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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Are RPG Kickstarters Going to Go the Way of the D20 Implosion?

I got into reading comics when DC raised their prices from 35 cents to 50 cents. The DC Explosion promised 25 pages of comics for 50 cents - and it fell flat on it's face. DC rolled their prices back to 40 cents (still a jump from 35) and cancelled a shitload of titles and called it a day. Thus was the DC Implosion.

Remember the early days of 3e? Slapping a "D20 Logo" on something was a license to print money. That is, until the glut of mediocre and worse "D20" products started sitting on hobby store shelves without moving. Everyone was making something for "D20", and far from everything was worth the money.

Fast Forward Games was probably the worst offender of pushing out tons of stuff of middling quality at best (as well as various D20 / OGL violations that required destruction of stock).

In the end, the glut of mediocre crap hurt the RPG Industry worse than any holy roller ever did back in the days of TSR.

Today, we have Kickstarter and Indiegogo. There are new RPG products and projects popping up on one or the other on nearly a daily basis. I blog about them. The good, the bad and the ugly and everything in between.

The thing is, there's a glut ready to form. Customers are being overly saturated by the "pre-order that is not a pre-order" that crowd funding of RPGs has turned into. We're going to hit that point and worthy projects are going to die on the vine as supporters of these projects start realizing they are paying for stuff months or even years before the project will bear fruit. Some might never bear fruit.

I suspect that early next year, it's going to take a lot more work to get an RPG project successfully funded via crowd funding. Up to now, it's been almost as successful as the "D20 Compatibility Logo" was in the early days of 3e, but I suspect the luster is wearing off.

Delayed projects, projects from folks that no one has heard of, projects rebooted as something new when they failed to fund the first time, overly ambitious funding goals, the use of kickstarter as a "pre-order" substitute and a simple over saturation of crowd funding by companies both large and small is going to make for very wary consumers.  It will also result in a smaller pot of money those consumers will be willing to put into an ever growing assortment of Kickstarters and the like.

The signs are all there. The free ride is going to come to an end. Those seeking your hard earned cash via crowd funding are going to have to work harder to prove that they deserve it.

Actually, that isn't a bad thing as all. Let the fuckers implode. In the end, the survivors should have worthwhile offerings. Heck, I may even have funds to support them at that point, as I damn near flushed out from the current glut ;)

ENWorld Posts a Paying Gig - Looking For Weekly Columnists

Morrus is looking for weekly columnists at ENWorld. He's paying too. If you get picked for a 4 week trial, it's $10 a week for 1k-2k words. If you stick, it goes up to $25 a week.

Before you dismiss this as chicken feed, I blog 3-4 times a day, 90+ entries a month, and I pay Google $10 a year for the pleasure of having my own direct web address - TenkarsTavern.com. This is not a paying gig. The referrals I get from RPGNow pay for occasional review material, but more likely starting next month it will pay to ship out physical prizes for the monthly DCC RPG Contests. I'd make more with one ENWorld article than I do with a month of blog posts.

So, if you think you can write a 1K+ word article once a week and get it out on time, you might want to read what Morrus has to say below:

I'm looking for a half-dozen or so new weekly columnists to add to our current roster with a goal of providing new content every single day.
The subject is fairly wide open - any tabletop gaming subject (we're not just about D&D any more and haven't been for a long time) with humor, news, opinion, and advice prioritized over gaming content (of which there is plenty already out there). I'm not interested in reviewers at present; we're very well covered there.
A writing sample and a column pitch would be ideal. It's for a weekly column, so requires 1000-2000 words at the same time each week. To be honest, I'm willing to take a bit of a risk here - so as long as the writing is good and the pitch isn't ridiculous, I'd be willing to trial it for four weeks at a minimal pay level (say $10 per article) and if it finds an audience contract it for longer at $25 per article. It's not megabucks, but it adds up over time - more than enough to buy 2-3 RPG books each month.
Reliability is vital. Be sure you can do it on time every week without fail. I get a lot of people offer to do things but not follow through, so please be sure you have the time. 
If you're interested, drop the sample and pitch to me at morrus@hotmail.com. There's a good chance I'll give you a try for a month, unless your writing is truly diabolical or your pitch idea is just too far out there. No reviewers, though, remember; and gaming content itself won't be high priority.
 So, I've got a lot of pitches. Problem is, most of them are pretty much identical - they're all the same very-serious gaming advice column with a different name. I'd love to see a bit more variety in the pitches!

So, there you have it - your chance to be a paid professional in the RPG field. If any of my readers make a pitch and get picked, let me know, and I'll make sure to throw traffic your way ;)


Free Game of the Week - The Ancient Academy (OSR 1-Sheet Adventure)

Stewart Robertson has been putting out a series of 1-Sheet adventures recently, and The Ancient Academy is one of them.

