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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where Are the "Free RPG Day" PDFs?

This is the first year I haven't seen talk of Free RPG Day PDFs, but it's always possible I'm looking in the wrong places.

Some publishers don't do PDF versions, and some that wait a week or two to release them, but usually there's some info on them.

Ah well.

Missed out on the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls adventure and the Goodman Games DCC / XCrawl combo at Noble Knight - guess I should have stayed up last night ;)

edit: +Erik Jensen is working on a list of Free RPG Day PDFs

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tell Us About Your Favorite Monster and You May Win a PDF Copy of "Monsters & Magic"


Thanks to the generosity of Mindjammer Press I have a PDF copy of Monsters & Magic to give away.

All you need to do it comment below about your favorite monster and why it rates that way. See, pretty simple.

For me, its the Flumpf, because it's the first thing I think of when I think of D&D monsters. The Fiend Folio was my first monster book, even before the Monster Manual, and the flumph sticks out as the most useless creature one could ever dream up. For some stupid reason, I still love it ;)

So, comment below before 10 PM NYC time on June 16, 2013 (that's this coming Sunday) for your chance to win a PDF copy of Monsters & Magic. One random commenter will get the loot.

Appendix N Adventure Toolkits Have Arrived! (DCC RPG Kickstarter Adventure Series)


Lo and behold! I have in my possession five (yes five) copies of The Ruins of Ramat and five (yes five) copies of The Vile Worm!

Brave Halfling is in the house and he's made an excellent showing.

Seriously, as much as i enjoyed reading the PDF copies of both of these, the dead tree versions are simply amazing. Professional covers, striking maps, player handouts, nice art. It's almost like Christmas in July - but it's still June ;)


Sure, they would have been nice at Christmas, but I'm happy to have them now.

So, why all of the copies of Appendix N? For the summer of DCC RPG Contests silly! I still have some dead tree copies of DCC Adventures donated by Thick Skull and Purple Duck - so yes, I will be frequenting the post office this summer.

What will be the contest themes? Damn to all heck if I know, but we'll figure that out in time :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

If There's One Thing I Can't Stand It's Blatant IP Theft...


There is an author blatantly ripping off the Mystara setting for her line of fiction. Amazingly enough, she has been getting away with it for years (oh, and stealing art and maps too while she's at it.

+Timothy Brannan has the details here and here at the Other Side Blog and more at the Mystara Facebook Page.

I'm surprised Wizards dropped the ball on this one for as long as they have.

Just adding my voice to increase the volume...

A Kickstarter Whose Call I Need to Resist - Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition


Call of Cthulhu is one of those great games that I never play and pretty much know I never will. I have an earlier boxed set and the 6th edition softcover (and the D20 C0C book and campaign book).

I love to read the associated adventures and even kicked in for the Horror on the Orient Express for $70.

Do I really need yet another edition of the rules that I'll probably never get to play?

Maybe, but I am sure as hell trying to resist the luring call of the CoC 7th Edition Kickstarter. The sweet point on this one is 100 bucks, and I've got enough already tied up in not yet due / due / overdue / way fucking over due Kickstarters that my wife could probably use it in divorce proceedings if she ever found out ;)

15 days left in this one.

So far I'm doing okay.

Just broke out the 6th edition rules to feed my fix ;)

Review - Monsters & Magic - Part 1 - Familiar Yet Strange (OSR "New Wave" Ruleset)


Alright, I know there really isn't any OSR "New Wave" category or label. Maybe I should have used "OSR / Fate hybrid". Monsters & Magic feels very familiar to the OSR that I know until it doesn't. Maybe I need to explain that a bit.

The intent of the author when writing M&M was to combine the classic feel, gameplay and most importantly (at least from my POV) compatibility to the OSR / Classic / pre 3e adventures and sourcebooks while also including more modern gaming concepts from the "narrative" side of the gaming fence.

