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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Same Great Podcast - New Awesome Graphic - Brains!


The Brainstorm Podcast is now sporting a new, awesome graphic. Yes, those are three "Brain Eaters." Any resemblance to mind flayers or illithids are completely coincidental. We feed brains, they destroy them. 'Nuff said!

Don't settle for impostors. Get your Brainstorm today!

Great job by Sal and Vince setting up the new page :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

If This Brings Back Uncomfortable Memories, You Might be an Old School Gamer


This cartoon was found by one of my players in the monthly "B" team after exploring some more of the Castle of the Mad Archmage earlier tonight.

Hello nurse!

My name is Erik Tenkar, and I'm an Old School Gamer...


Do You Fear "Fear" in Your RPGs?

So, we discussed fear in the latest episode of The Brainstorm Podcast, both as a mechanic for the PCs and using it with effect on the players themselves.

As an effect on the PCs, it usually falls into one of two results - frozen with fear or "oh shit! Run!". Which is fine and all, but doesn't really replicate true fear.

Here is the Fear spell in AD&D 1e


True "fear" gets into the heads of the players. It's harder to pull off and probably works best with props - which means it's damn near impossible to pull of on a VTT.

Running away is a pain in the ass, but getting into the heads of your players? Priceless.

So, how do you instill fear in your players?

Some Random Thoughts on Moral and Loyalty in D&D

Last nite was my bureau's "After the Holiday Party." 80 bucks a head. Food sucked but at least the bar included a decent selection of bottled beers and even cider, but I digress. This is supposed to be random thoughts about moral and loyalty in D&D. I'm getting there.

One of our Inspectors, who has been out long term sicks due to slow recovery from a broken back, made an appearance. It was almost electrifying. Subordinates would do anything for this man and probably already have. I know I have in the past. He's fights for his people and they fight for him.

It's a classical high charisma score.

Then there is comment I heard in reference to another supervisor- "I'd walk through fire WITH this man." I heard this or a variation used multiple times with the same person. This seems less charisma and more leadership skill or ability. Someone who leads from within the group, instead of a long term loyalty factor that defies distance.

Yes, I'm simplifying things but it got me thinking, especially about hirelings and henchmen and going beyond charisma score for the moral bonus.

Ah well, not sure yet where this is going, but it's going somewhere...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mark it on Your Calendars - Wednesday, January 14 @ 830 PM - Inaugural "Tavern Talk"

+Vincent Florio and myself will be hosting the inaugural weekly Tavern Talk Chat Session next Wednesday Night, January 14th @ 830 PM Eastern Time here at The Tavern using the chat widget you can see right now on the upper right corner of this page.

Vince already shared the info as an event over at G+ and the response in less than 12 hours has been very exciting.

Now, the question came up as to "what actually is going to go on at this 'chat session'?"

People will mingle, ask questions, make funny comments and most of all - make connections with other members of the OSR community and gaming at large. Sure, you might know some of the bloggers, podcasters, creators, artists, mappers and other personalities in our corner of the hobby but here is your chance to communicate with them and others in real time.

I'm excited to kick this off. It is planned as a weekly event, so hopefully it gets some real momentum going. I may get into the chat as early as 730, all depending on when my niece gets picked up. Otherwise, there will be lots of random typing going on ;)  My witching hour is 1030 my times, as I need to be at work at 6 am.

I'm trying to work out a once a month chat session in which the hours will be more friendly with those across the pond (and even further.) Give me a little time to set that up. When it's locked down, I'll announce it.

There is no need for 98% of you to sign up for anything to chat as the service recognizes most of the major social networks and online services for login purposes. Same with the forum (yeah, we have that too.)

New Year. Same Tavern. New Toys.


Damn but it's Cold This Morning - Gaming Thoughts Have Fled



It was 9 degrees when I started up my car this morning. It was mid 60s this past Sunday.

I had some gaming thoughts bouncing around my head as I showered, but the moment the cold hit me they failed their morale roll and fled.

Hell, my fingers are STILL cold.

Last night's chat session went really well and will only get better as we work on a regular day and time for this. I say WE, as +Vincent Florio is going to co-host this with me. We are leaning towards Wednesday nights, 830 - 1000 PM Eastern. Great time to brainstorm some topics for the Brainstorm Podcast (hint hint ;)

Damn, I think I need some tea to shed this chill.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Healing in RPGs - Resource Management or Daily Recharge?


In the latest episode of The Brainstorm Podcast, we discussed healing in RPGs, mostly in the different editions of D&D. One thing that struck me is how the later editions made healing easier and less of a resourced needed to be managed.

Up through 2e, Clerics & Druids had to use specific spell slots for healing spells to the exclusion of other types of spells. Given a choice between Bless and CLW, I'd go for CLW every time.

