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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moving to the Top of the Review Pile is... City-State of the Sea Kings


The readers have voted, and City-State of the Sea-Kings has made it to the top of the review pile here at the Tavern. I'll start digging into it heavy tomorrow.

Close behind it will be the Adventures Dark and Deep Player's Manual.

Rounding out the top 5 are Five Ancient Kingdoms, Whitehack and Arrows an Indra.

The above will all have multi part (or continue) reviews. Those not in the top five, as well as other items that crop up (like some DCC RPG adventures - hint, hint) will get the usual mini-reviews inter-spread amongst the longer reviews.

Tomorrow I'll award the random RPGNow Gift Certs. One will be awarded on the G+ side and three on the blog side.

Fun stuff.


On a personal note - the family dog has been in the local animal hospital since last night - she had two seizures late last night and one overnight at the hospital. She seems stable now, and we hope to take her home tomorrow night. She's already on three meds twice a day for her heart condition and it looks like we'll be adding a new medication to the mix. She's soon to be 12, and we treat every day we have with her as a blessing. We'll gladly take kind thoughts and prayers for her well being. She doesn't get into many photos, as she can't jump up on my desk like my cat can ;)

Pay What You Want - Westward Basic (Open D6 Steampunk Western)


There. I said it. Westward is a "steampunk western". Wasn't there a TV series a little while back that hit on both themes?

Personally, I really like the D6 ruleset, even in it's various flavors. I have fond memories of WEG Star Wars, and it's a simple enough system to learn with a decent amount of options. Well, that and the core D6 books are free. As in, well, free. Oh, and OGL. So have a blast.

Westward, the "steampunk western" comes in 2 flavors. "Pay what you want" (slightly crippled - no printing, no copy / paste, etc) and a full usable (printable) version for 10 bucks. The contents are the same in each, and neither requires other rules - they are self contained.

So, here's my advice. Pay NOTHING for the PWYW version of Westward. Set some time asides, as it's over 350 pages long with some decent color art. If you like what you see, and want to actually use it, as a GM or player, plop down the $10 for the full, printable version. Why pay twice?

I do suggest grabbing a copy of Westward, even it it's just for ideas in other games. The price is right.

From the blurb:

Westward Premium is the HighResolution version of Westward.  Buy the Premium Edition to remove the watermark, enable copy and paste, and printing!

In the distant future, a massive crew of brilliant explorers and their families set out to start a new world in a massive starship, the Chrysalis, but instead, they find Westward, a desolate and barren landscape ripe with adventure and danger! Far from Earth, their starship crash lands on this massive planet. This is where they form their colony, the Capital City. With scarce resources and a need for more, Humans begin expanding away from the city. With the need to survive, people turn to the ever-evolving Steamtech to stay alive. The places between the city and its prefects and forts are the Badlands. These regions are wild and known for outcast Humans, called Ferals, and bandit raiders. Amidst the treachery and betrayal of the steamtech-laden Capital City, or the danger and adventure of the desolate wild badlands, there are tall tales to tell. What is yours?

Westward is a fast paced, cinematic role playing game that uses OpenD6, made popular by West End Games. Whether by air or land, players can travel to every corner of the Westward world, exploring their imaginations and finding the new frontier!

For 3 or more players, playable in 30 minutes. (is this 30 minutes from opening the book to running the first adventure, or 30 minutes sessions? Either is intriguing.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Review Pile" Voting So Far Has "City-State of the Sea Kings" on Top

As of this posting, City-State of the Sea Kings has 21 votes between the blogside and G+ (G+ has been fairly quite).

The other front runners are Adventures Dark and Deep Players Handbook, Arrows of Indra, Five Ancient Kingdoms and Whitehack (all with 10+ votes).

There's a complete listing of the slush pile (and vote placing) going on on this post.

Voting is open until tomorrow (Saturday night). I'll close the voting whenever tomorrow's game session wraps up.

For every 20 vote posts (unique, you can only vote once but may vote for up to 3 items to be reviewed) or fraction of 20 posts, I'm putting a $5 RPGNow Gift Certificate into the random prize pool. The blogside currently has 2 GCs in the pool (to be awarded Sunday) and the G+ side currently has 1 GC in it's pool.

Help decided what gets moved to the top of the review pile!

(max of 5 gift certificates will be awarded on the blogside and a max of 5 gift certificates will be awarded on the G+ side - other reviews may crop up of shorter products / immediate gratification / just because - but for the major reviews, the readers will be selecting the order)

How Encumbering is Encumbrance in Your Campaigns?

Do you strictly track encumbrance? Hand wave it? Ignore it? Give everyone in the party Bags of Holding and hope it all goes away?

I find myself somewhere between ignoring and hand waving. Trying to jump over a pit trap? What are your carrying. Otherwise, I dont give it much thought, as the play is the game, not the number crunching.

Still, LotFP has a decent semi-abstract encumbrance system that doesn't seem to be overtaxing.

How do you handle encumbrance in your games?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Bundle of Holding - Pay What You Want for a Bundle of FATE


Lets see, for as little as $4, you get FATE Core, FATE Accelerated, Spirit of the Century (my personal introduction to FATE), Full Moon and Ehdrigohr.

