Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wrack and Rune for Labyrinth Lord

Wrack and Rune for Labyrinth Lord was just released.  I haven't done more then give it a virtual thumb thru, but what I've seen looks nicely done.  It's on sale at 20% off thru July 4th.

The Blurb:  It's a typical job: Go get the thing, bring it to the wizard. Of course, you should keep a few details in mind... like the thing is a three-ton statue... probably broken in pieces... and sunk to the bottom of Eel Bight, a dangerous bay haunted by thick fogs, Reef Devils, and a magic island full of kidnapping fairy-folk. Oh, and this wizard is in a hurry, so the reward drops every day. Other than that, no problem!

In true old-school style, WRACK & RUNE pits the players against logistical challenges, resource management, and the ticking clock. Blood may spill, but smarts and creativity will win the day more than brute force.

Actually all of Faster Monkey Games' products are on sale thru July 4th.

See?  Way too much in my review slush pile to get thru quickly.  A few days off from work will do wonders.

Big Boys and Their Toys

When people think of Big Boys and Their Toys, guns, power tools and monster trucks come to mind.  Earlier tonight I got to play with the first for a few hours.  I don't do monster trucks.  I rarely do the power tools.  My main toys are the Roleplaying games I get to read and / or play.

That is what I want to do on my vacation.  Read all my new toys.  Delayed by half a day as I need to run into work in the morning.  Best laid plans and all that.

Midweek Madness - And then a Mini Vacation

Phew!  Alright, I've learned this week that RPG PDFs, pricing and viability, can be pretty hot topics.  I don't think it's over either, and I still have a topic or two to add as new post in the coming days.  Sometimes its fun to stir ;)

Expect some reviews to hit this blog over the coming days.  After I spend tonight putting holes in paper targets I'll be taking shots at my review pile.  I have some Call of Cthulhu books I need to get to as well as a bunch of others  (like the Kobold Guide to Game Design, Vol 3).  Lets see what I can accomplish amidst Fourth of July fireworks and partying ;)


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quick Start Rules - The Listing - Part the Third

Stepping away briefly from our PDF discussions here and here and even here, we come to our latest collection of quick starts.

Septimus Quick Start - Or just get the full version for free here.

The Chimera RPG Quick Start - Multi-genre rpg.  Of which I know nothing about.  Guess I need to get the Quick Start...

Dungeons & Dragons 4e Quick Start - The most popular game in the RPG world.  Easy way to see if 4e fits your play style. 

Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2 Playset (FREE demo version)    Maybe I can play the D&D Cartoon with these rules.  Heh.

Castlemourn Cortex Quickstart - A setting by Ed Greenwood using the Cortex system?  Forgotten Realms meets Battlestar Galactica?  Interesting none the less.

Monday, June 28, 2010

PDF Format, Viable or Not?

I got some excellent feedback to the question of pricing PDFs, both from the publisher and consumer sides.

I understand the argument "that all PDFs should be free", even if I don't agree with it.  Consumers have readily accepted digital media, whether music (both DRM and non-DRM), movies and even mainstream book publishing (Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, numerous assorted e-book distributors and e-reader makers).

Yes, our hobby is small.  Yes, it may be nearly impossible to make a living off of it (especially after the D20 Implosion).  That doesn't prevent one from making a profit off of it, large or small, if you are able to produce quality (and probably quantity too) products.

I remember reading somewhere (at some time in the not too distant past) that a Role Playing Game PDF make 90% of its lifetime sales in its first 90 days or so.  That means although it has a unlimited virtual shelf life, its visibility window is fairly small.  How does one lengthen, or refresh, that window?

Is PDF the ideal format for RPGs in electronic format?  Is there a more viable or suitable format?  Are there features that PDF is missing that you wish it had to increase it's viability or usefulness?  Would a drop in e-book reader prices with suitable size screens lead to a higher amount PDF acceptance?

The market does change and adjust.  Before the merger of RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, DTRPG used to lock down it's products with Adobe DRM.  RPGNow watermarks most of its products these days.  Would you do anything different?  As a publisher?  As a consumer?  As a foul beast from the outer reaches? ;)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What is Your PDF Price Point?

I had this thought on my mind yesterday as I was driving to (and back) from Connecticut:  what is the magic PDF price point?  I'm not talking about absolute price, as in "I'd never pay more then $7.50 for a PDF book", I'm talking more on the order of "What percentage of the 'Dead Tree' version of the product's price are you willing to pay for an electronic / PDF version?"

This is an important question.  There are some folks out there that believe all PDF gaming material should be free, and it is certainly open to pirating (just like movies, music, and other electronic book formats).  There are others that don't like PDFs at any price... I can understand that point of view.  Then you have the other extreme:  those of us that prefer the PDF format - even more so in my case as the iPad is an AMAZING PDF reader.

I'm going to throw my own magic price point into the mix - somewhere in the 40% to 60% range of the printed product, although it is a rule I've managed to break more then once.  60% for the lower priced books, 40% for the higher end of the spectrum.

If you read this blog on any sort of semi irregular basis, you know I'm keen on PDFs.  I've always liked the format, or at least it's potential as a truly portable format that isnt stuck on your desktop or laptop screen.  The Kindle DX was leaps and bounds closer to achieving that then we had ever been, and the iPad makes in a full blown reality.  For me, PDFs are the key to my 21st century gaming library, tucked away on a portable device that takes up less space then the 1st Edition DMG.

If you aren't as portable in your reading medium for PDFs, their value to you may be less.  Then again, if you are far from a game store they may be more valuable then the physical book.  Each situation is different.

I like to find the really excellent gaming material that is made available for free from the companies themselves and share it with my readers.  Not just because it is free, but because it meant to be read and used.  In most cases, free PDFs from the named publishers are quality products aimed at showing your their works, in the hopes that you will buy further products from them, either hard copy or electronic.  It is in their best interest to make it a quality experience.

