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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Uncle Vince has Given me the Keys to the Brainstorm Podcast - Lets Decide on Some Show Topics (Poll)

Yes, there is a poll up on the right side of this page.

Help me put together a list of future show topics for The Brainstorm Podcast.

Now, I know my ideas to the right are not the be all and end all - The Tavern's patrons are some of the most thoughtful, intelligent and opinionated members of the OSR.

Here's you chance to tell us what to do.

So answer the poll to the right - you CAN vote more than once. If you have topics of your own that you think we should cover, add it as a comment below. If we use it I'll send you a $5 RPGNow gift certificate.

So, what are you waiting for? Tell us what you think - you know you want to ;)

Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting has Over 90 Community Members



Yep, Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting has over 90 community members and over 50 hexes claimed.

In a week.

With some hexes already being detailed.

F'n amazing.

I'd like to publicly thank everyone that's participating in the crowdsourcing but especially +Milton Murphy , who quickly stepped up to help keep the herd of cats orderly. Everyone participating in the project, myself included, are in your debt.

I'm now in the second half of a four day weekend and I expect to finally expect to catch up on the hex entries from the last few days, sinus congestion from hell willing. The progress is amazing and I thank you all.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Lesser Gnome Takes on "Death & Taxes" (Kickstarter)


If you are one of those that got in on Whisper & Venom, you know what to expect from +Zach Glazar and Lesser Gnome - nothing less than an amazing Kickstarter filled to the brim with goodies, amazing production values and dare I say it? On time.

Those that missed out on Whisper & Venom, Death & Taxes is the latest boxed set adventure / setting, complete with miniatures and a whole lotta goodies as stretch goals are hit. Yes, in a box.

You want all of the goodies, for Old School, Pathfinder or perhaps even 5e? Stare Death & Taxes in the face and back this Kickstarter!

Death & Taxes is Lesser Gnome's follow-up box set to Whisper & Venom. It was nominated for an ENnie, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Twice!* 
Death & Taxes is an adventure for 4-7 players using characters level 4-6. Although designed for classic rules, the ultimate goal is to create total conversions of the game for popular modern systems. Once the goals for project funding and the backer surpass the initial stretch goal targets all options are on the table, As backers, you will have a seat at that table to decide which one will happen first! Look for the results to be revealed in our Stretch Goals section as the campaign progresses. The Gnomes are ready start to translating Death & Taxes into Pathfinder/OGL and (we hope) fifth edition compatible versions. 
The Premise 

South of the Whisper Vale lies a land of gentle slopes with forests and greenswards. Small townships have sprouted alongside decayed municipalities. The area’s sparse populations are independent and self-reliant. Sporadic trade and a dim memory of avaricious rulers connect them. 
The Auctor

On a gentle hillside sits an imposing stronghold known as The Auctor. It has remained empty and eerily pristine since the last noble family fled south. Its majestic rooms and corridors are shrouded in fear. Living memory recalls a time when the happy glow in its upper galleries was a thin fa├žade to its real function. 
An haute-coiffed tax collector arrives with his retinue of hairdressers, auditors of unusual size, a mason and a pack of gnolls. The collector carries important documents asserting his authority to tax the region. His orders are simple: Reclaim the Auctor and squeeze.
Mobs will form, tempers will flare, old scores will be settled and pounds of flesh will be exacted. 
Welcome to the season of Death & Taxes.


We Brainstormed Unique Magic Weapons - Psionically (Brainstorm Podcast #10)



I really enjoyed recording episode #10 of the Brainstorm podcast. I was able to revisit some of the magical weapons I created for my campaigns and the conversation also hit on the idea of designing weapons for specific characters. Oh, and we touched upon psionics in the end.

I've been pleased with all of the episodes we've recording thus far, but this episode is just a little more special ;)

It is amusing that Ashely the Cat makes appearances on the blogside and Danke the Dachshund makes audio appearances in the podcasts...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reminder - The Tavern Accepts Guest Posts

Over the last couple of days The Tavern's posts have received over 180 comments. The community has been engaged, and I want to engage it more.

I offer my soapbox to others to stand upon, and I especially challenge the handful of commenters who disagreed with the week's posts to step up and submit a post or two on a gaming topic they feel passionate about.

There is a contact form on the right side of this page. Use it to contact me and let me know what you want to post. It really is that simple.

