Monday, October 31, 2011

Review - Pathfinder Beginner Box - Part 2 - Continuing With the Hero's Handbook

Yep, one last pass through the Hero's Handbook before I move on the the Gamemaster side of things.

Where was i?  Ah, Feats.  I love them and I hate them.  They flesh out characters, can help make them unique and can really screw with balance as time goes on.  Some of them need multiple paragraphs to detail and my eyes go screwy tying to read the reams available in the Core Rulebook.

There are only 4 pages of feats in the Hero's Handbook.  Most take only two or three lines.  Short, concise and sweet.  The only way to learn.

Skills take up 6 pages.  They're a bit more detailed then feats, because in general they are a bit more flexible in use.

What can I say?  I love the presentation.  I'm actually enjoying my read through of the rules.  They feel less like a text book and more like a hands on learning experience.  Not sure how that works actually.  It's not like anything has really been "dumb downed" (like the 4e Red Box was) but rather the presentation has been simplified without talking down to you.

So, who has a guide to removing the extra crunch from the Core Pathfinder Rules to make them nearly as easy to understand as the Beginner Box is?  heh

On to the Gamemaster stuff next.

Dowsing For Dummies

It Halloween. Nice way to top off an already spooky October with the number of individuals that just don't give a F' about doing things the right way.

The latest was the guy who decided to put epub and mobi conversions up on RPGNow of the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and the Pathfinder Rules. without either publisher's authorization. Before I could finish a mini-review of the S&W conversion, it was already pulled. The Pathfinder version was pulled shortly thereafter. Neither was free (I think they were going for $2.99 each) so that famous excuse won't apply here.

What is with the currently free for all with the intellectual property of others?
Is it just in this corner of the hobby, or is there some movement I don't know about? Are these guys fools, or willful idiots? Playing stupid only goes so far, and I would think with the publicity the previous acts generated, the latest azz would have dotted his "i's" and crossed his "t's" before trying the latest blunder.

I keep stumbling into this shit like a professional water dowser steps in puddles. Problem is I keep finding sewer water. ;)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mini Review - Maidens of Moordoth - (Labyrinth Lord Adventure)

1-Sheet.  An adventure that can be printed on one sheet of paper, often using both sides.

Maidens of Moordoth is a 1-Sheet Adventure for beginning Labyrinth Lord characters, but suitable for use with any of the Old School rulesets (did you really need me to tell you that?).  It actually uses 3 sides of a sheet of paper, but the third side is for the OGL - you can omit that when you print at home.

It has 13 labeled locations on the crypt map and it includes some undead.  Do you really need more for Halloween?  How about it's only 50 cents?  Yep, halfway between a buck and free. ;)

From the blurb:

Maidens of Moordoth is a low-level 1-sheet adventure designed for Labyrinth LordTM but easily usable in any old school fantasy role-playing game.  It provides all you'll need for a full night or two of play.
The elders of the village of Moordoth are the keepers of a grim secret.  They vowed to take it to their graves, but a pack of ghouls and the wailing haunts of six lost maidens seem to command otherwise.  The characters are hired by the town elders to put a stop to this madness.  The characters will soon learn that all is not what it seems as they unravel the secret of the Maidens of Moordoth.

Mini Review - Spellcraft & Swordplay (Revised and Expanded)

Ever have one of those situations, where something seems very familiar yet strange at the same time?  Spellcraft & Swordplay is one of those situations for me.

It starts up like one of your usual OSR games, usual stats, 3-18, familiar classes... and then it takes me for a side trip when I realize everything is resolved using D6s.  It's almost like melding Tunnels & Trolls with Original Dungeons & Dragons.  Well, not quite, but you get the idea.

The main change (there are others, but to me this is the biggest switch) is that, for the most part, an increase in combat ability comes from an increase in the number of attacks, not in an increase in chance to hit.  The number you need to hit is dependent upon the weapon wielded and the armor worn, level has little to do with it.  A strength bonus to hit is a mighty bonus in this game.

All in all it's a well written, well presented game.  I found some small editing gaffs (at one point in the rules, it refers to 2 "elite paths", but the third path, Ranger, is in the book) but nothing major.

Looking for a D&D / OSR like game that can be played with the dice in your Risk or Monopoly box and little else?  Spellcraft & Swordplay is what you are looking for.

From the blurb:

Join the new class of old school!
Hordes of slavering orcs close in.  You're tired, battered and bruised, but far from beaten.  You grip your heavy sword tightly, and blink at the sweat in yoru eyes.  You're all that stands between the goodly folk of the village, and a curtain of eternal night.  And going quietly isn't your style.
Between these covers lies everything you need to begin grand adventures of dark and gritty fantasy, high epic fantasy, or even fairy tale fantasy.  All you need is some imagination and a few friends, and you're off!  Inspired by the very earliest days of the hobby, Spellcraft & Swordplay uses a rules-light system that allows play in a fast, loose and cinematic style.  It evokes the spirit of the old school, while providing some character customization not always present in other old school games.
Explore ancient ruins, rescue captive princesses, slay dragons, and build your own legacy of adventure and excitement with SPELLCRAFT & SWORDPLAY!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

When Less is More - Where to Go From the Pathfinder Basic Box

As I make my way through the Pathfinder Basic Box, I find myself really excited about the potential this box holds.  Not just in bringing new blood into this hobby of ours (it should accomplish that fairly well) but in the presentation.

The Basic Box works as well as it does not just because it removes some of the more complicated rules from the Pathfinder Core Rules, but because of the way way it presents the rules it does use.  The rules are introduced gradually, with limited selection / choices / options and then gradually branching out.  Why couldn't this be done with a revision of the Core Rules?

The book is huge, and I'm sure it's a great value, but I think at this point, players would be best served by breaking it into it's component pieces.

A Tome of Heroes or such could be used to codify the rules most used by the players, with the first part  written and presented in the way of the PBB Hero's Handbook, introducing the rules, and later parts of the book building upon them.

The Gamemaster's Guide wold also build upon the presentation in the PBB, then move on to fuller options and more complications and some insights on how to leave out certain complications without collapsing the house of cards.  The Bestiary would be it's own book.

I've read the posts on the Paizo Boards that some fear that supporting the Pathfinder Basic Box will lead to a dumbing down of Pathfinder.  I'd love to play Pathfinder as written, if I had the time to learn the tomes of rules.  I no longer do.  Certainly not to the point that I could GM a game.

Presenting the Core Rules in a manner that rules are presented gradually, even modularly, would allow gamers like me to enjoy the Pathfinder Rules without be crushed under them.  Isn't the point of the Basic Box to get Pathfinder into the hands of more players?  Well, I humbly summit the above as a possible method to accomplish the goal of expanding the base.

Mini Review - Swords & Wizardry Core Rules - Mobi & epub Formats

If you read this blog you should already have an idea of what the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook is.  If not, the PDF link is on the left - it's a free download, enjoy.

This is a conversion of the PDF S&W Core Rulebook to Mobi (read "Kindle") and epub (read "just about every other e-book reader on the market").   So this isn't a review of the rules in question, it's a review of the conversion of the format.

Simply put - charts always suffer in the translation from PDF to any of the e-book formats.  The charts here are serviceable, but not on par with PDF / dead tree.  That being said, as a reference to look things up quickly at the gaming table without the need of lugging along a book, this is a great solution.

and then "POOF", it was gone from the RPGNow store.  i'm beginning to think I'm cursed or something... i need to grab the Pathfinder version before it goes too...

