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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mini Review - Blood in Ferelden - Three Adventures for Green Ronin's Dragon Age

Green Ronin's Dragon Age RPG is based upon the computer / video game RPG of the same name.  The computer version is outstanding, and well worth the price of admission.

Dragon Age, the Table Top RPG, uses the same setting and gives the players a chance to play in the setting that is so well detailed for the computer.  The initial game set covers levels 1-5, and is well done and nicely put together.  Without support material in felt incomplete tho.  Blood in Ferelden does a fine job at removing that incomplete feeling, and gives you three complete adventures and three adventure seeds.
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In reality, Blood in Ferelden is more like a mini-campaign, or an Adventure Path (that's what the kids are calling it these days - its all the rage).

A quick synopsis from Blood in Ferelden for the three adventures follows:
     In Amber Rage the heroes survive a surprise attack on a village fair and must journey, in the aftermath of the attack, into the Korcari Wilds to find a key ingredi- ent to the cure for the horrible disease that the attackers brought with them.      
In Where Eagles Lair the PCs are pressed into ser- vice tracking down the kidnapped daughter of one of Ferelden’s arls in the Frostback Mountains, where the strange and savage Avvarian hillmen dwell.          
Finally, in A Fragile Web the heroes must negotiate an entirely different manner of challenge, where almost nothing is as it seems, in dealing with a series of deadly political intrigues in Fereldan’s capital city.
The adventures average about 40 pages a piece and should probably take 2 to 3 sessions each to complete, so you are getting a nice bang to your buck ratio.

Did I mention that Green Ronin did a fine job bookmarking this?  They did.  It's a pleasure to read.

RantCon - The Odyssey

Let me begin by saying this is all me.  I'm sure RetCon is a fine convention and there are hundreds of people having a ball - I just don't know.

Last night I got eaten alive until about 4 am -  the joys of summer sleeping.  Needless to say, I had a heads up that today was not going to be my day.

The trip to RetCon from Queens, NY is about 40 minutes with traffic, according to google.  Apparently I found something worse then traffic, it took closer to an hour for a 26 miles drive.

Then it hit me as I arrived at the Four Season - the parking lot was half empty, and this was an operational Hilton Hotel.  For a con expecting 250-300 gamers, I began to doubt there were even 1/5 the numbers.  I did see a 20ish, unkept  young man with with a canvass army styled backpack with horrid posture roaming the parking lot - its a shame we still have the same, fairly accurate sterotypes nearly 30 years after I entered the hobby.

No signs for the event at all at the hotel, in the parking lot or anywhere.  I know the Long Island Meet-up club was running it, so maybe there was a secret door to find or handshake you had to share, but in the mood I was in I just got back in my car and drove home - sans traffic about 25 minutes.  The return trip was the highlight of my day.

I shouldn't have even made the trip in the mood I was in, but the idea of spending 20 bucks to view a few vendors tables - as the idea of gaming was slipping from my mind as I tried to find any sign of a convention sign - made me cancel the trip on the doorstep of the con.

Ah well, hope it went well for those that found it - I think the bearded man in the trenchcoat might have marked the entrance, but I'm not sure ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Overlooked Blogs Collection - White Haired Man

White Haired Man is not new to the RPG Community, especially if one games via Virtual Table Tops such as Fantasy Grounds.  Their Blog is fairly new tho.

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First things first:  White Haired Man has it's generic, system free campaign setting called Kith'takharos available for free online.  Nope, not as a PDF, but as an honest to god webpage, with links and maps that one can blow up and print out as they desire.  It is a fully detailed, ready to run, campaign setting.

They also produce and sell modules that can be used with the Fantasy Grounds 2 software, both for the 3.5 OGL rules and Savage Worlds.

If you play online via FG2, you really can't go wrong by checking out White Haired Man's modules, as they are created for use with FG2, not conversions of previous products (that being said, each module includes a full PDF, suitable for reference during online game by the GM or for running a face to face game).

The blog contains observations, gaming material for a Kith'takharos, behind the scenes game session info, and all the stuff you expect from a gaming blog - except that there is an emphasis on Virtual Gaming.  Since a good Virtual Game session can compete with a good face to face gaming session, I think that's a nice change of perception.  Well, that and I tend to do most of my gaming with VTTs myself these days ;)

How to Embarrass Your 17 Y/O Son

As a father, call out "I love you!" as you drop him off at the airport for his 2 week vacation to Florida. What can I say, I'm gonna miss him. ;)

Of course, it does mean I'll have much more time to read and catch up on some things I want to watch on Netflix on Demand (Dresden Files comes to mind).