3e introduced spontaneous casting of healing spells. Now you could memorize what you wanted and yet had the flexibility to burn a spell memorized to cast a healing spell. The resource management is loosening up. Oh, and healing spells at nearly every spell level. No longer are levels 2 thru 3 a barren wasteland bereft of healing.

4e had Healing Surges, which made healing much more accessible and lessened the need for specific healing classes.

5e has it's Hit Dice Pools. And long rests. Healing is no longer a resource to be managed, at least as I see it.

For me, the sweet spot is somewhere between earlier editions and 3e. I'd allow one swap per spell level, and allow the burning a higher level spell slow for a lower level healing spell.

Just some thoughts that came up after listening to the episode.

I'll Be Lurking in the Tavern's Chat Room for 830 to 930 Tonight, Eastern Time

I'm going to try and spend an hour or so catching up on communications tonight - emails, G+ messages, Facebook - it's amazing what can build up when your time isn't your own for the better part of a month.

So, as I work my way through emails and the like I'll be lurking in The Tavern's spanking new chat room. I plan on setting time aside once a week on a regular schedule to lurk in the chat room (and of course I'll pop in as time allows throughout the day.)

I'm thinking of running an AD&D 2e Trivia game next Friday, the 16th, via said chat room. Not written in stone yet, as it is the evening before a holiday weekend here in the States, but I should know by this weekend.

This weekend will also see the continuation of OSR Christmas. It's still cold, it's still Christmas season as far as I'm concerned.

As an aside, we now have 25 members in The Tavern's Common Room, the new forum that was set up earlier this week. Very cool :)

Do Your PCs Have a Home Base, or Are They Wandering Murder Hobos?

In one of the episodes of The Brainstorm Podcast we recorded last night, we touched upon "home bases" for the PCs. Do you use it, hand wave it or whatever.

In my eyes, if the PCs are the usual band of merry misfits that kill things and take their stuff, being on the constant move means one has a ready supply of creatures to kill and stuff to take. A true home base, especially at early levels, kinda defeats that purpose.

Do you use home bases in your campaign? Why or why not.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Forum, Chat Box - Just What the Hell is Going on at The Tavern Anyway? (Plans - We Got Plans)


New Year. Same Tavern. New toys for The Tavern's Community.

Some basic plans / ideas for the new features are as follows:

- with the chat, I'd like to schedule a once a month trivia contest. I'm going to guess a Friday Night from 8pm to 10pm Eastern.  Initially I'd be using the AD&D 2e Trivia cards, but I'll probably work on questions for other editions. Person with the most points at the end of the night would win a RPGNow Gift Cert. When I lock down the day, I'll post it in the blog and the forum.

- also with the chat, I'd like to host a weekly chat session, about an hour once a week with a steady day and time. Again, when I nail this down I'll post it. Should be fun to interact with everyone. (as an aside, in 2016 I'll probably add a second weekly session in hours apart from the nightly one for those in the community on the other side of the globe. may have some such sessions in 2015 as scheduling allows.)

- the forums are a work in progress. I'll be adding new sub-forums in the coming days and I'm open to suggestions. Google is going to move away from OpenID sign in (at least that's what I've read.) The Tavern's community is not strictly G+ based, which is one of the reasons I haven't moved to G+ for comments. Having our own forums will be a work around if Goggle buggers up the commenting ability on this end.

- forums live and die based on their community, or lack there off. So, I'm offering a bribe ;) When we hit 50 members, I'm going to award one random member (who has posted at least once) a $5 RPGNow GC. At 100 members, I'll award a $10 RPGNow GC. At 250, a $25 RPGNow GC and at 500 a $50 RPGNow GC. Yes, take my money, please :)

- the forums DO NOT require a new account to log in for 98% of the readers of this blog (number pulled out of my ass). If you have one of any number of social media accounts or emails - Google, Yahoo and the like, you can log in and become a member.

- if you are a publisher of OSR or Old School games or gaming material, let me know if you want your own sub-forum. Ask and ye shall receive.

- it's been suggested that I host a G+ Hangout once a month. Working on nailing that down.

- i've got some further ideas but they aren't far enough along to mention yet. not sure if they will take fruit.

- remember, The Tavern belongs to the OSR community. Tell me what we can do to make it better serve your needs, desires, dreams...


By Unanimous Voting - Presenting the New Tenkar's Tavern Common Room Forum


This forum software has some tweaks that puts it far beyond the other software experimented with yesterday, and it's not just the neater appearance that seamlessly blends in with the default colors of The Tavern.

No, the biggest bonus is... OpenID.

No need to register for yet another forum or social network. If you have anything that resembles a social media account from just about anywhere, you already have an account for The Common Room Forum.