It's a Snowy October Day - Time to Be a Stay at Stay-at-Home Bum

Snow in NYC in October is extremely rare - maybe a few flurries, but little more.  At the moment they are calling for 6-10" of snow.  Holy Cow!

Still, it gives me time to read, and read I am.  I am going to forcibly stop myself from reading Designers & Dragons, as I feel it sucking me in and I'll never put it down.  Instead, I'm going to go back to reading my Pathfinder Beginner Box and hopefully get the next part of my review posted.

Feltothraxis has some ideas for the PBB, but I'm not sure if the voice has recovered fully yet.

Mini Review - Designers & Dragons (Historical Overview of RPGs)

Mongoose Publishing recently released Designers & Dragons on RPGNow.  I'm going to give you the "blurb" first, and then my impressions, as this is NOT an RPG, but a history of RPGs, and it requires a different approach to review.

From the blurb:

Compiled over many years from hundreds of interviews and research projects, this book is a history of the roleplaying game industry, and forms the most complete record of all the games, companies and talented individuals that have propelled roleplaying games to where they are today.

Rather than being a simple, linear history, this book takes a unique perspective on the roleplaying industry. Reflecting that it is the creation of thousands of talented individuals and scores of talented companies, this book instead devotes individual sections to describing the histories and products of almost 60 different companies that have published roleplaying games from 1974 to the present day. The companies are laid out in a chronology based on when each began publishing in the roleplaying field.

Alright, so now you know what it is.  Time for me to tell you how it is: absorbing as the best historical write-up I've ever read, and I was a history major in college.  Reading the history of TSR took me back in time to my own heyday of roleplaying.  I had a pretty good idea of the rise and fall of TSR, but this really filled in the gaps of my knowledge, both big and small.  TSR / D&D / WotC is only the beginning.

Here's the ToC:


TSR: 1973-1997 6

PART TWO: The First Wave 33
Flying Buffalo: 1970-Present 34
Games Workshop: 1975-Present 43
GDW: 1973-1996 53
Judges Guild: 1976-1983, 1999-2010 65
Fantasy Games Unlimited 1975-1991 71
Metagaming Concepts: 1975-1983 78
Chaosium: 1975-Present 82

PART THREE: The Second Wave 97
SPI: 1969-1982 98
Steve Jackson Games: 1980-Present 102
Task Force Games: 1978-1996 114
FASA: 1980-2001 119
Gamelords: 1980-1984 129
ICE: 1980-Present 133
Hero Games: 1981-Present 145
Palladium Books: 1981-Present 155
Yaquinto Publications: 1979-1983 164
Mayfair Games: 1980-Present 166
Bard Games: 1982-1990 172
Avalon Hill: 1958-1998 175
Columbia Games: 1972-Present 181
West End Games: 1974-2009 186
Pacesetter: 1984-1986

 PART FOUR: The Third Wave 200
SkyRealms Publishing: 1984-1988 201
Digest Group Publications: 1985-1993 203
R. Talsorian: 1985-Present 207
White Wolf: 1986-Present 215
Lion Rampant: 1987-1990 232
New Infinities Productions: 1986-1988 237
Creations Unlimited: 1986-1987 240
Pagan Publishing: 1990-Present 244
Atlas Games: 1990-Present 252
AEG: 1990-Present 262
Phage Press: 1991-2005 268
Dream Pod 9: 1985-Present 271

PART FIVE: The CCG Years 275
Wizards of the Coast: 1990-Present 276
Hogshead Publishing: 1994-2002 304
Kenzer & Company: 1994-Present 309
Last Unicorn Games: 1994-2000 314
Grey Ghost Press: 1995-Present 319
Holistic Design: 1992-2006 322
Pinnacle Entertainment Group: 1994-Present 325
Imperium Games: 1996-1998 330
Guardians of Order: 1997-2006 335
Eden Studios: 1997-Present 340
Fantasy Flight Games: 1995-Present 344
Margaret Weis Productions: 1998-Present 351
Green Knight Publishing: 1998-2003 356
Issaries: 1997-2004 359

PART SIX: The D20 Years 364
Necromancer Games: 2000-2009 365
Green Ronin Publishing: 2000-Present 369
Troll Lord Games: 2000-Present 378
Pelgrane Press: 1999-Present 383
Goodman Games: 2001-Present 386
Privateer Press: 2000-Present 392
Mongoose Publishing: 2001-Present 394
Adept Press: 2001-Present 403
Paizo Publishing: 2002-Present 412

Part Seven: The Indie Revolution? 419
Evil Hat Productions: 2001-Present 421
Cubicle 7 Entertainment: 2003-Present 427
Catalyst Game Labs: 2007-Present 433
Bibliography and Thanks 440
Special Thanks 442

I have games from just about every publisher on this list.  Holy crap, I think I have stuff from just about every publisher this book covers.  Right on thru Evil Hat, Cubicle 7 and Catalyst Games.

The writer's voice is very comfortable to read, the book is well laid out and the topics and insights (from my POV) are interesting as hell.  I'm sure all of this knowledge is available in thousands  of bits and pieces strewn about the internet, but it would take me years to track down most of this.  Author Shannon Appelcline has done it for me, and wrapped it up nicely on top of all that.

The only thing keeping me from giving Designers & Dragons my highest recommendation is the price of $29.99.  If you have the cash to spare and an interest in the history of the RPG industry, it is money well spent.  However, if your gaming budget is tight, this is probably a luxury you'll find yourself passing on.  That's a shame, because this is really a great read.

(edit - the PDF is neither Bookmarked nor Hyperlinked - coming in at 442 pages, it needs at least one or the other for easier navigation - still love it, but this omission is annoying)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just a Wee Bit More DragonQuest

I am VERY happy with my acquisition of the DragonQuest Boxed set.  The box is a little shelf worn, but the books are still fresh and crisp and all the counters and chits have never been punched out.

I feel like I'll be learning a new language, although the Pathfinder Basic Box is going to be stealing my attention for now, DragonQuest will be delved into when my time free up ):)

My Thoughts On a Pathfinder Basic Box - Extended

I'm really loving my trip thru the Pathfinder Basic Box. It's not what I expected (I guess I was expecting something like the D&D 4e Starter Set - thank God it's nothing like it) and that is a good thing. It has a lot of punch and value for the money. But I want more ;)

I can see the point of a second box set being both cost prohibitive and possibly splinting the Pathfinder market, but there is still a way for Paizo to extend the life of the Basic Box without going to a 2nd box. Heck, they are doing it now with adventures and a Barbarian class write up on their site - PDFs.

An expansion to the Basic Box could be as simple as a $5 (or whatever price) PDF extending play to 9th level, including new feats, perhaps introducing Attacks of Opportunity, adding some classes as new options, maybe adding back some of the lower level spells (maybe 5 more per level). It would be written and presented in the same format at the Basic Box material.

This would be the "bridge" product to bring the Pathfinder game together, because the natural progression from Pathfinder Basic Box - Extended would be to the Core Pathfinder Rules. I'm not sure if the Basic Box quite gets you there on it's own.

I would also love to see a PDF / posting / whatnot on how to bring the Pathfinder Core Book(s) to more Basic Box complexity without causing the house of cards to come tumbling down.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Free Stuff For Halloween @ OneBookShelf

Time for some scary treats!  Click the banner above to go to DriveThruRPG and hunt around for the Jack-0-Lanterns.  Click on the Jack-0-Lanterns for some free swag.

