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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Five Years of Drinking...er, Posting at The Tavern


As I mentioned last night, today is the 5th anniversary of Tenkar's Tavern.

Simply fuckin' amazing.

Seriously, I never thought it would get this far along. Heck, when I started the blog, I had no real idea exactly what I was going to be blogging about. I think the Amazon Kindle as a PDF reader was on the list of things to review.


In the beginning, I expect the bulk of the hits The Tavern got were from me, checking out my own postings and in awe that anyone would want to read such. In truth, in the beginning, it wasn't a well well or well done blog.

Today, it is a fairly well read blog. As for being well done? Obviously, I'm partial.

I've made some genuine friends through this wonderful blog of ours and found myself to be an active part of an amazingly productive and exciting community. It really is "this blog of ours", because without you, the readers, I'd be doing the writing equivalent of masturbation - or at least, that's what my Creative Writing professor in college would say. Thanks to all of you I'm at no risk of going blind - at least not from writing ;)


I'd list all of the friendships and comrades in crime that I've made thanks to The Tavern over the last 5 years, but sure as shit I'd miss a few, so let me just say this: "You know who you are. You've offered advice, criticism, support, friendship, a shoulder to lean on and so much more. Thank you." If you think it applies to you, it does. If your not sure, it does. If you think it doesn't, it still might ;)

I am far from perfect, and The Tavern has a long way to reach it's full potential. It's not a path I've walked on my own and I'm glad to have you all along for the ride.


Where will The Tavern be in another 5 years? No idea. I suspect, still chugging along, but maybe at a reduced rate of 2-3 posts a day instead of the 3-4 posts a day from years 3 and 4. Age is catching up :)


What is your "Go To" Non-OSR Role Playing Game?

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I am very entrenched in the older ruelsets of D&D, their clones and derivatives. There are many reasons for this, but probably the main one beyond nostalgia is "comfort zone". I can pull out a classic D&D derivative and find my feet well situated on familiar ground.

In my early days of playing, especially the high school and early college years, I was much more of a "system vagabond". Sure, AD&D 1e and 2e were my familiar homes, but it was not surprising to se me run a campaign of WFRP, MERPS, Spacemaster, Paranoia, Runequest 2 or even dabble in a dozen other systems for a session or three.

It seems with middle age, my ability to learn significantly new system mechanics has declined. I thinkthat has more to do with free time to learn such mechanics than a lessened desire to do so, but for me, the results are the same. The DCC RPG is about as far from core OSR as I am willing and able to stray these days, and even that required defaulting to 1e rules when in doubt.

If you are mostly an OSR gamer, what non-OSR games do you dabble in (if there is one)? If you are mostly a non-OSR gamer, what is your "go to" system and why?

Friday, May 30, 2014

I Just Remembered The Tavern Turns 5 Years Old Tomorrow

I almost forgot that tomorrow marks the 5th anniversary of Tenkar's Tavern. Five years. I literally almost forgot - yes, it has been that kind of a week.

I plan to announce the winners of the 2nd round of the OSR Superstar Competition tomorrow. I would have announced them earlier this week, but the week did not cooperate. The final round will probably kick off this weekend, with those that made the finals having until the end of June to get their entries in.

Still, I totally forgot to plan anything for the 5th anniversary. If this was my wedding anniversary, my ass would be grass. Actually, if it was wedding anniversary, I'd have the pub glasses to remind me of the date. Maybe I need to put The Tavern's anniversary date on the beer steins.

In large part, I owe this blog to my wife, who encouraged me to not only write about my gaming thoughts and ideas, but to also get back to actively gaming. I've heard the horror stories of non-gaming spouses who do their best to discourage their other half's from gaming. In my wife, I've found a supporter (NTRPG Con here we come!)

I'll figure out some special post / something something for the 5th anniversary of The Tavern. It's not like I can give you all flowers and chocolates ;)

My Son Turns 21 and other Exciting Moments From Today


I'm in pain. No, not that normal I just banged by knee and holy shit that's painful type of pain. No, the type of pain that happens when you mix beer with shots. I'm a lightweight these days, if not in size than in ability to booze it up. My wife and I took my son out to the neighborhood pub for his 21st birthday and I'm feeling the effects.

