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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Carcosa (and Isle of the Unknown) Have Landed!

I guess there is an advantage to living in the Big Apple - I get Raggi's stuff from the other side of the pond relatively quickly.

Now, I've been slowly pouring over the PDFs of both Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown for the last few weeks.  They were impressive, but with so much else on my plate, both on the virtual review pile and at work, I never really gave them a solid look.  I have the dead tree versions in my hand now and I am beyond impressed.

Raggi (and of course, the writer of these two releases, Geoffrey McKinney) has added two amazing books that I'll be happy to pass around at the next Gathering of Fools, so as to show my friends the quality works of independent RPG publishers these days.

Carcosa is printed on high quality, parchment lile paper.  At least, that's what I'm calling it, I have no expertise in the field of paper.  Unlike Vornheim, I don't have to go blind trying to read it.  First printing of 2000 copies.  Woot!  I am very excited to snuggle up with this.

Isle of the Unknown uses a stiffer, smoother paper.  Why do I care about paper when 90% of my RPG purchase are in PDF?  How the f' should I know?  The full color artwork is on just about every page.  It looks good and feels good.  I'm going to need to break out my book light for these.

Carcosa includes a fold out map / periodic table / entities and ritual key on a thin glossy cardboard.  Isle of the Unknown includes a poster of the cover / keyed map of the Isle of the Unknown on the same type of paper / cardboard.  Pretty neat.

We also get maps for the two books printed on a vinyl / latex thingie (think of one of those maps thorn into you Ultima / EQ game box, but not on cloth).  The hex numbers aren't easily readable, but  these are more novelty then anything else, so that's forgivable.  All in all, an excellent surprise in the mail today.

I'll follow up with reviews over the next week or two.

Tavern Year End Retrospective

Another year slain!

Lets see, this post will put me at 827 for the year,  Fairly productive, if I must say so myself.  If this was my year end report at work I'd be comparing to last year's numbers and probably indicating the amount of posts that were actually reviews, broken down as a percentage, with average number of comments per post, etc... can you tell how the past week was for me?  heh

What were my biggest and bests posts of the year?

(in no particular order)

1 - First look, Pathfinder Beginner Box - This got picked up by Paizo's Facebook page.  By number of views, this was my post of the year.  By far.

2 -Is Wizards's Latest Cease and Desist an Introduction to D&D 5E? - pure conjecture on my part, but it does seem that 5e is going to be sooner then later.  47 comments in the thread too.

3 - Fool Me Once, Shame on You.  Fool Me Twice, - the Mazes & Perils fiasco.  I'm still going to label the author of this "product" an azzhole.

4 - First Look at the Tome of Horror Complete for Swords & Wizardry - I still love to look at my hardcopy.  I need to finish renovations just so I can display it properly.

5 - Reaction From Outside the Blogosphere - LotFP's Weird Fantasy is "D&D Porn" -   Second Third most trafficked post, exceeded only by the Pathfinder unboxing and Mage the Awakening.  Crapload of good comments too.

6 - The Draconic Archeologist: Mix n Match, The Dragon #8 - The draconic Archeologist post tended to do good traffic, little feedback.  I packed up my Dragon Archive CDs for the renovations, and the copies I had moved to the computer are on my other computer.  Still, I should probably return to these.

7 - Mage: The Awakening Demo Part 3 - This is right up there with the Weird Fantasy is Porn post traffic wise.  No idea why.  Interesting tho.  (Actually, It has over a hundred more views then the WF post - the strength of the WoD I guess)

8 - Castle Keeper's Guide for Castles & Crusades Released on RPGNow - this was like the spotting of a mythical beast.  The pricing of this mythical beast's PDF is still way too high tho'.

9 - Kindle Fire and My Gaming PDFs - A Working Combination - my mother bought herself one and my wife asked for one for Christmas (and is constantly on it, mores then her iPad).  It seems other's are also interested in using this for their gaming PDFs)

10 - The Red Headed Step-Children of AD&D - Classes - Wherein I talk about the classes that tend to fall by the wayside.

Of course, we also added some dragon puppet videos, and I started up two new blogs this month - Saturday Knight Special and Tales of the Blue Knight.  It's going to be a fun filled 2012.

Where the Damn Puppet?!?

I just realized I haven't posted a Feltothraxis video in nearly 2 months.

Boy, he's going to be pissed when I finally get around to him.  Hopefully some reviews and a Dragon puppet video this weekend.

I miss him ;)


Friday, December 30, 2011

RANT WARNING! Captcha Friggin' Hell!

Alright.  I'm not complaining about the Blogger captchas - those I can read.

I'm complaining about a forum for a new RPG (won't name it yet) where it uses "Chaptchas From Friggin' Hell!"  WTF were they thinking?  The letters would be hard enough to read if they weren't indistinct with multiple friggin' lines going thru them!  I gave up after 6 tries with the SAME DAMN LETTERS!  Even with the image changing and the letters staying the same I couldn't figure it out.  I finally settled on having it read them to me.  I might as well be blind at this point (for a while there I thought I might have been going that route).

Finally got the letters right, but then my password wasn't long enough.  Got it long enough, but then it told me I needed upper case, lower case and numbers.  Holy shit, it's a freaking forum for a frigging game!  This forum has more security then my bank, which is scary.  I was really close to saying f' it all, I was getting that frustrated.

I think I need to pour a pint from my Beertender to relax.

Not that I really need an excuse to pour a pint from my Beertender.  ;)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tales of The Blue Knight - The Blog

I'm going to revisit Tales of the Blue Knight, where I took some of my experiences as a cop and translated them into a fantasy setting (with occasional game details).  The first 2 or 3 posts will be re-publishings of what I did here and I'll be writing new ones.  It should dovetail fairly well with the Saturday Knight Special blog.

So, first (re)post is up here.  Enjoy

Mini Review - The Little Book of Dungeons: Geomorphs

I am so frickin' behind on reviews it just isn't funny.  That being said, this is too cool (and too fairly priced at a buck) for me to hold off on reviewing.

Simply put, The Little Book of Dungeons: Geomorphs is 14 pages of varying sized geomorphic map pieces for you dungeon delving pleasure.  With these and The Tomb of Adventure, what more does an aspiring DM need?

Endless dungeon creation for the price of... uhm, what CAN you get for a buck these days?

From the blurb:


Within this booklet you will find over seventy geomorph-style dungeon maps that will allow you to build good old-fashioned dungeon layouts (be they large or small) for your players to explore.

Important Note: This product is a compilation of all the maps from the 2011 Map-a-Monday project (as featured on the CSP blog) as well as several new maps exclusive to this product 

What Star Wars: The Old Republic Does Right (and wrong)

I've been spending some time playing the new Star Wars MMO RPG and I have some observations I'd like to share:

Quests / Missions - well done. Love the voice acting. It's like playing one of Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic games. Really, it's a great high point.

Crafting - get done by your henchmen/ companions, so you don't ave to grind the time. You can still play as the crafting goes on in the background.

Solobility - Much of the game's missions can be completed without the help of other players. Not bad if you only have an hour or so to kill.

