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Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Pieces Come Together - The Failed Lich starts to Fall into Place

+Reid San Filippo has been on a tear these past 24 hrs as can be seen with his Far Away Land-ification of Nicole Cardiff's flaming skeleton drawing. And so it was that The Failed Lich began to form in the nether regions of my mind. Wait, that doesn't sound quite right.

In any case, both versions are inspirational. Heck, I'm not sure which version of the art would work better with Tunnels & Trolls, as the system walks a fine line between serious and wacky at times.

I can't help but think that the setting piece I posted last night would be a nice fit. Crap, this is becoming a triple system stated creature and possibly a location and encounter.

Still, a Failed Lich. The bitterness. The disappointment. The burning anger.

Yep, this is going to be fun. I have an 90 minute drive to the in-laws tomorrow. Perfect brainstorming time.





Original by Nichole Cardiff

Far Away Land-ified by Reid San Filippo

Patreon Highlights - Tim Shorts and His Micro Adventures

I mentioned earlier this week I was going to highlight some Patreon RPG Projects. If all goes as planned, I'll be hitting one a day but plans rarely go as planned.

The first project I'll be looking at is +Tim Shorts and his Micro-Adventures. I'm sure I've mentioned Tim's Patreon Project before, but if I have, the below is what you can get for supporting Tim's project.

I literally just got them today (I checked the mailbox after I shoveled today's snow.)

Ashley refused to have her picture taken. Sorry Tim :(

If this isn't cool, I don't know what is. Awesome, shiny and unique. If I had any kind of artistic talent, I'd be doing the same thing, but I don't. Therefore, I blog and take fun pics. Besides, these pieces speak for themselves. Each is a solid evening of gameplay written and drawn by the master of Gothridge Manor himself.

All of the Patreon Projects I back are a worthy cause. They are creative and talented and simply awesome member of the OSR community. You can see them all here at Patreon.




Monster Art Far Away Land-ified!

I posted the other day that I was going to be creating creatures for S&W, T&T and Far Away Land due to my patrons on Pateron hitting a milestone. I dug into my stock art collection for inspiration, and you can look at the original post to see the four pieces of art I decided to use here as well as the fire elemental here.

Color me surprised when I received an email last night from +Reid San Filippo with the following pieces of art based off of +Eric Quigley 's original designs.



Eric's classic fantasy art has been Far Away Land-ified!

Did I mention how awesome The Tavern's community is?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Damn the Inspirational Art! Now I Need to Design an Encounter

Art by Malcolm McClinton
You know what the problem is when you start digging through the stock art collection on your hard drive? You stumble across stuff that just screams to be used.

I have a little something I need to work on for +Johua De Santo and I think I just found my inspiration.

My mind is bouncing like one of those 10 cent vending machine balls you'd get as a kid.

Damn you +Joe Wetzel :)

I've Tweaked The Tavern - Looking For Feedback on Loading Speed

Tweaking the slow moving cube ;)
Art by Malcolm McClinton

It was pointed out to be earlier today that The Tavern was having some real issues loading on some folks computers so I did some tweaking and pruning.

Gone are some graphics and links to feed readers - I figure if you use a feed reader, you know how to add a feed.

Also gone are about 30 blogs from the blog roll. It was time to trim the dead and dying - anything that had gone over 2 months was fair game, although a handful found a stay of execution due to nostalgia. More importantly, I killed the icons and thumbnails from the blog roll, as it appears even though I was showing only the last 25 blogs that updated, all of the blogs in the blog roll were having their icons and thumbnails loaded.

Hopefully these tweaks have some noticeable load time improvements for those that were chugging along ;)

If you see an improvement in load time, please comment below. If it's worse, definitely comment below!

Thanks for your time


Tweaking The Tavern - For Speed!

I received an email earlier today that The Tavern has been slow to load recently. I haven't seen it myself at home, but working off of 4g here at work, I can see the need to tweak a bit to quicken load times.

I'm sure last night's upload or art didn't help things much - I suspect those files were a bit large ;)

Let me know if you have any issues.

One thing I'll be doing is pruning the blog roll of inactive blogs. I pruned a bit earlier today and I think there are still 132 or so in the blog roll. I'll be aiming to remove any blog that hasn't updated in the last 60 days or so.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What Makes Monsters "Monstrous?"

Art by Eric Quigly


As I mentioned in my last post, I'm going to be working on some creatures or monsters for S&W, T&T and Far Away Land (FAL.) Many times, monsters in D&D and other fantasy games boil down to a set of stats - their combat ability if you will. I'd like them to be something more.