I have a temporary banner / bar in blue on the right side of this page, just under the chat box. I'll need to commission a "true" one at some point.

I'm working on some plans to use both the forum and the chat box to really push the community to the next level. I'm really liking the chat box for a trivia game with prizes at some point.

Apparently Google is going away from OpenID for Blogger in the coming months. If so, the forums will be the key to keeping discussions going that aren't solely on G+

Thinking thoughts of further Common Room uses...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Two Forums, One Tavern - Who Will Win the Rights to The Common Room?

I'm experimenting with two different forum plugins here at The Tavern.

Do we go with Exhibit A? (uses OpenID)


or Exhibit B? (requires account registration)


Let me know in the comments. It for the community to use, so help make the decision :)

Added a Chat Box to The Tavern - Will Announce "Official" Chat Times at a Later Date

The real chat is on the right -->


Yep, in addition to the Forums, henceforth known as Tenkar's Tavern Common Room, I've added a chat box, Tavern Chat. ChatWING allows you to sign in with pretty much any of the usual social media suspects so you probably don't have to sign up for anything (the forums need an account if you want to post, but any can lurk.)

I'm going to try and work out a schedule where a night or two a week I will definitely be lurking in chat for an hour or two, answering questions and generally chatting. I'll be there often anyway, but knowing when can make it a regular weekly event.  I do like the idea of an RPG Trivia Night. That could be really cool.

2015 - New Year. Same Tavern. Some new decor ;)


Introducing the "Tenkar's Tavern Community Room" - A Forum of Sorts

New year. New experiment.

One of the things I love about G+ is the lively discussions. One thing I hate is the damn near impossibility of finding a thread days, let alone weeks later.

I want a place where The Tavern's community can post about looking for games, looking for players, excellent gaming blogs and resources, Kickstarters (good, bad or simply amusing), suggest blog post topics, elevator pitch guest posts, suggest topics for The Brainstorm Podcast, give feedback on what we do here - basically all the good things about a forum except for the name calling ;)

So, I've put together a forum for use here at The Tavern. It's integrated into it's own Blogger page. If it does well and gets used, I'll pony up the cash to run it ad free after the first month. If it turns into a forum wasteland, I'll let the ads run.

This doesn't replace commenting on blog posts or discussions over on G+. Think of it as a supplement for The Tavern. Completely optional. Hopefully useful.

The Tenkar's Tavern Community Room can be found at this link as well as the link on the right side of the page.

I may need to commission a button or banner for this...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What you see to the left are the yearly post totals here at Tenkar's Tavern going back to back to 2009 (2008 had one post, and that was just to secure the the blog over at Blogger.)

As you can see there was a significant ramp up of posts thru 2012 / 2013, with a noticeable drop off in 2014. Still an insanely huge number, but a drop off of nearly 200 post a year is significant. Considering the type of year 2014 was for me and my family, I'm actually surprised I surpassed 900.

One thing I do pride myself on is not missing a day of posting in 2014 or 2013. It could go back to 2012, but that would require me to do some heavy scanning of a couple of thousand posts. Ain't happening anytime soon ;)

One thing I might do for 2015 is put a couple of potential posts "in the hopper" so to speak. Life does not politely ask when it's a good time to intrude, and having stuff ready to go would be nice. I've never done it before, but it seems like it would make sense.

What does 2015 hold for The Tavern? Damned if I know. Mini reviews, Kickstarter highlights, gaming thoughts and observations, some gaming content - probably some Tunnels & Trolls goodness if deluxe T&T ever releases, OSR articles, some 5e thoughts if I ever get the time to read the core books, and whatever news, drama and loopiness that effects this hobby of ours.

That in and of itself is the main reason I don't write posts in advance - how do you write about a vibrant and constantly growing hobby and it's community and then put it on a back burner for weeks or months? I've seen that with some gaming podcasts - they talk about events in gaming that are current when the episode was recorded, but it's all over and done when finally released.

I'm still open to guest posters, as The Tavern is a community first and foremost. I'd like to get the community more involved with the blog and I'm certainly open to suggestions. I'd add a forum, but they tend to either be wastelands without activity or battlefields of personalities.

So, goodbye 2014 and hello 2015! May you be a kinder mistress going forward ;)



River of Heaven (OpenQuest / D100 SciFi) Giveaway - PDF - Awarding the Prize Bundle



Strange how time off from work doesn't automatically convert into free time. Anyhow, it is time to award the River of Heaven PDF Prize Bundle to a lucky reader.

+Jon Hershberger - woot!

