Monday, January 31, 2011

Mini Review - Parsely #1 - Action Castle

Ever thought of taking Zork and making it into an RPG?  With all the UP, DOWN, USE LAMP commands?  Someone did.  From the video it actually looks kinda like a lot of fun with the right group (I think my old group with a few beers in them would eat this up, personally).

I do think you need the right person in the GM / Computer Parser role.  If you lived the old text adventures, you'll make this really entertaining for your group.  I think it kinda helps if you are in on the joke.

Here's a video you can check out some actual play with.  It's less then 3 minutes, so its fairly short.

And here's the blurb:

Parsely #1: Action Castle is the first in a new line of games called “Parsely Games.” Now you can “GO EAST” and “LIGHT LAMP” with the best of them. Canst thou master Action Castle before death claims thee? Parsely games are inspired by Ye Olde Text Parsers from days of yore, but substituting a live human for the computer parser. Parsely games are small, portable and fun for (almost) all occasions.
• Play them anywhere! On trips, in long lines, camping, at game cons…
• Play them with anyone! Young or old, expert or total n00b
• Play with a few friends or 100 random strangers at the same time

“…the best game that I have played all year” – Chris O’Neil, co-author ofKobolds At My Baby
“…clever, silly, well-rehearsed, & a true homage to Zork.” – Steve Jackson, game industry legend
“…the awesomest awesome.” - Scott Rubin, co-host of Geek Knights podcast
“Very rarely do new game concepts come along which impress me, but this one stands out as being something truly revolutionary. And yet, like many of the most brilliant ideas, it’s so fiendishly simply that you say “why hasn’t anybody thought of this before?” – Andrew Looney, designer of Fluxx
“Check out a NSFW video of the demo … We missed the first part of the presentation, but here’s the prompt which kicked things off: ‘You are in a cottage. There is a fishing pole here. Exits are out.’ Hilarity ensues.” - Griffin McElroy, Joystiq

Action Castle v1.2 comes with the Parsely rules on one side and the Action Castle map and game guide on the other

The Trollish Taproom - I Got's One of Dem Ideas!

I've actually thought of a win - win - win scenario, kinda like a hat trick.  I have access to some damn sweet clipart.  I'm hankering to create some beasties for Tunnels & Trolls for my upcoming campaign.  Y'all get some new T&T critters.  The artists get some visibility and credit for their artwork.

I win.

My future players will win.

Hopefully this blog's readers will find some useful and win.

The artists win.

Kinda hard for me to bugger this up, unless my stuff stinks worse then a porta-potty at the county fair in the middle of August.  Even then it may be fun just to watch the train wreck ;)

I suspect the game I will eventually be running will be fairly grounded in 5.5e T&T (although heavily house ruled), but I like the monster write ups and special spite attacks from 7.5e, so I suspect I'll be using that as a template.

Contest Bumpiness!

I've been busy as a beaver at work today, but I want to remind folks of the contest that's being run here at the Tavern. It's the WTF Were They Thinking!?! Contest. Add your finds and you can win some decent swag.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This Ain't Yo Momma's Bullywug!

It's amazing, really.  I get reviewer comps constantly, and I NEVER bother to look at the clip art that you can use in private and commercial projects.  Why would I?  The only project I currently have is this blog.

That being said, there is some amazing stuff being produced for really affordable prices.  What I am affectionately referring to as a Bullywug to the left (damn D&D cartoon) is but one of 4 pieces available in the Forgotten Foes Clip Art 2 Collection - that's 4 pieces of artwork for 3 bucks.

I'll be finding use for these pieces, even if it is just to liven up a blog post or two.  They should be seen and appreciated.  This does of course mean I'll be starting to use these on the blog where appropriate or even not ;)

The artist for this piece and the rest of this collection is Rene Walk.

Mini Review - Tombs and Terrors

Yes, I know I had a post about there being too many damn retroclones last week (or simulacrum games - I hope that is the right word) and yet here I am with yet another.

Tombs and Terrors, otherwise known as TT (not T&T - that's for Tunnels & Trolls) refers to itself as Old School Fantasy Roleplaying.  I'm going to hazard a guess and declare it to be AD&D simulacrum, very compatible with any of the games that currently restate any of the earlier D&D editions.

It also seems to borrow an idea from Castles & Crusades, but as opposed to just having primes, we are presented with primary, secondary and tertiary stats.  I like the way they are presented here, and if I ran a game of C&C, I'd borrow this from TT to retrofit the SIEGE Engine.

As I've stated before, I don't think we NEED any more retroclonisimulacrumie games, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't play them.  I don't need ice cream to live, but i certainly like it ;)

Besides, they present a spell casting bard.  I like bards.  To the point that I am as annoying as hell when I play them.  So be it.

Digging Out

As today is Sunday, which means tomorrow is Monday, I need to finish digging my car out of last Wednesday's Snowstorm if I am to have any hope of driving to work tomorrow.  Might I add that I'm beginning to thoroughly hate the white stuff (actually, in NYC, it quickly becomes yellow stuff and grey stuff, but when it falls it is actually white stuff).

I also need to do some Spring Cleaning.  I am accumulating junk, which means my son feels the need to accumulate junk and garbage.  You know, you always need to be a step ahead of the Old Man when you are 17.

I need to dig thru two RPG piles.  The physical pile of Tunnels & Trolls that I've been accumulating needs to be organized and found some proper shelf space to r eside in.  Then the Virtual Pile of RPG PDF that I need to review has to be attacked.  If I did 3 or 4 reviews a week,without adding anything new to the pile, I might get thru it in a month or two.  Sigh.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mini Review - Battlelords of the 23rd Century

I mentioned in a previous post that Battlelords of the 23rd Century was a game I played in but never ran.  My memories of the game are full of exciting gunplay... big guns, big gunplay... and edge of the seat gaming.

My original copy of the rules was a 1st or 2nd edition, packed away in a place that it's impossible for me to get to at this point, so a PDF copy of the 6th edition of the rules is a great way to play catch-up.

I don't recall the huge selection of races that is present in 6e, but I do recall I played an Orion Rogue, and we had a Ram Python in the party.  Everyone seems to have a role in the party, and no race seemed like a poor choice (unlike RIFTS and it's many SDC classed in an MDC world).

It's a pleasure to be flipping thru the latest edition.  I just need to find my old character sheet and see how it matches up.  Heck, I'll need to break out my original dead tree copy, just to see the changes.

I wonder if I can get Dave to GM another session 15+ years later?

Contest: Post Your WTF Were They Thinking!?!

The Glory Hole Dwarven Mine post got me thinking that there must be other misnamed, mispresented or otherwise damn awkward to look at now, products that have been released over the 35+ years that this hobby of ours has been in existence.

So, add your picks to the comment section of this post (and tell us why its a winner).  In a few days, I'll put those picks into a survey at the top of this page, and you, the readers, will decide the winner.  If we get enough entires (edit - if we hit at least 5 entries, I'll add a second prize package) we'll add a prize package or two.

The winner (or winners) will get the following package curtesy of RPGNow / OneBookShelf:

One Night StandThe Warren of the Death Spider (Pathfinder) [Otherworld Creations]
Script Crypt Volume 2: Four Damned Scripts [Crucifiction Games]
Volunder (Mega Dungeon; D&D/OGL) [Stainless Steel Dragon]
QUEST CARDS Game Set 3 [Fuller Flippers]
Incorporated Volume 1 [Brutal Games]
Deadlands: Reloaded Player's Guide [Pinnacle Entertainment]

edit:  I'll be adding the entires here as a reference

from mikemonaco - Book of Erotic Fantasy

from Jim -  Of Skulls and Scrapfaggot Green

from Ze Bulette - Starsilver Trek

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Minutes to Midnight

At the moment I have the Iron Maiden song mentioned above going thru my head.  I know I'm 43, and too old for metal, but when Maiden was hot, I was the right age for metal... I'm grandfathered in.

In any case, the kid is doing his auxiliary duty until midnight tonight.  The funny thing is, my worrying doesn't start until he gets off and has to come home.  Must be the years I've spent on "the job" myself has desensitized me to its danger, but the thought of my son on a NYC subway at midnight will keep me up... or wake me up, as I am ready to pass out now.

I can just see this in the fine World of Greyhawk:

"Maaaaahhh!  I'll be fine.  I've made the trip to Verbobonc so many times I could do it in my sleep."

"Ach!, But what about the highwaymen?  You could be laid on by highwaymen!"

"Maa!  I'll be Oh-Kay!  Remember how me and my party laid waste to Iuz and all his evil?"

"Yes, but you had that nice elf and the sour dwarf with you.  Fine men.  I trusted them to keep you safe."

"I think you mean 'dour' dwarf ma."

"Nope, he always smelled of soured beer that lad.  Musta been his beard.  Still, they kept you safe."

