Thursday, March 31, 2011

Communication is Key... Just Ask Any Baby

Your players and my niece have something in common.... they all have needs and often have trouble communicating those needs.

Players, and therefore their characters, have different drives.  Some want to level, some want to roleplay, other's want to acquire magic, or fame, or power... or more then one of these, or none of these.  You need to understand your players' needs for them, and you, to get the most out of the game.

Play with the same players long enough, you'll learn what drives them, but a good player will communicate  what drives them to their GM.  A good GM should be able to read those needs and drives without much help.

My 3 1/2 month old niece has been trying to communicate with me tonight, and she's not hungry, doesn't need changing, isn't ready to sleep - I'm going to vote "she's got gas", but it will be a lot easier when she can tell me exactly what she wants.  In the meantime, she's very frustrated and upset.  I'd hate for your players to feel the same way ;)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time to Upgrade the Box...

It's a small box too.  I've had a Mac Mini ( the mini-mini 2010 version) running alongside my PC since last August, and I figure it's time to give it some love.  So, after getting a nice deal on some Mac Software (including Parallels 6) for $49, I decided to get a family pack of Windows 7 from Amazon for about $120, and to upgrade the 2 gigs of ram to 8 gigs at Crucial.com for $100 or so.  It won't be a huge gaming machine, but my nearly 3 year old Gateway with a swapped out power supply and video card isnt cutting edge these days either.

I won't have to fun Fantasy Grounds via Crossover anymore either, which was far from a perfect solution

In any case, when I move to the new (currently being renovated) rooms, I think I'll run the Alienware Netbook from x-mass alongside my revamped Mac Mini. I only boot up the PC to play Rift or load up Fantasy Grounds these days, and  the long boot time and loud ass fan noise is killing me.  The Alienware handles gaming fairly well, at least as well as my PC it seems, tho' I'll see how well it does with my 28" monitor.

Damn, there's an update for my iPad available too.  Guess that will wait till this weekend too.

Oh, and a link for Your Majesty's new "R" trailer.

The Trollish Taproom - Tripping the Fantastic Trollish Light

... and thus it was that The Tavern of Tenkar did post it's One Hundredth Trollish Post, and there was much rejoicing and beer.

The beginning of renovations, and all the planning leading up to it, has taken much of my time away from Tunnels & Trolls. Boo! Maybe it's good that there hasn't been a Tunnels & Trolls release in a few weeks... I wouldn't have much time to look at it.

All that being said, I'm finding fairly recent purchasesin some of the strange places. I know I'll read just about anywhere, but I don't fit under the sofa or behind my desk. I guess it's good I'm moving stuff around these days.

Heck, I haven't even had a chance to post about my latest Trollgod Auction acquisition... the masters for Supernova 33 (the last issue of Supernova and the predecessor to Sorcerer's Apprentice). A piece of history and a one of a kind item, i really need to find the time to take some pics of this find.

I'll try and limit my time doing renovations tonight ;)

Awaiting on "Your Highness"

Your Highness opens on April 8th, a week from this Friday. On my drive to work yesterday I listened to an interview (using the term loosely) on the Opie & Anthony Show (Sirius/XM Satellite Radio) with Danny McBride. Danny plays one of the leads (the loser princely brother) and also co-wrote the script.

From the trailers I've seen, and the interview from yesterday, this is either going to be a hilarious success, or a depressing failure. I'm hoping for the first, obviously.

There is a new trailer available online, complete with "F-Bombs", so for sure this is a movie that is going to offend some / many. I'm just hoping the humor and storyline carry it thru.

Besides, it apparently has a Minotaur erection on film. Time to be thankful it's not going to be in 3-D ;)

Er, I don't THINK it's going to be in 3-D. It does have Natalie Portman in it, and she swims naked in a pond, so 3-D could be beneficial ;)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stealing Ideas From Bottle Caps

"The oldest living Nantucket resident is given the Boston Post Cane, an award they hold until passing" - Nantucket Nectars Bottle-cap

This sounds pretty cool. A nice little honor to hold while clawing your way through old age. Why leave it as just an honor? Let's convert this to a fantasy setting. and give it a little power. Oh, and a curse. No point to it if there isn't a curse.

The Gnarly Post Cane is given to the oldest living human resident of Village of Gnarly Post. It is believed that the cane ensures bountiful harvests, and it may be truth, as even during the worst years of drought and famine, the crops in Gnarly Post thrive.

The holder of the Gnarley Post Cane can expect to live a productive life well into his or her early 120's or longer, assuming they don't come to an unnatural end.

The Village of Gnarly Post has more then it's share of heart attacks among its middle aged population. Wether that has something to do with the Gnarly Post Cane, coincidence, or some other factor is anyone's guess.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Necromancer Releases PDFs for Swords & Wizardry at OneBookShelf

Necromancer has released a couple of adventures for Swords & Wizardry at OneBookShelf / RPGNow / DriveThruRPG today.  I'll be reviewing them over the next few days, but here's what we have today:

The Jungle Ruins of Madaro-Shanti

Another of the One Night Stand Series, Jungle Ruins of Madaro-Shanti is an adventure for a party of 4-8 characters of fourth through seventh level. A century ago or more, when the town of Cholagadi was just a frontier fort on the coast, Madaro-Shanti was the most powerful city-state in the entire Ambicuaria Jungle.  Its citizens were highly advanced in the arts of magic, and even retained some vestiges of magical quasi-technologies perhaps more ancient than humankind itself.  Their prosperity made for jealous enemies, none more covetous than the powerful and sorcerous Kiengaa Tribe of the deep jungles.  The Kiengaa plotted against Madaro-Shanti, making dark pacts with the monstrous ape-centaurs known as the Borsin, and with the monkey-faced, snake-like monsters known as the Hanu-Naga.  Once this terrible, unnatural army was gathered, the Kiengaa and their allies laid siege to Madaro-Shanti itself.

As the walls of Madaro-Shanti fell, and the invaders swarmed into the city, the high priest of the city closed himself within the royal shrine, praying to all the gods for intervention. Yet none of the gods answered his prayers until the last - and that was Ojala, whom the people of Madaro-Shanti knew as a god of evil and treachery.  A deadly bargain was struck that night, and true to his promise, Ojala caused a horrible wasting disease to strike the besieging army.  But the full extent of the evil god's treachery became clear when the surviving people of Madaro-Shanti themselves began to succumb to the same disease which had slain their enemies.  Within a fortnight, all the people of Madaro-Shanti had either died of the plague or scattered into the depths of the predator-filled jungle.

In only a few years, the city was overgrown by the jungle and fell into ruin, but the magical disease was to have one final consequence. Not only did the contagion affect the Kiengaa and the Madaro-Shanti - it also infected the mind of a powerful nature-spirit that inhabited the surrounding jungles. The nature-spirit Cho-Odaa, driven mad by the disease and hungry for vengeance against all humankind, has discovered the means to exact a terrible reckoning

Splinters of Faith 5: 

Ancient Evil Awakens
In a long-buried tomb, a grave robber restores a death-cult leader to life, and his cloud of evil spreads across the land. Left behind are the broken Scepter of Faiths and a litany of shrines to restore the weapon. But the evil one and his minions wait to destroy any who try...