To get you started, I'll point you to two:

Kobold Quarterly Issue #15 - Go to the "FAQ PAGE" and click the Jack-0-Lantern.  It will appear in your cart for $0

All Flesh Must Be Eaten - Revised - Click the Jack-0-Lantern at the bottom of the "HOME PAGE".  Enjoy ;)

There are thirteen freebies in total.  I know I haven't found them all.  Feel free to post the others you find in the comments below, and I'll add more as I find 'em.

(don't switch between the various OBS sites without checking out with your free purchase, or else the free purchase may end up in the second cart at regular price)

When Your Quest is Dragons, You Need DragonQuest!

Yep, i snagged myself a copy of the DragonQuest 3e rulebook on Ebay, and I should have a boxed set coming from Troll & Toad.  Really, why should I let Padre have all the fun?  heh

It is in many ways the exact opposite of the Pathfinder Beginner Box, but that's okay.  I probably won't have time to give DragonQuest a real look until after my wedding, but as that's in a week and a half.  I plan on lots of reading and relaxing after the wedding ;)

Thoughts on the Pathfinder Basic Box

I can't stop singing the praises of the Pathfinder Basic Box, but I do have one issue with it - where to go from here.

I know that when the group has outgrown the PBB, they are supposed to move on to the full Pathfinder Rules, but is that really the best or only route to take?

I don't know if it's in Paizo's plans, but I think an Advanced or Expert Boxed set would be a perfect follow up. Include advancement from 6th up to 10th level, add in some classes (Ranger, Druid, Bard and possibly Paladin), give me back my halfling and you have a complete game in 2 boxed sets.

Key phrase here is "Boxed Sets". Boxed sets can sit on the shelf of your Walmarts and Toys R' Us when RPG books won't. They can expand the market.

The boxed sets can offer a streamlined Pathfinder system that is compatible to the existing line. If the players want, they can always move on to the full rules for more options. Or they could stay with the streamlined system.

The streamlined approach and intuitive presentation of the rules in the Basic Box certainly have my attention. If my sinuses hold out, maybe Feltothraxis can take a look at the Pathfinder Basic Box. I suspect he'll enjoy it as much as I do ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review - Pathfinder Basic Box - Part 1 - Hero's Handbook

It's only 64 pages long, but I am still looking at the Hero's Handbook from the Pathfinder Basic Box.  All the rules you need for the four basic classes (Fighter, Cleric, Rogue and Wizard) covering the first 5 levels of advancement.

As far as races, I don't mind the Gnome omission at all, but halflings are a fantasy staple, and I would have appreciated their presence.  We do get Dwarves, Elves and Humans (no half races either).  I'll just need to remind myself it is a Basic Box, and if you put the kitchen sink in the box, you lose the focus.

For no particular reason, I'm going to hit on spells next.  Perfectly done.  Really.  Spell icon tells you the school of the spell, range, duration and short paragraph detailing the effects.  10 spells per level, and all spells for a spell level fit on one side of one page.  Concise yet extremely complete and useful.  It could (should) be a model for other RPGs down the line.

Jumping back to character generation, I'm going to remark upon the need for the character to have at least a cumulative bonus of +3, or you don't have a stat above 13, you can reroll your character.  Using 4d6, I expect there will be a lot of rerolls.  I do understand the power level in Pathfinder is on the Spinal Tap Scale ("But this one goes to eleven!"), but coming from the OSR side of the hobby I needed to adjust my focus.

Did I mention the pages are full color?  Same quality paper as the Pathfinder Monthies?  That weapons and armor are accompanied by artwork depicting the item in question?  Heck, they might as well have put the armor and weapons on slightly elongated business cards.  I'm tempted to print those pages out from the PDF (I love Paizo and their PDFs) and cut out the items in question so I can hand them out to my players.  Of course, I  game online, so that might be an issue.  Still, the idea is valid.

K, more later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Look - Pathfinder Beginner Box

I received my Pathfinder Beginner Box in the mail today and I think "Holy Shi!t" sums it up pretty well ;)  This is a box of gaming goodness.  Yes, I might be an OSR heretic for saying this, but Paizo has done the hobby on a whole a ton of good with this treasure chest.  This is an excellent starter for a person or group that is looking to get into RPGs.

First things first.  The box itself is nice and deep and sturdy.  Box alone blows away the D&D 4e Starter Set.  Then you open the box, and the components put the nail in the coffin of the 4e Start Set.  Paizo does it again.

64 page Hero's Handbook, 96 page GM's Guide, dice, over 80 full color pawns (stand-up cardboard cutouts with stands), 4 pregens, 4 blank character sheets and a large, markable battle map.  It's a heavy, complete box.

The layout of the books looks like everything is set up to help out starting players.  More importantly, you can level up to 5th level before needing to move on to the full game.

I'll need to spend some time with it before I can give a proper review, but color me impressed so far.

So, Does the OGL Not Cover Images of Creatures Covered By the OGL?

Apparently, the Rust Monster is in the OGL. It is also based on some cheap ass toy that EGG found in his travels, at least in appearance.

The Cease & Desist email that was this blog's topic yesterday was apparently in response to an illustration of a Rust Monster. According to the artist, it was his own piece of work: it wasn't traced or copied - apparently not even a homage.

So, if one draws a possible conclusion from this (requiring an "assumption" - and we all know where that can lead), WotC may be staking a claim that the OGL doesn't apply to images of elements that are covered by the OGL.

I really wish I knew the OGL better, but I'm not a publisher and I've only got one small article to my credit, so I'm hardly a writer, but if the OGL doesn't allow for visual interpretation of creatures described within, there's a whole lotta art that is in violation. The thing is, I don't think any of it would be in violation of copyright - but as my knowledge of such could fill a small shot glass, I'll leave such to those with more knowledge.

I do find the timing to be very curious.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is Wizards' Latest Cease and Desist an Introduction to D&D 5E?

(see http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-osric-players-guide-woes.html for details)

Why is WotC suddenly getting defensive about the OSR? There are hints that D&D 5E, when it comes about, is going to be more "old school" in feel, if not execution, but is that a reason to issue a Cease and Desist on artwork that has been making the rounds of the OSR for years? Better question is does this Cease & Desist apply to those that have used the art in question over the past years, or just the latest OSRIC Player's Guide? If the offending art is removed from the book, is the book now in compliance?

Yes, I'm full of questions today. I'm just trying to figure out why artwork that has been in use for years is now in violation of WotC's IP. I need to look at the offending artwork and see if it replicates any WotC / TSR artwork. I sincerely doubt it does, but I'm not a lawyer (and I thank the Lord for that - I coulda been ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Free RPG - Lost Roads of Lociam - Core Rulebook - Light

This was released on RPGNow about 2 months ago and somehow escaped by Spidey Senses.  Ah well, no one is perfect.

Lost Realms of Locaim is listed as using the Basic Roleplaying rules.  Looking the rules over, it certainly seems like a house ruled version of the rules, but I'd have to pull our my copy of BRP out of a storage box and look a bit closer at this to be sure.  I poked around the web a bit to get a definitive answer, but what answers I've found kinda skidded around the actual answer.

The setting itself has been developed over 20 years, and the 1st part of the game is heavy on fiction and timeline to give you a feel for the world.  106 pages is a nice size free look. (141 pages in the full sized book)

It's certainly worth giving a look, especially if you dig D100 systems.

Does Anyone Have Experience With the Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook?

