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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mini Review - Tome of Tomes, Volume One - (Systemless / OGL / OSR)

This is one of those pleasant surprises that makes me say "Why didn't I think of that?"  The answer in this case is that I doubt I would have come anywhere close to putting together the excellent piece of work Joseph Browning did with Tome of Tomes, Volume 1.

Now, technically this is aimed at the Old School, D&D rooted rules and clones, but there really is no reason this couldn't work just as well with 3.5 / Pathfinder or even Tunnels & Trolls.  Any fantasy based RPG that has folks with dangerous weapons and spells looking for loot should find this right up their alley.

Joe does a great job not only detailing the details of the tomes in question (size, weight, author, materials, value, fields of study and the like) but he also gives each tome a paragraph that deals with background and other fiddly bits.  These books live and breath.  I would have loved to have had some of these in my 12th level wizard's study back in the day.

A hundred books for three bucks.  Hard to beat that.

My personal favorite?  Beardless Ladies - Kinda like a Playboy for Dwarves.  I suspect there is a copy hidden in the Tavern's Privy ;)

From the blurb:


Books in fantasy games have always been sources of mystery. We're all familiar with the sight of the magic user's eyes lighting up like a 5-year-old at Christmas when one is found. This work provides 100 tomes for your gaming pleasure, ranging from the magical to the mundane, from the common to the unique. Never again will you be at a loss to describe that recently found libram.


Tome of Tomes is a compilation of books that could be found on a sage's shelf or on the shelves of a city library. Each tome is described and classified according to field of study and special knowledge category (if applicable).

mini Review - Chronicles of Arax (Solo Adventure Game)

As many of my regular readers know, I'm a big fan of Tunnels & Trolls (and other solo systems in general).  Solo gaming fits my schedule, and is a rewarding RPG experience in it's own way/

Chronicles of Arax - Solo Adventure Game is a new entry into the solo RPG nitch.  There aren't many systems for such gaming, so new blood is always welcome.

Tunnels & Trolls solos are story driven, with branches that one takes depending on choice, actions taken, and/or success / failure.  Which can limit the re-playability of the solos, as previous choices can affect future replay (knowledge is power)

In the Chronicles of Arax, upon completion of an encounter, you randomly determine the next encounter, until you reach the last encounter.  This system allows for a certain amount of re-playabiliy due to the randomness of the progression thru the adventure.  It's a nice little twist.

Oh, before I forget.  Character generation is not random.  Customization comes thru leveling your character.  Stats are based on "die size", similar to Savage Worlds.

All in all, a nice change of pace for this enjoyer of solo adventures.  The price can't be beat - Free!

I'll be checking out the premium content in the days and weeks to come (at a buck a piece, even the premium content is damn cheap).

From the Blurb:


An adventure game for just one person - YOU!

The world of Arax is a world filled with blood and battle, magic and monsters, slaughter and sorcery. It is a world where the weak are crushed and the strong survive, where those who are bigger and more powerful bully those who are weaker and more vulnerable. It is a world in need of a Hero, someone who can stand against the darkness and fight on behalf of the downtrodden. A Hero like YOU.
Chronicles of Arax is a game where you, the reader, takes on the role of a Hero in the world of Arax. It is your job to fight against evil and injustice, to undertake various Quests to further the goals of good, and hopefully get some fame and loot in the bargain!

In Chronicles of Arax, you take on the role of a mighty Hero who, in the face of utter darkness, stands up for the light by undertaking missions and adventures (known as Quests) that will hopefully aid the forces of light.
Throughout Arax a Hero can come from any walk of life, be it a noble Knight, an elf Druid or a stalwart dwarf Stone Warrior. This rules manual includes one Hero type for you to play as: the Adventurer.

The Core Rules are free, and premium expansions are available for $1 each

Mini Review - Come Hell or High Water (Labyrinth Lord)

It's that special time, the time for a Mini-Review! (I think I need more sleep).  GT2 - Come Hell or High Water, is the second in a series of modules from Knightvision games.  As such, it works best as a follow up adventure to GT1 - Path of the Delver.