Temples of faith, bastions of evilSplinters of FaithTM is a collection of 10 adventures for characters of levels 1 to 15 that can be played individually or as part of an epic campaign to restore the Scepter of Faiths. Adventure in 10 fully detailed temples such as the Shield Basilica of Muir or the dwarven city of Anvil Plunge, and conquer the nightmarish Nether Sepulcher to restore the balance of good.
  • Ten complete adventures for low- to high-level characters, usable separately or as a massive linked campaign.
  • Eighteen unique temples (10 fully detailed) ready to drop into any campaign world.
  • New monsters and magic items to discover, and ideas for further adventures
This is the first in a series of 10. Look for others coming soon!
Splinters of Faith 5: Eclipse of the Hearth (Levels 5 through 7)
The pyramid Seraph, once a holy temple, now lies under the sway of darkness. Breaking into the temple is hard enough, but braving the sinister twists awaiting in the dark catacombs will test the strongest PCs.

The Northland Saga Part 1 - Vengeance of the Long Serpent

This series of adventures takes place in the frozen north, where men are men, beer is ale and monsters are, well, scary. Who has not loved the setting of the 13th Warrior or wished to relive the Frost Giant's Daughter by R.E. Howard? Heroes will fight evil in the cold lands, sail the treacherous ice filled seas where sea monsters swallow ships and crews and feast in fire-lit halls with Vikings! Planned as a series of 10 modules, this series will begin in January (appropriately, due to the cold). More information will be added as it becomes available.  Written by Ken Spencer, this series is sure to send shivers up even the bravest adventurer's spine!

Vengeance of the Long Serpent  Pull on your hauberk, ready your shield, and take up your axe, the tide is moving
out and it is time to set sail on a voyage of adventure. In Vengeance of the Long Serpent the heroes sail north into a land of murder, savagery, and madness to face a reawakened dark god and his deadly cult.

Scenario or Setting?

With the exception of Splatbooks, which, thankfully, the OSR is pretty light on, most RPG material beyond the actual core rules of a system fall into two categories: Scenario or Setting.

The differentiation is minor in some cases, and there can be some overlap (especially with the more sandboxie settings) but for the most part, these are the two types of products we buy for our games.

I enjoy settings more myself, even if I'll only use one or two in the long run, as they usually make for a better read, and bits and pieces can always be used elsewhere.

Scenarios are pretty much a one shot deal. You run it and you're done. Most aren't as enjoyable a read (for me) as settings are.

Still, I'm not running anything at the moment. If I was, I'm sure settings would take a backseat to scenarios, as you only need one setting for your campaign once its in motion. I'll need a new scenario every session or two, as I suspect my free time for designing my own will be fairly limited.

It's almost like the question: Paper or Plastic - depends on your current needs.

What are your current needs?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday Nite Netflix at the Tavern - Archer: Season 1, Episode 1

Take 007, make him an uncharming, dishonest, deceitful, womanizing little shit who is also a mamma's boy, and you have Archer.  Holy shit but this is a funny show!

I didn't want to like it.  It's from FX, and that channel is hit or miss, and more miss these days then hit.  Still, I found myself laughing out load, or cringing, way more then I had expected to.

If South Park is your cup of tea, Archer should fit your taste.  Maybe.  It's WAY more offensive then South Park and the characters aren't cute.

I laughed a lot.  Must say something about me.

Caution! Men Working

My son (God bless the lad) took it upon himself to fully open up the archway between the two rooms that will soon be the Master Bedroom.  There is an alternative motive - my current bedroom will soon be his.  All that being said, he did some great work earlier today.  I'm proud of the lad.

I think it's time to put the solo comparison into motion.  I'm feeling the itch to run a game of Bean! I'll probably run it later today or tomorrow.  Probably tomorrow.  I still need to clean up the Kid's renovations ;)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting Back to GM'ing - Like Riding a Bike?

Maybe its more like driving a car in my case.  I'm fine with driving until I start thinking about it.  At which point, instinct goes out the window.  I start to over think (which may be why I have to look straight ahead when my son drives with a wall close on the left hand side... I start to over think).  When I start to over think, I get nervous.

Anyhow, I haven't run an RPG session since 1996 - I'm 15 years removed from it.  With the start of renovations, I'm also a step closer to running a game of Tunnels & Trolls or Swords & Wizardry via Fantasy Grounds.  I'm excited and scared by the whole concept.

Could be worse.  I could be terrified I guess ;)

Next step is painting the ceilings and the moldings...

Caution! Work in Progress

Today we actually started renovating the two rooms that are going to be the new master bedroom. We opened up the archway between the rooms, saved some antique molding for future use, measured for the wallpaper (old plaster walls that were previously wallpapered), started removing old wallpaper... busy busy.

It is almost addictive, as you can see the progress taking you closer to you goals. My son was hoping for it to be more like demolition work, but in truth it was more like surgery... we needed to save as much of the antique molding as possible.

Now I need to move a lot of my gaming material. Much of it was being stored in these 2 rooms, which were storage and a guest room up to now. I bought some of the large storage bins from Bed, Bath & Beyond in preparation last nite. My coupons expired back in '09... they never batted an eye.

It is very exciting. Of course, I've never wallpapered in my life, so my mother is going to hold my hand initially. That's okay. I'm a grown man with a game collection that can take up a whole room, easily. I'll take my mom's help without flinching. ;)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Manure Spill at the Lord's Gate Backs Up Wagons to the City Square

Pretty much every fantasy city map I've seen shows a city surrounded by walls, water or both, with limited means of egress, generally limited to city gates. What happens to the daily flow of traffic, both personal and commercial, if you close off some of those gates due to an unforeseen accident, such as a cart of dung, piled high, tips over when leaving through the main gate, spreading waste everywhere and requiring men and time to clean up?

Traffic jam for the most part. Which could be a big advantage to those looking to smuggle goods in or out of the city. Overwhelmed city guards may push folks through without the usual search or questioning. Tolls may not be collected. Tempers may flare.

See, I'm watching traffic and tempers build in Lower Manhattan this morning, as the Lincoln Tunnel has been closed due to a tractor trailer accident. Cars, trucks, buses - all are using alternate routes to cross the Hudson River, but there is only so much additional volume the remaining tunnel and bridge can take. Traffic is coming to a stand still.

I suspect it would play out similarly in a fantasy setting. Real life again invades my view of a fantasy urban environment ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mini Review - Bean! The D2 RPG - 2nd Edition (Solo and Group Play)

Bean! The D2 RPG has just released it's 2nd edition.  I happen to like Bean! a lot, and not just because it has a bit of a Tunnels & Trolls feel to it.  I like it because it's a nice, simple system that should be an easy one to introduce new roleplayers.

Some of you (like the recipients of the copies of Bean! I gave out a few months ago) may be wondering if they need to upgrade to the new 2nd edition.  You don't need to, but it is a nicer and fuller presentation.  Some of the stuff added to the 2nd edition was first presented in the free 1st Edition errata, such as skills and custom archetypes.

Now, if you are new to Bean!, this is definitely the version you want. A fuller spell list, more monsters in the bestiary, mounted and ship to ship combat, a cleaner explanation on how to roll... it really is a nice package.  Just like the original Bean!, you get a Solo and a GM adventure included in the rules.

Don't forget to pick up your free Bean! adventures.

From the blurb:

BEAN! is an easy-to-master, rules-lite, d2 RPG system! It's perfect for introducing new players or children to the hobby, and will keep veteran gamers rollin' their beans with a system that's flexible and easily customizable to any setting. Complete in one simple volume, spend less time reading and more time playing!