Mongoose publishes the Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook based upon the solo game books of yore.  Any of this blog's readers know anything about it, good or bad?  I here it's a pretty simple stem, and I like simplicity, but I have there is still a little meat on the bones.

I can see there are a crapload of releases for it.  Any suggestions as to what to pick up if I decide to give this a peek?

Do I need experience with the solos to truly enjoy this?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Greg is Now a Chubby

Heh!  Well, more accurately, Greg Christopher and the Errant RPG blog are now a Chubby Funster.  No, I'm not quite sure what it all means, but the new webpage he has to showcase his free games looks pretty neato.

I just hope he keeps the new site updates more then the old blog.  Google+ is fine and dandy, but if you miss a day it is certainly hard to catch up ;)

Listening to the Music - As I Shoot Stuff - In Fallout: New Vegas

I don't post much about computer games, even the RPG ones.  Very few can come close to reproducing an immersive environment that table-top roleplaying does.  For what it's worth, I think the Fallout series does a pretty good job at it.

New Vegas allows you to have radio stations playing in the background which adds some amazing depth to the game play (and even has my fiancee singing along at points).  Not bad at all.

I do wish more games would be like the Neverwinter series, allowing for a party to run through the quests and story line without all of the MMORPG crap (I enjoy MMORPGs a lot, but they aren't role playing experiences, they are level grinders).  New Vegas would rock with a 4 person party!

Ah well, time for me to kill some shite near New Vegas.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Feltothraxis Has a Cold :(

Or rather, the voice of Feltothraxis has a cold.  It started as seasonal allergies and has progressed into a mildly nasty cold.  I don't think I can pull off a Felty video until this passes, at least a bit.  That, or I need a better decongestant.

The good news is the future Mrs. Tenkar is no longer in a bootie and crutches due to a broken foot.  Nope, she's mobile again.  Great news for her and even better news for me... taking her too and from work on my way too and from work had more then doubled my commute.  Not to mention the $13 in bridge tolls I had to pay that I normally don't.  So, big win all around I'd have to say ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Taking a Peek at Realm Works (Campaign Organizer)

As I was flipping thru my virtual issue of Kobold #19 (more on that later) I came across an ad for Realm Works from Lone Wolf Development.  These are the folks who do Hero Lab, which is a character manager program for 3.5 / Pathfinder, which has impressed me with what I've seen of it.

From the screen shots, Realm Works look a lot like NBOS' The Keep software but upgraded four years later.  In other words, it looks like it might actually help run your campaign,

It is genre and play style neutral, so I'm assuming (hoping) that is is also system neutral.

It looks to me that this is something that could also be used to supplement a Virtual Table Top campaign (VTT), as there is mention of "ndependent player viewing and comments via the cloud"

Actually, there seems to be a decent amount of integration with online resources, as there is a private forum with full linking of game content.  I really need to look into this.  Looks to release in 2012.

Random Fall Thoughts

I've made it to October 20th with short sleeves and no jacket, but I think I'll have to dig into the closet shortly. While it would be fun to say I made it to November 1st without putting a jacket on, I don't think it is feasible ;)

There is a difference between taking pieces of another's work, adding your own name to it and claiming ownership and making a copy of a PDF or a music track for a friend. The first one, you are actually taking claim to another's creativity - in the second case, while you may be causing a publisher a loss of potential income, in many cases, the friend would never have made the purchase anyway. Torrenting and such is a whole other level - that is organized distribution of works one does not have the right to distribute.

Yes, it's all shades of grey. I think the responsibility of a writer / publisher to produce works that don't infringe on the rights of other writers / producers is huge. Not just from a legal standard, but a moral standard too.

So, if I were asked, I'd have to say a writer / publisher that improperly uses the work of others is more offensive to me then someone who torrents the works of others. Someone that copies a PDF for a friend to peruse? On the same level as the photocopied copy of Deity & Demigods I have with Elric and the Mythos stuff that was later removed

As for using somebody else's copyrighted work in a houserules project that is staying within your group? Have at it. That's what gaming is all about.

Delving Into the Kindreds in Tunnels & Trolls: Skeletons

Thanks to Captain Oblivious for pointing out that the invisible flesh skeletons were seen in the Lieber's Lankmar. It's been ages since I've read the books, but that is where the itch in the back of my noggin musta come from - familiar yet not.

I believe Mongoose has a Lankmar book out for use with it's Runequest rules - I could probably crib some info from there if I had the book, but I don't, so I'm just going to wing it.

"Skeletons" as a race (not the walking undead) are very similar to humans, both in appearance (well, except for the translucent / invisible flesh). Attribute wise, the only attribute with a modifier is Charisma, which gets .25 added to it. Not a huge modifier by far, and certainly not to an attribute that comes into play often.

In many ways, they are like normal humans, except that their flesh and skin are nearly invisible. When looking thru a Skeleton, one sees the bones and a slightly distorted view of what is behind them (think of looking thru a curved fish tank full of water). Because of this, when unclothed and unarmored, Skeletons can decrease the saving throw they need to successfully hide by one SR level, or increase the SR level by one of those looking to find the hidden skeleton.

Skeletons are not immune to the effects of temperature or weather, and generally wear clothes and armor like normal humans. As such, a clothed, gloves and deeply hooded skeleton can often pass as a human at a quick glance.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Defining the Kindreds in Tunnels & Trolls: Picking Over the Rare Pieces

There are (if I counted correctly) 32 "rare" kindreds in Tunnels & Trolls 7.5e. This includes the various varieties of trolls and such.

Some of the kindreds kinda stick out when I look at the list:

Merperson - safe to assume they can breath water, but can they survive on land?

Skeleton - I seem to recall from somewhere that these are humans with transparent flesh and organs. Could be interesting.

Urook - orcs?

Ghoul - although Vampires are also on the list, I don't think these are meant to be undead. Eaters of human flesh perhaps, but not undead.

Balrukh - dying to figure out what the heck these guys are.

So, when I start defining the kindreds, I'll pick and choose my way thru the list, depending on what strikes my fancy at the moment.

I hoping it's a fun trip for all ;)

I've Got Some Google Music Beta Invites to Give Out!

I just got invited to the Google Music Beta last nite by a friend, and lo and behold, I have four invites left to give out myself (had 8, but 4 are spoken for).

Google Music is cloud storage and access for your music. It can hold 20,000 songs if I remember right. Highly integrated with google android (i'm an iphone / ipad user myself) it still seems pretty good in linking my music between my computers.

First four to ask for it in the comments to this post should get their invites sometime tonight (I'm at work on my ipad, so you'll have to wait until I get home).

Obscure your email address in the usual ways ;)

More then four can ask, and if I get access to other invites, they'll be the next to get.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Iron Chef Adventure Challenge: The Unwrapping

Mike Monaco over at the Swords & Dorkery Blog is running an Iron Chef Adventure Challenge using unopened decks of the 1992 AD&D 2e Collector's Cards (say that 5 times fast).  My deck arrived today.  Saweet!

16 cards.  Need to use at least 8. Shouldn't be too hard.

Ack!  3 checklists.  Effectively down to 13 cards before I even start.

6 Al-Qadim cards - 5 monsters and 1 character.  Half my effective deck.  I see a theme here ;)

2 Ravenloft - 1 monster, 1 character

2 Forgotten Realms - both characters

1 Spelljammer and 1 Dragonlance - both characters.

1 AD&D 2e character - which is really Oriental Adventures in this case.

Interesting challenge I've drawn.  Shame I never owned Al-Qadim :(

Washing Away the Piss n' Vinegar

I'm okay now. My piss and vinegar is gone. Time to breath deep of the beauty that is the hobby we call role-playing.

