Saturday, May 28, 2011

First of Three

Today is my son's 18th birthday party.

Next Saturday is my fiancee's and my engagement party.

The following Saturday in my old gaming group's Gathering of Fools party.

Sometime in all that I need to squeeze in gaming and wallpapering.

Did I mention today is the first meeting of the two sides of the family (well, soon to be family)?

Fun, fun ;)

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, May 27, 2011

Netflix Gaming Inspiration - Flashpoint

My son dragged me kicking and screaming into watching the Flashpoint TV series on Netflix.  It details the activities and actions of the Strategic Response Unit.  The city is unnamed so far, but I'm pretty sure Toronto is where it is set.

As far as a SWAT type unit, this one has all the toys.  It also has personalities and an ongoing background story even tho' each episode wraps up fairly neatly - kinda like a good gaming session with a nice background thread.

Now, my son would watch 3 or 4 episodes a nite if he could, but my limit is one or two.  Each episode is a fairly realistic roller-coaster ride.

I could see this making a good sourcebook for a modern era GURPS campaign, or even adapted to a sci-fi ruleset.  Not sure I could make this work for a fantasy game, but if it did, it would be with Rune Quest or some other skill based ruleset.

Damn, i really have to put some thought into this.  It could be fun.

It's The Holiday Weekend! (at least in the States)

I extended my holiday weekend by taking today off.  I had to.  We are celebrating my son's 18th birthday tomorrow and I have lots of stuff to prepare.  You only turn 18 once.

I'm hoping it is also a weekend I can get some things done, both around the house and gaming wise.  Matt, over at Mythmere's Blog is still looking for articles for the next Knock Spell.  You have until June 15th.  Get cracking.  I may work on a second article (the Bard class is already submitted).

Alright, time to start cleaning for the 2 dozen peeps my son invited ;)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Draconic Archeologist: Mix n Match- The Dragon Issue #8

I've stepped away from The Dragon Mags for a bit... there was just too much other stuff to get to.

Dragon #8 suffers from some sloppy editing.  It's forgivable tho.  It was literally cut n' paste back in the day.

Still, we get a nice article on The Planes.  Damn thing was a real PITA to try and upload ;)

9) Lt. Blue, The ASTRAL PLANE
13) Lt. Blue, OLYMPUS
14) Blue, ELYSIUM
15) Blue/Grey, GLADSHEIM
16) Grey, LIMBO
18) Red, The 666 LAYERS OF THE ABYSS
19) Lt. Red, TARTERUS
20) Red, HADES
21) Lt. Red, GEHENNA
22) Red, The NINE HELLS
23) Red/Grey, ACHERON
24) Grey, NIRVANA
25) Blue/Grey, ARCADIA

Of course, the article on the Development of Towns in D&D just the above article in half... why?  But wait, the second part of the Planes article cuts the Town article in half.  Sigh.  

About 10 pages to part one of a serialized piece of fiction.  10 pages out of 32.  I'm not even counting ads.  Where's the gaming stuff?

There is a intro to Gamma World, but it's basically another page of fiction.

Rob Kuntz gives us a Gem and Jewelry table.  Tables rock!  We can even roll carat size.

The Featured Creature was actually a name and design contest.  Here's the Erol Otus art.  Got a name for it?
More Metamorphosis Alpha.  Apparently they expected it to be a bigger hit.

Eh.  Far from a great issue, but there's a few gems in the mix.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review - Vornheim - Part the First (Impressions)

Vornheim bills itself as "the complete city kit".  I think the keyword here is "kit".  When you buy a "build your own computer kit", the expectation is somewhere between "some assembly required" and "shit, I need some experience and skills to build this shit".  Vornheim is a "kit".  It is not the City of Waterdeep Boxed set.  It is mostly of the "some assembly required" level, but parts may leave you going "shit - do I not understand the instructions or do I just lack the skills?"

First things first.  Do NOT purchase the PDF with any expectation of printing yourself a full copy.  With the black borders on nearly every page, your ink cost will probably surpass the price of buying your own hardcopy.

Zak S. from DnD With Pornstars writes and does the art.  Zak and James Raggi did the graphics design.

As a plus, the PDF mirrors the book.  As a minus, the PDF mirrors the book.  Let me guess... "WTF?!?"

Here's my issues with the layout:

First, the black page borders that I mentioned above.  That should have been ditched in the PDF version.  It looks pretty cool in the book, but for those that want to print out their PDF - they're screwed.

Second, page  5 of the PDF, is a map that is displayed sideways.  While rotating a book is never a big deal, rotating my monitor is.  Why not change the orientation in the PDF?  I can enlarge a PDF page a lot easier then rotating my 28" screen.  Oh, and the map is confusing as all hell, but... its a decent piece of art.  This may become a reoccurring theme.