"Ma, I'm level 17 now!  I can hold my own against a small army.  I'll be fine."

"So says you!  Maybe I'll go with you.  I'd never let one of them highway men lay a hand on my little boy..."

If I sleep now, I have three hours before I have to start worrying ;)

Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

I was almost always the DM, rarely a player when we gamed back in high school and college.  With the exception of one short lived AD&D campaign that went down in flames (literally), I never had the opportunity to play in a D&D or AD&D campaign back in the days.

There were two campaigns that I was a player in.  One was Battlelords, an insane game of big guns and huge damage.  I couldn't tell you off-hand the type of character I played, but it wasn't a tank and I'm fairly sure I was a pain in the ass... heh.

The other game I played in was an on again, off again RIFTS campaign.  I had gotten my book at GenCon the year it was releases, Kevin Siembedia and Kevin Long both signed it, it read damn cool but I just couldn't figure out how to run it.  So it sat on a shelf for a bit until my friend Dave grabbed a copy.  It spoke to him I guess (as did Battlelords - he just dug unbalanced games).

One day I'll have to post about that RIFTS campaign.  It was a blast, even with the Glitterboy sized holes in the rules.

Now I'm solely a player.  I played in a Warhammer Dark Heresy campaign via Fantasy Grounds for about a year, and the Castles & Crusades game I've been in for the last 2 years via FG is still going strong.  Heck, I even play in a Tunnels & Trolls message board game these days.

Still, I'm getting the itch to GM again.  Really.  It even looks like it wont be D&D or one of its clones, but T&T.

Go figure.

Just need to get all the pieces in place for now.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Were They Thinking!?!

Talk about Weird Fantasy...

But of course I had to snag a copy on Ebay.

I'll convert this to Tunnels & Trolls and never let the party know the actual name of the adventure until the end ;P

The Distracted State

All this white stuff that fell on NYC (19" in Central Park) was left me very distracted.  The kid in me wants to build snow forts and have snow ball fights, the adult in me dreads having to dig out the car and the gamer in me is remembering the random weather tables from an old issue of Dragon Magazine (many of the entries would make these 19" seem like a dusting).

So, what's my solution to all this?  I'm taking tomorrow off from work so I can shovel and do some game related reading at my leisure.  Well, that and the sergeant I share responsibilities with is going to be off the next two weeks.  I'll be doing the work of two.  May as well rest up now ;)

I do have some game related ideas bouncing around my head, but they are hard to lock down.  Unless, of course, my head is on the pillow and I'm trying to sleep.  Then the overdrive kicks in.  One day I'll actually write the stuff down.  Heh

NYC Winter Wonderland

Manhattan is all white this morning. It will be grey by afternoon ;)

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - House Ruling Tunnels & Trolls - Vamping the Warrior

I've had a chance to read thru The Tunnels & Trolls 6th Edition (unauthorized) and there are bits I'd like to steal in whole, and other bits I'd rather balance out.

I never really liked the doubling of armor for warriors, as it wasn't level based, and I felt it should be.  6e makes it a straight +2 armor points per level instead of the doubling, which is a major powering down, especially at low levels.

At the same time, 6e ramps up the combat adds for warriors at an immense rate.  It adds the new level to the previous level as combat adds.  So the progression is +1 / +3 / +6 / +10 / +15 for the first five levels.  +21 / +28 / +36 / +45 and finally +55 at level 10.  It get's even more unbalanced at higher levels.  In 7e, the combat bonus at level 10 would be +10, as a ground zero reference point.

What I would like to propose for my house rule would be to use the same progression for both armor points and combat adds.  It would be +2 per level for the first 5 levels, +3 per level for levels 6 thru 10, +4 per level for levels 11 thru 15 and so on.

This gives us a progression of +2 / +4 / +6 / +8 / +10 for both armor and adds for the first five levels, +13, +16, +19, +22, +25 for levels 6 thru 10

Overall it balances out the curve of the combat adds progression, while advancing the curve of the armor  points slightly.

The Games I Own, But Have Never Played - The Original D&D Basic Set

I didn't even buy a D&D Basic Set until I had been playing AD&D for a few years. To me, at the time, D&D was "a kid's game" and AD&D was for the adults. Lets be real, I was in High School - neither was being played by any of the adults I knew.

I was dragged to some discount store with my mother, and lo and behold, there was a table full of D&D Basic Sets, with a small rectangular hole punched thru the front and side of the boxes. In retrospect, I think its a good bet that the D&D Red Box was hitting the market, and these were remainders. All I knew at the time was there was a D&D boxed set on sale for 2 bucks. Bought it, thought it was crap compared to AD&D (but was happy to get a copy of Keep on the Borderlands, which I shoehorned into AD&D) and promptly put it in the closet.

I still haven't played it, but now I can appreciate it for it's place in the hobby's history. Heck, I'd gladly play it now, even with the hole punched in the box. I no longer think it's crap BTW ;)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm Damn Proud

Got to see my son graduate as an Auxiliary Police Officer tonight. He gets to volunteer his time to help our community, and I get to stay up to midnite on the nites he volunteers, 'cause that's what parents do.

Nothing game related here, just pride. Well, I guess the late nites will be game related, as I will probably either be reading game blogs or gaming material ;)

Mini Review - Resolute, Adventurer & Genius

If the title bring thoughts of Warrior, Rogue and Mage - it should.  It's built on the same basic system and it's from the same folks.  Resolute, Adventurer & Genius brings the rules to the Age of Pulp - basically the years right before WWI to the years right before WWII (at least that's how I codify it).

How well does it do it?  Pretty well for a book that is just 36 pages long.  The original system is tweaked a bit, but it is still largely compatible.

I'd say the largest omission is the lack of a sample adventure, no matter how short.  The vast majority of roleplayers cut their teeth on fantasy and sci-fi, and have probably played other fantasy RPGs before finding the indi press stuff, but the same can't be said for the pulp genre.

Still, I'm complaining about a very well written and free RPG game not including something that is generally thought of as being optional, so I'll stop.  Besides, if you want pulp source materials for your RPG, Adamant Publishing has everything it sells for 1.99 a pop, and it's well stocked on pulp. 

Back to School - Sorta

So, I'm sitting in my car, as snow that I don't recall as being in the forecast falls around me, waiting as my son takes an assessment exam for a college he is looking to attend.

I don't recall taking an assessment exam when I went to college. I must have, as they told me to take calculus as a freshmen. Need I say that didn't go all that well? Heh

College for me greatly expanded my gaming opportunities. The game club had about a dozen and a half members, with a small overlap with my regular weekend gaming group. I played more then I had any right to game (as I cut classes and work fairly often to do so). I'm still amazed at times that I actually got my BA.

My son doesn't game, at least not like I used to. MMORPGs and Multiplayer Shooters are his cup of tea. Hopefully they don't prove be a distraction of a similar scope as my gaming was, or he'll have a long 8 1/2 years of undergrad ahead of him ;)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Realms of Crawling Chaos - First Look

There is no way I could fully review Realms of Crawling Chaos at this point.  There is just too much to absorb, and plowing thru it would defeat the purpose.  Instead, I'm flipping thru the virtual pages and stopping here and there to read a bit more in depth.

First things first: Dan Proctor and Mike Curtis have put together a really nice looking piece of work.  The art by Sean Aaberg and Mark Allen are damn close to perfect for the feel of the book.

Dan and Mike give us an interesting perspective on Lovcraftian Dark Fantasy.  It's a different take than LotFP Weird Fantasy, which works on the idea of the weird and evil being unique.  With Realms of Crawling Chaos, we are shown the Labyrinth Lord rules skewed by the touch of Cthulhu and the rest of the old ones.

We are given four new races, that can either be played as race=class, or the standard AD&D method of race+class.  The new races are Sea Blood (race as class is a Cleric / Fighter combo), Subhuman, White Ape and White Ape Hybrid (race as class is a Thief / Fighter hybrid).  These could be added to non-Lovcrafitan campaigns with little problem, even if just for NPC use.  Heck, I'm already thinking of borrowing some of this for Tunnels & Trolls.

There are new spells, which I'll admit I  didn't give more then a quick once over at this point.  The same with the new monsters section, which appears to be extensive.  I'll get back to these with a later blog post.

Hey, Cthulhu only has 350 HP!  I need to put his trophy next to Asmodeous when I kill him ;)

Psionics are included for use by the badies, not the PCs.  Which makes sense, I guess.  It wouldn't be very Lovcraftian to give the PCs powers beyond the norm.

As I said earlier, this is just a first look.  Way too much to absorb in a single sitting.  That being said, I did catch an editing gaffe on page 14.  In one sentence, it mentions that in some campaigns there are no "true gods" and no traditional magic in the fantasy sense,  which eliminates clerics, magic users and their sub classes.  The next sentence then states that in this type of campaign, the only appropriate classes from the LL rules would be the fighter, thief and - magic user.  Either he belongs, or he doesn't.  I'll assume if there is no magic in the world, there are no magic users.  They might want to revise this before going to print.

