weapons
Rate of Fire
Ammo Capacity
Boomer's Rang
40 feet
35 credits
2 lbs
Plasma Shotgun
30 feet
175 credits
10 lbs

Atomic Duster
-1 [+1]
15 credits
10 lbs

Peacemaker Pack
0.5 lbs
20 credits

Head 'em Up

When a character attacks with a regular lasso or electro-lasso they can attempt to disable a target. If the attack roll is successful, the target must make a saving throw. If the saving throw is failed, the target is unable to move or attack for one round. Each following round, the attacker can choose to maintain their grip and the target may make a new saving throw to slip free. Attempting to break free is extraordinarily difficult, requiring the defender to roll a d20 and add their Strength ability score modifier. If this is successful, they have broken the lasso. The defender is free and the lasso is destroyed. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Free Time isn't so Free (and other time sinks)

It's not a huge secret that I'm nearing my service retirement. Twenty years in law enforcement isn't quite the same as many other professions - my mother wanted me to have an "office job" out of college ;)

I've accumulated a large amount of time off over the last year or two and I've been slowly using it to ease myself into "non active status" at the end of March which will lead to actual retirement this summer. Damn quick twenty years on one level, slow as all hell last year on so many others.

You would think having some three day and four day weekends would lead to more productivity on the posting and game writing side and it has in short bursts, but overall it hasn't, as my 5 y/o niece has decided that uncle being off for long weekends means more time for sleepovers and "Uncle / Pinkie" time. She's already told me that when I retire, Uncle / Pinkie day will be on Fridays - pick her up from her parents', lunch at the pub, walk the dog at the park, watch some Spongebob, make a fort out of the bed, wait for auntie to come home from work, sleepover and take her home Saturday afternoon. Yes, all that in one breath and without writing down a list.

She was over yesterday and decided to make it a sleepover. Tomorrow into Wednesday? You guessed it. Another sleepover. Thank God her mother is a published writer and Shannon understands the process. She just doesn't understand it as it applies to Uncle.

I'm in trouble.

If we've spoken and I owe you something, I'm working on it as time (and work and niece) allows. The next two things I want to get short reviews / overviews up for are +James Spahn 's The Hero's Journey and The Black Hack (I'm in possession of the PDF from the current Kickstarter)

Ah well, back to work tonight...

Kickstarter - Baby Bestiary Volume 2 & Vol. 1 Reprint

Art. I'm a sucker for good art in an RPG product. The art in the original Baby Bestiary wasn't just good, it was inspiring. The associated text reminded me of the ecology series of articles in Dragon Magazine, complete with hooks hidden within the text. But to be honest, I've sent most of my time with the original Baby Bestiary just looking at the art. Quite simply, it's amazing and evocative.

Which means my only question with the new Baby Bestiary Volume 2 & Vol. 1 Reprint Kickstarter is: do I get Volume 2 as a stand alone, or do I opt for the slipcase?

Did I mention it's systemless? From OSR to 5e, you should be able to find use for this in game.

Here's what will be in Volume 2:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

I Was a Guest Host on Roll For Initiative Earlier Today

See those new tabs up above? One is for +Dyson Logos ' blog and the other is for the Roll for Initiative Podcast. I just happened to guest on the RFI episode recorded this afternoon along with +Timothy Brannan (The Otherside Blog) and show regular +Vincent Florio . We had a blast. One of the topics was nothing other than RPG Kickstarters. I bet you can't guess the angle I took. No, really. I bet you cant. Heh!

The episode should get released midweek, so I'll update everyone when it lands. I've missed podcasting and expect to be getting much more involved come March / April in Podcast Land ;)

Of Tabs and Links and Other Sordid Details...

It was suggested to me, not without good reasoning behind it, that I should monetize the "Tabs" you see right below the header art. It was a reasonable suggestion and oh so tempting, but it's not to be.

You see, the issue for me it is becomes an endorsement for something or someone that I might not be that huge a fan of. Selling my integrity (what there is of it - I do have ads here at The Tavern, they help keep the lights on, especially as I transition into retirement) for 10 bucks a month (or whatever the pricing) seems  - whorish, to say the least.

That being said, there will be new tabs added of the special friends I've made over my years of blogging in the OSR. This will happen over the next few days. Yes, I endorse them. No, none of them asked for me to add a link or a tab to their site. Yes, they are cool folks and they produce awesome content.

Some tabs may be more or less temporary (if I ad any Kickstarters, they will by nature be temporary). Check them out. You never know what you may find.

(I may in the future install "drop down tabs". This currently requires more programming knowledge than I have neither time nor desire to learn, but it would be neat)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

RPG Computer Games are the Time Sink From Hell... but I Love Them ;)

Well, there goes 2 hours of potentially productive time down the drain ;)

For those that enjoy computer RPGs, Steam is running a sale and I've been making a few purchases.

The two games I picked up between last night and today can both be played on the Mac and can be played multiplayer (but aren't MMORPGs)

Last night I grabbed Sword Coast Legends. Sure, I've heard mixed reviewed (and the Mac version can be a little buggy to get started) but the bit's I played of it last night weren't bad at all. 10 bucks for the basic edition, 15 for the bells and whistles.

Today I grabbed Torchlight II. I played the shit outa Torchlight I and II is better than I. Well, maybe not, as it doesn't have the same specialness that the first version of the game had, but for 5 bucks? I will get way more than my 5 bucks worth. Way more. It's damn good.

Just over six weeks to go before I'm allowed to have regular time sinks ;)

Alright, onward to reading more of +James Spahn 's The Hero's Journey. Hopefully I can put up a good teaser post later this evening ;)