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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quick Peek - Skyward Steel: Naval Campaigns for Stars Without Number

No review here for Skyward Steel.  Heck, I've barely had a chance to look at the free peek on the rpgnow site.  Still, Sine Nomine puts out good stuff and I expect the same from this.

From the blurb:

Worlds Burn Beneath Your Guns.
The captain standing on the bridge, wreathed in smoke and the cries of the dying. The chief engineer, struggling to force that last precious burst of power from the fusion plant. The Marine sergeant holding fast in the hatchway, death to the alien boarders. The cold-eyed admiral, choosing the slain by the turn of a word and her orders to her bait.
Join the Thousand Lights of the Stellar Navy in this supplement to the FREE Stars Without Number roleplaying game. Take on the roles of the men and women of the Fleet, the sky-bourne protectors of the homeworld and its shield against the outer night. Whether a grizzled rating, dauntless officer, or elite Deep Black espionage operative, Skyward Steel offers both GMs and players the tools to embrace both the duties and the terrible freedom of these guardians among the stars.
Skyward Steel includes a host of useful tools and information for both GMs and players:
  • The history and roles of stellar navies in the Stars Without Number universe, including details on planetary invasions and military space stations.
  • Details on the ranks, pay, and organization of stellar navies.
  • Guidelines on running sandbox naval campaigns, and how to give the players freedom without compromising the military theme of the campaign.
  • Rules for recreating the climactic naval battles beloved of military sci-fi, with every PC involved in the desperate struggle to overcome the overwhelming foe.
  • Sixty adventure seeds, two for every world tag in the Stars Without Number core book.
  • Details on the workings of the Deep Black interstellar operations teams and their perilous covert ops missions.
  • New Background Packages for naval characters, and a selection of Training Packages available to every class.
  • New ship hulls, weapons, fittings, and personal equipment for naval and covert ops characters.
  • Details on building planetary navies for a world and determining naval budgets and operations costs.



The Trollish Taproom - Dungeons on the Quick

Sometimes you don't have a dungeon ready for your party of delvers.

Sometimes you don't have the ideas or the energy to design your dungeon of delver death.

What to do?  Where to go?  Go to The Tunnels & Trolls Random Dungeon Generator.

Using the 5e Rules?  No problem.  7e?  They got you covered.  Heck, wanna go old school and 4e?  No worries, it's all there.

It's a really nice way to quickly generate a usable dungeon, complete with multiple levels and connecting staircases.  It might not have a workable dungeon ecosystem, but do your delvers really care?

Heck, there is even a version available for Labyrinth Lord.  Go figure ;)

Mini Review - InvaderZ (Pocket Edition)

Let me preface this with stating I LOVED the first edition of the Paranoia RPG. I GM'ed it many a time, dragging my group through note passing slugfests, numerous clone deaths, general mayhem and lots of laughs. Even more then that, I enjoyed reading the material. Most of it was just damn fun to read.

InvaderZ reminds me of Paranoia in many ways, and not just the use of clones. It most certainly is made to be played for laughs, sorta a "beer & pretzels" RPG. Reading it has been a blast, and I expect running it would be too, but I have some quibbles.

I'm not going to complain that the PDF wasn't spruced up with hyper-texting or such, as it's only $1.99 for 118 pages. It would, however, been nice to have a table of contents. It's a pain to flip thru a PDF, especially when you don't know where you are trying to flip to. The character generation rules are tucked somewhere in the middle, and it took me a bit to find the task resolution bits and pieces. I like to jump around as a reader, even my first read thru, and this was made difficult without a table ot contents or an index.

All that aside, if it plays have as well as it read, this would be a blast to run at a convention or a Game Day (one off) type of real life setting. Fast paced and funny. Just isn't so fast to navigate the PDF.

Mini Review - Classes of the Far East (for Labyrinth Lord)

This isn't the first time the Far East has been slipped into the D&D / AD&D systems.  Oriental Adventures for AD&D did an admirable job of it.  Now we have a nice conversion for Labyrinth Lord which appears to take it's own path.