So, who's up for the challenge? ;)

This is what the contact form looks like
on the right hand side of this blog


If the OSR WERE a Scarecrow, This is How it Would Look


Big thanks to +Russ Morrissey of ENWorld for sharing this and WOTC's Trevor Kidd for whipping it together.

Now, as it was posted Monday, it had nothing to do with yesterday's (and today's) continuing conversation, but it fits perfectly.

Seems like that poor adventurer is going to get a whooping ;)

(image updated thanks to mwschmeer)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Whatever the Definition of the OSR is, It's Not "Scarecrow"



GeekNative is a fairly well trafficked blog of geeky and gamey things. Today, thanks to the eyes of The Badger, the latest GeekNative post was brought to my attention. It's titled:



Yeah, the title confused me too, but at least you can use the link to read the article in total as opposed to just the snippets I'll be responding to. And why is "OSR" referred to in the past tense? Where is the "the"?
I’m a roleplayer who’s preferred each generation of D&D over the one that came before. I did not like the original D&D sets and only started to play the granddaddy of the hobby until it evolved into 3e.
See, already I'm confused, as this statement initially infers he's played each edition of D&D, and always preferred each subsequent edition, and then states he only started playing with 3e. Yes, there is a reason that I point this inconsistency out.
I didn’t like all the inconsistent, often unnecessary, rules nor did I like the fact you were simply handled a randomly generated algorithm which you had to guide through algorithmically challenging landscapes. That’s to say; I’m not a min-maxer. I appreciate that’s the challenge for many gamers – building a character that survives the horrors the DM throws. It’s not for me; I need a sense of creation and ownership.
 I preferred 4e to 3e. Wow! Makes me a loner, huh?

This can't be a statement about OSR gaming, as it's pretty well accepted that 3e is not part of the OSR.
However, the OSR movement bloomed. I’ve no problem with OSR but I just don’t get it. I’ve asked many OSR fans what it is – and get different answers. OSR stands for (most of the time) Old School Renaissance. The concept is that RPGs have strayed too far from the path that made them great. It is time to go back to how they used to be.
First off, the author admits he doesn't get the OSR. It's not some much going back as it is continuing to play older rules, their clones and derivatives. New rules don't need to mean better, and old rules don't need to mean worse.

Next, we move on to a survey he conducted asking about different aspects of the OSR, and than uses each answer to show how 5e fits the same criteria. Read the original article for these bits, then return here. In any case, it comes back to this:
So, why do I think D&D 5e suggests that OSR is just a construct – a scarecrow of an argument to artificially create good and bad tropes? After all; there is no “New Style”. 
D&D 5e feels entirely modern and yet it appeals widely to many of the OSR stalwarts. It is one of the evolved RPGs in terms of flavour and rules. That said; D&D 5e draws on the previous editions of the game.
Does the author understand that the OSR predates 5e? Does he realize that folks have been playing the original rules since they were first published? The resurgence of old school play with the advent of the OSR clones has roots in 3e and the OGL, not in 5e.

But wait, heres the kicker. The author tells us the OSR doesn't exist:
D&D 5e isn’t OSR. It does not remind me of old RPGs; it feels entirely modern. This isn’t a step back but does carry forward the feeling of old D&D. 
I think D&D 5e rather proves that there is no such thing as OSR. There is nostalgia. There are gaming styles that suit certain game designs but those styles aren’t trapped in one time zone or another.
There you have it folks. 5e proves that the OSR doesn't exist. No more need to try and define it. Time to close the OSR community pages, blogs, publishers, forums and podcasts. Andrew Girdwood has just written the OSR out of existence.

Next post - what to do when your community is written out of existence ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Closing the Door on Dragonwars of Trayth Kickstarter - Restoring the Deleted Comments

I do believe I captured everything that was deleted from the conversation with our good friends over at Dragonwars of Trayth, as well as some G+ highlights that will probably be deleted.

At least now, with some effort, one can follow the weekend festivities. Many folks suggested popcorn to enjoy with your reading but I suggest beer. Perhaps both might be in order.

If I missed something, let me know and I'll take a second look to find it.

Alright, that's a wrap!


















Monday, October 13, 2014

Kickstarter - MorGalad Fantasy RPG (some sort of d6 pool system)

We all know some of the warning signs of a potentially bad Kickstarter. Hell, regular readers just saw the weekend drama of The Kickstarter that Shall Not be Named.

Here's another potential problem - The MorGalad Fantasy RPG Kickstarter.

What are the issues?

None backed, first created. Not a death knell on it's own, but always a worrisome sign. 