So, why did I pick The Ancient Academy to highlight? It's a classic, low level dungeon set up with Wandering Monsters. You really can't get more Old School than that.

The map is very well done, with lots of choices for the adventuring party to make, which is always nice to see.

Did I mention it's free?

Did I also mention I'll be swapping in Stewart's other 1-Page Adventures as the week goes on? Collect them all, as the price is right ;)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tomorrow Night There Will Be Ambition & Avarice

Adventurer Conqueror King or Die is in a holding pattern for now. Instead, I am running Ambition & Avarice, Greg Christopher's new OSR styled game currently in an open beta playtest. This Saturday's session we are weaving in David P from White Haired Man.

I am probably the least creative guy in the group. Which is a good thing, as it pushes me to be at my best. Hard to slouch when you are surrounded by game writers, adventure writers, publishers and artists.

You know what sucks? My self imposed "No Drinking Rule" when I GM. I need the edge of sobriety to keep one step ahead of the highly skilled players in my group.

Ah well, plenty of diet root beer in the cupboard ;)

Hit Points - Actual Ability to Absorb Damage, Luck, Skill, Blessing of the Gods - What Is It

This Can't Happen Until That Last HP Is Gone
Really.

WTF is Hit Points in D&D and the whole line of OSR games?

For an elephant or a dragon, I'm sure it's actually ability to withstand damage.

For a 9th Level Fighter with and +4 Con Bonus, those 90 HPs are what? He certainly isn't withstanding damage like a dragon.

I like the way Crypts & Things handles it:

Player characters’ hit points represent only ‘superficial’
damage (i.e., exhaustion, light bruises, minor scrapes,
and so forth).. Because of this, all lost hit points may be
recovered by sleeping without interruption for eight full
hours. Resting (not sleeping), or sleeping for less than
eight hours, will enable a player character to recover one
hit point per full hour of rest or sleep.
Cure Wounds spells and potions of Healing do not
heal hit points, but only lost points of Constitution (as
explained below). However, a draught of ‘strong drink’
(ale, wine, liquor) can ‘invigorate’ a character, enabling
him/her to recover immediately 1d4 hit points. Crypt
Keepers may also want to allow alchemists to sell ‘Elixirs
of Invigoration’ for 200 to 300 gold pieces. Drinking
such an elixir might enable a player character to recover
instantly 1d6 + 2 hit points. Only one such draught,
whether of strong drink or an elixir, will have this effect
per day.
Once a player character’s hit points have been depleted,
any further damage is done to the character’s constitution
score. Damage to a character’s constitution score
represents ‘serious’ damage. Every time a character takes
damage to his/her constitution, he/she must make a
saving throw or fall unconscious. In addition, a character
that has taken damage to his/her constitution suffers a -2
penalty to all actions (including attack rolls and saving
throws). If a character’s constitution score is reduced to 0
or lower that character is dead.

It certainly gives Hit Points a use and a definition that makes  sense, or at least more sense than most of the Hit Point definitions I've read or heard over the years.

Which definition of Hit Points strikes the right chord in you?

Next Up - Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana

Now that Demi-Options: Halflings is out (next in the line should be Dwarves - but I REALLY want to do evils too!) I'm focusing on Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana.

If you read this blog regularly, you've seen some of my ideas in "Beta Format" with the magic items I've been popping up once a week or so. Some should make it to the first release in this line (I'm hoping for at least 2 volumes).

I'm currently playing catch up with the artist on the project, as some items were named or basically described but not fleshed out on my end, but Teo Tayobobayo has done some amazing work with what I gave him to go with. I'll post a piece or two up when I can, but in the meantime he's the guy doing most of the covers and maps for the recent Toys For the Sandbox Series releases.

As a total aside (and something that deserves it's own post) I am thinking of Monday evening, October 15th for the Labyrinth Lord game. I'll finalize that over the weekend

Party Hit Point Pool - For Times When Healers Just Aren't Around

Sometimes things just pop in my head. This is one of them. Very useful for a party without a healer.


Party Hit Point Pool - The Party Hit Point Pool is a Hit Point reserve. It can be used to heal HP damage, so long as the character in question hasn't been brought below 0 HP. All PCs in the party have access to the HP Pool, although using the points requires a party consensus. It does not require an action to use, and may be used in conjunction with other actions. PHPP numbers are determined at the beginning of a play session and once the points are used up, there are no more available until the next game session. The number of points in the PHPP resets to full with each game session.