Graphics - its a beauty

There are some cons that I've noticed so far:

Grouping - there really isn't this driving need to group. I've done some stuff with my son, but for the most part, I've been soloing. It's almost like a stand alone game with other players in the background.

Group size limit - apparently its limited to party's of 4. Most games of the type use a group max of 6. If my whole gaming group transitions to SW, we'll have to split into multiple groups.

Space combat - I've only tasted it, but it seems fairly mindless. Good expo tho. Maybe that's to encourage folks to do the mindless space combat.

I'm having fun with it so far, but Skyrim calls to me far more then this. I'm not sure if it will be a keeper or not. Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Free Adventure - The Hideout (Savage Worlds)

White Haired Man put's out stuff for 3.5e and Savage Worlds.  In fact, my one time actually playing in a Savage Worlds session was play testing for White Haired Man via Fantasy Grounds 2.  Oh, did I mention that they put out a lot of stuff for use with Fantasy Grounds 2?  They do.  Good stuff.

In any case, they are also getting into the e-book side of things with their releases.  PDF, as much as I love it, does have it's limitations.  This free release of The Hideout is in ePub format, the same format used by the Nook and the vast majority of ebook readers out there.  It is not in mobi, which would be the Kindle's preferred format.

So, if you have a Nook, Sony E-reader, or one of dozens of other ebook readers, give it a shot.  It's free, and it's a fee glimpse of the possible future of game books on your favorite ebook reader.

From the blurb:


A fragment of an ancient bridge offers a commanding view of the surrounding swamp-and a defensible refuge for poachers.


Outlaws called poachers roam the swamps and nearby river lands. Poachers continuously spar with the Order of the Jade Leaf, waylaying shipments of swamp plant products, dodging and fleeing patrols. They turn remote islands or forgotten ruins into bases.

The Hideout is a Simple Scenario designed for 3-5 Novice to Seasoned characters, with an estimated 4-8 hours of playing time. A Simple Scenario is a set piece encounter or very short adventure the gamemaster can insert when needed to fill a gap or spice up an ongoing adventure. In this Simple Scenario, the characters stumble upon a poacher hideout at the ruins of a Harlass Orn bridge.

The basic Kith'takharos Setting is available for free in a system neutral format at the White Haired Man web site.

Giant Rats Invade Lower Manhattan!

I saw this pair when I went out for lunch today. I'm going to guess there is a "Union Issue" going on at the location.

Still, this is the correct sizing for Giant Rats ;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Larm Plus Trilogy Bundle for Free - Limited Time - (OSR)

Brave Halfling is giving away the Village of Larm and three associated adventures for the amazing price of free.  Let that settle in for a minute.  A sandbox setting AND 3 modules.

For free.

Talk about a Christmas Gift!  Free until Jan 2, 2012.

A full campaign starter worth 20 bucks for nada.

You'll kick yourself if you miss out.


Monday, December 26, 2011

What Skyrim Does Right in the Eyes of a Table Top Roleplayer

Sacrilege, I know.  How can a computer / console RPG teach anything to an Old School Grognard that likes his dice real (or really nice virtual) and his players more so?  The secret's in the presentation, or, more accurately, how the encounters are presented.

First thing first.  Skyrim is the sandbox that defines the sandbox.  Actually, pretty much all of the Elder Scrolls line is sandbox style, but this really is.  Wander into stuff that's too tough for you?  Return later.  Thank God for saved games ;)

Anyhow, this is the first computer game I've played in... forever... that I actually let the atmosphere totally draw me in.  Sounds, sights - the whole thing had me literally sitting on the edge of my seat in the first dungeon I stumbled into. Even my wife noticed.  I was actually getting scared by the sound of steps getting closer, not knowing what it was coming towards me.

Sounds are something that can definitely be used to enhance a tabletop RPG session with the right group.  Some may find the occasional sound effect more of a distraction that an enhancement, but if you can get the right group together, you may certainly add some depth to the RPG experience.

Same goes for visuals.  I've found trap switch plates by actually seeing the on the screen (usually after stepping on them, but still.  I'm not sure if you could show the party thief a sketch of the room with a possible trap and adjust the time he has to study it by his thieving skill - the higher his skill, the more seconds he has to look before describing his actions - but it would certainly be a nice twist, and add more role-play to the roll and play.

NPC that have an actual schedule that they keep is an excellent tool for a DM.  Danny the Bard is at the Minstrel Boy four nites a week, The Prancing Pony two others, and the Inn of Ill Repute on the night he isn't working.  When the party needs him and his lore knowledge, they may need to track him down.

Anyway, my wife will soon regret buying me this.  I think it's a game I plan on finishing, and that means lots of time on the PC.  Sorry lass. :)

Post Christmas Update

Well, didn't get the reading in that I had hoped to.  Ah well, maybe next weekend.

However, I did get some cool gamer gifts.

I mentioned Skyrim earlier.  My god, but this is a time sink.  Closest thing to a true roleplaying experience in a single player computer game in... forever in my opinion.  I'm going to have to set a limit on my game play, or I'll find myself doing little but playing it.  And playing.  It's that good.

The wife got me the Call of Cthulhu Card Game.  She doesn't realize yet, but she'll be my main partner in playing this one.  Time to test the sanity ;)

She got her own Kindle Fire from me.  Yeah, I'm turning her into a gadget geek too... heh

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas To All...

It's been a very good year here at the Tavern, and today was an awesome Christmas.  Skyrim is going to be my crack, I can tell ;)

God bless everyone on this special day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Free Swag Stocking Stuffer #5 - Voidjumpers of Space

Disappointed that Spelljammer never seemed to hit all the right buttons?  Maybe you just want a new take on it.  Or, God forbid, you might want to try it in your 4e game ::shudder::.  Eh, maybe use it in Pathfinder and ACKS.  In any case, Voidjumpers of Space is a new spin on it.

From the blurb:


Updated: This second release contains greatly expanded adventures, expanded stat blocks (Essentials-style), new ship types, a much cleaner layout, and many more small improvements.

There's this legendary D&D setting: Spelljammer. D&D in space. Wizards and barbarians on wooden sailing ships, flying through space to plunder shattered worlds.

Unfortunately, TSR rushed the setting into production, so many of its components suffered from wonky mechanics. It was an imaginative setting that could be frustrating to play. And sadly, it wasn't updated for either the 3rd or 4th editions of D&D.
I'm now attempting to fix that.

This is the second release of Voidjumpers of Space, an attempt to solve all of those problems. It's free (as in beer); you can donate a couple of bucks if you feel it's worth your money.

A few goals here:
  • incorporate reader comments into each release. I want this to be a community-driven setting.
    • I'm also noodling with the idea of a Kickstarter project to fund awesome art like this.
  • This is an attempt to re-capture the overall flavor of Spelljammer, with a new world. So, this is not an attempt to clone Spelljammer; it's not Spelljammer with the serial numbers filed off. That would both annoy Wizards of the Coast and be far less fun than creating a new set of races, classes, etc.
Head over to my blog, the RPG Doctor, for more information. Thanks for reading; may Voidjumpers find a fun place in your game.