Which is good. I was close to doing a Feltothraxis video that, although it probably would have been funny as hell, would have channeled way too much of the piss and vinegar I was carrying over the weekend. Felty doesn't need that burden attached to him.

How did I let it go? Some G+ posts and comments about Occupy Wall Street. Cause the small pile of poo caused by someone that doesn't understand copyrights or the OGL doesn't compare to the powder kegs that are waiting for a match to go boom.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Defining the Kindreds in Tunnels & Trolls - The Basics - Leprechauns

What exactly is a Leprechaun in Tunnels & Trolls?  Is it the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" little man in a green suit and a funny hat that talks with a brogue?  Not according to the artwork on page 25 of of the T&T 7.5e rulebook.  He stands about as high as a Hobb's shoulders, with a short beard and elvish ears.  So, to me this makes him closer to a gnome in appearance then a classic leprechaun of modern lore.

Leprechauns are one of the few races with a footnote (and the only one of the common kindreds to have such).  We are told that all leprechauns are wizards.  We are also told they have a natural Wink-Wing spell that they can do without any magical training... but as they are all wizards, aren't they all magically trained?  Oh, and the spell was moved from the core book to theCodex Incantatem - no idea why.  It is 4th level, so I guess the Leprechauns get to learn it early and for free.  It even costs them no WIZ points to cast it - it's totally free, but you won't know that until you read the spell description.

Stat-wise they take 1/2 hit to STR and and extra 50% to DEX, INT and LK.  Even with their hit to STR, they should still be able to tweak out decent combat adds if they want to.

Not sure how to tweak them.  Truth, I don't think they need any.  The free Wink-Wing spell is a great "get out of melee range free" card to play.  They make great scouts with it's use and should rarely find themselves cornered.  I think I've overlooked their sue in the past.  I need to make up for that.

"It's Free" Does Not Mean "Free for all!"

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, but this crap really annoys me. Probably even more so, as I get alerts from OBS for most of the OSR releases. I like to pass that info on to my readers as soon as I can, and in doing so I got burned by the same person twice.

Just because you are releasing your latest set of houserules for free it doesn't mean you don't have to follow the law.

Let me put it another way. John gives Mike a free joint. Free as in "Yo man! Just take it. I made it special. It's free!" Guess what, in the eyes of the law (at least under the NYS Penal Law)
John just "sold" Mike marijuana. Criminal Sale of Marijuana. No money needs to exchange hands.

Releasing your latest and greatest plagiarized piece of work for free is no different than asking cash for it. Hell, you might as well ask cash for it - it's product lifetime is gonna be short either way, you may as well make a few bucks off of it.

I'm wondering what his third release will be. You know he has something waiting in the wings.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two For Two - Or is it "Oh!" For Two?

The author of the OSRIC Players Reference (NOT to be confused with the OSRIC Player's Guide) and The Mazes & Perils OSR clone / rip / pilfered from the bones of the Original D&D Boxed set and Holmes Basic, has managed to have both of his projects pulled from OneBookShelf / RPGNow.

Or maybe he had them both pulled on his own.  Somehow I doubt that.  Because if that was the case, he never would have put his second project up on OBS - he would have learned his lesson with his first f' up.

If you want to do a bunch of house rules using copyrighted material, ignoring the OGL, go at it.  DON'T try to distribute it into the RPG wilds, even for free, especially not via a company like OBS and it's like.  Why put a company like OBS in the possible sights of WotC / Hasbro because your ego prevents you from following the rules (OGL / copyright law).  It has to be ego.  Even stupidity has a failsafe mechanism.  Besides, stupid wouldn't have been able to put together the packages he did, which, although far from perfect, were certainly serviceable.

Next time your ego demands that you ignore the law (and the polite niceties of the OSR in general), host it yourself.  That way your ego can get stroked and the lawyers can cut out the middle man when the cease and desist comes your way.

Busy Weekend Here at the Tavern

Yesterday wasn't just who's the latest ass in the OSR.  It was also getting 3 piece suits for my son and I (he's also the best man for the upcoming nuptials).  It was also family coming down from Canada to visit for a few days.

Today was paying off the florist, a meet and great with the organist and getting some face time (and giving a deposit to) the photographer.  He seems to be down to earth with a relaxed personality.  I think it will all fall into place like a well oiled machine.

So, obviously no Feltothraxis video was done over the weekend.  Hopefully tomorrow.  I suspect he'll have a lot to say ;)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mini Review - Dark Times in Brighton - (Labyrinth Lord Adventure)

I'm very happy I found Dark Times in Brighton.  After yesterday's fiasco I needed something to brighten my mood, and this was it.  Dark Times in Brighton is an adventure / local setting / possible sandbox for 1st and 2nd level characters using the Labyrinth Lord rules (but easily used with most of not all of the various retro clones).  The publisher, DWD Studios, was apparently started by two of the guys involved with the StarFrontiersman magazine.  If you've ever red the mag, you know they do good stuff.  Dark Times in Brighton is no different.

Bookmarked PDF?  Check

Author's notes to give insights to the read inter spread though out the adventure?  Check

Professional looking layout and artwork?  Yep

Interesting adventure and surrounding lands?  Present

Top quality maps?  Score!

This really is a complete package to start a new campaign, either dropped in your own campaign world or building out from the area described within.  I fully expect (or at least hope) that DWD Studios plans to continue building around this particular neck in the woods.  It would make for a nice campaign.

From the blurb:
Dark Times in Brighton is an adventure for four to six characters of 1st - 2nd level.  Although designed as a Labyrinth LordTM compatible product, It is easily compatible with most fantasy RPG systems.  In addition to the adventure itself, contained within these pages are details of Brighton and its people, a town that could easily become an important part of your character's careers as adventurers. 
The town of Brighton exists in the north, at the source of the Daakencraags where the Darkenwolde Forest shades the winding Brother’s River. The legendary adventurer, Richan Thatcher (along with his party of adventurers) carved the place away from a once mighty goblin kingdom. It has prospered for many long decades, until now. 
Townsfolk are disappearing from the surrounding countryside. Goblins are on the march once more. If that wasn’t enough, a terrible blighting disease has infected the waters and not even the curative magics of the Temple of the Winds can thwart it. This is indeed a very dark time for Brighton. 
Too old to do anything about it himself, Thatcher has sent out a call to any adventurers who will swear their swords to his mighty town and its innocent people. 
Are your players hero enough to face down a growing goblin horde? Are they brave enough to fell the mighty goblin shaman, Vir-Kayik? Are they clever enough to find the source of the blight and cleanse the town’s water source? Are they the light to end these dark times in Brighton?

Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice,

... and you're an azzhole.  It's really that simple.

Mazes & Perils, the "retro RPG clone" that hit OneBookShelf yesterday is written by the same idjit that put out the short lived OSRIC Player's Reference.  You remember, the one that had stolen artwork on it's cover.

That was a stealth release, without fanfare in the blogoshere as was this.  I linked it because, generally speaking, more is better when it comes to our gaming options.  I did wonder about the use of both "hobbit" and "halfling" on the same pages, as that was a sign of either bad editing or copy / pasting from original sources, but I really don't know the classic D&D books enough to recognize if the tables were being reused from the sources.  Thanks to the research last nite (sorry, I was sleeping.. heh) by ADD Grognard, James from the Underdark Gazette and austrodavicus Mazes & Perils has been revealed as the cut-n-paste job and copyright violation it is.