What makes monsters "monstrous"? Is it the threat they are to the PCs? Their appearance? Motivations? Eating habits? Odor? Sounds they make? Their history and origin?

Nothing truly exists in a vacuum - except perhaps in RPGs ;)

In any case, I'd like to create creatures that have depth, as well as being able to summarize what makes them click in two to three sentences. Yeah, I love a challenge.

So, tell me what makes monsters "monstrous" for you.

Some Thoughts on Triple Stating Some Unique Creatures for S&W, T&T and FAL

Art By Nicole Cardiff
So, one of the Milestones for The Tavern's Patreon support was to provide new creatures for use with Swords & Wizardry, Tunnels & Trolls and Far Away Land that I would post for all here at The Tavern. I figured it would take months to hit the $100 a month milestone. We hit it in 12 hrs.
Art by Malcolm McClinton


I owe The Tavern Community at least four creatures a month and I figured I'd get a bit of a head start by digging through my stock art collection. Yes, I know I'm not a publisher, but I've bought a ton of stock art over the years with the idea that, at some point, I'd have a use for it.

Surprise, I have a use for it ;)

Art by Jeff Ward

My thought is to reimagine the creatures from a Far Away Land perspective and then rework them back to Swords and Wizardry and Tunnels & Trolls.

Art by Eric Quigley
You know I had to include an +Eric Quigley piece in the first batch ;)

Alright, these are the pieces I've chosen to brainstorm with. Wish me luck...

White Box Companion for Swords & Wizardry Released by Barrel Rider Games



The White Box Companion for Swords & Wizardry was just released by Barrel Rider Games "introducing five new classes: Bard, Druid, Paladin, Ranger and Thief. While none of these classes were around in 1974, White Box Companion streamlines each of them and adds new options for players while keeping the same simplicity and elegance of Swords & Wizardry White Box. All in an easy to read 16-page digest format!"

+james spahn has done good work with Labyrinth Lord and recently started working on Swords & Wizardry Supplements. His Player's Companion for Swords & Wizardry was well received.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

We Raised $142 a Month of Funding for the Tavern in 12 Hrs - Thank You!

I've always said that the community here at The Tavern is amazing and generous, but you all have blown me away today. I am humbled and forever grateful.

We currently have $142 in monthly pledges for The Tavern and have hit the first 2 of The Tavern's Patreon Milestones.

5% of the pledge monies received will be Kicked Forward to other RPG related Patreon projects. Additionally, we'll be having some new creatures for use with Swords & Wizardry, Tunnels & Trolls and Far Away Land. Yep, each creature will be triple stated.

Heck, we are nearly to the halfway point of getting me to organize an Informal Online Old School Gaming Con.

In the next day or so I'll be giving a proper shout out to all of the Patreon backers.

Again, thank you. If ever I felt like a humble servant, it is now ;)

Tavern Chat - Tonight - 830 to 10 PM Eastern Time - Right Here at the Tavern

Tonight is another Tavern Chat at 830 Eastern.

I would have used the G+ Event Notification, but since it spams people instead of just leaving a notification like a normal G+ post, I figured I'd do it the old fashioned way.

The chat box is on the left hand side of this very blog page ==>

As an aside, The Tavern's Patreon Page went live earlier today and we already have $86 in monthly pledges. The Tavern Community has been consistently generous over the years and I am forever in the debt of all of you. Thanks :)

The Crusty Grog -- I'm Baaaaack! Professional GamesMaster Society? WTF?


I've be real quiet listening from the basement, eating scraps of information from between the floor boards. 

Nothing was worth talking about, or freaking out about...

UNTIL NOW.

Before I more further on this, I'd like to say...

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a career out of your hobby, lots of people attempt to do it. Especially in our little hobby of gaming, people attempt to write modules and try to sell them, which is perfectly fine.

Some folks go a step further and create podcasts for their favorite game, Like:

  • d20 Radio and its assortment of Podcasts. They've gone as far as creating their own games, and asking people to donate to the show, as a reward gave out custom dice.
  • Mad Adventures Society who it seems branched off of d20 Radio, has their own set of podcasts, actual play podcasts and even have their own Patreon project, offering EXTRA content on top of the free stuff they do.
  • Wild Games Productions has fallen in suit with MAS and has done something similar, offer early show access, preshow stuff and whatever else they promised.
  • The Nerdy show does the same stuff.. 
I can go on and on, but what really burns my ass is something that was tried by Wizards of the Coast way back in the D&D 3.X era days, just slightly different.