Tomorrow is Day 1 of RetCon out in Long Island NY. I'll probably stop by for a few hours tomorrow afternoon, take a few pictures with my cell phone, check the dealers tables, and jump in a game if I find one I like with an open seat.

Which reminds me, if JoeTheLawyer is reading this, any idea when and where you want to run that Weird Fantasy session that was mentioned last month?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mini Review - Kaiser's Gate - A True20 Setting

True20 is Green Ronin's OGL derived generic ruleset and it is based and the Mutant and Masterminds ruleset (okay, that sounds awkward even to me).  It seems to me it has a bit more popular a few years ago, and that Savage Worlds appears to have settled in as the major "generic" rpg ruleset these days.

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Kaiser's Gate is a mash up of standard fantasy fare and the events leading up to, including, and directly after World War 1.  It's a sandboxie setting for the most part, highlighting the major events,countries, npcs and the like.  Adventure seeds abound within it's pages, and the setting pretty much comes to life as you read it.  Then again, I was a history major in college, so mixing WW1 history and D&D fantasy into one setting is weirdly appealing to me.

I'm 3 or 4 years removed from playing in a message board True20 game, which should have put me at a disadvantage, but the first half of the book is more setting and fluff then anything.  Heck, even the crunch of the later half, creatures and npcs, items and vehicles, etc, could probably be shoehorned into one's favorite generic ruleset without too much trouble.

It also includes a random mission generator, random encounter generator, and a short intro adventure.  It's pretty complete.

My main complaint?  Lack of PDF bookmarking.  I've gotten spoiled by it, I know, but I don't see why it couldn't have been included.

Here's the blurb for Kaiser's Gate:

 

 

This alternate history, genre-blending setting for the True20 game system presents a fantastic take on World War One - combining the gritty battlefields of the Great War with elements of magical fantasy and horror.

* Sorcerers of the German Imperial Army - fueled by the magic of red dragons - bulldoze Allied defenses and push deep into France.

* Heroic griffin riders of the French Air Service fight to free their nation from the daily terror of zeppelin bombing raids

* British golem squads fight alongside tanks to turn the tide of battle against the Central Powers

* In the darkest days of the war, in desperation, the Kaiser makes a Faustian bargain that unleashes an invasion of legions of creatures from Faerie onto the European continent.

Kaiser's gate also includes a new map-less vehicle combat system for True20 and a sample adventure to get the action started immediately.

 

 

LotFP's Weird Fantasy Featured in This Week's RPGNow Newsletter

Nice.  Today's DriveThruRPG/RPGNow Newsletter has LotFP's Weird Fantasy as one of its Featured Products.  It's time for Weird Fantasy to crack the RPGNow Top 5 list I think ;)

All that and tomorrow is H.P. Lovecraft's B-day!  Cool beans.

iPad Dreams, Wants and Desires

I'm still in search of the perfect blogging software for the iPad. I have a feeling it is going to be a long wait. BlogPress isn't bad, but it is extremely basic. Hopefully someone, somewhere has better software in the works.

As for the multitude of PDF readers for the iPad, I still think that GoodReader is the best of the bunch by far. Supposedly the next update for the app will allow annotations and notes on the PDF (a feature available in some other PDF apps for the iPad). Being able to scratch up a copy of a module on my iPad, or write some house rules in the margins of Weird Fantasy will bring this damn close to having my beat up 1st edition modules in hand.

I need to spend some more time with the iPad mapping program I download last week - the name, of course, escapes me at the moment. I'd really love to have an iPad VTT, but it would probably need to be cross platform, and that ain't happening anytime soon.

I have high hopes, don't I?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trollzine #3 - For the Other OSR Game

Tunnels & Trolls is the other Old School game.  Actually T&T, Runequest, Traveller and D&D mark the four corners of classic role playing in my opinion. That could probably rate a post unto itself, but I digress.

Trollzine, for those who miss the obvious, is a magazine for Tunnels & Trolls.

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TrollsZine 3 is the adventure issue. It contains two ready to run adventures for the busy games master, as well as two new solo adventures. Four Jars of Mead is a previously unpublished solo by Ken St. Andre, beautifully illustrated by Jeff Freels. The Temple of Issoth is a new solo adventure by the prolific Dan Hembree. Also included are adventure locations, magic items, new spells, several new monsters, the continued adventures of Aeulung and rules for character inheritance. Contributors include Ken St. Andre, Justin T. Williams, Randy Whitley, Tori Bergquist, W. Scott Grant, Dan Hembree and Mike Tremaine. It is packed with great drawings by Jeff Freels, David Ullery, Kevin Bracey and Grantt Ennis, amongst others. Edited by Dan Prentice and Kevin Bracey, TrollsZine 3 continues in the grand tradition of writing by gamers, for gamers and is still available for the bargain price of $0.00.