The d2 game system is unique and quickly memorized, so simple, yet able to handle any situation on the spot, without having to thumb through volumes of obscure rules. The best part? You get to toss your beans! With a d2 dice system, you could use standard dice for "high or low" "odd or even" rolls, you could toss coins or any other objects that have two distinct sides, but we recommend plain ol' beans! They're cheap and plentiful, some people really enjoy customizing their own beans, and a handful of beans keeps the game moving along quick and easy!

This Second Edition features a streamlined rules presentation, rules for Skills, Custom Character Archtypes, Mounted Combat, plus new monsters and spells.

Simple, versatile, and sometimes silly, welcome to BEAN!

There's a Seal! There's a Seal in the Water!

Geraldo is always good for a quote - "There's a man! There's a man in the water!"

This past sunday I took a 3 hour cruise in New York Harbor to go seal spotting Not what you would expect in the waters off of the City That Never Sleeps, but I counted nearly a dozen (the official count was 19 seals spotted). Apparently in the summer months, the same ship also does whale spotting cruises. At $24 bucks a person (at least for the seal spotting) I'm sure to be going again.

All of which got me thinking. In my neighborhood in Queens (one of the boroughs of NYC) i've seen rabbits, wild turkeys, opossums, raccoons... all species that one associates with a less urban environment. All on city streets or yards. Not parks. Not cemeteries.

So why don't we have more kobolds and goblins living in the sewers of major (and not so major) fantasy cities? They'd adapt to the urban environment even better then the wild animals i mention above (although they would also be present). Why search for adventure at low levels, when you can be recruited to keep the goblin population in the sewers in check.

We frequently hear stories of bears causing issues in the suburbs, but what if a young and hungry owlbear was roaming the streets at night going through the refuse? Thats a job for (expendable) adventurers.

edit:  The ArmChair General has a nice post building upon this one.  Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mini Review - Beneath the Ghoul Lair (OSRIC)

March has been a really good month for "Old School" releases.  I think I need to take a day off from work just to get to all of the recent releases I want to look at, let alone earlier releases I haven't gotten to.  Someone want to add more hours to the day?

Beneath the Ghoul Lair, a Westgate Adventures! Dungeon Raiders! module (I hope I got all that right - so many titles - heh) is the latest release from Johnny Rook Games.  Aimed at a party of levels 2-4, I'd advise they have access to silver weapons if they don't yet have a magic weapon or two in the party.  As you can guess from the title, there be undead in them there hills!

BtGL is setting light in nature.  The hook is a decent one that can be placed just about anywhere.  The stronger you make the hook, the more you party will be involved in the story evolving around them.  You can drop it as is, and it should work, but tweaking should make it a better fit.

There are 2 nice dungeon maps that would have fit well into any classic TSR module if they were only done in that horrible classic blue.

Four new magic items, a new spell (which looks familiar) and three new monsters (one of which looks familiar, but i guess its new to OSRIC).

From the blurb:

This adventure is designed for 4-8 characters of levels 2-4.
A pack of vicious ghouls recently attacked a group of adventurers.  The party's ranger tracked the ghouls back to an old cave but dared not go inside as it was too dangerous.  A plea has gone out to any able-bodied adventurers nearby to clear out this undead infestation.  You and your allies have heard the call and set out urgently for the cave to end the threat, find some treasure, and hopefully survive the horrors beneath the ghoul lair!

About Dungeon Raiders! Modules
Dungeon Raiders! games:
  • Are "story-light" modules designed for quick adventure, great treasure, and fantastic stories!
  • Are designed for any campaign setting while maintaining good content and high quality playability!
  • Are great for one- to three-night game sessions when players want to "just go get some XP and gold!"
  • Can be easily expanded into much larger games or stories!
  • Are sensible, not rediculous, and fun, suited for any new players or old players wishing to revive and keep alive the spirit of classic role-playing!
Black and White interiors, 19 pages.

Damn the Wintry Weather!

Last Friday we hit 75 degrees in NYC. Today I awoke to snow on my car and sleet in the air. I'm done with winter. You can take it back.

Yeah, I know this isn't game related in the least, but I was due for a weather rant in any case ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The World is Ruled By Cats (at Least My Corner Is)

I'm a firm believer in this.  If you have a cat, you do for them.  Dogs do for you.  Kinda.

My little girl is a talker, she's extremely vocal.  Her different cries all mean something, and I've learned them over the last few years.  At the moment she is telling me to go to bed.

She understands a number of words... well, more like a handful then a number.  We each speak in our specific language, so we use two languages for one set of communication.

Damn, that seems like a crap load of work.

Still, it makes a lot of sense in a fantasy setting.  The Rock Trolls communicate with grinding noises, yet they understand the Gnolls and their yapping / barking language.  Maybe not word for word, but they get the ideas that are being communicated.

Alright, the lady is getting pissed, and she's just a cat.  Just wait until I actually understand women ;)

When The Wiz Speaks, I Listen

ChicagoWiz left a comment on my blogpost about Fire in the Jungle. As he planned to also post about FitJ, he jokingly wondered if we should have a "Jungle Week" theme. There may be something to that.

We've already touched on that with the Hot Elf series of posts (thanks James and the Underdark Gazette), but that was pretty much tongue in cheek. There really is no reason there couldn't be a theme of the week (or month) where if a blogger were so inspired, they would make a post during the week (month) that hits upon the common theme.

All of us see things from our own perspective, so even 20 blog posts from 20 different bloggers on the same general subject will be very different. The OSR has many nooks and crannies that haven't been explored, or could use more exploration, or are just fun to write and read about.

It could to be very loosely organized or not even organized at all. We all saw how the Hot Elf series went viral. It didn't need much of a push.

All this is me thinking out loud. Just throwing the thought out there. If the wet toilet paper sticks to the ceiling, we may just have something. ;)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mini Review - Fire in the Jungle (Your Choice of Old School Rules)

Fire in the Jungle is a sandbox setting for the Old School ruleset of your choice.  Dustin Brandt, author of said sandbox and fellow blogger was kind enough to send me a copy to review.  I'm grateful, as it's a great read.

Jungle settings aren't usually the first choice of setting for most of us, I think because it isn't a setting that we can relate to.  North America and Europe are pretty much jungle free.  For gaming purposes, it gives the players a wild, alien world to explore.  It  keeps them on their toes.

Justin gives us a nice assortment of tools to bring the jungle to life.  We get natural medicines, major NPCs and monsters (most of which are native fauna with a twist).  We also get a Jungle Event System.

The Jungle Event System is similar to a Wandering Monster Table, but it isn't just adversaries to be fought. It's locations, events, personas.  The short of it is that is is much more useful then a Wandering Monster Chart.  I need to borrow this concept for the next game I run, Jungle or not.

We get a detailed and keyed hex map, with hexes listed and detailed briefly when there is something important there.

Then we come to the Ant Tunnel Exploration System.  Modeled on those lovely ants that visit in the summer, but much larger, these ants and tunnels are a challenge for any party.  We are also gifted with a Tunnel Event Chart - lets just say ant tunnel exploration should entertain both the party and the GM.

Next, we are given The Tomb of the Monkey God.  If this dungeon doesn't get the party lost, they are better mappers then me.  Oh, and more random tables.

A Player's Handout Sheet rounds out the package.

I'm still amazed at how much "stuff" Dustin squeezed into 16 pages.  It is certainly reads as if it much more.  Fire in the Jungle is almost system neutral, in that the few D&Disms could easily be converted to Tunnels & Trolls without much effort.