The number of points in the Hit Point Pool is equal to the sum of the PC levels in the party. So, a party consisting of a 3rd level fighter, a 4th level thief and a 2nd level magic-user would have 9 points in their  Party Hit Point Pool. Henchmen, retainers and hirelings do not add points to the PHPP, nor can the pool be used to heal them.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's Official, I'm Published - Demi-Options: Halflings is Live!

Awesome! Demi-Options: Halflings is now live!

I'm now in the same set of sights as other published authors when it comes to criticism ;)

I'm happy I got this out and that I have another project nearly completed.

After that, maybe I'll work on some Dwarven Classes!  heh

From the blurb (that I wrote):


Ever want to do an all Halfling party, but 6 Halfling thieves just wasn't going to be to your, or your players', satisfaction?

Are you tired of ALWAYS having to play a fighter when you want to be the Dwarf?

Ever want something more than playing a human based class in Elvish body?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, Demi-Options was written with you in mind.

With Demi-Options, as the GM you are presented with multiple class options broken down by race.

Broadly, they cover the four basic human classes, but tweaked and reworked from the demi-human point of view. They are presented as options. As the GM, you can use all, some or none as options for yourPCs. Some may fit well with your campaign ideas, while others may not mesh as cleanly. You may decide to restrict them to NPCs only, but it's my hope you'll open at least some of them for your players to use.

As a player, Demi-Options is your chance to stray away from the Dwarven Fighter or Halfling Thief archetypes. Become a Dwarven Spelunker, setting traps for the goblins and attacking them by surprise.
Inspire your party to greatness as a Halfling Lorister. 

Break the old mold and embark on a new path.



Update: Kickstarters That Make Me Go "HUH?" - Dark Realms RPG 1 Million Book Give-Away

I had to update this as it's been nearly 3 weeks since I last looked at Dark Realms.

Their goal was $45,000. They still might make it, as they have 20 days to go.

When last I looked on September 16th, they had 4 backers and had raised $138.

They are now at 10 backers and and $365 raised. That's about $11 a day since I last checked. At that rate, it will get funded in 2023.

Alright, honestly - there's no way in hell this is getting funded.

When you are an unknown entity showcasing an unknown game - and let's face it, Dark Realms is an unknown game) asking strangers to invest $45,000 in your business in a niche hobby like ours isn't going to be successful.

If the funding goal had been $1,000 I wouldn't be surprised if they reached it. I'm not sure what good that would have done for their stated goal of getting a million copies into circulation of a game that is most certainly NOT a good introduction to RPGs (I read the PDF - see my first post), but at least it would have been a realistic goal.

My suggestion? Cancel the project, rethink the actual goal and set a funding level between $1K and 2K  with stretch goals if / when there's a relaunch. You gotta crawl before you can walk, and this project aimed to fly.

Max or Roll? How Do You Like Your 1st Level Hit Points?

This was a question I had to deal with when I started up my ACKS campaign - how do I handle starting hit points for the PCs. This was my first campaign in over 15 years, and back then it was roll (with a reroll if it was truly piss poor and the DM felt generous).

I decided to go with max at first level, and a reroll of 1's rolled at later levels.

When we decided to go with Ambition & Avarice (and dumping the PCs into Dwimermount) last week, I started the players off at second level (as it is more a playtest than a proper campaign and I wanted to give the players a little buffer as they pushed the system when needed).

I gave max HP for 1st level and offered the following for 2nd level (and later levels) - take avg HP rounded up OR roll and take as is. Greg decided to roll and got a 1 on his d6. He asked if rerolls were in effect ;) Sorry

How do you handle starting Hit Points in the games that you run?

Going Indiegogo - Looking at "In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer" (DCC Encounter Book)

In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer is the latest DCC RPG crowd funded project, or at least the latest one I could find.

Prison of the Squid Sorcerer is is an encounter book for the DCC RPG, giving 12-14 plot hooks, each of 1 to 2 pages in length. If it hit it's first stretch goal, it doubles in size, giving us 24-28 plot hooks. That's a damn nice amount of ideas. I'm just not sure if we will ever get to see them.

Why do I say that? It's not for lack of talent on the project: Daniel Bishop has done some nice work on DCC adventures for Purple Duck, and was heavily involved in the successfully funded Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between project on Indiegogo over the summer.

No, I say it because of the quirks of Indiegogo and the way the stretch goals are set up.

The stretch goals on this project past the first one, only kick in on the higher pledge levels. The problem is, if the higher stretch goals don't get funded, you get hosed for pledging at the higher pledge levels, as the only thing added to these is from the later stretch goals.