Christmas Eve Free swag Stocking Stuffer #4 - Adventures Dark & Deep

Time for another OSR pick.  Adventures Dark & Deep (AD&D - follow?) is a "what if?" imagining of AD&D 2e.  It's pretty solid but still evolving.  Best of all?  It's free.

From the blurb:


"What if?"
Some of the most intriguing works of fiction have stemmed from those two simple words. What if Hitler had won World War 2? What if the Roman Empire had never fallen? What if John F. Kennedy had never been assassinated?
This work represents just such a "what if" scenario, if perhaps one with less weighty historical consequences. What if Gary Gygax had not left TSR in 1985, and had been allowed to continue developing the world's most famous fantasy role-playing game?

We will, unfortunately, never know the answer to that question, because he did leave TSR in that year, and others took over the job of designing the second (and subsequent) versions of the game. After that unfortunate episode, he was understandably reluctant to give any advice on how he would have carried the game forward.

However, he did leave behind hints as to the direction he would have taken the game. New character classes. Streamlined combat. New spells and magic items. Consolidated and re-worked monsters. We don't have many specifics, but we do have a fair number of "big picture" ideas. All of these have been taken as inspiration for ADVENTURES DARK AND DEEP™.
Bear in mind that the author has no special insight into Gygax's mind on this subject other than what he himself wrote publicly, and certainly the game should not be taken as having any sort of official stamp, either from his estate or the corporations that have taken the game in new directions. All that has been done is to collect the hints he did leave, use them as inspiration, and take off in a wholly different direction than that which happened "officially."

ADVENTURES DARK AND DEEP™ is not a "retro-clone." It does not set out to re-create a particular set of rules from decades past, as do some other games (not that there's anything amiss in doing so!). Rather, it is a new creation, unique unto itself, and does not attempt to recreate any set of rules that has gone before. The game and its materials are compatible with other games that are based on the original and Advanced versions of the world's most popular role-playing game.

The Players Manual includes everything a player needs; character creation rules, race and class descriptions, equipment, combat rules, and extensive rules on magic, with details on over 675 spells and cantrips.
NOTE: This is a free pdf version, and the rules are not in a final state. The game is currently in an open playtest, and your comments and input are more than welcome athttp://www.adventuresdarkanddeep.com.

Christmas Eve free swag Stocking Stuffer #3 - Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Game

Spellcraft & Swordplay is a nice twist on the typical OSR game.  It is very well put together.  Oh,  and the basic version is free.  Basic as in the classic "first 3 levels". So, what are you waiting for?  You know you need this to complete your OSR collection ;)

From the blurb:

Since Spellcraft & Swordplay was released on Lulu in 2008, almost 800 copies have been sold. Now, we present a free PDF introductory "Basic Set," akin to those games in the legacy which S&S honors. Containing a streamlined (but complete) version of the rules and character progression to level 3, this 48-page book is a perfect introduction to the new class of old school, ideal for introducing new players to the game, or for just having an extra set of rules at the table!

Christmas Eve Free Swag Stocking Stuffer #2 - Lost Roads of Lociam

For you second stocking stuffer of the day, we present Lost Realms of Lociam, a fantasy RPG.

I love free RPGs, not because I'll necessarily run them, but because they are great sources of inspiration in the games I do hanker to play.

From the blurb:


The Lost Roads of Lociam is a fantasy roleplaying game where the players portray characters on the magical world of Lociam, part of a greater story of magic, divine power and the struggle of Order versus Chaos than mortal men can even understand.
This book contains all the rules you need to start playing, including background-information about Lociam, rules various actions, magic, religion and a lot more. Richly illustrated the Core Rulebook will set you firmly on the way to high adventure, only limited by your imagination.
Welcome onto the Lost Roads of Lociam.

This Light Edition is produced for the SVEROK National Gaming Week of 2011 and is a FREE game, containing all you need to play including ready-made characters and a starting adventure. Should you wish to explore more then you can get the full rules here at DriveThruRPG for a low cost

Christmas Eve Free Swag Stocking Stuffer #1 - War of the dead (Zombie Horde Pogs)

I hope to get a few stocking stuffers out today.

First is The War of the Dead "Zombie Horde" Pogs for you to use.  Great for the Walking / Waking dead type games, as well as nasty zombies in your other games.  Use Maptools to snip these for your online VTT of choice.

Friday, December 23, 2011

On the 29th Day of Free Holiday swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeeee! Beware, The Viper (Mini Mini Tunnels & Trolls Solo)

For the Longest Nite Celebration over at Trollhala, Rarr! I'm a Monster released a short short Solo Adventure for T&T called Beware, The Viper.

It's for T&T, so it has to rock!

Tomorrow or Sunday should be the last of the Free swag posts.  Not that I won't be posting free swag when I find it, but I won't be trolling the 'net looking for it ;)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the 28th Day of Free Holiday Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee.... Daily Spell List (Pathfinder, but really, works for OSR too;)

Sometimes simple is better.  LPJ Design has released a Daily Spell List... er... list.  Really, three sheets to list you known spells, brief description, etc.  Nothing all that fancy.  Licensed for Pathfinder, but usable by any of the OSR games really.

Much neater then the back of a loose leaf sheet ;)

From the blurb:

Wish you have one place that listed all your spells for the day and you didn't have to flip through books or searching PDFs to find out what that spell does? Help is coming for you in the form of the LPJ Design's Free Daily Spell List. For use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game players and GMs! The Daily Spell List is a printable forms for players and GMs alike which makes managing your daily spell simple and easy. Keep up with your spells without all the head ache you have been used to. Best of all the Daily Spell List is completely free, a gift from LPJ Design and your support of the Pathfinder Role Playing Game.

Christmas Reading List

I'm sure a lot of folks are off next week. If not, most have an extended weekend. Family, gifts and church are on the plates for many of us.

Me, I'm trying to add "reading" to the holiday activities. In my case, I'm referring to actually reading Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown. Can't review what I haven't read, and if I wait to read for the hardcovers to arrive I'll never get it done ;)

Anyone else have a "holiday reading list?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On the 27th Day of Holiday Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee: The Lazy GM - Spawn of Non-Terrifying Beasts of Legend! (Pathfinder)

I am sick as a somewhat sick dog.  It's a hacking cough and my voice comes and goes.  When it goes I sound a bit like Selma from the Simpsons, just not as appealing.  Sigh.

But wait, despite my misery, I've found a little gem to put in your Christmas stockings.  As it's for Pathfinder, my OSR friends may see it as semi-precious, but they'd be fooling themselves.  This little piece is a keeper, and it put a smile on my face despite myself.

Yes, I'm talking about The Lazy GM:  Spawn of Non-Terrifying Beasts of Legend!  Come and meet Gabriel, the Were-Toad.  See the Ectoplasmic Cube!  Beware the Plague of Zombie Sheep!  Feast your eyes on the Half-Dragon Donkey and many more!  Or at the very least, a few more.

Not responsible for player's eyes rolling when used.  Besides, it's free ;)

The OSR Christmas Stocking is Full of Goodies This Year

Let's see what we have hanging from the fireplace this year:

Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown by Raggi's LotFP - I really need to find the time to review these two.

The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz! which I reviewed last night.

