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Friday, August 31, 2012

Blood & Treasure Complete - All the Cool Kids Are Doing It!

Yep - got mine!


Coincidentally, its the only RPG book I'm taking in physical format for my weekend in the country. Not saying my Nexus 7 isn't fully loaded, but for hammock and / or lake shore reading, there can be only one - Blood & Treasure Complete.

With Halflings Even!
Time To Roll a New PC...

Mini Review - Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook - 5th Printing - Now in Fabulous Technicolor

I've spoken about Castles & Crusades many a time on this blog. It literally is the game that brought me back to RPGs. It spoke to me like nothing else had since D&D 1e, and at the time it was first and only retroclone-ish release in the RPG market. I have every printing of the C&C Handbook - some multiple printings even, as I have the leatherette and the softcover PH / M&T flip book.

Every printing but the 5th. Well, now I have the C&C PH 5th printing in PDF. I still need to get it in HC.

So, what's the appeal of Castles & Crusades, when you have all of the other retroclones out there that hew pretty close to one classic ruleset or another?

Easy peasy compatibility from 3x to 0e. It plays very much like AD&D, and it's class selection is certainly built upon AD&D 1e.

Tons of support, adventures, and even a Fantasy Grounds ruleset available for it.

The 5th edition Player's Handbook is much like earlier editions, but with typos stomped and now color added. It's a pleasure to look at (and the PDF is nicely bookmarked) but it would be a PITA to print on your own. Consider yourself warned.

So many games, so little time ;)

What's Your Favorite Non-Classic Fantasy Race?

The discussions about halflings and gnomes has reinforced the idea that there is some push back against some of the "non-classic" fantasy races. I can understand why, even if I don't fully agree with it, but it got me thinking about my favorite "non-classic" fantasy race - Wolfen from the Palladium RPG.

Somehow the idea of wolflike humanoids that are organized enough to create their own empire strikes a cord in me. I really should write up a OSR styled conversion - Wulfs maybe, so big Kev doesn't get all up in arms ;)

What's your favorite?

What't your least favorite? (that would be Dragonborn for me - don't ask why, there is no rational reason)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Complicated the Rules = Lesser Expectation of Character Death?

I think I've touched on this before, but I find it interesting at the moment, as I'm reading a Pathfinder adventure with the idea of porting it over to ACKS or S&W Complete for my own use. It caught my eye, as a reviewer referred to it as "deadly" and "an old school dungeon crawl", but then seemed to be turned off to it in large part for those very reasons.

Does Pathfinder not mesh well with old school dungeon crawls? Is the risk of character death in a rule system that encourages players to plan out their skills and feats in advance too great for the "Oh Shit! Run!" style of play?

I really dug the Pathfinder Beginner Box. It kept the complications down and did a great job in presenting the system. I'd actually play the Pathfinder Beginner Box. My Pathfinder Rulebook? It's a great value, but it's going into storage with the rest of my Pathfinder goodies to make room for the OSR stuff that I actually use. Pathfinder is just too much for me. Too heavy. Too complicated.

I really wish there was a Pathfinder Basic or Light version that was compatible wit all of the great Pathfinder adventures without all the unnecessary system weight. Okay, the weight may be necessary for some people, but it's not for my taste ;)

As for the adventure I'm reading? So far it seems like a perfect fit for my style of gaming. Which isn't Pathfinder...

Came Home to Some Great Art - Elric By Jeff Dee!

Got my Kickstarter package from Jeff Dee. The man is a really good artist. I'd jump in for more stuff, but I'm going to have a hard time finding places for these after I get them framed. ;)

(poor lighting in my dining room didn't help the shots- ah well)




No Gnomes? Oh Nos!

I'm sure pretty much everyone remembers the "No Gnomes!" videos and other similar advertisements that WotC used when it was rolling 4e out the door. Somehow "No Gnomes!" was supposed to be a selling point.

How did the little buggers get such a bad rap?

In AD&D, the were the only non-elf (or non-half-elf) race to get access to arcane magic, although they did it as illusionists.

