Saturday, February 12, 2011

Time For Me to Avoid Ebay For a While...

Yep, I need to step away from online acquisitions of my gaming material for a bit. Not for anything stupid or horrid. Not because I over extended myself (but damn, I can see the possibility). I need to step away because I've found most of what I was looking for.

I actually found (and I'm awaiting delivery) of a copy of Tunnels & Trolls 3e (otherwise known as British 1e, tho i see 2 copies of a 3e that look just like my 2e... My head hurts) Not a reprint. An actual copy. With the exception of T&T 1e (100 hand assembled copies, so I'm not holding my breath on this one) I will have copies from 2e thru 7.5e. Saweet!

There are still some T&T items I'll be looking for, such as Sorcerer's Apprentice issues to fill the holes of my collection, but I find myself bidding on things for the thrill, and not so much for the need. Then again, a second print of Chivalry and Sorcery is pretty cool - but it doesn't address my desire for a fairly complete Tunnels & Trolls collection.

Well, maybe I won't go totally cold turkey, but I will be much more focused in what I am looking for. Besides, I need to complete renovations so I can display my goodies in my future Man Cave ;)

Mini Review - Fields of Battle (For Castles & Crusades)

I'm actually fairly surprised and impressed with the latest (at least in PDF format) release from Troll Lord Games for their Castles & Crusades RPG.  Fields of Battle is a package of mass combat rules, full color counters and outdoor battle mats.

My last attempt to try and do mass combat with any of the D&D/ AD&D type games was Battlesystem.  Not fun.  At first glance (which is all I've had tie for so far) Field of Battle looks much less painful.  Actually, it looks like it should work pretty well.

Perhaps my favorite thing in the whole package is the idea of using it with other OGL based RPGs:

Fields of Battle™ and Other Game Systems
While Fields of Battle™ is as a mass combat system designed for use with Castles & Crusades (C&C), the system is highly adaptable to your favorite fantasy role-playing game, especially those games (old or new) using a 20-sided die(d20) for game resolution. Converting for use with d20-basedgames, in fact, is easiest overall, as these games have similar game concepts to those presented within C&C and Fields of Battle™: armor class (AC), hit points (hp), hit dice (HD), attack bonuses (AB), movement rate, morale, and saving throws. Additionally, many of the monsters and player races will be familiar to d20 gamers. Still, Game Masters (calledCastle Keepers in C&C) unfamiliar with d20-based games can easily master these game concepts, making Fields of Battle™ a viable mass combat system for those games, as well—with a little translation work on the Game Master’s part.

Yep, with a little work, this could fit in your Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry DM's toolbox, which is always great to add to.

The rules include sample scenarios, which are good to read to get a feeling of how to balance a battle, but if I were to use these rules it would be as part of a campaign, not as a stand alone product (it can be used as either).  You do not need to buy the C&C rules to use Fields of Battle - the Quickstart rules should be enough to cover any terms you may not be familiar with.

It's a good, complete product that addresses a niche rarely covered in most RPG rules - mass combat.  Whether you need such rules for your game is up to you, and depends on the story you are telling as a GM.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Paper or PDF?

RPGs are an area where PDF publishing thrives. It lowers the barriers to publishing and can (in theory) result in lower consumer prices. Still, many folks prefer paper. Lets see how they stack up to each other.

Cost - PDF versions are generally the cheaper alternative, which is always a selling point.

Portability - Depends on what you read your PDFs on. An iPad, tablet or ebook reader can store hundreds of PDFs and are extremely portable. So can your desktop, but that isn't very portable.

Marking Up - While there are programs and applications that allow one to mark up PDFs, it's easier and quicker to mark up / make notes on a paper copy.

Bathroom Reading - Paper. It just doesn't seem right having my iPad in there. Besides, reading in the tub is definitely a paper situation. Less to risk with accidental immersion.

Ease of Flipping Thru - Unless the PDF is well bookmarked, it's way easier to flip thru a paper copy then a PDF copy.

Less Tangibles - You can throw a book across the room in disgust with generally less damage then you can an iPad or laptop. PDFs are much easier to make backup copies of. Some people just prefer the feeling of a book. PDFs take up much less storage space. PDFs can be corrected by the publisher, paper books may get an errata sheet.