So, what do you get for your hard earned 3 bucks?  56 pages of Labyrinth Lord material. about 3/4's is the adventure, the rest is new monsters, magic items, a new spell, possible PC's to use... material of that sort.  You certainly get value for you money.  Oh, and maps - lots of maps.  Good maps to use, even if you steal for other use (nitpick - change the map colors.  They are too damn bright.   Aargh! ;)

In my opinion, this adventure isn't a cake walk of any sorts.  Many of the creatures will be getting an increased chance to surprise the players.  Which makes me wonder it it is really made for Characters Level 1-2.  Based upon the fact that all the included PCs are levels 2-3, I'd suggest you treat the higher numbers as the suggested level range.  Besides, it is meant as a follow up to Path of the Delver (and if you don't play it as a follow up to Path of the Delver, you'll need to supply your own hook.)

From the blurb:

  "What evil machinations lie hidden in the flooded depths of ancient Kharnos Dzin? Whispers in the dark summon the uninitiated...as evil brews beneath the surface of a dead city. Great rewards lie in store, but will adventurers find more then they had bargained for?" Come Hell or High Water is a Labyrinth Lord and AEC compatible adventure designed for 1st and 2nd level characters. Set in the upcoming Ebonyr campaign setting, it can also fit into any generic RPG world. The adventure combines urban, underwater and classic dungeon crawl material. Inside the PDF you'll find:
  • Over  11 new monsters including the Shock Sphere.
  • 3 new magic items and spells

Friday, March 18, 2011

It Feels Like Spring

The temperature here in NYC is knocking on 70 degrees. Truly amazing for March 18th. I just walked out for lunch in short sleeves and I was loving it.

Back in High School and College much of my gaming group's RPG sessions were played at the picnic table in my backyard when the temperature and weather allowed. In retrospect, I feel sorry sorry for my neighbors, as we were a nosy bunch. Damn tho, we did have a lot of fun ;)

When I get home from work, I may let my little (feline) girl out on the front porch with me to enjoy one of the last days of winter. Days like today, I almost can't believe we had the snow storms that we had this past winter.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do I Keep Inviting the Knights to My Dinner Table?

I've been reading Knights of the Dinner Table (KotDT) since Shadis magazine. I actually have the first issue of the magazine tucked away somewhere, and the few issues I've missed along the way I've filled in with the Bundles of Trouble compilations. Still, it just doesn't seem the same anymore.

The current issue is #172 - and I skimmed the strips more then read them. Maybe the jokes have changed, or I don't see the jokes with the same eyes, but even the stories seem less like anything I ever gamed. In the beginning I could relate - now, not so much.

72 bucks for 12 issues(first class shipping). For something I'm no longer getting a heck of a lot of value out of. 13 pages of the current issue deals with the ongoing story line, the rest is more or less filler. The other ongoing storyline (Gary Jackson back from the dead) is absent.

As for the gaming articles - inconsistent quality is the best description I can use. Nothing all that memorable.

I want to still like the Knights. Really. But I get much more enjoyment from OOTS, and it's free.

I might have to tap out at this point.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tis the time for green beer, boiled meat, stinky cabbage and potatoes. Oh, and mustard on everything but the beer. Yummmmm!

I always saw AD&D's St. Cuthbert as the game's version of St. Paddy, although I never really made it a theme, even in the background, for any of the sessions. Might have been nice to have done so, where everybody, regardless of religion, class, race, ethnicity... celebrated with a St. Cuthbert Feast once a year. Imagine the problems the town watch would have with hooligans - heck, the party could even be hired to help the watch keep a lid on things.

Ah well, eating well, drinking in moderation and planning to enjoy some live music tonight. Maybe I should skip lunch for more food later ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Grab The New Solo "Escape from Khosht" For Free!

I just saw the email from Trollhalla on this one.  It appears there is a new Tunnels & Trolls solo available at OneBookShelf (RPGNow / DrivetruRPG), and the sucker is free.

Escape from Khosht is 40 pages of T&T for your solo pleasure (minds outta the gutter please).  I'm downloading this right now.  Grab your's here (and pick up the free T&T rules to the left of this post if you need them).

From the Blurb:


Everything had gone according to plan. The Eye of the Beast---a cut, polished diamond the size of a hill giant's fist rests in your hands. It is worth 200,000 gold pieces!

Obtaining the valuable gem comes at a cost, however, and soon you find yourself running for your life, hazarding the terrors of the night, braving sadistic guards, and slavering war hounds, wondering if there can ever be an ... Escape from Khosht.

Escape from Khosht is a solitaire adventure written by Andrew Greene, and illustrated by J. Freels for the Tunnels and Trolls game system.

The solo adventure comes with three pregenerated characters to choose from (a wizard, a rogue, and a warrior) as well as full stats and abilities for the two NPCs who journey with you, Radnoff and Chi-Chi.