I'm not sure if I'd run this as is, but as its a sandbox, who will run it as is?  It's certainly made me think about jungle adventures and how it could be a nice change of pace to take a party out of civilization and drop them in the jungle.  Very well done and worth the price of admission, even if it's just to crib the charts ;)

From the Blurb:

A ready-to-go jungle adventure or a toolkit for creating your own jungle setting. This supplement contains:
  • A brief history of the jungle’s troubled past and the natives who have survived there.
  • A color judge’s map of the jungle with dozens of described locations to explore.
  • A color player map to give the player’s a vague understanding of the shape of the jungle.
  • A comprehensive Jungle Event System that reflects the harsh reality and wondrous excitement of journeying through this jungle.
  • The Ant Tunnel Exploration System provides a framework for running adventures in these infinite, living tunnels.
  • The Tomb of the Monkey God.  A dungeon module with an Escalation mechanic that ratchets up the tension the longer the PCs remain inside the tomb.  Unique, overlapping color map of this four-level tomb.
  • Plus a variety of monsters, NPCs, hirelings, magic items, etc.
  • And, of course, the cover art by Rommel Joson and the back cover art by Edbon Sevilleno.

Spring Cleaning Turns Up a Surprise From my AD&D Days

For the most part my AD&D stuff is packed away.  I just have way to much stuff to keep rarely needed stuff in prime locations for accessibility.  Still, every once in a while, I stumble across something that's out of place, wonder how it got there, and then the gaming memories flood back.

Case in point, The Book of Lairs for AD&D.  We're given over 60 developed lairs... more then adventure seeds, less then full adventures, this was a go to book (along with the AD&D Encounter Cards) that I went to when prep time was short (or non-existant) and I needed something to run with.  For a DM that was good at improvising, this was an awesome tool.

Now, is anything all that memorable from it?  No, I'd have to start digging thru it again, and I doubt I would find it as useful now as I did 25 years ago, but for the time it was pretty good.  I know it was, cause I've got the pencil marks throughout it to show that I used it on more then one occasion.

Oh, did I mention that Christian is making a return to blogging after a short absence?  Times are good.  He wasn't hidden on my bookshelf tho, I swear!  ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday Nite Movie at the Tavern - The Hebrew Hammer

Friday's movie is getting mentioned late this weekend, as I was running around Saturday and today we went seal watching in New York harbor (I'll need to go thru the pictures before I can post any).  So, a bit late, we present to you, the Hebrew Hammer.

Sometimes a movie doesn't have to be good to be funny.  I suspect this over the top spoof of the 1970s blacksploitation movies hit closer to home for me then it may others, as I saw so much of NYC in it (and was even able to recognize some obscure locations) from landmarks to culture (alright, stereotyped culture, but still recognizable).

I laughed even tho I didn't want to.  Not sure if that is a ringing endorsement or not.

I could see putting together a one-shot using the Fate rules.  Everyone gets a racial / ethnic stereotype to play and get's to try to save the world from evil Santa - or was there already done in Spirit of the Century?

Awkward End to Campaign Leads to New Beginning - Next on Geraldo!

Last nite was supposed to be the last session in the Fantasy Grounds powered Castles & Crusades game I've been playing in for over 2 years now, at least for a while, as the game is being put on hiatus for the immediate future.  With only 2 players and the GM showing up, it became more of a 2 hr chat session.  That is, however, the nature of the beast, both with a VTT or at the dining room table.  Even with the best laid plans and intentions, real life tends to interfere and take precedence.

The shame of it is that we didn't get to a good point to pause the campaign.  The damn hobbit may have that mask stuck to his face for an extremely long time at this point ;)

All is not lost tho, as the plan is to keep the group together.  Cad, one of my fellow players and an occasional blogger, is considering taking up the GM reins for a bit.  I tossed my vote for a Labyrinth Lord Campaign and so far my vote is winning (as far as I know, it's the only vote cast so far... heh).

We really have been lucky with this group, as it was / is a really great bunch of folk.

Now, as for the Geraldo line in the title - I'm just feeling mischievous, so you'll need to forgive me.  Maybe Jerry Rivers can find some loot in Al Capone's Vault that I can use in a Gangbusters session ;)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mini Review - Tome of Tomes, Volume One - (Systemless / OGL / OSR)

This is one of those pleasant surprises that makes me say "Why didn't I think of that?"  The answer in this case is that I doubt I would have come anywhere close to putting together the excellent piece of work Joseph Browning did with Tome of Tomes, Volume 1.

Now, technically this is aimed at the Old School, D&D rooted rules and clones, but there really is no reason this couldn't work just as well with 3.5 / Pathfinder or even Tunnels & Trolls.  Any fantasy based RPG that has folks with dangerous weapons and spells looking for loot should find this right up their alley.

Joe does a great job not only detailing the details of the tomes in question (size, weight, author, materials, value, fields of study and the like) but he also gives each tome a paragraph that deals with background and other fiddly bits.  These books live and breath.  I would have loved to have had some of these in my 12th level wizard's study back in the day.

A hundred books for three bucks.  Hard to beat that.

My personal favorite?  Beardless Ladies - Kinda like a Playboy for Dwarves.  I suspect there is a copy hidden in the Tavern's Privy ;)

From the blurb:

Books in fantasy games have always been sources of mystery. We're all familiar with the sight of the magic user's eyes lighting up like a 5-year-old at Christmas when one is found. This work provides 100 tomes for your gaming pleasure, ranging from the magical to the mundane, from the common to the unique. Never again will you be at a loss to describe that recently found libram.

Tome of Tomes is a compilation of books that could be found on a sage's shelf or on the shelves of a city library. Each tome is described and classified according to field of study and special knowledge category (if applicable).

mini Review - Chronicles of Arax (Solo Adventure Game)

As many of my regular readers know, I'm a big fan of Tunnels & Trolls (and other solo systems in general).  Solo gaming fits my schedule, and is a rewarding RPG experience in it's own way/

Chronicles of Arax - Solo Adventure Game is a new entry into the solo RPG nitch.  There aren't many systems for such gaming, so new blood is always welcome.

Tunnels & Trolls solos are story driven, with branches that one takes depending on choice, actions taken, and/or success / failure.  Which can limit the re-playability of the solos, as previous choices can affect future replay (knowledge is power)

In the Chronicles of Arax, upon completion of an encounter, you randomly determine the next encounter, until you reach the last encounter.  This system allows for a certain amount of re-playabiliy due to the randomness of the progression thru the adventure.  It's a nice little twist.

Oh, before I forget.  Character generation is not random.  Customization comes thru leveling your character.  Stats are based on "die size", similar to Savage Worlds.

All in all, a nice change of pace for this enjoyer of solo adventures.  The price can't be beat - Free!

I'll be checking out the premium content in the days and weeks to come (at a buck a piece, even the premium content is damn cheap).

From the Blurb:

An adventure game for just one person - YOU!

The world of Arax is a world filled with blood and battle, magic and monsters, slaughter and sorcery. It is a world where the weak are crushed and the strong survive, where those who are bigger and more powerful bully those who are weaker and more vulnerable. It is a world in need of a Hero, someone who can stand against the darkness and fight on behalf of the downtrodden. A Hero like YOU.
Chronicles of Arax is a game where you, the reader, takes on the role of a Hero in the world of Arax. It is your job to fight against evil and injustice, to undertake various Quests to further the goals of good, and hopefully get some fame and loot in the bargain!

