Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mini Review - It Came From Beyond the Stars - Tunnels & Trolls GM Adventure

If you are a long time reader of this blog, I'm sure you've heard on of my little rants lamenting the lack of GM or group play adventures for Tunnels & Trolls.  T&T is seen as a solo play RPG system by most, but it can really excel in group play.  It's just that there has been so little in the way of group play adventures for T&T it's almost laughable.

I can stop laughing now, as It Came From Beyond the Stars is a really nice adventure written for a party of beginning delvers.  It even has a Lovecraftian feel to it.  Fun to read, I expect it will be even more fun to play.  My one complaint is the lack of maps for the adventure area.  They aren't needed for play, but would have helped with the atmosphere.  Besides, ever group of delver's needs a home base ;)

It's not a long adventure, but T&T generally uses less space for stats and more for the story.  Same holds true here.

Usually I grab the "blurb" from RPGNow, but I'm going to grab the from The Trollish Delver site instead, as Scott wrote the adventure (Scott, I hope you don't mind):

The adventure, published by Peryton Publishing with awesome artwork by Jeff Freels and Simon Lee Tranter (see the new Trollish Delver logo), is set in Trollish Delver Games' campaign setting, Peakvale, and involves mysterious Lovecraft-tinged adventure.

Urooks are shunned by the ruler of Peakvale, King Hobbletoe, and have been exiled into the Greyshades, a dangerous and forbidden land. When a mysterious object falls from the sky and lands in the Greyshades the king seeks assistance from local delvers to enter urook country and retrieve. But the adventurers will come to find a nightmare unravelling as they venture deeper into the forbidden land.

The adventure is for delvers levels 1-3 and should cover one or two sessions.

Next Post Is Up at Saturday Knight Special

Yeah yeah.  It's a new blog of mine and I'm trying to get it some exposure.  Shoot me! ;)

In any case, I've had a lot of fun writing the first 2 posts and have a huge amount in my mental hopper.

Enjoy - I'm going to be reading thru the latest Tunnels & Trolls release in the meantime.  If I'm luck I'll get a mini-review done tonight also.

Some More Thoughts on My New Saturday Knight Special Blog

Initially I'll be posting more then once a week to the Saturday Knight Special Blog.  I have some stories I've been dying to tell for years.  Well, to be truly accurate, I've been telling them for years, but I've yet to put them to the written word.  The new blog is my tool to do so.

So I expect the pace to be a bit quicker over the next few weeks then the once a week it will settle into.

Feel free to comment.  Feel free to ask questions.  I suspect it will be a learning experience for both the writer and the readers ;)

If your questions are to closer to the here and now (current events) the more tap dancing I'll have to do to give you a satisfactory answer.  Drop all questions and comments on the other side.

On the 18th Day of free Holiday Gaming Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeee..... FATE SRD

When Spirit of the Century came out, I knew I liked the FATE system.  When I heard the Dresden Files RPG  was going to be built upon the FATE SRD, I was in hands down.  Both are excellent games.  I've yet to play either.  Damn it1  I wanna play!

So, without further ado, here is the link for the FATE SRD.  Enjoy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On the 17th Day of free Gaming Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee... Trollzine (Tunnels & Trolls)

If you follow this blog at all, you know I have a soft spot for Tunnels & Trolls.  I pretty much have at least one of everything Flying Buffalo put out for it, and a copy of every edition but the 1st (have a reprint) and the 3rd (which appears to me to be just like the 2nd).  Anyhow, I love the stuff, but T&T ain't free.

Unless you grab Trollzine (and maybe the free quick start rules).  There are three issues in all, all free.  Grab it, you won't regret it.  Because there comes a time in all our lives that we just want to play by ourselves ;)

From the blurb:

TrollsZine is a new magazine created by and for fans of Tunnels and Trolls. Issue 1 has all new material and includes a short solo adventure, new magic items, The Troll Chefs Cookbook, original fiction, articles on T&T stunts, the dice issue, running T&T solos with other systems and a number of locations for the busy Games Master to use in their campaign. Ken St Andre has contributed a piece and there is art by Jeff Freels, ME Volmar, Chad Thorson, Kevin Bracey, Alex Cook and Mike Hill.

How to Make a Saturday Knight Special

I've been toying around for over a year with the idea of blogging some of my stories from early in my career.  I tend to sneak snippets into the occasional blog post here at the Tavern, usually with a gaming angle.

