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Saturday, April 18, 2015

What is the Most Useless Magic Item You Have Come Across in an RPG Campaign?

+Far Away Land RPG (Dirk) posted earlier this week on his blog, inquiring if everything in an RPG needed a purpose. I think the answer to that is no, but it won't stop the players from trying to find one ;)

Still, there are some pretty useless magic items - or at least, items that have a very singular and obscure purpose (these are often found in adventures instead of core rulebooks.)

Going the other direction, there are items, such as the Wand of Wonder, that no one in their right mind would ever use in the midst of combat unless all was already lost, as the potential to screw is greater than that of a positive result (I really should do another crowd sourced Wand of Wonder effects post - it has been a number of years since I did that previously.)

Here's an example I wrote a few years back. Maybe not useless, but not all that useful either:
Beer Bear - This appears to be a child's stuffed bear of smallish size.  If one tilts the bear's head back and makes a poring motion with the bear, cold beer (up to the amount of a pint) flows forth.  The type of beer that the bear dispenses depends on the color of the bear.  Black bears dispense stout and brown bears dispense a pilsner.  The bear will dispense beer up to 8 times in a single day. 
Hard to beat the image of one of the PCs going to sleep in a dungeon, holding his Beer Bear tight to him, out of fear another party member may take off with it ;)
So, what is the most useless magic item you have come across in an RPG campaign?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Giving Away a Tenkar's Tavern Tankard in Honor of Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!



You heard it right. We're giving away a Tenkar's Tavern Tankard in honor of Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day. There is a catch however. It will only ship within the US. So, if we randomly pick a non US address, we will send that person a $20 RPGNow Gift Certificate. Spend it on some of the excellent Swords & Wizardry goodness.

You know the speil - add a comment on this very post before 9pm Eastern tomorrow night (Saturday, April 18th.)

Best of luck to all :)


"I’m not a hundred percent comfortable right now (with the Digital Tools)" - Nathan Stewart, Brand Director for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast



Yep, another quote from the Forbes article.
Are you comfortable with where you are in terms of digital tools and accessories for the tabletop game? 
I’m not a hundred percent comfortable right now, because I felt like we took a great step backwards. We had a partner who seemed like they were on track to bring out some digital aids that were gonna be good for players, but now we’re looking for different people to bring that forward. We’ve got some opportunities, but I don’t think we have anything concrete right now that serves the main purpose of actually making the tabletop play better. 
One of the missing components that we still need to deliver is technology actually aiding the tabletop play in a way that encourages more eye-to-eye contact. I don’t want the game to be three or four guys sitting at a table looking at their computers and not talking. I want the digital tools help create more talking, more story-telling, more role-playing in the role-playing game. We’ve got a couple different options that we’re looking at right now and we do have some opportunities there but we’re a little behind where I’d like to be in terms of delivering that.
A few things.

You know what digital tool most folks want more than any other?

PDFs of the core rulebooks. Flat out simple. Put them on my tablet and I no longer need to carry a stack of books. This is the digital tool most requested and the one least likely to be seen anytime soon.

You know what digital tool is missing from the answer quoted above?

Fantasy Grounds. Yep, the VTT that got the license to see D&D 5e officially for use with their software. I thought it was fairly big news. I guess I was wrong. Could the article have been written and the interview  done prior to the announcement? Sure, but there is no hint of upcoming excitement in the "digital tool" world in the above answer.

Codename: Morningstar - the remains of the micro transaction virtual printing press that WotC was banking on couldn't even cut it as a Kickstarter, although asking for $425k might have been a bit much. Of course, this is why there are no PDFs for 5e. They were banking on the micro transactions from The Project That Would Become Morningstar, much like 4e was banking on a VTT subscription service to pay it's way.

Interesting how that works out. In the days of 4e, WoW was the king of MMORPGs and folks played a monthly fee to play. These days, most MMORPGs are subscription free - they make their money on micro transactions.


33% Off Swords & Wizardry for S&W Appreciation Day!



Frog God is having a 33% off Swords & Wizardry products at their online store - today only!

It's April 17th! In Honor of  Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day we are having a sale on EVERYTHING in the Swords & Wizardry format!  
Use the following coupon code at checkout to get 33% off of everything in the Swords & Wizardry format:  
S&W-33%OFF 
Shop Now!
(offer expires Midnight on April 17, 2015)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

and the Winner of a print copy of Quests fo Doom for D&D 5e is...