Still, this is a small quibble.  I've gotten my money's worth and I've barely scratched the surface.  All that and I want to crib stuff for T&T.  Props to Dan and Mike :)

From the blurb:

In R'lyeh, Cthulhu Stirs...
Evil cultists consummate their union with Shub-Niggurath in dark woods no other mortals dare go. Alien terrors lurk in the underworld; their vast riches wait, or their incomprehensible powers could leave you broken, dead, or worse. Adventure in underworlds filled with horrible entities, or the ruins of alien beings that enslaved the ape-like ancestors of mankind. Seek hidden secrets from the arctic wastes to dark, briny seas. But as you approach the ocean, what are those strange longings you feel?
Realms of Crawling Chaos is a Lovecraftian Dark Fantasy campaign supplement for Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion.
In this book you will find:
  • New player races, including white apes, white ape hybrids, sea blood, and subhumans.
  • New spells
  • New monsters
  • New artifacts and a system for designing unique artifacts
  • Rules for psionics, compatible with Mutant future

The Trollish Taproom - House Ruling Tunnels & Trolls

One of the nice things about Tunnels & Trolls is how easy it is to house rule the system without breaking it. When you look at T&T 1e, right thru to 5e, its the same system with new rules built on top of it. 5.5e, and 7e / 7.5 mix things up a bit, but it is still all cross compatible. A character built with one edition of the rules can coexist with a character from a different edition. All this is probably why I plan to steal from multiple editions when I get my game up an running.

One thing I want to house rule is "Spite Damage". It's an excellent addition to the rules (although maybe not so much while soloing, as healing is often few and far between in the solos), but a bit hurtful if your opponent is rolling many dice, as those 6s can and will kill you.

What I'm thinking of is giving damage from Spite a Saving Roll vs Luck to halve the damage (round up), to a minimum of 1 point. The saving roll will have a base level of 1, and increase a level for each 1 point of Spite Damage after the first. The save is based upon pre-split damage, so splitting 6 points of spite damage 3 ways would require the 3 characters to make level 6 S/Rs vs Luck, not level 1. Warriors would add their level to their S/R.

Large amounts of Spite Damage would be hard to save against, but with DARO there would always be a chance. I like to give suckers a chance ;)

And So it Goes...

The Jets lost to the Steelers last nite. Thankfully I was at a children's birthday party until midway thru the 3rd quarter, so at least I got to watch from the time the Jets decided to actually play some football.

I've seen this happen in game sessions too. It sometimes take a while the group, or members of the group, to warm up and actually actively participate in the game. Then again, none of us are paid to play our recreational activity.

I received my latest Trollgod Auction Loot over the weekend. I'll try to put a pic or two up later. Another piece of T&T history.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Mini Review - Deep Delving (T&T Solo)

The title of this new Tunnels & Trolls solo immediately brought to mind Brave Halfling's 0e forthcoming clone.  Of course, all they have is similar titles, and adventuring has been referred to as "delving" in the T&T rules since... forever.

Deep Delving is a T&T Solo Adventure by the evil mind of Ken St. Andre himself.  The man has 35 years of practice writing adventures for T&T, and the experience shows.  The best compliment I can say is, when your character dies, you'll be looking to grab another so you can give it a second go... or a third.

This adventure is written for Trolls using the T&T 7.5e rules, but if you use one of the pre-gen trolls included, you can probably get away with 5e/5.5e, or even the 5e free abridged rules that I have linked above and to the left.  The pre-gens have between 147 and 319 combat adds, so if you are brining in one of your own, you have an idea of the range that may be needed.  Then again, combat adds aren't everything, but they certainly help ;)

The Trollish Taproom - Looking Forward to a Tunnels & Trolls Campaign

Last nite's game of Castles and Crusades via Fantasy Grounds has reinforced my desire to get a Tunnels & Trolls campaign running via a VTT.  At this point, my preference would be to use Fantasy Grounds, but there currently are no character sheets nor ruleset for T&T on the FG platform.  Doesn't mean I won't used FG, as I do have access to a generic character sheet, but it does lose much of the advantage of using Fantasy Grounds.

Not all that crazy about Klooge and iTabletop isnt where I want it to be.  I may give Maptools and Battlegrounds RPG second looks.  I'm due to take a closer look at my VTT options in any case.

The system is going to be a hodgepodge of 5.5e, 6e, 7.5e and possibly some of the fan based 4e reboot.  In any case, familiarity will any edition of the Tunnels & Trolls rules will suffice, even the free abridged 5e.  The aim will be twice a month, day and time to be determined, with sessions run fairly independent of the previous one, allowing players to drop in an out if needed.  I'm not recruiting yet, just kinda working the generics out in my head by putting thoughts on the screen.

Time to do a little research...

Post Game Wrap Up

Last nite we added a new player to our Castles & Crusades via Fantasy Grounds group.  Our DM is an American living in Spain, I'm in New York, another is in Michigan, one in LA, the newest is an Aussie I do believe.  Damn, left one out I think.  You couldn't get a group like that together around the dining room table if you wanted to ;)

In the four hours we played, we made a few Siege Checks but not a single combat roll.  Role Playing and puzzle solving were the main course.  In retrospect, that's kind of amazing, especially as I didn't even realize we had no combat until we wrapped up after midnite.  Another great job by Rob, our DM.

We did change one thing... we are no longer voting on Roleplay Bonus expo for the other players.  We decided that the group roleplays pretty well already, and we don't need the carrot.  If there is a bonus to be given out, its back in Rob's hands.

Next session is in about 4 weeks.  Should be another blast.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The (Virtual) Dice Shall Roll High Tonight!

At least I hope they will.  I've been rolling like crap the last few sessions of the Fantasy Grounds / Castles & Crusades game I play in and Tenkar has taken a beating.  It's all good tho, we always have a blast playing.

ENWorld has a thread going about VTTs.  Some folks are just dead said against them.  Me, I love 'em.  How else would I get to game on a Saturday nite and still get quality time in with the fiancee?  Win / Win if you ask me.

Wish me luck.  I got my ass handed to me last session by giant slugs ;)

The Trollish Taproom - The Changes From 4e to 5e in T&T

In the history of Tunnels & Trolls, the biggest evolution in the game was the jump from 4e to 5e.  I'm sure if I sat down with my copies of both editions in front of me, I could turn out a fairly comprehensive list of the changes, I'm also sure I'd miss quite a bit.  Instead, I'll turn to my recently acquired copy of issue #5 of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, which has a fine article by Liz Danforth that describes, in detail, the changes.  I'll be foregoing most of the fine details ;)

1 - Rogues no longer have to choose between Warrior or Wizard at 7th level.  They do stop progressing in magic at 7th level in 5e.  No use of magic tools, no lowering the cost of casting and no inventing new spells.

2 - Warriors now get 2x the listed armor and shield protection.  Finally a reason to play a warrior.

3 - Wizards limited to 2 dice or less weapons but gets combat adds from str, luck and dex

4 - Kindreds - changes to rolling elves, dwarves and leprechauns

5 - Experience is now Adventure Points.  Gold no longer gives expo / AP.

6 - Magic - Only wizards can buy spells directly out of the book, others need to be taught them.  Bunch of new spells.

7 - Charts - New weapon, equipment, leveling, poison, armor charts.

8 - Monsters can now have a negative charisma

9 - Missile Weapons - new system

10 - Speed as an attribute is introduced.

I forgot to mention the Warrior-Wizard class, but who can actually qualify for that rolling 3d6 for their stats?  heh

I'll do up the 5e to 5.5e changes relatively soonish.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What's Up With the iTabletop Virtual Table Top?

As many of you know, I have a large interest in Virtual Table Tops. I find them to be an acceptable substitute for Face to Face gaming. Each VTT has it's own set of strength and weaknesses... I should know, as I've spent money on a large share of them.

I was interested in the iTabletop V2 / Pandoren VTT from the moment it was announced. It promised voice, video and all the usual VTT bells and whistles. This spring will be 2 years since the announcement if my memory serves me correct, and I was one of the first to drop $200 to me a lifetime founding member. Yes, I knew then my investment was more of a gamble then anything else, but I felt the bet was worth the promise.

Since then, the software has been improved in spurts, both large and small. For me, it still isn't where I would want to use it for a regular game with the other options I have access to... it still isn't "there" for me.

Funding and pricing of memberships has been an issue from the beginning, as iTT was initially planned to be a monthly sub, then a bunch of discounted lifetime memberships were sold, at one point MLM was discussed (and thankfully discarded) and now there is talk of going to micro transactions (popular with certain MMORPGs like DDO).