Thousand Suns from James of at Grognardia - we've been hearing about this one for a while. I probably won't get a chance to peek until things die down over the holidays.

Weird Adventure - this one came out of no where and looks extremely interesting. I'm finding it hard to resist, but my plate is full, so I think I can wait.

I'm sure I missed a few others. I might need a second stocking ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the 26th Day of Free Holiday Swag, My Bartender Game to Meeeeeee - Krampus


In some places, some worlds, maybe even your own (fantasy) world, the Spirit of Christmas, Old St Nicholas, Santa Claus, however you know him, becomes distorted.  When that happens, the jolly fat guy with the laugh that steals cookies and milk from little children gives way to something more sinister.

The chimney isn't big enough for this fellow - windows are probably more his style.

I'm talking Krampus.  There are many that know who, and few know him i the same way, but they can all agree that he knows the kids that aren't nice, that aren't good.  They would have been better served if they had been good...

Here's how you can enjoy your own Krampus.  I think this guy hangs out in Raggi's Weird Fantasy RPG, seeing into the nightmares of little children ;)


Description

MERRY KRAMPUS!!! JOIN THE KRAMPUS CHRISTMAS CARNIVAL and use this artwork!


Stop by the Nevermet Press website for details - this artwork is for use with the Krampus Christmas blog carnival running from 12/19/2011 to 12/24/2011. Enjoy! 

Includes: 

  1. 300 dpi 9" x 5" .jpf stock art image for you to use in your personal, non-commercial projects or blog
  2. Original .PSD Photoshop File with all the orginal layers intact
  3. A README file with licensing information.


Due to previous confusion of the terms "professional" or "commercial", we intend to mean "commercial use" is any use by any for-profit organization or individual for any reason, even marketing or inclusion with freely distributed products."Non-commericial" or "personal" use is intended to mean any use by private individuals. Details about each license are included below

Creative Commons LicenseNon-Commercial Uses Are Encouraged and are subject to the following Creative Commons License Nevermet Press is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Attribution must be given to Steven Austin and Nevermet Press (all hail Steven Austin and Nevermeet Press) for all non-commercial uses.
Commercial Uses are strictly prohibited. To obtain a commercial license to use this artwork contact editor@nevermetpress.com 

Review - The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz! (Labyrinth Lord Adventure)

First, I'd like to thank Dylan Hartwell for supplying me with a review copy.  Good stuff.

Now, on to the review - The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz! (you had me at "brewery"... heh) is a Labyrinth Lord adventure for levels 3-7.  It's a large level range to cover, especially at lower levels, where the power curve is a bit stronger then at higher levels, but in the hands of the right GM it should work.

The BBof P! is not just an adventure, but it's also is the bare bones of a sandbox setting of the area around the town of Shattenburg.  At this point I think I need to mention something - run as written, Elven PCs need not apply.  Alright, they may apply, but it should be downright uncomfortable for them.  It's actually a nice twist to the usually vanilla fantasy setting - any elves the PCs encounter in town are likely to be servants, and fairly oppressed at that.

Anyhow, on to the rest of the book.  In presentation and in atmosphere, it seems to me to be a very good fit for Tunnels & Trolls in addition to the usual listing of OSR RPG systems.  It doesn't take itself too seriously, yet at the same time there is a dark side to much of it.

If there is a weakness to the adventure, its the hook.  I actually missed it on my first read through, as it's actually on the front page as part of adventure recap / description.  In any case, it's hard to get a pre-written hook that fits your party's needs in a published adventure, even when multiple ones are supplied.  So, as weaknesses go, its a minor one.

If you are a GM that likes to tweak and twist published adventures into something that fits your style, the Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz! would be a good choice.  If you want something that tries to cover all of your party's possible actions and totally in depth descriptions that you can read to your group, you'll probably find this lacking.

I'm a twist and tweaker myself ;)

(edit - forgot to mention the maps are works of art - detailed without being cluttered)

From the blurb:


Something has happened to the delicious beer in Shattenberg! None of the residents have seen the brewing monks for weeks and the tavern masters are oddly silent. Where once it was a delicious and creamy blend of mountain mushroom-based stout, it now offers an odd coppery taste and costs twice as much. For a small mining and farming town on the edge of the wilderness, this is a tragedy. Now rumors have begun circulating that hideous creatures gathered to the north are somehow the cause. The players are hired to investigate and, if possible, remedy the problem.

The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz is written as both a stand-alone old-school fantasy adventure and, if you take a liking to the town of Shattenberg and its locale, a rich source for subsequent adventures. Contained within are maps of the Pilz Monastery and region, background information, multiple adventure plots, a new spell, and new monsters.

Big or Small?

When it comes to adventures, is less more?

I ask because I've seen adventures range from 4 pages to 104 pages more or less (I'm not counting mega dungeons, settings or adventure paths).

For me, the sweet spot is usually around 16-24 pages. Long enough for maybe 2 nites of adventure but not so long I can't familiarize myself in less then an hour or so.

I know at times more IS more, but for the me, less is usually more for adventures.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On the 25th Day of free Gaming Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee: The Walking Dead (All Flesh Must Be Eaten Introductory Game Kit)

What better way to celebrate the holidays than by playing a scared, nearly hopeless lost soul in a world that's been over run by the walking dead.  They're dead I tell you!  Good thing I was in law enforcement before the world turned to shit... what, that's the TV show.

In any case,  kick some undead ass in this introduction to All Flesh Must Be eaten.

From the blurb:


My God, these people are dead!

They're walking around and they're dead!

You wake up in a hospital, confused, alone, haunted by memories of the injury that put you there, and by strange dreams calling you to travel. You're surrounded by strangers, others who look as confused as you. Nobody knows what 's going on. There's only one thing for sure.

The world has gone to Hell.

You haven' t seen another living soul since you woke up. But that isn't to say you haven' t seen others walking around. Because the city is crawling wi th walkers... rotting, starved, ravenous walkers who may once have been people, but now are just animated corpses, hungry for your flesh and blood. Your only hope: follow the dreams to find the survivors. But are your dreams leading you to hope and a new beginning...or betrayal and a death trap?

This is the world after the Rise... a world where the living struggle to reclaim society from the dead, for whom All Flesh Must Be Eaten!

Welcome to the All Flesh Must Be Eaten Introductory Game Kit!

Inside you will find:

• Complete, streamlined rules for playing the All Flesh Must Be Eaten role playing game

• Six complete archetypes--Cast Members ready to play

• A complete adventure scenario and campaign outline which can be played in one or two sessions, or form the basis of months of continuous play.

Crime Scenes and Raspberry Jam

I don't normal repeat post between my blogs, but I'm fairly proud of my latest Saturday Knight Special post:


It was my second week of field training when I got my first crime scene assigned to me. At roll call, myself and my partner were told to immediately fall out and respond to the housing project on e163 street.  There were numerous buildings in the complex, each in the 10-14 story range for height. One of the first things I had noticed when I had the post earlier in the week were the number of people middle aged and younger walking with limps, canes and in wheel chairs. I mentioned my observation to a cop with a little more time on then me, and he suggested it had to do with the large number of shootings in the precinct. It was as good an answer as any, but it didn't make me feel all that much better.