I'm sure there's more to add to the list...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mini review - Knowledge Illuminates (For Swords & Wizardry)

Knowledge Illuminates is the first in a series of One Shot Adventures from Tim Shorts (of the blog Gothridge Manor).  Written for Swords & Wizardry, but usable with any of the Old School rulesets, we are presented with a semi-sandbox that serves as a very nice campaign starter.

I call it a semi-sandbox, as the area map includes only the area local to the main encounter location, and there are no population centers on that map.  So the GM will need to set the players upon the road to adventure.  Thankfully, Tim has provided the GM with an assortment of interesting hooks to get the players involved in the story.  It's a damn interesting story too.

Nice maps, great hooks, well written adventure.  It's damn close to a home run.  There's always a "but": but there's a handful of typos that spellchecking on the computer won't find, but are noticeable upon reading.  As this is a PDF release, correcting it shouldn't be too big a deal, and it doesn't detract from an otherwise excellent adventure.

Actually, it is almost "rules lite" in nature, as it requires role play and thinking as much as, if not more, then roll play.  Converting this to Tunnels & Trolls should be easy as pie ;)

From the blurb:

Grab your dice and hire some henchmen, you're going to need them.  Knowledge Illuminates is a campaign starter adventure full of possibilities.  Explore a dark fantasy world in search of an unending treasure.  But within this adventure lurks a horror that will haunt the players for years.  So buckle up that helmet, sharpen that sword, and bring an extra pair of iron spikes, this adventure is for the big boys.  
Knowledge Illuminates is the first in the One-Shot Adventure Series. 

VTTs Did a Job on Me... Now I Am a Real Sickie

(with apologies to the Ramones)

I'm aiming to get my Tunnels & Trolls game up and running next month via a Virtual Table Top. I've been heavily leaning towards Fantasy Grounds 2 even though it lacks a T&T specific character sheet. It's the VTT I know the best, at least from the player's side of the screen.

It is Windows only (although I have gotten it to run on my Mac Mini via Crossover),which may or may not be an issue for players.

Maptools is also an option, but I really don't know it well enough to be confident in running a game with it. It is PC / Mac friendly tho, which is allays a plus.

iTabletop has improved in leaps and bound recently, but again, I don't know it well. I'm going to have to spend some time tooling around with it to see if it will come close to what I need it to do (map masking / whiteboard / etc).

Time to check stuff out this weekend.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spotlight - Sacrosanct Games $1 Old School Adventures

Sacrosanct Games has four adventures in it's $ 1adventure series written for OSRIC (and their own house system Altus Adventum).  As always, they are pretty easy to convert on the fly to any of the OSR Clones / Simulacrums / Etc.

They are as follows:

Lair of the Goblin King is the first in a series of adventures that takes the characters from the beginings of their career to eventual heroes.  It is also the first in the unique series of products that includes both an OSRIC compatible version and a version for the Altus Adventum 2nd edition game.

This Adventure is designed for 4-6 1st level characters who find themselves broke and stranded in the city of Piarth.  Just about out of food and ready to give up on an adventuring career, they hear word of a reward for anyone who can find out what is attacking caravans to the border towns.

You have stumbled upon an ancient map to a lost island. The script is like none you've ever seen, but hand written on the map is the word, "gold".

Lost Treasure of Actzimotal is an Adventure Module designed for 5-8 characters of level 3-5 or of Adventurer experience title level, depending on system used.  What make this product unique is that there are two versions included in this PDF.  One version is for OSRIC, AD&D, LL, etc, and the other version is designed for Altus Adventum 2nd edition.  Essentially you get two versions for the price of one!  So use your favorite system and enjoy the adventure.

Barely able to enjoy the spoils from your last adventure, you are soon called upon by the mysterious Inquisitors to investigate rumors of an ogre lord rallying a humaiond army on the western border of the kingdom. Promises of sacks of gold are followed by veiled threats; it seems you have little choice...

A3, Hunt for the Ogre Lord is the third in the A series of adventures, taking the characters on an epic adventure to save the kingdom from the horde forces that threaten.  This adventure is designed for 5-6 characters of level 4-6 or of Veteran status, depending on which system you are using.

The Adventure Finale! 