Forum activity (or lack thereof) has been an issue from the beginning. When you don't hear from the devs for weeks or months, there is a feeling that little is going on with the platform. At one point, I attempted to be a volunteer mod, but I want knowledgeable enough to actually conduct any sort of customer service. There was another volunteer mod after me, but I think he faded too.

I wish I knew where iTT was heading, how soon and even if it will fill my gaming needs, but I don't have these answers. Truthfully, I'm not all that concerned, as I have other options available that do what I need now (with the addition of Skype or Ventrilo I even have the feature that is iTT's biggest selling point - voice communication). I would like to see it succeed, as the guys behind it are decent folks that really want to get things right. The VTT market is hot now, with the WotC VTT Beta grabbing attention, but its getting crowded. iTT's time to strike is getting short if they want to grab enough market size to be profitable. I hope they can do it. I hope I get to play with it. I had been holding off starting an online campaign with the hopes of using iTT to run it, but now I'll probably use Fantasy Grounds / Skype and consider the switch to iTT later. If and when it gets there.

End of the Week Tavern Round-Up

Another weather non-event for NYC, although if they fail to clean up the 3 inches of slush by tonight, the 12 degree night time temp may cause some real icing issues.

Tomorrow nite I get to play some Castles & Crusades via Fantasy Grounds and I get to see how my 11" gaming net book handles it all. Most net books don't have the right resolution for FG and you lose the chat bar at the bottom.

Jets, Jets, JETS on Sunday evening. I managed to escape the game / game conflict I thought was going to happen, thank god ;)

I'll try to get some Tunnels & Trolls info up tomorrow concerning the changes from 5e to 5.5e. I'd do it tonight, but I'll be at a retirement party (not my own, sadly enough).

BTW, I now have a copy of every edition of T&T (1st and 3rd are reprints) from 1e thru 7.5e. I'm need to sit down and work on my FrankenTroll house ruled version if I ever want to get a game up and running ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Let's Pick an Edition

Earlier today I was posting about yet another D&D clone.  It's not really a bad thing, and I'm extremely glad to see the OSR movement is maintaining a lively growth, but there comes a time when too much choice can be detrimental.

Tunnels & Trolls is a bit more cut and dry.  While T&T has gone thru six (or seven) full editions and two "half" editions, in reality editions 1 thru 4 didn't experience much change.  5e was a big jump ahead (and Sorcerer's Apprentice #5 gives a very nice write up of said changes -  that's the Winter 1979 issue for those asking).  Thus it was, unchanged until 2005, when 5.5 updated and added options (and Fiery Dragon released 7e that same year, in honor of T&T's 30 years).

There is the unofficial 6e, which has a few pieces that are worth stealing... borrowing may be a better choice of words... but being unofficial, it will never receive the support of 5 / 5.5e or 7 / 7.5e.

So, which to play?  It's almost like choosing between two different flavors of the OSR... but the Tunnels & Trolls variations are even closer in compatibility.

For me, I think I prefer the 5.5e rules, but I like the 7.5e presentation better.  Spiral binding actually works for me, I never expected that.  In truth, I'd probably wind up with a set of houserules drawing from both current editions if I were to run a campaign.  For solos, I'd probably stick with 7.5e, as its easier to reference when running with a rulebook and a solo adventure at the same time.

Damn, guess I didn't really pick, did i? ;)

Send in the Clones. Where Are the Clones? There's Too Many Damn Clones!

While we watch the possible implosion of WotC and the tattering of the Dungeons & Dragons Brand as we know it, we are treated to yet another Dungeons & Dragons clone. Brave Halfling will be developing its own 0e clone, not to be confused with Swords & Wizardry (a 0e clone) nor the Swords & Wizardry White Box Edition (0e clone of just the original White Box). Delving Deeper steps out of the shadows, and into the shadow of the D&D Clone World (it has the right initials tho)

Do we really need another D&D clone, let alone another 0e clone? Damned if I know. Hell, I'm getting to the point where I really don't care. WotC is doing an admirable job in destroying their own market, and the OSR has so many flavors that we may need to recruit the Highlander to see if there "can be only one clone." Maybe a "Last Clone Standing" competition is in order.

Imitation is often referred to as the greatest compliment, but there comes a point where it gets a bit ridiculous. This isn't a new take on something old... this is a newer take on a recent take of something old. Where is the value here? Don't get me wrong, Brave Halfling puts out good stuff. In support of clones. Making their own clone to piss on another clone? Why?

Oh, and the title of this post draws upon an old Paranoia module. That was a game that knew had to use "clones" ;)

Dungeons & Disfunctions - What is Up With WotC?

The blogosphere and assorted forums are swarming with talk of WotC's decision to drop their randomized collectible miniatures line and the cancelation of some of the D&D Essentials line that was scheduled for later this year. Then again, there is the talk of the new but trying to look old Red Box that they released last year.

If one didn't know any better, you would think their budget had been slashed by Hasbro. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn't, but one thing is for sure, some is worried about WotC's bottom line right at this moment. Not the future, but now.

Amazingly enough, I haven't logged into the D&D Virtual Table Top since the one time I did right after I was notified I had landed a spot in the Beta. It just doesn't compare to the flexibility of what is already out there. Fantasy Grounds, Map Tools, Battlegrounds RPG - those are your big boys, with another half dozen or so right behind them. The D&D VTT is playing catch-up with all of them.

As others have already said, what is 4e these days? Is it the core books that were released previously, the Red Box, the new trade paperbacks... does WotC even know? They seem to want to get away from physical products and take their toys to the electronic media side, but they don't want their material distributed in PDF format. Every Pathfinder product that I buy direct from Paizo includes a PDF copy. It doesn't seem to be hurting their sales any.

WotC no longer sees their customers as gamers first, but as consumers of a product that they want to turn into a self generating cash cow. Some folks say they are trying to follow thew World Of Warcraft method of making money, but only WoW is making that kind of money in the sphere of MMORPGs... no one else comes close. The same used to be said of the Dungeons & Dragons brand... sadly, that's no longer true.

I hope that WotC can find their way before the D&D brand is fully drained of value and relevance.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Stuff - Dresden Files RPG Casefile: Neutral Grounds

This wasn't the post I initially planned on making tonight.  I actually intended to highlight a recently released Quickstart, but this is cooler.

Evil Hat has just released a free one-shot adventure for their FATE based Dresden Files RPG.  Twenty-five high quality pages for the cost of your bandwidth.  Not a bad deal at all.

Admittedly, the adventure is pretty short, as 14 of those 25 pages are used for the 7 partially pre-generated character sheets, 1 page for the cover and 1 for the OGL.  Still, it should give a group a nice session or two of gaming, and the partial pre-gens are a nice way to help players that may be stumped with their character concept.  Can't beat the price either ;)

From the blurb:

          Neutral Grounds: Come for the hot, fresh coffee. Stay for the cold-blooded murder. 

Two dead barristas ... a missing proprietor ... ghoul attacks ... poser vampires ... boy trouble. And it's your case, whether you like it or not. 
Better make that a double espresso.
The Neutral Grounds casefile is a one-shot mystery-adventure for the Dresden Files Role-Playing Game, intended for 3-7 characters at the "Up To Your Waist" power level. Customizable, pregenerated characters with sheets and power details are provided.

The Trollish Taproom - Sorcerer's Apprentice

Yesterday I received a package containing 4 near mint issues of The Sorcerer's Apprentice from the mid 80's. I haven't done much more then glance at them, but a few things quickly stood out (I'll probably go a bit more in depth at a later point).

There was a mini-solo in one called Hot Pursuit by Mike Stackpole. It was inserted throughout the issue, not squashed into consecutive pages. I was confused at first, but then I saw it as a great was to get rid of all that unused "white space" that some mags have. Kinda cool. Haven't tried the solo yet.

One issue had a cleric / priest class for Tunnels & Trolls, complete with new spells and a 7th stat. DIV was apparently introduced before WIZ (unless there is an article introducing WIZ in an earlier issue). If I were to introduce the class now, I would use WIZ/DIV as the same stat block, name depending on class.
I need to give it a close look and a good read thru.

Damn, I really wish I had them in front of me. Guess there will be a Part 2 tonight when I get home ;)

Still, I'm real excited to have these pieces of T&T history.

The Games I Own, But Have Never Played - The Morrow Project

I remember my friend Paul handing me a small stack of gaming books and telling me: "I want you to run this". It was The Morrow Project and an adventure or two. He told me something to the effect that it was an awesome setting but he wasn't up to running the system (to tell the truth, I don't think Paul ever ran a game in any system - he was a player thru and thru).

Being the good egg I was, I took the books with every intention of running a campaign. Never happened. The system was why too complicated for me to absorb in a sitting (or 10), and I was awesome at picking up new systems when I was younger.

