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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mini Review - The Slumbering Tsar Saga Part 4 The Temple City of Orcus Part 1: The Tower of Weeping Sores

The title of the release is almost longer then the review ;)  The Slumbering Tsar Saga Part 4 The Temple City of Orcus Part 1: The Tower of Weeping Sores is the latest part of the Slumbering Tsar Sage to be released by Necromancer Games / Frog God Games.  It is written for Pathfinder but can be shoehorned  into one of the older rulesets without too much trouble - less is more when trying to convert 3.5e / Pathfinder material to an older ruleset.  Anyhow, back to Part 1, or is it Part 4?  Or part 4 of 14... nevermind.


What we have here is an adventure that will take your part from about level 11to around... well, probably 12, as this adventure is part one of five parts, but its the forth in the series... Frog God needs to figure out a better way to number these, as this is confusing even my sensibilities.

Confusing as the numbering is, the adventure is well presented and beautifully bookmarked, which is to be expected form a publisher like Necromancer / Frog God.  Major points for that.

If you want to check the first part of the series out cheap, Slumbering Tsar: The Desolation Part 1 - The Edge of Oblivion for a balanced party of 7th level characters is available for 2 bucks from RPGNow.

The Slumbering Tsar SagaTM began its journey years ago as a single mega-adventure for the masters of Third Edition rules and First Edition feel, then became a trilogy of adventures, then a trilogy of mega-adventures, and now finally comes to you as a monthly series culminating in a massive book with over a half million words of pure First Edition-style adventure.  Updated to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to accommodate today's audience of the classic fantasy roleplaying game, The Slumbering Tsar SagaTM brings you 14 chapters, released monthly in electronic format, each chapter the size of a full adventure in its own right (30-50 pages) .  Then when the final chapter has been released, the whole will be available in a classic edition, hardcover adventure book.

RPG Game Systems = Languages

As I get older I'm finding it harder and harder to wrap my head around new game systems the further they stray from my D&D roots.  I kinda look at D&D, it's offspring and variants as something akin to German dialects.  It's pretty much the same language, but many things don't translate well betweenthe dialects.  Still, if you know one dialect,  you can probably communicate with  the speaker of another dialect.  So it goes with D&D, 3.5, the retro clones and such.  4e is more like the break between German and English... you can see many German roots in the English language, but they are far apart and totally different.

Anyhow, these days, the retroclones and other variants that are published these days I have no trouble wrapping my head around.  True20 still makes my head hurt, as I know that it is close to what I know, but it's like talking to an Irishman from County Donegal - I know he is speaking English, but I'm still stuck scratching my head half the time ;)  I'd like to understand True20 better, as there are some damn nice settings for that system.

Same goes for Savage Worlds... I've yet to play in a session using the rules, and something tells me until I do, it just won't click.  FATE is another system that I really like, but I don't feel like I really know.  Guess my problem is that I'm a native Dungeons & Dragon's speaker ;)

My weakness in High School and College was Foreign Languages - who would have guessed?  heh

(don't forget, there is a contest going on thru 6pm 9/6//10 - Win a free PDF copy of Realms of Cthulhu for Savage Worlds - check out the contest here)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Weekend Escape - Dodging Earl

NYC has dodged Hurricane Earl, thereby salvaging the holiday weekend here in the States. I'll be heading to the Poconos for an overnighter and then head to Connecticut to visit family.

I'll be reading Dread and running some Tunnels & Trolls solos. Maybe I can grab a level or two ;)

Joethelawyer, if you are reading this, we need to get that LotFP Weird Fantasy game planned...


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Labor Day Weekend Contest - Win a PDF Copy of Realms of Cthulhu

Yep, thanks to the fine folks at RPGNow and Reality Blurs, Tenkar's Tavern is giving away a free PDF copy of Realms of Cthulhu. Bring a nice spark of horror to you next Savage Worlds game.

How do you enter? Very simple. Name the first Player Character you ever created and ran in an RPG. A single sentence will suffice, although you can fell free to talk about his /escapades further if you wish. Enter as a comment to this blog entry.

Contest ends 6 PM on Monday, September 6, 2010 at which point I will randomly pick a winner. Best of luck.