In the realm of OSR retroclones, halflings might get slighted, but they aren't overlooked like gnomes are:

Swords & Wizardry - Gnome free

Labyrinth Lord - I believe they make their appearance in the Advanced Edition Characters book

LotFP Weird Fantasy - Just be happy halflings made the cut and don't ask about the gnomes. They're probably being corrupted as I write this.

ACKS - Halflings were omitted on purpose. Gnomes weren't even thought about enough to be purposefully mitted - the were just left out.

Is it just because they were one of the last races (certainly the last race that wasn't a hal breed) that was added to the adventuring mix that they suffer this oversight? Is it because they are some ill defined quasi cousins of dwarves? Is it the curse of the Garden Gnomes that keep them down? Did the Tinker Gnomes of Krynn use up the last of the goodwill that was aimed in the Gnome's direction?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Found! Free City of Haldane (Iridia #87)

I've been trying to find The Free City of Haldane for the better part of a year. I knew I had it somewhere, but I didn't expect to find it in a bunch of papers sitting inside a box of RPGs destined for storage. All because I was trying to track down by softcover copy of Swords & Wizardry Complete (I think that must currently be IN storage - I'll track it down of Friday).

This was a classic issue in Christian's old Iridia zine. I'm glad I found it just in time for the kick off of The City of Haldane series in his Loviatar zine :)

I'm looking forward to the new version, but I'm extremely happy to have my old version too.

Sometimes You Get Amazing Quantity - Other Times You Get Amazing Quality - I Like Both :)

Last month's DCC contest had over 130 entries. Simply amazing. There were some real gems among the zero level professions entered, and I still need to whittle it down to a 100 entry long table for Crawl!

So far this month, the DCC contest has 9 entries for the "Post a DCC Corruption Result of Your Own". It's a fair number, and there is just under a day and a half left in the contest, so there is still time to enter as I post this (hint!).  This contest has struck the quality bar and surpassed it. The entries equal or exceed those in the DCC RPG rulebook on pure imagination alone. At least, that's my humble opinion.

As I am the sole decider of the non-random prizes, I can see this is going to be a beautifully tough contest to judge. I can also foresee that down the line, if the monthly contests pick up in both quality and quantity, I may need to farm out the judging.

Damn cool :)


Converting Between OGL Systems - On the Fly or Prior Prep?

To a certain extent, everything from OD&D through 3.5e (and quite possibly 5e) are somewhat compatible. Back in my early gaming I was using D&D adventures in my AD&D game without batting an eye.

These days, I've used LL, C&C and S&W adventures and supplements in my ACKS campaign. Most of the conversion work I can do on the fly, but there are times I wish I had spent a few minutes ahead of time making sure things were ready for ACKS.

I've also grabbed some stuff from 3x and Pathfinder with minimal effort in converting, but I suspect the reverse would be more time consuming if not downright frustrating.

So, do you mix and match OSR/OGL rules in your games? Convert on the fly or scratch it out ahead of time?

Racial Specific Class - Halfling Adventurer (S&W Complete)

Based on yesterday's Halfling discusion and my later post on Racial Specific Classes, I came up with the following for Swords & Wizardry Complete:

Halfling Adventurer

Prime Attribute: Dexterity, 13+ (+5% experience bonus)
Hit Dice: 1d4/level (gains 2hp/level after 9th - maximum level is 10th)
Armor: Chainmail or Leather; no shield
Weapons Permitted: Any, but magical weapons are limited to daggers, swords and bows

Adventurer Class Abilities:

Fights as a Thief of the same level. (No Backstab Ability)

Saves as a Thief of the same level.

Levels as Thief

All thieving skills except Climb Walls. If wearing chainmail armor that is not magical, thieving skill effective level is reduced by 2 levels (Adventurers of 1st or 2nd level can not attempt any thief abilities while wearing chainmail armor)

Dodge Fatal Blow 1/day (2/day at level 5, 3/day at level 10) the Halfling Adventurer can attempt to dodge a fatal blow (physical attack from combat or trap - does not apply to spells, or spell effects - it does apply to breath weapons). The attack in question must have the potential to reduce the Adventurer to 0 HP or less (the DM will state if it does if the player asks). 