In Chronicles of Arax, you take on the role of a mighty Hero who, in the face of utter darkness, stands up for the light by undertaking missions and adventures (known as Quests) that will hopefully aid the forces of light.
Throughout Arax a Hero can come from any walk of life, be it a noble Knight, an elf Druid or a stalwart dwarf Stone Warrior. This rules manual includes one Hero type for you to play as: the Adventurer.

The Core Rules are free, and premium expansions are available for $1 each

Mini Review - Come Hell or High Water (Labyrinth Lord)

It's that special time, the time for a Mini-Review! (I think I need more sleep).  GT2 - Come Hell or High Water, is the second in a series of modules from Knightvision games.  As such, it works best as a follow up adventure to GT1 - Path of the Delver.

So, what do you get for your hard earned 3 bucks?  56 pages of Labyrinth Lord material. about 3/4's is the adventure, the rest is new monsters, magic items, a new spell, possible PC's to use... material of that sort.  You certainly get value for you money.  Oh, and maps - lots of maps.  Good maps to use, even if you steal for other use (nitpick - change the map colors.  They are too damn bright.   Aargh! ;)

In my opinion, this adventure isn't a cake walk of any sorts.  Many of the creatures will be getting an increased chance to surprise the players.  Which makes me wonder it it is really made for Characters Level 1-2.  Based upon the fact that all the included PCs are levels 2-3, I'd suggest you treat the higher numbers as the suggested level range.  Besides, it is meant as a follow up to Path of the Delver (and if you don't play it as a follow up to Path of the Delver, you'll need to supply your own hook.)

From the blurb:

  "What evil machinations lie hidden in the flooded depths of ancient Kharnos Dzin? Whispers in the dark summon the uninitiated...as evil brews beneath the surface of a dead city. Great rewards lie in store, but will adventurers find more then they had bargained for?" Come Hell or High Water is a Labyrinth Lord and AEC compatible adventure designed for 1st and 2nd level characters. Set in the upcoming Ebonyr campaign setting, it can also fit into any generic RPG world. The adventure combines urban, underwater and classic dungeon crawl material. Inside the PDF you'll find:
  • Over  11 new monsters including the Shock Sphere.
  • 3 new magic items and spells

Friday, March 18, 2011

It Feels Like Spring

The temperature here in NYC is knocking on 70 degrees. Truly amazing for March 18th. I just walked out for lunch in short sleeves and I was loving it.

Back in High School and College much of my gaming group's RPG sessions were played at the picnic table in my backyard when the temperature and weather allowed. In retrospect, I feel sorry sorry for my neighbors, as we were a nosy bunch. Damn tho, we did have a lot of fun ;)

When I get home from work, I may let my little (feline) girl out on the front porch with me to enjoy one of the last days of winter. Days like today, I almost can't believe we had the snow storms that we had this past winter.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do I Keep Inviting the Knights to My Dinner Table?

I've been reading Knights of the Dinner Table (KotDT) since Shadis magazine. I actually have the first issue of the magazine tucked away somewhere, and the few issues I've missed along the way I've filled in with the Bundles of Trouble compilations. Still, it just doesn't seem the same anymore.

The current issue is #172 - and I skimmed the strips more then read them. Maybe the jokes have changed, or I don't see the jokes with the same eyes, but even the stories seem less like anything I ever gamed. In the beginning I could relate - now, not so much.

72 bucks for 12 issues(first class shipping). For something I'm no longer getting a heck of a lot of value out of. 13 pages of the current issue deals with the ongoing story line, the rest is more or less filler. The other ongoing storyline (Gary Jackson back from the dead) is absent.

As for the gaming articles - inconsistent quality is the best description I can use. Nothing all that memorable.

I want to still like the Knights. Really. But I get much more enjoyment from OOTS, and it's free.

I might have to tap out at this point.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tis the time for green beer, boiled meat, stinky cabbage and potatoes. Oh, and mustard on everything but the beer. Yummmmm!

I always saw AD&D's St. Cuthbert as the game's version of St. Paddy, although I never really made it a theme, even in the background, for any of the sessions. Might have been nice to have done so, where everybody, regardless of religion, class, race, ethnicity... celebrated with a St. Cuthbert Feast once a year. Imagine the problems the town watch would have with hooligans - heck, the party could even be hired to help the watch keep a lid on things.

Ah well, eating well, drinking in moderation and planning to enjoy some live music tonight. Maybe I should skip lunch for more food later ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Grab The New Solo "Escape from Khosht" For Free!

I just saw the email from Trollhalla on this one.  It appears there is a new Tunnels & Trolls solo available at OneBookShelf (RPGNow / DrivetruRPG), and the sucker is free.

Escape from Khosht is 40 pages of T&T for your solo pleasure (minds outta the gutter please).  I'm downloading this right now.  Grab your's here (and pick up the free T&T rules to the left of this post if you need them).

From the Blurb:

Everything had gone according to plan. The Eye of the Beast---a cut, polished diamond the size of a hill giant's fist rests in your hands. It is worth 200,000 gold pieces!

Obtaining the valuable gem comes at a cost, however, and soon you find yourself running for your life, hazarding the terrors of the night, braving sadistic guards, and slavering war hounds, wondering if there can ever be an ... Escape from Khosht.

Escape from Khosht is a solitaire adventure written by Andrew Greene, and illustrated by J. Freels for the Tunnels and Trolls game system.

The solo adventure comes with three pregenerated characters to choose from (a wizard, a rogue, and a warrior) as well as full stats and abilities for the two NPCs who journey with you, Radnoff and Chi-Chi.

(edit:  technically it's not NEW, as it is copyright 2002 - but the art is all new, it is new to OneBookShelf / etc and is probably new to YOU... heh)

Battle: Los Angeles - Better Then The Reviews Say

I went and saw Battle: Los Angeles last night with my son and my mother - three generations got to watch aliens invade California. I knew many of the reviewers had panned the movie, but my son really wanted to see it, so off we went.

My opinion? It was pretty good. No need for 3d (which every movie seems to be in today), the story never bogged down, and there were a few decent twists. It was nice to see a movie without all the Hollywood stars, as in this case the story and action were more important then the actors.

Most surprising to me is my mother couldn't stop saying great things about it on the way home. She ranked it up there with The Departed (an amazing movie in its own right). When a grandma can enjoy a sic-fyish, shoot-em up action flick, its gotta be good.

As for me, it kept me in my seat for the full length, despite the large soda a devoured during the flick. I felt like the unfreezing scene from Austin Powers when I finally got to the rest room.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I've Got the Mythic GM Emulator on My Mind

I've been stumbling upon numerous forum and blog posts in which folks have been using the Mythic GM Emulator to run solo games or even small parties with out a GM. How friggin' awesome is that?

I have a PDF copy of the Mythic RPG (and a softcover copy packed away somewhere - god but I need to organize and catalogue, but that's a whole other story), and the emulator is drawn from that. It's actually a set number of chapters from the full product.

I think this is something that could really work well for some out home gaming, maybe even drawing my son into it (like the Borg, I like to assimilate others when i can). I suspect it wouldn't work so well via a VTT, but that's okay. If it can handle 1 to 3 players at my kitchen table, I think we are good to go.

Way too much on my plate waiting to be read these days ;)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Two Trollish Blogs Come to an End

The Trollgod has suspended his 2 fiction blogs (you can find links in my blog roll). Both T&T Delver's Tales and Atroll's Flashfiction are no more. Well, they still are, but they are deadish now.

Not everything posted was destined to be a work of art, but they were fun places to check out when one wanted a short (or short short) story to kill a few minutes.