I thought of using the source material with another system, but the only other post apocalypse system I owned (let alone knew of) was Gamma World, which was not a good fit.

So, for the last 20+ years it has sat in a closet, never seeing the light of day. Sorry Paul.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sometimes a Small Backyard is the Best

Somehow, someway, my Twitter feed was hijacked this afternoon.  The joke is on the hijacker - I've only got 32 followers on Twitter! Hah!  Foolish spammer.

Anyhow, I've reset the password so many times now I think even I don't recall it anymore.  For the most part, my Twitter feed just announces my blog posts.  I may get more use of it at a later point, but I haven't hit that point yet.

But for those that are asking... no, Apple did not give me a free iPhone or iPad.  I got those the old fashioned way... I used a Credit Card.

Okay, time to read more of Greg C's postings from his various blogs today - I think he's on a caffein fit ;)

Game Flashback - Wabbit Wampage

Wabbit Wampage was a fun filled board game from Pacesetter Games released in 1985. I think I snagged my copy in 86 or 87.

What other game includes just about every classic cartoon method player destruction? I mean, a rabbit with a chainsaw rocks ;)

This wasn't a quick game, and at times it could get confusing, but it was certainly oneof the go to games along with Chaos Maruaders and Warlock of Firetop Mountain to fill in time when we lacked a full group for our RPG session.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Slip Sliding Away

NYC was hit with a small ice storm over nite. My car (complete with new battery) had a nice coating of ice I had to clear away. Surprisingly enough, or maybe not, my street was neither salted nor plowed over nite. It always fun driving downhill on ice hoping the car will stop at the red light at the bottom.

I'll have another Quickstart to add to the list. The first since early November or so. If it doesn't get posted tonight I'll get it up tomorrow.

I'm thinking of doing some quick T&T monster write ups, to show how quick it can be done and the flexibility of the system. Killer vorpal bunnies anyone?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mini Review - Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook

Mutants & Masterminds is the big brother of the OGL / D20 era of superhero games, and it has to be the most popular of the bunch.  The Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook is the 3rd Edition of M&M.  Somewhere in the recesses of my closet there resides a hardcover copy of M&M 1e.

It appears to me that the work on DC Adventures had a lot to do with the evolution of Mutants & Masterminds, which is to be expected, as DCA was built upon the bones of M&M 2e.  Which means I really should read the 2 books side by side and make comparisons and notes and highlights - ain't happening.  The new M&M is over 230 pages and DCU is 280 pages.  I can tell you that the abilities and the stat scores match up, so they should be fairly compatible, but going thru all with a fine tooth comb is a chore for a hard core supers guy.  I'm just here for the game.

The art is top notch and the layout is eye pleasing, which is par for the course with Green Ronin.

I see this latest edition as a move toward using more of GR's True20 system, which isn't bad at all.  It's a nice spin off from the OGL that never seemed to have gotten the attention it deserved.  Hey, maybe we'll get a Swords & Sorcery sourcebook for the new Mutants & Masterminds.  Hey, one can hope ;)

I'm not sure you would need a copy of the new M&M if you already have a copy of DCU, but you should want a copy.  It's damn purty.

From the blurb:

The Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook is the core rulebook of the game's third edition and it gives you everything you need to have your own superheroic adventures. The detailed character creation system lets you create the hero you want to play, choosing from a wide range of skills, advantages, and power effects. Customize your hero's powers with modifiers to create an almost endless range of superhuman abilities. Choose the complications your hero must overcome, earning you the hero points to achieve victory. You can also choose from one of more than a dozen heroic archetypes, customize as you like, and be ready to play in just minutes!
The streamlined system of game play requires only a single die roll and features easy to use rules. Play out an entire heroic adventure in a few short hours without long, drawn-out encounters. Plus the hero point system allows players to influence the flow of the story and pull off superheroic stunts in the best comic book tradition! Become a hero of legend with the Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook!

The Trollish Taproom - It's Fiendishly Simple

When I first came across Tunnels and Trolls back in the early 80s (probably 83 or 84) it felt incomplete to me. Where where the monsters? Was there another book for the monsters, like AD&D? What are my players supposed to fight?

I cut my teeth on AD&D, and the simplicity of T&T didn't gel well with me in my teenage years. That's a damn shame. I just couldn't understand that monsters could be defined with a single number, representing both attack strength (dice plus adds) and hit points. One number to work with, multiple purposes.

As an aside, this is the same teenager that spent a summer DMing for his friends in the Poconos, with just the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide - no Monster Manual. I didn't understand that an Ogre's HD of 4+1 was actually 4d8+1... I thought 4+1=5 HP. Yeah, my players were tearing thru stuff that summer.

So, it T&T, it's very easy to create a monster. All you need to do is give it an MR and a description. The addition of "spite damage" and special "procing damage" allows one to truly make unique adversaries for their party.

This is something that Raggi seems to be striving for with his LotFP Weird Fantasy rules. Where monsters are unique and scary, something that D&D and it's clones have a hard time accomplishing with their books of monsters.

Still, that is one of the many things T&T 7.5e did right - it gives us a monster book or two. In my mind, they are more for use as examples then anything else, to show what one can quickly build with the T&T rules. Then again, Claudio's Poza's art helps anyone's imagination ;)

It a Lethargic Monday

The Jets win over the Patriots sapped me last nite... in a good way. Still, I am exhausted this morning. It doesn't help that i had to drop my car off at the mechanic yesterday... it didn't want to start. After many attempts and frequent prayers we got it going, but I suspect the starter is the problem. I guess i'll know later today.

My review slush pile is getting a bit too large, so I need to plow thru it a bit in the next week or two. Thank God its 100% virtual, or I'd be buried under it all ;)

I actually saw a commercial for the new DC Comics MMORPG during the Jets / Pats game. It looked cool, I just hate super hero based MMORPGs. I can only run around the same block so many times before I'm bored outa my skull.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Free GM Adventures for Tunnels & Trolls

Tunnels & Trolls is the only game system I can think of that you have to be specific about the TYPE of adventures you are referring to.  There is a real dearth of available adventure for a GM to run a party thru, which is probably why many (including myself for the longest time) think of Tunnels & Trolls as a SOLO play system - either in total or nearly so.

There are party driven adventures out there for T&T, you just need to look for them a bit harder then you might for a D&D clone.

Where might you find those elusive GM Adventures for Tunnels & Trolls?  At the Hobgoblin's Tavern, AR Holmes Proprietor (no relationship to Tenkar's Tavern - just sayin').  There are about 20 free to download GM adventures on the site (and a number of not free but very well done solos).  So you have a campaign or two worth of adventures on just this one site (I am actively searching for more).

Enjoy :)

Mini Review - The Malady of Kings for Castles & Crusades

Some of you may remember The Malady of Kings from the D20/OGL era of the RPG timeline.  Originally it was written for D&D 3e and has just recently been converted to Troll Lord's Castles & Crusades ruleset.  If you don't know about Castles & Crusades, think of a highly house-ruled AD&D 1e - at least, that's how I think about it.

Anyhow, back to The Malady of Kings.  I've been noticing a slight uptick in higher level adventures in the OSR corner and this is no exception - it's rated for levels 10-12. (as a side note, at the rate my current C&C group is leveling, we might be ready for this when I am retired ;)

Regretfully, it's about 15 years since I've run or played in an adventure higher then the mid levels (say about 8th level) in any of the D&D variants.  My instincts tell me some of the magic item rewards may be a bit overpowering, but as some of that comes from having to kill an adult dragon, it might be balanced by risk / reward ratio.

I love the artwork, but I'm a huge Peter Bradley fan, so that's to be expected.

Overall, I think it's a fairly strong adventure.  It fills a needed niche for C&C, it that it's a nice challenge for higher level characters.

From the blurb:

But she lingered still, in the world of the living, a haunt barred from the Stone Fields, where the noble dead lie, for a desire so deep death cannot claim her; now, upon the edge of the Wretched Plains her ghost is fearful and restless.
Gods are moved by greater things than mortal man. Lonely upon his gilded chair St. Luther, god of Aihrde, Lord of Dreams, King Palatine of Kayomar, father, and husband sits in restless slumber. He dreams of times long forgotten and people long passed from the world. He knows not that he slumbers, nor that he dreams. He sits, dreaming forgotten dreams, stalking the corridors of his memory, reliving the moments of his life. For ever is it the Malady of Kings that they forget. 
After his long wars, Saint Luther, Lord of Dreams, retired to the Sea of Dreams where he took up residence in the great Castle Pendegrantz. Here he ruled over the Dreams of mortals, forgetting those thoughts of his own. His one true love, Queen Vivienne had died, this he knew; but unbeknownst to him her spirit did not pass to the Stone Fields where the good rest forever. Instead it lingered in the world, awaiting his return. She haunts her crypt, looking for him and the ring she gave him, and that he promised to return. Her haunting has left the Lord of Dreams troubled, though he does not know why. His mind is ever wandering, attempting to grasp that troubled thought that lies just beyond his vision. 
The crypt, the Friden Anhohe is haunted by her ghost; it is up to the characters to find it, discover who or what she is and to free her from her haunted curse. But they are not alone, for an ancient and vile wizard, who wishes to gain access to the Sea of Dreams and to Saint Luther has learned of her fate and wishes to keep her in her role for it troubles the Lord of Dreams and makes him vulnerable to the wizard’s attack. 
The characters, if they dare take up the mantle of adventure, must take the perilous road that crosses the wilds of the Eldwood, flings them upon the face of the turbulent Sea of Dreams and must at last bring them to the shores of the Isle of Blight where evil has taken root. Here they must solve the riddles of the wizard’s sorcery, encounter monsters of epic proportion before ever they come into the presence of Saint Luther, Lord of Dreams. Even then danger awaits them for the Lord’s slumber is a perilous thing to disturb. 