When we arrived at the location, there must have been at least a dozen patrol cars and unmarks parked outside. Some were from the precinct, and least two were from the PSA (think a police precinct that just covers housing locations - we overlapped) and the unmarks were probably the detectives. It was soon apparent that this was more then "just some crime scene".

Walking up four flights of stairs is never fun, but I learned to have an aversion to elevators in public housing from the first time I stepped in one - the overwhelming stench of marinating urine in a confined, unventilated metal box is far from pleasant. I'm not saying the stairs smelled much better (they had the added obstacle of dog feces liberally strewn about) but at least the air had movement to it.

Stepping out on the fourth floor, we immediately spotted our destination. Just across from the stairs and to the right was an open doorway. Activity was apparently going on inside the apartment and bosses were milling around outside of it. Looking closely, we could see a body laid out in the doorway and some blood splatter on the door.

"Lou! The rooks are here!" It was a cop from the precinct who made the announcement, drawing the attention of the Lieutenant that had control of the scene.

"Right. Put yourselves 84 at this location. You're assigned to preserve the crime scene. No one comes onto this floor unless they have police business. Keep away the gawkers, even if they are our own. I don't care if they have eagles on their shoulders, unless they are part of the investigative team keep them away. Can you handle that?"

Do you think we were going to question the Lou's orders? Of course we said we could handle it. We did.  Kinda. We didn't keep anyone away that was a Captain or higher, not that we could, but we kept the rank and file at bay, as well as the inquisitive residents. Heck, we even started up a conversation with two crime scene detectives that were waiting on the precinct detectives to wrap up so they could do their work. Somehow, that conversation caused us more harm then good.

See, as the four of use were chatting, a middle aged male black in a dark brown suit came down the hall from the elevator. He looked like a detective and he made a beeline to the apartment door, the one with the victim lying in it, shot twice in the head, blood and brain matter covering the floor. Heck, he nonchalantly stepped over the body and introduced himself to one of the detectives working the scene. He was the victim's older brother.

That's about the biggest f-up one can do at a crime scene. We did it. When the pissed off detective came out of the apartment to yell at us, one of the crime scene detectives stated that he let the brother past us so he could ID the victim. It was a good answer, and it shut the detective up, but he knew it was bullshit. My training sergeant told me it was bullshit too when I got back to command, but also stressed the importance of always having an answer. But that was later.

We weren't done yet at the crime scene. The precinct detectives were taking the victim's brother back to the Station House to get more info. Crime Scene was now in charge of the crime scene, and they went to work collecting evidence. Which was all fine until I heard my name called from inside the apartment.

I approached the door, doing my best not to look at the body, blood and brains right in front of me.

"Yeah?" I answered, not sure why I summoned.

"Step in. You're vouchering the evidence. It's the least you can do." It was the detective that covered for us. Now it was time to pay him back.

"Kid. Do yourself a favor and look at him. He doesn't care anymore. Look and get it out of your system. You have a whole career of this and more waiting for you."

So I did. I looked at the young black male. Mid 20's, shot twice in the front of his head, right in the forehead. The blood had started to thicken on the floor. Bits of brain matter could be seen in the blood. Raspberry jam. Raspberry jam with bits of raspberry. That what the victim was lying in. It felt better then blood and brains. It looked better too.

"You good? Excellent. Come on in. Don't worry about stepping in the blood, it's kinda hard to miss at this point. Here's the shit you'll be typing vouchers for back at the station house."

 I stepped in the raspberry jam.

The Only Good Spam is From Monty Python

In honor of the 45 spam comments that Blogger caught over the last week (score Blogger 45 / Spammers 0) I figured I'd post some Spam of my own.

Scene: A cafe. One table is occupied by a group of Vikings wearing horned helmets. Whenever the word "spam" is repeated, they begin singing and/or chanting. A man and his wife enter. The man is played by Eric Idle, the wife is played by Graham Chapman (in drag), and the waitress is played by Terry Jones, also in drag.

Man: You sit here, dear.

Wife: All right.

Man: Morning!

Waitress: Morning!

Man: Well, what've you got?

Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...

Waitress: ...spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam...

Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!

Waitress: ...or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.

Wife: Have you got anything without spam?

Waitress: Well, there's spam egg sausage and spam, that's not got much spam in it.

Wife: I don't want ANY spam!

Man: Why can't she have egg bacon spam and sausage?

Wife: THAT'S got spam in it!

Man: Hasn't got as much spam in it as spam egg sausage and spam, has it?

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam... (Crescendo through next few lines...)

Wife: Could you do the egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam then?

Waitress: Urgghh!

Wife: What do you mean 'Urgghh'? I don't like spam!

Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up!

Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up! (Vikings stop) Bloody Vikings! You can't have egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam.

Wife: I don't like spam!

Man: Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up!! Baked beans are off.

Man: Well could I have her spam instead of the baked beans then?

Waitress: You mean spam spam spam spam spam spam... (but it is too late and the Vikings drown her words)

Vikings: (Singing elaborately...) Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam! Spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam. Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Spam spam spam spam!

The Tavern Will Be Reviewing a Brewery (and other minor tidbits)

So far my wife has been more amused than annoyed by me playing Star Wars over the weekend (we have no living room at the moment, just the double bedroom). With all the cut scenes in the quests / missions she is certainly getting an earful. I was so distracted yesterday that I never posted any free swag. I'll have to make that up tonight as best I can.

I should also have a new review up either tonight or tomorrow. No, it isn't either of LotFP's latest releases. I need time to digest them.

I've been asked by Dylan Hartwell to take a peek at his first OSR adventure release: The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz! A Tavern reviewing a brewery? heh - should be fun. I need to make sure I have a few beers for the trip ;)

My cat decided to knock some of my Dungeonmorph Dice off my desk - seems she wants to design some dungeons too.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fight On! 13 Is Out on Lulu

It's not like I don't have enough to read at the moment, but Fight On! # 13 is a Tunnels & Trolls themed issues, so of course I had to pick it up.

I think I've made it as far as 24 ages of the 124 pages it holds.  It's a beast.

5 bucks in PDF - code: DECBOOKS11 drops that by 20% to 4 bucks.

Not a bad deal at all.

Did I mention that Liz Danforth did th cover and the Trollgod had a mini-solo inside?

Another Short Note on Star Wars: The Old Republic

I'm sure everyone is thrilled I'm posting again about the latest MMORPG, but I found something very interesting playing the game last night.  While the Republic may be perceived as Good, and the Empire as Evil, both are really more gray than black or white.  You can make choices as an operative for the Empire that will define your character as good.  Every other game I've played since the original Everquest had lines that were pretty well drawn between good and evil.

It's a nice change.  Of course, game balance is always an issue with MMORPGs, and the character you thought you had may not have the same abilities next time you log in.  That doesn't happen in table top RPGs.  Still, Bioware seems to be bringing some of their strengths to their newest game.

I have a feeling I'll be hooked ;)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Latest Distraction - Star Wars: The Old Republic

Yep, I have my pre-order early access and spent a good part of this evening playing.  It looks like it should be fun as Bioware is involved and in general, they know how to tell a story.  They haven't done a MMORPG yet, so I'll withhold final judgement but it looks promising.