Ken's leaving the blogs up for the moment, but there will be no new posts, at least not for the foreseeable future.

May the Blog Gods bless them, and keep them ready for a further resurrection ;)

Paranoid Flashback

Mongoose has recently released Flashbacks Redux for it's Paranoia game. It's a compilation of classic Paranoia adventures from the game's West End Games tenure.

I am currently having some very pleasant flashbacks, as I have many of the included adventures packed away in storage. For me, I had as much fun reading the adventures as I did running them, which I can't say for many games. At 256 pages, I'll be occupied with this and it's accompanying memories for a while.

It Contains;

* The Mandatory Mission Pack
* Clones in Space
* Orcbusters
* My First Treason
* Yellow Clearence Black Box Blues
* Code 7s
* Me and My Shadow Mark 4
* Pre Paranoia
* Vapours Don't Shoot Back

I know I own Clones in Space, Orcbusters, YCBBB, Me and My Shadow Mark 4 and Vapours Don't Shoot Back. Still, I haven't read them in over 15 years.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What is the Ideal Group Size For a VTT Run RPG?

Sooner or later I'll be getting my Tunnels & Trolls game off the ground via Fantasy Grounds.  I figure the ideal party size is about 4, but how large should he group (pool) be?

It's hard enough getting all your players to show up for face to face gaming, but with a VTT and people spread out all about the world, it's more common then not to have less then the full group show.

I think I  can scale T&T off the cuff for a smaller / larger party then expected for a certain session, just wondering how large a group I should hope to recruit.  Then again, it is Tunnels &  Trolls... I may have to fall back upon Swords & Wizardry if I want to recruit a full group ;)

The Trollish Taproom - When Less is More

James over at Grognardia asked folks to post about their re-imagining of iconic D&D creatures.  This is something you really couldn't do with Tunnels & Trolls creatures, as there really isn't much of a template to look at, at least in editions prior to 7e.

T&T 5.5e and prior doesnt have any sort of monster manual.  Creatures have a MR and little more.  Pretty much everything a GM would need to introduce to a campaign would come from his own imagination or would be borrowed from another game system.

7e introduced monster books to T&T.  Better late then never, I see them more as gap fillers then all encompassing, as the D&D MMs tend to be.

In Tunnels & Trolls, most monsters are a first-imagining. ;)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Nite Movie at the Tavern - District 9

I remember watching the trailers for District 9 when it was in the theatre.  I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but it was a Peter Jackson movie, so I was intrigued, but not enough to spend NYC movie prices.  It landed on Netflix on Demand, so it was the movie of the day.

It's an interesting take on discrimination, slums, segregation all wrapped up in the personal growth of the main character - the sci-fi elements are just trappings for the underlying drama.  Oh, and lots of guns, shooting and bloody violence.

The setting itself could work well in for a modern day espionage type RPG, working the parallel societies into the game.  It's an interesting alternate modern day twist.

Of course, we had to follow that up with an episode of Survivorman, and a handful of of episodes of Jacked: Auto Theft Task Force.  Better then Cops IMHO ;)

Re-Imagining Iconic D&D Monsters - The Lonely Orc

Back in the days of my AD&D campaign, orcs were warrior / slaves (Ogre Magi pulled their strings) that were evil by nurture, not nature.  Sure, if you encountered a wandering group of orcs, chances are they were going to attack - there is that whole issue of "group mentality" and upbringing.  But if you can get one or two alone, away from the pack, things may work out differently.

The party found 2 lone orcs rummaging thru their camp one nite, and quick actions lead to the capture of the two (instead of the usual AD&D killing of all threats).  With the rest of their hunting pack killed by an armed patrol, these two had decided to try their luck on their own... scavenging, hunting, thieving, but avoiding violence where possible.

The orcs started as prisoners, but reached hireling status with decent treatment by the party.  One of the two died fairly quickly, but the other became a trusted party member.  This also changed the party's idea of intelligent monsters - if orcs could be loyal and non-evil, what about the other "evil" races?  Were the young offspring of these races "savable"?

It added a nice twist of grey morality to the usual black and white of AD&D.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Nite Movie at the Tavern - Shutter Island

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.  Even tho I annoyed the crap outta my girl by calling out lines just before they were said (sorry, to me they were obvious), the twist at the end was pretty good.  I literally didn't see it coming, but upon mental review, the hints were there.  Heck, I liked it despite Leonardo ;)

Lot's of stuff steal-able for a CoC type of game.  Heck, adding the Old Ones to this would have been a twist within a twist.

Topping it off with Survivorman in the Amazon.  It's a good nite.

RPGNow / OneBookShelf Seeking Donations For Japanese Red Cross

It seems like the world nearly gets past one natural disaster before the next one strikes. OneBookShelf is raising money for the Red Cross in Japan. At the moment they are seeking $5 donations. I don't know if they will be putting a package together for larger donations like they have in the past.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hey, Who Painted My Hot Elf Chick Green?!?

Pssst!  You say yer looking for a Hot Elf Chick?  Are you sure you ain't looking for a Hot RPG, featuring Elves (and other wacky races)?  It sure is chic!

Look at the links to the left.  The links to the left are good for you.  They are high in fiber and Hot Elf Chicks.  Some even have decent role playing information.

You could even pretend to BE a Hot Elf Chick (guys, please don't try this... it's bad enough when you do it in a MMORPG... I certainly don't think I can handle you pretending to be a Hot Elf Chick at my dining room table.  Gals?  Have at it, it's damn HOT! ;)

(Thanks James... I have now been.... assimilated...)

What to do When the Game is Put on Hold

The C&C game I play in monthly via Fantasy Grounds is being put on hold after the next session, tentatively scheduled for 3/19. The last time this game was put on hold, it was off for over half a year, and the sessions went from weekly to monthly - we also lost a good chunk of the party.

So, I either need to find myself a new game to play in (if it's on a weekend no more often then once every two weeks) or I need to get my T&T game off the ground, or even both.

I've been lucky in that both groups that I've played with using Fantasy Grounds as my VTT have been very good. One knuckle headed playing in 3 years... "knock on wood" ;)

Of course, one could also see this as even less of an excuse to put off the renovations around the house that I can do on my own, or with a little help.

Still, I'd rather be gaming ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Do You Remember the OSR Kertuffle From a While Back?

You know, when some long term bloggers threw in their towels, and others left the park and took their balls with them? The OSR is still here. The clones / simulacrums have been reproducing like rabbits since then too.

The strength of the OSR lies in its diversity. It's like Baskin Robbins and it's bazillion of flavors - there's an OSR ruleset for everyone's gaming sweet tooth.

The OSR can never die. It can fragment, but that doesn't matter. Even if there is never another product produced for any of the OSR rules out there, the products we already have will last a lifetime.

I am an OSR Blogger, and I approve of this message ;)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mini Review - The Nameless City (Swords & Wizardry)

The Nameless City comes in two flavors - Core/Complete and White Box.  Finally some White Box love ;)  They are separate products, so be sure you purchase the right one for you (it is suggested if you plan on using the module with a different set of OSR styled rules, that you opt for the Core/Complete version - I haven't looked at the White Box version, so I can't tell you what the differences are - yet).

What is The Nameless City?  It is an adventure for characters of levels 7-10.  It draws inspiration from a HP Lovecraft short story.  It  looks to be pretty lethal.