Skittle Bomb? Never heard of it, but the bartender started my son off with one. He had a nice, rosy glow before we left. Actually, my wife ended the night with the same, she liked it too. For me, it was Harp and Captain Morgan.

Yeah, like I said, still feeling it.

I'm also officially on vacation until the 9th of June, and i feel like I have left behind burning piles of poo
at work. Nothing I have control over, but I hate leaving my staff with burning piles of poo. I get this feeling of guilt that I won't be there warding off the bad shit. Than I remember who my staff actually is, and I figure they'l cope.

My detectives know all about my gaming hobby and the fact that my wife and I are going to NTRPG Con week. The ribbing has been gentle, if not consistent. I guess it makes it just a tad easier leaving them with burning piles of poop ;)

So, I had this really, thought provoking gaming related post that I worked out on my dive home from work, but promptly passed out in bed with the infamous "Ashley the Cat" for 2 hours while waiting for Rachel to get back from work. Now, after an evening of food, drinks, cake and more drinks, all I have left is the fading memory of the awesome post that almost was.

Ah shit,

There is always tomorrow...

Do You Generally Stick with One Basic Genre When You Run Your RPG Campaigns?


I'm basically a "fantasy" DM at heart. It's what I broke my teeth on when I came into the hobby and it's what I read. Post apoc and Sci-fi I know mostly from movies and TV.

So yeah, when I run RPGs they are set in mostly traditional fantasy settings.

I am getting the itch to change things up. I'm thinking of running Other Dust, an OSR styled post apoc setting. If I do, it would be my first time running a non-fantasy setting in probably more than 20 years.

Do you have a preferred genre to GM in? Is it different for you as a player? Do you habitually swap out genres when you reboot campaigns or do you have a habit of sticking with the same default, much like I have?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

If I Decide to run "Other Dust", this Picture may be the Deciding Factor



This picture makes me want run Other Dust.

Why?

Because the scene fits my group to a "T"!

(besides, they'd really like the chick with the praying mantis appendage)

Why Does Springtime Make Me Want to Start a New Campaign?



Two years ago I kicked off the group's ACKS campaign. Admittedly, that because the group quickly burned out on playtesting D&D Next and the huge swing of introduced changes. I kinda picked up the DM reigns by default.

Last spring I decided to run the DCC RPG. The adventures were a hit, more so than the system. So, after a half dozen sessions or so we moved on to Swords & Wizardry Complete. I really enjoy running S&W, as it means I have to refer to the rulebook minimally during our game sessions. I've also been getting to play as a player again on occasions, which has been awesome.

The thing is, I'm getting that itch again.

I'm actually thinking I'd want to run Stars Without Number, but set it in a universe heavily influenced by Warhammer 40k, at least for flavor. God know I don't know shit for cannon. Or set it in a Star Wars universe where the Empire overwhelmed the rebels en mass, and the players get by by giving the finger to the Empire when they can, sucking up to it when they can't.

Yep, some darker sci-fi.

Or maybe some post-apoc with Other Dust.

That might be really cool!

Or maybe this too will pass...

Talking About Free, Stripped Down but Functional RPGs - Savage Worlds Test Drive


I have a confession to make - I've only played Savage Worlds once, and I still managed to get my character killed. That being said, it's a lot like GURPS without the math and using polyhedrals instead of just d6s.

What makes the Savage Worlds Test Drive rules "functional" as a full if basic RPG? Advancement rules and basic spells for casters. Yep. Not bad for 16 pages.

And if you go the main SW products site and hit the sidebar on the right, there are some free "one-sheet" adventures, a Free RPG Day Adventure (includes the Test Drive rules) and some other free loot.