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Thursday, September 2, 2010

GOLD Season 1 - Screening at Dragon*Con 9/4

David Nett sent me an email asking me to let my readers know that GOLD Season 1 will be screened at Dragon*Con on September 4th... this coming Saturday.  Nope, I won't be there, but the web series was a fun one to watch and I figure it's worth the plug if anyone that reads this will be in attendance. 

Screening Details:

GOLD is a finalist for the 2010 Parsec Award for Video Storytelling!
To celebrate, we’re screening all of Gold Season 1 after the award
ceremony:

- All seven GOLD Season 1 Episodes!
- Additional screening delights!
- Q&A with David Nett (creator/Jon Drake) and Rick Robinson (Richard
Wright)
- Sneak peek at the upcoming GOLD miniseries, Night of the Zombie King
- Giveaways!
This is the first time GOLD Season 1 will be screened in its entirety.
If you’re at Dragon*Con, don’t miss this great opportunity to see GOLD
on the big screen and meet some of the folks who make the show.

About GOLD:
GOLD is an independent television series about a world where tabletop
role-playing gaming is a professional sport. The American and British
teams, the best in the world, prepare for the World Championships,
deal with their personal and professional demons, and plot to destroy
each other. It takes nerves of steel to compete in the world of
professional role-playing gamers. Can you take the hits? More about
the series at goldtheseries.com.

Sat 11:30PM, Crystal Ballroom (Hilton)


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Dread - Followup Question

Just started looking thru the rules and I noticed it suggests a group of 5 or 6. I'll be lucky to get a 2 plus the GM situation... 1 on 1 will be more likely. Still a good choice choice, or should I run Weird Fantasy's tutorial as a 1 on 1? Or even a one on one module.

Trials and tribulations of a roleplayer ;)


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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dread - Looking for Advice

Tags: , I've only heard good things about Dread, especially as a way to introduce people new to the hobby of roleplaying.  RPGNow is now carrying it in PDF format (so i snagged it) and I'm fairly sure I can get my hands on Jenga without much of a problem.  Any words of advice or wisdom before I drag family and friends into Dread?

I still need to read it, as I literaly just snagged it.  Lunchtime at work on the iPad I suspect to read it, and possibly put it into play over the weekend.

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A New Month - New Giveaways

Yep, September means new prizes for the prize closet... it also means I have a prize from last month that may or may not have expired... ack!

Anyhow, the first contest of the month should be announced this weekend.  That is in addition to the ongoing contest with a prize or two given away when we hit 60 Friends that have added themselves to the "Regular Tavern Patron" list.

All that and the kids go back to school.  Phew! ;)

Mini Review - In Search of the Trollslayer for Fantasy Grounds and BRP

Looks like I’m finally getting around to reviewing the latest Fantasy Grounds releases.  About time I say ;)

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Anyhow, In Search of the Trollslayer for Fantasy Grounds and BRP is a conversion of the Chaosium produced In Search of the Trollslayer adventure for the Basic Roleplaying System.  It’s a fun and deadly adventure for experienced BRP characters, and if there is an issue with the adventure itself (not the conversion) is that there really isn’t any useful series of introductory adventures set in a fantasy setting for BRP.  I know in many ways BRP is a toolkit, but I would like to get my players’ characters the experience needed to play Trollslayer, as opposed to just creating experienced characters or using pregens, but that is me.

As for the conversion to Fantasy Grounds, it is well done.  Extensively tabbed and laid out.  I didn’t do a side by side comparison to my PDF copy of Trollslayer, but it looks to my memory to be a nicely converted duplication.  I like BRP and I love the fantasy genre.  I will probably run this with the pregens as a one shot - or multiple shots as i suspect this will take a few sessions to get thru.

From Smiteworks' blurb:

In Search of the Trollslayer A Heroic-Level Fantasy Adventure for Basic Roleplaying By Troy Wilhelmson

Deep in the heart of a perilous swamp lie the ruins of a cursed shrine. Within its crumbling walls lies an artifact of ancient power, a spear called "The Trollslayer." Heroes must now retrieve the forgotten weapon, but can they overcome the evil that resides within the rotting temple?

In Search of the Trollslayer is a heroic-level fantasy adventure for Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying RPG. Includes six pre-made characters so players can jump right into the action.