One of The Tavern's generous readers was lucky enough to receive 2 copies of Quests of Doom for 5e and now he is giving it away to a lucky tavern reader.

Just who will that reader be?

Grabbing a bucket of dice, as we have over 100 entries ;)

The Lucky Reader is:

Joel Watkins

Joel, email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing and I'll pass your snail mail info on.

Congrats and thanks to all :)

"Dungeons and Dragons stopped being a tabletop game years or decades ago" - Nathan Stewart, Brand Director for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast



There is a decent sized interview with Nathan Stewart about D&D over at Forbes, but this is the quote that really caught my eye:
Q - One of the big goals of fifth edition was to revitalize the brand overall –to make Dungeons & Dragons associated with stuff like video games, board games, books, and comics as much as it is with tabletop RPGs. Is the brand where you wanted it to be at this point? 
A - Is it where we wanted it to be? Let me back up a little bit and say that for the first part of your question, we obviously had big goals for the in shoring up the core of the brand –the tabletop RPG fifth edition and the playtest, that was the heavy lifting done behind the scenes. Wizards is publishing the spiritual core of the brand. 
But yeah, on the whole, Dungeons and Dragons stopped being a tabletop game years or decades ago. I mean, we’ve been a powerhouse in video games, for years now, and we’ve had movies –whether you like them or not, we still had them– tons of novels, comics, apparel, table top minies, just a lot of stuff across the board. So I will say that in terms of the 40th anniversary, I thought it was a tremendous year to celebrate all things D&D. We saw people coming back in waves, we’re seeing tastemakers and celebrities continue to devote their love of D&D publicly, and I think that’s a sign that culturally, you’re hitting the marks that you want.
D&D stopped being a tabletop game decades ago? That would mean at least back to 1995.

Dungeons & Dragons was a viable tabletop game in the 3x era. 4e is where it dropped much of it's tabletop luster, and that was in 2008.

Still, if there were any doubt that those migrating to D&D 5e are already playing a dead system...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Giving Away a Print Copy of Quests of Doom for 5e - US Shipping Only

This is my copy. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Thanks to the generosity of one of The Tavern's regulars (and the inadvertent generosity of Frog God Games, who mailed said Tavern regular an extra copy and said give it away) we are giving away a print copy of Quests of Doom for D&D 5e. Yes, it's a hard cover print copy. As such, this give away is open only to US mailing addresses. Sorry to those elsewhere :(

What do you need to do to enter and have a chance of snagging this fine book?

Just make a comment on this very post before 10 PM eastern, tomorrow, April 16th, 2015.

Do it! You know you want to :)

Tavern Chat - 830 PM Eastern - Tonight here at Tenkar's Tavern

Tonight is another Tavern Chat at 830. There was an unofficial Tavern Chat last night when I was preparing to register for games at NTRPG Con.

FYI, Rach and I got mostly what we wanted, and in any case we are in game sessions that we are really looking forward to. Less than 2 months to go.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Notes From GenCon 92 (As I get into Con Mode)


Last year's NTRPG Con was a 22 year gap between gaming cons, as my last was GenCon of 92. I remember filling every available moment with gaming goodness and seminars. Yes, plural for seminars, as I also attended the fiction seminar for TSR and have the notes to prove it (but I won't bore you with them unless requested.)




1AM Tonight is NTRPG Con Game Registration - Unscheduled Tavern Chat Commences at 1130 ;)

If you are attending NTRPG Con this June, tonight at 1AM EST is when registration opens up for the various game slots.

I took off tomorrow (remembering last year's registration hiccup) and I'll be registering myself and Rachel (two browsers in effect.) At least this year I was smart enough to reserve our hotel room early enough to get the Con rates. It is a significant savings. More money to spend on games and art ;)

There will be an unscheduled Tavern Chat commencing at 1130 PM tonight. It will probably last at least until 130 AM. The regular weekly Tavern Chat will be tomorrow night at 830 PM as usual.

How Many Dragons have You Actually Used in Your Campaigns?


The game that most of us cut our teeth on is named Dungeons & Dragons, but how many dragons have you actually encountered in game (dungeons is generally countless)?