On that note, I'm going to spend some time digging into my Carcosa PDF right now.  James pointed out some technical good ins in the PDF that I hadn't noticed at first glance and I want to check them out.  Sanity roll...

On the 24th Day of Free Gaming swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeeee: Judges Guild Traveller Four Sector Set

Yep I didn't get a Free Swag post up last nite.  To make it up to you, here's a free Bundle of Traveller goodies - The Judges Guild Four Sector Set Bundle.  Each of the 4 included sectors is 24 pages long plus maps.  Nearly 100 pages of Classic Traveller goodness, free for the taking.  Or you can buy them all separately at 4 bucks a piece.  the choice, as always, its yours ;)

Just a week to go before Christmas Eve.  I love finding free stuff to give away ;)

Mongoose is Running a 20% Off Sale at RPGNow This Weekend

Just in case a buck was too much for a copy of the Legend RPG, it is 80 cents this weekend ;)

More importantly, Monsters of Legend is 20% off.  As are the rest of the Legends line.  Oh, and other Mongoose stuff.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What Do You Require in Your Gaming PDFs (Technical Question)?

I've touched on this previously, but as the Rag-meister (Jim Raggi) has bestowed upon us a beautifully hyperlinked version of Carcosa, I figured I'd touch upon it again.

Many publishers don't even bother to provide bookmarks in their PDFs, which I would consider a necessary feature for any PDF over 30 odd pages (we can give the smaller pieces a free pass for now).

Hyperlinks in the text is the next step up. I know it's tedious, but Chubby Funster (aka Greg) has included it in his products on occasion, and he works and releases for free.

The hyperlinks have made Carcosa a different reading experience for me so far. I'd love to see the Rag-meister update Isle of the Unknown with hyperlinks (that's a hint son) as I think they would be real useful in a hex based setting as it is.

How important is bookmarking and hyperlinking in your PDF reading experience? Is there something else you'd want done to your PDFs to make them more useful at the gaming table?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the 23rd Day of free Gaming swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee: Resolute, Adventurer & Genius (Pulp RPG)

Looking for a tight pulp action flavored RPG that wraps up in in about 35 pages?  Look no further - Resolute, Adventurer & Genius might fill your needs (did I mention its free?)

From the blurb:


ONE BOOK
Resolute, Adventurer & Genius is a simple, lightweight roleplaying game of pulp-style action and adventure. Explore lost ancient ruins! Thwart the plans of evildoers and madmen! Face the mysteries of the unknown! This book contains the complete game rules, including character creation, combat, equipment and chase sequences as well as hints for playing pulp-style games in different decades, from the 1910s to the 1940s and beyond.

NO CLASSES
RAG is built on the Wyrm Roleplaying System and uses classic action-adventure fiction archetypes to help describe character capabilities. Players are not restricted to "classes" when designing their characters. By using attributes, skills and special talents, players are free to create whatever character concept they wish.

The Carcosa PDF Is Pretty Damn Good!

There, I said it.  Jim did a very good job with the hyperlinks in the Carcosa PDF.  I've been clicking and clicking.  And clicking some more.  Artwork looks pretty too.  Now if I can only read the text and make my sanity roll...

Yes, I just ordered the Isle of the Unknown and Carcosa in hardcover from Raggi's site.

My peek last nite at Isle of the Unknown was my reviewer copy.  I was impressed with my short look, but I'll be putting time into reading these two over the weekend.  I have a feeling they will both require more then a mini-review to do them justice.

Hopefully I won't come out too scarred from the experience ;)

I Think I'll Trade in Some Sleep For Reading Raggi

Isle of the Unknown barely got a peek last night. It looks awesome at first glance, tho I think I'll need to print out the map for easy reference as I read through the hex based text.

I know Jim is saying that this and Carcosa are super hyper linked or something - I didn't look close enough last night to check properly. I did see a nice bookmark tree in Isle of the Unknown. At this point in PDF publishing that should be an assumed feature - products lacking such should be docked and noted in any review. So, at the very least, Jim has hit my standards for PDF publishing. Yeah, like I set the standards ;)

I think I'll stay up late to read these. Not like I'm sleeping well anyway... heh

Tiger Direct is Putting an HP TouchPad Bundle for Sale This Afternoon

Tiger Direct is offering the 32 GB HP Touchpad for $249 in a bundle that includes a case and bluetooth speakers. I got my TouchPad earlier this fall. It's a decent tablet, and you casn easily hack it to run the Android OS instead of HP's OS for it. It will go on sale at 230 pm TODAY and my email says they expect to sell out inless then 30 minutes. Heres the link: http://www.tigerdirect.com/sectors/campaigns/hp/touchpad_available.asp?SRCCODE=WEM2933TT&cm_mmc=email-_-Main-_-WEM2933-_-tigeremail Just posting this for those looking for a decent tablet on the cheap to read thier RPG PDFs. It has a 10" screen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On The 22nd Day of Free Gaming Swag, My Barbarian Gave to Meeeee: Barbarians of Lemuria

Sometimes a Barbarian has to do what a barbarian has to do.  Barbarians of Lemuria is a swords & sorcery RPG on the cheap.  Cheap in price, not it quality.  Its a tight game, and as always, it free ;)

Damn You Raggi!

Lamentations of the Flame Princess just released Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown in PDF.

I have a Christmas party right after work today. Damn You Raggi!!!

Bloggle+ Now Working ;)

the Google+ / Blogger integration seems to be complete. You can now have your Blogger post mirrored to your Google+ account as you post it. Now how about they mmake the Blogger and G+ apps on the iPad just a bit more useful and full featured... damn it! it worked for my Saturday Knight Special blog post... didn't work on this one... grrrrrrr!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On The 21st Day of Free Holiday swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeee! - Fates Worse Than Death, Spare Change Edition

Hey, what can you say about a cyberpunk type game set 70 years in the future that lets you play homeless people and squatters?  It's almost like a futuristic game of OWS ;)

Alright, maybe not - but maybe so.  Fates Worse Than Death is over 280 pages for you to use as is or lift for your near future RPG of choice.  Did I mention its free?

From the blurb:


This is a free light version of Fates Worse Than Death the Role Playing Game, from Vajra Enterprises (makers of Hoodoo Blues and KidWorld). Fates Worse Than Death is a game of violence, fear and hope on the streets of New York City in 2080.

Spare Change Edition is a complete role playing game, with everything you need to play. However, unlike the full version, the Spare Change Edition only has character creation options and setting information for creating and playing characters who are street people (squatters and homeless people, most of whom cannot get legitimate jobs and survive by a variety of illicit means). 

Google+ + Blogger = Glogger or Bloggle+?

Apparently you can now link your Google+ profile to your Blogger account, resulting in Google+ automatically posting you Blogger posts when you post them to Blogger.  Or some such.

It only took Google how long to integrate them?  I've been mirroring my post to Facebook and Twitter for over a year.