I did a very quick read thru this adventure, and it will require players that think first and then act.  Impulsive parties won't last long.  Many of the adversaries are spell casters, which makes this far from the usual dungeon crawl many players are used to.  The DM should expect to make plenty of notes when reading through this, and it will probably require multiple read throughs before you are ready to run this.  There is plenty of atmosphere, so reading to prepare should be a pleasure.

We get four new monsters added to the S&S ruleset - three should be familiar already.

From the blurb:

In the world there are ancient, degenerated remnants still living, survivals from unimaginable antiquity. What happens when the adventurers stumble across one of these deadly places? There must be treasure untold for those willing to brave the long-forgotten perils of ... The Nameless City.

This module by Alphonso Warden is loosely based upon the eponymous short story by HP Lovecraft, and is designed for characters level 7-10.

The module is available for both Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox and Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules and Freestyle (Core) Rules. If you're going to use it with another old-school system, it's obviously going to be compatible, but use the Complete/Freestyle version for this: the hit dice and other information will be closer to other systems than WhiteBox.

Last 5 Hours of the GM Sale at RPGNow

Five hours left in RPGNow's GMDay sale. If you were holding off on any purchases, now is the time ;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

One Square Equals Five Feet Equals Awesome!

I just received the latest issue of Christian's One Square Equals Five Feet zine.  It's actually one paper (red in the case of issue #5).

Christian could probably consider me a stalker at this point, as I've been reading his stuff since ScrollWorks and Iron Rations.  (I do believe I am the longest continuous subscriber) Oh, and Iridia.  Damn, the man can write.

The latest mailing also includes Issue #1 of Qwellian's Journal.  This sheet would make for a really good and quick intro adventure if converted to Fantasy Grounds... not large at all and system agnostic, so it can work with anything from Swords & Wizardry to Tunnels & Trolls.  Possibly even 4e... I wouldn't know ;)

See, some things do work better in print, even to a PDF lover like me... heh

Weekend Streamed Movies Quick Reviews

I watched 3 movies I streamed via Netflix over the weekend. I mentioned them all over the weekend, but here's the recap and final verdicts:

1990: The Bronx - So bad its almost good. If you played an over the top post apocalypse RPG some of the gangs from this movie might actually make a good fit.

G.I. Joe - Not great, not horrible, its the kind of movie you can leave for some bathroom reading and just come back to the action. If you read comics of any sort, the plot fits. If you don't like comic books, the plot is very comic bookish - you've been warned. Plot threads leave it open for Joe 2.

- Legion - This must have been a blast to watch in the theater, as fear is contagious. This is the only one of the 3 movies my girl actually stayed awake for. Heck, the movie even scared her dog. The parts that had me jumping also had me laughing immediately after. The best of the three. Fun to watch, and one I didn't want to miss a minute of it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oubliette Issue 5 (for Labyrinth Lord) Free Until the End of March

Oubliette is a magazine for LL fans and gamers, but as usual, much of the articles can be easily used with your OSR rules of choice.

Issue 5 is the latest issue, and it is free for a limited time.  If you haven't checked it out yet, here's your perfect opportunity.

From the blurb:

OUBLIETTE - A magazine for old school fantasy roleplayers.
48 jam-packed pages including: 36 Page Magazine, 8 Pages of Cleric Spell Cards for Labyrinth Lord, and more...
Written for Labyrinth Lord, but also ideal for use with any Basic/Expert/Advanced original or clone, with little or no adjustment required.

Full Contents:
• Tales from Hell - Words of Wisdom from the Soothsayer
• Monster Club #8 - The Monstermark System for Labyrinth Lord
• The Vampire - 12 Pages of Alternative Rules for Creating Labyrinth Lord Vampires
• Good Shop/Bad Shop - Mad Varto's
• What's on the Battlemat? - Dungeon in a Box
• PC for PCs - A Very un-PC Approach to Dealing with Paladins
• What's in the Oubliette? - A Selection of Gaming and Other Reviews
• Mouse Watch - Our Heroes Enter a Storytelling Contest
• The Song of Sithakk - Part 5 of our Serialized Story
• Plus Bonus Material comprising: Cleric Spell Cards for Labyrinth Lord, Blank Vampire Record Sheet, and a blank template for Dungeon in a Box

Note: This issue is available for free download until the end of March 2011.  Thereafter it will revert to its normal price of $2.50.  In the small preview below, some tables and artwork don't display at the reduced size. In the full-size PDF they are all displayed correctly.

Warning! Oubliette may contain content that is suitable for adult audiences only. Persons 18+ only.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Movie Nite at the Tavern

Tonight appears to be movie nite at the Tavern.  Just watched GI Joe and now we are watching Legion.

I have high hopes for gaming relevance for Legion ;)

1990: The Bronx Warriors - Make the Pain Stop!

Amazon Prime now offers thousands of free to stream movies and tv show episodes.  While flipping thru last nite, I saw 1990: The Bronx Warriors.  I never heard of it, but figured "It's the Bronx, its gotta be cool!"

Let's see... it's an Italian produced movie from 1983, filmed in NYC with Italian and American actors... so yes, there's lots of dubbing of voices.  I can handle that.  What I can't handle is the actual film locations.

You can't (well, couldn't) see the World Trade Center from the Bronx, but I guess they thought it would make for a good scene, so they filmed shots on the Queens and Brooklyn sides of the East River... you get to see the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge... you get the idea, no where near the Bronx.

But ya see, Da Bronx is No Man's Land.... it's just gangs (except for the scenes with kids playing basketball in a park, or traffic and truck deliveries in the background).  Ah, but the gangs... we get a Biker gang with Glowing Skulls (one skull must have had problems -  it wouldnt stay lit), a NYC Pimp gang, we get a Roller Hockey gang complete with hockey sticks and really bad uniforms, we have a Tap Dancing Gang with black canes and metallic makeup... we even have a Neanderthal gang (no idea how they survive).

I'd try to explain the plot, but why?  I'd ruin the surprise for you.  You need to see for yourself just how bad this movie is.  My girl fell asleep 15 minutes into it... I needed to see how it wrapped up (it really didn't).  Apparently it spawned a sequel... I may just have to search it out, just for shits and giggles ;)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mini Review - Curse of the Khan (Castles & Crusades)

Castles & Crusades is the game that drew me back to RPGs, so I always look forward to each release (except Crusader - here's hoping the improves).  Curse of the Khan is the latest adventure (in PDF) from the Troll Lords, and it's a whopper.  It clocks in at around 70 pages.  (If you bought a PDF copy of the CKG before the GM Week sale, you should have an email from the Trolls telling you how to get this adventure for free)

The adventure is more like 3 linked adventures, so expect to get at least 3 sessions of gaming out of it.  It covers levels 6-11 (although you can scale it lower / higher slightly if need) and it assumes that each of the 4 core adventuring roles will be filled.

You'll have to set  your backstory up, or rather flesh out the one that is given, to get the players where they need to be.  Not a big deal, but I felt it should be noted.

In addition to the 3 fairly distinct adventures sections, we also get a new PC usable race, 8 new magic items and 15 new monsters.  Oh, and maps.  13 levels of maps.  Did I say it's pretty well loaded?

From the blurb:

In days long gone, the Crawling Queen, a creature of the abyss, lorded over the lands of man, elf and dwarf. Her reign was terrible and the lamentations of the suffering people carried into the heavens! In time a dwarven prophet, St. Canor, came to their aid and, leading a bold group of heroes, he overcame the Queen and bound her in a temple. He set the bodies of his fallen comrades to guard her and placed wards upon them to imprison her. Over their tombs and her cell, he built a great temple. And there she lay for many eons.