Vincent Florio - This F-U is for you!  Your first time not understanding the OGL and copyright laws were annoying yet forgivable, but you second time reveals you as the ass you are.  Even if your defense is that you are a clueless ass, you are still an ass.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mini Review - Mazes & Perils Core Rules (OSR Clone)

From my (admittedly) quick glance of the rules, Mazes & Perils appears to be a retro clone of the Original Collector's Box and the First Basic Set.  Which is all fine and dandy, until I find it referring to "hobbits" on page 3 and referring to them as "halflings" on the same page.  That's keeping to the original just a tad TOO much if you ask me.

No class as race stuff, thieves are included, exceptional strength on a roll of 18,  adjusted d6 for HP, no cleric spells at 1st level, 5 alignments and only fighting men advance in combat ability (damn you Raggi!).

I couldn't find weapon damage.  It's probably 1d6 no matter the weapon, but my quick perusal couldn't find it.  If you find it, please point it out to me ;)

The price is free. 62 pages for a complete game. Which means I'll need to link this on the left AND include it on the difficulty scale I'm working on.

From the blurb:

Welcome to fantasy gaming, welcome to when things were simple, where you had man with a sword and magic user with spells. No powers here, no special abilities, no roll checks to see if you find something. Everything here is just guidelines for playing your favorite fantasy game that everyone talks about. This game is based off of rules created in the late '70s of the very popular fantasy roleplaying game!

Occupy Greyhawk!

I so very much want to post about the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, but as I detest political (all talk about the protest seems to draw political comments from both / all / infinite sides) blog posts on gaming blogs, I'm leaving that my Google+ account (Erik Tenkar).

Still, it makes one (or at least me) think about such a movement in our standard fantasy worlds. I could see such a movement being quickly crushed in The City of Greyhawk if it got too large, but a small protest might be tolerated. It would probably be backed by the Scarlet Brotherhood, as they seemed to have their fingers in about every source of discontent in that area of the world.

In Ank-Morpok, I suspect the Patrician would allow the protest to run it's course, perceiving it as useful manner to let the populace let off some steam. Heck, he might even be the one pulling the strings behind it all, as causing the Guilds trouble would strengthen his already strong hand. You'd never be able to prove it tho'.

In the Forgotten Realms, a city the size of Waterdeep could have a movement like this going on and 90% of the populace would never know. It's just to large a city. Would the Lords try to put a lid on it? Maybe once it started hurting the city coffers.

The PCs could always be recruited to infiltrate such a movement or even used as muscle to shut it down. Perhaps they could be recruited by the movement leaders themselves (such as there are) to provide security against goons hired by various merchant and trading guilds looking to put an end to protests that are hurting their business.

Maybe the PCs get involved when the movement is just starting and they find it's direction is being usurped as it grows in size by unknown interests. Maybe they get recruited by one faction of the movement to spy on another faction.

Even better would be if their own actions inadvertently started the movement. They see the protesters with painted signs depicting members of the party. Maybe their actions were a positive influence, or maybe the protest sprouted in reaction to the party itself.

and Now for Something Completely Different

Hopefully tonight I'll have some free time and me able to get the next Feltothraxis episode filmed and uploaded. If not, I'll make sure I get some more Felty practice in with my 10 month old niece - she'll be visiting tomorrow and she certainly likes the dragon.

I'm still hurting from yesterday - long and stressful. I just need to sleep in tomorrow and all will be right with the world. Lesson learned - do not keep a half filled water glass anywhere near the edge of my desk - the cat will surely knock it down and soak some choice RPG books - sigh.

Just over 3 weeks to the big day. Holy carp! heh

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where Does Your Comfort Zone Fall Regarding the Complexity of the RPGs You Like to Play?

(I'm purposefully avoiding the word "Crunch" regarding rules complexity in RPGs, as some have voiced an opinion in the past that they find it offensive.)

How much complexity, or lack there of, do you (generally) like in the RPGs that you play?

Does your preference change if you are GM'ing instead of playing? If so, why?

Does the genre (fantasy / sci-fi / horror / etc) have an effect on the amount of rules complexity you can tolerate? Again, if so, why?

Just some questions that occurred to me as I've been thinking about the gaming complexity chart I'm working on.

Pinning Down the Middle

If Weird West anchors the "Simple" side of the list and one of the Hackmasters anchor the "Complex" side of the list, I need to pin something for the "Average" middle of the list.

I'm thinking Swords & Wizardry Core to mark the middle, although there is a lot of subjectivity to it all, it seems to fit there fairly well. S&W Whitebox would then sit at "Fairly Simple" and S&W Complete would sit at "Fairly Complex".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And So It Grows...

The List is growing.  I'm actually very excited to see how everything falls into place.  I suspect Weird West will be the marker for the "Simple" side of things and Hackmaster will settle in to mark the "Complex" side of things, but where it all falls in between the extremes should be fun to see.

Feel free to continue to add to the list.  I still have a few suggestions I need to look over before adding.  Once the D&D inspired OSR list is completed (and I'll be adding the original D&D / AD&D editions to the list) I'll add in other classics, like Traveller, Rolemaster, Dragonquest, Tunnels & Trols and a bunch of others.

I just need to start with a controlled list before greatly expanding it ;)

I'm Making a List, I'm Checking It Twice!

So, with the entirely subjective list of D&D influenced OSR games ordered by complexity of rules, I find myself trying define the parameters of the list.

I'm inclined NOT to include sci-fi games, but there are 2 outstanding choices that practically beg to be included: Stars Without Numbers and X-plorers. So maybe they should be included for completeness if nothing else.

I've decided that the rules must be available in English. If I can't read the rules, I'll be unable to evaluate how complex the rules are.

They don't have to be free (although most seem to have a free PDF version available). If something that isn't on my initial list is available at RPGNow, point that out to me. Or point me to where it can be found - my google-fu is decent but by no means perfect.

I'm figuring to use the following "Bands" to indicate complexity:


Fairly Simple


Fairly Complex


The labels may change, but those are the groupings I'm looking at.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Help Me Complete My List of OSR Style D&D Derivatives

Well, if I'm going to group the OSR games by complexity, I need to ensure I have a complete list. Here's what I have so far, add away please!

LotFP Weird Fantasy - Deluxe
LotFP Weird Fantasy - Grindhouse
Labyrinth Lord
Labyrinth Lord - AEC
Swords & Wizardry - Whitebox
Swords & Wizardry - Core
Swords & Wizardry - Complete
Basic Fantasy RPG
Dark Dungeons
Microlite 74 Basic
Microlite 74 Standard
Microlite 74 Extended
Adventures Dark & Deep
Castles & Crusades
Hackmaster 4e
Hackmaster 5e
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Adventurer Conqueror King Sytem
The Secret Fire
Spellcraft & Swordplay*
Weird West (not standard fantasy, but still fantastic)*
For Gold and Glory (i missed this from my own list on the left)*
Myth & Magic (you need to register for the forums to DL the rules)
Beacon (nice free suggested RPG)*

I need to hyperlink all this at some point ;)

*edit added based on suggestions

Because This One Goes to Eleven!

Has anyone put together a list of the D&D retroclones / derivatives and the like in order of relative rules complexity? I'm avoiding the "crunch" label so as not to offend sensitive readers.