Anyhow, lets see how seamlessly it actually works...

heres the link from Google

edit:
Hmmm, I never got my pop up.  Bugger

Tome of Adventure Design + Dungeonmmorph Dice = RPG Goodness

I'm expecting the above combination to go together as well as peanut butter and chocolate ;)

I love the dice. They do feel a bit big in the hand, especially if you're looking to roll more then 2 at a time, but as I said yesterday, any smaller and they wouldn't be easily read.

I'm going to see if they work well with the Tome of Adventure Design. I love well done tables, and my God this is a book of well done tables. I really need to give it a proper review. Heck, I really need to spend some more time reading it, or better yet, putting it to use and posting the results.

Monday, December 12, 2011

On the 20th Day of free Holiday Gaming swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeee.... Spirit Magic (Legends RPG)

Remember the Legends RPG?  The one that is Mongoose Runequest 2 with the serial numbers scratched off - you know, the one that cost a buck in PDF?

Here's the Spirit Magic sourcebook for the game, adding spirit magic to you game.  About the only way to get something cheaper then a buck is to get it for free ;)

100% open content too!


Dice to Die For - Dungeonmorph Dice!

I was going to make a post about the Policeman's Prayer to St Michael, as there is an awful lot of gaming possibilities in that prayer, but with the events I touched on at the other side of my blogging happening earlier today, I'll give that a day or so.

Instead, imagine my surprise when I found a package at my door.  The company name didn't immediately ring a bell, but when I started opening the box, it hit me.  These were my Dungeonmorph Dice from Inkwell Ideas.

Look at these picks and tell me they don't rock!


The dice were a little larger then I expected, but it makes sense.  If they were smaller it would be impossible to read and use.  Now I have infinite dungeon possibilities at my fingertips.  This is the project that got me looking at Kickstarter.

I'm a Level 7 Pundit - Ding!

According to Trey, I hit level 7 as an OSR blogger over the weekend... that God the OSR doesn't have to worry about new feats.

Thanks to each and every of the 160 of you that made this happen. Now I just need to decide on the next contest to celebrate ;)

I even have 10 followers at Saturday Knight Special and that blog just started last friday nite. Y'all rock!

(link to Trey's Blogging Level Table is here: http://sorcerersskull.blogspot.com/2010/09/old-school-rpg-blogger-advancement.html)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On the 19th Day of Free Holiday Gaming Swag, my Bartender Gave to Meeeeee... Four Color System (A Superhero RPG)

I think this is the first superhero RPG to make the Holiday list.  Cool

The Four Color System is the old Marvel Superheroes System with the serial numbers scratched of.  How's that for fun?  Oh, and free too ;)

MSH WAS the supers game back in the day.  Well, maybe Champions was up there two, but for the heroes you knew, there was nothing better then MSH.

Looking Back at an End and a Beginning

When I was writing last night's post for Saturday Night Special, it occurred to me that the weekend I was writing about was also the last weekend my old gaming group ever sat down and actually gamed.  That was it.  Fini.

Up until then, I had worked retail. and I was off just about every sunday or I was in the Police academy and I was off every weekend.  We weren't off weekends to make it better for us, the recruits, but because it work for the academy staff.

After I was assigned to my permanent command, my regular days off (RDOs) were Wednesday / Thursday.  That was my weekend.

My hours weren't all that great either.  530 PM by 205 AM (1730x0205).  Which made it hard to even consider gaming before hand, and no one wanted to game on what was for them a for night.  Thus would end my adventures in table top gaming, until I found the like of Klooge and Fantasy Grounds and the rest of them.

The old group and I still get together a couple of times a year.  We never game, unless it's some quick PS3 or XBox gaming.  Too much catching up to allow us to roll more then the occasional die, although I did run a game of Action Castle last time we gather and it was a blast.  It almost felt like old times ;)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mini Review - It Came From Beyond the Stars - Tunnels & Trolls GM Adventure

If you are a long time reader of this blog, I'm sure you've heard on of my little rants lamenting the lack of GM or group play adventures for Tunnels & Trolls.  T&T is seen as a solo play RPG system by most, but it can really excel in group play.  It's just that there has been so little in the way of group play adventures for T&T it's almost laughable.

I can stop laughing now, as It Came From Beyond the Stars is a really nice adventure written for a party of beginning delvers.  It even has a Lovecraftian feel to it.  Fun to read, I expect it will be even more fun to play.  My one complaint is the lack of maps for the adventure area.  They aren't needed for play, but would have helped with the atmosphere.  Besides, ever group of delver's needs a home base ;)

It's not a long adventure, but T&T generally uses less space for stats and more for the story.  Same holds true here.

Usually I grab the "blurb" from RPGNow, but I'm going to grab the from The Trollish Delver site instead, as Scott wrote the adventure (Scott, I hope you don't mind):


The adventure, published by Peryton Publishing with awesome artwork by Jeff Freels and Simon Lee Tranter (see the new Trollish Delver logo), is set in Trollish Delver Games' campaign setting, Peakvale, and involves mysterious Lovecraft-tinged adventure.

Urooks are shunned by the ruler of Peakvale, King Hobbletoe, and have been exiled into the Greyshades, a dangerous and forbidden land. When a mysterious object falls from the sky and lands in the Greyshades the king seeks assistance from local delvers to enter urook country and retrieve. But the adventurers will come to find a nightmare unravelling as they venture deeper into the forbidden land.

The adventure is for delvers levels 1-3 and should cover one or two sessions.

Next Post Is Up at Saturday Knight Special

Yeah yeah.  It's a new blog of mine and I'm trying to get it some exposure.  Shoot me! ;)

In any case, I've had a lot of fun writing the first 2 posts and have a huge amount in my mental hopper.

Enjoy - I'm going to be reading thru the latest Tunnels & Trolls release in the meantime.  If I'm luck I'll get a mini-review done tonight also.

Some More Thoughts on My New Saturday Knight Special Blog

Initially I'll be posting more then once a week to the Saturday Knight Special Blog.  I have some stories I've been dying to tell for years.  Well, to be truly accurate, I've been telling them for years, but I've yet to put them to the written word.  The new blog is my tool to do so.

So I expect the pace to be a bit quicker over the next few weeks then the once a week it will settle into.

Feel free to comment.  Feel free to ask questions.  I suspect it will be a learning experience for both the writer and the readers ;)

If your questions are to closer to the here and now (current events) the more tap dancing I'll have to do to give you a satisfactory answer.  Drop all questions and comments on the other side.

On the 18th Day of free Holiday Gaming Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeee..... FATE SRD

When Spirit of the Century came out, I knew I liked the FATE system.  When I heard the Dresden Files RPG  was going to be built upon the FATE SRD, I was in hands down.  Both are excellent games.  I've yet to play either.  Damn it1  I wanna play!

So, without further ado, here is the link for the FATE SRD.  Enjoy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On the 17th Day of free Gaming Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee... Trollzine (Tunnels & Trolls)

If you follow this blog at all, you know I have a soft spot for Tunnels & Trolls.  I pretty much have at least one of everything Flying Buffalo put out for it, and a copy of every edition but the 1st (have a reprint) and the 3rd (which appears to me to be just like the 2nd).  Anyhow, I love the stuff, but T&T ain't free.