Classes of the Far East from Sacrosanct Games four classes and one racial class, so that really makes five classes.

Interestingly enough, three of those classes get the ability to cast clerical spells.  The Monk (who gets to cast clerical spells) is much simplified from previous versions I've seem.  None of the 5 attacks per 4 rounds BS.

The Ninja is a thief with some classic move ninja powers thrown in (and no trap finding / removing ability), Mahoutsukai are a cleric / magic-user multi-class sorta class, Yokai are anthropomorphic cat people (with cleric spells) and Samurai.

Not a bad collection of classes if you want to add some eastern flavor to your campaign, although I do have to wonder why 3 outa 5 get access to cleric spells.  Not saying I have a problem with that, just curious.

From the blurb:

Love the Labyrinth Lord, B/X, BECMI, or similar game system but always had the itch to play your favorite ninja class and couldn't find one anywhere?  Well, itch no further.  Sacrosanct Games is proud to present you will full color illustrated write-ups for Labyrinth Lord compatible samurai, ninja, mahoutsukai, monk, and demi-human yokai classes. 
So dive right in, and create characters born to be legends!

Friday, February 4, 2011

What is the Ideal Party Size?

I know this question is as much about circumstances as it is gameplay, but what is the ideal player party size?

When I was in college, it was the more the merrier, but gameplay bogged down when I went above 5 or 6 players. I used to run AD&D 2e sessions on Friday mornings back in those days, and I could have up to 10 players to juggle. As a DM I felt I was giving less then my best performance.

My old gaming group ranged from 3-6 players for the most part... although there were times that got huge too.

Or does it depend upon game system? D&D thru 3.5e has 4 core classes, and with multi-classing, more then one role could be fulfilled per PC. So, you didn't need 4 PCs, but it did help for balance.

Tunnels & Trolls has 3 core classes: Warrior, Rogue and Wizard. Rogue isn't a D&D Rogue, but more of a D&D Fighter / Magic-User with possibly some thief thrown in. I'm not sure what the ideal party size would be for a T&T game, but I suspect one of each core would fill the rolls nicely.

What is your ideal player party size when you GM a game?


Tech Tip Time - Blogging From Your iPad

Short and sweet. I've tried many different apps to find the perfect one for blogging with from my iPad. There isn't one apparently.

That being said, Glogr is actually pretty decent. I haven't tried to use it to insert pictures, but for hyperlinking and basic blogging it does the job well.

It also allows for labels or tagging of the blog post, which other blogging apps that I tried didn't (or didn't do it well).

All in all, a decent app for blogging from your iPad.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Last Nite - A Retrospective of Things That You Bump in the Nite

So, last nite I hit the mother of all potholes while approaching the Triboro Bridge (it will never be the JFK in my mind, but anyhow).  Blew out my front passenger side tire.  It took me and the Bridge Tow Truck Operator over 20 minutes to figure out how to get the spare out of my trunk - it was screwed in damn tight!

After we put on the donut, and all was right in the world, I went to pay my $6.50 cash for the privilege of driving from one part of the city to another, when the spare went flat.  Same worker inflated my spare and escorted me off the bridge (god bless him),

$200 bucks later (as I apparently also "bubbled" the driver side front tire - so 2 tires had to be replaced) my car is now back in working order - wheel alignment seems okay so far too... knock on wood.

What does this have to do with gaming?  It's Simple.  The use of unexpected but needed expenses keep your campaign's players looking to earn more cash, or removes the extra cash from their pockets.  I've had unexpected but necessary expenses at the same time this year and last - both coincided with my "holiday" check (we dont automatically get off holidays on my job - but we get paid for them in bulk twice a year).  At least this time the DM above didn't take the whole check from me this year ;)

Poll: Pick Your Favorite WTF Were They Thinking?

