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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Martial Arts For Stars Without Numbers (Free Supplement)

Now that I am diving head first into Stars Without Number, I find myself pleasantly surprised by the number of free, short supplements for the game. Mandate Archive: Martial Arts is the one I just grabbed, and it's 6 pages of gaming goodness are golden. It's not just the different styles of martial arts that are ready to be plugged into your SWN campaign, but even the advice on designing your own MA styles resonates with what I want to do with my GAPs project.

Here's the piece in question:

GMs should feel free to create their own new armed and unarmed
styles to match the particular interests of their players and campaign,
but a few important guidelines should be kept in mind. 
The goal of a style is not to make unarmed or primitive combat
skill better than projectile or energy weapons, but only an equally
reasonable option. For damage comparisons, look at mag rifles and
shear rifles to see what sort of weaponry they’ll be compared against.
If the style does more damage than those weapons in the hands of
equivalent masters, then the style is doing too much damage.
Excellent yet simple advice. Balanced yet different.

Perfect.

Taking a Look at Angels, Daemons & Beings For the DCC RPG

I know I heard about the Angels, Daemons & Beings Between: Patrons Sourcebook earlier, but I didn't realize it was being crowd funded over at Indiegogo. At least now I know where to find it with 15 days left in it's fund raising (it's nearly funded - then bring on the bonus goals).

If there is one part of the Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG that is unique AND under represented in the Core DCC book, it's the section on Patrons. What is there is really well done, but there isn't much there.

That's where a Patrons Sourcebook comes in damn handy. It gives actually choices to the players (and the DM) as to what's available. Expanding the Patron pool is a damn good thing.

I'm hoping to get a sneak preview or two from the lads behind the project that I can post up on the blog.

Here's a bit from the projects page:

"Angels, Daemons and Beings Between" is a perfect bound softcover supplement book detailing a host of new patrons for use in the DCC RPG.  In terms of patrons, expect our work to show the influences of Gardner Fox, A. Merritt, Leigh Brackett, Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard, and H.P. Lovecraft to name a few.  "Angels, Daemons and Beings Between" will be a 32-page, high quality product featuring brand new artwork.  It will utilize the Open Game License and the Dungeon Crawl Classics compatibility license to ensure full compatibility to the Dungeon Crawl Classic rules set.


Because this project is still in development, and because we want to make this supplement really worth your time, Dragon's Hoard publishing is proud to announce a number of stretch goals to "Angels, Daemons and Beings Between".  For every additional goal we meet, after our initial goal, we will add an additional sixteen pages of patrons until the book reaches a staggering 96 pages, with the final 4 pages dedicated to our brand new magic items section!


Basically, the more money that is raised, the more bang you get for your buck ;)

Final Countdown on Raggi's Summer Madness Crowd Funding Campaigns - 3 Funded - 1 Close

The final few hours of the LorFP's Summer Crowd Funding Campaigns are among us. 19 projects went in - 3 have funded so far. Hell, this is turning into a DCC funnel of sorts ;)

A fourth is nearing it's goal. Towers Two, written and illustrated by David Brockie (GWAR) is nearing it's goal. It will effectively fund at $5k, as James himself will put in the final $1k to reach it's goal.

I need to remind myself to take a peek before I go to sleep tonight, and decide what i definitely want to fund. Reint's and Green's projects are definite - I very much like their work. Vince Baker's is also funded, and I'm a bit on the fence here - Apocalypse World is the best playing / worst written game I know (my opinion - yours may vary). Maybe I'll grab Baker's in PDF.

Here's the skinny on the Towers Two:


Lamentations of the Flame Princess presents Towers Two by Dave Brockie


For centuries the province of Gar has been governed by the famously wealthy Family Hune. The mighty “Towers Two” have stood as a symbol of stability and prosperity over a world increasing slipping into chaos. But ever since the difficult birth of the identical twin brothers Rondrel and Zal, a shadow has fallen over the family and the land they had ruled for centuries. The brothers quarreled over the power they had inherited from their father, squandering their wealth, and sending the line into decay. The nearby village of Ham, once happy to call Towers Two and the Family Hune their protectors now live in fear of the fortress and it inhabitants―a fear born from the outrageous rumors that surround this ancient family and provide ample gossip for the taverns. But how much truth is there to the tales of strange lights that can be seen over the castle, people disappearing from their homes, and bizarre creatures haunting the fringes of the settlements? Just what the hell is happening up there? A group of local merchants wants to know, and are willing to pay to get the answers…


About the Author
Towers Two is the first professional RPG credit from Dave Brockie, the man better known to the world as Oderus Urungus, lead singer of the legendary shock-metal band GWAR. In addition to playing GWAR’s pig-nosed singer for over 25 years, Brockie is an avid artist and writer whose first novel, the blood-soaked Whargoul, can be found here...

The Definition of a "Sandbox" - Stars W/O Number Style

I've had the free PDF of Stars W/O Number for a while. I read it through, but I bounced - I skipped over the much of the "What is roleplaying" type of stuff. I was more interested in the system, less interested in the set up.

This time with the SWN Core rules, I'm trying to read it straight through two times (I''d already done the bounce around through much of the crunch). I don't remember the following section in the original rules, it could have been there, but my trip was much more haphazard then. What follows is some of the best guidelines and definition of sandbox styled play in an RPG that I can recall (from page 6):


Every character should have a goal from the very start. This might
be something as simple as “become wealthy beyond my fondest
dreams of avarice” or “be known as the greatest pilot in the sector”.
It might be as elaborate as “engineer the downfall of the interstellar
empire that conquered my world”. Whatever it is, it should give
your character an immediate reason to go out and do  something.
This will to act is especially crucial in Stars Without Number ,
because this game is designed to support a “sandbox” style of
gaming. Unlike many other games that encourage the development
of a particular story or the playing out of a specific plot line, Stars
Without Number  presents an entire interstellar sector to your
characters and invites you to choose for yourself how to experience
it. Stories will arise based on what your characters do and how they
respond to the adventure situations provided by the GM.
As a player, you need to cooperate with your GM. This doesn’t
necessarily mean following every lead and hook you’re given
without demurral, but it does mean that you need to respond to
the situations and possibilities that are given to you.
You also need to keep in mind that your adventurers exist in a
very large world that is not scaled to your characters’ abilities. If
you insist on throwing your characters into situations or challenges
that seem overwhelming, the odds are that they will  overwhelm
you. Scouting, reconnaissance, and careful intelligence gathering
will help you recognize no-win situations before you push ahead
into them. By the same token, don’t hesitate to flee if your party
appears to be facing certain doom. A keen sense of when to decamp
the field is often an experienced adventurer’s most valuable asset.
A version of this should be distributed at the start of every sandbox styled campaign no matter the game system. Pretty much spot on.





Monday, July 30, 2012

Raggi Crowdfunding Madness is in It's Final Stretch With Monte Cook Offering Phtolus in PDF

So far, 2 of Raggi's 19 projects have funded - Jeff Reints' Brood Sky Fortress (very tempting) and Vince Baker's The Seclusium of Orphone (probably great to play and annoying as all shit to read). There are approximately 29 hours left in the funding process.

Vince got himself over the hump by offering free PDFs of his work to any that pledged over a certain amount. It seems it was a good tactic, as it worked.

Monte Cook has now gotten into the act, offering PDF copies of Ptolus to those that pledge $100 or more to The Unbegotten Citadel. To fund, Monte needs to raise almost $4800 for his project. If it funds, you would get up to 5 other funded project from the 19. As it stands, there are two, although Kelvin Green's Horror Among Thieves has crossed the halfway mark.

I have Ptolus is hard cover. It's an awesome book. It is huge. I'm beginning to think the PDF would be nice to have, just for the ease of reading it on a table - but then again, I must have the Phtolus disk that came with the preorder and has the book on PDF.

Ptolus is also a few years old at this point, but does gaming material ever really go old?

I think I'll be putting money down on Reint's and Green's projects over the next day myself.