Sure, back in my early days of gaming, when every dungeon map was filled like it belonged to the old Bard's Tale computer game, finding an ancient red dragon in a 10' x 10' room was nothing special. Heck, his neighbor was probably Asmodeus.

I don't think I've used a dragon in a game session in over 25 years - maybe 30.

How about you? How big a place do dragons old in your "Dungeons & Dragons?"

Monday, April 13, 2015

Far Away Land Quickstart Coming Soon :)



Mr +Far Away Land RPG himself announced in the Far Away Land G+ Community that the Far Away Land Quickstart is nearly ready to be released upon the masses:
So, with the help of +Vincent Florio  "The Evil GM" (who is actually the fire under this project), we will be releasing an FAL Quick Start set of rules... for PWYW. It's basically the mechanics of the game and PC creation. The Quick Start Rules will be their own beast and will contain some new artwork and a custom cover, as well as some pre-made characters and the Isle of the Rat Wizard adventure tossed in to get folks started. I'm hoping to get this hammered out by next month (as the text is pretty much done - thanks Vincent!).
When it does release I'll offer to run two sessions of FAL via G+ Hangouts - one open for the Patreon backers of The Tavern and one open for all of the readers of The Tavern. I'll make recruitment posts when the time comes. The sessions will probably fall in the evening, NYC time. I expect I'll limit each session to six players. For those attending NTRPG Con, I'll be running a session off the grid, probably in the outskirts of the hotel bar. I'll figure out the time / day of the con session once I know my con schedule ;)


Run as Written or Inspiration or Something Between?

When it comes to commercial or prewritten adventures, as a rule I do not "rune as written." More accurately, it would be safe to say that the shorter the adventure or module, the less changes I will make to it.

As I mentioned in an earlier post today, I've been changing up Castle of the Mad Archmage to suit my group (and me.) In some cases, that may mean adding a Hill Giant where there was none previously, and in others it may mean turning a room full of rat dung into "two fucking feet deep with rat dung!" It all comes down to knowing your players, the challenges they need and basicaly fucking with them.

I do little if any changing of the adventure (besides system conversion) when running DCC RPG adventures, but even there I tune challenges up or down depending on the party that shows up to play.

The one time I ran a large prewritten adventure "as written" was Dwimmermount, back when it was still being play tested but after the Kickstarter had funded. That session is rather (in)famous. Suffice to say, I am an advocate of making adventures fit the party instead of making the party fit the adventure.

Now, if you are one of those fine folks that have an abundance of time and energy to write all of your own adventures, more power to you. The following question does not apply to you ;)

Do you adjust or rewrite commercial or pre-written adventures to better suit your group or do you prefer to run as written, or perhaps somewhere in between?


Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Free PDF of the Creature Compendium Goes to...


the free PDF of the Creature Compendium goes to:

+Reese Laundry

Reese, email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing and we'll get you squared away :)

The "B Team" Returned to The Castle of the Mad Archmage - and I "Turned it Up to 11"



It had been a couple of months since we had a session of the mostly once a month foray into the depths of The Castle of the Mad Archmage (CotMA.) Pretty much my fault for the lapse, as work has been a busy bugger of late.

As I've mentioned before, I'm extremely generous with the expo with the "B Team" due in large part to the infrequency of the sessions. This has led to a bit of a conundrum - the level the party is currently exploring is no longer a challenge as written, but they are having such a good time exploring it I don't want to push them on before they are ready. What is a DM to do?

Simple. "Turn it up to 11"

Not everywhere, of course. There were still some encounters that were a challenge to a party of 2 6th level fighters and a 5/5 cleric / magic-user, but those challenges were going to be few and far between.

I didn't remove anything - I just added. The orc tribe, complete with women and children? They were now led by a small hill giant and his two ogre bodyguards. Yep, that was so perfectly balanced that two out of the three PCs were dropped before the hill giant fell, and that last standing fighter was a hit away from dropping himself.

Yep. Balanced it just a bit too closely perhaps. If the fireball hadn't taken out a bunch of orcs and weakened the big bads it may very well have been a TPK. Actually, maybe it was balanced just fine, as everyone was on the edge of their seats.

You can read two session recaps thus far: +Douglas Cole 's at The Gaming Ballistic Blog and +Peter V. Dell'Orto 's at Dungeon Fantastic Blog.