Case in point: The highest pledge level is $90 bucks. This gives you the main project in Print and PDF, and all of the stretch goals. If the stretch goals never fund, you get the same as you would have with a $30 pledge. Basically, you have a large chance to get fucked at the higher levels. Raggi had similar issues with his summer projects, but at least he was able to offer store credit as a cushion to protect his supporters.

Also, why is a $10 pledge PDF, $20 Print (but no PDF) and $30 Print, PDF and the first stretch adventure in PDF?

And it's not like Kickstarter, where changing your pledge amont is as simple as - changing your pledge amount. Unless things recently changed over at Indiegogo, to change your pledge customer service has to cancel your first pledge before you can make a new one. So, pledging low and increasing it as stretch goals are hit isn't so feasible.

Finally, here's the list of the stretch goals and rewards. The rewards section is needlessly complicated:


Goals and Stretch Goals

Here's a look at what we're offering at our various funding levels.

$3500 -- Base book is funded and everyone's happy

$3800 -- +Monsters, Treasures and Gods Bonus Content!

$4100 -- +1 Exclusive Adventure

$4400-- +2 Exclusive Adventures

$4600--  +3 Exclusive Adventures

$5000 -- +4 Exclusive Adventures!

Contribution Levels

Here's the loot.

 $1 Level

A Hearty Thanks and your name under the Contributors Section of the Mystic Bull Games website!

$5 Level

Your Name in the Contributors section of the website and the cover page of the Book!

$10 Level

A PDF of the Encounters book (first actual reward, and a fair price)

$20 Level

A Print copy of the Encounters book (why no PDF copy at this price?)

Stretch: Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

$30 Level

Print and PDF copies of the Encounters book

Stretch:  Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

Stretch2: PDF of the First Bonus Adventure

$40 Level

Print and PDF copies of the Encounters book

Stretch: Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

Stretch 2: Print copy of the First Bonus Adventure (why no PDF copy? I had a PDF copy at the last level. I should never loose something by pledging more)

Stretch 3: PDF of the Second Bonus Adventure

$50 Level

Print and PDF copies of the Encounters book

Stretch: Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

Stretch 2: Print and PDF copy of the First Bonus Adventure

Stretch 3: Print of the Second Bonus Adventure (same comment as above, ad nauseum)

Stretch 4: PDF of the Third Bonus Adventure

$60 Level

Print and PDF copies of the Encounters book

Stretch: Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

Stretch 2: Print and PDF copies of the First Bonus Adventure

Stretch 3: Print and PDF copies of the Second Bonus Adventure

Stretch 4: Print copy of the Third Bonus Adventure

$70 Level

Print and PDF copies of the Encounters book

Stretch: Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

Stretch 2: Print and PDF copies of the First Bonus Adventure

Stretch 3:Print and PDF copies of the Second Bonus Adventure

Stretch 4: Print copy of the Third Bonus Adventure

Stretch 5: PDF copy of the Fourth Bonus Adventure

$80 Level

Print and PDF copies of the Encounters book

Stretch: Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

Stretch 2: Print and PDF copies of the First Bonus Adventure

Stretch 3: Print and PDF copies of the Second Bonus Adventure

Stretch 4: Print and PDF copies of the Third Bonus Adventure

Stretch 5: Print copy of the Fourth Bonus Adventure

$90 Level (if the stretch goals are't funded, you're fucked - also, you are paying $70 for 4 16 page adventures, which is fairly expensive)

Print and PDF copies of the Encounters book

Stretch: Bonus Content! Book goes to 64 pages

Stretch 2: Print and PDF copies of the First Bonus Adventure

Stretch 3: Print and PDF copies of the Second Bonus Adventure

Stretch 4: Print and PDF copies of the Third Bonus Adventure

Stretch 5: Print and PDF copies of the Fourth Bonus Adventure

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The DCC RPG Gaming Community is the Best I've Ever Seen - Hands Down

I mean it when I say the DCC RPG Community is damn awesome and the the most generous gaming community I've been a part of.

Why do I say that?

In no particular order:

I've had 2 readers of this blog send me their extra copies of a DCC adventure in print to use as prizes in DCC RPG contests. Yes, they spent their own money mailing me their extras so it could go to a worth entrant. Huzzah!

I've had amazing dealings with the 3rd party publishers of DCC Material. Dak gives away an issue of Crawl! with each contest. Purple Sorcerer, Purple Duck and Thick Skull Adventures have all donated PDF copies of their releases to the monthly contests (and starting next month, Purple Duck and Thick Skull will be donating PRINT copies!). There are other third party publishers that plan on adding to the mix when their products are released (and I'll mention them then). Giving away free stuff to the gaming community makes all of them aces in my book!