Here's the deal on Monte's project:

July 30 Update: $100+ contributions get Monte Cook's Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire in PDF form should the project fund! 
July 23 Update: $30+ contributions get a 16 page sandbox setting by Rob S Conley (Majestic Wilderlands, Points of Light 1 & 2, etc.) in print + pdf as an added Extra. Not to be released in any form outside these campaigns. Grab Bag contributions get to choose their adventures (up to 6). $160+ get an exclusive 64 page James Edward Raggi IV LotFP adventure. Not offered in this form outside these campaigns.  See the Updates tab for full details.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess presents The Unbegotten Citadel by Monte Cook, illustrated by Eric Lofgren 
No one remembers the origin of the ruins in the hills. And to be sure, there's little left of the place, whatever it was. Some think that the strange black rocks were once part of a wizard's tower. Others believe that the massive red-veined stones were part of the temple to a forgotten god. But when the local herdsmen begin to notice that the ruins are becoming more substantial each day, resembling more and more a true fortress, seers and prognosticators relate what might be the truth: a dark citadel that moves backward in time, from ruin to creation. But what doom lies within, once the Unbegotten Citadel stands again? And what does it portend for those in the quiet lands around it?

Into the Fire, Hoping I Don't Burn My Pants ;)

I've agreed, committed, sworn an oath, signed in blood and all of the other types of guarantees to write an RPG product. In whole or in part (hoping in part - less fingers pointed at me when I hand shit in late), makes little difference, I'm in.

Too early in the game to give out details, but when I can I will.

Now I get to see how the other half lives. You know, those with jobs, families, responsibilities, blogs AND writing gaming product for fun and beer money. I prefer microbrews, so I need more beer money.

Not related to my GAPs project, for those that are wondering. That is something I'll be working on "live" on the blog.

Alright, back to my "staycation" and work around the house ;)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Going From Rifts to GAP

GAP - General Alternative to "Palladium" is the working title for my Stars Without Number / Other Dust / Labyrinth Lord mashup that will borrow some themes and tropes from Rifts. I want something that is coherent enough to be played on it's own but simple enough to use as an engine for those that want to play in the Rifts setting without using the broken Rifts rules.

As it stands now, it's going to be a fan project that will be worked on "live" on this blog. I can pretty much guarantee that the end result will have little resemblance to Rifts, but that isn't the goal. The goal is to mash up something that is viable on it's own AND can serve as a relatively coherent engine to play in the Rifts Universe. Or Mechanoids. Damn, i liked Mechanoids.

First thing I'm going to brainstorm is which classes can make the transition intact, which ones need tweaking, and if any need created.


Where O' Where is the Next Part of the RuneQuest 6 Review?

Good question.

I'm waiting on the previously announced interactive RQ6 character sheet PDF to appear on The Design Mechanic website (it's been nearly 3 weeks since it's been mentioned on the forums). I plan(ned?) on generating a character and screenshoting the character sheet as part of the hands on review process. If you have ever seen my penmanship, you'll know why I want the interactive PDF.

So I wait. You wait. We all wait.

Sigh.

Maybe I'll do some some more reading of Other Dust for my Faux Rifts Mahup...

Mini Review - DCC #70: Jewel of the Carnifex

If only other RPGs had this much support shortly after release. Actually, let me rephrase that slightly, if only other RPGs had this much quality support shortly after release. Everything I've seen release for the DCC RPG has been very good or better. Jewels of the Carnifex is no exception - it's damn good.

The background material for the Jewels of the Carnifex is awesome. There are seeds here to use in designing your own adventures if you are so inclined. Harley Stroh has done another fine job.

Something that struck me (but I'm sure I've seen it before in previous DCC RPG adventures from Goodman) is the rumors table. The roll is by player, not by PC - so there is an assumption here that players may be bringing more that one PC into the group. I know we often played with 2 PCs per player in my early AD&D days, as it was hard to fill a full group. I'm not sure if that is the intention here, but for the most part I've preferred 1 PC per player (plus henchmen). As a DM it's easier to follow who is doing what, and as a player it allows one to put a bit more focus on the roleplaying side of things. It's a minor thing, but something that struck me.

Jewels of the Carnifex is an adventure of twists and turns, and no greater one than in the last encounter. PCs can do very well for themselves, but as always, not everything is as it seems. Harley really has done a great job with this adventure. I can't praise him enough.

Even the wrap up after the adventure isn't neatly tied up with a bow as it often is in other adventures. There is much more here than meets the eye.

Crap - I'm sounding very cryptic, but this adventure is not as straight forward as it seems on the surface. As such, it should be a blast to run (and play in)

The maps are, as always, excellent. I'm going to sound like a broken record - "Joseph, start offering prints of these maps damnit!"

From the blurb:


At the end of a forgotten back alley, in the weird and otherworldly marketplace of faiths known as the Bazaar of the Gods, stands the ruins of a forgotten chapel. Once the cult of the Carnifex was celebrated throughout the City of a Thousand Gates. But a band of holy warriors rose against the cult of executioners and torturers, casting down her signs and scattering her devotees to the winds. The fate of the cthonic goddess, and – more importantly – her fabled jewels remains a mystery…until this night.

Set amid the sprawling decadence of Punjar, Jewels of the Carnifex offers low-level adventurers a chance to plumb the mysteries beneath the city’s soiled streets, explore forgotten crypts lavished with weird artifacts, and – for the quick and daring – claim the lost Jewels of the Carnifex!




ACKS Short Session Recap - No Torture and No Fire in the Barrowmaze!

This might be a first for my ACKS group. Last night's session (such as it was - lots of catching up to do amongst folks) didn't have a single incident of torture. The fact that I broke out Barrowmaze I (with some adjustments) and they've only come across undead, constructs and giants rats might have something to do with it. Note to self - if you leave out the intelligent adversary, you also leave out the torturing of the intelligent adversary ;)

We did come close to a fire incident, when the mage spoke of lobbing flaming oil past a combat in a doorway in the room behind - I did explain (as his character has 18 INT it should have been fairly obvious) that his ability to lob flaming oil past an active combat hold action in a room's doorway was minimal. The odds of him lighting on fire the combatants in the doorway? Significant. He rethought his actions ;)

The party currently consists of 4 PCs and 4 1st level henchmen. I think the numbers are sufficient to provide a balanced party, although there still aren't any thieves in the group yet. Damn those pesky traps.

Barrowmaze I looks to be a blast to play through. When I first read and reviewed it, I wasn't running a campaign, so I read it with different eyes, so to speak, and it read very well. In play, it is even more awesome, and we've barely scratched the surface. Should be fun.

Did I mention that the hi-res maps are awesome?

My ACKS Group Knows No Limits - Pushing The System

My ACKS group is skilled at pushing the rules as they are written. If there is a hole in the rules, they will find it. Heck, they'll drive a SUV through it. Thankfully, they do it theoretically ;)

Tonight the discussion revolved around the Familiar Skill and the boatload of abuses linked to it. Thankfully my group is in the 3rd-4th level level and the skill is a bit further off for the Mage. Proficiencies based on the PC's Intelligence that apparently can be chosen independently can be easily abused. The monkey skilled in engineering is just one of the combinations thought up.

Good to know if I ever design a game they will test the shit out of it ;)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tenkar's Minor Tidbits - Kael's Knife of Filleting


Kael's Knife of Filleting - This fishbone handled knife offers no bonus to hit in combat and does a standard 1D3 damage, with a slight catch. If a natural "3" is rolled on damage, the 1D3 is rolled again and added to the previous damage roll. This continues until the wielder no longer rolls a natural "3". Strength and other damage bonuses are added to the final sum total of the die roll(s).

When used to fillet fish, the results are as if the most talented fish monger had done the work - add 50% to the value of the filleted fish.


Background - Kael was a piss poor Fish Monger before he decided to risk it all on a life of adventure. More accurately, he decided to leave his business behind after the tavern he supplied fish to had an outbreak of food poisoning that was linked to his fish. On his first and only adventure, Kael and 15 others entered a portal that promised riches beyond their wildest dreams. Two hours later, Kael and 2 others ran for their lives and emerged from the portal back in their own lands. The sole treasure recovered by Kael was a fishbone handled knife.

Realizing that adventuring was not to him, Kael returned to his fish monger business, where he was promptly killed by an angry crowd of vomiting and liquid defecating villagers (but not before he used his new found knife to fillet the first villager that attempted to grab him). Kael's knife was passed on to the new fish monger, who promptly lost it in a game of "5 Card Shunty".