WotC Talks "5e OGL Plans" - 2015 at the Earliest


(offered without comment - edited and trimmed from the full original, so as not to violate any of WotC rights)
As we gear up for previews of the upcoming D&D products, I wanted to take a moment to address a common question we receive about the Open Gaming License and what it means for the future of D&D...
When it comes to the mechanism by which we want to empower D&D fans to create their own material and make their mark on the many, exciting worlds of D&D, we're taking the same approach. While we are not ready to announce anything at this time, I do want to share with you some of our goals. 
To start with, we want to ensure that the quality of anything D&D fans create is as high as possible. The Dungeon Master's Guide will contain the guidelines for creating many elements of the game, from adventures to monsters. While Basic D&D will cover the basics that DMs need to create and run campaigns, it won't go into details on the thinking behind the rules and the consequences of tinkering with them. Basic D&D is aimed at new players or people who aren't looking for a lot of mechanical complexity or depth. It's enough to create adventures for use at your table, but not for material that you want to share broadly. For that reason, we don't want to launch anything at least until the Dungeon Master's Guide has been released in November. 
Moreover, it's not enough simply to launch anything the day the DMG hits shelves. It'll take time for everyone to absorb the rules and how they all interact. The R&D team can also share what we've learned while working on the game and the traps and challenges to avoid in design. 
Therefore, we want to share the timeline we're working with. While the details are still in flux, we can say that we plan to announce the details of our plans sometime this fall. After that announcement, we plan on launching our program in early 2015. 
Until then, we hope you will familiarize yourself with the new edition as the products are released, learn how and why it differs from past editions of the game, and dive into your first campaign. There's no better way to learn the game's intricacies than by digging into it through play. Once the community has some experience with the game, both we and you will be ready to creating the next wave of material for it. 

North Texas RPG Con Kicks Off in a Week - What, Me Worry?

Lets see:

My son turns 21 tomorrow, May 30th.

The Tavern turns 5 on Saturday, May 31st (we don't count the aimless post from 2008)

My wife and I arrive in the Lone Stat State on Wednesday, June 4th.

It's my first gaming con is 20 years (my last was Gen Con in Milwaukee)

It will be my wife's first gaming con (and if I dont run a session with her prior, the con will be only her second time roleplaying - work has been a killer and interfered with those plans  - hopefully loose ends at work will be tied off before I go end of tour tomorrow and start my vacation).

Talk about interesting times ;)



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Talking About Free, Stripped Down but Functional RPGs - Basic Roleplaying Quickstart



Sure, it says it's a "quickstart", but it includes rules for advancing your skill and it doesn't include an adventure, so really, it's a "basic" version of Basic Roleplaying (which is the system that CoC, RuneQuest, Legend, OpenQuest and a few other D100 systems are built from / off of / derivative of. It has it's roots in the original RQ and branched off of CoC if I recall correctly)

The price is right, so why not give the Basic Roleplaying Quickstart (Chaosium Link) Basic Roleplaying Quickstart (RPGNow link)a peek before D&D 5e Basic becomes all of the rage later on this summer ;)


What If the Free Basic Rules WAS the SRD and What If WotC Already has a System in Place to Distribute 3rd Party 5e Products?



Think about it.

Everything beyond what will soon be in the freely distributed Basic Rules for 5e is, essentially, optional. If the core books are optional, they do not constitute the SRD.

Official adventures from WotC will use the Free Basic Rules - anything else required to run the adventure will either be included in the adventure book itself or available as a free download.

The SRD would include character generation rules, making it not just a System Resource Document, but also a full set of playable rules. Being available as a downloadable PDF, I suspect it will be updated and added to over time.

With the relationship WotC has with OneBookShelf via the DnDClassics webstore, I suspect it wouldn't be too hard for them to distribute the rules as a print on demand softcover or hardcover if the demand were there.

It also means WotC could have a system in place to distribute 3rd party 5e products under a controlled license through the DnDClassice webstore, and take a percentage of sales right off the top. Probably better than the GSL, not a loose as the OGL and ensures WotC gets a piece of the pie. Larger publishers could probably purchase a license to publish directly and not go through the WotC webstore.

Food for thought...

Can You do an Effective Fantasy Horror Campaign with OSR Style RPGs?



Ravenloft isn't horror, or at least, not horror like CoC and the like. Ravenloft is more camp than anything else, where any of the "classic horror stereotypes" could be lurking behind the next door. I still remember the one module
where my players were turned into puppets - the only horror was how annoyed and yet disappointing my players were.

The 3e Midnight campaign is probably the closest I've seen it come, but that is just damn depressing as a long term campaign. There is no hope, just survival (if you can call it that), and even that isn't much.

