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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blog Spotlight - Synapse Design Blog

I've discussed different blogs at the Tavern... some overlooked, some pretty popular but all deserving more attention.  This time around, I'm tagging Synapse Design Blog from Greg (who's a fairly frequent commenter on this fine blog - everyone say "Hi Greg").

Synapse Design Blog  is a blog about game design, both in theory and actuality.  I mean it, the lad has actually designed a game.   It's also about RPGs in general. and bits and pieces of the writer's life.  All the good stuff you want in a blog and then some.

Stealing from Synapse Design Blog  to explain a bit of Greg's vision:
What is Synapse? 

Synapse is an RPG that brings character depth to a new level. It allows you to create a sophisticated personality, character background, and virtually any race or species you can imagine. You build a culture from which your character emerged, the life experiences they had within that culture, and a network of NPCs that they know well... If you can imagine it, Synapse can make it real. Leave the limitations of your current RPG system behind and enter a fantastical world of your own creation.  
Synapse will be released as a free PDF once it reaches a Beta state and will remain free forever even as it is perfected.
Greg actively seeks advice from the readers and particpants of his blog.  Want to get in on a new RPG on the ground floor?  Here's your chance.  Want to influence future products?  Follow SNB and let your mind be heard. 

Did I mention the Synapse Beta RPG PDF looks really nice on my iPads virtual bookshelf?

At the moment Greg is looking for some advice on module / adventure formatting / layout.  Give him your thoughts here.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

You Got Your RPG PDFs on My iPad!

Yep, you guess it, this post is about reading PDFs, in our case RPG PDFs, on the iPad.

Now, I've been reading PDFs on electronic reading devices since BEFORE the release of the Kindle DX.  The solutions were far from perfect, as PDF reflow wrecked havok with the formating of most  RPG PDF tables, and those that chose to show their pages in real format were impossible to read on a 5" screen.

Then came the Kindle DX, a 9" electronic book reader from Amazon with a screen large enough to show PDFs in their true format and still be readable.  Still, at times the print was a bit on the small size, and some PDFs choked on the Kindle DX (not many, but enough to be annoying).

Along came the iPad this past spring.  Billed as a "do everything" device, it does an awful lot... some things great, some not so great... but for our purposes, as a PDF reader of RPG materials, I have found it to be second to none.  If it wasn't for the glare in direct sunlight, it would be nearly perfect. 

An iPad is nothing without the proper set of tools and apps.  Below you will find some of the ones I find most helpful.

DropBox - free "cloud computing" storage, you can save a file in your Dropbox folder on your PC, open it on your iPad, then grab it later on your Macbook.  It is the definition of awesomeness.  There is a limit to the amount of online storage you get for free (which can be added to for free when adding free referrals).  I can't see paying for the service at my usage level, but I'm sure some folks obviously do.  Yes, if you sign up via my link, I'll be able to add more RPG materials to my DropBox account.  I'll just thank you in advance ;)

BTW, you can delete files from your DropBox folder without deleting it from your iPad.  I'm just addicted to syncing the damn stuff accross all my devices.

GoodReader - my "go to" PDF reader in the iPad.  It has handled evey PDF I have thrown at it without a problem:  trust me, that's alot of PDFs.  It is 2 bucks in the Apple App store.  DropBox in my method of choice for getting the PDFs into Goodreader.  You just open your DropBox folder within the app and it syncs up to the files you want to the iPad.  No muss, no fuss.

iAnnotate PDF - this is either a gimick or an awesome tool, depending on whether or not you can get use out of it's main features:  the ability to highlight, annotate, add pinned remarks / notes, tabbed PDF reading.  It will not work with well with scanned pages (so some old school scans might be limited in mark-ability).  Update PDFs are save seperate from the original, can be uploaded to your PC and can be read by your PDF reader, higlights, remarks and all.  10 bucks, so make sure you will have a use for it before your spring for it. 

You can DropBox your file into the app, and send the marked up file to DropBox for distribution on your other devices.  You can also use the DropBox app to open the file into iAnnotate PDF (which is confusing, I know.  The first method opens up your DropBox folder in the iAnnotate App to grab the file, and the second opens the folder in your DropBox app and allows you to choose the application to read it with.)

Fast PDF - advertised as the fastest PDF reader for the iPad, I'm not going to dispute that.  I still prefer GoodReader for my PDF reading.  That being said, this app has a really cool feaure that is worth the 3 buck price of admission on its own:  a virtual bookshelf.  Have you seen the bookshelf that Apple displays your books purchased from the app store?  Same concept, except for your PDFs.  What fun is telling someone you have 157 RPG PDFs on your iPad, then showing the LIST on Goodreader.  Instead, show them the BOOK COVERS on your virtual bookshelf.  'Nuff saif, its a damn cool gimmick and it works.

There are many more PDF reader apps, some I own, some I've never touched, but these are the ones I use constantly.  As you can guess from the amount of mini-reviews I do, I have access to alot of PDF content.  I need apps that make them a pleasure to read on my iPad, and these are them.

Thanks to Andugus from White Haired Man for asking the questions that got me thinking that led to me writing stuff that ended up on this page.

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And the Winner of a PDF Copy of Realms of Chtulhu is...

Lets see... Six entries (and a Marvel "No-Prize" is awarded to Greg - Cheers!)... can never find a frickin' D6 when you need one... okie... here we go:

I rolled a 3 "three" - Ara Kooser, come on down... you are the winner of a PDF copy of Realms of Chtulhu (I've typed that so much I think I've learned how to spell it... or I learned a wrong spelling).

Ara, you have 7 days to hit me with your valid email address (and a comment here so I know it is you emailing me).  I can be reached at:  tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom.  Yes, it is a stupid way to type an email address, but it has fooled the spam bots so far ;)

Congrats to Ara, and thanks to all those who entered.

Less Than 2 Hours Left to Enter to Win a PDF Copy of Realms of Chtulhu

Check out last Friday's blog entry for details. Enter by 6pm Eastern Time tonight... thats less then 2 hours from now.  Good luck :)

Last Chance to Win a PDF Copy of Realms Cthulhu

Check out last Friday's blog entry for details. Enter by 6pm Eastern Time tonight, Monday Sept 6 2010.

Good luck to all.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm Getting That Itch

You know the itch. It's the one that tells you it's been too damn long since you've rolled the (virtual in my case) dice. I don't think I've played in the monthly C&C game via FG2 since June... It could be longer, as I know I had to miss a session.

I'm going to start looking for a weeknite EST game I think to supplement it. Weekly or twice a month... Weekends are rough to work gaming into these days.

I'm not too concerned with the system or the genre... a good group makes gold from most anything.

I'll post an update if I should find anything. Wish me luck ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

It's a Damn Good Thing I Took Off Monday...

As we decided to stay in the Poconos an extra day. I'm really wishing I had bought Jenja so I could give Dread a test drive, but apparently not this weekend.

Next weekend is still up in the air. 9-11 is a major day of remembrance for me and my group, as we lost one of ours when the towers fell. As I was also a first responder that day, 9-11 hits doubly.

But tonight? Tonight i'll be eyeball deep in RPG reading. Sometimes reading is the best way to remember ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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

- All seven GOLD Season 1 Episodes!
- Additional screening delights!
- Q&A with David Nett (creator/Jon Drake) and Rick Robinson (Richard
- 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 ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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 ;)



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 ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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