After the roll to hit against the Adventurer is successful, but before damage is determined, the player of the Adventurer must decide if he will attempt to use his Dodge Fatal Blow ability. If he decides to use Dodge Fatal Blow, he rolls a saving throw, and if successful, no damage is taken (nor is it rolled). If he fails his saving throw, he takes damage as normal and loses his next attack due to disorientation from attempting to dodge the blow that landed.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Racial Specific Classes - Or - Are the Core Classes Too Human-centric?

I've been running an ACKS campaign for a couple of months now, and if there is one main difference between ACKS and other retroclones (besides the rules for high level / ruler style play) is the inclusion of racial specific classes. Dwarven Vaultguards are very similar to human fighters, but it is a specific class available only to dwarves. Elven Nightblades are a magic-user/thief combo class that takes some abilities from each, but not all (no open locks or find / remove traps, much to my party's dismay).

The thing is, these classes are unique to each race. They are different from the standard classes. It's been  an excellent roleplay tool, and it helps folks think of races in the game as other than just a set of adjustments to a class.

Now, I'm not saying you can't have dwarven fighters or elven magic-users in your campaign - I'm sure I will when I run my next campaign of length, which will probably be a slightly houseruled Swords & Wizardry Complete game. But I think there should be options available for those that want to play something that more "racial specific" in the way of class.

It might also be an excellent way to give the halfling a better definition other that "short thief".

Hopefully I'll have something for the morning, and if I do, I'll post it here. Well, not THIS post mind you, but a new post, but here on THIS blog ;)

How High Should Magic Spells Go in Your OSR Game?

Notice how I said in YOUR OSR game ;)

Should spells go up to level 9 for both Magic-users and Clerics?

How about level 9 spells for Magic-users and level 7 for Clerics?

As low as level 6 spells for Magic-users and level 5 for Clerics?

Magic does set the tone of a campaign to some extent, and knowing how high your caster's potential is can be a defining moment.

For me, the answer would be level 6 for Magic-users and Level 5 for Clerics. It just seems like the right spot to top off the power of mere mortals. Magic beyond that is the business of the gods themselves.

What's your answer?

(there is a poll that will be up for a few days to grab your statistical answers, but I'd like to hear your reasonings too)

Why Do Halflings Get the Short Stick in Many RPGs?

Halflings were never all that powerful in AD&D. Poor guys were limited to 4th level as a fighter (although unlimited as a thief, something they excelled at).

LotFP's Weird Fantasy made them into some kind of "kick it and see if it goes off" trap detector, where their only specialty was good saves. No offensive usefulness, no utility worth besides setting off traps, they seems more like an afterthought.

Adventurer Conqueror Kings System does away with them all together. They're in the moster section if I recall correctly, but they were intentionally left out during the design of the system.

Halflings fair a little better in the DCC RPG, with dual wielding and their luck ability. Actually, with their luck ability, they seem a wee bit like their shorter green cousins of Irish lore ;)

Is it a general disdain of the race / class? Has it been over used and over played due to it's LotR roots? Is there an Anti-Hobbit backlash going on?

I always enjoyed playing a halfling Fighter / Thief - it made for a nice dungeon styles ranger substitute, but maybe that's just me and my style.

Do you also feel the wee folks have been held down, or am I over reaching? (had to get some height jokes in while I could ;)

How NOT to Get a Link Back From the Tavern


Every once in a while, Google's spam catching software let's a post get through. More often, it catches legitimate posts, and I have to release them from the spam dungeon. The following comment dodged Google's Spam Police and actually was live for about 30 minutes:

I just found your site and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts.In any case I'll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon Mr. King Solomon Sword

The Mr. King Soloman Sword part linked back to a novelty store for knives, swords and such. Cheap prices and even cheaper quality.

If you think you have something that this blog's readers might be interested in, reach out to me direct. Figure out how to do it. Others do.

Trying to scam The Tavern's readers is NOT the way to do it. This means you - Jeffery R Carter on G+. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Free Game of the Week - Flying Swordsmen (OSRish)

So, what exactly is Flying Swordsmen? It is the OSR styled rules turned slightly askew. It's the Sunday Matinee Martial Arts Movies of your (or at least my) childhood brought to life - via an RPG. This is not Oriental Adventures. This is Flying Swordsmen.