A $20k goal. This is really scary. If the Kickstarter that Shall Not be Named couldn't come anywhere near $8k while using Pathfinder & OSRIC as it's rule systems, how is a "rules light D6-based fantasy RPG inspired by old school RPGs" using a dice pool system going to drawn in those very same gamers? It's not.

The maps or okay, but the art is... well, here's the cover art:


Now, this might be the greatest RPG since Quantum (that's a joke, son), but lets sample more 
potential art:



I don't know were they got their numbers from, but some of these seem excessive. I pay $128 a month for a 5' x 10' storage room in NYC. $5,000 for warehousing costs? $6,000 for taxes? I don't see $3,500 worth of art here.

Is it a definitely a "bad" Kickstarter? No. Does it have a some significant potential problems? Yes

The goal is too high. The listed expenses are too high. There is little said about the actual RPG system being developed (it apparently isn't finalized - another not so good sign). And then there is this:
Funding will also provide a solid foundation for me to hire a team to stand strong and work hard on this project because I intend on releasing one edition and only one edition of this game.
First, I don't see that as part of the estimated budget. Secondly, that is some Nystulian "putting the cart before the horse" shit. Now is not the time to be hiring a team.

Rework the budget with real numbers, lower the goal, buy some stock art, unhire the team and finalize the system. Then we might have something.

Dragonswars of Trayth - Answering the Dragon's Parting Whine

Even while shutting down their Dragonwars of Trayth Kickstarter, the fine folks of Epic Quest Publishing took some parting blows, not just at me but members of this community. I feel it is only right to address their, as of now, final comment on the Dragonwars of Trayth Kickstarter. Below is the comment in question, provided to facilitate my response.


Now, I will address each piece as best I can:
Some people who claim to BACK a project have clearly shown the integrity , or lack thereof, of their character.
This is addressed to two of members of the community who decided to engage Epic Quest Publishing AFTER EQP removed their comments from The Tavern's blog posts.
When social media opinions from people who do not create (or if they do and are criticized they start a smear campaign) rules the day instead of truth then there is no point in offering anything truly creative.
Yes, these seems addressed to me and my little backwater blog.

Let's see, do I create? I mean, besides the blog, two podcasts, a handful of products on RPGNow, organizing the Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Project - nope, I guess I don't meet their high standards.

I'd like to know what smear campaign I started AFTER being criticized. I thought the issue was my opinion of their Kickstarter that was the post that set this off. Or are they referring to my response to their threat of a lawsuit for my use of screenshots of their project that would have been covered under Fair Use. I thought the images I used to replace said pieces of art were appropriate at this point in the ongoing back and forth.
We had a private backer offer over 1 million to buy a museum, we said no, lets first see if anyone is interested else its a empty shell.
Alright. Forgive me for saying this so bluntly, but you are so full of shit I'm surprised you haven't choked to death. 19 backers after 3 weeks of the Kickstarter going live shows a very empty shell. If you turned down a million bucks for a gaming museum and let it walk away... fuck it, I can't find the right term for such stupidity. I'll leave it as bullshit.
Well thanks to those who would rather tear down things with uninformed and inaccurate comments elsewhere there will be no museum.
Stop with the whiny bullshit already. You either have a million dollar backer or you don't. You Kickstarter failure FOR A SECOND TIME has nothing to do with your fictitious museum. Your failure to fund a $8,000 Kickstarter lost you a million bucks? Anyone want to buy a bridge?
It was tried by others before us with the same result.
Huh? Are you funding an RPG product or a museum?
The gaming community has moved on and become something unrecognizable online.
I think this deserves a post of it's own. It has moved on, and grown and embraced the internet.
RPG is about getting together with others to play, have fun, and working together to achieve a common goal.
No argument.
When others are selfish in their own agendas or jealous of new ideas to the point they say they back a project that they dont well then kickstarter has lost its purpose.
Aimed at the two I mentioned above. Can I ask what new ideas are being referred to, as I know non-OGL monsters were used in the offered sample, so they certainly weren't new.
To back a project is to back an idea, NOT a finished polished product.
No, to back a project is in the hope of getting a finished, polished product. And yes, your maps sucked. Really sucked. Are you now saying what you showed was not what the finished product was to look like?
But there are those who would rather make a name for themselves than help bring entertainment to others or who think tearing up someones idea is socially acceptable.
Its called criticism. Come out from your basements and face the world.
Thus they deserve the world they have created by and through their actions.
Again, step out into the sunlight. You may find it a rewarding experience.
Im sure they will count this as some major victory and get all the social feedback they can for their ego's but it is truly a loss to the gaming community and speaks volumes about the society they have created.
The failure of this project, that was destined to fail without the help of any outside sources (Kicktraq estimated it would end with about 5K if I recall correctly, well short of the 8k needed for success), speaks volumes of the quality of said project.