Flavored for the DCC RPG, Kael's Knife of Filleting is suitable for most OSR styled games.

(let's see if I can keep this up on a weekly basis ;)

(edit - to truly flavor this for the DCC RPG, increase the die used by one step for every maximum roll. So, a roll of a 3 on a D3 adds the result of a D4. If a 4 is rolled on the D4, proceed to roll a D5 - and so on)

Would Rifts By Any Other System Smell as Sweet?

Mix a little Stars Without Numbers: Core with some Labyrinth Lord. Stir in a bit of Other Dust. Use a future, alternate Earth for the setting. Season to taste.

What do you get? Hopefully a balanced, comprehendible alternative to Rifts.

This is going to be a side project of sorts, more for my own amusement than anything else, so Kevin and his Glitterboy hit team have nothing to worry about, even though I will be posting much of the results on this blog as I get to them.

It's more of a borrowing of the core concept than any of the story lines and such. Which makes sense, as I haven't bought a Rifts book in over 15 years ;)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Amazing Response to the Post a 0-Level Occupation for the DCC RPG Contest!

I am humbled by the response to the Post a 0-Level Occupation for the DCC RPG Contest. Over 40 contest related posts and easily over 60 0-Level Occupations posted - and it's only Friday night. The contest has been live for about 24 hours and will be open until the end of the day on Tuesday, July 31st.

I think we will easily hit over 100 professions posted before the contest is over.

I was optimistically hoping for 25 to 30 entries before the end of the contest. You folks are awesome! Goodman Games certainly planted great community seeds when it released the DCC RPG.

I will see if there is anything else I can add to the prize pool for the most awesome DCC RPG fans...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Win Some DCC RPG Swag! Post a 0-Level Occupation

Alright, here we go. The 2nd Monthly Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Contest. This month's contest topic is: 0-Level Occupations.


Here's what you need to do to enter:

1 - Add a comment to this post using the following example's format:

Occupation: Town Guardsman
Trained Weapon: Short sword
                              Trade Goods: Set of Manacles


2 - Add a description if you would like, but it's not needed.

3 - You're done!

The current prize list is as follows:

   1 Copy Each of Crawl! Issue #1 AND Issue #2 - which will go to the winner of my choice. This is where creativity will take precedence.  Dak Ultimak will mail them (read this as "physical copies") to the winner, so I'll be asking the winner for their snail mail address. (courtesy of Dak)

  2 Copies of Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk (courtesy of Purple Sorcerer Games) in PDF to random entrants

  1 Copy of Perils of the Sunken City (again, courtesy of Purple Sorcerer Games in PDF to a random entrant

  1 Copy of Attack of the Frawgs! (courtesy of Thick Skull Adventures)

  1 Copy of Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror (courtesy of Purple Duck Games)

adding more prizes to the pool!

   5 winners (who, in my judgement, have an entry that makes me laugh, giggle, say "holy shit!" or simply "Wow!") will win their choice of one of the first 16 releases from the Toys For the Sandbox series AND their choice of either TFTSB #23 Pirate Island or #24 The Lost Colony. The first part of this prize selection is from me and the second part is courtesy of Quinn Conklin, the writer of the Toys For the Sandbox series. How f'n cool is that?

Note: Entries to this contest may be used in a forthcoming issue of Crawl! Your commenting on this post means you acknowledge and accept that your entry may be placed in the hands of future readers of Crawl!, the DCC Fanzine and / or used in a free iOS or Android App or webpage by Purple Sorcerer Games.

Entries must be in by midnite, july 31st, 2012 EST - Enter as often as you may like, but only one entry will count towards the random prize pool. One prize per winner. End edit ;)


Mini Review - Stars Without Number: Core Edition

I have to make a confession - When stars Without Numbers was first released, it didn't excite me. Not because it wasn't a good system, but because I really wasn't yearning for a good sci-fi game. So I gave it a quick look and it went back to sit on my virtual bookshelf.

Why then am I currently reading Stars Without Numbers: Core Edition when the free edition is sitting on my hard drive? It isn't just the cover (which is striking).

I'm interested in the society generation tables. (well, and the mech and robot stuff - with a little work SWN:Core and Labyrinth Lord would make for a coherent and balanced alternative to Rifts).

I was expecting something along the lines of the classic Traveller system generation. What I got was more like Microscope. I think I like the system in SWN: CE better than either of these choices. Given a few minutes, you could get some unique world backstory for just about any game system. Heck, I'd borrow this for my next fantasy campaign. Maybe the publishers could publish this section on its own - it is that good.

There really is enough here to cover all the world and government types your might want in your game, with tables that cover just about every aspect of the societies.  If you were to crib this for a fantasy campaign building session, each "world" would be a country, and you'd have to smooth out some of the inconsistencies between countries in the same geographical area, but with the world building tool you are given really could build a world.

As for SWN in general - I really like the class system. Comfortable enough for me as an AD&D grognard to feel right at home while still keeping the system fresh and effectively gear to sci-fi. I do so want to make a Rifts like mashup tho' ;)

If you haven't checked out Stars Without Numbers yet, you can grab the free version and give it a test drive.

Tonight We Will Occupy the Tavern!

Sharpen your pencils. Tonight I'll be officially announcing this month's DCC RPG Contest: New DCC Occupations. We'll be awarding fabulous prizes!
It should be fun, too.

The format for entries will be simple. Here's an example:

Occupation: Town Guardsman

Trained Weapon: Short Sword

Trade Goods: Set of Manacles

See? Simple ;)

Check back tonight...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bits & Pieces - Mythweaver: Legacy - Marvel Heroic - Next Tavern Contest

This is going to be one of those meandering posts, so lets begin the meandering, shall we?

Mythweaver: Legacy was just released on RPGNow (as I post this it is trending 11 in the sales numbers). It's by Splintered Realm Publishing, a small press whose work I've been following for the last 2 years or so. Legacy is a fantasy RPG that starts not with presenting you with character generation, but with world background. I haven't finished reading it yet (damn plate is getting pretty full) but it's already been moved to my Google Nexus for bedtime reading ;) Just a Buck (yes, you read that right) at RPGNow.

I grabbed a print copy of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying on Monday when I was at the Complete Strategist  in Manhattan. I'm not a huge supers fan at all, never have been. I try tho', really I do. I didn't grab a review copy because I wasn't sure I'd be able to put my prejudice aside to do a proper review even with ll the nice press its been getting. $20 for a dead tree version made the decision easier. There will be a review coming in the next week or so. Currently $7.49 in PDF.

Expect me to announce the Tavern's Second Dungeon Crawl Classicd RPG contest tomorrow. Hint: Think "Occupations". We should have a handful of prizes available (Crawl! Fanzine and some DCC RPG adventures from some very generous friends of the Tavern). I'll probably announce it on the Goodman Forums too when the contest goes live.

Work is still a bit hectic, but I'm on vacation next week so screw that!

Game on!

AD&D Reprints - Will It Lead to an AD&D Revival?

On Monday I picked up the AD&D Player's Handbook reprint, completing my collection of the core 3 AD&D books. Damn they are purty!

My original AD&D books have taken a beating. During summer time we would play almost 7 days a week. To be young again, free of responsibilities with unlimited time game.

So, with the release of the AD&D reprints (which I'm willing to guess have been a sales success) do you think there is going to be a resurgence of AD&D gaming going on? I'm not expecting it to come close to the numbers that the latest flavors of D&D / Pathfinder are hitting, but I suspect it could find itself in a very large niche inside the OSR and without.

Lack of PDFs might hold things back a bit (is WotC the only major publisher of RPGs that is afraid that PDFs might lead to cooties and the raping and pillaging of WotC trademarks and copyrights?). I might be an old timer, but i like a PDF to go along with my dead tree books.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Christmas in July at RPGNow (Selection of 25% Off)



RPGNow is running a 25% off sale with MOST of it's publishers joining in. It isn't all, but it certainly is the right time to get things that you might have been holding off on for a bit.

Like what you ask?