A Note from the Author: "The original d20 version of this adventure was a fun adventure, but it tended to place the emphasis of the story on the demi-gods that peopled the adventure and shift it away from the characters and their actions. This approach does not work in Castles & Crusades and I have modified the adventure accordingly. A new introductory encounter has been added to the advent as well as a drastic alteration in the way the plot unfolds. In all about 15-20000 words have been added, that about 15-20 pages. Malady of Kings was one of our best selling d20 adventures, I hope you enjoy this revisiting as much!" 

BTW, its also available in a bundle with Dragonshire: Windmill & Cottage from Fat Dragon Games.

Ashley Underfoot

My little girl plans to keep me from my keyboard today. More football watching it seems ;)

- Posted from my iPhone

The Trollish Taproom - Deathtrap Equalizer 1st Printing on its Way

For those that don't know, Ken St Andre, aka The Trollgod, run's weekly auctions for the members of Trollhalla.  Ken gets to clear out space and make some extra cash, and the rest of us get to pick up some priceless additions to our gaming collection.

This is how I picked up Tunnels & Trolls 2e.  It's also how I just picked up a first printing of the second Tunnels & Trolls solo.  I'm having a blast collecting T&T stuff.

In the last auction, the cool stuff I didn't win, was an original Liz Danforth piece of art and the Japanese printing of the Tunnels & Trolls 7.5 boxed set.

In any case, I am eagerly awaiting my First Printing of Deathtrap Equalizer to arrive ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Game Prep

No, not game prep for a rousing session of dice rolling. I'm talking about prepping for tomorrow afternoon's Jets game.

Already have the beer. Getting the Pizza Hut Pizza today to heat up in my tabletop pizza oven tomorrow.

Sorry to hear Christian is cutting out his Nerd Sunday cooking. I feel like it's the end of an era.

- Posted from my iPhone

The Trollish Taproom - The Tangled Web of Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e

I love my Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e Boxed set.  The thing is so jam packed, the lid doesn't even close properly.  The same thing I love about it is probably the main issue with it.

The extras compared to the 7e Tin Set are the addition of the Monstrum Codex, Codex Incantum, Strange Destinies and Hot Pursuit.  These add an excellent value to the set.  They are also Outlaw Press products.

The Delver's Pack for 7.5e is all Outlaw Press stuff: Monstrum Codex II, Codex Incantum II, Trollgod's Exciting Random Rooms of Ruination and Hunting Party are also Outlaw Press products, repackaged by Fiery Dragon for the Delver's Pack.

I guess I never realized how linked T&T 7.5e is to OP, at least I didn't until I sat down and did a survey of what I own.  I never realized how much of 7.5e was just some repackaging by Fiery Dragon.

No big statement, just an observation.

My biggest problems with 7.5e (from a player / GM perspective) is the leveling / stat increase system.  To me, it feels broken compared to 5/5.5e.  Oh, and the included solo is totally the wrong choice to include in the initial boxed set.  You want a solo a newbie can play, not die in the first encounter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Games I Own, But Have Never Played - West End Games Star Wars

To be fully honest, I own the core rules to each version of the Star Wars RPGs, and have yet to play any of them. That being said, WEG's D6 Star Wars is the one that I really wanted to play.

The system was easy enough to understand, the books were really evocative of the first three Star Wars movies (not to be confused with Chapters I-III of the Star Wars Saga). I could read the rules and have a pretty good idea of how it would play out in my head.

It's just that no one else wanted to play Star Wars. Heck, they would choose Star Ace before Star Wars, and I did run a decent 3 player campaign using the Space Master rules. Sci-Fi wasn't the issue, I think it was a fear of the Star Wars canon. Sometimes its easier to be the hero where the setting wasn't already decided on the major plot line.

Maybe one day I can use the now Open D6 rules for a decent Sci-Fi campaign, without the light sabers and the Jedi Mind Tricks ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Tunnels & Trolls Starter Kit (via the Trollish Delver)

The Trollish Delver put together a pretty nice and complete Tunnels & Trolls Starter Kit back in November of last year that had a zero cost buy in. Yep, all the downloads were free. That's the link above. Go there. Get some stuff. For free. I'll wait.
Back? Cool, because I'm gonna send you to places to get more Tunnels & Trolls stuff for free. Legit and all that. Ready?

FreeDungeons.com - some free T&T solos that you can play right on your computer screen. How cool is that? Know what is even cooler? There is a variant ruleset based on the Tunnels & Trolls 4e rules available for free download, as well as links to the free Tunnels & Trolls Trollzine.

Trollmancer - a whole lotta solos - more then 3 or 4 (sorry, Bugs Bunny on my brain). Truly, a goldmine of T&T gaming, between The Trollish Delver's links and the two above, you can game for weeks... even months.

Remember, always use safe gaming methods when playing by yourself ;)

Oh, and solos also work pretty well as a GM and one player adventures if you are so inclined.

The Games I Own, But Have Never Played - FATE

I really dig FATE. I liked it in SotC, I was excited with what I saw with Starblazer's Adventures, Strands of FATE kicked my imagination into high gear - and I'll probably never play it.

Believe it or not, I'm okay with that. I'm actually afraid that FATE might not play as well as it reads, because it reads very well. Okay, maybe that doesn't make the most sense. The thing is, SotC reads better then any game I could run, and I'm not sure my old gaming group would be able to sink their teeth into the FATE system, as they are big on crunch, which FATE seems to grind under its capital letters.

I won't pack SotC away, as it is a good read unto itself. The rest of my FATE is in PDF, so I have access to it wherever my iPad is. I may not get a chance to play with FATE, but I'll read it. That can't be too bad.

I've Got a Ticket to Ride

Saturdays are the day that my girl, my mother and myself often sit down for board games. Last year we did a lot of Carcasone. When we added in the Big Box, it became one hell of a production.

Recently we started playing a lot of Uno, more for the ease of set-up and play then anything else. I didn't have the energy to be the point man keeping all the various rules from then big box in line, and neither my mother nor my fiancée were so inclined to me the rule master.

Last Saturday I broke out Ticket to Ride for the first time. It was a blast. Nice change of pace from Uno and Carcosone. If my folks weren't going away for the weekend, its a safe bet it would be returning to the table. It may need to wait a week or two, but it shall return.

Hmmm... I don't think I could get them to play Decent...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Serenity RPG License Coming to an End

Margaret Weis Productions' license to produce and distribute Serenity (aka Firefly) is coming to an end on January 31st.  You can pick up a full set of the RPG books in deadtree for $100 bucks at their site,  or you can pick it up piecemeal in PDF over at RPGNow.

I'm sure it will remain on shelves of game stores for a bit, but the PDFs at RPGNow will be coming to an end on January 31st.

I loved the TV series and enjoyed the movie.  I haven't really checked out the game.  I'm pretty sure I'd never have a chance to play it, but if the rpg books make for good reading I'm all in.  The prices seem fairly reasonable on RPGNow for the line.

Anyone have Serenity already and can offer some advice?  Is it worth picking up just to flesh out what I've already watched on my TV screen?

Another Near Miss

Mother Nature struck a glancing blow to NYC last nite, as the snow was no where near as bad as had been predicted. Five minutes of shoveling and my car was commute ready. Not saying all the roads were, but by the time I head home I expect clear driving.

Whenever I see snow forecasts of 8-14", of 12-18" I wonder if snowfall amounts are as variable as D&D combat damage - "Roll 2d4 plus 6 for your snow accumulation - make sure you mark it off on your weather sheet."

I want to see Weatherman written up as a D&D class one day ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Games I Own, But Have Never Played - Savage Worlds

There are a crapload of games I own but have never played.  Strangely enough, back in my high school and college years, pretty much every game I bought was played at least once, even if I didn't really understand the system completely.