Not everything can be free.  When I started gaming in 1981 or so, the only free gaming material is what you or your friends wrote up themselves.  These days, with the OSR, retroclones, quickstarts and other stuff, I could probably game for years for free on stuff others wrote.  Yet I'd be shutting myself out from 95% or the hobby.  I'd never experience the Indy publishers, the ones that push our hobby to the edge and then some.

Me, I enjoy my free and not-so-free PDFs.  I find price to be less an issue then enjoyment.

Still, it took me a while to prefer PDF to dead tree.  Where do you stand?  What is your price point?

(Greg C. and I spoke a bit on this in email today- damn synergy at work ;)

New Contest!

Alright, the new contest is going to be real easy.  If you are already following Tenkar's Tavern via Google Friend's Connect, you are already entered.

Giving away a PDF copy of FantasyCraft to a random Google Friend when we hit 40 followers.

Giving away a PDF copy of  Karma Roleplaying System Core to a random Google Friend when we hit 50 followers.

Giving away a PDF copy of Fat Dragon's Dragonshire Deluxe to a random Google Friend when we hit 60 followers.

Now THAT is an easy contest to enter ;)

Let's clear out the prize closet so we can get some more prizes :)

The Banner Contest Has a Winner!

It also only had one entrant, but his entries were damn good :)

Greg C. produced the above banners and they will put to good use.  Now he just needs to pick his prize ;)

A new contest will be going live today, and anyone can enter.  Actually, 33 have already entered and just don't know it yet ;)

As a side note, the new web address of TenkarsTavern.com is slowly going live...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fight On! #9 in Print and PDF

The Underdark Gazette (which should be on every gamer's weekend reading list) leads off this weekend with the release of Fight On! #9.  I can't say enough about this magazine.  Even if you, personally, find that 95% is stuff you might never use, the other 5% is worth more then the price of admission all by itself.  Me, I run at about 50% of the articles being stuff that excites me and I'd want to find a way to use... which would make for one hell of a confusing game ;)

Bought, downloaded, DropBoxed and synced to my iPad for reading later tonight.  Yes, the print version has been out for a few days, but I prefer PDFs myself ;

Growing Pains

Alright, I just bought the TenkarsTavern.com domain and Blogger is managing the redirect.  It may take a day or so before things return to normal... whatever that is.

Move along!  Nothing to see!

The Troll Lords Get Cute and Furry

Troll Lord Games has released Harvesters, their RPG with rabbits, squirrels and other furry critters in PDF format.  So, what do you get for your 13 bucks?

You get a nicely written version of the Castles & Crusades rules that are aren't going to overwhelm your kids, yet should still maintain the interests of the parents.  We get most of the C&C classes represented in the rules, and advancement thru level 6.  If your campaign was going to go beyond that, you'd need to reach over and flip thru the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook.

The 66 page book includes character races, classes, spells, equipment, core rules, adversaries and even an adventure and campaign world.  A lot crammed into a small number of pages.

Is it worth the 13 dollar price tag?  If you have young kids that are interested in Role Playing Games, this might be a very good entry vehicle, especially if the GM/DM/CK is already familiar with 3.5e or any of the clones of the older D&D games (including Harvesters' direct parent, C&C).  It might even play well as a short term diversion for more adult oriented gaming groups.

Friday, June 25, 2010

OUBLIETTE Issue 3 is Out!

Oubliette Issue 3 has hit the virtual newsstand at RPGNow.  I'm sure the pressing question is "Just what do I get for my 2 bucks?" .  Well, at McDonalds you could pick up 2 McDoubles, assuming there is no tax, but that isnt the answer you were looking for ;)

In this issue we get a Barbarian class for Labyrinth Lord, an adventure, the second part of Firearms for LL and other assorted goodies wrapped in the 47 page package.

The barbarian class is chock full of abilities.  I can't say how well balanced he is compared to other Labyrinth Lord classes, but he looks to be a blast to play.  2D6 +1 HD at first level makes him a nice beginner's tank.

Alright, time for me to dig thru the rest.  If it is anything like the first 2 issues this is an easy choice to pick up.

Weekend Updates

Sunday afternoon(ish) the banner contest will be drawing to a close. Which means you have about 48 hrs left to enter.

I just received Harvesters from Troll Lord Games. The quick once over looked good, now I need to conduct the full read thru. Looks like it might be a good crossover game for younger family members.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quick Start Rules - The Listing - Part the Second

Well, not only will there be a bunch of quick starts listed here, but the first one was also a Free RPG Day Giveaway for 2010, so if you missed it last weekend you can download today.

Castles & Crusades 2010 Primer & Quick Start from Troll Lord Games.  This was Troll Lord Games Free RPG for 2010.  If you haven't tried C&C yet, this is an easy way to check it out.  If you have played C&C, this is an easy way to show your friends (yes, I like C&C... hate the Crusader mag tho')

Battlestar Galactica RPG Quickstart Guide from Margaret Weis Productions.  32 page into to the Battlestar Galactica game based on the recent TV series of the same name.  Sorry, my Cylons had the bouncing red eye.

Mutants & Masterminds Beginner's Guide from Green Ronin.  Green Ronin always puts out top notch products.  The new DC Heroes Games is going to be based on M&M.  Take a peek and see if it might be something you'll like.

Hackmaster Basic Quick Start from Kenzer Co. This is the shortest quick start so far, just 6 pages.  Still, that means it's quick to read so theres no excuse not to get it.  You'll have to scroll down on the right hand side of the Kenzer Co web page that is linked to find the quick start PDF, but what is 6 seconds of work for 6 pages of gaming?  Correct!  A damn good ratio!  heh

Geist: The Sin-Eaters Quickstart from White Wolf.  The 2009 entry into WW's World of Darkness Setting using the Storyteller System.  I haven't checked out the World of Darkness setting since Monte Cook did a D20 version, but this might need to be chacked out.

WotC Sacking it's Fiction Division?

I read a post on ENWworld night that WotC fired the fiction line editor and apparently had nothing in the hopper for 1st quarter 2011 except for some reprint compilations.

I had been under the impression that the book division was profitable, tho I will admit that I haven't read WotC published fiction in many a year. Still, it would be a shame to see the line end.

I wonder if they are going to license it out to one of the other book publishers.

Eh, in the end it doesn't effect me, as I no longer read it. Sentimental I guess.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Great Post Louis!

Louis Porter Jr. has a great post here about Paizo's Gamemastery Guide.  Go.  Read his post.  I'll wait.

Now, I might not be quite as affectionate as Lou, but he is spot on.  Ignore the "Pathfinder" label on this book.  80%+ is applicable to any game.  It's jam packed with gaming goodness and I'm kicking myself for leaving it in the shipping box for the past few days when I could have been reading thru it.  Heck, Paizo offers PDFs of its products for free if you buy the dead tree version from them.  Yet another reason to high five the company.

Of course, my Free RPG Day package just arrived from Noble Knight Games so I'm in a gaming sensory overload at the moment...

Banner Contest Update

We have our first entry, and Greg has set a high bar. There are still a few days left to submit entries. After last call I'll award the prize(s).

Best of luck to all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Holy Player Character Sheets Batman!

I'm sure I'm not the only one with fine memories of the AD&D "goldenrod" player character sheets.  Not that they fit half the crap that your character carried, especially if you had to do with a single sided photocopy.  Still, they were worth their weight in gold and 10 times better then loose leaf paper. 

Here I sit nearly 30 years later and you can print out character sheets yourself, on your own printer, and it's probably more useful then the old "goldenrods" were.  You can make your own (way beyond my ability), find ones on the net, or you can try Kenzer Co's Player Character Record Book instead.  Now, just so there is no mistaking, this is a 3.0/3.5/OGL uber character sheet set.  It could probably be used with Pathfinder with little to know issues, but using with some of the more OSR styled games may lead to some inconsistances, such as with saving throws.

The spell sheets sheets and the NPC sheets are extremely useful.  Heck, I could see myself using the NPC sheets as a DM, as I could fit 4 NPCs per sheet for easy reference.  As a player, what few henchmen I had would probably have gotten a full PC sized sheet, especially seeing how we are printing these out for ourselves.

My main complaint is this is still set up like a dead tree product.  There is no need to repeat the same pages that are common to each class grouping.  True, its not costing extra, and it is easier to print a group of pages then a bunch of separate pages,  but I found it slightly annoying, probably without any good reason.

My recommendation?  One copy for the group and print it out for the party.  I'll take the NPC/Henchmen sheets if no one else wants them ;)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quick Start Rules - The Listing - Part 1

There are way too many free quick start PDFs for me to list in one posting, so I'll be posting them every few days.  The first five are (in no particular order):

Eldritch Quick Start Rules - A Fantasy RPG from Goodman games.  I bought the full rules earlier.  Nice set of rules that kinda get lost in the competition.

 CthulhuTech Quick-Start Rules - For Mature Audiences Only - Nuff' said ;)

Shadowrun Third Edition Quick Start Rules - You got your fantasy in my science fiction.  My last experience with this was first edition rules back in the day.  Very tempting to play in the Shadowrun World again.

Alpha Omega Quick Start Guide - Download this for the artwork if nothing else.  Seriously.  I bought the full game in hardcopy and have no complaints.  I may never play it, but I do get to "oooooo" and "ahhhhhh" all I want :)

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Quickstart - the fantasy world detailed in George R.R. Martin’s series of novels.  Go figure, a fantasy series I never read but have heard many good things about.

Thus ends Part 1.  Give me a few days for the next installment...

The Wiz is Back! (and other stuff)

As some / most / all of you may now know, ChicagoWiz is back, which is damn nice cause his blog was always many levels of awesome.  Welcome back lad. 

I've found at least 30 free RPG quick starts in PDF.  I suspect the number will pass 40 as that was just a quick and dirty search.  Some are old school, some are new school, some are alternative schools.  All are free peeks, and free peeks are sweet (clean minds folks).  I'm figuring I'll post them in groupings of 5 or so, every 2 or 3 days.  I'll add a tag to the top of the blog page, assuming I don't change the blog layout (which I am considering)

I've also got a few reviews in the works, and of course we have the Tavern Needs a Banner Contest running.

Will try and get the first batch of quick starts up tonight or tomorrow.  

New Gaming Magazine on it's Way

The Greyhawk Grognard has a short piece on the new D-Infinity Magazine that is being released. Looks like it will be multiple-ruleset / multiple-genre.

Something to add to my growing pile of RPG related magazines.

If all goes well I'll have the first installment of the quick start overview up later today. Will do more research over lunch.

As a side note, I've a jazz band marching by my office window. Gotta love NYC ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Tavern Needs a Banner - Contest

Yes, I need a banner I can use in forum postings. No, I have little to none in the way of artistic talent.

So, I need a banner or two. That's where you, the reader, comes in. If you have any ability in banner design, it is more then I have. Heck, if you have no ability in banner design odds are it is still more then I have.

Send your entries to tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom. The winner will receive their choice of "Realms of Cthulhu" or "Fantasycraft" in PDF format from RPGNow (thanks again to Sean for his generosity).

Enter and enter often. Void where prohibited. I'm a fickle judge and the only judge, but if there is more then one excellent entry more then one prize may be awarded. One prize per person. Contest will run at least until June 27, 2010 but no longer then June 30th, 2010. Why, cause I'll need an excuse for a new contest ;)

Tales of the Blue Knight - June 20th

The crowd had already formed when Tenkar got to the scene.  It took him a few moments to push his way through the throngs of onlookers to get to the partial overturned cart.

"See, the Watch is here!  Watcher, I never seen him!  He ran right in front of the the horses.  I couldn't stop them in time!"  The driver of the cart appeared to be shaken and bruised, but fairly unharmed.

"WHO ran in front?"  Tenkar asked as he tried to look past the crowd.

"Him!" The driver pointed to a man off to the side who was sitting on his legs and looking side to side in apparent confusion.  Tenkar recognized him as a Blue Gill, a Sea Sapphire addict.  Even if he hadn't recognized him from previous arrests, the blue tinged lips would have given him away as an addict of the strong narcotic.

Being an addict wasn't in and of itself a crime, and at the moment he appeared to be the victim of an accident.  Tenkar approached him with concern, more so when he noticed the bloodied pants and small pool of fresh blood that had formed under the Blue Gill.

Upon noticing the Watchman, the Blue Gill tried to stand up, but he couldn't find the strength or the balance.  "Lantern, I lost my boot!  I can't see it anywhere!  Don't let one of these thieves take my boot!"  One sign of Sea Sapphire addiction was a sort of compulsive, one track mindedness.   There would be no dealing with him unless the missing boot was found.

"Anyone seen this man's boot?" the Watchman asked what was left of the crowd.  Most folks had slowly started to walk off when the Watch arrived on the scene.  Best not to be involved.

"I think it's here by the cart."  It was the driver who found it.  "How you don't mind me not picking it up and such, but it is a bloody mess ya' know."

As Tenkar walked over to the cart he saw the boot in question.  It was a "bloody mess", there was no question.  As he went to grab it, he noticed something white protruding from the boot, right from the end you would insert your foot into when slipping them on.  Bone.  Bone, flesh and blood.  Gods, this man has had his foot amputated and has no idea.  He turned back to look at the Blue Gill, but it was too late.  He bled out as he had worried about the fate of his boot.

Tenkar turned to a youth that had stuck around to watch the events.  "Lad, here's a silver.  Get the nearest necer and tell him he has a customer.  He'll match my silver with his own."

I'm not even halfway into my tour, thought Tenkar.  It's gonna be a long day. 

Game Info (and such)

Lantern - street slang for Watchman.  So named for the lantern they carry on their rounds.  It is lit with a continual light spell where the wick would be. 

Watcher - also slang for Watchman.  More respectful then Lantern

Blue Gill - Sea Sapphire addict.  So called because the drug slowly colors an addicts lips, teeth, and in the case of long term addicts, throat, a blue hue.

Sea Sapphire - An addictive narcotic.  Not a cheap drug, it's use centers more around the upper middle class and adventuring types. 

Game Benefits - the effects last for 4 hrs with each dose - +1 HP temporary per HD - Pain is dulled - Can fight until -10 HP without penalty, but with a loss of 1 HP per round until hitting -11, at which point the character keels over dead.  CLW can stop the HP loss, but the initial casting will not heal any HPs.

Casual use (1 time per adventure / 1 time per week) requires save vs poison at +4 to avoid addiction (add CON bonus to save).  Using more often in the adventure / week time frame causes a save at -1 per use to avoid addiction (no +4 bonus to save). Once addicted, the drug must be used daily and no longer provides a +1 HP per HD bonus (other effects such as dulled pain and fighting until -10 are still in effect).  If unable to pay for the Blue Sapphire, character in question will be unable to do anything productive (adventure, research, smithing, etc) until they either get a dose or kick the addiction.

Without divine intervention the addict must go cold turkey to kick the habit.  After 4 weeks without the drug a saving throw is made vs. spells.  Success indicates cure, failure and addict can try again in a week.  Roll of a 1, addict dies from withdrawal symptoms.  Cure disease will enable the addict to make a save vs spells at +4 (CON bonus applies) to fight of the physical / mental / emotional addiction.  A failed save can be tried again in a weeks time.  No penalty for rolling a 1.  Does not need to wait four weeks before attempting the first save.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Weekend Buybacks for June 19th

Well, I already posted some freebies from last year's Free RPG Day, and I hope most of you either got to your local gaming store or ordered from an online store that will send you some free swag, cause free swag is what today is all about.  Still, for those looking for something a bit heavier, larger in page count for their free fix, we present The Dark Horizons Universe Campaign Setting for D20 Future.

If you thought man's past was dark, wait until you see his future.

Welcome to the Dark Horizons universe. This campaign setting for d20 Future expands on the universe introduced in the critically acclaimed video game by Max Gaming Technologies.

In this setting, the year is 2610, and the universe as you know it has changed. Mankind has conquered the the galaxy; technological breakthroughs such as the Core Implant, the quantum electrino drive, and cybergenetics have altered his way of life forever.

Anything is possible in a Dark Horizons universe campaign.

Here are just a few examples of characters you might play:

-- A Myrmidon, equipped with the latest powered armor
-- An Emergency Nano-Tech using nanotechnology
-- An Encoder accessing systems with your drone
-- A Free Trader piloting your starship
-- A Valence Enforcer with innate bio-electrical weaponry
-- A Cy-Gen Genomorph altering your physiology as you fight
-- A Nomad Huntsman striking terror into your prey

This setting introduces 8 new Advanced classes, new weapons, gadgets, vehicles, and powered armors, as well as Tech Programs (a "replacement" for traditional magic systems found in other d20 settings).
Grab it for free.

Today is Free RPG Day

So why aren't you at your local store getting free swag?  Or are you like me and you just hit Noble Knight Games for it (one freebie per $15 spent... so I got like 6 freebies).  The only problem with ordering online is the lack of immediate gratification... but I can wait.

Some availalbe in PDF freebies from Free RPG Day 2009

Dragon Warriors:  Introductory Book

Grab the Cache

This was not part of the 2009 Free RPG Day, but it is free and full of awesomeness...  The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe

Friday, June 18, 2010

Now that's a Dungeon!

Holy Crap!  This makes me want to get my Face to Face group back together.  Like yesterday!

You can find the products here.

Alright, I feel dirty after watching that vid.  I also expect I will soon be a little lighter in the wallet.  Where the hell would I store all the pieces?!?

First vid I've ever posted on this blog.  In over a year of blogging.  Actually, how come I never came across this company and its products before?

It Takes a Community...

To create a community. Much thanks to Scott S from the Old School Jump blog for the excellent sketch of the Blue Knight. Just click on the Knight to read more of the Blue Knight. Actually, there isn't much there yet, but there will be as time goes on.

I've got a few tweaks in mind for the blog. If they don't work I'm sure I'll read it in the comments ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Behind the Knight and Other Thoughts

As many of you know, I've drawn upon my own past as inspiration for the Blue Knight snippets.  I'm quite sure at some point they will take upon them a life of their own and go far afield from their source material.  If they don't, the Knight will have problems, as there is only a finite amount for me to draw upon personally.  Sitting at a desk as his career winds down, generating paperwork and thinking about his retirement pension will not make for an entertaining read  ;)

Because of that, I'm trying to think of a rule set to stat out Tenkar and a few others, game-wise.  I'd prefer to avoid anything with levels, as I find level work great in gaming, but make it nigh impossible to stat out fictional characters in a way that different experience or power levels are viable with each other.  Besides, it makes for a fun mental exercise ;)

I do have my GURPS for Dummies, Barbarians of Lumeria, FATE, BRP and I'm sure a few others I can draw upon.  Just need to decide on which.

That being said, any game related info will almost certainly be in a format usable by Labyrinth Lord and other OSR games, because that is what I play and how I think... heh.

Oh, and that break down of quickstarts I'm planning to do?  Give me a bit to work on it... the list is far from small.

iPad Update

So, I've had my iPad 3G for about a month and a half now and I hardly ever mention it like I did the Kindle DX. Why? Because it has become so integrated into my daily routine I forget what it was like before I had it.

Want to read the latest news? Turn on the iPad.

Check some blogs? Turn on the iPad.

Read my latest RPG purchase? Turn on the iPad.

Check mail, the weather, stock price updates. Yep, the iPad.

Whereas I previously would rate a PDF on how compatible it was with the Kindle DX, with the iPad they've all looked great. I'm sure I'll note if I come across any difficulties, but vie been pretty happy so far.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bits N Pieces

I've got a few things I want to work on, not the least of which is figuring out a fun and fair way to give out some prizes to my readers.  I suck at contests tho, at least when it comes to being a participant, which doesn't make it any easier when you want to run one.  Maybe a contest to decide on a contest ;)

Anyhow, I'm also looking at doing a fairly complete listing of available quick-start / fast-play / playable previews that are available for free download in PDF form.  Although I find I rarely use them as written, they are an excellent way to get a peek at the various game systems.  Much easier to break out the wallet when you have an idea you might actually enjoy the full game in question.

I need to go back to checking out the VTTs that are out there.  Fantasy Grounds 2 is going strong as always, but iTabletop 2 / Pandoren is getting closer to a full release and is looking damn nice.  Give the videos a peek to see what is in store (links are at the bottom of the page linked above.  That sounds nice and awkward... heh).  It's getting so I can almost taste it ;)

I also need to update Battlegrounds RPG and Maptools to see where they are at.

Interesting.  The Opera web browser plays much nice with Blogger then Firefox.  I think I need to change browsers for real now.

I'm also trying to find the time to give Legends of Steel - Barbarians of Lemuria Edition a nice read through.  I have had the Barbarians of Lemuria (Legendary Edition) PDF for a bit.  BoL (LE) reads real well (haven't had a chance to use the rules in action) and has a near perfect 5 star score (9 of 10 reviews are 5 star, the other is a 4 star) at RPGNow.  From what I can gather, its the same rules with a setting change.  Should be fun to compare the two.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tales of the Blue Knight - June 15

Tenkar stood next to the recently deceased elf, a crossbow bolt still embedded into the side of its head.

"Lad, you notice the raspberry jam pooling in his hair? He ain't been dead longer then two hrs, three at the most." The observation was made by Stryker, Senior Watchman. He continued to prod at the wound with a small stick.

"Ten, wanna give this a sniff?" Stryker practically shoved the end of the stick into the young watchman's face, who responded with a quick turn of the head and violent retching.

"That's alright lad, clean out your gullet. First one is always the worst. Hey, at least he's young to death. Give him two days in this this heat and he'd be ripe as a sewer"

There was a ritual to any investigation into a violent death and the first step was always an attempt to shock the rookie Watchman assigned to secure the scene. In truth, the rookie was there for little more then to secure the scene, keep the curious at a decent distance and any other menial task that could be thought of. Although Tenkar lacked the experience to be little more then an item of amusement to the more experienced members of the Watch, He did his best to regain his composure as he wiped his mouth clean with his sleeve.

"Alright lad, I need you to go through our friend's pockets. Don't forget to remove his ring. Might be useful in identifying him later, and if we leave it on him the *Necers will just steal it".

Tenkar gingerly went through the victims pockets, putting the removed items in a pouch the older Watchmen held open for him.

"Gods lad! He ain't gonna bite you and he certainly no longer is attached to anything on him. Except maybe that ring. I think our friend put on weight in the years he owned it. You might need to break the finger to slip it off. Don't give me that look! I think the hole in his head would be a more pressing issue for him, if he weren't dead already".

*Necers work for the the Guild of the Dead. They pick up the bodies of the recently deceased and bring them back to a guild location for viewing and later burial. They frequently hold dual membership in a Thieves Guild, although this is not common knowledge (it is often suspected though). Their constant dealing with the dead gives them a twisted perspective on life. Living people are just dead people waiting to happen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, June 14, 2010


FATE, the best system I have never played.  Heck, I'm not sure if I can get my group (reformed from my college years) to play it... or anything at this point.  It would have to be via Fantasy Grounds 2 or iTabletop v.2.  Kinda hard to sit face to face when your group sits on opposite coast of the U.S. and in between.

In any case, FATE has a couple of incarnations.  Which is great, because not everyone wants to play Pulp Era games (this is where FATE came into its own).

Lets see what FATE shall bring us...

Legends of Anglerre  from Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd. - Complete Fantasy game using the FATE system (20% of using the June Promo Code "JunePodBlogDriveThru2010" at RPGNow)

Starblazer Adventures also from From Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd. - Complete Sc-Fi game using the FATE system (20% of using the June Promo Code "JunePodBlogDriveThru2010" at RPGNow) - Based on the British comic book, NOT the Japanese animated series many American may remeber.  Still way cool. 

Diaspora from VSCA Publishing.  Another Sci-Fi game, this one is geared more towards hard sciencish-ness and includes tools to create your own setting.  abit "sandboxish" if you like.  My latest FATE related purchase BTW.

Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Productions. Stand-alone pulp role-playing game.  For many (like me), this was the first time they had heard of FATE.  Excellent production values and a great read.

The Dresden Files RPG also from Evil Hat Productions.  This was the one I had been waiting for.  The opportunity to run a game in Harry's world.  I'm still trying to digest the books. ;)

Hmmm, that's all the FATE I own (plus the free SRD, which I linked above and will again here).  I need to do a fuller search i think.  If any know of settings / games I missed drop me a note please.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend Buybacks for June 13th

Sometimes you have a plethora* of free releases on RPGNow, sometimes you don't.  This time is somewhere in between, certainly closer to "don't have" tho'.  In times like this, we dig back a bit for our free gaming fodder.

ARTIFACTS: Ducks of Ultimate Doom from Le Games.  20 pages

Listen, with a title and cover art like this, how the hell could I pass this up?  It might be worse then sh!t on a cracker, but who cares? 

Darwin's World 2: Gazetteer from RPG Objects.  32 pages

If you run a Mutant Future game, or any other type of post apocalypse type game, there are some great ideas to borrow and rip.  If you run a Darwin's World 2 game, obviously you are set ;)

Altus Adventum Core Rulebook From Sacrosanct Games.  154 pages

This product is the core rulebook to the Altus Adventum fantasy RPG. It contains everything you need for both the GM and players to run a full campaign, including detailed combat rules, four distinct magic systems, many arcane treasures, and over a hundred fantastic creatures in the bestiary.

 The game is designed to bring back that old school feel of "kill them and take their stuff!" while not giving anything up in storyline or gameplay. The combat system is designed to move very rapidly, while at the same time offering a tremendous amount of flexibility to the player.
Does it count as Old School?  Probably not.  Can you lift and steal from it for your own home game?  Certainly.

* A superabundance; an excess.  Yes, I had to look it up.  I knew what it meant... in a kinda, sorta way of it

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Corralling Stray Thoughts

Like I suspect most gamers who hit their gaming prime back in the 80's and early 90's, I read a lot of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I still do, but my patience and free time have cut that down by order of magnitude.

During my summer breaks in my College years, it was not unheard of for me to read a full length novel in a day, sweating up a storm as I laid out on the same enclosed porch I am currently sitting in. When I wasn't reading, I was gaming. If I wasn't reading or gaming, I was probably writing.

Truth to tell, my "Writer's Voice" back in those days pretty much mirrored the author(s) I was heavily reading at the time. Which isn't a bad exercise in writing, but it's a piss poor way to write anything of consequence.

These days, the only author I follow with any regularity is Terry Pratchett; I simply can't get enough of his writing. I'll read Neil Gaiman's latest if I can grab it on my Kindle and I'll occasionally read some short fiction. Which isn't to say I hardly read, I just read less fiction these days. I'm quite sure that tide will turn again.

It does mean that when I write Tales of the Blue Knight it is truly in my own "Writer's Voice". Forgive me as the voice falters and cracks, I haven't tried to use it much in years. It will take a few tries for it to find it's range.

It's not that I lack ideas to write, it's just that the pieces are currently half finished as new ideas pop into my head. I'm fairly sure this over-abundance of ideas isn't infinite, and I'll be able to pick thru the chaff to get to the good stuff in semblance of a timely manner. Or not ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 11, 2010

Words in the Clouds

I've posted to my blog from my desktop, laptop, net book, iPhone and iPad, never really given much thought to the device I was using. That is, until I started with the Tales of the Blue Knight column. I've found that I have ideas that need to be put down without being fleshed out at the moment. I also need to be able to access those pieces from any device.

Therein lies the joys and strength of Google Documents, cloud computing at it's best. A free office app that is accessible anywhere you have Internet access? Priceless!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Abudance of Gaming Goodness

I've got a virtual stack of PDFs to review, even if it is just to give it a quick once over.  Sean over at OneBookShelf / RPGNow / DriveThruRPG was nice enough to set me up as a featured reviewer, and while I'm going to try and do the privilege justice, I'm sure to overlook a lot of stuff.

I did get to skim through some recent acquisitions while serving Jury Duty these past two days, but the free time was no where near as I remembered in the past.

I do have vacation coming up at the end of the month, and I suspect that with the exception of the holiday weekend it will be a Stay at Home vacation... so much reading, writing and posting will fill the downtime.

One product I did get to spend some serious time with the past two days was On Silver Wings for Witch Hunter: The Invisible World RPG.  First and foremost, I do not own a copy of the RPG rules, so I'm keeping my review to the story itself.  I was immediately drawn in by the cover, which I find to be an amazing piece of artwork. (see below)

It is a very compelling story, which read very well even without me having a grasp of the system underneath it.  It's hard to go into without giving up some of the story (and this adventure would suffer if the story were leaked).  It is deep in roleplay with a nice horror angle to it and little is as it seems... if bugs make your players squirm this is a good fit.

Most of the paths the party may take seem to be covered pretty well. The Witch Hunters should have their hands full, but smart play should rule the day for them.  I highly suspect a decent GM could convert this to run with the Solomon Kane RPG without too much effort.

As for the (virtual) physical presentation of the adventure, the layout is spot on, the artwork is professional and evocative of the story and I didn't notice any editing issues.  A lot of adventure is packed into 32 pages (plus front and back covers)

Overall it served me well during my two days of Jury Duty.  When time frees up I may have to pick up the rulebook itself.  The system seems to be full of roleplay opportunities.

The Duty, Day Two

Waiting on the lawyers to arrive so they can get back to questioning more of us prospective jurors.

Even got feedback on yesterday's Traveller freebie on Facebook. There is something about Traveller that makes it THE classic game. My problem with it was the lack of character advancement. I need to dig up my copy of the Mongoose Traveller pocket rules and see if that changed. Advancement is a big carrot in the "keep player's coming back" scheme of things.

Time willing I'll work on the next entry of Tales of the Blue Knight while I kill time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Hour at the Tavern June 9

Short and sweet today. 

Spent the day at jury duty, heading out to a retirement party in a few, then back to jury duty tomorrow.  So today's offering is just a single item.  It's a cool one tho'.

Campaign 1: Secrets of the Ancients for Traveller from Mongoose.

I doubt I could explain this better then RPGNow does:

Welcome to Secrets of the Ancients, a completely free, downloadable campaign for Traveller that will see your players cross the stars and uncover some of the deepest, darkest mysteries of the universe...

Secrets of the Ancients is a ten part campaign, with a new part being available for free download every few weeks (if you play once a week and start right now, you should find that a new part comes available just as you are completing the last). It will build into an epic campaign of huge proportions which should keep your gaming group going for many months!

The new Secrets of the Ancients campaign is based on the Classic Traveller Adventure #12, Secret of the Ancients. Like that adventure, this campaign delves into the dark past of the Third Imperium setting, and the legacy of a race of incredibly advanced and powerful aliens. Over the course of this campaign, the haracters will see sights no human has ever dreamed of, meddle with powers beyond understanding, clash with secret factions within the Imperium, and ultimately help shape the destiny of all Charted Space.
A free campaign for Traveller with a new part released every few weeks.  What Traveller fan could ask for more?

My But Things Have Changed

The last time I served jury duty was over 8 years ago. The jurors waiting room was hot and sweaty, the chairs were uncomfortable and the entire experience was a real PITA.

Today the A/C is kicking to the point I am tempted to put my jacket on, the chairs are large and comfy, free high speed Internet for your laptop or iPad (and computers for you to use if you didn't bring your own), widescreen TVs... This is not the Jury Duty that I remember.

With New York States no-excusal police, I can't help but think how much fun it would be to have a superhero serve jury duty ( in his secret ID) for a villain he arrested / apprehended. Might make a decent solo supers adventure of sorts. Not that I play supers (I do have the Icons PDF and it is tempting) but I do find the concept interesting.

Anyhow, we've already been told we will be here until 5 pm. Gonna be a long day even with distractions to be found.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Number Came Up...

I report to Jury Duty tomorrow.  Boo!

On a plus note, it keeps me out of work for at least a day, and I will draw my full salary as I surf the net, read my emails, write some blog stuff, read some gaming material... thank god for my iPad.  It will start paying dividends tomorrow at 0830 hrs ;)

I'm currently trying to figure out a method (or methods) for giving out the free (with a coupon code) PDFs that OneBookShelf has been kind enough to give me to reward the readers of this blog.

Leaning towards rewarding my Google Connect Followers with a prize or two for a random follower, but I'm open to other ideas.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Most Dreaded Duty of All

I'm on telephone standby jury duty.  New York State doesn't have blanket excusals from jury duty these days for certain professions, and my number literally is up.

I escaped today, and I'm not needed tomorrow, but I'm 150 names away, and they grabbed about 700 for tomorrow, so I figure I'm going on Wednesday at the very least, longer if I get picked (and I have a habit of getting picked)

The jury pool rooms have free wireless now (I confirmed that with my phone a few months ago).  So now I'm busy putting together a bag of reading material:

Maximum PC
Mac Life
Some recent Pathfinders
Loading up my iPad with some PDFs to review

I'm sure I'll be bloggin' from the jury pool as I wait.  JoetheLawyer probably
does this crap for a living ;)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tales of the Blue Knight - June 6

Tenkar peered through the spyglass at the dimly lit  street below.  He kept his body bladed, so that the window curtain would partially obscure his presence from the curious.  The room next to him was filled with the noise of young romance, but that was little if any distraction.

"Male Hobbit" he signed with his right hand.
"Tan leather coat." 
"Right hand". 

Most of the buyers would take the clack with their right hand and hold onto it for dear life.  Others would push it deep in a pocket, possibly ashamed of their addiction.

His message was read by the two uniformed watchmen below.  They casually yet quickly made their way within view of the buyer.  They would follow him for a block or two before making the pinch.  Even at this late hour of night, there was enough foot traffic to make the sight of them fairly common.

That's the sixth buyer we picked of tonight.  Will the Sarge give us the order to grab the dealer, or is this going to be just another exercise in numbers for the Watch Commander to show the City Council?

This precinct in the city had more then its share of crime, much of it driven by the pursuit of illegal narcotics.  Many of the addicts committed petty crimes to fuel their addiction, and the dealers and suppliers frequently turned violent on their rivals.  It took Tenkar some real effort to remember that over 90% of the population, while poor, was law abiding and generally good folk living in a bad situation.  He grew up in this city, but not in a neighborhood like this.

"Ten, give the signal.  Grab the dealer.  We have enough bodies pinched tonight to make this one stick."  Tenkar's hands were still passing the words on as the sergeant went downstairs to oversee the ending of the night's operations.

Hopefully the perps we pinched will allow the Cleric on staff to cure their addiction, but even then more then half will be right back.  Apparently the Gods can only cure the body, not the mind.

Game Rules
(just a tad more harsh then real life)

Clack - Highly addictive narcotic.  Cheap to get started with. 
Save vs Poison with each use until failed save, at which point addiction sets in.  Once addicted, the drug must be used daily.  If unable to pay for the clack, character in question will steal / kill for clack / money for clack.

Within 2 weeks of addiction, CHA and CON drops 1 point.  It drops another point each following week, until a maximum loss of 8 points is reached.  At this point, 1 HP is lost per week permanently.  Upon reaching 1 HP left, save vs. poison each week or death.

Cure disease will cure the physical addiction and restore all lost attribute points / HP at a rate of 1 per day (just one casting is needed, the body needs time to heal).  A save vs spells (WIS bonus applies) must be made to be able to fight of the mental / emotional addiction

(with thanks and blame to scottsz)

Weekend Buybacks for June 6th

Yep, some more goodies to be found.  This weeks weekend offerings only number 2, but we had some freebies mid week, and a 20% discount yesterday... besides, these two have a nice page count.