Requirements: Full or Ultimate License of Fantasy Grounds and the Basic Roleplaying (BRP) ruleset.

Random Heat Induced Thoughts

So, here I sit in the designated Cell Phone Parking Lot at the airport, waiting for my son's flight to arrive, and I'm thinking that I have 3 adventures / modules for Fantasy Grounds that I have to review. I need to change the cat's litter. I should have opted for the tank top instead of tank top and button down shirt combo.

Weird what thoughts cross your mind as you sit in your car, shade slowly leaving you behind and the damn heat starts to hit you. Thank god I brought water.

Eh, at least I don't have to go to work today ;)


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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3d6 or not 3d6, That is the Question

Grognardia has a post up about generating ability scores in D&D and it's various offspring. It's pretty much about the virtues of the 3d6 in order method, although a roll 18d6 and assign as you want is also mentioned and is interesting (tho I suspect Dump Stat would be in full effect)

My issue is that the method is fine in OD&D and Swords & Wizardry (the current clone) as your abilities don't have much of an effect on gameplay. The largest stat bonus is +1 and the largest stat penalty is -1. It just doesn't have a significant influence on gameplay.

Once stat bonuses and penalties start hitting the +/- 3 or 4 range, as they do with the other D&d variations, they start having a huge impact on play. Who really wants to play the someone that is less then average in a game that is supposed to be fun? Some might like the challenge, but if the player isn't going to have fun because his character is crippled from level 1, why is he going to keep coming back to reach level 2.

I'm not advocating the Unearthed Arcana method of stat rolling, but there is nothing wrong with a best 3 out of 4d6 method (or even 3 out of 5d6 depending on the type of campaign the players and the DM want) in my opinion.

As for point buy, I've always had an aversion to it, but I do see how it can keep a player from rolling something that is totally borked.

Isn't the whole point of our hobby to have fun? Maybe not for some of the old timers (that there is a joke, son) but that's the reason I like to play. It's simply fun. I don't want a character that is the best, but I certainly don't want to play one that is so crippled that it just isn't much fun. Besides, if he was really that much of a loser, who would pick him for an adventuring party anyway?

It is called "Fantasy" Roleplaying for a reason ;)



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Another Month Down

As August draws to a close and summer races to wrap up, I'm amazed at what I never accomplished over the summer.

I never got my Fantasy Grounds Castles & Crusades game of the ground... It's close, but I feel like I'm trying to herd cats getting everyone to agree on a day.

Haven't done a tenth of the reading I had hoped to get around to.

God knows spring cleaning never got done in the spring or summer. Fall maybe?

I need to finish up some more Tales of the Blue Knight entries. Haven't touched it since June if memory serves me well.

I need another month or two of summer, but without the excessive heat. Can it be arranged?


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Monday, August 30, 2010

Dragged Into the Dark Depths

I've done the MMORPG thing and had fun doing it.  Ultima Online was frustrating, Everquest was awesome, Anarchy Online was fun, EQ2 was okay, WoW didn't wow me, Conan left me a victim of PvP, Star Wars Galaxies made me some decent friends tho the game sucked, LotRO left me with a lifetime of NOT playing, DDO I check into on and off, Warhammer was fun until I leveled to the point that PvP was all that was left, The Realm from Sierra Online was a goof, Aion was ehh, Vanguard was a bloated piece of beta software that should never have been released, Star Trek is okay... at least it's a bit different then the rest.  I'm sure I've missed one or two ;)

I hardly check them out these days... I'm still waiting on the RIGHT one... in many ways, The first Everquest captured that the best for me, just like the OSR captures most of what I like in Pen n Paper RPGs.

Of course, all this means is that I'm being dragged to one of the "free" MMORPGs - Runes of Magic - nothing out of pocket and I get to see if it's a worthwhile time waster.  My gaming group seems to like it, but we shall see what we shall see.  At least it's zero cost up front :)

When is Too Much Too Much?

Just a thought after reading and posting about d-infinity.

When is too much too much? I don't mean too much in the way of page count, but too much in the way of diversifying content.

It seems to me that the successful Gaming Magazines these days are pretty focused in content. Dragon, Dungeon and Fight On are 4e focused. Kobold is on 3.5e, Pathfinder and some 4e. The OSR has a strong assortment of publications.