What's so bad you say?

Well let me tell you.

Who the hell do they think they are, saying they are the leading authority on being a GM? Who they hell are they to have the nerve to CHARGE people to play a game that we've all been playing for years, taking advantage of the fact that certain people crave this type of shit.

They want to encourage a GM to charge per person, per game for them to run a game online or in person?

Why?

Because they are a professional Certified GM, and this is their living?

Well FUCK YOU for trying to make a buck because you can't figure out how to do anything else in our hobby, but PRAY ON new folks trying to get into the hobby and folks that don't have confidence in running games.

Oh yeah, did I forget? They are going to hold classes to teach you HOW TO BE A BETTER GM AND LIST THIS IN YOUR GAME POSTING SO PEOPLE WILL SAY, "Hey I'm a stupid fucking idiot, I should sign up because this douche is charging $10 a game, and he is certified!"

Stand with me and keep the hobby how it should be, FREE and passed down between friends, family and even strangers.


Patreon Funding is Live at The Tavern - Buy Your Bartender a Cup of Coffee



This morning the Patreon Page for Tenkar's Tavern went live. If you have a moment, swing by and tell me what you think.

Milestones include Kicking it Froward (taking a percentage of the pledges and using them to pledge to other RPG projects that the supporters decide upon), gaming content, bringing back Feltothraxis, organizing an online Old School Gaming convention and other fun stuff.

No one has to back anything. If we don't raise a cent, nothing will change at The Tavern. Posts will still come and go, Kickstarters will get highlighted and / or trashed and the blog will go on.

With enough support though, we can make things better for everyone in out little community.

Pledges start at $1.50 a month, which works out to be about 2 cents a post (or a large cup of coffee here in NYC.) Those that pledge a little higher have other perks, the top one being my wife Rachel picking through my game collection and mailing you some of my stuff (US Only.)

Thanks to all of you that read The Tavern on a regular basis. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be doing what I love.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Patreon - Thoughts on The Tavern and Where We Can Take It

So, as I sit here at my desk, avoiding solid food as my stomach is gurgling and my heartburn is burning (my wife Rachel is running a fever after doing her exorcist impression last night), I've given more thought to providing The Tavern's community the opportunity to support it via Patreon. I don't really see a downside (except for the fact that above exorcist impressionist wants to give away a chunk of my gaming collection.)

There is no way I could ask for folks to support The Tavern on a per post basis - it would be insane for everyone. Simply put, I post too much for that to work.

Looking at the posting numbers for 2014 we were at 920 posts in 12 months. That comes out to nearly 77 posts a month. For ease of math we'll say 75.

Maybe we'll set the ground level of support at $1.50 a month - 2 cents a post. Another level for other bloggers that want to be on a "Backer Blog List" and get highlighted with a blog post. Perhaps a level for a backer only G+ hangout to discuss possible blog topics (which all backers would then get to vote on.) Hmm, maybe a backer only email addy to reach me at, as my others get inundated with so much that isnt gaming related. Oh, and a level where Rach gives away some of my shit. She'll need to do the post office trip herself, but she really is excited by the whole idea.

I like the idea of kicking it forward. So one of the milestones would be Kicking Forward 5% to other Patreon projects (and later milestones would raise that - 7.5% and later 10%.) All the backers would get to vote on which projects to back.

I'd love to bring back Feltothraxis for more Dragon Puppet Game Reviews. They're fun to do but time consuming. So, another milestone.

Weekly gaming content posts - monsters, magic items, spells, classes - Old School D&D, Tunnels & Trolls and Far Away Land would be safe bets for systems. Those would be the low hanging fruits on the milesone tree.

Organizing an OSR Online Con via Roll20 would be up there and further away would be a online seasonal gameday.

Needless to say, monies raised would go towards prizes, giving a face lift to The Tavern and giving me a small flow of outside income when I retire from full-time employment next year. The more viable the blog is, the more time I can spend on both The Tavern and The Tavern's Community.

More time to do what I love to do in the first place. Should be a win-win.

I'm open to ideas and thoughts on the whole thingamawhop.

edit - should there be a milestone to back "Wayward Kickstarters?"

edit edit - The Tavern will always be a free to read blog. Patreon is a tip jar that (hopefully) will allow The Tavern to be an even better experience for all.

