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Saturday, October 23, 2010

October is for Oktoberfest

I left Queens for a few hours this evening to head to an Oktoberfest out on The Island (just for quick reference:  NYC is The City, unless you are already in one of NYC's outer boroughs, in which case Manhattan is The City; any part of Long Island east of Queens is The Island).

The food was good, the beer was cold (and as we were guests of the beer distributer that was supplying the beer, it was all free... WOOT!).  My girl and I did notice an interesting crossover tho... the German band was mixing Irish drinking songs into their selections, and singing them in German!  It was a frikkin' hoot.  Of course, my German is piss poor, so I was singing the songs I recognized in English ;)

Imagine when the Dwarf in the party catches the local Elfin Bard singing his land's drinking ballad in Elvish... or worse, the goblins they come across in the dungeon are singing it in their tongue... fun for all if you ask me :)

Review - Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e - Monstrum Codex

Continuing my way thru the T&T 7.5e Boxed set, we come to the Monstrum Codex.  Its a 45 pages of monster goodness.

How much do you really need a monster book (let alone 2) for a system that allows one to design creatures with a simple Monster Rating.  Quick refresh:  MR is a creature's CON / HP.  It determines the combat dice, and half the MR is the creature's Combat Adds.  Pretty simple and flexible system.

So, why the Monstrum Codex?  Because simplicity can be bland. The monster descriptions add flavor, which is always helpful.  Special Damage and Special Abilities add depth and surprises that will keep the party off their toes.  The Special Damage is dependent on the numbers of "6's" rolled... roll enough "6's" and the Special Damage "procs" (yep, that's an MMORPG term).

Personally, I like the idea of "procing" damage in a RPG... it keeps the Special Damage special, and out of direct control of the GM.

The book is spiral bound, just like the rulebook and the monster book... which is either a selling point, or not, depending on your point of view.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Postman Delivers!

I always find it interesting that packages from a few states away can take 3 weeks to arrive, and other packages from across the country show up in a few days.  Gotta love the US Postal Service!  Huzzah!

Anyhow, the 2 packages that were in my mailbox today were both Tunnels & Trolls related.  The first was the T&T 30th Anniversary 7e Tin.  I like the tin even if it is smaller then the 7.5e Boxed Set.

Items of note:  a 32 page Alternative Rules booklet in addition to the 7e rules.  I need to give this a closer look.  Oh, and of course the CD, which includes (amongst other things) a greatly expanded equipment list and a copy of the T&T Computer game from 1990.  I'll need to boot my PC to give it a try later.

The other package had a signed copy of Monsters! Monsters! and two signed copies of A Fragmented History of Trollworld.  Very nice.  A weekend of reading awaits.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Links Means More Gooder!

Yep, the New and Improved Tenkar's Tavern has added two links to the top of the page, making the Tavern "More Gooder!"

Alright, how about a little bit better?  Slightly more useful?  Skewed more in the direction of Tunnels & Trolls? (probably - its my current bag, baby!)

Trollhalla, where you get to hang with the Troll God himself, and Trollbridge, where folks post about Troll and Tunnels and other such oddities.

Now, if you wanna do me a personal solid, and expand the amount of free online storage I can squeeze outa the fine folks of Dropbox (where a large portion of my RPG PDFs currently reside), you can sign up using my referral link up on top of this page.  You get free online storage that you can access anywhere you have an internet connection, and I a bit more space to store the huge amount of PDFs I got with my donation at RPGNow for the Pakistan Flood Relief. (Over $41,000 donated by gamers as of this posting)

Review - Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e - Codex Incantatem

The Codex Incantatem is, for all intents and purposes, a book of bonus spells for T&T.  The spells in the T&T rulebook have been part of the game for years, whereas the spells here, in many cases, have been published previously in T&T fanzines.

There are 39 1st Level Spells, 47 2nd Level Spells, 42 3rd Level Spells, 30 4th Level Spells and 30 5th Level Spells, for a grand total of... 188 additional spells for your T&T Campaign.  The reason I say campaign and not game, is because the T&T Solos, if they allow magic wielding characters, have a Spell Matrix or Chart that help  you work out a spells effect for that adventure - these spells do not appear on such a matrix, at least not with the current collection of solos I've come across.

Now, to put things in perspective... the core rules have 9 5th level spells, this book adds 30... and 6th level has 4 spells to choose from.  I guess when I get the Delver's Pack in the mail I can let you know about the additional higher level spells.

Are they balanced for play?  I don't know, but I don't think there is anything game breaking included.

Do they add options to your game?  Yep.  Just make sure your players earn what they get, and don't let them find anyone willing to sell any spells that you feel might upset the balance, but that's true with anny game system.

Overall, a nice addition to the core rules.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adding My 15 Bits

Okie, so it looks looks like everyone is doing their list of 15 games.  Can't blame them, as pretty much every list I've looked at has had a few games that made me go "Damn!  I wish I had a chance to play that!"