Not bad for free, huh?  Tunnels & Trolls was my system of choice for solo play.  I never quite liked it for group play, but admittedly only played in about 2 or 3 sessions, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Trollzine 3 is 80 plus pages of Old School gaming.  It may not be the Old School you know, but it can definitely stand on its own.

If you don't have a copy of the Tunnels & Trolls rules to make use of the enclosed adventures, especially the solo ones, a shortened version of the Tunnels & Trolls rules is available here.  Go play by yourself!

 

Rant and Roll

I do not enjoy getting work phone calls at home after a day of work. Days that I take off I almost expect them, as it usually entails something that falls under my responsibilities and I need to walk somebody through something. Comes with the job. Calls at home after I've left work? Somebody dropped the ball and is trying to make their problem my problem. Don't like it at all. Can you tell I had a phone call or two last night? End of Rant.

I should have about 2 weeks of significant reading time coming up. No, I'm not going out sick. The kid is visiting relatives for 2 weeks, and I highly suspect my ability to find time to read will grow exponentially. It will be short lived, and that's okay. I'll be missing the kid from moment I put him on the plane.

This weekend is the RetCon out on Long Island, NY. I might drop by for a few hours on Saturday, more for the atmosphere then anything else. It's been about 13 years since I've done any face to face roleplaying, and even longer since my last con.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mini Review - Stonesky Delve from Expeditious Retreat

Why do I call most of my reviews Mini Reviews?  Because I don't break the product down to its components and pieces like some others.  I'd rather give you my impressions and feelings then inadvertently drop spoilers.  Besides, I don't don't have the time or energy to write a magazine length review.  Wish I did 'tho, and god bless those that can and do.

Anyhow, on to the Mini Review of Stonesky Delve, an Advanced Adventure for 6-10 characters of levels 4-7.  The module assumes the group will have access to the AD&D core rulebooks and / or OSRIC, but I see little reason why it couldn't work with Labyrinth Lord, especially with the Advanced Edition Companion. with what little conversion is needed done on the fly.

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The module itself was run as a 2 part tournament module at the 2010 GenCon Convention and as such it comes with pregen characters, or, as I like to call them - new NPCs for my collection.

This is one of those adventures that the DM should know very well before running.  The caves in the module are more then the standard D&D 2 dimensional fare (yes, it is advised to let the players know to prepare for spelunking).

If run for the standard gaming group as part of a campaign, it would probably last one long session or two shorter sessions in my estimation.  If run for a gameday or convention, it should take two 3 1/2 to 4 hr slots to finish.  Included is a tournament  scoring system.

Its a nice change from the standard dungeon crawl as it forces the players to think in three dimensions.  It should be fun to run and play in, but the DM must have a good handle on the adventure before running it.  Yes, I am repeating this piece of advice.  It bears repeating ;)

Update to the Minor Renovations at the Tavern

The list of websites is now above. I like it there. It is nice. I like cats... okay, in any case, I'll probably be changing the sites fairly frequently, especially the more major ones.

I will be adding a listing of free games with links on the left. Again, I'll be rotating games in and out as time goes on. I'm always open to suggestions, both on sites to highlight as well as free games to link up.

Alright, more after dinner. Time for a review. And I don't think it will from the bottom of the pile either.

Minor Renovations at the Tavern

I've added a small list of websites and forums to the left. Some are very popular, some are overlooked, all are worth visiting in my humble opinion.

I enjoyed putting up the Overlooked Blog Collection so much It will be a regular feature. Which is good, as I am running out of Quickstarts to post. Still, there should be an installment or two left in the free Quickstart collection.

I believe that both of our winners received their prizes. Marcello promised me pics of the assembled results of his prize. With his permission I'll post them here when I get them. Get building lad! Heh

We are at 52 Google Connect Friends - at 60 the Tavern will award another prize to a randomly chosen member. Now ain't that a simple contest?

I've got a review pile that is way too deep. I might try a poll to see which I should attack next. Or I'll just start from the bottom. Not sure yet.

Ah well. Back to the paying job ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mini Review: GOLD - The Web Series That Does Double Damage - Complete Season 1 Special Edition DVD

GOLD - The Web Series That Does Double Damage - Complete Season 1 Special Edition DVD - - Now THAT's a Title.  Heck, I almost sprained a finger typing all of that out.  Damn, I'd no longer be a contender.

I'm sure most of us have seen The Gamers, a low budget spoof about, what else, gamers and gaming.  GOLD- TWSTDDD is a more serious approach of the topic.  Or if not more serious, then certainly less campy and with higher production values.