I guess Dungeon World does this to some sense, but it really isn't "plug and play" with OSR and classic D&D adventures.

Anyway, back to M&M. It's built on the same classic ability score you know and love. You can even roll 3d6 in order if that's the way you make your players roll.  Score range from 3-18.

M&M includes all of the classic AD&D classes (including all of the usual sub-classes), the usual races (even Gnomes and Half-orcs) and the races have the abilities you expect, even if they are redefined as traits. Heck, it even includes racial restrictions to classes (although if every other race can have clerics, I dont see why halflings can't)

Weapon damage pretty much uses the dice you'd expect. It all feels very familiar, until you realize the system has done away with the d20.

I'll let that sink in for a few seconds, as it's near sacrilege amongst much of the old school.

Monsters & Magic does not use a d20.

Instead, M&M uses 3d6 with modifiers added to the total for task resolution / checks / combat / etc. Which actually makes prefect sense, as the bell curve makes a really high roll (or low one) less likely and makes modifiers more important. Look at that. I'm okay with losing the d20 ;)

Did I mention you have two types of hit points, physical and mental? You even get different sized hit dice to roll.

Interestingly enough, most monsters from classic sources are easy enough to convert to M&M. The more comfortable you are with the idea that "close enough" is good enough, the easier the conversion process. That goes with converting characters and NPCs over too. The play is different but the "data" need to run things is pretty much the same, its just the interpretation that differs.

Time to break for the moment. In part II I'll start by talking about "Advancements", which are sorta like powers, feats, skills - and then some. They are integral in personalizing your PC. Oh, and I'll "scales of play", which includes domain level play and more. And of course the more "narrative" aspects of play such as effect points.

Monsters & Magic is a very similar and very different take on the D&D I know.

(Hey, I have a free PDF copy of Monsters & Magic to give away! - expect a post later tonight on the give-away)




When Did You Play Your First RPG Session?

I remember my first RPG session very clearly. It was a one on one session with my friend Kenny as the DM and me with my fighter Cyrus. AD&D DMG, dice and graph paper. Not even a Player's Handbook.

I THINK is was during the 7th grade, after school one winter day, but I'm not 100% sure it was the 7th grade. There is a small chance it could have been 8th grade. Still, most likely my first RPG session was in early 1980.

I would have been 12.

Over 33 years ago.

I did have a huge gap from March of 1997 to late 2007 where I didn't game. I bought, I collected and I read, but I didn't game. I had no group until I took the plunge into Fantasy Grounds 2.

Hmm, so about 23 years of gaming in that stretch. About half a lifetime, as I turn 46 this summer.

I guess I need to make up for that 10 year gap ;)

So, what year did the world of RPGs open up for you?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mini Review: d20pfsrd.com Presents Open Gaming Monthly #3 (OGL Magazine)


Let me preface this with the following observation: I did not expect this Pathfinder centric magazine to fit my gaming needs and for the most part it met those exceptions.

Moving on to the review:

d20pfsrd.com presents Open Gaming Monthly #3 is an OGL magazine, but the truth is it's pretty much Pathfinder (there is an M&M article). It's well put together, attractive to look at and the articles that are generic / statblock-less are pretty. It's a nautical / pirate themed issue, so it has a lot that would fit into a Razor Coast / Pathfinder game (Swords & Wizardry GMs have their work cut out for them converting).

My highlight was Port Parley, a shared world article. I'd need to go back and grab issues 1 and 2 to see if it's a regular feature, but I assume it is. I like world building. I like new worlds. This was cool.

I'd guess most of this issue would be awesome for Pathfinder players, but in truth, all OGM #3 did for me is remind me why I don't play Pathfinder - a creature's stat block can take up an entire page, endless feats, magic items that can use their own chapter (alright, I'm exaggerating, but not by much).

Actually, before I got back into actually gaming, 3.5 and Pathfinder seemed like cool systems. Once I returned to the fold, I found the complications to be an albatross around my ability to actual play the game.