Most of the book is a font size of 9 - readable in the print version, very nice on the screen.  Mother of God! but they went with a 6.5 font for some of their charts.  What were they thinking?  Maybe it's because I've hit the big 40 and then some, but the print version of these charts is close to unreadable for me.  I don't need  glasses for reading or close work, but I would never be able to use the charts with the 6.5 font at my gaming table without killing the PCs to vent my frustration.  Which is a shame, as I can read them fine (still small tho') on my screen, which I won't have with me at a game.  Or I can read them with my iPad  and just zoom and scroll.  Simple idea... if it needs an excessively small font size to fit, use more pages, edit the text... do anything but make me go blind.  Still, when I can read them they are useful, intriguing and original.  Maybe I'll cut / paste to Pages or Office and print the ones I need.  I shouldn't have to is the point I'm trying to make.

Here's the plusses on the presentation:

Excellent artwork.  Not your normal artwork, it's about as twisted as Zak's blog, but it works in this case.  Vornheim is far from normal and that is reflected in the art.

I'm a sucker for flow charts in gaming books.  Don't ask me why, it must have been high school science. Zak has some sweet ones.

You can print out the "Roll a D4" Charts that are on the inside book cover, especially nice if you didnt get the preorder bonus from LotFP.

Alright, that was more bitching then praise, but it was also more about the wrapping then the meat of Vornheim.  I'll dig deeper in the next part of the review

Death, The Final Frontier

I barely stepped out of the elevator at work when I was informed our cleaner had passed away. He was discovered this morning, at work, in a room only the cleaners had access to. He apparently had a heart attack last evening.

That whole spiel of "live each day as if it were your last, because someday it will be", it means what it says. We do not choose how we will die, but you can choose how you will live.

Alright, less depressing shit in tonight's posting :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review - Weird Fantasy Grindhouse Edition Boxed Set (LotFP) - Part The Second

Time to move on to the meat of the review.  The rules.  If you have the LotFP Weird Fantasy Deluxe Edition, you've seen much of this before, but the presentation is much better.

Character generation is 3d6 in order.  If the character modifiers and up to less then zero, you get to ditch the character.  Yes, very old school.  There is one thing to keep in mind - stat modifiers are very important in WF.  With only fighters increasing in combat ability and the extreme rarity of magic items in the default setting, having good stats can make a huge increase in your character's survivability.  It doesn't mean your character has less viability necessarily, as the rules are fairly lethal in the first place.

We have 4 human character classes, which are pretty much the 4 core classes of the OSR.  Then we have the classic demi-human classes: Dwarf, Elf and Halfling.  I'll discuss the human classes first.

Fighters are the only ones that increase in combat.  They have the best HD after the Dwarf and have access to combat maneuvers.  In current gaming parlance, they are the party's tanks.  They get access to the combat maneuvers Press and Defensive Fighting.

Clerics are the party's healers.  Many spells are changed from the norm you might expect, but I'll be covering that at a later point.

Magic-users are those that deal with forces that man is not meant to know with.  Again, many spells have changed from what you know.

The biggest change from the baseline is the Specialist.  More then a thief, his skills and abilities revolve around a D6.  If you want to experiment with adding classes to Weird Fantasy, the Specialist is the base to work from.

Dwarves have the best HD in the game.  They do NOT increase in combat ability but they do get access to the Fighter's Combat Abilities.

Elves are sort of a Fighter / MU combination.  Better HD size then a magic-user, spells like a MU, combat maneuvers like a Fighter but w/o the Fighter's increase in to-hit.

Halflings are the "Saving Throw Specialists".  I don't know what else to say about them.  Maybe the party can use them "Polish Mine Detectors" (not tying to be offensive here).  They seem pretty useless.  Come to think of it, Dwarves seem pretty useless too.

I understand why James does away with an increase in combat abilities for all but fighters, but it does make the Dwarf and Halfling Racial classes pretty worthless, especially if you only have a party of 4-6.
So I'd personally remove them from the players choices and leave them as NPCs, or you risk handicapping the party in an already pretty lethal game.

So ends the second part of the LotFP Weird Fantasy RPG Grindhouse Edition.

Coming Up On Two Years of Blogging

Next Tuesday, May 31st, will make two years of blogging for me (I actually started the blog 3 years ago, but never posted until 2009). It's amazing how fast time passes. I'm also surprised that I found the time to start blogging the day after my son's 16th birthday. Following the math, he turns 18 this holiday weekend. Busy times but fun times.

Last year I spent $10 for google to allow me to use my own domain name. They handled it all on their end, one of the easiest transactions I've ever placed on the internet. Goggle/Blogger hosts my blog, but you don't need to add "blogspot" to the web address. Well worth 10 bucks a year.