The Pacesetter line was played, the Fantasy Games Unlimited line was played, Runequest, Traveller, MERP, Rolemaster, Spacemaster, GURPS, Rifts... on and on the list goes.

I think we even ran a session or two of Deadlands (1st Edition), which went over about as well as Boot Hill - everyone had the Star Trek episode with the Tombstone shootout in their heads I think.  Not a good scenario for a western.

All this leads me to Savage Worlds.  Apparently a system loved by many, with a decent number of assorted genre sourcebooks and adventure paths, I just have never been able to wrap my head around it and it's "dice size" for stats concept.  I want to.  The SW Explorer Rules Digest has been in the backseat of my car for years, handy when you have time to kill and need something to read.  Still, I'm left scratching my head.

I can never seem to figure out just how the powers / spells system works, probably because this game isnt well suited for fantasy and that is where I am fairly rooted.  More likely, I'll need to actually play in a session or two before it really "clicks".

Then again, there is just so much other stuff out there that is also good, why should I keep at trying to grock a system that I'll probably never play anyway.  Good thing everything I own for Savage Worlds, with the exception of the core rules, is in PDF.  Not much to pack away ;)

The Trollish Taproom - The Elusive Third Edition

Well, what info I've found indicates the Third Edition of Tunnels & Trolls was an British publication. I haven't seem any pics of it, so I think it is safe to assume it is pretty scarce.

In the meantime, some early printings of T&T solos have been popping up on Ebay recently. Not sure if I'll be throwing my coins into that bidding.

Snow is on its way. We've already been told "no excusals" at work, which really isn't a big deal, as i managed to get in to work with the storm that shut NYC down.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bean! - Another Cool Free Adventure

You just have to luv Bean! The D2 RPG - The game itself costs just 2 bucks, and free stuff is continually being released for it.  Gone to the Dogs is the latest, a free GM adventure by Mike Holcomb.  16 more pages of Bean!ie goodness.

From the blurb:

Mike Holcomb's latest BEAN GM adventure is a fun mystery full of monsters and puzzles geared at younger gamers. Gone To The Dogs can be played as the follow up to Princely Ransom, or as a stand alone adventure.

Doing Less With More

Looking at my list of D&D games in one of my recent posts has led to the following decision:

It's time to pack up any and all that won't be seeing use from me anytime soon. Box them up and put them in the basement - above the flood line ;)

Those that will escape the purge:

Castles & Crusades - I do play it monthly - I'll pack up all but the Player's and the Monsters &Treasures books

Swords & Wizardry Complete - I like the rules presentation - Besides, its a recent purchase

Labyrinth Lord and the AEC - This is my current go to D&D variation

Everything else RPG related (aside from my Tunnels & Trolls and other solo gaming products) are going into storage. Besides, much of my gaming material is in PDF format these days anyway.

Maybe pruning the tree of RPG-ness will allow me to focus on - gaming. Go figure ;)

The More Things Change, The More They Get Screwed Up

The wonderful City of New York put down so much salt for the storm that wasn't last week, that driving the city highways kicked up salt like a wagon train on a dusty plain.

Lets see how well we do with tomorrow nite's storm, which is predicted to dump 6-12". Has to be better then the way they handled the Christmas Weekend Storm.

Maybe I should bang out Wednesday and do some solo gaming... and shoveling.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Wherefore Art Tho 3rd Edition?

Lets see, I have a reprint of the Tunnels & Trolls 1st Edition rules.

I won an auction for the Trollgod's  personal copy of the T&T 2nd Edition of the rules.

I found a copy of the 4th edition of the Tunnels & Trolls rules on Ebay.

I've had a copy of the 5th edition of the T&T rules for ages.  Went and got myself a copy of the Black Box 5.0 rules too, just to be a completist.  (and not at the extortionist price that one vendor is asking for on Ebay)

Recently picked up a boxed set of the 5.5 T&T rules.

Have a copy of the Unofficial T&T 6e rules.

Have the 7.0 Collector's Tin, the 7.5 Boxed set and even the 7.5 T&T Delver's pack.

I haven't found / seen / identified a copy of the 3rd edition of the Tunnels & Trolls rules anywhere?  Is this the British Boxed set I've seen on Ebay once or twice, cause the ones I've seen looked like 5.0 based on the pics.

Can't find much / anything on the 3rd edition of the rules.  Help!  heh

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Releases for Swords & Wizardry

I'm too busy watching the Jets / Colts to do more then make a mention, but two modules were just released for Swords & Wizardry.

Ursined, Sealed and Delivered - (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.

Strange Bedfellows - (the blurb)

A circus show erupts in mayhem when goblinoids crash the performance, slaughtering performers and audience members alike. PCs investigate the attack, leading them into an ancient dungeon and uncovering ancient secrets and harbored grudges. Their decisions affect the politics and economics of three unique towns.

Strange Bedfellows is a d20 adventure for 4-6 PCs of level 2 or higher and includes three fully-developed towns, numerous unique NPCs who offer an extensive assortment of side quests, and a wide range of challenging opponents.

Uncover ancient evils and secrets while discovering the reason for the attack at the circus.

Fight unique monsters.

Make decisions that affect the long-term politics and economics of three towns.

Benny and the Jets - J - E - T -S

On a normal Saturday nite I'm either gaming online with Fantasy Grounds, or I'm reading gaming blogs, or checking out another RPG product to review, or running a Tunnels & Trolls solo... you get the idea.

Tonight, i'm watching the Jet's in the Postseason.

Fun fun ;)

To Sleep, Perchance to... Get More Then Five Hours of Sleep on My Day Off

This morning was / is an early day for a day off. My son has an interview at a college, and he's already talking about the easy commute when he gets my car. Needless to say, I drove him to the interview and I'm sitting in the car awaiting his return.

I was very surprised to find that my iSpot gets 4e reception in New Rochelle, NY. If he goes here in the fall, I expect my car is not the only thing of mine he will want ;)

In the meantime, I'm checking out the two newly released S&W modules released on RPGNow from the Frog God folks. More on that later.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it...no?

The Christmas weekend snow storm was a prime example of city government dropping the ball. Today's little dusting is a prime example of doing too much now to cover you past mistakes - i think a salter went by my window at work at least 3 times so far.

My staff is going a little snow crazy tho - nonstop laughing, god bless them.

Time to stream a movie or two tonight - which means hitting the list you fine folks created ;)

The Song Remains the Same - At Least Until 4e

I'm enjoying the idea of stealing song titles for blog post headers ;)

Anyhow, after looking at the ever expanding list of Dungeons & Dragons editions and derivatives, I was struck at how the underlying rules hadn't changes much until 4e.

Yes, they were added to, and built upon, but the OGL showed how easy it was to take 3.5e and boil it down to it's base roots. Thus we have the OSR.

4e makes a fairly clean break from it's predecessors, and with the exception of the six core stats, it's hard to draw a direct connection to those that came before it. This doesn't make it any less D&D then the others necessarily, but I can see why those that started earlier then 4e often have a difficulty in making the connection.

Up until 3.5, all versions of D&D were different dialects of the same language. 4e changed to a new language with distant roots. Or something like that. I think I'm still tired from my job's After the Holiday Party last nite ;)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

DCC Did a Job On Me, Now I am a Real Sickie...

What do you get when you cross Goodman Games' upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and a Ramones song? A really bad blog post title.

Anyhow, the retro game that isn't a retro game will be released in 11/11, but is available for preorder now. Needless to say I've reserved my copy.

Let me figure out the various editions / iterations of D&D I currently own:

OD&D in the Collector's Box and all the supplements
D&D Holmes
D&D Metzner
D&D Rules Cyclopedia
AD&D 1e
AD&D 2e / with the stupid Skills & Powers books even
D&D 3e
D&D 3.5e
D&D 4e
Hackmaster 1e
Hacmaster Basic
LL w/ the AEC
S&W White Box
Dark Dungeons
LotFP Weird Fantasy
(edited for the last 2 entries)

Ack, my head hurts.

No wonder Tunnels & Trolls has my attention these days. It only has 7 editions and minor changes between editions.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More Beans! For Free

I gave away a nice number of copies of Bean! the D2 RPG over the last two contests.  I was able to, as it cost the fairly cheap price of 2 bucks.  It's not like I'm rolling in referral credit at RPGNow ;)

To make it an even greater value, there are two free adventures for it, one solo and one for a GM and a party.

Grab them, read them, play them.  Stretch that purchase Bean! value even further.  Remember, beans are a good source of protein.  These Bean! products are gas free BTW...

The Trollish Taproom - A Little Paranoia Goes a Long Way

Apparently, someone flagged one of the commentators on yesterday's Outlaw Press post as spam. Now, in most circumstances, I'd write this off as Google Anti-Spam software having a hiccup, but these were posts that were solidly anti Outlaw Press, as was Andreas' right.

They've been de-spammed and posted, as they should have been from the start.