The contest is closed to new entires.  The poll to pick the winner is now active.  Click here to view actual covers of the entires.

Have fun ;)

Delving Deeper =/ Original Edition Characters, But Both = Labyrinth Lord

Apparently Brave Halfing's Delving Deeper is going to be directly compatible with the Labyrinth Lord rules (much like their edition of the S&W White Box rules were with Swords & Wizardry).  Which is a very interesting development.
And finally, with the blessing of Dan Proctor, Delving Deeper RPG will be extremely compatible with Labyrinth Lord. Apart from obviously emulating the rules of the same games-of-origin, we are intentionally using Labyrinth Lord mechanics and terminology so that Delving Deeper will be part of the Labyrinth Lord extended family. This means that modules and supplements produced for Delving Deeper will be easily compatible with Labyrinth Lord and vice versa. (From Brave Halfing Publishing's Site)
My question is this: What is up now with LL's Original Edition Characters supplement?  Obviously Delving Deeper is going for a different approach then OEC, but does Delving Deeper really make Labyrinth Lord the Rosetta Clone?  Dan Proctor says so, but if that's the case, what was Labyrinth Lord with OEC and the AEC?  Wasn't that the clone that covered the major editions?

Look, I'm ready to put my cash down for DD, as I know Brave Halfling does top notch stuff, but I thought the break from S&W was to allow then to take their own direction.  This seems like they are hooking their train car to the LL engine... not a bad thing, but not what I expected either.

Still, like I said earlier... a very interesting development.



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Delving on the Cheap

You can get pretty far with Tunnels & Trolls without spending a cent. Between the free abridged T&T rules and the free solo (both linked to the left) one can get a lot of gaming in. There comes a time when you want to go further, but popping down cash for the full rules, let alone on of the boxed sets, might not fit your wallet. What to do?

Head over to the Flying Buffalo site and check out the Corgi Editions of some of the classic Tunnels & Trolls solos. There are 5 Corgi books for sale at Flying Buffalo, 4 of which are double solos (the 5th is City of Terrors, a very large solo). Each book is $5.95, which is a bargain for 2 solo adventures. But wait, there's more!

Each Corgi Edition includes and abridged edition of the Tunnels & Trolls 5e rules, but they are more complete then the downloadable version you were previously using. These rules go to 11! (Think Spinal Tap). Experience Tables and the Wizard Spell List both go to level 11. With a little work, a GM could run a campaign (or at least the start of one) with one of these books.

Give them a look. They are definitely worth the price.

I Had a Dream...

Well, maybe not a dream, but those thoughts that go thru your head as your lying in bed waiting for sweet sleep to steal you away. It was a really good idea for a blog post. One of those golden ones that drive discussion and the exchange of ideas.

No idea what it was. The thought is gone, but enough of it remains to let me know my loss is huge. Ah well, maybe next time I'll write the thought down. Probably not tho'... sleep is very seeet.

Who Cast The Friggin' Ice Storm Spell?













More Beans! First Edition Errata

I know they refer to it as errata, but it's more optional rules.  They're good, and probably should have been in the initial release, but they aren't make or brake.  They are free, so for all of you that bought (or won a copy here) Bean!, grab your free update to the rules.

The Blurb:

The BEAN! The D2 Role-Playing Game First Edition rules introduced a rules lite super easy fantasy gaming mechanic with a fun alternative to dice, yep, you guessed it: beans! While these rules could have stood on their own, Fabled Worlds Games is offering this free errata to introduce a few alternate rules that open up the game so that it works with any genre while still keeping the speed and simplicity of the game. This errata includes the addition of Health Points, Skills, and ideas to create your own Character Archetypes. Now you can go anywhere -with BEAN!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coming in at Number 100 is...