Jon, you get a PDF copy of River of Heaven (and it's companion PDF, the adventure Reunion)

Thanks to +Newt Newport for generously offering this bundle. I look forward to hearing Jon's feedback ;)

edit - Jon, email me at tenkatsDOTtavernAT that gmail thing :)

Kickstarter - Micro Quest Cards - By Lloyd Metcalf (RPG Greeting Cards / OSR)

Over the next day or so there will be a handful of Kickstarter posts. If you have no interest in Kickstarter and the gaming material available from creators that use the system, you have been warned ;)


+Lloyd Metcalf (Lesser Gnome art jockey) gives us Micro Quest Cards - greeting cards and RPG adventures all rolled into one.

Lloyd, I fucking curse you, as now I will HAVE to send out greeting cards in 2015 - at least to certain patrons of The Tavern.

It's like chocolate and peanut butter, an impossible combination until actually done, at which point folks go "holy shit this is good!"

Yeah, I'm already in for this. Lloyd has come through in a timely fashion before, and as he has nearly a whole year to get these done (he is aiming for April 2015 - I'll need to give these to my wife or I'll lose them in the intervening months.

In +Lloyd Metcalf 's own words:

Micro Quest Cards 

Will combine the lessons learned from My RPG Greeting Card Kickstarter and my RPG Mini Mod Kickstarter into a new and fun RPG supplement that I have dubbed Micro Quest Cards.

These will be 5x7 greeting cards in all respects, except these cards are more adventurous and unique.

Instead of having blank interiors and simple images, these "Greeting Cards" will be 5"x7" 4 page adventure hooks and lair encounters printed on the same superior quality 14pt scored greeting card stock I used before.

Why waste interiors and backs of greeting cards with blank space... for what?
So you can profess your love?
Wish holiday greetings?
Write mushy sentiment?

Trust me on this, you are FAR better off sending an edge of your seat adventure!
It's a greeting card like NO OTHER ready to be added to any RPG table as a GM extra!
The card REALLY IS the gift!

Give ADVENTURE not sappy greeting cards with cats!!

Late Night Thoughts on Ruling and Rules, or Why I'll Never Run an RPG "By the Book" Ever Again



I've been thinking of the whole "Ruling vs Rules" juxtaposition and I find it literally eye opening. OD&D was written with the idea that players would come up with ideas literally "outside the box." If a player wanted to play a dragon, the DM should work with the player to make it happen (assuming it fits the campaign I suspect.) Very open ended. The assumption is gaming group will make the game their own. The original Basic D&D Boxed Set kept to that feeling of openness.

AD&D was written with the idea of a set of rules for tournament play that would be in universal use (from the DMG Introduction):
Thus, besides the systems, I have made every effort to give the reasoning
and justification for the game. Of course the ultimate reason and justification
is a playable and interesting game, and how much rationalization can
actually go into a fantasy game? There is some, at least, as you will see,
for if the game is fantasy, there is a basis for much of what is contained
herein, even though it be firmly grounded on worlds of make-believe. And
while there are no optionals for the major systems of ADVANCED D&D (for
uniformity of rules and procedures from game to game, campaign to campaign,
is stressed), there are plenty of areas where your own creativity and
imagination are not bounded by the parameters of the game system.
These are sections where only a few hints and suggestions are given, and
the rest left to the DM. (emphasis mine)
I started with AD&D, and of course the first thing we did was houserule the shit out of it (we never called it houseruling). I don't think I ever read this passage until 30 years later. Still, as intended, the game was not meant to be tweaked to fit your home game and your players - the players were to conform to the rules.

2e begat more rules and 3x even more. The idea that sufficient rules could negate the need for rulings meant that all DMs, if they were fluent with the rules, could, in theory, be created equal. All players would be on firm ground in organized play, as the rules in use would be consistent. I believe 4e moved even further in this direction, but I'm no expert, so I could easily be wrong.

5e seems to be a step back in the right direction, at least in part. Discretion is given to the DM to tweak the default rules to make things a better fit for his campaign and the players therein. If 5e grabbed any inspiration from the OSR, it is here. Not in the rules themselves, but in the flexibility of the rules.

Do you need to have all of your options spelled out? Height, weight, age - all determined randomly by dice and charts, like in 1e? Or can you just as easily decide those on your own? They don't effect the mechanics of the game, just the roleplay - and it seems like every edition after the White Box started putting more and more emphasis on roll over role and rules over rulings.

Maybe that's why I like the clones so much, as they tend to put more of the weight on rulings over rules.

Heck, even the current AD&D 1e campaign I'm playing in, which hues fairly close to being BTB, didn't have us randomly determine our age or physical stats. Which is right, even if the rules say it's wrong. No set of rules should need to define how you are going to roleplay your character beyond general class and race tendencies. If I want to play a portly and balding Tavern Keeper (Barliman Butterburr anyone?) I don't need rules telling me I'm short, thin and 18+ 1d4 years old.

Of course, I could just play myself, but where's the fun in that? ;)