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG - 25% off

RuneQuest 6th Edition - 25% off

Toys For The Sandox (each and every one? yep!) - 25% off

A crap load of other goodies at 25% off? Yep

Just in time for my birthday too! ;)


Dangerous Journeys: The Anubis Murders (EGG)

I found this little gem yesterday while I was raiding The Strand Book Store in NYC with Joe the Lawyer. The sci-fi shelves were packed with what I can only assume were remainders from the closing of the Borders Book Store chain, which is a shame. I used to leave The Strand with an armful of previously read (and early edition) paperbacks on a monthly basis years past.

Gary Gygax's The Anubis Murders is a book I never picked up the first time around (and when Paizo re-released it, I didn't give it much thought, as it was off my radar). Grabbing a copy of the first print run for 5 bucks? Priceless.

I'm on vacation next week, so hopefully I'll get a chance to give this a read.

I Don't Want To Be a Gong Farmer No More! (DCC RPG Adds to My Vocabulary)

The Pipe is Used in Removal of Night Soil
Two of the 12 PCs that started last night's DCC RPG Funnel were "Gong Farmers". I had no idea what that was until my players pointed me to the Wikipedia entry:

Gong farmer (also known as a gongfermor, gongfermour, gong-fayer, gong-fower or gong scourer), was a term that entered use in Tudor England to describe someone who dug out and removed human excrement from privies and cesspits; the word "gong" was used for both a privy and its contents. Gong farmers were only allowed to work at night, hence they were sometimes known as nightmen. The waste they collected, known as night soil, had to be taken outside the city or town boundary or to official dumps for disposal, from where it might be taken to be spread as fertiliser on fields or market gardens.

I have to give credit Joseph Goodman for adding a word to my vocabulary I would never have come across in any other way.  Just like my AD&D 1E books made me look up words when I was a young teen new to RPGs, Joseph is making me look up words over 30 years later.

Well done!

(The Gong Farmers came with their own Night Soil - now that's entertainment!)

Some Further DCC RPG Observations in Actual Play

Last night I ran my second DCC RPG Funnel (third funnel overall if your include last weekend's ACKS Henchman Funnel). More precisely, I ran approximately the first half of The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk by Purple Sorcerer Games.

Ooze Pits is less dungeon crawl, more roleplay / wilderness in nature. Despite this change, 7 casualties out of 12 (16 if you count replacements) of the zero level PC peasants. So far it's been more lethal than The Portal Under the Stars (from the DCC Rulebook).

1D4 Damage vs 1D4 HP PCs is like putting 1D10 Two-Handed Swords in AD&D against 1D10 HP 1st level Fighters. Scaled it's the same.

Managing the number of NPC / Monster adversaries that can engage the party is a delicate balance, especially with the varying numbers of PCs in the newbie swarms. I need to adjust a bit better on the fly. It is an art more that it is a science.

Saves / Checks that are failed even 1 time in 3 that are save or die (even with a 50% luck chance reducing that to 1 in 6) will kill that fraction of the party on average if everyone is forced to make that check. In our case, 2 PCs bought the bullet on that one (exactly 1 in 6). I'm not a fan of forcing a party into a save or die situation - it should be by PCs decision making, good or bad. Did it play out to a fun effect? Yes. Still not a fan of it. Not a specific criticism of the Ooze Pits - I've come across this repeatedly over the years.

Surprisingly, despite (or perhaps because of) the high mortality rate in the adventure so far, my players are having a blast. As am I.

Lack of equipment leads to players thinking out of the box. This has happened in all three funnels I've run. If you aren't comfortable going with the flow and improvising rules to accommodate your players pushing the envelope (and then some), running a "funnel" probably isnt for you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rob Conley Has Added An Exclusive to the LotFP Summer Indiegogo Campaigns

This is going to be short and sweet. I had an afternoon of burgers and beers with Joe the Lawyer in Manhattan this afternoon and need to recover in time to run tonight's DCC RPG Funnel. Forgive any typos. They are the results of 5 (6?) pints of Blue Point Blueberry Ale and two shots of whatever the fuck Joe was having them make. Thank the Lord my kid does pick ups at the pubs ;)

Here's the latest from the LotFP Summer Indiegogo Campaigns (I've had to hold this under my hat for the last day and a half):

New Perk: All $30+ contributors on funded projects will get a 16 page sandbox by Robert S. Conley (Majestic Wilderlands, Points of Light 1 & 2, etc.) in print + pdf format. This is exclusive to this campaign and will not be available in any format afterwards.


Rob does some great stuff. Heck, I'm using Blackmarsh in my ACKS Campaign as we speak.

Fun With Funnels - My New Campaign Starter

Let me begin this by saying I am not starting a new campaign in the immediate future, or even the not so immediate future. I have enough on my plate with my ongoing ACKS campaign (and possible side campaign therein) and my DCC RPG quasi campaign that will be run in Arcs. That being said, Saturday Night's games session reinforced the idea that newbie funnels are fun and build a true bond with players and their surviving PCs.

What was meant as a quasi-goof: running a funnel in ACKS with characters that would would become the regular PCs' henchman went better than expected. The survivors had value. The players were invested in them. The characters now have a bit of a back story and history.

They will not be one dimensional at first level (not that my players make one dimensional PCs - my group is fairly deep in the roleplaying). This is a side effect of the funnel that I hadn't expected, but having run a DCC funnel and an ACKS funnel, I plan on starting my next "D&D" style campaign with a funnel.

Of course, depending on how my current games go, that could be months or years in the future.

Remember, "Fun" is short for "Funnel" ;)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Putting a Little Magic Back in the Tavern

Way back in the beginning of this blog I was attempting to post a new magic item once a week or so - Tenkar's Magical Tidbits or some such nonsense. It didn't last. I was trying to find a voice for the blog and I was going in just about every direction at once to do so.

I think the blog has it's own voice now. It's constantly evolving, even without me putting conscious thought into the matter. Tonight I am putting some conscious thought into the matter.

Once a week, sometime over the weekend (starting next weekend, as the 30th is my bday and also the start of a week of vacation) I plan on offering up a bit of magic to my blog readers. A new magic item once a week for your campaign. It may be for DCC RPG one week, ACKS another week, RQ6 on the third - whatever strikes my creative fancy. Hell, I might get real creative and whip something up for MERP ;)

Just like this blog makes me work my writing muscles multiple times a day, i want it to work my creative gaming muscles too. 


RuneQuest 6 - Review - Part the Fourth - Working on Skills and Rolls

RuneQuest 6 is a game built on skills. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that has heard about RuneQuest, Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu, Basic RolePlaying, Legend, Elfquest, OpenQuest and I'm sure a slew of games that are a variation of the above. They all have their roots in the first release of RuneQuest.

There are some basic things to note about skill use in RQ, especially for those coming from the D&D side of the table - it's percentile based and you want to roll low.

Going back to D&D and it's many offspring. In D&D, you usually want to roll high, a natural 20 always hits and a natural 1 always misses. That is D&D combat broken down to it's simplest core.

In Runequest (and it's related siblings and offspring) you pretty much want to roll low. A roll of 01-05 is always a success and a roll of 96-00 is always a failure. Equal to, or less than your skill value on your D100 roll means you succeeded and rolling greater than your skill value means you failed. That is RQ skill resolution at it's simplest core.

D&D variations sometimes have criticals and failures. Generally a natural 20 is a crit (sometimes there is a range, say 18-20, but it is always a natural roll that you are looking at, not adjusted by bonuses) and if there are fumbles, they occur on a natural 1.

In RuneQuest 6 criticals happen when the roll is 1/10th the skill value (adjusted after modifiers - this shit I remember from older editions of the rules). This applies both in combat and with non-combat skill use. Fumbles occur on a roll of 99 or 00 (2% chance, compared to D&D's 5% when applicable).

RQ6 includes grades of difficulties from Automatic (no need to roll), Very Easy (double your effective skill value) all the way through Herculean (skill effectively reduced to 1/10 value) and Hopeless (no chance, no tries, no can do). There is also an alternative chart if multiplication slows you down too much.