Evernight for Savage Worlds could probably convert OK if one wanted to try it, but it is such a railroad I think we'd be off the rails within a session and a half - and the big hook happens in the second session.

My instinct tells me a horror campaign using OSR rules would have to be short - probably 4-6 sessions, as anything longer would lessen the effects of the horrors the PCs encounter ("not THIS shit again!").

I'm just not so sure how well a level based RPG could do horror...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Talking About Free, Stripped Down But Functional RPGs - GURPS Lite

GURPS, the infinite frontier. Where amazing sourcebooks boldly go.

Sure, D&D 5e is all the rage right now, but GURPS has been giving away its stripped down but functional ruleset for the last 10 years.

Don't believe me?


Yep, free at the SJG's site / Warehouse 23

Did the OSR Convince Mearls to Refer to D&D 5e as "Rules Cyclopedia" and "AD&D"?


Possibly. The OSR does have punch for it's size. I don't think any one voice did the convincing tho'. In truth, I think the economics of the new edition won out.

First, it's always easier to add than it is to subtract, so building your free core rules along a "basic" set of guiding principles makes sense. It also fits into recent trends at WotC - market the RPG as if it were a MMORPG.

"Free to Play!" is what you see with most of the new (and older) MMORPGs today. You can play the free game forever, but sooner or later, you'll either want to buy more content, or subscribe to get subscriber's content.

So, give away a free "Basic D&D" in PDF - limited options but a full game from 1 to 20. Offer additional content (expanded rules, adventures, settings and the like) and offer subscription benefits (I'm going to guess this is where the SRD will be).

Now, the OSR is very vocal and is active in playing pre-3x editions of the Dungeons & Dragons heritage of rulesets. What is the definitive ruleset for many of the OD&D, B/X, BECMI gamers? Rules Cyclopedia. What is the definitive ruleset of the AD&D 1e / 2e segment of gamers? AD&D (1e).

Will the new rules play like either of the above? As much as any OSR game variant I suspect, but it's an emotional statement Mike is making - "We heard, and we hear, and we want you back!"

Why the OSR? Because we create, we play, but most of all - we are the demographic with the cash to dispose of on the hobby we love. Why not aim the new edition at the older players? You've already lost the recent ones to Pathfinder, and I doubt many 4e fans are going to find much love in the 5e world of gaming. Want to bring in new players? Free rules may just do that.

Why release the "Basic Rules" for free? To bring in the nay-sayers and allow them to read or even try the rules without spending cash up front.

The OSR shows that there is a market for the adventures themselves - the rules are now and always have been a secondary thought in the OSR. Just about every group runs with their own mongrelized set of hashed together rules. Most often the rules themselves are free.

WotC is now joining the free market, and they are bringing visions of the glory days of TSR. The vision may not come to pass, but I give them points for trying.
"Basic D&D is a PDF that covers the core of the game. It’s the equivalent of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia, though it doesn’t have quite the same scope (for example, it won’t go into detail on a setting). It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options. 
But the best part? Basic D&D is a free PDF. Anyone can download it from our website. We want to put D&D in as many hands as possible, and a free, digital file is the best way to do that. 
If Basic D&D is the equivalent of the classic Rules Cyclopedia, then the three core rulebooks are analogous to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Want more character options? Pick up a Player’s Handbook. Looking for more critters for your campaign? The Monster Manual has you covered. Want to sculpt a unique campaign? Pick up the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Still, Basic D&D is the true heart of the game and could easily provide a lifetime of gaming."

It's Official - Free 15% of Player's Handbook (and MM and DMG) is "Basic D&D"



The clues were there, and I wrote about some of them, such as the Free Player's Handbook covering the core four classes (check) and core four races (check) and levels 1-15 (actually 1-20). I also brought up the idea of free material form the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide rolling out to supplement the free 15% of the Player's Handbook. Link to What If the Freely Available 15% of the 5e Player's Handbook includes Core Advancement Thru 15 Levels? and http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2014/05/peering-into-taverns-scrying-pool-what.html

This morning, Mike rolled out the exciting details: WotC Basic D&D Announcement

"Basic D&D is a PDF that covers the core of the game. It’s the equivalent of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia, though it doesn’t have quite the same scope (for example, it won’t go into detail on a setting). It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options.