Some advice. If your project fails twice, maybe you need to find a different project, as this one just isn't going to work. 19 backers after 3 weeks showed a particular lack of interest, no matter the monies raised. You had more modules planned (25) than actual backers. That is something you really need to look at once the shock and anger wears off. Because when you think about it, the community delivered the message you didn't want to hear.

Don't be angry at the messengers. Think about the message instead.


Tales from the Backwater Tavern

This weekend has been nothing if not interesting. The full frontal assault and threat of lawsuit over a negative review of the NOW CANCELLED Dragonwars of Trayth Kickstarter was a surprise. What was not a surprise was the support this blog and myself received from the community. I am both humbled and grateful.

I've been asked by multiple members of the community if I had screen captured the now deleted posts made by Dragonwars of Trayth on the weekend posts in question. I believe I have most of them and what I may have missed I still have in email notifications.

I've had disagreements and pissing matches at The Tavern before. I don't retcon or remove comments or posts in such incidents. They are part of my history and the history of The Tavern, whether I was right or wrong (and I've been wrong on multiple occasions.) Some of these pissing matches have led to true friendships. I sincerely doubt this weekend's incident will be one of those times.

Tonight or tomorrow I'll be posting those now missing comments on a new blogpost so one can read the relevant posts in context using the time / date stamp to reference the deleted post in question. This is for the benefit all that commented, as it now seems we are all commenting in response to a silent ghost. It is part of The Tavern's history now.

Again, thanks for all of the support, both here on the blogside and G+, as well as the emails that folks sent. It truly means a lot to me. It's a reminder of how much community this "backwater blog" has built and I am forever in your collective debt.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wayward Kickstarter - Dragonwars of Trayth - Tabletop RPG (Pathfinder / OSRIC) - Indtroducing The PR Fail

Sometimes folks are their own worst enemies. Take, for example, the person(s) behind Dragonwars of Trayth. There is a saying that all publicity, even bad publicity, is good publicity. In this case, yesterday's post highlighting some of the Dragonwars of Trayth's Kickstarter put some actual eyes on it. At least two dozens sets of eyes.

Does it really matter? No, it's going to be a failed Kickstarter like it's elder doppleganger. Their first attempt to fund Dragonwars of Trayth was canceled when it was obvious it wouldn't fund. So, they responded quickly with a second attempt and a more modest goal. The result?


19 backers. Over what, 3 weeks. Not even a backer a day. So yes, I understand their frustration. They have a vision that's better than chocolate and peanut butter and instead they are to be left holding nothing for a second time.

Why is that?

The art from the project looks fine. The maps, especially the outdoor maps, I compared to MS-DOS are from those old RPGs in the early 90's, but I fear I insulted those classic RPGs.

So, since I dissed their mapping, what response do I get?


Yeah, Dragonwars of Trayth excels in the Public Relations department.

Oh, and of course, nonsense on the blogside too:


Here is my informed suggestion to the fine folks at Dragonwars of Trayth - Wait an extra 24 hours, at least, before responding to criticism. I am obviously NOT the only one that found issues with your project, as 19 supporters over the course of 3 weeks can easily attest to.

Nearly all the money I've raised on this blog has gone back to the blog, either via contests or giveaways. It is not a money maker.

As for evaluating, highlighting and criticizing Kickstarters, it's one of the things I do here at The Tavern.

You'll need to grow a thicker skin for your third attempt, because next time around, you'll have more eyes on you than just mine (and the handful of folks that pointed out your Kickstarter for me.)


Free Land Available at the Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting Community Page on G+

This weekend we opened the door to folks so they could start claiming hexes in the Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting. A dozen and a half hexes have been laid claim to so far and there are many more looking for a good owner ;)

In all seriousness, I'm really stoked by the enthusiastic reaction to this crowdsourced project - by the community, for the community.

Once things really start moving full swing, I expect much of the project will move over to Obsidian Portal, but at this early stage of the game, a G+ community does us fine.

The Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting currently stands at 49 members and growing. Not bad for something that kicked off on October 8th. Join us and you too can have the fate of a 6 mile hex in your hands...