R.W. Chandler.  He puts the Tavern's count at 100 followers.  Thanks lad (or lass), the next round is on me ;)

Knocking on the Centurion's Door

I can't believe the Tavern has 99 followers.  I'm overwhelmed by the whole idea that folks out there find the crap I spew worthwhile on occasions ;)

In any case, thanks to everyone that reads this blog and will read it in the future.  It's constantly evolving, which may at some point mean it isn't what you signed up for initially, but I hope it remains interesting for everyone none the less.

Tomorrow will be the last day for entries to the WTF Where They Thinking!?! Contest.  Thursday I'll put a poll up so all can vote on their favorite.  Just 3 entries so far, and if we hit 5 or more, I'll award prize packages to the top two voted entries (1 prize package in the mix now).   Come on, you know you have something to add ;)

The Trollish Taproom - Levels in Tunnels & Trolls

Levels in Tunnels & Trolls don't have the same meaning in Tunnels & Trolls as they do in Dungeons & Dragons. In all of D&D's various incarnations, level gain means an increase in Hit Points, additional spells memorized for the spell casters, possibly a new level of spells to cast, possible increases in THACO and Saving Throws, turning undead increases for clerics, increase in thief abilities and the rest of the cornucopia of abilities that D&D characters posses.

In Tunnels & Trolls, gaining a level has much fewer benefits for most characters. In 5.5e and earlier, gaining a level results in a stat increase (in 7.x, stats are increased with AP earned, and stats decide character level). For Rogues and Wizards, it gives access to higher level spells. For Wizards, it can decrease the cost of casting lower level spells. Oh, and 7.x also gives Warriors a +1 bump per level to their Combat Adds.

I personally don't like deriving character level from stat number. I do, however, like the idea of spending 10x current stat to increase the stat by one.

So, I figure I'll use the stat increase method from 7.5e (7e is 100x stat... way too harsh), while keeping the total AP earned to determine character level.

Not a bad compromise IMHO.


Someone Rolled a "00" on the Weather Table

This week NYC is waiting to see how much of an Ice Storm this latest bout of winter weather brings. Which still doesn't compare to the beating Northern Australia is in for with rain and winds.

I'm beginning to think those weather table from the old Dragon Magazine were more accurate they I even gave them credit for. I'll need to dig it out and "DM Roll" us some milder weather ;)

At least I now know the difference between "sleet" and "freezing rain".

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mini Review - Parsely #1 - Action Castle

Ever thought of taking Zork and making it into an RPG?  With all the UP, DOWN, USE LAMP commands?  Someone did.  From the video it actually looks kinda like a lot of fun with the right group (I think my old group with a few beers in them would eat this up, personally).

I do think you need the right person in the GM / Computer Parser role.  If you lived the old text adventures, you'll make this really entertaining for your group.  I think it kinda helps if you are in on the joke.

Here's a video you can check out some actual play with.  It's less then 3 minutes, so its fairly short.

And here's the blurb:


> LOOK ACTION CASTLE
Parsely #1: Action Castle is the first in a new line of games called “Parsely Games.” Now you can “GO EAST” and “LIGHT LAMP” with the best of them. Canst thou master Action Castle before death claims thee? Parsely games are inspired by Ye Olde Text Parsers from days of yore, but substituting a live human for the computer parser. Parsely games are small, portable and fun for (almost) all occasions.
• Play them anywhere! On trips, in long lines, camping, at game cons…
• Play them with anyone! Young or old, expert or total n00b
• Play with a few friends or 100 random strangers at the same time

> ASK ABOUT ACTION CASTLE
“…the best game that I have played all year” – Chris O’Neil, co-author ofKobolds At My Baby
“…clever, silly, well-rehearsed, & a true homage to Zork.” – Steve Jackson, game industry legend
“…the awesomest awesome.” - Scott Rubin, co-host of Geek Knights podcast
“Very rarely do new game concepts come along which impress me, but this one stands out as being something truly revolutionary. And yet, like many of the most brilliant ideas, it’s so fiendishly simply that you say “why hasn’t anybody thought of this before?” – Andrew Looney, designer of Fluxx
“Check out a NSFW video of the demo … We missed the first part of the presentation, but here’s the prompt which kicked things off: ‘You are in a cottage. There is a fishing pole here. Exits are out.’ Hilarity ensues.” - Griffin McElroy, Joystiq

> EXAMINE SPECS
Action Castle v1.2 comes with the Parsely rules on one side and the Action Castle map and game guide on the other

The Trollish Taproom - I Got's One of Dem Ideas!