After sitting through a day of what can and can not be safely posted by me regarding my employment, I'm pretty sure I'm on safe ground to post what I want to post.  I'm 10 years or more removed from the events,  no names, no pictures - just the facts, hopefully told in a respectful yet entertaining manner.  That judgement I'll leave to my readers.

The intent is to get a post up each weekend, preferably on Saturday, thus the name of the blog:  Saturday Knight Special.

First post is up.  Yes, it's still Friday.  I still have to tweak the blog.  A lot.  I welcome any and all comments.  Yadda Yadda. ;)

The Dangers of Social Media

My job offers a Social Media one day class / in service training. I was expecting to learn how to use it to enhance investigations. Instead, we are learning that there is no expectation of privacy with social media (even if you are communicating one on one) and as a civil servant there are numerous exceptions to my constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech.

There's gotta be an adventure hook for a near future RPG in this lesson.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On the 16th Day of Free Gaming Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeeee:There and Back Again: The Construction of Nostalgia in Advanced Adventures

The Greyhawk Grognard felt y'all needed some intellectual RPG reading.  Therefore, I am proud to present to you There and Back Again: The Construction of Nostalgia in Advanced Adventures.

There and Back Again: The Construction of Nostalgia in Advanced Adventures is a scholarly look at one aspect of table-top role-playing culture. It was written by Darren Allan Crouse, and supervised by Dr. Greg Gillespie, in the Department of Popular Culture at Brock University in Ontario.

In the study, Crouse discusses the construction of nostalgia in the art of Expeditious Retreat Press' Advanced Adventures line. He challenges traditional academic understandings of nostalgia as simple escapism. Crouse argues that, while the Advanced Adventures pay homage to the history of RPGs, the series is an expression of an emerging old school gaming subculture who use nostalgia in new and creative ways - while charting new directions for their hobby.

Spam? Bamn!

Yesterday I changed the Tavern's settings to allow posters of comments some freedom from the requirements of being a Google or OpenID user.

This has had two immediate effects. I've gotten some comments from posters that aren't Google or OpenID users (Woot!) and I'm getting random spam comments to old and new posts. About one every 2 to 3 hours.

Want to buy some Uggs? Penis too small? Viagra? Sorry, they were all caught by Blogger's Spam Filter. It sometimes catches legit posts too, and for that I apologize, but it hasn't let a single piece of spam in yet.

So, we'll be keeping the door open it seems. Glad this experiment seems to be working.

Bring Your Dead To Life

No, I'm not talking about the Undead, nor am I referring to The Walking Dead. I'm talking about the dead dead, often used as window dressing in adventures, ranging from fantasy to horror to sci-fi and everything in between. To make your dead more then just window dressing, you have to make the occasional dead memorable.

See, I'm approaching this from over 15 years of law enforcement experience. I've seen more then my fair share of dead, or nearly dead, people. Very few stick out in my mind these days. To be honest, I've thankfully forgotten the vast majority. But those that still kick around in my head can make for decent templates to make the dead "more alive" for your players.

My first DOA (Dead On Arrival) that I encountered was about 2 weeks out of the academy. It was an execution in a South Bronx Housing Project - 2 shots to the head in the doorway of an apartment. What stuck out, and I still recall vividly, was the pool of blood and specks of brain matter. The blood looked like raspberry jam to me as it congealed, not that I ever had raspberry jam. It's just that my mind equated it to raspberry jam. Having to walk through it to get inside the apartment did not help the situation, but jam was better then blood in my mind. Describe the blood / remains as resembling a food and watch your players squirm.

The next of the dead that comes to mind was a DOA of natural cause in an apartment. He died of a heart attack, pleasuring himself. The blood flowed (internally) where you might expect it, which became larger then expected and took upon a bruised appearance. At times like this you have to search the room for valuables to be safeguarded as well as the body. My search ended when i found a shopping bag of dirty dildos (I almost expect to see an encounter like this in one of Raggi's adventures... heh). I refused to loot the body (he was wearing a gold ring) as we knew where his hands had been. I found a family member to remove the ring. Dying in an awkward manner will get your players thinking all types of things. I've used players' brainstorming as seeds for latter events. ;)

Then we have the "body doesn't know it's dead yet." We were flagged down by a family whose 20ish son had just shot himself in the right temple. Small hole, slow trickle of blood, steady breathing. My partner that nite was an EMT on the side and basically said the man was already dead, the body just didn't know it yet. You could play this straight up in an encounter, as the party decides what to do with the "not quite dead", or you could pull the Monty Python line of "It's only a flesh wound" before the individual abruptly succumbs to his wounds.