Beat the average price folks are paying (as I type this, its a hair over 12 bucks) you also get Starblazer Adventures, Legends of Anglerre, the Kerebos Club and any future additions to the bundle.

If you are "FATE Curious", this is you opportunity to get a ton of FATE for a really cheap price.

Did I mention it's all DRM free?

It's one hell of a Bundle of Holding

I'm in at $14 myself ;)

Vote on What Gets Moved to the Top of the Tavern's Review Pile - Because it's a Damn Big Pile!

I have a shitload of stuff to review, and I'm failing badly at doing so. Work is taking up more time then it had (which means overtime and more money to spend on goodies, so I'm not really complaining) but it does mean free time is at a premium.

So, I'm letting you vote on what gets moved to the top of the review pile (one random voter gets a $5 RPGNow credit, so there is an added bonus in voting).

In no particular order:

Adventures Dark & Deep Players Manual - a AD&D 2e "what if".

City State of the Sea Kings - a new Wilderlands sourcebook / campaign.

Five Ancient Kingdoms - a new arabic twist to a classic ruleset - and no D20's either

Whitehack - a nice, compact OSR style game that steps away from the OSR

Arrows of Indra - OSR gaming inspired by the subcontinent of India

The Dungeon Alphabet, Expanded Third Printing - do I need to explain what this is? ;)

Stoneheart Valley - just noticed the S&W version says "Pathfinder" on the cover - that's going to make for some confusing retail sales.

Tome of Horrors 4 - the latest monster book from Frog God

The Free City of Eskadia - a city book for C&C

Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition - cause Halloween is right around the corner

Army Ants RPG - 'cause I almost forgot ;)


I'll leave the voting up through Saturday evening.

Vote on the blog or G+. Vote for up to 3 choices. All picks get equal weight.


Do You Use Alignment in Your Campaigns?

I use it, but there are times I wonder why I bother.

Alignment is rarely a driving force in any of the games I've run, and my interpretation of the different alignments and the interpretations of my players rarely meet. Yes, even after reading the exact same section in the rules. Needless conflict ;)

I'm beginning to wonder if more general good / indifferent / evil type of axis would be more effective in future campaigns for my usual group. More latitude and less "various interpretations".

So, do you use alignment as is? Do you tweak it? Drop it all together?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Name Me Some Good Games For "Pick Up and Play" Roleplaying

The last few months for my gaming group have been hit or miss - at times, of the 8 in the group, only 3 or 4 can make a session. Not an easy way to move on with a campaign of DCC that usually has 6 or 7 players / PCs when we game.

And yeah, that is a sign of the summer months, but I'd like to be prepared in any case.

This means the sessions we wind up short either become yap sessions (not bad in and of itself) or get canceled outright.

So, looking for ideas of RPGs that can be run with little set up, short rules, easy to throw and adventure together, doesn't rely on niche protection and can handle small parties.

Throw your ideas and me and lets see what sticks ;)

First Look - City State of the Sea Kings (Judges Guild Wilderlands)


This book is more massive than I expected. City-State of the Sea Kings clocks in at 380 pages and a map. The map itself is two-sided. One side has the numbered hex map of the Isle, the other side has the map of the city. Both are very well done.

I didn't realize that this is one of the last projects that Bob Bledsaw senior had an active hand in (but I found out that and more reading the foreword - good thing I didn't skip that like usual).

It uses the "Judges Guild Universal System" for stats, which is easier to understand and convert (for me at least) then the system used in Lich Dungeon and the like. Still would have preferred OSR generic, but the system used has history behind it and is familiar to many.

Layout is easy on the eyes (I do wonder about all of the highlighting throughout the text, but maybe that will sort itself out with a solid read).

You probably could run a full campaign from beginning to end on this isle.

I want to move this to the top of my review pile - but that pile is getting friggin huge! Still, City-State of the Sea Kings is calling to me - loudly.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What is Your Favorite OSR "Clone" Ruleset?


I have a fairly decent list of OSR ruleset to the right of this post, but I'm sure it's incomplete.

Anyhow, my favorite OSR "Clone" (and a clone is in no way needs to be a prefect copy of the source material in this definition I'm using - it's more flavor and spirit than rule and letter) would be Swords & Wizardry Whitebox Edition if you are going by the actual boxed set. There is something about the box itself that just makes it special. The Deeper Delving Boxed set fails to recapture the same magic.

If I want an AD&D feel without the clutter, I'd go S&W Complete. Labyrinth Lord AEC comes damn close, but the need of two rulebooks compare to the one of S&W Complete is the tie breaker for me, if you will.

So, what are your preferred "clones"?


Monday, September 9, 2013

Quick "Overdue Kickstarters" Updates for September 2013


I know my mostly regular update is long overdue, so here are some quick pieces to hold you over ;)

Appendix N - I got mine, but most folks ain't got their. Folks are getting antsy.

Far West - there's talk about the PDF of the rules being released this month. Normally I'd laugh dismissively, but I just had my backer portrait emailed to me, so I can actually say "there's been some progress".Still hopelessly late.