I'm talking everything from Swords & Wizardry (all 3 flavors) to Hackmaster (2 flavors) and everything in between and beyond. Besides being a useful list of clones in general, a nice chart would help the prospective GM find a game that is right for his gaming style while still being familiar to those that grew up on Gygax D&D up though Pathfinder.

I realize that much of this would be subjective, and the complexity label might work better as a general banding system.

If it hasn't been done yet, would there be an interest in seeing one get completed?

Of Felt and Men

I'm going to be collecting some of the best bits n' pieces of the Name the Nameless Dragon Campaign and putting them in a single blog post. There is some killer stuff that was posted for it and I still laugh thinking about it.

I don't call the Feltothraxis vids "reviews", as he doesn't so much review as remark. Unless, of course, I have a real dog for him to talk about. I'm sure that would count as a review by the time he is finished ;)

Now, on to Hackmaster. I never realized how loyal (if small) a following the game had until I reviewed The Dusk of the Dead. Apparently, I should have used my trained investigator skills to track down the missing rules for characters above fifth level. I stopped after checking the Kenzerco website and finding the Hackmaster Basic Rules as the only rules listed under Hackmaster Core section. Next time I'll make sure to cast ESP on my Crystal Ball and read Kenzerco's collective mindset.

In all seriousness, the least they could do is make a reference as to where you can find and BUY the relevant rules, either on the web page with the Core Rules or in the Dusk of the Dead adventure itself.

Heck, it's not like the rules are needed to run the adventure, but since Mr. Kenzer made reference to them by including them in the suggested PC level range, it would have been a nice gesture (and probably a good business decision) to point the reader in the right direction.

I mean, reading the adventure got me thinking about possibly using the HM Basic rules (which is a damn good job, as they are a bit more convoluted then I normally look to use these days).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Feltothraxis Looks at OD&D (vidblog)

The Newly Named Dragon - Feltothraxis - takes a look at the oldest gem in his horde of RPGs - Original Dungeons & Dragons.

We actually had a camera man for this one - my son was behind the lens.  In the background you can hear the Dachshund walking around on the wood floor - I think we need to trim her nails ;)

Oh, outtakes are on the end :)

Latest Peek at the iTabletop VTT

I have a special place in my gaming heart for the iTabletop/Pandoren Virtual Table Top. It's come far from it's early start as a web-camera / chat interface and is now nearly a full service VTT that has build in video and voice chat.

It is still missing a Whiteboard, which from my point of view is more important then the video or voice features (especially now with G+ available for free and its video / voice feature).

ITT is free these days. It wasn't always, and it may not be for much longer, as the "Free to Play" experiment isn't bringing in the Ad revenue that was expected it seems. The cost for the servers alone is about $600 a month apparently. That's a huge amount for the small company to have to put up front each month.

I'm one of the "lifers", having purchased not one, but two lifetime accounts when they were trying to raise the initial funds for the upgrade. I give the guys credit, they're still plugging away at it, but at some point their dream of making this their full time paying gig is going to give way to the need to support themselves (if it hasn't already).

I've always seen the potential of iTabletop and I check in every few months to see if it's where I need it to be to work for me. It isn't, at least not for my needs.

I suspect when my campaign finally gets of the ground, I'll be using a combination of Fantasy Grounds 2 and Google+. It's not the cleanest solution to meet my needs and desires, but it's the closest I think I can come to my ideal VTT... at least until iTabletop reaches it's true potential.

Defining the Kindreds in Tunnels & Trolls - The Basics - Hobbs

Hobbs, Hobbits, Halflings - if you've read or watched the Lord of the Rings, you know what they entail. Big feet, small height, paunchy, like to smoke pipe-weed... the whole package. Still, what does that mean in Tunnels & Trolls?

Starting attributes are adjusted as follows: Str is halved, Dex and Lk are increased by 50%, Con is doubled height is halved. A weak yet tough race. Well suited for the Roguish life, they can make effective Warriors if they can survive the early adventures in T&T 7.5e.

So, what can we do to add some flavor to Hobbs in our T&T games? All Hobbs get the Thievery Talent for free, above and beyond any others they might choose. Not all use it for thievery, as slight of hand and the like has many uses, but all have knowledge of it. This is known by the other kindreds, and Hobbs are often viewed with some suspicion when they are new to an area and have yet to prove themselves.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm a Mac - and - I'm a PC

I finally BootCamped my iMac with Win7 Ultimate.  Which also means I've been installing Fantasy Grounds 2 and all the rulesets I own.  I'd like to get something up and running in December, either thru FG2, G+ or a combination of the 2.  More when I know.  In the meantime, reinstalling many games via Steam.

Never got the chance to do new video with "Felty" today.  Hopefully tomorrow.

Sunday Thoughts

Well, it's a football afternoon here in NYC, as both the Giants and the Jets have games today.  The Giants are playing some horribly sloppy football, so I'm only half watching, and half surfing the web.

I see that Green Ronin has released a Tablet Enhanced Edition of the Song of Fire and ICE rpg PDF.  I'll be peeking at this over the next few days.  I haven't taken a close look at this before, so I'll be checking both the system and the presentation.

Another on my "must review soon" list is Ashen Stars from Pelgrane Press.  It uses the GUMSHOE engine, which I'm not very familiar with, but I love space opera type settings and RPGs, so I need to to give this one a close look.

There's some fiction I want to look at too, but my current ability to stay focused on a single work of fiction has been strained recently - I'll see how well I can do.

If I can get the cat off my desk I'll try and put up another web episode of the Dragon  ;)

Mini Review - Dusk of the Dead (Hackmaster)

I'm a bit undecided about the relatively new Hackmaster Basic.  The system as presented is certainly viable, but with only the first 5 levels of character advancement covered, the scope of the game is fairly limited.  Then there is the problem of limited adventures and such for the system.

The latest adventure for Hackmaster is Dusk of the Dead, for characters of levels 5-7.  As Hackmaster Basic only covers up to level 5, does this mean that Hackmaster Advanced is just around the corner?  I don't know.

Dusk of the Dead is made to work as a followup to Frandor's Keep, so it can easily be dropped into the setting presented there or used on it's own.  Still, it works best with Frandor's Keep.

DotD doesn't have bookmarks, which probably aren't too useful in a short piece like this, but it does have hyperlinks.  Some, admittedly, are links back to the Kenzerco website, but most of them are aids to navigate the adventure.  I love me some hyperlinks, and I think they are well done for the most part.  Heck, even the maps have hyperlinks back to the room descriptions.

The maps are excellent BTW.  Nice use of B&W line drawings.

As for the adventure itself, it looks like a fun adventure for a Halloween themed nite of gaming.  Still, I suspect it might be a tough for a party on the low end of the 5-7 level range.  As Hackmaster Basic only goes to level 5, the whole party will be on the low end at this point.  Any news on when Hackmaster Advanced is coming out?

From the blurb:

"The long hours on the road have left you yearning for a good night’s rest at your favorite way station. Decent food, a clean bed and live entertainment have never sounded so good – especially so with those storm clouds looming on the horizon, mounting winds and periodic raindrops heralding some fouler weather to come. The warm glow of a fire and a hot meal will be welcome, but where is the wait staff?”

Dusk of the Dead is a new HackMaster adventure featuring a variety of challenges designed for four to six 5th to 7th level player characters.