Here's how the author's blog describes it at What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse:


Welcome to the home of the Flying Swordsmen Role Playing Game.  Flying Swordsmen is a game of fantasy martial arts, where characters use swords, fists, spells, and more to battle other martial artists and monsters, and seek out new techniques or magic to improve their martial skill.

Players take on the role of a Fighter, Wizard, Shaman or Thief, and can customize their martial arts abilities as they advance in level.  The Stunt system allows players to create the sorts of wild and crazy abilities and moves seen in Wuxia (fantasy martial arts) movies and comics.  

Alright, I guess it even covers the more recent martial arts flicks, but I still love my poorly dubbed ones from childhood ;)

If you are comfortable with OSR style rules, this should be an easy fit for you. The stunt dice even remind me a bit of Mighty Deeds of Arms from the DCC RPG.

What's the Deal With Parrying in S&W Complete?

Alright, this has my head scratching (Swords & Wizardry Complete Page 14):


Parry: Fighters with a Dexterity score of 14 or better can fight on the
defensive, parrying enemy blows and dodging attacks, as shown on the
table below.

Fighter Parrying Ability
Dexterity Score Penalty to Enemy Attacks

14 -1
15 -2
16 -3
17 -4
18 -5

Is this in lieu of Attacking? In addition to? Is this like a super AC bonus? Does it stack with the +1 from a high Dex?

Heron Prior on G+ got me thinking about this and I'm not sure.

I've read a post on Dragonsfoot that indicates Matt intended it to be vague and open to interpretation. I find that answer to be disappointing, to say the least. If there are options on how to use something (ability, skill, spell, whatever), say so in the book - don't leave folks wondering if they have it right or wrong.

There is a post at the above link suggesting that it be limited to Fighters in light or no armor. Another post suggested the Fighter choose between Strength bonus to hit and a Parry bonus based on Dex - you can't have both in the same round.

I think either solution could work, but a Fighter in plate with an 18 Dex get +6 (+5 from parry, +1 from pure Dex) to his AC - so then I'd say know to the Hit OR Parry bonus scheme.

My vote is - light armor or no armor, the fighter can elect to gain a parry bonus from high Dexterity.

So let it be written, so let it be done ;)

Re-Reading Swords & Wizardry Complete Has Started...

Somehow, I never noticed during my first read through that Con and Dex have a maximum adjustment of +1 for high stats. At first, my mind rebelled when seeing this, but in further thought, it keeps AC and HP less swingy. I actually like it.

Str bonus only for Fighters I'll probably house rule away, although I'd probably cap it at +1 for non-fighters.

S&W Complete feels much like AD&D, simplified to the way my groups played it. We had houseruled it without knowing that's what we were doing.

I do miss the Illusionist. I might have to write up my own version of the class, much like I did the Bard last year.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Google Nexus Tablet Meets My RPG PDF Collection

I've had the Google Nexus 7 Tablet for about 5 weeks now. I can tell from an earlier post today (talking  about the Blood & Treasure RPG) that folks are interested in knowing how the Nexus 7 holds up when reading RPG PDFs.

It holds up very well.

The last two PDFs I've looked at on the Nexus 7 (using the EZ PDF Reader App) have been Blood & Treasure and Swords & Wizardry Complete. Why? Because I just bought the first one, and the second one is on my mind with the Reaper Kickstarter and the Swords & Wizardry Complete Kickstarter.

Both are readable with the tablet held in the vertical position, like a book. The print is small, but readable. I've mostly been using it to read for a few minutes in bed before sleep. If I were going to read for a longer period of time, I'd probably hold it in the horizontal position and move the page up and down for the two column format most games seem to favor.