Occult Moon Games has been generous in donating copies of Toys For the Sandbox and other goodies, and Tim from Gothridge Manor donated a copy of The Manor for the September contest. Writers and publishers that aren't directly involved with the DCC RPG game still feel a part of the community, and they are.

We had 133 entries in the Zero Level Occupation Contest (I still need to make a proper list of the entries), 25 in the Design a Corruption Contest (amazingly well designed entries) and 52 for the Mercurial Magic Contest. This is you, the readers. Running these contests is fun for me because it's obviously fun for you. I thank you all.

I probably should spend more time on the Goodman Games forums, but I seem to find my DCC Community on the blog and Google+.

The current contest entries have had their names scrubbed from them and have been forwarded to the trio of judges. Winners should be announced sometimes this weekend.

Now I need to think of this month's contest...


Kickstarters That Take My Cash Before I Finish Reading the Page - Old School RPG (Computer Game)

Old School Role-Playing Game. Old school as in Bard's Tale, Ultimate and Wizardry. The just don't make game like this anymore, at least not on the corporate front. Loot Drop says they will (maybe even make 2 Old School Games if the stretch is hit.

Me? I cut my teeth on computer RPGs via the Commodore 64 back in the day. Sure, I had AD&D, but what about those hours where the rest of the group wanted to do things like eat, sleep, go to school and other useless crap? That's why I had all of the Ultimas, Bard's Tale, the AD&D SSI series of games, Wizardry, some really cool SSI game that I think had Darkness in it's title and had props like found map fragments and stuff but it kept on crashing on my C-64 ARRGH!

Where was I? Oh yeah, I really had fun with the Old School Style RPG computer games, so I'm kicking in to this kickstarter.

Some bits from the site:


Legendary, award-winning RPG designers and game industry veterans Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall are teaming up to create a classic, old-school RPG reminiscent of the true masterworks in the genre!

Brathwaite got her start on the classic Wizardry® series of role-playing games, having worked on every award-winning game in the series, before moving on to work on Dungeons & Dragons®, while Tom Hall's visionary design on Commander Keen™, Anachronox™ and DOOM™ set the standard for character development, world design and over-the-top immersion. We want to get back to our roots and create an old-school game worthy of 30 years of RPG fan devotion.


Gather your bearings and belongings, leave town, and embark on a journey in a world that seems at once welcoming and friendly... until you meet its dark side!

THE CHARACTERS

Characters: Create a group of up to 4 characters, choosing from multiple races and professions.

Skills: Balance your characters' strengths, weaknesses and skills, knowing each of them affects play.

Progression: Gain experience and gain levels to hone your characters to your exact liking.

Recruitable Characters: Hire NPCs to work with you, if you trust them, or allow them to hire you to be their guide.

Character Extensions (Stretch Goal): Wrestle with the old-school favorites from back in the paper days - alignment, age, rank and randomly-rolled temperament.

THE WORLD

Exploration: Explore a richly detailed world, home to unique, dangerous and sometimes crafty creatures who may be friend or foe.

Treasure: Loot castles, caverns and dungeons and defeat hordes of creatures in a world where your skill and cunning are key.

NPCs: At least five known NPC races call this world home. Forge alliances with them and do their bidding - or be their undoing.

Quests: Solve hundreds of quests on your way to discovering and uncovering the secrets of the world.
Multiple Endings: The smallest of intentions sometimes matters far more than you know. It is a world alive with memories.

Multiple Beginnings (Stretch Goal): The endings in one game affect the beginnings in another. Import your characters from one world to another.

Combat: Turn-based combat harkens back to the days when spells and swords hit hard and last-second healing spells saved the day.

NPC Enemies (Stretch Goal): What once was a relatively peaceful world becomes much more dangerous not only for you, but for those who live there. New NPCs come complete with an expanded game area and quests.

... AND MORE

Super Hardcore Mode (Stretch Goal) : Challenge yourself with Permadeath mode, no-save option and some optional but barely beatable bosses with the loot to prove their worth.

Pen & Paper RPG ($60 Reward Tier): Gather around a table and enjoy playing Old School RPG the seriously, really old school way.

Two Games, One Kickstarter ($1.9M Stretch Goal): Brenda and Tom make different, separate RPGs with unique worlds, quests and characters.

It's exactly the type of RPG we love to make and to play! We’ll put into the game all the passion we summoned for the award-winning RPGs we've worked on, and take you along for the ride. Even the mere mention of “old-school RPG” fills you with ideas, and we can’t wait to hear them!

You gain exclusive access to our forums where Tom and Brenda will chronicle every phase of the game’s development and invite your feedback into the game’s design.