The Perfect Beer Drinking Vessel and Private Keg! - not a gaming product, but I'd really like this by the end of the year. Updates fairly frequently.

OpenQuest 2 - just got the PDF today. Reminds me a bit of RQ2. I need to sit down and read this. I also need more time to do all of the things I want to do. Almost off the list.

Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe - didn't hit a GenCon release. Foolish me, I though it actually would ;)

Kingdom Death: Monster - delayed. Not a surprise. Yes, I bought into the miniature boardgame porn. Fuck you all, I'll make my wife play it with me...

Dungeon Deck: Quests - last update 9/7, stating that the overdue project still hadn't shipped from India - promised and update when there was something to update, so I guess a month later it still hasn't found its way onto a boat.

Tavern Cards - last update 8/4. Estimated to ship back in April. It's not the lateness so much as the lack of communication that irks me.

The Skies Over Danbury - Dungeon World Adventures - Barely late, but the last update was back in June, and it was awaiting layout by an overworked, over committed, layout artist. Ah well.

Tales From the Fallen Empire: Sword and Sorcery Setting - was it really due back in January?

Myth & Magic Player's Guide - 2E Revived and Updated!!! - he says it's shipping. Supposedly 98 shipments went out, apparently to folks that don't do social media, as I've failed to spot a copy "in the wild". Who knows, maybe one of my readers has a copy and can show us - for real yo!

Quantum Roleplaying Game: An ALL NEW Science Fantasy RPG - it's been a month since the last update, which wasn't much of anything. Can we just put a fork in this one? I've lost all interest. April 2012 was so long ago...

Dwimmermount - I really wish Tavis and company all of the best, but this project is cursed. It's given me lots of blogging material, so maybe I've already gotten my monies worth... or not. I'm one of the asses that went in for the vinyl maps.

Nystul's Fiascos - one for all, and all for naught. Thank God I didn't put in at the "Dwarven Stein" level to round out my drinking vessels collection. Shift responsibility away from "Mad Mike" and on to others - Mike is slick, I'll give him that.

Ogre - maybe in time for this Christmas?

Risus - this was due back in August of 2012 - I'm kinda glad I missed that boat



Games from the Basement - The Primal Order



So, I'm currently digging through what is now the living room closet (formerly my bedroom before renovations) as I'm looking to add some soundproofing to the back of it (my son's room is on the other side). In the course of moving stuff out of the top (nearly all gaming material) I came across this gem - The Primal Order from Wizards of the Coast from back in 1994.

Yep, that's before they bought out TSR and grabbed D&D and all of the rest.

Now, look at the back cover (or at least, the part of the back cover I took a picture of.

Notice and game missing from that list?


I guess TSR - They Sue for Real was the sleeping giant they didnt want to stir up.

I never used this. Heck, i barely remembered I owned it. Interesting to look at after 20 years...











Sunday, September 8, 2013

What is Your Favorite Classic "Old School" Gaming Module / Adventure?



I was thinking about all of the great (and not so great) modules I picked up in my teens and early 20's - mid 80's to early 90's - and I find myself surprised that my favorite modules of the era are not from TSR. Heck, they aren't for (A)D&D at all.

Instead, they are for RuneQuest 2 - the Chaosium edition.

Pavis and Big Rubble, because in truth, they are just two parts that make up one exciting sandbox.

I ran this in both RQ3 and RQ2, using the Chaosium boxed sets that I picked up at a con held at Columbia University back in 86 or 87. The boxes had some shelf wear and crushing going on, but their contents were intact. It didn't hurt that I picked up a HC of the RQ2 rules from the same vendor.

I suspect if I had found Judges Guild's Wilderlands back in my early gaming days, my answer to the question would have been made a bit harder to come to - probably the same conclusion, just not so clear cut.

So, what's your favorite classic "old school" gaming module / adventure?

Mini Review - Tome of Horrors 4 (S&W Monster Book)



I'm a big fan of The Tome of Horrors Complete for Swords & Wizardry. It's a hefty tome, but it adds so many options for OSR styles gaming as far as monsters go, it's almost indispensable. Almost. The price is a horror for many, even if the hard cover includes a PDF copy in the price.

Did I mention my wonderful cat knocked a glass of water off the desk and onto my copy of The Tome of Horrors Complete below? That was a year or so ago. Damage was minimal and obviously she (the cat) still lives.

ToH Complete isn't so complete anymore, with the addition of Tome of Horrors 4. $44.95 for the print + PDF (and 5 bucks for the Pathfinder version and 50+ pages - Pathfinder certainly can be a bloated system). Is it worth you dollars?

It depends.

Are you a completist? If you own ToH Complete, you'll certainly want ToH4.

Are you a monster junkie? This is a well presented monster book with awesome art and an adventure seed for each monster.

Are you writing your own adventures for you group? You can keep them on their toes by introducing monsters from the ToH series.

Are you running a published campaign / series of modules / megadungeon? Much less valuable for you.

ToH4 is very well done and is worth the price for me, but it may not be for you. It's a bit of a niche product. Monstrosities is probably the monster book to start with if you need a basic monster book for your OSR campaign.