As you can probably see, RQ6 is much more granular than D&D, which is where I am firmly based. It's funny, but reading through the RQ6 rules makes me want to break out my copy of Basic Roleplaying and whip up some cross-genre game, with fantasy elements taken from RQ6 and stealing ideas from Rifts. I do think BRP or RQ6 could handle such a setting better than Rifts current buggered beyond redemption rules, but I have suddenly veered off on one hell of a tangent!

Where was I? Oh yeah, RQ6 skills. The rest of the chapter describes the skills that you assigned points to in the previous chapter. It includes examples of what may happen on a crit, a success, a failure or a fumble. The examples are pretty much good enough for a GM to extrapolate what he needs for his unique situation.

There is a section on Skill Rules for Different Circumstances and Situations at the end of the chapter. I'm just going to list the different rules, as some are fairly obvious what they deal with based on their title, and in any case, I'm not trying to repeat the book, but show what it has inside.

So, that being said, here we go - Reattempting Skills, Augmenting Skills, Capping Skills, Contested Rolls (always a biggie) and Group Rolls. Some of these are broken down further (Contested and Group Rolls for example) but that should be enough to get an idea.

Raggi's No Risk Deal - Horror Among Thieves: If You Contribute and it Doesn't Fund, You Get It FREE

I was kind of surprised by this myself. Last week Kelvin Green announced that if you supported his project Horror Among Thieves and it didn't fund, he'd put it out in PDF for those that attempted to support his project. For free. Damn cool. It's just gotten cooler.

Now James Raggi has come out and said if you support the project and it doesn't fund, he's still print it and ship it to you - for free!

Here's the skinny:


Kelvin Green’s gone nuts and he’s infected LotFP Central!


If Horror Among Thieves does NOT fund, LotFP will still be publishing the adventure. It won’t necessarily be on the same timetable as if it were to fund, but we’ll put it out.


Anyone contributing $10+ to the campaign will get the adventure PDF, WHETHER OR NOT THE CAMPAIGN FUNDS.


Anyone contributing $20+ to the campaign will get the physical book, WHETHER OR NOT THE CAMPAIGN FUNDS.


That’s right, if the campaign doesn’t fund, you get your contributed money back at the close of the campaign, and you will get the stuff anyway when it’s published. (Note that if it doesn’t fund with this campaign, books will be shipped 2nd class and it does not include any of the campaign extras.)


Spread the word. Now there really is no excuse not to fund this thing.


Additionally, Raggi will be announcing another incentive for supporters of the July Adventures. James told me what it is, and I think it may be enough to jump start a few of these projects. It involves someone whose work is very respected among the OSR community. The new sweet point will be $30 bucks. Details tomorrow after James lets the cat out of the bag ;)

ACKS + DCC Funnel = Loads of Fun!

Last night my ACKS group switched over to the "Henchman Mini-Campaign Within the Campaign" for the time being. The group of five has been down to three with vacations and other distractions, so the idea was to play their future henchmen. That idea than morphed into "lets do a DCC RPG Funnel for the ACKS henchmen!" See, thinking is a dangerous thing.

The group used the Purple Sorcerer Character Generator to make their cannon fodder. The stats were fairly easy to convert to ACKS - the only stretch was Luck which morphed into Wisdom, but it worked fine.

I used The Portal Under the Stars from the DCC RPG rulebook for the funnel. I've used it before for DCC, and it runs well and fairly quick - about two hours. I don't want tot give away too much of the adventure, as it is a fun one, and those that haven't had a chance to play it should still be able to enjoy the surprises.

The party went in with 12 PCs (4 for each player) and came out with 7 PCs. Everyone had at least one survivor.

Here's some observations:

In the short period of time, people became attached to their characters - well, at least the survivors. Even my players marveled at how the process actually worked in play. To paraphrase my group: "they've been trying to figure out 0-level characters in play for 30 years and Goodman finally did it right!"

My players think out of the box. Far out of the box. As in: "Take the Box, Cut Doors and Portals in the Sides, Top and Bottom - Then Step Out of the Box and Give It a Big Kick In the 'Nads From the Outside" type of thinking. Constantly forcing me to think out of the box. Challenging me as the DM - not my authority, but to keep up with them and be willing to go far beyond the text of the adventure. I had as much fun last night as I've ever had as a GM in any game, including games with the same players. They were literally hitting it out of the ballpark. F'n amazing!

DCC is as much D&D as ACKS is. and they are all a blast to play ;)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Limited Edition AD&D DMG and MM in Hand (PH is on Backorder)

I am very impressed with the EGG Limited Edition Reprints of the AD&D 1E Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual (my Player's Handbook is on backorder).

The books seem to be heavier than the originals. The paper used is of higher quality. I now have copies that don't have the combat tables soiled by my dirty fingers flipping through top find the charts time and time again.



Amazingly enough, my Monster Manual opened right up to the page with the Succubus on it. Good times :)

Google Nexus 7 Burns the Amazon Kindle Fire!

I thought it would end up with the Kindle Fire being left with nothing but sparks when compared to the Google Nexus 7. Sure enough, that's pretty much the results.

The Kindle Fire is admittedly older and uses an older, rewritten (read "crippled") version of the Android OS. Which is fine if you are giving the Fire to a non-tech savy person, as they will probably not know the difference with their use of the Fire.

The thing is, the Fire is heavier than the Nexus 7 - noticeably heavier and thicker. So for reading in bed, the Nexus 7 wins out.

Reading PDFs on the tablets? The Nexus 7 is smoother while scrolling through the pages and seems to load them quicker, especially on the larger PDFs we gamers know and love.

Gaming on it? Only game I've tried on both is Angry Birds Space. It looks sharper on the Nexus 7.

Movies is where the Fire may actually overtake the Nexus 7, and not because of picture quality, which should be sharper on the Nexus. The Kindle Fire allows you to access your Amazon Prime free videos collection. If that is going to be one of your main uses for your tablet, the Fire does something that the Nexus 7 does not.

Ease of use? The Kindle Fire doesn't have buttons for volume control, it's all on screen. I much prefer physical buttons for such, so point to the Nexus 7 for providing such.

Bluetooth? The fire lacks bluetooth. The Nexus 7 synched promptly with the bluetooth keyboard I got with my HP TouchPad (back when HP killed the TP and released it at rockbottom prices). If you ever want to use your tablet for extensive emailing or blogging, you need a keyboard. The onscreen keyboard is not sufficient.

Price? $199 for the Fire. $199 for the 8GB Nexus 7.

Except for accessing the Amazon Prime Video Library, the Nexus 7 beats the Kindle Fire hands down. The Nexus is much more bang for your buck, and I'm enjoying reading the RuneQuest 6 rulebook on it in bed ;)


Friday, July 20, 2012

Eannie, Meanie, ENnies - It's Like the All-Star Game for RPGs

'Tis ENnie time. Time for blogs and RPGs and publishers that have made the cut to shill and plead and cajole their readers, customers and fans to vote for them in the ENnie balloting. Just like the MLB All-Star Game, ballot box stuffing is encouraged.

Which is why it is mostly the larger companies with a larger following that scoff up the awards.

It's a popularity contest, not a quality contest.

I'd like to see awards or recognition for gaming products from the writers and creators of games. What THEY think are the top products, the ones that push the creative envelope, the stuff that they are playing when they aren't playing their own creations.

I'm sure the two lists would be very different. I'd personally find the second list more valuable.


You Can Learn About Life When You Play the Game of Thrones...

Do you remember The Game of Life? Driving around the game board with a car full of peg people, trying to get to the end before anyone else? I think I played the 1978 version, as it still had convertibles.

What did I learn about life Playing the Game of Life? Jack shit. I mean, I thought I was learning something, but I wasn't.  It was entertaining as hell when you're 12 years old and haven't yet found out about D&D and the like.

The Game of Thrones (HBO TV Series - I've yet to read the books), however, is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

You learn life takes unexpected turns, that life hurts, love hurts, that family is sometimes just pawns in a larger game. Loyalty comes at a price and even then is not guaranteed. The Game of Thrones is very much like life. Not mine, certainly. Probably not yours. It is, however, real enough though to have real life visions reflected in it.