You vote on design decisions when the team needs your input.

You receive regular video updates.

... and all the Kickstarter rewards to boot!

Roll High. Roll Low. Which Way Do You Go?

Instinctively I prefer game systems that are based on rolling high. Just how I'm wired I guess.

The thing is, even the system I cut my teeth on wasn't all "Roll High". AD&D is roll high for attacks, saving throws and damage, but it's low roll for thief skills, general hear noise skill and opening doors.

Of the percentile based systems, Runequest is pretty much roll low, WFRP is roll low if I recall correctly but RoleMaster is roll high. Actually, I think RM is more of a "Roll High" system than AD&D is. I should like it more than I do, but that might be tempered by the the shitload of charts in RM.

I'm wondering why I personally have an issue with "Roll Low" systems and subsystems when I've been using them for the last 30+ years.

So, roll high or roll low?


The September DCC RPG Contest is Closed - Next Step: Sending the Entries Off to the Judges

The September Mercurial Magic DCC Contest ended at 7pm last night. The game plan is to consolidate the entries and send copies of the list to the 3 judges, hopefully get results back by Saturday and post the results by the end of the weekend. Huzah!

Thanks to the entrants, the judges, the prize donators and everyone that reads this blog. Y'all rock!  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mini Review - Through the Cotillion of Hours (DCC RPG Adventure)

Through the Cotillion of Hours is a DCC RPG Adventure from Purple Ducks Games, and is the third in the Adventure Locations series.

Now, Through the Cotillion of Hours is not your normal adventure, either for the DCC RPG or pretty much any D&D type game (it should be noted that I think this would work well in ANY OSR game system, not just the DCC RPG). This is an adventure taking place in the realm of sleep, a dream world if you will. The players will have the opportunity to achieve something that they are questing for.

Since it is far from your usual adventure setting (and the adventure itself can kick off in the midst of another adventure) the usual rules don't necessarily follow. Time is the players' greatest foe, and it's passage is not always constant or consistant.

It is not a combat driven adventure (although players could certainly turn it into one). It's puzzle driven. Well, maybe not puzzle driven totally either. It requires thought. Not in the impossible "Lich Dungeon" manner either.

It's also a reusable adventure. If players fail in achieving their goal the first time, they may get summoned again at a later time. I like the whole concept, because it is not the normal adventure one would expect in any sense of the word.

The map is well done, and the inclusion of a unlabeled players map is always a boon for online groups. Purple Duck does a very good job with this as always.

Scott Ackerman does the art. Have I said enough great stuff about Scott's work (which also graces the header of this blog)? Much awesomeness. The piece I have above is one of Scott's works from the interior of the adventure. The cover is nice too, but this piece speaks more about the adventure than I can put into words.

If I were to make one suggestion, maybe the pieces could be put together again in the back of the adventure, for use a player aids or visuals. It's always shame when great art is seen only by one of the 5 or more people at the (virtual) gaming table. When I get a chance to run this, it will be with all the art saved and ready to be shown to the players when appropriate to set the mood and tone.

From the blurb:


Sooner or later, characters are going to want to quest to achieve some specific end – to raise a fallen comrade, to regain lost ability points, to discover a new spell, to find some new magic item…the possibilities are nearly endless. This scenario can occur at any time during the course of overland travel, and gives characters the opportunity to meet some of these goals.

In this adventure, sleeping characters are invited to the Cotillion of Somnos, the Dreaming God. If they can make their way past the entertainments at the Masked Ball, they can petition the Dreaming God to fulfill some request on their behalf.

Through the Cotillion of Hourse is a Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game adventure designed for any number of characters of any level.



D&D Next Fan Vids - The Ambush

While not quite as good as Cupcake, this one isn't bad either.

Too bad the archer isn't using the Attack the Darkness Houserules ;)


A Kickstarter That Looks Cool - But Will Not Fund - AfterEarth RPG



You know what? AfterEarth looks cool. The art is snappy. The want supporters to be involved in the design process. You can get the PDF for a buck if it funds.

It just won't ever fund.

144 backers. (78 in at a buck)

$4,163 raised

$35,000 goal with 14 days to go. It's also the first Kickstarter from the company.

Raising $4,000+ is no small feat, but needing to hit $35K put's this one out of reach for success.

Realistically, a $10k goal would have been a stretch (but would have allowed for stretch goals). The $1 buy in is great if you want to get updates for supporters only, but it isn't going to help fund the project.