A4, Rise of the Bloodwolf is the final module in the A series of $1 adventures.  Treachery is revealed, and the party has the opportunity for revenge.  And oh, how sweet it will be.

So bring back that old school atmosphere and prepare to "kill them and take their stuff!"

I guess in New School talk, this would be a 4 part Adventure Path for $4 bucks.  Not bad at all.  Of course, I'm walking the Tunnels & Trolls addiction at this point, so my conversion will require just a bit more effort then the rest of the OSR movement.  That oaky... even if I just steal pieces its a decent investment.

The Trollish Taproom - Sprinkling Some AD&D in My T&T

I was thinking about the use of Talents in T&T 7.5e and a thought occurred to me: some abilities of AD&D classes could be replicated by the use of Talents in T&T.

The Ranger's Tracking skill is an obvious one. The Ranger's damage bonus vs. certain humanoids could be an SR vs INT for a combat bonus (need to think on that).

The Paladin's Healing could be turned into a talent (maybe 1d3 pts healed per use - limited uses per day).

This is pretty much thinking out loud so far. More later.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Winner of the WTF Were They Thinking Contest is...


This was right down to the wire.  The Book of Erotic Fantasy pulled it off in the end! ;)

So, mikemonaco needs to email me at tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom to get his prize package listed here in the initial contest thread.

Jim's entry of Skulls and Scapfaggot Green had the lead until neatly the end.  So, guess what?  email me for your prize package.  I have 2 to give away, may as well ;)

Ze Bulette's entry of Starsilver Trek didn't win, but Ze should also email me.  Bean! the D2 RPG or InvaderZ is in his future... your pick lad.

Congrats to all!

WTF Were They Thinking Poll Closes in About 4 Hours

The poll at the top of this page is closing in a few hours. Vote and vote often ;)

I'll be awarding the prizes tonight.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - You Might Have Skill, But I Got Talent

Tunnels & Trolls 5.5e introduces skills as an optional system.  It's originally from a Sorcerer's Apprentice Issue #15 (which included the mention a yet to be published sci-fi rpg called WEB, but I digress).  In turn, the skill system itself has it's roots in Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes and apparently Monsters! Monsters!)

The list in 5.5e is fairly small, as it was initially meant to show what one could do with skill in T&T, and the GM and players were to flesh it out.  Skill level is added to the appropriate stat for saving rolls that relate to his / her skill.

Skills earn expo and increase by level independent of the character's level.  So you need to track a skill's expo and level.  Successful level with the same chart as the character's level, so it requires 20 uses of a skill to level it up.  I don't think PCs will be leveling many skills during most gameplay.  As most skills will remain at Level 1, they will be giving a boost to relevant SRs of 1... not worth the bookkeeping involved if you ask me.

Talent is found Tunnels & Trolls 7.xe, and is what skills morphed into.  Players start with one talent at 1st level, and gain one with each additional level.  Basically, the player defines the talent, and the talent adds 1d6 to the relevant stats SRs when the talent is called into play.

Personally, I don't like the randomness of the talent bonus.  I would probably set it at a set bonus of 4.  Additional levels in the same talent could be chosen, with diminishing returns (3 additional pts for the 2nd level chose, 2 pts for the 3rd level and 1 pt for the 4th and later levels).  New talents always start with a bonus of 4 pts.

The skills in 5.5e still make a good source for ideas for talents in 7xe.

Buyback of the Week - The Artifact RPG

There is a rich resource of free RPGs to be found in the wilds on the internet.  I'll try and identify one a week or so.  Preferably ones that haven't had much exposure.

The Artifact RPG is the sci-fi pick this week.  The Free RPG Blog did a very nice write up of it, much better then I can (and at over 200 pages I don't think I can read this thru for a while).  Suffice to say, and the price of free it's hard y pass up.