The premise is that gaming is a spectator sport, with teams, training, fans, sponsors - even televised championships.  Its every geek gamer's dream, and even the not so geeky.

There are other story lines going on, and in many ways the gaming story line is the background - characters, as in the player's themselves, come before the gaming.

To be honest, I had trouble caring for most of the characters until the second episode, so stick with it.  When I finished I was left wanting more, which is always good for a series, and I think this one can do well. 

The British accents are poorly done, or greatly done if one is looking for over the top.  Still, the series gets it's legs with the arrival of the Brits.

The DVD is well done, but I'm unsure how many will pay for something that is freely available on the web.  Still, you can't go wrong by giving the series a peek.

Random Thoughts

Al still hasn't stepped up for his prize from last week. If I don't hear from him by 6pm NYC time, Wednesday August 18, i'll reroll and award it to someone else. Can't let this stuff go to waste.

I've noticed a couple of companies are going the "free PDF with dead tree purchase" and I think it's great. It increases the odds of me making the dead tree purchase, as I make most of my gaming buys in PDF these days.

LofFP Weird Fantasy - thinking of the Ranger Class conversion, how do you have a damage or combat bonus against certain creatures when such creatures aren't included in the rules... Aargh!

Weekend get aways are fun, but I really need a nice week or two out sick, so I can be forced to stay home and read. I really need to catch up on my reading time.

I enjoyed doing yesterday's Overlooked Blog. It may become a semi-regular feature.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Overlooked Blogs Collection - August 15, 2010

Today I had one of those "Holy Crap!  I've overlooked this for how long?"  Sometimes it just takes a few minutes to see where some of your blog's traffic is coming from to find other blogs that you yourself have overlooked.

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Such is Joseph Browning's Blog for Expeditious Retreat Press.  I've bought his products in the past, I've enjoyed reading the House of Blue men, and I'm seriously considering picking up Sorcery and Super Science! even though I have no idea when, let along if, I'd ever get a chance to run it.

Lo and behold, I'm checking where Tenkar's Tavern gets some of its traffic from, and I see http://josephbrowning.blogspot.com/.  That was the Holy Crap moment, I never even realized he had a blog.  Should have clicked yesterday when we had the OneBookShelf sales number discussion, but I can be a bit slow at times.

Do yourself a favor and give it a peek.  It's full of good stuff you can steal for just about any OSR RPG, and you can read up on the development of Sorcery and Super Science!. Pretty interesting stuff.

 

LotFP - Weird Fantasy - My Stab at a Paladin Class

Ever since I read James' take on the Thief (Specialist) I started thinking about how the 6 pip system (for lack of a better name) could be used to emulate other classic character classes in Weird Fantasy.  The Paladin is my first stab at it, and this is my first stab at the Paladin.  I'm sure it will be revised after feedback and y own further thoughts.

Paladins in Weird Fantasy aren't as powerful as Paladins in the classic rules.  Their over the top holiness has to be toned down for the default setting, which is grittier then most.

Here's the basics:

Paladins fight and save as fighters of the same level.  They advance using the experience chart for Wizards.

They have a permanent Protection From Evil - Self Only, in effect at all times.

The following Paladin abilities can be improved as the Paladin levels, via the "Pip System" used by Specialist in the main Weird Fantasy Rulebook, with changes as indicated as follows: all 3 abilities start with 1 pip.  1 pip is awarded with each level gained, to be used as the player sees fit, except that no ability can be 3 pips or more then any other.

Smite Undead - Undead attack bonus

Pip 1 - +2 hit, +2 damage, 1 use per day

Pip 2 - +2 hit, +2 damage, 2 uses per day

Pip 3 - +2 hit, +3 damage, 2 uses per day

Pip 4 - +2 hit, +3 damage, 3 uses per day

Pip 5 - +2 hit, +4 damage, 3 uses per day

Pip 5 - +2 hit, +4 damage, 4 uses per day

Lay Hands

Pip 1 - Heals 2 points on 1 individual once per day

Pip 2 - Heals 5 points on 1 individual once per day

Pip 3 - Heals 8 points on 1 individual once per day

Pip 4 - Heals 11 points on 1 individual once per day

Pip 5 - Heals 14 points on 1 individual once per day

Pip 6 - Heals 17 points on 1 individual once per day

Cure Disease

Pip 1 - Self Immunity to non-magic disease - +2 save to magical diseases

Pip 2 - 1 Casting of Cure Disease once per week

Pips 3-6 - 1 Additional Casting per Pip per week

The restriction in pip levels keeps one from overspecializing, while allowing individualization of each Paladin.

Consider this still a work in progress.  Comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated.