Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sometimes the Hook is Only as Good as the Players

Here I am, in the middle of a Castles & Crusades (via Fantasy Grounds 2) session, and all I can think is that my roleplaying almost cost us an adventure hook that I was willing to avoid at all cost (being the suspicious dwarf that I am).

Of course, there are 4 of us tonight, and you only need to hook one ;)

Still, it is something to bear in mind... if you can hook one player, you'll probably pull the rest in tow...

I'll remember that as I work on my Tunnels & Trolls campaign... (no asking for when yet... after the New Year at the very least)

Ass... Dragging... Must... Game...

I am totally beat.

Last nite was movie nite.  After letting the kid get his driving time in and doing taxi service for the lady, I didn't get home until after 1 am... and then i had to be up at 615 to get the kid to his SAT test at 730 this morning.

More driving after the test and I'm ready to crawl into the sheets.  I can't tho', as I have a C&C game via FG2 at 8 tonight.  The game only rolls around once a month so I'm not going to miss it, but I can already feel the pain.

Let's see how long I last tonight before the "junkie nod" takes me out for the night ;)

QuickStart - BattleTech: A Time of War

Yep, Battletech has RPG rules, and now there is a free Quickstart for those rules.  If you've lived in a cave for the last 25 years or so, Battletech is a game of mechanized fighting robots, with people in the gooey center.  Alright, that may be an oversimplification, but why take my work for it?  Here's your chance to roleplay the gooey center ;)

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Note From the Troll God

A word about James Shipman and Outlaw Press.

Xxxxxx removed as per Ken St. Andre's request xxxxxx

--Ken St. Andre
Nov. 6, 2010

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

In Spite of Damage

Tunnels & Trolls 5.5e and later added Spite Damage into the mix. Basically, every natural 6 rolled on a d6 during combat represents unstoppable damage... Roll 2,4,6,6 you know you did at least 2 points of damage to your opponent, irregardless of whether you won that combat round or your opponent's armor protection.

As combat between two relatively equal opponents in armor could drag out forever before spite damage, it's a nice change. The problem is, most solo adventures were written for the 5.0 rules (pre-spite damage), and the inclusion of spite damage will frequently whittle your delver down to pieces.

My suggestion? Leave out spite damage when playing the solos, or for a harder solo, only count it for the delver's dice... Use it against the monsters.

It really is there to help the mobs more then the delvers anyway. Delvers tend to roll less dice (but have better combat adds) then the monsters, and spite damage is all about the dice.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Where There is Darksmoke, There Are Trolls

Yep, got myself The Isle of Darksmoke, a GM Adventure for Tunnels & Trolls, in the mail today.  It seems when you shake the Post Office just a wee bit, prompt deliveries are the result.  Sweet.

Now, a quick glance at the cover (and an advertisement on the back), shows that this was supposed to be part on of a 2? 3? part series.  The actual full title is The Isle of Darksmoke -1: The Nameless Village and the Dome Level.  At 56 pages, it's no slouch, and the back cover has a Cardboard Heroes Fold out, if you want to add paper miniatures to your T&T game.

The module is quasi-sandboxish, in that the island (aside from the village and the dome) aren't mapped, but it is suggested that you could do so, and entrances are indicated on the dome map for levels of the GM's own design.

Suggested levels are 1-4 and an average party size of 5.  Which is a good starting point, but I suspect the trek to Island could make for a decent adventure itself.  Actually, I think you would need a reason to get the party to this remote island, at least these days (todays youngen's need more purpose then player's basic greed and lust for adventure - paraphrasing a bit).  The included quest hooks assume the party is already on the Island.

All this from a quick glance.  It's pretty meaty.  I'll need some time to digest it, but it's a nice change from the usual (there aren't all that many really) GM adventure for T&T

Too Many Hats, Just One Head

I've got my finger in too many pies at work at the moment. It seems I need to find a temporary replacement for my (old) job as I temporarily fill in for someone else. Either that or I go sick for a few weeks when this crap catches up to me.

Wait, that could leave lots of time for games and blogging.

Maybe I need a third hat ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mini Review - A Dungeon Dash: Wraithwood Cavern

I'm throwing this one out there for Christian, as its a short and FREE side adventure for 4e.  Having read thru most (not all) of the 4e rules when they came out, and having picked up the Essentials Core Books upon release (cause it was damn cheap on Amazon, and you never know where your next game group may gravitate) I still can't tell how well this will play out.

I just have a hard time visualizing all the 4e tactical combat... hell, 3.5e had way to much for me.  In any case, I figure some of you 4e DM's mind find a use for this.  OOOOoooo, and they include adventure hooks for the lazy DM ;)

From the blurb:

The "A Dungeon Dash" series of side adventures by Kurt Sparkuhl are FREE products designed to enhance your 4th edition D&D campaign. Each Dash takes only 10 minutes or less to read through, and usually clocks about 3-5 hours of play time. With some additional preparation, each Dungeon Dash can serve as the foundation for a larger highly detailed adventure.
Every Dungeon Dash includes:
- New custom monsters
- New traps/hazards/puzzles
- A detailed map and descriptions of every encounter
- Treasure and reward guidelines
- Example story hooks to blend the adventure into your campaign.

First Look: Monsters! Monsters! (Reprint Edition)

I actually have my Monsters! Monsters! 2nd Edition (4th Printing) open right next to my Monsters! Monsters! reprint edition.

Some quick things.  Apparently the 1st Edition had a full color cover by Liz Danforth.  2nd Edition has a mostly black & white cover with red highlights.

The reprint is stapled, the 2nd Edition has the spiral binding that is either loved or hated it seems.

1st edition has some footnotes that are missing from 2nd Edition.  Apparently there were some text "errors" inserted by the 1st Edition's Editor, that were changed / corrected in the 2nd Edition.  Steve Jackson wasn't perfect back then it seems ;)

The 1st Edition Reprint has been reset professionally using modern techniques (computers) according to my untrained eyes.  It's not a photocopy of the original but a remastered copy.  Oh, and the Reprint also includes an 8 page GM adventure inserted in the middle... can't complain with freebies ;)

The rules appear to mirror T&T fairly closely, but I'd probably need to see them next to the 4e and or 5e  rules to make sure.  It looks like stat increase for leveling is boosted,  I'll look at it closer to be sure, probably over the weekend.

It is nice to see there is a Monster Glossary with a sentence or two detailing each of the Monster Kindreds, something sorely lacking in T&T 7.5 e.  Even at that it still takes 5 pages of the 40 page book (plus an 8 page insert of a town).

More later...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Parent = Game Master

Really.  As a GM you want your players' characters to grow, it's sometimes hard to give them enough freedom where they can get in actual trouble, whatever plans you have for them they somehow always avoid, they are suspicious of the carrot and resent the stick, the Friend / GM line is a fuzzy one at times, even running a game with just one PC can feel like herding cats...

Thing is, after a few hours once every week or two, your players go home.

After a few hours in school for the day, your kids come home.

Can you tell I had a wild parenting ride over the past few days?

I did six months of chemo a few years back, hardly lost any hair.

Solo parenting a teenager must account for 90% of my grey hairs tho ;)

It's all worth it in the end... even if I start pulling my hair out...

See, being a GM over all those years left me well prepared... heh

Alright, back to the gaming crap mananna folks :)

Better Late Then Never

I mentioned previously that my local post office had a package sitting for over a week at the neighboring post office for me but never told me.  That was my collection of T&T solos and a few others choice books.
My Flying Buffalo order that was shipped on October 12th was no where to be found at either post office.

What do I find leaning against my front door today?  My Flying Buffalo order from nearly a month ago.  Go figure.  Two reprint copies of Monsters! Monsters! for the next Gathering of Fools and some other small T&T stuff.  It was a wait but I'm glad it didn't get sent back to Rick.

Today was a good day.  The fact that I ditched work made it even better ;)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not a Review (Yet) - Wordplay Basics

Just recently released for free on RPGNow / DriveThruRPG, Wordplay Basics from D101 Games is a new RPG that uses d6s by the bucket.  Well, maybe not by the bucket, but if you are a Tunnels & Trolls player, you probably have the right number of dice.

I haven't done more then skim the first few pages, but from what I can tell the system look fairly free form and rules lite.  Oh, did I mention it's free?  It's been a while since I posted one of those ;)

From the publisher's blurb:

Wordplay is very easy to play and has been designed to be played with

any created setting or genre that you wish to explore.
The game features the following:
• Free flowing character creation, allowing a player to describe their alterego in the game and use those descriptions as Traits (which are then split between Body, Mind and Soul categories)
• A dice building game. Describe what your character is doing and make use of as many advantages as you can to build as large a hand or pool of dice as possible.
• Roll your dice and count up your successes and the highest total wins, only the dice that land on the table count!
• Create goals for your character and drive them forward to succeed.
Instead of numerous complicated rules, Wordplay provides story telling opportunities that are translated into dice for your characters.
The game is meant to be rules light, open and encourages players to give vivid descriptions that build a shared, character focussed, story.
Wordplay requires traditional six sided dice to play and many of them!
This plain text Basic edition of the game, gives you the core system which is everything you need to play the game except your imagination and a hand full of dice.

Just a Coincidence

It's just a coincidence that Tenkar's Tavern and Tunnels & Trolls share the same initials.  Heck, I never even realized it until just now.  Go figure ;)

Alright, on the T&T review plate we have:

The Delver's Pack for 7.5e
Monsters! Monsters! (reprint and 2nd printing - haven't checked closely but I expect they are the same)
5e T&T Boxed Set (can't find my 5.5e book from back in the day, so I ordered a second copy)
5e T&T Corgi Paperback Edition
4e T&T Rules
Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes Boxed Set (MSPE)
A whole bunch of T&T Solos
            1-10 & 12-14 from Flying Buffalo
            11 & 15, 8 & 19, 16& 17, 2 & 4, 12 & 20 and 9 in Corgi Paperbacks (I believe this is complete)
            So, effectively 1-17 and 19-20 and hunting the rest down (with the intent on getting all in FBI editions)

Decisions, decisions... heh

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tip Toe, Thru the Tunnels, Thru the Tunnels & Trolls

I'm sure all the T&T stuff is annoying the serious grognards out there.  Look guys, I'm sorry.  Really.  I'm trying to get this addiction under control.  Seriously.


I tried to collect OD&D stuff, but there is no way to get a complete collection in decent shape at an affordable price.  It just doesn't happen.  I have copies of most of what I want, and the rest will be forever out of my range.  Besides, if I wanted a complete collection of everything published by TSR thru AD&D 1e (the EGG years), I'd need to devote a whole closet to it.  It's not going to happen.  Not if I want to live "Happily Ever After."  The family will kill me. ;)


Tunnels & Trolls is a finite collection.  24 solos (with way too many printings for it to be worth a damn), 7ish editions, and handful of GM adventures, Corgi editions, the Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes spinoff - this is a finite collection.  Besides, 24 solos gives me lots of ways to fill in that "alone time".  Wait, that doesn't sound right.

That means I will still be reviewing T&T stuff (The Delver's Pack and MS&PE are probably the next in the hopper) just as I will be covering the general Old School stuff for the clones and the Indi games that I find interesting.  Heck, Greg He Who Knows Boundless Energies and Creative Juices is working on something that I expect to be Old Schoolish, Newish and Indi-like.

It's a good time to be a gamer, I just found an often overlooked corner with Tunnels & Trolls.  It's far from the only corner, and have no fears, my Bullseye Lantern does a fine job of illuminating those corners. ;)

My Worthless Thoughts on Running Pre-Written Adventures

There seems to be two main schools of GMs:  Those that use homebrewed adventures, and those that use pre-written adventures.  When I say pre-written, I mean adventures written by others then the GM.

Now, most GMs falls somewhere between these two extremes, they use a combination of homebrewed and pre-written.  If you use the homebrewed method exclusively, this post is not for you.  You're good.  Go forth and prosper.  Nope, this piece of drivel from my typing fingers is a loose list of do's and don'ts for those that don't have the time to homebrew 100% of the time.

DON'T run a prewritten adventure if your thoughts on the whole process is "this is going to suck, but I'll push thru it anyway".  If you know its going to suck for you and your group, WTH are you going to make them suffer thru it?  Wether it's going to suck because you hate pre-written adventures on principle, or the one you just spent your hard earned dollars on is not right for you and your group, just DON'T DO IT!  Trust yourself, your players do.

DO make the prewritten adventure your own.  Your players will know when you drop a random adventure into their campaign, so don't let it be a random plug in.  When you plant in your garden, you don't drop the rose bush on top of the soil.  You dig a whole, add fertilizer and compost, cover it back up, water... you make it a part of the garden.  Its the same with pre-written adventures.  You need to plant them and water them and make them a part of your campaign.

DON'T expect that the adventure writer wrote the adventure with you and your campaign in mind.  He didn't.  You'll need to read it closely and make changes.  Too many traps?  Take some out.  Opponents too weak?  Boost them up.  Magic items that will unbalance your campaign?  Change them.

DO get you players invested in the adventure.  Rumors, hooks and plot threads can and should be placed in advance.  The only one that can do that is you.  (Unless you are running a pre-written campaign arc, in which case you may be supplied with many hooks and rumors).

DON'T treat an adventure like a one-shot with no campaign value as your players will react in kind.

DO ensure that you know the adventure as well as one of our own creation.  There is little worse then watching the GM flip back and forth thru the adventure trying to figure out what happens next.  Use a flow chart if it helps,or notes, or highlighting... whatever method helps you run this as your own.

This is far from a complete list.  I'm sure I'll think of more the moment I post this.  Feel free to add to it in the comments.

Mini Review - Kobold Quarterly #15

Yep, time to get back to some mini-reviews ;)

Today we look at Kobold Quarterly #15.  In any ways, it is a direct descendent of Dragon Magazine (may the gods of Greyhawk rest it's soul - yes, the current incarnation doesn't count).  Wolfgang Baur is the editor, and his Open Design company is the publisher.

KQ cover' both 4e and Pathfinder, but even those that prefer Old School will find stuff to sink their teeth in.  It is invariably well written and well put together.  That being said, I find the 4e stuff to be more then I generally want, but I understand why they want to cover both markets.  It's a divided market.  The Pathfinder articles I find much more useful, as they are easier to use with older D&D variants.

This issue includes articles by James Lowder, Monte Cook, Wolfgang Baur and many others.  The James Lowder article is almost worth the price of admission by itself, as its a nice insight into the World of TSR under Lorraine Williams.

I do have some issues with the issue.  Articles are not necessarily labeled for the system they are written for, which is annoying.  I had to read a page of the article on critical hits before realizing it was for 4e.  Pathfinder stuff I can convert, 4e I generally don't bother with.  Shame too, as the article was well written.

My other issue is with the ads.  Ads in a PDF edition of a magazine should be hyperlinked as a default.  Many weren't.  Shame really.

Overall, a very good magazine, if you recognize and adapt for the inherent weakness of covering two incompatible systems.  Excellent value if you play both Pathfinder and 4e, good value if you play one or the other, and a decent value if you are an Old School gamer willing to convert some of the Pathfinder stuff.

And the Winner is...

Well, we had quality entries, if not quantity of entries ;)

So, they all get a prize, even if not the same prize.

John Stephens gets the copy of Realms of Cthulhu in PDF

JDJarvis wins a PDF copy of Fantasycraft

/Matt gets himself a PDF copy of Splicers RPG

The winners need to email me at tenkars.tavern@gmail.com to get their prizes.

Congrats to all!

Happy Halloween!
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