Does that make for a good RPG? I don't know about that, and that is another beast of a book that I'll have to take up the challenge to review after RQ6. My wife expressed interest in the GoT RPG, but I think that is solely because she's enjoying the TV series. Ah hell, who am I kidding? I know that's the only reason, but it will be nice to get a non-gamer's view on the RPG. I'll see if we can pull it off...

A Character is More Than His Riffs - Er, Stats


I was bouncing around YouTube tonight and I came across this awesome video where a guitarist does 100 classic guitar riffs in one take. It amazing to listen to, not just because he is very talented, but because the riffs are so much less than the songs they are a part of even though they are what "define" the songs in question.

100 riffs and I could identify at least half, and recognized to some extent nearly all of the other half. All that and I was left unsatisfied. Why? Because these riffs on their own lack the depth of the songs built around them.

I think that can be applied to RPG characters. In many ways we define them by their stats, but for them to actually come to life, to sing, those stats have to be part of something deeper.

The best stats in the world don't mean much if the character doesn't have some depth to go along with it. Or maybe I just heard the hooks of a hundred songs and now I want to listen to them all, as the hooks leave me feeling empty on their own.


Tomorrow We Step the Campaign Down a Notch - Bring in the Future Henchmen!

I'm going to go with "let's role play your future henchman" for the next few sessions of my ACKS game, as it keeps anyone from being left behind, and keeps the core party from taking undo risks while short. Yep, juggling the summer vacation blues.

We also have encountered a scheduling conflict with one of our regulars - I need to see if the group is able to change the game night to keep things rolling, or if we need to adjust to a slightly smaller core group of PCs (and players). I hate losing players, especially when the group hits well on all cylinders and everyone riffs pretty well of each other. Just like adding someone new to a group can change the chemistry, losing someone from the group can do the same.

Now I have to whip up an adventure for a party of 3 newbs, without knowing the classes that will be comprising the party makeup. It's going to be a challenge balancing out the challenge ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Google Nexus 7... My... Precious...

Well, after a nice long quest, I finally have my Google Nexus Tablet in hand. Woot!

I'd like to thank Google's Shipping Department (my receipt says "Shipped 7/11/12", UPS knew of the shipping label being printed on 7/12/12, but UPS didn't receive the package until 7/15/12 - The UPS Shipping Saga has been told already on G+) and the fine folks at UPS for making this a much more complicated and lengthy process than it needed to be. Well done!

First impressions:

Noticeably lighter than the Kindle Fire, it's closest competitor by price (blows the Fire away by feature)

Video playback is very nice - seems smoother than the Kindle Fire, but I haven't run the same video side by side at this point to confirm.

The built in ebook reader increases font size in really really small increments. This can be good if you are looking to make small adjustments, but a real PITA if you are looking to move from default to really large font type.

Screen is a fingerprint magnet.

The Nexus 7 feels really nice in the hands. Nice, secure grip type feel.

The Google Now feature is interesting. Weather, NYC Bus schedule for the local stop, a local Argentinean Restaurant I had overlooked complete with Zagat ratings. Like I said, interesting

Already has a system update.

More after playing with it ;)

The Never Ending UPS / Google Nexus 7 Saga Continues

I changed the deliver address to my work address on tuesday afternoon - and UPS attempted a second delivery at my home yesterday despite the change.

i dealt with online customer service yesterday afternoon, and they put in a new request to change the delivery address - the local UPS Hub called me to confirm and all was well

until last night, when i get an email update that apparently i called UPS to hold the package and i would be there to pick it up that night - being that the update was generated at 920 PM and i got the email shortly after 10 PM, I don't think so - i certainly didnt make that call.

this morning the local hub called me to tell me that they were trying to track down my package to ensure delivery today - i told him to look up the info on his screen - he asked when i called in the hold - i told him i never did

they will call later to let me know if its on a truck or if i need to pick it up at the hub

hopefully i can close this saga later this afternoon...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Raggi Ups the Ante - Some New Incentives For LotFP Series of Crowdfunded Adventures

I told James that I'd mention any updates he made to his Summer Campaign of Indiegogo Adventures, so here I am.

Some of it makes me feel like I'm really out of touch, because I still have no idea who the band GWAR is ;(

Here's some of the details from James' blog (go to LotFP Blog for all the link goodness):


Two new perks on Dave Brockie's adventure Towers Two:

$50 gets you the Adventure + Extras plus a GWAR shirt and poster both signed by Oderus Urungus!

$75 gets you all that plus 2 ticketsto a GWAR show, and a chance to meet Dave Brockie and get your picture taken with him.(transport to the show of course not included, not valid for festival appearances)



Two new perks on Aeron Alfrey's adventure Escaping Leviathan:

$40 gets you the Adventure + Extras plus 5 A4-sized prints of some of Alfrey's previous work with LotFP. See below for the pieces.
(Alfrey's art rocks! might be worth it for the prints alone)

$75 gets you that plus an A1 size poster (594 × 841mm) which will function both as both an art piece and a map of the interior of the Leviathan.


Kelvin Green has made a bombshell announcement about his adventure Horror Among Thieves:

"Whether or not this campaign makes its goal, anyone who contributes at least $10 will get a pdf of the adventure; if the campaign is a success, the full weight of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess design and layout team will be thrown behind it and you’ll get the fancy pants edition detailed on the campaign page. If not, then I’ll be putting it together myself and it won’t look half as good, but you will get the full text and all the art, all the content just as if the goal had been reached. That’s my small way of showing my thanks to you for showing your support." (this is very cool of Kelvin)

and a bunch of other cool stuff and info on James' blog



RuneQuest 6 Game Master's Pack - Free Download



Yep, the fine folks over at The Design Mechanism have posted the RQ6 Game Master's Pack. It's a free download that includes 2 adventures and a crapload of charts all in one neat place.

I'm still waiting on the form fillable character sheet to get posted :(

Rain, Hail, Lightning - Oh My!

I chose the right day to work until 6PM (I'm usually out at 4). NYC is currently being hit by one heck of a summer storm. Hopefully the marble sized hail I saw coming down half an hour ago didn't damage the car.

No Google Nexus 7 either :(

After redirecting UPS to my work address yesterday afternoon and paying my $5 fee for the privilege, they still tried to deliver it to my home.

It was impossible to get a live customer service rep on the phone, but the web chat worked fairly well. Og course, the local office called my cell phone as the storm hit, so they couldnt hear me and they don't have a listed number. Took some web searching on Yelp to find iit in someone's comments.

Tomorrow they say. Always tomorrow. It's like postponing Christmas Damn it!

Happy Jacks' Podcast Talks LotFP Weird Fantasy - and Fails

I was listening to last Friday's Happy Jacks Podcast on the ride home yesterday and I heard mention of LotFP's Weird Fantasy ruleset. That was surprising, as the Happy Jacks Folks aren't much into Old School or OSR gaming. If you've ever heard any of their rants on Hit Points, you'd know their overall opinion of D20 gaming. Still, I find them entertaining and even thought provoking at times.

It seems Stu (and least I think it was Stu) recommended Weird Fantasy to listeners based purely on the art, and was getting flack from listeners that wound up buying an OSR product. Kinda funny actually.

And then Tappy opened up his mouth: "Weird Fantasy is 3e with a bit of 2e thrown in." Tappy never ceases to amaze me. No only is he usually clueless, but he has to be the expert on everything - even stuff he has no knowledge of.

I wanted to pull my car over and call the show and correct the putz, but I then realized it's a taped podcast.

I'd write the show, but it takes them 3 months to read an email to the show, so I figured I'd bitch here. ;)

Seriously, it's one of the better podcasts out there, just so long as they refrain from talking about 3e or earlier styled gaming.

Stick to Savage Worlds, Traveller and the like lads. Oh, and keep Tappy's false expertise under control. It's hard to call someone out with a 3 month turn around ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Missed It (my Google Nexus 7) By This Much!

Missed delivery of my Google Nexus 7 by less than 40 minutes. Grrr!

I've now changed delivery to my job for a fee of $5, which would never have been needed if Google had only shipped this when it generated the shipping label of the 12th of July.

So, I guess I'll be getting mine tomorrow - hopefully ;)

Online Play is a RPG Publisher's Boon

Remember the days when you played RPGs around the table in your parents' basement. There was one core rulebook getting passed around (or if your group was really lucky, one book for the GM and one book for the players to reference during play).

