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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.