I've actually thought of a win - win - win scenario, kinda like a hat trick.  I have access to some damn sweet clipart.  I'm hankering to create some beasties for Tunnels & Trolls for my upcoming campaign.  Y'all get some new T&T critters.  The artists get some visibility and credit for their artwork.

I win.

My future players will win.

Hopefully this blog's readers will find some useful and win.

The artists win.

Kinda hard for me to bugger this up, unless my stuff stinks worse then a porta-potty at the county fair in the middle of August.  Even then it may be fun just to watch the train wreck ;)

I suspect the game I will eventually be running will be fairly grounded in 5.5e T&T (although heavily house ruled), but I like the monster write ups and special spite attacks from 7.5e, so I suspect I'll be using that as a template.

Contest Bumpiness!

I've been busy as a beaver at work today, but I want to remind folks of the contest that's being run here at the Tavern. It's the WTF Were They Thinking!?! Contest. Add your finds and you can win some decent swag.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This Ain't Yo Momma's Bullywug!

It's amazing, really.  I get reviewer comps constantly, and I NEVER bother to look at the clip art that you can use in private and commercial projects.  Why would I?  The only project I currently have is this blog.

That being said, there is some amazing stuff being produced for really affordable prices.  What I am affectionately referring to as a Bullywug to the left (damn D&D cartoon) is but one of 4 pieces available in the Forgotten Foes Clip Art 2 Collection - that's 4 pieces of artwork for 3 bucks.

I'll be finding use for these pieces, even if it is just to liven up a blog post or two.  They should be seen and appreciated.  This does of course mean I'll be starting to use these on the blog where appropriate or even not ;)

The artist for this piece and the rest of this collection is Rene Walk.

Mini Review - Tombs and Terrors

Yes, I know I had a post about there being too many damn retroclones last week (or simulacrum games - I hope that is the right word) and yet here I am with yet another.

Tombs and Terrors, otherwise known as TT (not T&T - that's for Tunnels & Trolls) refers to itself as Old School Fantasy Roleplaying.  I'm going to hazard a guess and declare it to be AD&D simulacrum, very compatible with any of the games that currently restate any of the earlier D&D editions.

It also seems to borrow an idea from Castles & Crusades, but as opposed to just having primes, we are presented with primary, secondary and tertiary stats.  I like the way they are presented here, and if I ran a game of C&C, I'd borrow this from TT to retrofit the SIEGE Engine.

As I've stated before, I don't think we NEED any more retroclonisimulacrumie games, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't play them.  I don't need ice cream to live, but i certainly like it ;)

Besides, they present a spell casting bard.  I like bards.  To the point that I am as annoying as hell when I play them.  So be it.

Digging Out

As today is Sunday, which means tomorrow is Monday, I need to finish digging my car out of last Wednesday's Snowstorm if I am to have any hope of driving to work tomorrow.  Might I add that I'm beginning to thoroughly hate the white stuff (actually, in NYC, it quickly becomes yellow stuff and grey stuff, but when it falls it is actually white stuff).

I also need to do some Spring Cleaning.  I am accumulating junk, which means my son feels the need to accumulate junk and garbage.  You know, you always need to be a step ahead of the Old Man when you are 17.

I need to dig thru two RPG piles.  The physical pile of Tunnels & Trolls that I've been accumulating needs to be organized and found some proper shelf space to r eside in.  Then the Virtual Pile of RPG PDF that I need to review has to be attacked.  If I did 3 or 4 reviews a week,without adding anything new to the pile, I might get thru it in a month or two.  Sigh.