Anyhow, here's my list, in no particular order:

1 - Risk - classic set with the caltrop pieces
2 - Castles & Crusades - it made old school new
3 - AD&D - my intro to RPGs and my mainstay for years
4 - Chaos Marauders - one of our mainstays when we didn't have a full group for the gaming session
5 - Rifts - insane game, maybe that's why my first character was a "Crazy" ;)
6 - MERP - a fun alternative to AD&D.  Bolas were a dangerous weapon against the PCs
7 - Baldur's Gate Series - When all you had were yourself... and an insane Ranger
8 - Spacemaster - I ran this more often then Traveller
9 - Everquest - Because Ultima Online taught me the true meaning of the word "grief"
10 - Tunnels & Trolls - playing with yourself can be fun.  Git your mind outa the gutter!  Besides, its fun for group play too ;)
11 - Battlelords of the 23rd Century - I never understood the rules, but the guns were big and we had fun playing
12 - Nuclear War - sometime you just need to nuke someone
13 - Warhammer FRP - it was a blast the first time around, and Dark Hearsay was the first Fantasy Grounds campaign I played in
14 - Ultima Series - Sometimes a good story beats lame graphics
15 - Anarchy Online - a MMORPG that also supported solo play? go figure

And Now For Something Completely Different

I was watching the commercial for the new D&D Red Box (not watching it on TV, as I haven't seen it on TV anywhere) and while browsing a thread on EnWorld I found the extended (original 4 minute long) video that was later edited down for the commercial.

Fun stuff, if you are into poorly animated Fiend Folio creatures and Heavy Metal... apparently, I am into it ;)


Spring Cleaning in the Fall

I did some long overdue cleaning over the weekend with surprising results.  You see, I have this one shelf that has turned into a cubby hole of sorts - odds and ends get placed there temporarily, some for longer temporary times then intended.

Case in point - my Dragon Magazine Archive has been missing the first disc since, well, forever it seems.  I even went so far as to bid on another set on Ebay to replace it (didn't win).  What do I find in a stack of CDs that were on that shelf?  The missing first disc.  Nice.

I also stumbled across Scrollworks Issue #1 by Christian over at Destination Unknown.  A little piece of history was buried on that shelf it seems.

I still have to clean out the top shelf in the closet in my son's room.  There is gaming material I haven't touched in years up there.  It may be another archeological dig ;)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e - The Rulebook - Part 4

This should wind down the main rulebook overview / review.

Spells in T&T.  You either love them, or you hate them.  Not for game reason tho'.  Game-wise its a pretty tight system.  Each spell has a Level, WIZ Cost (which lowers as the character advances in level), Duration, Range, whether or not it can be powered up and then, of course, the spell description.  It's actually very well done without being overly complicated.

Nope, the love or hate is due to the Spell Names:  Upsidaisy (levitate), Healing Feeling (cure disease), Dum-Dum (lowers target's INT), Slush-Yuck (rock to mud) and of course, the (in)infamous Take That You Fiend! (TTYF - a basic attack spell).

Tunnels & Trolls doesn't take itself too seriously, although it's easy to play it as a serious game.  T&T is a flexible, lite hearted system.  If the action isn't covered in the rules, it can probably be covered with a Saving Roll (think ability or skill check, depending on where you are coming from).  Which is great, as good players  think out of the box, and a good RPG system will encourage that.

For those asking, the more I read the T&T rules, the more I like them.  Fun is more important then game balance, which I think has been forgotten in D&D's later incarnations.

Working a late one tomorrow.  Think I'll roll thru a T&T solo in the morning.  Wish me luck.  Some are more killer then the worst Killer DMs ;)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Doctors Without Borders - Pakistan Flood Relief Bundle at RPGNow


Onebookshelf / RPGNow / DrivethruRPG has, with the generosity of a number of its publishers, put together a bundle of RPG products for a price of $25, with the proceeds going to DWB.  Heres the quick blurb:


Record monsoon rains caused flooding that left almost 2,000 people dead and 20 million homeless. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani estimates crop losses at $3.3 billion, total damage of about $7 billion. People displaced by the flooding that began at the end of July are still living in temporary shelters, such as schools, or in tents. Doctors Without Borders continues to provide medical care, clean water, and relief materials.

Following the success of our previous fundraisers for DWB during the Haiti Earthquake Reponse we have decided to put together a new charity effort to raise funds for relief efforts in Pakistan. Several publishers have donated some very cool items to help us raise funds for Doctors Without Borders. The bundle will be available until 10:00 AM EST, Monday, October 25th.