Some bits from the site:

AfterEarth is a fantasy + post-apocalyptic role-playing game that uses playing cards as the primary rules resolution tool. We will open that game up, before we publish, to those who pledge. Pledges will be able to modify, add to, and vote on almost all aspects of the game and see that input in a published product. NPC's, art, monsters, races, roles, weapons, and various other game aspects can be voted on or submitted at different pledge levels and will be incorporated into the massive amount of work already done. We will back those pledges and contributions with professional art, editing, printing, art books, shirts, developer diaries, 1 on 1 contact with the developers, and various other rewards. Most importantly if we succeed even pledges who give a single dollar will get the entire book! Every pledge level includes at least a PDF of the book. This is the completed heart and soul of a group of people who want to share it with others.
The project is already 400+ pages. Once we collected everyones contributions we will combine it with the incredible amount of work that has already been created. It will be a world book, player handbook, game-master book, and monster manual all in one. 

Tenkar's Minor Magical Tidbits - The Dancing Dagger of Darok' Kar

The Dancing Dagger of Darok' Kar is a magical dagger than can fight on it's own, with little or no direction from it's owner. All the owner of the dagger must do is hold the dagger and say "Fight!" and it will engage the nearest hostile opponent. If there is a choice of opponents, it will engage opponents that target it's master first. At no point will it engage opponents further than 10' from it's master.

The Dancing Dagger of Darok' Kar fights with the same to-hit chance as it's owner's base chance. It does not impart a magical bonus to hit or damage, but it is considered to be a +1 weapon to determine creatures it can successfully damage. It can be targeted by a melee attack, and is considered to be AC 0/20 depending on the rules used. If it suffers 8 or more points of damage in a single blow, it falls to the ground until wielded again. It does not otherwise have Hit Points and can only be destroyed in the same manner as other magic items of the like (failed saving throws and such).

Using The Dancing Dagger of Darok' Kar does not use an action - the wielder can deploy the dagger and still attack with the weapon in the same round, or even cast a spell. It is a favored weapon of Arcane casters, as it enables them to engage opponents in melee while still casting spells or standing behind their "meat shields".

Monday, October 1, 2012

D&D Next Fan Vids - Cupcake


WotC has 8 fan vids of various quality posted on their site for D&D Next, and most are certainly watchable. The one above is my favorite by far, and the punchline doesn't come into the very end. It's worth the minute of your time.

Looking at Another Piece of Art From the DCC Rulebook - Treasure Trove


I was flipping through the DCC RPG rulebook just now, and I came across the above piece of art. I have no idea what it's proper name is, but I'm calling it Treasure Trove.

It got me thinking. Magic items are pretty rare and unique in the DCC RPG, and in this picture we have a sword, a dagger, a shield and a scroll. The sword itself is definitely "radiating" magic. There also appear to be magic torches shedding light on the whole scene.

Personally, I love it, because you know the two PCs that we see are expecting the other shoe to drop. Heck, the items are either on top of an altar or a sarcophagus - nothing good can happen when the sticky fingers start removing the loot.

Damn, this would make for an awesome image for the PCs to see in Barrowmaze 1 or 2.

And crap, never did do my magic item of the week this weekend. I'll have to bang it out either tonight or tomorrow.

More Thoughts on "Attacking the Darkness" - BAD ASS

Yep, I've got some more ideas for the Attacking the Darkness idea I wrote about yesterday.

First off, every subsystem needs an awesome acronym, so I'm introducing:

BAD ASS - Benefits from Attacking the Darkness, Advantages Shared and Simple


Attacking the Darkness: On a natural roll of 1, the character in question "Attacks the Darkness". Roll damage as if you had a successful hit. These points are added to the BAD ASS Pool.

BAD ASS Pool: Points are placed by the party in the BAD ASS Pool as described above. Points are accumulated in a per session manner, and unused points will be "cashed out" at the end of the game session.

At 25 points (and each interval of 25) the party has the option of converting 25 points into a BAD ASS token (you can use coins or just make a note of it). The BAD ASS Token, or BAT, can be used to reroll certain rolls during the game session. Some examples are as follows:

- A single attack roll (but not a natural 1)

- A saving throw

- An initiative roll (group or individual, depending on system used)

- A damage roll for a weapon or spell

- A skill roll, such as a thief's open locks or an elf's hear noise chance.

- A moral roll for a party member's henchman.

Points spent on BATs can't be cashed out at the end of the gaming session. They are gone.

Unused BATs can't be saved between sessions and will expire and the end of the gaming session.

Cashed out points are converted into expo on a 1 to 1 basis multiplied by the receiving character's level. Everyone in the party gets the full value of the cashed out points - they are not divided amongst the players.