From the blurb:

The Artifact is an epic science fiction RPG. The full game is available for free as a download or for sale as a printed book. Get a feel for the story in the introduction page or download the book to get started! Check out the review of The Artifact from The Free RPG Blog

The Year is 2085 and long range teleportation technology has made faster than light travel possible, In an attempt to find habitable planets earth’s governments send out probes into deep space.
They found something. . .
Welcome to the Artifact, a world foreign to our own Earth in many ways. A world that was manufactured for some as yet unknown purpose. Here you will encounter hostile aliens like the Kelrath and the Chezbah, and those that will seek your aid, like the Scimrahn. Races that appear human but are different from us in many ways. Then there are those that hide in the shadows, like the giant Tanroc Fredar, and the thing called Loc, revered as a god by some, despised as a demon by others.
A small group of explorers from Earth are the first to venture into this vast world. Some looking for a better life, some for the adventure, and some looking to strike it rich in the amazing resources that are available.

Anyone Building a "Frankendragon"?

As I start putting together the rules I want to use in my upcoming Tunnels & Trolls campaign, I find I'm not using as many house rules as I expected. Instead, I'm grabbing rules from different editions of T&T. I'm starting with the 5.5e rules as a base, then adding from 6e, 7.5e and adjusting to taste. I've been referring to this as my Frankentroll Ruleset.

Anyone doing this with D&D? What are you building off of, and what are you adding? Are you going so far as to grab from outside one of the D&D iterations? What is your Frankendragon?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Free Issue of Kobold Quarterly Issue #11 (PDF)

I got this offer in an email from Open Design / Kobold Quarterly.  KQ is not an OSR style magazine, but it feels an awful lot like the Dragon Magazine of old.  I find a lot of the 3.5 / Pathfinder stuff good for mining ideas.  Offer is good thru February 9, 2011.

Is it possible that you have friends who still don't know how much fun Kobold Quarterly is, and what a valuable resource it can be for their games? Well, tell them that from now through February 9, they can go to the KQ Store and download a FREE pdf copy of issue #11 by entering the coupon code KQ11Gift at checkout after putting KQ 11 in their cart.

If you've been with us for a while, you'll definitely remember #11 --  it had the creepy Ecology of the Vampire, John Wick's amazing take on dwarves, DM Advice from a bunch of game industry all-stars, the Wish spell in 4th Edition, the Spell-less Ranger Pathfinder core class, 4E Paragon Paths for Minotaur, Kobold, Hobgoblin and Bugbear PCs,  and more. Your friends will love it, and love you for telling them. And if you're a newcomer to Kobold, you can add KQ 11 to your own collection. 

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (Not Quite What I Expected)

I thought, perchance, I would be watching something other then soft porn.  It did have some nice fight scenes, sex, drugs, booze, full frontal nudity... sigh.

Kinda caught me off guard with my son in the next room.

Not what I expected.  Not saying it was bad, just not sure what it was supposed to be.

Ah well, killed time before the Super Bowl ;)

Trollish Fodder - The Bully Toad

My first entry in the Trollish Fodder tag, adding new monsters for use in Tunnels & Trolls.

Bully Toad
MR: 35 (usually found in groups of 1-3 or 3-18)
Special Damage: 3/ Hold That Pose (1st Level)
Special Abilities: DR=2 (leather skin)

Bully Toads are large, bipedal toads known to inhabit dungeons, forests and the occasional magical wasteland.  Usually found alone or with 1 to 2 others (1D3) underground or in tribes of 3-18 above ground, they have been known to spit a vile, phlegmy liquid at their prey (see Special Damage) that is used to distract, at which point it moves in for the killing blow.

The average Bully Toad stands approximately 4' tall when upright, although when charging or fleeing they use all 4 appendages to move.  They have their own language of grunts and gribbits that has yet to be learned by any other species.

Bully Toads tend to be more aggressive in dungeons then outdoors due to the lack of adequate foraging opportunities down below.

The artist for this piece is Rene Walk, used with permission.

The Trollish Taproom - Latest Auction Win - Sword For Hire (1st Edition)

It is very interesting to watch the increase in quality in the presentation of the Tunnels & Trolls solo as they were released.

Below is Deathtrap Equalizer - Solo #2 (1st Printing) released in January, 1977.  It should be noted that the module is stapled and single sided throughout.

And here is Sword For Hire - Solo #11(1st Printing) released in May, 1979.  Binding change and double sided pages.
Less then 2 1/2 years between the two and a huge difference in presentation.  Will have to check some dates on my collection and see if I can get a fuller timeline of changes in printing / presetnation of the T&T solos line.
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