Hopefully I've learned how to keep things interesting and entertaining. That being said, I'm still learning. Please, forgive the post that land flat. I'm sure there are many ;)

Now I need to think of something for the 2 year anniversary post... and the 1k post is sneaking up too.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mini Review - The Chronicles of Amherth (Labyrinth Lord)

The Chronicles of Amherth is a campaign setting for Labyrinth Lord.  The adventure Atarin's Delve is included as a part of the package.

So, what exactly do you get for your five bucks?  In The Chronicles of Amerth, we get a setting based on (but greatly fleshing out) the Duchy of Valnwall that is included in the Labyrinth Lord core rulebook.  I'd have to dig my LL book out to see just how close it hues to the original, but I suspect it's fairly close.

There's a twist on the magic using classes (that the GM is free to ignore) in that there is the addition of "Latent" magic.  We are also given a chapter on Gods and Demi-Gods and another on the world history.

I like the use of a detailed Adventurer's Guild.  It makes things a bit easier then using the usual tavern scene (not that I have anything against taverns) to give the PCs an adventure hook.

The Known World section details the continents of Amalor and Herth and the rest of the world.  There is enough given to help the GM flesh out the world without block him into too much of a corner.  Still, plenty (really - lots and lots) of plot hooks for each major location to make this the sandbox you want it to be.

Flora and Fauna gives us some useful flora for the PCs to use, or misuse.  It also give us over 40 new monsters, which is a nice addition to the LL monster list.

Magical Treasures adds over 20 items to the LL's list of magic items.

We round things out with the continental maps.

Oh, and then there is the free adventure included in the mix.

Very nice package for less then 5 bucks ;)

Another Snapple Real Fact

Apparently the earlier Snapple Real-Facts are retired but can still be found online. I particularly like real fact #1.

A Goldfish's attention span is 3 seconds.

Think about that for a second... actually, make that 3 seconds. Boom, it's gone. On to the next thing.

So, if we made out next OSR styled landshark based on the Goldfish, you'd have a terror that is easily distracted (and would be a real pretty gold-orange color but I digress). Land-Goldie if you will. And if you over feed it, it dies. Throw some more peasants in it's way. Wait, that's a Chivalry & Sorcery move. Yes, I am trying really hard to wade thru the 2nd edition, but I seem to have the attention fan of a goldfish.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review - Weird Fantasy Grindhouse Edition Boxed Set (LotFP) - Part The First

Yes, this will be multi part - it has to be - there's too much for my normal "Mini-Review".  ;)

In any case, this part will be about the presentation.

I've had the PDFs of the WF GH Edition for a while now as they were included with my preorder (awesome way to do business James - print and free PDF as a package deal gives instant gratification as well as the joy of a package to open later).  I wanted to wait until I had the hard copies in my hand before I started any kind of review... so lets start.

The box art for the GH Edition is the same as was used in the Deluxe Edition, which is fine - its the art I think of when I imagine the Weird Fantasy RPG.  Why fix what isn't broken.

It includes 3 books:  Rules & Magic, Referee and Tutorial.  Also included are some character sheets and a set of RPG dice.  Oh, and a sheet with the OGL (I wondered where that was... heh)

Rules and Magic is what it says it is, the rules of the game.  Cover art is very striking.
My issue isn't with the art, its with the use of the art when its the used as "Header Art", or whatever you want to call it.  Basically, repetitive art that takes up about 20% of a page for no other reason then it's there.  I like my rulebook pages to be as uncluttered as possible.  That's why I HATE books that have artwork or other designs behind the written pages or around the edges.  James isn't guilty of neither of those (Kudo's to James).  I just find header art to be a waste of space and paper.  Pet peeve of mine.  Feel free to ignore it ;)

The cover to the Tutorial is less shocking then i think it was intended to be.  Still good tho'.

The cover to the Referee book is Mullen.  "Nuff said!

The books are bound, not stapled.  My books have some very thin glue residue on the top edges of the pages. No big deal, but if it was thicker, you'd have to be careful the first time flipping thru so as to not risk damaging the pages.  Stapled books tend to not have the lifespan of bound books (the paper breaks around the staples and then the pages fall out) but they do allow for laying flat on a table, which you can't do with this edition.  Then again, this edition should put up with a lot more abuse at the gaming table.

The character sheets are top notch.  I can see why James has questioned his need for a GM screen - these sheets cover 90% of what you need (spells need to be listed separately by the player).

The included dice are small but useable by most.  My fiancée would never be able to use them, but then she couldn't read the dice included in the T&T 7.x Boxed Set Editions either.  Box size determines the size of what will actually fit in said box.

As for the PDF versions, they are perfect replicas of the print versions.  Well done James.  If I had a complaint about the Deluxe Edition of Weird Fantasy, it's that the PDFs seem like an after thought.  This time around, they are a selling point.

End Part the First.
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