This week's freebies are from Vajra Enterprises.  Both are playable versions of their respective games, but they lack options available in the full product.  Still, for a try and (possibly) but later, they are very good options to take a peek at.

Fates Worse Than Death: Spare Change Edition -  Fates Worse Than Death is a game of violence, fear and hope on the streets of New York City in 2080 -  The Spare Change Edition only has character creation options and setting information for creating and playing characters who are street people.  As usual, I find free products are ripe for ripping and stealing for other games even if I don't use them as printed.  241 pages.

Tibet the Role Playing Game: Monastic Edition  - Tibet is a game of war, intrigue, magic and mysticism in 1959 Tibet. The Monastic Edition only has character creation options and setting information for creating and playing characters who are monks. 169 pages.  There is enough here to help you decide if the game is to your liking or not.  Both are way more then a quickstart, yet less the a full package.

That's all for now.  Cranking away some other writing.

Oh, and received my 5 copies of Dark Dungeons in paperback from Lulu.  Little surprise for the seasonal gathering of my old gaming group.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

RPGNow Specials for June

Sometimes you get thrown a curve ball.  Sometimes the curve ball is a sweet one.  This is a sweet one ;)

OneBookShelf / RPGNow / DriveThruRPG has supplied certain bloggers with a discount code to give to their readers.  I happen to be lucky enough to be one of those bloggers.  (Even luckier that I heard about the program in the first place).  The code for June is:


It's worth 20% off all products from the following list of publishers. It's good for one month from today (actually, yesterday), with unlimited uses (but only three per customer).

There are some really nice games from these publishers.  Damn, now I really need to work on a review of Starblazers from Cubicle 7.

I also have some freebies to reward individual readers with.  I'm going to need to think on this one.  Should be fun.

Back later with the weekend's buybacks, but in the meantime enjoy the 20% savings ;)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Irregular Thoughts

Or is it just thoughts on an irregular column?

I'm thinking of writing some Tales of the Blue Knight as an irregular column for this blog. Kinda my work experiences mixed with my gaming experiences and life observations in general. I'm learning after a year of doing this i'm a bit more focused when I can stick to a general theme. We'll see how I do over the weekend ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Thought About Free...

Earlier this week, a valid point was raised about the cost of "Free".  Would I want someone to do my job, law enforcement, for free?  People already do.

Steven Seagal - Lawman - Reserve Officer with full police powers.  I've never watched the show, but he's doing it.

NYC doesn't give arrest power to it volunteers.  NYPD Auxiliary Police Officers serve more as eyes and ears, as well as a visible deterrent to crime.  Their job is probably more thankless then mine. Later tonight I need to pick my son up from the Police Academy... he's taking his first class to be an Auxiliary Police Officer.  God bless him.

I got into this line of work partially because I was taking every civil service / utility company test I could find.  I wanted a union job, just like my father.  I was also looking for something a bit more rewarding, emotionally and economically, then retail sales.  I was tired of being inside 8 hrs a day.  I wanted to be outside and get paid for it.

I was also the geek that tended towards playing Paladins in his early AD&D days.  Being a cop kinda puts you in that Paladin / Knight in Shining Armor role - at least until you put the domestic abuser in cuffs and now his girlfriend is attacking you because, despite the black eye and loose teeth, you weren't supposed to do that.
It plays out like a great roleplaying game, with twists and turns and the need for creative solutions thought up on the spur of the moment.

If someone wants to do my job, or aspects of my job, for free, God bless them and keep them safe.  There's more then enough crime and abuse and problems to go around.

One day I'll have to relate some stories about how my experience playing D&D helped me solve problems on the streets of the South Bronx ;)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Hour at the Tavern June 2

So, my plan was to pimp Starblazers with a short review, but that will wait a day or so. Instead, Fantasy Flight Games has been busy pimping out their Warhammer 40k RPG lines with some free offerings in June. I'm not a huge fan of quickstart rules in general... most leave me unsatisfied, even uninterested in the product they are intended to showcase. Not so the case with FFGs latest quickstarts. Nice flavor and decent introductions to the rules in question. (Of course, I have both Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader in hardcover... even played in a FG2 campaign of Dark Heresy for the better part of a year).

Anyhow, lets see the latest offerings:

Dark Heresy Edge of Darkness - Quickstart - 48 page long Dark Heresy introduction. Nice presentation and decent adventure. But I'm biased - WFRP and 40kRP settings are some of my favorites. The fiction is generally good too.

Dark Heresy Salvation Demands Sacrifice - 8 page supplement, it offers 3 new radical careers for your Dark Heresy game. Of course, it requires the Radical's Handbook, which I don't own and isnt mentioned on the download page. If I thought I was going to be playing in a Dark Heresy game in the near future I'd think of picking it up.

Rogue Trader Forsaken Bounty - Quickstart - 24 page long introduction to Rogue Trader. The included adventure is about 10 pages long. Between the 2 quickstarts you should have a decent idea if you like the system and the setting. Cool cover art ;)

Rogue Trader Dark Frontier - 12 page sequel adventure to the quickstart.

Rogue Trader Epoch Koronus - 13 pages of game history / timeline. You either love this stuff or you hate it.

Rogue Trader Drydock - 7 pages - more like 4 pages on ship design, 1 page on ship combat. Handy reference if needed, but little more

K, that's it for tonight. Some nice free samples from a very well produced and written sci-fi line (with heavy fantasy overtones). Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Creative Mountain Games $1 Sale

If you, like me, never brought your gaming out of the 3.5 era, this sale might just be for you.  Creative Mountain Games has put just about their whole RPGNow catalog on sale for a buck.

My favorite, which I've owned for years and can't say enough about, is the SRD 3.5 Revised (Full) Bundle.  It's a very convenient way to carry your 3.5e rules, and 3500 pages for a buck is a steal. 

The Favorites Bundle is also a buck.  It includes a low level adventure, some small source books, a tile generator and a dwellings generator.  

Really, you can't go wrong even if you are just into Old School Rules.  Everyone needs a SRD to call their own ;)
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lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

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