But the best part? Basic D&D is a free PDF. Anyone can download it from our website. We want to put D&D in as many hands as possible, and a free, digital file is the best way to do that.

If Basic D&D is the equivalent of the classic Rules Cyclopedia, then the three core rulebooks are analogous to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Want more character options? Pick up a Player’s Handbook. Looking for more critters for your campaign? The Monster Manual has you covered. Want to sculpt a unique campaign? Pick up the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Still, Basic D&D is the true heart of the game and could easily provide a lifetime of gaming.

At the launch of the D&D Starter Set, Basic D&D will include the material needed to create characters and advance to 20th level. In August, with the release of the Player’s Handbook, Basic D&D will expand to include the essential monsters, magic items, and DM rules needed to run the game, along with the rules for wilderness, dungeon, and urban adventuring. (The Starter Set already covers the aspects of these rules that you need to run the included campaign.)

As we introduce new storylines like Tyranny of Dragons, we’ll also make available free PDFs that provide all the rules and stats missing from Basic D&D needed to run the adventures tied into the story. The adventures released as part of Tyranny of Dragons are playable without requiring any of the core rulebooks or the Starter Set. With just the Basic Dungeons & Dragons rules, you can play D&D for years.

Basic D&D makes it easier than ever for new players and DMs to jump into tabletop RPG play. We’re involved in the greatest gaming hobby ever invented. It’s time to bring that hobby to everyone who wants to take part."

This could very well be a game changer...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Free "Traveller LIFTOFF Starter Set" - Beta



I stumbled across the 13 Mann Publishing House earlier today, and found that they are currently playtesting rules for a Traveller Starter Set based on the Mongoose Traveller OGL rules.

I am no longer well versed in Traveller, classic, Mongoose or otherwise, but I find the idea of a simplified ruleset interesting.

You can go to the 12 Mann site and check out the rules for yourself.

What If 5e Doesn't Need to be OGL to be Served by the OGL (and the OSR)?



Word on the street, or in certain circles of the RPG Community, is that 5e is fairly close to 2e in nature with some new bells and whistles, and with options that can make it more like 3x and even a little 4e.

Now, 2e and all of the earlier editions have been retrocloned to death, and pretty much anything from 0e to 2e, Labyrinth Lord to Swords & Wizardry to OSRIC and all of the clones between are 95% compatible. I frequently mix editions and clones when it comes to adventures or monster sources when I run my Swords & Wizardry games.

So, if 5e is, in effect, a 2e retroclone (the edition when D&D was on everyone's lips and in all of the stores and boxed sets galore before the implosion of too many damn settings) does it need to be "open" or OGL? If the point of the OGL (or at least, the original intention before the genie in the bottle was fully realized) was to give a legal framework to create adventures, monsters, settings and the like with a communal base set of rules, don't we already have what is needed?

WotC went to 4e in large part to break away from the OGL. The system changed enough that 3x and 4x were different games and just not compatible. The OGL couldn't find space in a 4e world.

If 5e is going back to some sort of 2e / 3e hybrid (at least in it's core, and especially in it's free 15% of the Player's Handbook), you don't need the new rules to be OGL to create products that are compatible with the OGL - you just need to get "close enough" to be "compatible with the latest edition of the world's most famous RPG."

What if 5e was designed to be compatible with 3x and prior, and maybe with some work, even Pathfinder, while still being a "closed" ruleset?

WotC get's to keep control of it's newest child, and at the same time reap the benefits of the editions and clones that have come before.

What If the Freely Available 15% of the 5e Player's Handbook includes Core Advancement Thru 15 Levels?


We know that Hoard of the Dragon Queen (first part of the two part Tyranny of Dragons storyline) is playable without the Player's Handbook itself. +Mike Mearls said so, but he also said that it would require the use of the free 15% of the Player's Handbook. This kinda makes sense, as each part of Tyranny of Dragons is only 96 pages long, and including rules to run as well as the adventure would lead to the use of a really small font ;)

The two parts of Tyranny of Dragons take players from levels 1 to 7ish and 8 to 15ish respectfully.