RuneQuest, Paranoia, Gamma World, Top Secret - the list goes on. These are some of the games I ran with just a single copy of the rules at the table.

Now, think about online play, whether via a traditional VTT like Fantasy Grounds of MapTools, or one of the Google+ Hangout Apps like TableTop Forge or Roll20. For a game to run smoothly, pretty much every player in the group was to have access to the rules. It's impossible to pass one copy among the players.

In effect, online play should be good for the publishers, at least those with core rulebooks for sale, as I suspect online players own a greater percentage of the rulebooks of games they play in than those that play face to face.

No, I haven't done a survey. I may at a later time. It's just that the situation and the facts make this the likely outcome.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mini Review - The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk (DCC RPG Adventure)

I was hoping to give a post play review tomorrow or Wednesday, but we pushed the game back a week. Although it was the group consensus to do so, I'm happy we did. I think with the baggage I've been carry around between this weekend and work today, the lethality level would have increased a few notches ;)

The thing is, I'm really psyched to run Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, and not just because I got to see it in a pre-release form. I'm looking forward to reading running it as it should be a good amount of fun with some excellent roleplay scenes. As much as I hate to say it, most DCC RPG Adventures lack an element of roleplay, except among the PCs. The surrounding environment is menat to be overcome or ignored.

Not so in The Ooze Pits. Here, the first third of the adventure will be the PCs gathering rumors and leads. It makes the impact of the later scenes that much greater and not only makes the story more interesting, but one the players (and their characters) should start to care about. Besides, there are some twists that the party will be very happy with themselves if they figure them out.

I regret that we haven't played it yet, as I would be able to give more of a sense in how it plays. I suspect it could play out in as long as two sessions, if the players cover all of the ground included. If that's the case, I'll be leveling my party after the first session (mid adventure).

It should get it's run through in about a week. I'll post the results afterwards ;)

From the blurb:


Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists south of the Great City; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate folk of the city, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance!

Do you dare re-enter the deadly swamps of the Sunken City? The hamlet of Slither's End needs your aid, but after meeting the bizarre locals, you might wonder if you need someone to protect you from Slither's End! Can you unravel the mysterious abductions plaguing the town? Do you chance trekking through the open swamp seeking answers when death lurks around every bend? And who is this Jonas Gralk that everyone mentions with grave suspicion?  Answers await in The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk!


Features of The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk

Compatible with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games (easily convertible to your favorite 'old school' system.)

Effortlessly integrate 0-level mobs into your world! Or challenge smaller 1st level bands.

Encounter the decidedly quirky folk of Slither's End and unearth clues about their troubles. First question: why does there appear to be giant pool of bubbling blood in the center of town?

Battle unforgettable foes in the surrounding swamps, including Mist Men, axe wielding trees, pixies with bad attitudes, giant nut-bombing squirrels, and the return of the not-so-fearsome opossumen!

Lovely full-color maps and art throughout all 19 pages. (With a 10 page appendix stuffed with adventuring goodies including rumors organized as player handouts, a clue checklist, town notes, and pre-gen replacement characters.)

Free support downloads available at purplesorcerer.com, including battle maps, adventure specific paper miniatures, and more!



Thou Shall Not Pass What Price Point With PDFs?

What price point sets the bar for you with PDFs? At what point do you say: "I don't care if it's the best RPG product out there, I'm not touching it!"

This topic has come up in the past, but I think it's even more relevant now. Amazon's consistant pricing of electronic versions of the new books it sold at $9.99 (often at a loss) was fought by the publishers. Now, many of the best sellers are priced the same in electronic format as they are in print.

Two of the big game releases have released their PDF versions at significant prices, even if they are discounted greatly from the Hard Cover prices.

Dungeon Crawl Classics is $24.99 in PDF on RPGNow, $39.99 in HC (at least for the first print run - rumors are that the second print run might be priced at $49.99). It's a great game in my opinion, and if the PDF works for you, that's awesome. I love my PDF copy that came with my pre-order. I'm not sure if the $15 dollar discount for the PDF is enough of a discount on a $39.99 product in print. Then again, $39.99 for the DCC RPG in print is a steal, so $25 for the PDF might be fair but still makes me blink...

Runequest 6 is $25 in PDF on RPGNow, $62 for the print + PDF version. I'm reviewing it now because I had access to a reviewer's copy of the PDF and literally minutes after opening the PDF I ordered the print + PDF version (it looks to be an awesome set of rules) BUT if it wasn't for numerous requests, both in emails and on G+ for me to review it, I doubt I would have. Generally speaking, if the PDF price makes me blink, I'm not going to ask for a review copy. $25 makes me blink.

I don't think I have hard pressed rules on my own price points for PDFs, but generally speaking, it's say the following is where I fall:

Rules - $10 is still in the sweet range - on rare occasions, if something has lots of good word of mouth, I may inch closer to $20, but at that price, buying it in paper format is usually in the same range.

Supplements - $5 - is still in the sweet range (may even become an "impulse buy") - again, on rare occasions, great reviews and word of mouth I may even go over $10 - maybe $12

We all have our own range, our own line we won't cross.

What is yours?

Breaking the Shackles of Class! (it ain't so easy)

I've been spending a lot of time with the RuneQuest 6 PDF the past week, and I must say I really like what I see so far. Character generation is deep. Not necessarily complex, but certainly more time consuming than the D&D based OSR games out there.

RQ6 doesn't have classes - you literally are able to design any type of character you want (within reason and with the points available - your mileage may vary).

Tonight I'm running a DCC RPG Arc, and tomorrow night I'm attending a retirement dinner - but Wednesday night I'm going to try my hand at designing a RQ6 character. Notice I don't say generate - it's more than just rolling some dice and picking a class. Still, the process should help me understand the rules better and let me see if there are any unseen hurdles I missed in my reading of RQ6 so far.

I suspect I'll post the process Wednesday night. Now I just need to think about the character I want to design - I'm thinking a warrior/mage type, but that shows I'm still shackled to class - I need to go beyond that ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summertime Blues - Continuity When Your Group Suffers Summer Shrinkage

Now that summer has hit full swing my ACKS group is suffering from "vacation-itis". We all know how it strikes, and it becomes an epidemic before you know it.

Taking the whole summer off isn't really an option - the group looses all momentum and this is where most campaigns seem to die unsightly deaths. So, even if it's irregular. Even if the group is short handed, you want to keep it going.

Initially I was thinking of moving from our ACKS campaign to a different system for the summer, so that absences would not result in present party members out leveling their vacationing brethren, but that lacks an important element. The campaign itself.

So, I just sent my group a message that my current idea is to play their future henchmen. They are all third and fourth level and there is currently one henchman in the party (a goblin they picked up early on).

By playing their future henchmen, they'll be more invested in them when they do join the party. They'll be more likely to have their own personalities and have them form in a natural process. Also, in the future, if the PC dies, the players will already have an attachement to the henchman - it makes for a more natural progression.

I'll see what the reaction is, but I think it could be the solution we are looking for ;)

RuneQuest 6 - Review - Part the Third - What Did I Do Before Questing For a Living?

Chapter 3 of the RuneQuest 6 Rulebook is titled Careers and Development. If you followed the first 2 Chapters that I reviewed, you'd be safe in guessing we are still dealing with character generation. If RuneQuest 6 has something to hand it's coat on it's character generation. It's full and deep. Random tet it gives the player control on direction. This has been something that has separated RQ from D&D and it's offspring since RQ first hit the scene. RQ Heroes are not as disposable as their D&D brethren.

In Chapter 3 we are offered a list of careers, which is broken down by Cultural Background. As an example, Fisher appears on the list for all four civilizations, while Sorcerer just appears on the Civilized list. If the player could make a valid argument, it's possible to have a career that isn't standard to the Cultural Background, but that is the exception that proves the rule.