I'll find out next Saturday how good my players are at accumulating and using their BAD ASS BATs 

The Votes Are In - People Want the Moldvay Boxed Set Reprinted Next

The Results are in and the Moldvay version of the D&D basic set (128 votes / 39% of voters included it) is the most requested TSR Era ruleset that folks would like to see back in print. I strongly suspect the D&D Rules Cyclopedia would have been neck and neck with Moldvay if I had only remembered to include it in the poll.  I'm giving it special mention, as it certainly led in the "write in votes" on G+ and the comments section of the posts here at the Tavern.

The OD&D Boxed Set came in at 111 votes (34% of votes) in both a boxed version AND as a hard cover compilation. Not too shabby. D&D Supplements I-V came in at a respectable 84 votes (26% of the vote). There is a lot of love for OD&D out there, at least from the readers of this blog (not a huge surprise).

B 1-9 led amongst the different compilations of the adventures with 86 votes (26%) and the Fiend Folio led the AD&D era books with 77 votes (23%).

So, Wizards, if you're listening, how about getting the Moldvay Basic Set and the Rules Compendium ready for repring after Unearthed Arcana. For old times sake ;)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Attacking the Darkness - A Way to Get Value Out of "Natural 1s" (Hat Tip to Greg Christopher)

So, last night I ran a session of Greg Christopher's Ambition & Avarice is James Mal's Dwimmermount (you can read a sort of recap of last night's session here).  There was a point in the session where it seemed like Natural Ones were coming up every other attack for the PCs. It was so damn depressing that someone yelled out "I attack the darkness!" and someone else suggested "roll damage" and they did.

It was at this point that Greg half jokingly said something to the effect of "You know, you should get a benefit for "attacking the darkness". As gamers are known to do, we passed ideas back and forth real quick. In the end, we decided to convert the damage to an expo poll, at straight up value. So, if the party "attacks the darkness" 13 times during the course of the session for 47 points of damage, there's 47 points of expo to distribute to the players. It's kind of like "learning from one's mistakes".

I'm going to take it a little further in the next session, because I like the idea of finding value in failure. This will be a "beta rule", which works as we are beta testing Ambition & Avarice.

Attacking the Darkness: On a natural roll of 1, the character in question "Attacks the Darkness". Roll damage as if you had a successful hit. These points are added to the Attacking the Darkness Pool.

Attacking the Darkness Pool: Points are placed by the party in the Attacking the Darkness Pool as described above. Points are accumulated in a per session manner, and unused points will be "cashed out" at the end of the game session. At 25 points (and each interval of 25) the party has the option of converting 25 points into a "bennie". The bennie can be used to reroll a single attack roll (but not a natural 1) or saving throw. Points spent on bennies can't be cashed out at the end of the gaming session.
Cashed out points are converted into expo on a 1 to 1 basis multiplied by the receiving character's level. Everyone in the party gets the full value of the cashed out points - they are not divided amongst the players


Dwimmermount - Session 1 Recap - Knocking Heads

So, last night I ran a party of six into Dwimmermount using the Ambitions & Avarice Ruleset. We used 2nd level characters, as I really didn't feel the need of picking bodies off the floor right from the start ;)

Greg, designer of A&A, has also played a session of Dwimmermount with James Mal, so it was decided the party would go in a different direction (as they had gone east in his session previously).

There are a few things I've learned in my years of gaming, but sometimes it takes a dungeon like Dwimmermount to drive the ideas home, such as:

- Given an assortment of levers, someone in the party will start randomly pulling them. If curiosity killed the cat, and cat's have nine lives, PCs invariably have more. In this case, the levers didn't kill any PCs. This time.

-Given an assortment of valves and spigots (or gods forbid, a Decenter of Endless Water), players will converse about the improbable ways in which they could flood all levels of the dungeon, as the PCs sit back at the pub watching their expo roll in. It ain't going to happen, but I've seen this scenario get brought up many a time before.

-Given an assortment of statues, someone in the party will attempt to start breaking off heads, prying out eyes, cracking off limbs or whatever it takes to get to the to the center of a tootsie roll tootsie pop. Just like in the commercial, getting to the center makes noise, which brings the risk of Wandering Monsters.

-Given an opportunity to use fire against an adversary, PCs will use fire. I look forward to my next opportunity for my NPCs to respond in kind.

-Given an opportunity to recover a hostage that the hostage takers believe the PCs are looking to rescue, someone in the party will invariably ask the hostage: "Dude, what's your name" before negotiations even begin.

-Halflings are squishy, no matter the rule set.

So yes, we'll be picking this back up next Saturday. It was a blast and Dwimmermount and Ambitions & Avarice go together like peanut butter and chocolate ;)