(edit:  technically it's not NEW, as it is copyright 2002 - but the art is all new, it is new to OneBookShelf / etc and is probably new to YOU... heh)

Battle: Los Angeles - Better Then The Reviews Say

I went and saw Battle: Los Angeles last night with my son and my mother - three generations got to watch aliens invade California. I knew many of the reviewers had panned the movie, but my son really wanted to see it, so off we went.

My opinion? It was pretty good. No need for 3d (which every movie seems to be in today), the story never bogged down, and there were a few decent twists. It was nice to see a movie without all the Hollywood stars, as in this case the story and action were more important then the actors.

Most surprising to me is my mother couldn't stop saying great things about it on the way home. She ranked it up there with The Departed (an amazing movie in its own right). When a grandma can enjoy a sic-fyish, shoot-em up action flick, its gotta be good.

As for me, it kept me in my seat for the full length, despite the large soda a devoured during the flick. I felt like the unfreezing scene from Austin Powers when I finally got to the rest room.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I've Got the Mythic GM Emulator on My Mind

I've been stumbling upon numerous forum and blog posts in which folks have been using the Mythic GM Emulator to run solo games or even small parties with out a GM. How friggin' awesome is that?

I have a PDF copy of the Mythic RPG (and a softcover copy packed away somewhere - god but I need to organize and catalogue, but that's a whole other story), and the emulator is drawn from that. It's actually a set number of chapters from the full product.

I think this is something that could really work well for some out home gaming, maybe even drawing my son into it (like the Borg, I like to assimilate others when i can). I suspect it wouldn't work so well via a VTT, but that's okay. If it can handle 1 to 3 players at my kitchen table, I think we are good to go.

Way too much on my plate waiting to be read these days ;)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Two Trollish Blogs Come to an End

The Trollgod has suspended his 2 fiction blogs (you can find links in my blog roll). Both T&T Delver's Tales and Atroll's Flashfiction are no more. Well, they still are, but they are deadish now.

Not everything posted was destined to be a work of art, but they were fun places to check out when one wanted a short (or short short) story to kill a few minutes.

Ken's leaving the blogs up for the moment, but there will be no new posts, at least not for the foreseeable future.

May the Blog Gods bless them, and keep them ready for a further resurrection ;)

Paranoid Flashback

Mongoose has recently released Flashbacks Redux for it's Paranoia game. It's a compilation of classic Paranoia adventures from the game's West End Games tenure.

I am currently having some very pleasant flashbacks, as I have many of the included adventures packed away in storage. For me, I had as much fun reading the adventures as I did running them, which I can't say for many games. At 256 pages, I'll be occupied with this and it's accompanying memories for a while.

It Contains;

* The Mandatory Mission Pack
* Clones in Space
* Orcbusters
* My First Treason
* Yellow Clearence Black Box Blues
* Code 7s
* Me and My Shadow Mark 4
* Pre Paranoia
* Vapours Don't Shoot Back

I know I own Clones in Space, Orcbusters, YCBBB, Me and My Shadow Mark 4 and Vapours Don't Shoot Back. Still, I haven't read them in over 15 years.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What is the Ideal Group Size For a VTT Run RPG?

Sooner or later I'll be getting my Tunnels & Trolls game off the ground via Fantasy Grounds.  I figure the ideal party size is about 4, but how large should he group (pool) be?

It's hard enough getting all your players to show up for face to face gaming, but with a VTT and people spread out all about the world, it's more common then not to have less then the full group show.

I think I  can scale T&T off the cuff for a smaller / larger party then expected for a certain session, just wondering how large a group I should hope to recruit.  Then again, it is Tunnels &  Trolls... I may have to fall back upon Swords & Wizardry if I want to recruit a full group ;)

The Trollish Taproom - When Less is More

James over at Grognardia asked folks to post about their re-imagining of iconic D&D creatures.  This is something you really couldn't do with Tunnels & Trolls creatures, as there really isn't much of a template to look at, at least in editions prior to 7e.

T&T 5.5e and prior doesnt have any sort of monster manual.  Creatures have a MR and little more.  Pretty much everything a GM would need to introduce to a campaign would come from his own imagination or would be borrowed from another game system.

7e introduced monster books to T&T.  Better late then never, I see them more as gap fillers then all encompassing, as the D&D MMs tend to be.

In Tunnels & Trolls, most monsters are a first-imagining. ;)