Live! - Brainstorm Podcast Live On Air - Right Now

Want to check out +Glen Hallstrom , +Vincent Florio and myself as we record The Brainstorm Podcast? Here's your chance!

Here's the link: https://plus.google.com/events/chl2ing0i5ff9ov27l3rnk93e38

Enjoy!

Minis - Do You Use Them?

I've probably asked this before, but I was listening to the latest Save or Die Podcast on my commute to work this morning and the use of miniatures came up.

Back in my early days of gaming, we used minis and dice interchangeably to determine marching order and occasionally the initial set up of an important battle. We never moved them around or plotted points and the like.

When I returned to gaming it was via Fantasy Grounds - a virtual Tabletop. I played in game that used virtual minis or pogs and those without. Those without always seem to be faster paced and there was more Theater of the  Mind going on.

These days, I DM via Roll20, another VTT, and while I use maps and fog of war to show the players where they are, I don't use minis. Slows the game up too much for my taste.

All that being said, I'm waiting on my Reaper's Bones II box of minis to show up at my door. I love minis. I just don't use them with my RPG gaming.

What about you? Do you use them? Why or why not?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ursined, Sealed and Delivered - Swords and Wizardry Edition - $4.99 for POD w/PDF

sure, the cover says "Pathfinder" in the pic, but it's S&W

I was very surprised to see Ursined, Sealed and Delivered - Swords and Wizardry Edition available in Print on Demand at RPGNow for $4.99 (PDF included for instant gratification.)

Looking a bit deeper, I see some of the Hex Crawl Chronicles, One Night Stands and Splinters of Faith are also $4.99 for POD with PDF. It's kinda hit or miss at the moment, so maybe the Frogs are uploading print files as I type this.

The print copies no longer look to be available at Frog God.

In any case, a good deal on an interesting adventure written by none other than Dr. Dennis Sustare.

From the blurb:
One of the One Night Stands series, Ursined, Sealed and Delivered is a newly written adventure module, but it's a truly unique window into the early days of the game. The module is written by Dennis Sustare, the designer and author of the original Druid class that has become a key character class in virtually every fantasy game ever written since 1978. I've done almost no editing of Dennis's text, although the tournament format has been shifted around to be more easily used during play. The result is that you are about to read an adventure that's a direct window into the imagination of one of the great figures of fantasy gaming. Any typographical errors or glitches in the "flow" of the adventure are the responsibility of the editor, and all the high-adventurous moments of this fast-moving, gripping adventure are to the credit of the author. 
In addition to being written by Dennis Sustare, the module has cover artwork contributed by Paul Jaquays, who is also one of the great figures of fantasy gaming art. This new artwork sees the return of Paul's unique style, which will be instantly recognizable by those who gamed during the seventies and early eighties; it is an iconic, original vision of swords & sorcery that has not been seen on the cover of a module for decades. We're proud to be able to bring a new piece of Jaquays art to younger gamers who may never have seen examples of it before. He portrays a world that is stark and fierce, more visceral than art based on high fantasy, with the sort of rough-edged heroes who inhabit the fiction of sword & sorcery's earlier days, before the world-shaking influence of JRR Tolkien rearranged the foundations of the genre at every conceivable level.

Patreon - Now My Wife Understands Too Well

So, I read last night's Patreon post to my wife prior to actually posting it as I wanted to get the feedback of someone not all that familiar with crowdfunding. She understands Kickstarter well enough as see sees the occasional package arrive at our door, but Patreon was something totally new to her.

My wife: So, it's basically a tip jar that the community, whatever community, puts into. If you tip more, you might get some extra perks but in the end, everyone, even those that don't tip, get the same basic experience.

Me: Exactly!

My Wife: And if that experience sucks, I can withhold my tip in the future. So, you better keep up the quality or you won't get tipped.

Me: Yep. You have the concept down pretty well.

My Wife: So, if The Tavern had a tip jar, and there was some crazy perk level of $50 or so where your wife got to pick something from your game collection and ship it to a backer, that could work. Actually, it sounds like fun!

Me: Errrrrrrr

My Wife: Like your Tunnels and Trolls stuff. You have two of those falling apart orange boxes. Why two? Just think of what we could clear out of storage!

Yeah, she understands almost too well. Hell, she's almost sold me on not funding The Tavern with Patreon. Heh.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Patreon - Patronship Empowering Creators to Do What They Do, But Better

I really struggled with the title of this blog post because it falls far short of what Patreon and the concept of patronship really means.