There are more - memorable smells, locations and the such - but these are enough to start. More memorable are those that were severely injured and yet ignored their wounds, due to drugs, adrenaline or something else, as they were actively engaged with. But that's for a follow up post.

Remember, to make your dead memorable, you don't need much, but you do need a hook, a highlight, something that keeps it from being just another body that your PCs see on a daily basis. They deserve something memorable on occasion. They need you to breathe some life into the dead.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Now THIS Looks Like a Fun Movie: Knights of Badassdom

I enjoyed Your Highness, but this might be even more fun.

Certainly hits the mark as a good movie to see with your gaming group, as long as you don't take yourselves too seriously.

On the 15th Day of Free Holiday swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeeeee: Tavern Tables

There are tables, and there are Tables.  The Tome of Adventure Design is a Book of Tables (Frog God Games - review forthcoming).  Tavern Tables is a short PDF that helps one detail - you guessed it - Taverns.

Pretty neat, since my PCs are always finding new taverns, and I like to make them unique.  Now I can.  And you can too!  For Free ;)

From the Blurb:

Tavern Tables is a short ebook full of dice tables for rolling up taverns. A list of 100 adjectives and 100 nouns gives you names like "The Greedy Zombie Tavern" or "The Brassy Wench Inn," and further tables provide for food and drink price and quality, the bartender's disposition, and any interesting patrons that you might find.

There are also tables for brawling and drunken shenanigans - does that PC who had a little too much wake up missing a few silver, with the mayor's daughter, chained to a wall in the dungeon of a fanatical cult, or all of the above? And if that's not enough, there's some example NPCs created with the tables in the book that you can drop right into your game.

Where Did My Taste For Fiction Go?

I used to read every nite (and sometimes in the morning). Fantasy trilogies, seemingly endless series, favorite authors, spiffy covers - I didn't need much of an excuse to find something to read. Almost all was fantasy or scr-fi.

Now, with the exception of the latest Discworld novel, I don't seem to have the stamina or the focus to get thru a work of fiction these days. I had no problem reading the recently published follow-up to Fort Apache: The Bronx (non-fiction) in 2 days, but I can't seem to pick up a regular novel these days.

Soloman Kane I'm slowly working my way thru, but as it's short stories, it seems to work for me these days. I used to HATE short stories when I was in my 2-3 novels a week phase of reading.

I wish I could blame my change in taste on a particular author or work, but I can't. Tastes change with age I guess. I'm sure at some point it will all swing back around again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On The 14th Day of Free Holiday Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeeee: Renaissance, a D100 Black Powder RPG

Last week I was talking about Mongoose Runequest, and how Mongoose's license had expired and that they had re-released the rules as Legend (and for a lowly buck at that).  Now Cubicle 7 comes along with Renaissance - D100 Black Powder SRD.  It builds upon OpenQuest, which itself is build upon the Mongoose Runequest SRD and OGL.  You follow so far?


Doesn't matter.  Here's what matters.  Renaissance is free.  As in it cost nothing.  From Cubicle 7.

Here's the blurb:

Renaissance is a free D100 roleplaying system designed for historical and fantasy gaming in the age of black powder weapons. It features familiar mechanics, grim and gritty combat, extensive period weapons and equipment lists, dozens of professions, and rules for factions and belief systems. It also includes two magick systems - the powerful battle alchemy first introduced in Clockwork & Chivalry 1st Edition, and a streamlined and expanded version of the witchcraft rules from the Silver Oggie Award-winning supplement Divers & Sundry. Based on Newt Newport's OpenQuest and released under an Open Gaming License, which allows companies and individuals to incorporate the rules into their own games, is also showcases the rules system of Clockwork & Chivalry 2nd Edition, the epic historical fantasy RPG from Cakebread & Walton, authors of Abney Park's Airship Pirates.

Peeking At My Review Process

I've been posting my (previously posted) reviews to RPGNow, and I've noticed that I review stuff I tend to really like. I shouldn't be all that surprised. Generally speaking, I know what I like, and I tend to review what I like. Why waste time with something I know ahead of time I'm not going to enjoy?

OSR games, adventures and resources are on the top of that list. Right to the top. Don't pass GO! Don't collect $200 ;)

Savage Worlds, d100 (OpenQuest, RQ, Legend and the like) and similar games are also on that list, but I tend to get to them at a slower pace.