So, there you have it.  It's an extensive list of products.  I won't be listing them all, but you can look at them here.  Still, I do have my favorites:

Adventures in Oz - An RPG set in the land of Oz
Don't Rest Your Head - Fairly popular Indi-RPG
Dragon Warriors RPG - the updated version of the game previously available back in the day in mass paperback format
Exalted Second Edition - never owned it, now I will
Harnmaster Third Edition - Harn was a great source of setting material, now I can check out the rules
House in the Hills - Solo Adventure for Tunnels & Trolls
Icons - A Supers game that hit many of the sweet spots
Open Game Table - Volume 2 - if you read RPG blogs, you should be reading this
Spycraft 2.0 - I still have 1.0 packed away somewhere
Starblazer Adventures - The FATE System meets outer space - a fine piece of work
The Cursed Chateau - By the man who brings us Grognardia, a nice Old School Adventure
The Sanctuary Ruin - Another Old School Adventure
Wild Talents 2nd Edition - More Supers to shake your stick at
Wrack & Rune  - A LL Adventure - See, more Old School

These are all games I either own, or have wanted to own.  There are many more products in the bundle that I haven't mentioned

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review - Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e - The Rulebook - Part 3

Alright, where was I?


Uhm, combat.  Your weapon will decide the number of dice (d6) in combat, and you get Personal Adds, which are added to the total die roll.  That is compared to your adversaries dice and adds (usually in direct correlation to its MR, or Monster Rating).  The difference is the amount of damage done to the loser.  If there are multiple characters / adversaries on each side, the dice totals on each side is added, and the losing side takes the damage (distributed amongst its members).

Armor blocks a certain amount of damage points - Warriors get to double the points that their armor blocks.  Damage is taken from CON.  Time or a Poor Baby spell heals damage.

Spite Damage is derived from each "6" rolled... even the winning side can suffer from Spite Damage.

Personal Adds are derived from 4 of your attributes... each point over 12 is +1 Personal Add.

That's the basics of combat.  The side that can maximize it's numbers in combat while minimizing it adversaries numbers in active combat will have the advantage (with the enclosed encounters from Fiery Dragon, T&T can almost become  tactical RPG).

Now spells, Saving rolls and other variables obviously will change things, but that is why you are playing a roleplaying game and not a wargame.   The combat system is pretty flexible, and the MR system allows for quick changing of monsters combat ability if you goofed in your adventure design (when the TPK is the GM's fault, not a result of poor play on the side of the players - or if the players are steamrolling everything).  Heck, the MR system allows for the quick design of monsters and adversaries, thereby allowing the GM to keep things fresh.  If only Raggi had a similar system for LotFP Weird Fantasy ;)

Spells are a whole other kettle of fish.  I'll get to them next...

Distracted by the Cowhide

I'm making today a Lazy Football Sunday.  NY Giants game started at 1 pm, the NY Jets play at 4 pm.  Happy Happy Football Day.

Did I mention i has the winning bid on the T&T 7.0 Collector's Edition Tin? More Happy Happy ;)

Review - Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e - The Rulebook - Part 2

I can already see this is going to span many parts.  That's ok tho', I have a decent amount to say on the topic ;)


Character generation, at it's core, is pretty much as you know it from any of the OSR games at: roll 3d6 per attribute, either in order or assign as you will.  In Tunnels & Trolls, your race (Kindred) will determine modifiers to those rolls.  Not + / - 1 as in the games you might know, but as a multiplier: in the case of a Dwarf, x2 to STR and CON, 2/3 to CHA (Strength, Constitution and Charisma - see, you know the game already ;)

There is also a point system for character generation, sort of as a nod to modern sensibilities.  When using the point system, Kindred modifiers are not applied.

Wait, I almost forgot the rule of TARO - Triples are rolled over AND added to the previous roll.  Ex: You roll 4, 4, and a 4, which equals 12.  Keep the 12, roll 3d6 again... they total 10, your total score is a 22 for that attribute.

Me, I was always the roll 4d6 and drop the lowest type of GM in D&D and such.  Using that in T&T will greatly increase the odds of rolling a triple (if the player can choose which die to drop).  It will also improve the chances of rolling scores high enough for a Paragon (Warrior / Wizard dual class).  I don't think it would be all that balance breaking, especially as Attribute Scores will be increasing as one spends earned Adventure (experience) Points.

Adventure Points allow one to increase Ability Scores.  They are earned by killing stuff, role playing, saving rolls and other methods.  Increasing you Ability Scores can increase your Personal Adds (more on this later), make you better at relevant Saving Rolls, make you better at surviving combat (CON = HP), etc.  They also determine your character level in 7.5e (back in 5e, your Adventure Point total determined your level).  In 7e, it cost 100 AP x current stat to increase by 1 (from 10 to 11 costs 1,000 AP).  In 7.5e, that cost has been lowered to 10 AP x current stat to increase by 1 (from 10 to 11 costs 100 AP).  The lowered cost is definitely more reasonable, but I suspect the AP award for completing the included solo adventure (reviewed here) was written for the 7e rules.  Or Ken is just a very generous GM ;)

K, that's it for now.  Back later