So, where are those rules for advancement? The expo table? The spells known and spell lists? Not in the Starter Set - that only goes up to 5th level with pre-chosen advancement.

So they HAVE to be in those 48 pages that constitute the 15% of the Players Handbook. I expect it will be core classes (Fighter, Cleric, Wizard and Thief) and core races only (Human, Dwarf, Elf and Halfling). I strongly suspect the 15% will skew heavily towards what we in the OSR would refer to as "Old School Gaming", as more options would, by default, require more space to cover. (the Starter Set includes 5 pregens, which may put a 5th class in play)

48 pages for six ability score tables, four classes, four races, 15 levels of advancement, 7 levels of spells, combat rules, healing, weapons tables, equipment tables and the like. Monsters and treasure to be found in the adventure itself.

It might be the most OSR of recent OSR releases, if economy of page count is added to the equation, as it will cover the same levels as B/X ;)


Mike Mearls Clarifies the Definition of "Stand Alone" for "Tyranny of Dragons"

Mike has been taking some heavy hits in the social media arena. Well deserved hits, but hits none the less. So I give +Mike Mearls credit for tweeting away during the holiday weekend to clarify, clarify and occasionally obscure ;)




So, that 15% of the Player's Handbook that will go up for free online hand in hand with the release of the Starter Set? Looks like you'll need that to run Tyranny of Dragons. Unless Mike says something different tomorrow. Damn it Mike! One answer obscures the other!


So, do we really need the starter set? Would the 15% of the Player's Handbook suffice to run games between now and the end of time? How much of the magical 15% is also covered in the Starter Set?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What if 5e Leads WotC to Change DnDClassics to Print on Demand, Bringing the Old Adventures Back in Print?



This summer, 5e, the latest and greatest version of Dungeons & Dragons will release. Yes, whenever there is a new version of D&D, it is ALWAYS the greatest edition. It's part of the boiler plate, so bear with me.

What do we know so far? WotC has stated there will be options in the Dungeon Master's Guide to allow DMs to emulate earlier editions of D&D. We also know that the first official adventure released for D&D 5e, Tyranny of Dragons, will be self contained. All the rules needed to play the adventure will be included with the adventure. No Starter Set, Player's Handbook, Monster Manual or DMG required to play. In effect, Tyranny of Dragons is emulating a theoretically unique variation of 5e tweaked for that adventure.

This means that there is no true, one way to run D&D 5e. It can, theoretically, be used to emulate any previous edition of D&D, depending on the dials / twists / adjustments / assumptions the DM sets for the campaign.

Lets take this a step further.

WotC has been releasing products from it's out of print collection in PDF for what, about a year now? Redone PDFs. Reprinted and re-typset AD&D rules, OD&D rules, AD&D module collections and later edition reprints of core rules.

We also know that the Caves of Chaos, from the classic B2, Keep on the Borderland, was the default adventure for the early D&D Next playtests. So, the older adventures are already on the radar for possible conversions to D&D 5e. Or non-conversions, depending on the emulation settings used.

Take the original T1-4, Temple of Elemental Evil. Takes PCs from 1st to 7th or 8th level in AD&D 1e. Tweak it and package it with a version of 5e emulating AD&D 1e. Offer it as a PDF and Print on Demand version at OneBookShelf or / and via Amazon's POD service. Minimal effort, and it tests the waters for more print versions of (A)D&D Adventures. Or do it without testing the waters, and rely on DMs using the DMG to make the necessary teaks

Turn on Print on Demand at OneBookShelf for the adventures and rulebooks that have already been converted to PDF and you have instant library of product for D&D 5e. Ravenloft, Birthright, modules, settings and more. Classic authors. Classic credibility. Little expense or risk.

Almost too good to be true.

What if... the OSR were assimilated?

"What If?" - A New Series of Posts Coming Up Here at The Tavern



I remember the "What If?" comic book series from Marvel Comics very well. I wasn't a Marvel fanboy, but I really enjoyed that amazing series. It introduced me to more Marvel characters than I care to count - some obscure, some bizarre, some mainstream but all interesting. Linking it all together was The Watcher.