Here's the Civilized list of Careers:

Agent
Alchemist
Beast Handler
Courtesan
Courtier
Crafter
Entertainer
Farmer
Fisher
Herder
Hunter
Merchant
Miner
Mystic
Official
Physician
Priest
Sailor
Scholar
Scout
Shaman
Smith
Sorcerer
Thief
Warrior

The Careers come with a list of alternative labels - So the "Agent" could also be known as an Agitator, an Assassin, A Detective, And Informer, A spy or something else that you feel you can effectively hang your hat on.

You can select up to 3 skills from among the Professional Skills listed with that career in addition to getting access to all of the Standard Skills listed with that career. Wanna guess how many skill points your get to distribute? Yep, you're correct - 100 points. Again, as usual, no skill can be assigned more that 15 points during this stage.

As you get 7 standard skills can can pick up to 3 (out of a list of 7) you'll have 10 skills in which to drop those 100 points. As 10 points each would be the average, a cap of 15 points in any individual  means your probably will stay around that 15 pt average with some tweaks.

Later in the chapter we get to determine age. Age Categories are important, as they decide how many bonus points the character gets, the maximum skill increase (from the bonus points awarded due to age category), background event rolls and if the character is suffer from the results of aging. I wouldn't worry about the aging part - I don't see it affecting most starting PCs unless the player is looking to roll with someone past his prime. Most characters will start in the Adult or Middle Aged categories. 

These bonus points can be applied to any skills a character has previously learned as part of the Culture or Career. So when the text says "Choose up to 3 skills" choose 3, even if you just dump a single point in the stray one or two. This is the stage to boost those skills (and others) up.

Next up is starting equipment. there is a chart for reference as to what characters of a certain social standing can expect to own. It's more a guide than anything, but useful none the less.

The chapter aslo touches briefly upon magic and cult membership, but apparently these are discussed in detail later in the rules.

I may need to take a break from the review to generate my own PC, as things tend to fall in the place in practice more so than just reading.

Secrets of TSR (From Paizo Con via YouTube)

I just spent a highly enlightening 54 minutes watching this video from Paizo Con with a bunch of old time TSR employees.

Very interesting and well worth the listening to, especially if you want to hear about events during the AD&D 2e Era.

Summer Gaming Thoughts - Of Missing Players and Tempting RPGs

Last night there were only four of us for the ACKS game - summer has that effect on gaming. So we did some maintenance and one hell of a lot of yapping and called it a relatively early night, which is ok, as I was still exhausted as all shit from Friday night's events.

We are toying with the idea of running some DCC RPG for the next few weeks. I'd rather not run the ACKS campaign short two players and the summer being what the summer is, I expect we will be short for the rest of the summer in some manner or form. DCC feels like it could support smaller group play with the simple tool of giving everyone multiple PCs, which I am most certainly NOT comfortable doing in most RPGs, but fits fine with DCC.

Then of course there's my renewed interest in RuneQuest, thanks in large part to the release of RQ6. I know at some point I'd like to run a short campaign / long arc using the RQ rules, but character gen in RQ is a lot more in depth than DCC or even ACKS. Does that long generation process include an assumption that character death will be less common. Is there a bit of "Aura of GM Protection" that must go along with it? This is one of those times that WFRP type "Fate Points" become a useful tool, I think.

Ah well, stuff to read, a game to prep for and weekend chores around the house. Too bad I slept half the afternoon away yesterday ;)


Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Dead Horse? A Short Chat With James Raggi

Who the fuck cast "Raise Dead" on this dead horse? heh

Anyway, I spoke with James Raggi earlier tonight via Google Chat, and he has many of the concerns I do about the funding of the current projects. Some of his assumptions did not pan out as well as he expected. Apparently, fans of RPG authors are not the same as fans of fiction authors - they don't run out to grab the author's latest necessarily. Live and learn.

That being said, James may be adding a new twist to the current projects. When he does (and hopefully he remembers to give me the heads up ;) I'll post it up here. As we all know, James tends to think out of the box. I'm very interested to see what else he has up his sleeve (and no, he didn't tell me - not even a hint). There are a handful of projects I'd like to see get funded - hopefully James' push next week will make things a bit more palatable.

He did speak with me about an upcoming limited print release + PDF he is working on. Not sure how much I can speak about it, but I will say this - I love the title, I cringed at the subject matter (he had artists turn down the work based on the subject matter), I will find a way to run it in my current ACKS campaign when it releases, and those that like to rant about distasteful and offensive gaming material and like to start petitions will have their second coming (someone please make sure the "Research Assistant" is notified when it gets released - he has me blocked - heh). Of course, James is self published, so he can tell them to "Fuck Themselves".

I'm really looking forward to it, as you can tell :)




Whereupon I Beat The Dead Horse - Taking a Sucker's Bet

I had hours to kill last night, sitting in my illegally parked car outside a Manhattan Hospital, as the rest of my family took care of events (details such as they are are in my Google+ postings).

So, what did I do?

Did I brainstorm ideas for tonight's ACKS game? No, that makes way too much sense.

Did I brainstorm new magic items for my current project? Nope

I thought about Raggi's Indiegogo Project(s) again, and what I consider to be a failure to properly execute.

There are a number of adventures that Raggi has people writing and dooig art for that I'd be interested in, but at $20 bucks a pop across multiple projects, it gets cost prohibitive quite quickly. There aren't even stretch goal to get excited about. Instead, the goal, if you will, is to get multiple projects funded so that those that pledge higher amounts potentially get more adventures in return.

Here's some of the problems (my comments are highlighted)

          From LotFP Blog
A note about the bundle deals:
Pembrooktonshire Gardening Society members get discounts on the bundles. Bigger discounts than the cost to become a member, actually. Want to become a member, or just see the usual benefits? Look here for info. (alright, adding a layer of confusion to the process is never a good start)
I really think the bundle deals are what will get projects funded. (at $160 a pop, I would guess so too) It would take 600 people going in for the PDF or 300 for the Print+PDF to get an adventure funded (with 19 projects running concurrently, that is a huge amount to ask for - how many copies of LotFP did James sell as pre-orders?) ... but only 34 if they go for the full Faithful deal (at $160 a pop it's expensive as hell- and its a gamble at that)(or just 12 if going for the Collecting Faithful hardcovers+slipcase deal). But it is a bit of money and a bit risky the way the campaigns are set up (why make supporting a publisher a risk? that makes no fucking sense whatsoever), so I offer this as an incentive: 
If you contribute to a project at the $160 level or greater and that project becomes the only one to fund, you will get a 100€ coupon code for the LotFP store (current exchange rate, that is worth $122.24 - so that $20 adventure just cost you $38.76). If that project and only one other funds, you get a 50€ coupon code (this sucks even more - as that code is just worth $61.12 - those two adventures, which might include one you would never have bought on its own, cost you $98.88 - that's one hell of a loss). These codes will be good through the end of 2014.
Strategy? (why should there ever need to be a "strategy" when it comes to crowdfunding?)
Those wanting the full bundle ($160+ levels) (full bundle ONLY breaks even if 8 projects fully fund - otherwise it is a guaranteed loss of money - not the way to keep customers or gain future ones) should put their money on one of the top three as-yet unfunded adventures and put their money down on one of those. Get adventures funded. Getting half of them funded is better than getting them all half-funded, yes? Once something's funded, don't put any more full bundle contributions on it, get the next one done. And they'll start to add up. (why put anything other than $20 on the project or two you might have an interest in? why the heck should you gamble? Indiegogo is extremely difficult to deal with when it comes to changing pledge levels, so anyone looking to pledge $160 is going to wait until the very end before they drop ANY money - why risk your money?)

Someone commented on G+ that only Raggi is taking a risk on his Grand Adventure Scheme. Wrong, anyone putting down $160 on any of these projects is taking a huge gamble.

If three projects fund, and you are in at the $160 level, it's costing you $53.33 an adventure, four projects is $40 an adventure - twice what you would have paid pledging to individual projects ($20 each in print). Anything less than eight and you lose. Simple as that. At this point, I'd be surprised if more that four fully fund.

It's not that the offerings are bad. There's a bunch of stuff I'd love to see get published. There's just too many at once and the pricing scheme is a horror.

Crowdfunding works best when you have stretch goals - everybody loves a carrot or two. It should NEVER be a gamble where the customer can lose value on the money they commit to get a product out the door.

Alright, time to make glue form this horse. Later ;)



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