Some of the Indie games strike my fancy (Resolute, Bean! and the like fit into the category). If I'm interested and have access to a review copy, I'll snag a copy and post a review when I can.

If you have something you want me to review (and I have access to a copy) I'll take a peek upon request. You can make your suggestions as comments to this post, or drop an email to tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom.

I may be adding some fiction to the pile. Heck, that could be a whole other post

Monday, December 5, 2011

On the 13th Day of Free Holiday Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee: Novarium (RPG)

Leave it to Greg (aka Chubby Funster) to gift us with another free RPG.  This time he gives us Novarium.    It has it roots as a re-imaginating of sorts of Ars Magica, but with the Chubby Funster twist.

Players have their primary PC, and a secondary PC to use when their main is otherwise occupied off stage.  This allows for the world to grow and time to progress.  The last game I played that had multiple characters for the PCs stable was Dark Sun in it's first incarnation.  I feel old now ;)

Production quality is, once again, what every professional should hope to release upon the public.  It's made for ease of reading on computer screen or tablet.  Fully bookmarked.  Amazing art.  Very well done.

Memories Don't Always Revisit Well

I loaded up Baldur's Gate 1 last night and gave it a try. This game rocked back in the day, but I found the graphics almost painful. More accurately, I strained to read the game text.

In defense of the game, it certainly wasn't designed for a 27" computer screen. It will probably be readable on my lapptop.

I'm gonna jump ahead to Baldur's Gate II next, and see if the situation resolves itself. Or maybe all the way to ToEE - the community patch apparently makes the game a near 10

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sometimes All It Takes is a Nudge...

So, I went and got married and somehow Google+ got forgotten about.  Thanks to Greg messaging me earlier today I got to be reminded about it... heh

For now I'm going to be sending out the Holiday Swag posts a few times a day until i catch up.  Maybe even throw a random thought up there on occasions.  Go figure ;)

Oh, and I'm reposting most of my reviews on RPGNow.com.  So if you see erik from tenkar's tavern as the reviewer, its me.

On the 12th Day of Free Holiday Swag, My Bartender Gave to Meeeeee: The Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary

Hey, I think you could actually sing the title of this blog post.  Not saying you should, just saying you could.

Brenden was nice enough to point out the Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary.  It's a short (yet well produced - it is Paizo after all) monster manual for Pathfinder.  It is easy enough to convert to the OSR game of your choice, as it's always easier to cut out the chaff then to add back in.

13 creatures, some of whom I recall from the old Fiend Folio in 20 art filled pages.  Good stuff for the right price.

From the blurb:

Unleash the Beasts!
Get your first look at the future with more than a dozen menacing monsters that we couldn't make room for in the Pathfinder Bestiary. These creatures won't be making an appearance in the Pathfinder RPG for at least a year and will thus only be available in this book for a long while. Showcasing the new rules and flexibility of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, this collection of creatures draws from more than 30 years of gaming history and includes:
  • Deadly beasts and familiar allies, such as allips, caryatid columns, faerie dragons, huecuvas, shadow mastiffs, and more!
  • New rules for monstrous companions, arcane creations, sinister traps, variant creatures, and other options for use with both 3.5 and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
  • Explanations of never-before-seen rules being included in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
  • A preview listing of nearly every monster to be included in the upcoming Pathfinder Bestiary
  • Reimaginings of some of the most iconic creatures in gaming, vibrantly illustrated by some of the best artists in fantasy

Mini Review: Loviatar 5 and Scrollworks 1

Alright, I'm not really reviewing Scollworks Volume I Issue 1, but I came across it as I cleaned out my old desk (renovations never seem to end) and as it's Christian's first RPG fanzine that I know of, I thought I'd give it a mention along with Christian's latest.

Loviatar #5 has an amazing cover.  When your main article is Hex 001, this cover is the perfect match.  Well done!

As for Hex 001 itself, I'm very interested to see where this goes.  It's a really nice starter area with hints of things beyond the hex itself.  This would make a very nice ongoing feature (hint) building off of previous hexes.

It's been ages since I've opened a GURPS book that wasn't Discworld.  So the GURPS article took me a few moments to refresh my memories of the system, but in truth, the article could have been systemless and worked nearly as well. The set up (fluff if you will) could easily fit any modern age RPG.

Shamble is a short WoD piece for a "Walking Dead" inspired zombie.  Again, well done and is easily adaptable to other role playing systems.

Great as always.  Love mail in my mailbox that isn' junk or a bill ;)
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