Actually, I've got bunch of stuff on it in PDF format, so I'll rate them from zero to 2 thumbs up for vertical (V) and horizontal (H) reading. In no particular order:

RuneQuest 6 - 1V, 2H
S&W Complete - 1V, 2H
Blood & Treasure - 1V, 2H
Death Love Doom - 1+V, 2H (just a tad better to read than the others so far in vertical position)
ACKS - 1-V, 2H (its readable in vertical, but the walls of text don't make it easy)
Advanced Dungeons & Savages - 2V, 2H
Attack of the Frawgs! - 1V, 2H
The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk - 1V, 2H
Stars W/O Number - Core Edition - 1V-, 2H (readable but not easy on the eyes in vertical)
Other Dust -1V-, 2H (readable but not easy on the eyes in vertical)
DCC RPG - 1V+, 2H (maybe it's the font, but it's a bit easier on the eyes than most of the others when held in the vertical position)

So, most is readable in the vertical (book held) position, but for extended reading, you'll probably want to hold it vertically. I couldn't even really try to read most of my PDFs in the vertical postion with my Kindle Fire. I'm going to chalk that up to the quality of the screen.

Tenkar's Magical Tidbits - Talizmar's Woundlicker (OSR Weapon)

I was going to label this for use with Swords & Wizardry, as it certainly has gained some fame over the last few days, but Talizmar's Woundlicker should work in any OSR/OGL game with little changes necessary. So use it in ACKS, DCC RPG, Blood & Treasure - it should work in all.

Talizmar's Woundlicker is a magic longsword with some known history. It's first owner of any sort of fame was Talizmar, a warrior that fancied himself a ranger of sorts. He found the sword in an ancient barrow, and quickly fell fond of it. Maybe it was the etchings on the blade that seemed to slowly flow when stared at, or maybe it was the minor yet consistant healing of his wounds in combat that caused the bond, but he was never without out it. He kept it until the day he was felled by Tal & Mal, the two-headed giant, who left the sword where it fell with it's owner.

The game effects of Talizmar's Woundlicker are as follows. It is long sword of excellent quality, and as such, it inflicts +1 damage on all damage rolls. The blade is enchanted, with the following effects. When first used in combat, it instills a -2 adjustment to the wielder's to-hit roll, as the blade is groggy and desires blood. After the first hit, the adjustment becomes -1 to hit, after the second successful hit in the same combat it has no adjustment, upon the third successful hit it is +1 to hit and so on until the 5th successful hit, where it becomes +2 to hit until the end of the combat (and combat within 1 turn / 10 minutes picks up where the blade's bonus last was at).

Additionally, each successful hit on a living opponent heals one point of HP damage of the wielder (2 points when maximum damage is rolled). These points can heal past the normal maximum HPs (phantom HPs) of the wielder. Any phantom HPs fade one turn after combat has ended.

When the blade heals the wielder, an observer will notice blood drawn by the blade flows down the blade, over the hilt and seemingly into the wielder's hand.

First Impressions - Blood & Treasure (OSR Ruleset)

I bought Blood & Treasure Complete (Player's and GM's Books rolled into one) the other night, as I had both a Lulu 20% off coupon and a desire to see what John Stater, he of the Land of Nod setting, was going to put together as an OSR RPG. Besides, he was offering the PDF for free to those that purchased the hardcover copy. Win - Win if you ask me.

So far I'm impressed. I don't agree with everything John has done with Blood & Treasure, and I'm not sure I'd run it as is (do I run anything as is?) but it appears to be a tight set of rules that are easily houseruled. I dare say they were built for houseruling.

Blood & Treasure draws deeply from earlier editions of D&D, but it's not afraid to also draw inspiration from D&D 3e (such as with the optional Feats he's included, but I'll probably touch more on that with a later post).

The classes seem like fun to play (and higher level assassins even get spells). Heck, there's even a Bard class included - and if you know me, you know I love a flexible Bard class.

I have a minor issue with the layout - it only effects the class section, and I understand why it happens. Sometimes, class descriptions get broken up by the full page spread of the following class's base info / character portrait. I understand why it is done - to avoid lots of white space, but it breaks up the flow while reading.

I do like the Spell section. Spells descriptions are, for the most part, short and to the point. Easy to reference. Much like the Monster section - easy and quick to reference.