Detailing a haunted location off the beaten path, Dusk of the Dead may be used by itself as a stand-alone one-shot adventure or easily placed anywhere in the wilderness of an ongoing campaign. Located in the wilderness near Frandor’s Keep, just off the Borderland Road, Dusk of the Dead may also be employed as a follow-on for characters completing the Frandor’s Keep mini-campaign and/or as an add-on or segue into the Mines of Chaos series of adventures. The adventure contains a myriad of hooks and ideas for introducing players to the scenario as well as follow-on integration for on-going play with Frandor’s Keep, the local towns of Vew and Sabden, as well as direct connections to the City-State of P’Bapar.

Like all Kenzer and Company products, Dusk of the Dead was designed with you in mind. The PDF is designed both for traditional use on a PC or to print out on your own as well as being optimized for tablet use with internal hyperlinks that allow you to tap on a map and jump right to the description or to follow other internal references direct to the relevant page! We prepare all the details so you can spend less time flipping pages (real or virtually) and more time gaming. Gamemastering has never been so easy or so much fun!

Dusk of the Dead also features maps and illustrations by Knights of the Dinner Table's favorite cartographer Craig Zipse!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hi, I'm Felt... Feltothraxis

Yep, Feltothraxis is his name...oh!

Alright, maybe you can't squeeze the name into the "Bingo" song, but it is the winner.  The Nameless Dragon is now named "Feltothraxis".  Long live the Dragon!

Sully was a strong second ;)

JDJarvis suggested Feltothraxis.  JD, drop me an email at trubluniteATgmailDOTcom with the email you use at OneBookShelf and I'll forward it on to the lads at OneBookShelf for your $10 gift certificate.  It may take a day or two as this is the weekend.

Matthew W. Schmeer suggested Sully.  Matt, send me your OneBookShelf email and I'll hook you up with a copy of Bean! The D2 RPG in PDF.

Thanks to all for the suggestions.  Thanks to all that voted.  Thanks to everyone that has watch the little fella on video.  More to come from Feltothraxis ;)

In a Few Hours The Dragon's True Name Will Be Known

As I type this, the Name the Nameless Dragon Poll has about 9 hours left.  With Sully conceding, it looks like Feltothraxis will be the dragons "true name", with all rewards and responsibilities regarding such falling on the submitter of the name (damn, that sounds like true "legalese"... heh), assuming no one successfully mounts a challenge over the next few hours.

It ain't over 'till it's over... but it's probably over ;)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Everything I Needed to Know, A Dragon Taught Me

This contest has taken a life of it's own. I may need to quote from some of the best comments to make sure the posters get the attention (and laughs) they deserve once this runs it's course.

I believe the poll ends sometime tomorrow. I should be able to announce the winners sometime tomorrow evening / sunday morning the latest.

It looks to be a two dragon race between Ullduthindor and Sully, but I do expect this to go down to the wire.

Soon the Dragon shall have a name ;)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mini Review - Crusader # 25 (Castles & Crusades)

Sometimes you need to take a break.  Sometimes you need a reboot.  Crusader #25 seems to be both.  Long time readers of this blog should remember my previous posts of the Crusader Magazine under the auspices of James Ward.  I was far from kind.

Move ahead to now, and I am very suprised.  This is most certainly not the Crusader that I learned to louth and, lets face it, you probably felt the same with those issues too.

This is a new magazine.

Forget the News & Culture section.  Interesting, but all of the articles are dated.

The Gen Con article?  It's alright.

Dropping Into Adventure: An Unorthodox Approach to Beginning a Dungeon Crawl - my God!  A real article in an issue of Crusader!  It's decent too.

Movie, game and book reviews.  Eh, nothing special.

New Class for C&C:  The Pankratiast - A Western Monk.  This isn't the Crusader I knew and hated.  This is a real resource.  This is also a decent class.

A Stairway to the Gods.  An honest to God adventure.  In Crusader.  What is the world coming to?

Historical Footnotes.  Classic armor and weapons for Mesopotamia.  Nice illustrations.  Useful article.  In Crusader.  I'm still stunned.

There's some other stuff: fiction, a deity write up, new magic items, comics...

Useful, interesting, well written, articles that aren't just advertisements for the C&C product line... Crusader 25 is a keeper in my book.

A Tight Race in the Name the Nameless Dragon Poll

Holy Democracy Batman! We've had over 75 voters so far for the Name the Nameless Dragon Poll. Every morning I wake up and I'm very pleasantly surprised at the votes that have been tallied overnite.

The current vote leader is Sully with 20 votes, Feltothraxis in a close second place with 17 and Ullduthindor still in the race with 14 votes.

If you haven't cast your vote(s) yet, do so. The poor dragon needs a name and only YOU can choose it! ;)

Make 'Em Walk the Plank!

I just started reading the latest RPGNow.com newsletter. Sean Fannon (he who writes it) often has some nice thoughts he puts down on paper but this one has some priceless thoughts on e-book publishing. One piece really sticks out to me:

Forget pirates. Seriously. Forget about them entirely. There is NO percentage in wasting any time on the matter. Any stringent efforts you make to combat pirates will only serve to annoy and drive away your legitimate customers. The music industry first proved all of this for us, and our own experiences have born the truth out utterly. Measures that do not impact your customer experience in any way are reasonable; anything else hurts more than helps. The most important truth here is that legitimate customers WANT to be legitimate customers; pirates are NOT lost sales. :: end quote

I wonder if WotC will ever see things in this light?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Color Me Surprised!

The Name the Nameless Dragon Poll seems to have taken on a life of it's own.  At least 3 fellow bloggers are putting on a "get out the vote" movement.  Believe it or not, this is as much fun for me as it is for you.  Heck, I had to stop reading the blog at work for fear of laughing out loud at my desk.

All that and Conan O'Brien stopped by the building I work in trying to do a skit of sorts... he hijacked a Chinese Food delivery guy and was going to deliver the food himself.  Only problem is it was food going to my Lt. and myself.  She was very surprised, very annoyed and long story short we didn't get our order after she turned around and walked away.  Maybe I should have asked Conan for a few naming suggestions ;)

Holy Sheep!

Just curious, but has anyone found they needed a detailed write up of "sheep" in their campaign? I only ask because at the moment "Sheep" is in the top 5 hottest at RPG now. (on the right sidebar of this blog)

Those sheep can be really dangerous!

Sad Dragon Needs a Name

Just a quick update on the Naming the Nameless Dragon Poll. We currently have 43 readers that have cast votes with 3 days to go... nicely done! Keep 'em coming.

Feltothraxis has a bit of a "grass roots" movement behind it and is currently in the lead with 10 votes, followed by Sully, Tenkasarus and Ulduthindor in the top 3 spots.

With 3 days left to vote, it's still anyone's guess ;)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

X-plorers Boxed Set X2

I got my 2 boxes of the X-plorers Boxed Set - #52 and #60 of 200.  Pretty damn cool!

One minor quibble - the maps are awesome but they don't want to lay flat - they were shipped rolled and want to stay such.  Folding them would have been painful, I'm sure, but I've already creased them trying to get them to stay flat.  Like I said, very minor complaint.

I noticed one typo - a reference to a "strength bonus" on page 30, which is obviously a hold over from the  OGL rules X-plorers is built upon (it should be referring to Physique, which is combination of Strength and Constitution).  I only noticed this as page 30 is the first page I opened at and started reading right away.

Anyhow, very high quality boxed set, but I expected nothing less from Brave Halfling Publishing.
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