The thing in common? Focus.

D-infinity will be an interesting experiment. Time will tell.


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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mini Review - "d-Infinity" Volume #1

d-Infinity (as I can’t do a silly little infinity sign on my keyboard) Volume #1 is the first full issue of the magazine.  They had an issue 0 sampler out for Gen Con.

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Lets see, how do i explain this magazine... it’s a little bit of everything, which is both its strength, and it’s weakness.  It’s it well put together, very professional looking... lets just go to the publishers’ blurb.

d∞ ("d-Infinity") is a new multi-platform gaming supplement that covers a wide variety of rules systems and includes content that can be universally applied to many different sorts of table-top, live-action, and role-playing games. It is jointly published by Armorcast, Dark Threads, 5th Epoch, Flying Buffalo Inc., Mindgame Productions, OffWorld Designs Inc., Skirmisher Publishing LLC, Sonic Legends, and the United States Marine Space Corps.

 

Features of each volume include a self-standing game; new rules, stats, and bonus content tying in with several different game systems new rules; free paper miniatures; interviews with the luminaries of the gaming industry; and more! Rules systems supported include but are not limited to 4th Edition D&D, Pathfinder, OGL v.3.5, "Basic" system, Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, and Cthulhu Live.

 

 

Got all that?  It covers a lot of ground, but is that enough to justify the purchase if only one or two article directly address the game(s) you play?  BTW, “Basic” system appears to refer to any D&D clone.  It does not refer to Basic Roleplaying from Chaosium.  Shame, I would have liked a magazine with some articles for BRP.

My personal highlights - Basic System: Spontaneous Generation Monsters (I think this article would work well with Weird Fantasy from LotFP) and the Cardstock Character sheets (begging for me to use TokenTool an drop them in my Fantasy Grounds token folder).  The magazine is also nicely bookmarked.

My personal low points?  Many of the articles are previews of upcoming products.  Sure, they work alone, but you are trying to sell me a future buy on a product I just bought.  If you are going to use the magazine as an advertising vehicle, the price should be lower in my humble opinion.  Signs & Portents from Mongoose is a free, unabashedly House Organ.  d-infinity seems like it isn't sure if it wants to be a house organ or an actual magazine with articles that aren’t mostly samples.

All that being said, the Spontaneous Monsters and the Cardstock Characters are worth about $2.50 on their own.  I’m just not sure a bunch of previews are worth the other $2.50 (there is other stuff besides previews, but LARPing aint my bag, man!).  I’ll check back with issue 2 and see where this winds up going.

edit:  I forgot the 4 1/2 minute or so Forest Skirmish mp3 that was included in the ZIP file.  Not bad, no idea what I would use it for as i game using a VTT, which is why I probably forgot it for the review.  Bad Cop!  No Donut!

Blog Spotlight - Destination Unknown

If you care about Role Playing Games, if you want free resources lovingly prepared, if you want to read a blog from a gamer that writes from the heart, destination unknown by Christian is the destination for you.

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Christian has been floating around the RPG fanzine sphere for years.  I stumbled across Scrollworks back around 2001 i do believe.  The damn digest sized magazines were addictive reading, and were a bathroom staple for years after Christian stopped publishing them.  I really wish I had kept them all, but most appear to have found their way to the land of stray socks.  The good news is, Christain has posted  these on his blog for easy downloading along with Iron Rations and Iridia.  The man is EXTREMELY productive.  If you have never read his works you are doing yourself and your gaming group a huge disservice.  Do it now.  Read a piece or two.  I can wait...

Back?  Excellent.  These days destination unknown is not just his blog but also his latest zine.  So yes, more reading for you.  See, the man hooks you up.

Did I mention the mini-supplememnts he produced and has available for free download (just like everything else on his site)?  The Free City of Haldane is for use in your Labyrinth Lord Campaign (but usable with any classic OSR ruleset - you know the drill).  I personally love this piece and it will definitely get used in my next campaign.  Faces in the Crowd Vol. 1 is for use in a World of Darkness campaign, but I still found things I could steal for my upcoming C&C game.

Oh, and cats.  The man likes cats.  I can always trust cat people ;)

Christian also has a cooking blog.  One day I will try one of his recipes.  Probably the hot and sour soup one will be the first.