Yeah, I know, old age and all that shit.

If you are skilled at Pathfinder, this actually looks like an awesome magazine for you. If you don't mind converting Pathfinder to a more OSR suitable format, this isn't a bad investment. For folks like me, there's too much work needed to put this in a format that fits my needs.

My "Free RPG Day" Targeted Acquisition List ;)

Free RPG Day is this Saturday. I really can't think of a better day then the day right before Father's Day.

This year I have the following items on my list of targets:

Hall of Bones from Frog God Games

Better Than Any Man from LotFP

The DCC RPG / XCrawl combo from Goodman Games

Fire Dwarves of Zorr” for dT&T from Flying Buffalo

and maybe Shadows of the Black Sun from FFG

Of course, the family responsibilities will have me at my in-laws in Connecticut for most of the day, so I expect I'll be hitting Noble Knight Games' online store as I did the last two years.

With Noble Knight, you can pick one free item for every $15 (if i recall correctly - I could be wrong) in purchases you make.

So, I have two questions to throw out there to y'all:

1 - What are you looking to pick up on Free RPG Day?

2 - Any suggestions for RPGs I should be looking to buy to qualify for the free rpgs? I know the Warhammer 40k stuff is fun to read, even if I'll never get a chance to run it ;)

"Monsters By Email" Coming to an End? (Stock Art)

Nicholas Cloister does some amazing artwork. Recently, he experimented with the idea of a subscription for fantasy stock art. The art is amazing. Regretfully, the experiment is not as successful as Nicholas had hoped.
As it looks right now, Monsters By Email hangs by a thread. Before I actually started the subscription, I was able to gather enough interest every day, to make it look very hopeful, but since I started the actual work on the product, that has not been the case. It seems I need to promote MonstersByEmail full time to attract enough attention, but when I do, there is no time to create the content.  : )

The funds will last me two more months, but a subscription period is four months, so I’m very uncertain at this point, whether or not I should initiate another round, or go back to full-time freelancing, keeping MonstersByEmail in hibernation. The number of subscribers is about 1/4 of what it needs to be, and 1/8 of what I prefer it to be.
I love the art, but the restrictions on use are severe:
A subscription to 'Monsters by eMail' includes non-exclusive rights to 50% of the creatures received. Creature number 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15... and so on (every odd number) - yes, you can only use half of the art you receive
You cannot publish the creatures visibly on the Internet, without my permission (just write and ask). This restriction includes displaying previews of printed t-shirts, book-covers, and other printed products online. Can't use the art on blogs or to advertise without asking for permission
You must wait at least one month from the point when you receive the creatures before you publish any of them. why does one need to wait to use it?
There are other restrictions, but these are the most onerous.

Great art, good idea but a failure to execute is due to the restrictions place on the use of the art, not the art itself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is There a Current List of all the OSR Zines?

I ask, because I'd like to list them and their associated websites when I get Unofficial OSR out at the end of the summer.

Our corner of the hobby is small but tight, and additional exposure does the OSR as a whole a good thing.

I may also include a listing of all of the OSR games, but I think I'm more likely to finish that list on my own than the zine list. Zines are more like to fall through the cracks and can be harder to track down.

Print, PDF or both. I know of a bunch that are defunct these days, but I'd like to support the ones I haven't found yet ;)

More "Pay What You Want" Products, Now From UnderCity Games - Lairs and Nightmares

Nope, never heard of them before, but they do seem to have two products that appear to be potentially useful in the OSR-verse.

The first is Nightmare of Tarring Hollow, a low level OSR adventure. It's short at about a dozen pages.

The second is Classic Lairs, which is an assortment of small dungeons and lairs.

Do i think either one is worth the suggested $9.99 price?

Lets see, I could get Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea for just a penny more.

I put these two in the "try before you buy category", although Classic Lairs certainly has more potential for use.