But time passes and all things decay. So it was with the temple. Falling into the ruins came a host of her minions, they threatened to break the wards and bring the Crawling Queen back to the world. Such a horror must be prevented.

But the dangers are far greater than the Temple, for in her tomb beneath the ruins lies horrors unimagined and dangers to pry the skin from mortal men's flesh; and, deeper still, lie the dungeons where the darkness is complete and the horror long buried is come to life.

All this and much more await those willing to accept the challenges offered in The Curse of the Khan. The Curse of the Khan combines fast paced action with challenging role play and mind boggling puzzles at every turn. Including four brand new monsters and a plethora of new magical items, The Curse of the Khan is designed to keep your players on their toes, providing hours of dungeon crawling mind mangling fun!

Sale At Lulu - 20% Off

Enter coupon code GIANT305 at checkout and receive 20% off your book order. The code is good thru 3/7/11.

Its kinda like they knew it was GM Week ;)

When the Game Ends...

Fourteen years ago, I graduated from the Police Academy. It was a great moment, as it marked the true beginning of a great career, but it also marked the end of an era - the end of my gaming group, at least as far as gaming went.

For the first time, I was not going to be off on Sundays (our normal gaming day). Heck, I wasn't going to be off on Saturdays - my new weekend was Wednesday / Thursday. Working steady evenings, there was no way I could game. As my house was the weekly gaming location, a group that had been gaming regularly since high school, over 12 years... ended. I'm not sure we realized it at the time tho'. The campaign was never wrapped up properly.

Thankfully, the group has still remained close friends, even if we don't roll the dice anymore. MMORPGs with voice chat allow us to continue some of the social aspects of our old game sessions, but I do miss my time behind the DM screen. Oh, and filling Ring Dings with canned cheese... those reactions were priceless ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mini Review - Knockspell #5 (Swords & Wizardry)

It's aways nice to have another issue of Knockspell to read.  Issue # 5 is no exception.

Nicely filled with an assortment of gaming goodness, it hits a sweet spot between adventures and articles.

Actually, the article on how to create adventures using Scrabble tiles as aids still has me scratching my head -  the concept works, I just don't understand how anyone thought up the concept... heh

There's a lot of stuff to read in this issue, to be used in S&W, LL or your clone of choice.

Lets see, here's the table of contents for this issue:

 2   Editor’s Note, Matt Finch
 2   Adventuring at Conventions, Tim Kask
 3   Teach Your Children, Bill Webb
 6   Out of the Bag: Generating Encounters with Scrabble Tiles, Jim Pacek
 9     Dark Gods, Al Krombach
 12   WhiteBox Weaponry, Richard Lionheart
 18   Where Dwells the Mountain God, Bill Silvey
 28   Operation Unfathomable, Jason Sholtis
 49   Weird Watery Magic of Vats and Pools,  Richard Hart
 53   Five Portable Rooms, Andrew Trent
 56   Magic Items of the High Seas, James E. Bobb and Kim Nicholson
 57   ‘Don’t Touch Anything ’: Traps in Swords &  Wizardry  WhiteBox Edition, Scott A. Murray
 59   Sorcerous Servitors, Jason Sholtis
 61   NPCs of Note, Rob Hewlett
 62   The Bestiary, Matt Finch
 62   Legal
63   Forthcoming Publications

You might recognize some of these names from other OSR type blogs.  

Good stuff.  

Only $4.95.

see?  OSR goes to the top of the review pile ;)

Are Your PCs Rock Stars?

Charlie Sheen is a bit over the top lately, especially with his own self-importance (understatement), but how far is he from long term PCs in some campaigns?

Yes, I know the difference between reality and gaming, but think about it. When your PCs hit name level in AD&D, they are living on the edge. They could retire and live off their found treasures for a lifetime, but instead they continue to adventure, face danger, gain even more fame - they must have tiger blood or something ;)

Of course, you can't "win" in AD&D (another recent Sheenism).

Yeah, I'm rambling, but not as bad as Charlie. I'm watching the train wreck, and it seems to be in slow motion... it really is occupying too much of my brain these days ;)

Looking For GM Week Purchase Suggestions

As I mentioned earlier this week, there is a crap load of stuff on sale during GM Week over at RPGNow. What I'm looking for is suggestions for purchases - I get access to a decent amount of comps, but there is still great stuff that I don't catch right away (I don't get notified of all new products to hit RPGNow).

The next few days is my chance to fill in some holes in my OSR collection. Give me some ideas of what I may be missing (if I didn't review it, and its OSR, I probably don't have it).

Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Have Soul(s)

As I mentioned before, I've been playing the latest MMORPG - Rift. Don't ask me if it's a WoW killer, I have no idea. I do like it tho. I has the usual 4 man class branches - warrior, cleric, rogue and mage, but strangely enough, the sub classes (referred to in game as "souls") don't necessarily mean that your warrior is a tank, or that your mage can't be a healer. As each character can have 3 souls active from its main class (and swap out others at later levels), you can truly customize your character.

When it comes to Tabletop RPGs, much of that customization comes from the actual roleplaying, which is generally not at the forefront of a MMORPG, even on servers that are Role Play tagged.

Even if every Fighting Man in 0e is pretty damn close on paper, they play different due to player interactions. It is the very nature of the game. 3e gave us feats and skills, and allowed us to further customize our PCs, but it is still the role-play that defines the memories and highlights.

All that being said, I am enjoying Rift. I've found 2 character combinations that work well both solo and in group, so I should be able to keep on around my son's level (and that of my gaming group).

Now I am left wondering if anyone ever tried to convert a MMORPG class pet using class like Necromancer to Tunnels & Trolls, or some other RPG. Damn, I may need to dig out the Everquest RPG (that was OGL based if I recall) and borrow some ideas from there. If only I knew where I stored it.

Looking For an Old Advenure

With all the stuff going on in great state of Wisconsin, my memory has been partially prodded. I seem to recall an adventure in the pre-3e days, where the theme was the unionization of a bunch of overworked workers. I doubt it was in a stand alone adventure, so it was probably in Dungeon Magazine.

Anyone else have a better recollection? Or is my middle aged addled mind doing things to me again?

Crap, it could have been a Paranoia mission...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RPGNow GM Sale is Live Thru March 7th

RPGNow and a host of publishers are running a GM Sale from now thru March 7th (next Monday).  There's a boatload of stuff marked down 25%, and a good portion is from some the great OSR publishers.  In no particular order of preference:

Brave Halfling Publishing - Castles & Crusades modules, Labyrinth Lord supplements and more

Goblinoid Games - Labyrinth Lord and a whole lot more

Fiery Dragon - Get your Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e rules at a reduced price

GM Games - Knowledge Illuminates on sale

NBOS Software -  Great mapping programs, amongst other goodies

Troll Lord Games - Finally, the Castle Keeper's Guide at a more reasonable price

White Haired Man - If you run games via Fantasy Grounds, this is a no brainer

Necromancer - Swords & Wizardry Complete and on sale.  Need I say more?

Goodman Games - The Grandaddy of Old School

Looking for Thoughts on RPG Campaign Wiki Website... Thingies

I know of two Campaign Wiki Websites: Obsidian Portal and Epic Worlds.

Do any of you use these for your RPG campaigns? Do you use the free versions or the upgraded versions?

Are there other Campaign Wiki Website thingamawops out there besides these two?

inquiring minds want to know ;)
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