Unless you grab Trollzine (and maybe the free quick start rules).  There are three issues in all, all free.  Grab it, you won't regret it.  Because there comes a time in all our lives that we just want to play by ourselves ;)

From the blurb:

TrollsZine is a new magazine created by and for fans of Tunnels and Trolls. Issue 1 has all new material and includes a short solo adventure, new magic items, The Troll Chefs Cookbook, original fiction, articles on T&T stunts, the dice issue, running T&T solos with other systems and a number of locations for the busy Games Master to use in their campaign. Ken St Andre has contributed a piece and there is art by Jeff Freels, ME Volmar, Chad Thorson, Kevin Bracey, Alex Cook and Mike Hill.

How to Make a Saturday Knight Special

I've been toying around for over a year with the idea of blogging some of my stories from early in my career.  I tend to sneak snippets into the occasional blog post here at the Tavern, usually with a gaming angle.

After sitting through a day of what can and can not be safely posted by me regarding my employment, I'm pretty sure I'm on safe ground to post what I want to post.  I'm 10 years or more removed from the events,  no names, no pictures - just the facts, hopefully told in a respectful yet entertaining manner.  That judgement I'll leave to my readers.

The intent is to get a post up each weekend, preferably on Saturday, thus the name of the blog:  Saturday Knight Special.

First post is up.  Yes, it's still Friday.  I still have to tweak the blog.  A lot.  I welcome any and all comments.  Yadda Yadda. ;)

The Dangers of Social Media

My job offers a Social Media one day class / in service training. I was expecting to learn how to use it to enhance investigations. Instead, we are learning that there is no expectation of privacy with social media (even if you are communicating one on one) and as a civil servant there are numerous exceptions to my constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech.

There's gotta be an adventure hook for a near future RPG in this lesson.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On the 16th Day of Free Gaming Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeeee:There and Back Again: The Construction of Nostalgia in Advanced Adventures

The Greyhawk Grognard felt y'all needed some intellectual RPG reading.  Therefore, I am proud to present to you There and Back Again: The Construction of Nostalgia in Advanced Adventures.



There and Back Again: The Construction of Nostalgia in Advanced Adventures is a scholarly look at one aspect of table-top role-playing culture. It was written by Darren Allan Crouse, and supervised by Dr. Greg Gillespie, in the Department of Popular Culture at Brock University in Ontario.

In the study, Crouse discusses the construction of nostalgia in the art of Expeditious Retreat Press' Advanced Adventures line. He challenges traditional academic understandings of nostalgia as simple escapism. Crouse argues that, while the Advanced Adventures pay homage to the history of RPGs, the series is an expression of an emerging old school gaming subculture who use nostalgia in new and creative ways - while charting new directions for their hobby.

Spam? Bamn!

Yesterday I changed the Tavern's settings to allow posters of comments some freedom from the requirements of being a Google or OpenID user.

This has had two immediate effects. I've gotten some comments from posters that aren't Google or OpenID users (Woot!) and I'm getting random spam comments to old and new posts. About one every 2 to 3 hours.

Want to buy some Uggs? Penis too small? Viagra? Sorry, they were all caught by Blogger's Spam Filter. It sometimes catches legit posts too, and for that I apologize, but it hasn't let a single piece of spam in yet.

So, we'll be keeping the door open it seems. Glad this experiment seems to be working.

Bring Your Dead To Life

No, I'm not talking about the Undead, nor am I referring to The Walking Dead. I'm talking about the dead dead, often used as window dressing in adventures, ranging from fantasy to horror to sci-fi and everything in between. To make your dead more then just window dressing, you have to make the occasional dead memorable.

See, I'm approaching this from over 15 years of law enforcement experience. I've seen more then my fair share of dead, or nearly dead, people. Very few stick out in my mind these days. To be honest, I've thankfully forgotten the vast majority. But those that still kick around in my head can make for decent templates to make the dead "more alive" for your players.

My first DOA (Dead On Arrival) that I encountered was about 2 weeks out of the academy. It was an execution in a South Bronx Housing Project - 2 shots to the head in the doorway of an apartment. What stuck out, and I still recall vividly, was the pool of blood and specks of brain matter. The blood looked like raspberry jam to me as it congealed, not that I ever had raspberry jam. It's just that my mind equated it to raspberry jam. Having to walk through it to get inside the apartment did not help the situation, but jam was better then blood in my mind. Describe the blood / remains as resembling a food and watch your players squirm.

The next of the dead that comes to mind was a DOA of natural cause in an apartment. He died of a heart attack, pleasuring himself. The blood flowed (internally) where you might expect it, which became larger then expected and took upon a bruised appearance. At times like this you have to search the room for valuables to be safeguarded as well as the body. My search ended when i found a shopping bag of dirty dildos (I almost expect to see an encounter like this in one of Raggi's adventures... heh). I refused to loot the body (he was wearing a gold ring) as we knew where his hands had been. I found a family member to remove the ring. Dying in an awkward manner will get your players thinking all types of things. I've used players' brainstorming as seeds for latter events. ;)

Then we have the "body doesn't know it's dead yet." We were flagged down by a family whose 20ish son had just shot himself in the right temple. Small hole, slow trickle of blood, steady breathing. My partner that nite was an EMT on the side and basically said the man was already dead, the body just didn't know it yet. You could play this straight up in an encounter, as the party decides what to do with the "not quite dead", or you could pull the Monty Python line of "It's only a flesh wound" before the individual abruptly succumbs to his wounds.

There are more - memorable smells, locations and the such - but these are enough to start. More memorable are those that were severely injured and yet ignored their wounds, due to drugs, adrenaline or something else, as they were actively engaged with. But that's for a follow up post.

Remember, to make your dead memorable, you don't need much, but you do need a hook, a highlight, something that keeps it from being just another body that your PCs see on a daily basis. They deserve something memorable on occasion. They need you to breathe some life into the dead.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Now THIS Looks Like a Fun Movie: Knights of Badassdom

I enjoyed Your Highness, but this might be even more fun.

Certainly hits the mark as a good movie to see with your gaming group, as long as you don't take yourselves too seriously.

On the 15th Day of Free Holiday swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeeeee: Tavern Tables

There are tables, and there are Tables.  The Tome of Adventure Design is a Book of Tables (Frog God Games - review forthcoming).  Tavern Tables is a short PDF that helps one detail - you guessed it - Taverns.

Pretty neat, since my PCs are always finding new taverns, and I like to make them unique.  Now I can.  And you can too!  For Free ;)

From the Blurb:


Tavern Tables is a short ebook full of dice tables for rolling up taverns. A list of 100 adjectives and 100 nouns gives you names like "The Greedy Zombie Tavern" or "The Brassy Wench Inn," and further tables provide for food and drink price and quality, the bartender's disposition, and any interesting patrons that you might find.

There are also tables for brawling and drunken shenanigans - does that PC who had a little too much wake up missing a few silver, with the mayor's daughter, chained to a wall in the dungeon of a fanatical cult, or all of the above? And if that's not enough, there's some example NPCs created with the tables in the book that you can drop right into your game.