I'm not big on conspiracies, but the only other spam I found in my comment spam folder was in Chinese. Someone is gaming the system to their perceived advantage.

If I post about Outlaw Press in the future, it will be solely dealing with the products themselves. This may be the one time I'll be looking to torrent RPG products.

I'm left with a very sour taste in my mouth.

I wonder if anyone tried to rewrite the Tunnels & Trolls wikipedia entry yet again?

Not that it makes much of a difference. The latest iteration of Outlaw Press' fly by nite website is down.

Geek Tech Tip - The iSpot From Clear

Last month, when everyday seemed to offer a new unbeatable deal, I found Clear's iSpot 4g Wireless hub for sale for a mere $20 (usually $99). It is advertised as a 4g service solely for iOS devices (Apple's iPads, iPhones and iTouches). For $25 a month, no contract, you get unlimited 4g service - assuming you live / work in an area covered by Sprint's 4g network.

I have been receiving mailed advertisements from Clear since the summer, and while I found it interesting, I could never justify the price point. This time around, I couldn't justify not taking a chance on it.

My review after using it for a few weeks? Its amazing. I can get a nice, solid, fast internet signal both in downtown Manhattan and the outer boroughs of NYC. The device does not receive 3g, so Long Island and Upstate NY or the Poconos it's basically a brick. Still, what it does, it does very well.

It does more then advertised BTW. I've yet to find a device, laptop or phone that I could not connect to it. I had assumed it would have been locked to iOS devices view MAC address filtering, but that is apparently not the case. As I really only use the iSpot at work or my fiancés apt, 99% of the time is spent on my iPad. Still, its nice to know i can use it otherwise. I don't know if my iSpot is an aberration or not, and I can't speak for others out there, but this was a very pleasant surprise.

If you find it on sale, and if you are in one of the limited areas covered by its service, and you need a better connection for you iPad, this is a great option.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Streaming the World - Discworld

Thanks to the awesome responses to the last contest of 2010, I have a truly amazing list of movies and shows to watch.

My first two selections were movies that I felt I would be familiar with the subject manner - The Colour of Magic and Hogfather.

I've been reading the Discworld series for going on 20 years, and it is probably that long ago that I first read The Colour of Magic.  So, except for some of the characters, I really didnt recall much of the story.  Which means I can't tell you how close the movie follows the book.

Taken on it's own, i had a blast watching it.  I had a few laugh out loud moments, and many more that put a nice smile on my face.  Very well done and decently acted.  I had the Rocky Horror Picture Show and LotR movies going thru my head at times, but good actors are good actors.

Hogfather was good, but not as good as The Colour of Magic.  I preferred the representation of Death in Hogfather, but the Guild of Wizards seemed better portrayed in the first movie.  The story did drag a bit at the end of the first half, but the second half more then made up for it.  I had forgotten that Death had a granddaughter, and it was great to see the Ankh-Morpork Watch make an appearance.

Ah, who am I kidding?  They could have been total crap and I would have loved them both.  They weren't crap.  Both were far better then either of the Dungeons & Dragons movies (which isnt all that hard I know).  I enjoyed them immensely.

Now I need to dig further into the list ;)

The Trollish Taproom - Someone Crapped in the Privy

Yes, someone crapped in the privy. No courtesy flush or perfume spray, just a bunch of stink. I kinda knew I would have that effect when I started talking about Outlaw Press products.

Just to clear the air a wee bit. I jumped feet first into the sewage when the pissing match started with the Trollgod. I held his banner high, posted the posts as requested, redacted parts of posts that were requested to be redacted. Then we were told to retreat. The war was over, no ground was won... if anything, ground was lost.

Which leads me to believe, right or wrong, that Outlaw Press was a legal right to publish Tunnels & Trolls material. Whatever contracts that were signed or entered into are still in effect, or at least severely disputed.

Might Outlaw Press have taken advantage of the Trollgod? Quite possibly. Still, it is no longer a battle that has a fight to it.

Has OP's license to publish T&T material been revoked? Depends on how the initial license was written. No one knows but those that signed it. Still, OP could always go the route of Mayfair games and such, and just say "for use with Tunnels & Trolls". Even Kenzer Co avoided the GSL with their first 4e product, and went with "for use with the 4th edition of the worlds most popular RPG" or something to that effect.

The use of copyrighted artwork without permission which started this downward spiral? That does not appear to be the current issue. It was a huge issue, and whether it was ignorance when purchased from a broker (as one article states), or willful arrogance, recent OP products are sans cover art, with the exception of the magazines.

Maybe someone who has submitted to the Hobbit Hole or such can let us know what kind of rights Outlaw Press gets when you sign off on the contract. Can they republish / repackage?

Could Outlaw Press be the moral equivalent of a monster that chews up babies and then poops on your couch? Quite possibly. I don't know. Maybe I'd feel different if I hadn't been drawn into a fight that wasnt mine, then told we were apologizing and walking away.

I no longer see this in black and white, but shades of grey.

For those that see it in black and white, God bless you. Me, I'm going to be reading my Tunnels & Troll material in poor lighting (the type your mother always complained to you when you read in it) with the faint aroma of poop - or is that Troll?

Watch the Game or Play the Game

My Jets (I call them mine, as I am a long time suffering Jets fan) have an 8 pm playoff game this Saturday nite. If my memory serves, I also have a monthly Castles & Crusades game via Fantasy Grounds 2 at, you guessed it, 8pm on Saturday nite.

Decisions, decisions.

I am leaning heavily towards watching the game. I know in theory I could do both, but I sincerely doubt my ability to game successfully while watching football, eating chips and drinking beer. The distractions will just be too great ;)

Not that I expect the Jets to go all the way this year. Their play has been too inconsistent. Still, I expect I'll have a good time watching, assuming they don't get crushed.

We are gradually closing in on 100 followers of this fine blog. I'll need to think of someway to celebrate when we finally do hit the mark.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mini Review - The Flux

There aren't all that many RPG products that leave you standing there with your mouth open and at the same time wanting to smack yourself in the head.  The Flux is one of those few.

Hello, my name is Erik, and I suffer from Gamer's ADD.  No, not AD&D, but Gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder.  There is just so much cool crap, i want to run from Labyrinth Lord, to Fate, to Dresden, to Swords & Wizardry, to Tunnels and Trolls - I want it all.  As a GM, sometimes I get drawn to the new shiny like a moth to flame.

The Flux embraces my illness and makes it a strength.  The solution is obvious really, run them all, yet keep them linked.  John Wick is a smart man.

This isn't a long, wordy product, but a tool that may be eye opening and inspirational.  I'm already toying with it, and I don't even have a campaign started with any system at the moment.

From the blurb:

What if the world died yesterday? 
What if the world died yesterday and was completely reborn? 
What if the world died yesterday and was completely reborn and you were the only one who noticed? 
And what if you could pull skills and abilities and even powers from the old world and use them in this new world?

The Flux is the first "little game" from The Big Book of Little Games. It is a "meta-rpg" that gives you the tools to Flux between RPG worlds and retain your characters.
Fantasy to Science Fiction. 
Science Fiction to Pulp Adventure. 
Pulp Adventure to Gothic Horror. 
Gothic Horror back to Fantasy. 

It is all possible with The Flux
But be warned. The world may notice you cheating the system. And if it does, it will do its best to get rid of you.

Get ready for The Flux
It's later than you think.

The Trollish Taproom - The Missing Tunnels & Trolls Edition

The missing Tunnels & Trolls Edition, if you must know, is the 6th edition. We went from the Flying Buffalo published 5.5 edition to the Fiery Dragon published 7.0 edition. This was a nod to the various fan written rulesets that had been floating about the net.

The 6e ruleset that has stuck is the book published by Outlaw Press. I had been of the mindset to ignore it, what with the Outlaw Press controversy, and it being an unofficial edition (no matter what the book itself may say, it is not an "official" edition). With the Trollgod removing his "pox upon tho" position on those that purchase Outlaw Press products, I decided to pick up 6e. I'm glad I did.

Not only does it help me get closer to completing my Tunnels & Trolls Rulebook Collection, it is a nice edition of the rules. In many ways, it it truer to 5/5.5 then 7/7.5 are, and yet there are some noticeable changes to the game balance.

For me, the most striking are character generation - stats no longer get a multiplier depending on Kindred, instead, the number of dice rolled is changed. This changes the spread of numbers, and is a good change IMO.

Warrior no longer double the points their armor protects them for. Instead, they add 2 points of armor protection per level, no matter the armor they are wearing (even no armor). I think this adds some flexibility, and may even remove the min/maxing of armor for some players.

There's a crap load more, both large and small, that 6e does different. Still, the change isn't as much as from 5.5e to 7e.

Oh, as a side note, it appears that Outlaw Press' latest website is down. Their site drops more often then pants at an army physical.
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