"Unofficial OSR" Envelopes the "Copper Droppings" Zine

Here's today's second announcement:

I'm going with the title "Unofficial OSR" for the fanzine under The Grumpy Dwarf as the publisher, as feedback that I've gotten indicates that many folks would prefer a zine that covers the whole of the OSR.

So, with a spread starting with ACKS and Ambition & Avarice and running through Raggi's Weird Fantasy and everything in between, there is a lot of ground to cover.

That doesn't mean the end of Copper Droppings before it even starts. Copper Droppings will be it's own section, edited by +Michael Garcia and will be exclusively Swords & Wizardry - so yes, a zine within a zine. Think of the old Dragon issues with the Ares section.

I'll be aiming for Sept 1, 2013 for release - if we can hit earlier, great, but this timeline gives me 2 weeks of vacation a and 2 1/2 months to get things up and running.

Same payment plan for submissions - beer money and you keep the rights to your work ;)

submissions for Unofficial OSR should be sent to tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom

submissions for Copper Droppings should be sent to socialATdeadratpublishingDOTcom

Cut off for Issue 1 submissions is August 3, 2013

(if time and ability permits, there may be a "Zero Issue" release -

"The Grumpy Dwarf" Tries His Hand at Publishing



Yep, I'll be putting some gaming stuff out under my own "label" if you will. I'm still involved with Dead Rat Publishing, but certain projects work better under different set ups. The Grump Dwarf will allow for those projects.

Huge thanks to +Greg Christopher who put the above together without being asked. It is inspirational :)

I'll have another announcement later today with a bit more substance ;)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Not so "Grim" Reaper - Shipping to Start... Soon?


First, a quick note about Origins. We had been looking forward to seeing you there, but unfortunately we won't be there this year in a booth. Our brother Tim Peaslee will be running demos, so be sure to say hi to him when you're there. We can't do a proper booth this time around because we simply can't spare the labor right now. 
Why can't we spare the labor? 
Friday, June 7th, we received two 40ft containers full of Bones! For those of you keeping track at home, those containers were filled with over 470,000 models. We're still looking for the last container to be delivered next week, but we have enough to start shipping now. 
What's next? 
We've unloaded the containers (we have the bruises to prove it). We're getting those models organized into our system and firing up our fulfillment line this week.
We know we're behind our estimated ship date of March, so we've added a second shift for fulfillment so we can process the packages very nearly 'round the clock. We're doing everything we can to blast through these pledges so you can receive your Bones as quickly as we can manage it.
Dare I hope for delivery before the first week of july?

What's on Your Desktop?


No, not your computer desktop. I'm talking your desk's desktop.

Heck, I'm not even talking about the computer that is most probably on your desktop - instead I'm talking about gaming books and the like. Or in my case, a cat and a food dish ;)

Gaming-wise it's Rappan Athuk for S&W, Monstrosities (again S&W), Swords & Wizardry Complete, Crypts & Things, LL and the LL AEC, Tunnels & Trolls 5.5, Evolved Grottoes & Griffins, S&W Core and Maelorum (a solo game book)

So, what's on your desktop?

Pick a Die, Any Sized Die!

With the DCC RPG release last year, the number of weird sided dice has exploded (exploding dice is a sort of game pun, son). It got me thinking about my favorite sided die and the one I like the least.

This is pure random thought processing, either at it's worst or it's best. Time itself will tell, but dice are by their very nature random generators, so at least there is some kind of link ;)

Favorite die? The d8. I suspect you expected I would say a d20, but the d8 holds a special place for me. It's the damage a longsword does against small and medium creatures. I also came in some board game (I no longer remember which) back in the mid 80's, and the extra dice were raided for inclusion in my then small RPG dice collection.

Least favorite die? The d7. Holy shit but this is one ugly fucker. Really, I can't think of an uglier die - size, shape, available colors - all scream "I am an awkwardly ugly piece of shit".