Now, I've been doing a bunch of What If? posts for years now, but never labeled them as such. They aren't predictions. Never have been, never will be. They are often thought exercises. Sometimes they are wishes. Occasionally they are dreams of the "coulda been but never was".

Now they will be part of their own series of posts. The first one will be a future "What if?"

"What if 5e leads WotC to Change DnDClassics to Print on Demand, Bringing the Old Adventures Back in Print?"





Highly Portable Treasures - Semi Precious Stones


If you are playing with the good old "10 coins equals 1 pound" default in your setting, carrying around treasure, even gold or platinum, is damn near impossible at high amounts (at least w/o bags of holding or portable holes).

I know when I think of gems in D&D settings, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and the like come to mind, although it is more likely the party will come across semi precious stones, such as the tumbled quartz and other stones pictures above.

Even if the gemstone were worth just one gold piece, it's still smaller and weighs significantly less than it's corresponding coinage. Maybe there is a society that avoids metal coins all together, and uses quartz of different sizes and colors for monetary transactions.

Broken semi-precious stones would, however, be next to worthless, whereas melted or bent coins still have the value of the metal that composes it.

Peering Into The Tavern's Scrying Pool - What Could Make 5e a Game Changer?



I think most of us can agree - +Mike Mearls is excited that his baby is about to be released to the wilds and yet he can't give us many details about the baby yet. Social media is not something that WotC seems to have mastered a s company, and I'm thankful that EnWorld has put together a 5e info page to keep track of the bit's and pieces we've gotten so far.

So, what could make D&D 5e (as it is apparently referred to as on the back cover of the core books) a "game changer", at least so far as D&D players and possibly even third party publishers are concerned?

We're talking 5e, so I'll list 5 ideas.

- Return of the OGL, or at least a license more permissible that the GSL - Personally, I don't expect a return of the OGL. Wizards let that genie out of the bottle once already. I doubt they wan't a repeat of that. I could see something similar to how Goodman Games licenses the DCC RPG - products must get submitted to WotC for vetting, and approved products would be licensed for use with 5e. It would have to be a free license and the vetting process would have to be free or at a minimal cost for it to be successful IMHO.

- An online SRD - this I pretty much expect upon release or shortly thereafter. The question becomes, will it be free or will there be a one-time or recurring cost. I expect a recurring cost - think DDI. Alright, less game change and more necessity these days.

- Core Books released in a "Bits and Mortars" fashion - Buy the print copy, get a code to DL a free copy of the PDF. I'd love to see this, and I think it could be a game changer and generate loads of goodwill, but historically, WotC has seen PDFs as something that cuts into it's retail sales of print products (not to mention the threat of piracy). Still, WotC has been embracing PDFs for their out of print lines and editions, so this COULD happen.

- Core parts of the Core Books released for free in PDF - we already know that 48 pages of the Player's Handbook is going to be released as a free download, and it will probably include character creation rules that can be used with the D&D Starter Set. If they follow the same trend with the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Master Guide, it would literally mean giving away the "core" of the core books, and one could probably play 5e without ever buying a book, although with limited options. It almost becomes viral marketing for the full core products and other adventures - especially the ones that include a version of the rules and are self contained.

- Making the Starter Set OSR friendly - think. The Starter Set is supposed to introduce new players to RPGs (as well as appeal to lapsed gamers). You are probably not going want to load them up with too many options, feats and the like. I expect it will be a simpler style of ruleset. Which would work well if the "Core of the Core" comes to pass and is culled to support the Starter Set. Will this come to pass? No idea, but it would be nice.

- Conversion Rules for older edition adventures / modules - I fully expect this will be in the DMG. It would be foolish not to include such, especially as WotC is selling the older adventures in PDF. It would open the classic PDF market to a whole new set of players.

- Adventures could be written for a certain "edition style of play" and include all the rules with the adventure - we already know that Tyranny of Dragons is a standalone product. No additional rules needed. Which means, it's written for a default "edition style of play". In effect, it is it's own "sub edition" of 5e. There is no reason different self contained adventures couldn't default to more or less complexities of play - therefore emulating different editions. Star this one, as it really would change the face of D&D as we know it.

Alright, I gave six thoughts (not counting the SRD, which I consider a given). Consider the last one a bonus ;)