Here, let's start with a simple comparison to Kickstarter and where the two are diametrically opposed (which might be a stronger term than needed, but whatever.)

Kickstarter allows folks to fund a promise. Remember Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons? "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." It's a bit like that, except you are paying for the hamburger today with a promise that you'll get the hamburger on Tuesday. Perhaps with a side of fries if certain stretch goals are met, but maybe you won't get that burger for 2 more weeks - or ever. That promise you are funding is only as good as the one giving it and even then, the best of intentions often become crowdfunded nightmares. Feel free to read some of the Kickstarter posts here at The Tavern. I've covered all types - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Patreon allows you to support something that was already being done and offered to the masses for free. It's a crowdfunded "tip jar" if you will, and the power of crowdfunding can be pretty amazing. It can allow bands and music producers to up the quality of their videos (Scott Bradley and his Post Modern Jukebox Band has pledges of over $3,400 per video) and podcasters to cover hosting and production costs (Wild Games Productions is getting a hair over $50 a month to cover costs of hosting a whole bunch of podcasts, The Brainstorm included.) +Dyson Logos (here) and +matt jackson (here) were posting maps and adventures to their blogs before Patreon was "a thing."

Few if any of us can be a "patron of the arts" like in the Renaissance Period. We can, however, put aside a buck or two a month to support those that bring some joy to our lives (and if you have more than a buck or two to tip with, many creators offering little extras. WGP offers a monthly hangout with an assortment of podcasts hosts for those that put a bit more in the tip jar.)

I personally support 11 different creators on Patreon, three of which are music creators. The other eight are in the RPG hobby.

As I cut back on backing Kickstarter material, I see myself putting a few more pieces of gold into various projects on the Patreon side of things. I see the results. I can get feedback from project creators when I want and give them feedback when they want it. It is much more of a community than Kickstarter could ever be.

Do I see The Tavern putting a Patreon tip jar on the bar in the near future? Probably. More contests. More prizes. More fun ;)

Blogging has always been something I've enjoyed and my family has been very accommodating and understanding of the time and funds I put into it. It will need to pay for itself when I retire shortly.

So, this was going to be a post about which Patreon projects were worth backing and has become more of a post about what Patreon actually is.

I'll link to some worthy Patreon projects during the  forthcoming week.


Sword Coast: Legends - Solo / Co-op Play D&D PC Game (DM Optional)



Sword Coast: Legends is the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons 5e ruleset based PC game. Yep, no Playstation or Xbox versions - pure PC. 1-4 players and the possibility of using a DM for the 5th player.

Release date? Nebulously set sometime in 2015.

A few things to note:

- Although a licensed Dungeons & Dragons title, the D&D logo is noticeable small on the cover of the mock-up, almost an afterthought.

- Neverwinter Nights had promised an effective use of a DM - I don't recall it ever working all that well. It would be interesting if they can pull this off.

- it looks like there may be an adventure builder in the software. Again, if they can pull this off, it may be really cool. It needs to be simple enough for the average tabletop player to use effectively.

- system requirements aren't all that high, which should lower the entry bar.

- I didn't see mention of built in VOIP, but I'm going to assume for now that it is a given.

From the site:
About the Game 
Set in the lush and vibrant world of the Forgotten Realms, Sword Coast Legends offers an all-new way to enjoy the time-tested magic of playing Dungeons & Dragons as a shared storytelling experience. With a deep narrative developed by a team of long-time industry veterans and a partnership with Wizards of the Coast, the single player campaign of Sword Coast Legends brings the world of Faerûn home like never before. 
Sword Coast Legends also brings the roleplaying dynamic between players and Dungeon Masters to life with DM Mode, a first-of-its-kind real-time experience in which Dungeon Masters guide players through unique customizable adventures. In DM Mode, the Dungeon Master engages players and empowers them to have fun in a way that suits the party best while creating a tailored, non-adversarial 4 with 1 experience that any RPG or pen-and-paper fan will enjoy. 
Game Features: 
Single player campaign created by members of the leadership team that brought you Dragon Age™: Origins 
Choose from five playable races and six unique character classes to build your own stalwart adventurer 
A return to form, Sword Coast Legends is the compelling and complex RPG you've been waiting for and features pause time, party-based tactical combat and involving storylines
Dungeon Master Mode: Create your own epic adventure to share with your friends, or enhance their experience in real time as they traverse your dungeon 
Set in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms universe based on the fifth edition ruleset and populated with Dungeons & Dragons lore and legend