I'd like to know your favorite sized die, but even more importantly, the die you like the least ;)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

If You Were to Run an "Epic Level" One Shot, What System and / or Adventure Would You Use?

One of the things that came up during Saturday's "Gathering of Fools" was the idea of an "Epic Level" One-Shot to be run this summer for my old gaming group. Face to face, six hours or so.

When I asked what levels were considered "Epic" (as the group stopped playing during the 2e age, ignore the 3e and later labels) I was told "a high enough level where the Paladin has a +5 Holy Avenger and others have some sort of minor artifacts".

So I'm guessing a swath from 13-16 or so, depending on class. It was suggested I create pre-gens, which I will, but I expect to base them off of the last characters the group members played.

I also pointed out to them that the AD&D we played was no where near "by the book", and the rules we used were pretty much pared down on an unspoken group consensus. What we played comes very close to Swords & Wizardry Complete, although I'd have to tweak the classes a bit to make them closer to their AD&D counterparts. (as an aside, I may just work that into a post at some point - bridging the gap between S&W Complete and AD&D 1e).

So, I'm leaning towards using S&W Complete for the session - no idea what to run. Anything in the S series is probably ok, as it will only be a 4 member party and they tended to run without a cleric back in the days ;)

Any other suggestions for system or adventure or both?

Where o' Where is My Reaper Bones Kickstarter? Did an Ogre Get in it's Way?

Where o' where can it be?

When it comes to tracking my Kickstarters, I pretty much focus on the RPGs, so I really haven't touched on two of the other long overdue Kickstarters that I supported. I'm in a pissed off mood for other reasons today, so I figured this would be a good outlet ;)

Reaper Bones Kickstarter
Goal: $30,000     Total: $3,429,235     Funded: August 25, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: March, 2013     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped / Shipped / Go Figure

If all you asked for was the basic "Vampire" level, you probably already have your stuff. If you did any sort of add-ons, the "slow boat from China" literally left 2 weeks ago, 3 more weeks before it arrives, and then thousands and thousands of orders to sort and ship. I guess shipping will resume sometime in July. At this rate, I suspect both of my scheduled vacations will have passed before I see my order.

There have also been complaints on the retail level that the Kickstarter tied up production and shipping of other minis from Reaper. I'm not sure if this will be a be a boon or a hinderance for Reaper in the long run and frankly I just don't care - I want my shit!

Ogre Designer's Edition
Goal: $20,000     Total: $923,680     Funded: May 11, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: November 2012     Actual Ship Date: Aiming for October 2013

Apparently box design could be it's own college major, as the box and box tays seem to have been  the biggest delay in the oversized and delayed project.

Sure, Steve Jackson Games has kept us updated with photos and photos of all of the shit they are cramming into the already oversized Ogre box, so none of this is a huge surprise, but the nearly 5 months from last update (June 3) to projected shipping (October 21) is more than a minoir annoyance.

I need to dig out my Pocket Ogre and GEV games and relive old times. Just need to keep away from any breezes and fans and not bump the table, as the original game was easy to upset.

I will not be supporting the upcoming Car Wars Kickstarter - I'll buy that when it hits retail.

Wow, much less obnoxious then I expected when starting this post. I must be calming down or something ;)


Results of the Online Swords & Wizardry Convention Poll


I'd say there is enough interest in this to start thinking about how to make this work. I think the most important thing is To Keep it Simple. At it's root it should be no more complicated than arranging some game and interviews via Google Hangouts. No virtual publisher tables, no virtual retailer booths, no bullshit.

Now, maybe if you show up for a game the GM might have a discount link to share with you for some S&W products - that would be cool and a nice reward for playing (as online "pick up" games can get a little flakey). I'm not saying this would be the set up - I'm just throwing thoughts out there that I think are cool.

Anyway, looking at a weekend after Labor Day here in the states. Which gives me three months to screw this up ;)