I'm still working my way through the PDF (which is surprisingly readable on my 7" Google Nexus tablet held in the vertical positon) but I like what I see so far. I also need to go back and reread by Swords & Wizardry Complete PDF at some point, as it might become the standard currency of the OSR after Reaper's Kickstarter ;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Afternoon With Guild Wars 2

Well, not the whole afternoon - I spent a good 2 hr chunk with one of those naps from hell, where you get to tell the dead that they shouldn't be in your dream, because, well - their dead. Thank God the fact that the living room renovations were done were the clue that let me know I was dreaming, because everything else was real as rain.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Guild Wars 2. Pretty damn sweet if you ask me. No monthly fee right from the start? Win win. PvP where everyone get's leveled up to 80, so the level gap is less pronounced (I assumed you still get skills and other bennies earned, so your true level will probably help, but it's not the swing like in other games of it's type).

Started with a human necromancer. Hit level 4, then took the nap.

Came back and played a norse ranger. Hit level 8 with him. No dwarves in the game, so if you see Tenkar Calishun running around on Tarnished Coast, that would be me ;)

I like the personalized quest chain - it reminds me a bit of the latest Star Wars MMO - it's about the one thing SW really got right. I like the on going events, much like Rifts. I like the PvP, although I would like to see some Warhammer Online type PvP, with limited time and set goals. Maybe that stuff is there and I haven't seen it yet.

No clerics. Kinda strange to play a Fantasy MMORPG without a declared healing class (a role I often took upon myself). I really need to give this some more time to find out how all the classes play out. I do like the engineer class, as it reminds me a lot of the same class from Warhammer.

Ah well, back to reading my PDF of Blood & Treasure. If you decide to grab it from Lulu, the code for August is AUGBOOKS12 for $20 off. If you get it in Hardcover and email Matt your Lulu receipt, he'll hook you up with the PDF for free.

Reaper "Bones" Miniatures 3rd Largest Kickstarter Ever!

It looks like I need to get back to painting miniatures after a 20 year break ;)

Here's what arrives in March (not counting a few extras I'm getting)

I think the count is 240 plus extras - plus S&W Complete AND Shotguns & Sorcery


August DCC RPG Contest - Get Some Corruption and Maybe Win a Prize!


I'm going with ScrivenerB's suggestion - new Corruption results, with the idea of getting enough entries for a few alternate tables. (ScrivenerB - email me at erikATtrubluniteDOTnet so I can get your gifts to you).

So, here's what you gotta do:

Post a Corruption result of your own design for the DCC RPG in the comments below. It could be Minor, Major or unlabeled if you are not sure. Use pages 116 and 118 in the DCC RPG rulebook to find other examples (the following example is from the DCC RPG Rulebook:


Ears mutate. Roll 1d5: 
(1) ears become pointed; 

(2) ears fall off (character still hears normally); 

(3) ears enlarge and look like an elephant's;

(4) ears elongate and look like a donkey’s (character also gains braying 
laugh); 


(5) ears shrivel and fold back.


Prizes - Dak will be sending out a copy of Crawl! #3 to the entry that I think is best.

Purple Sorcerer is donating a PDF copy of each of it's released adventures to the prize pool - Perils of the Sunken City, Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk and the soon to be released Mist Men.

Other prizes - I'm working on some PDF copies of DCC adventures from some of the 3rd party publishers. Expect this to get updated shortly. These prizes will be distributed randomly amongst the entrants.

I'll be purchasing  copies of Toys For the Sandbox for 5 entrants of my choice. They will each have their choice of an issue from 1-16 in the series.

Contest ends at midnite, August 31st, EDT. Enter as often as you like, but you can only win one prize no matter how many entries.

(by adding your comment to this thread, you agree that your entry may be compiled into a list with other entries, that it may appear in on this blog, Crawl! or the DCC Crawler's Companion. The lists compiled will be given to the DCC community to use. And corrupt...)


Friday, August 24, 2012

Reaper Kickstarter Could Put Swords & Wizardry Complete in the Hands of 13,000+ Gamers

I just read the above on Mythmere's blog. Think about that for a minute. 13K copies of S&W Complete in PDF being given to gamers kicking in to the Reaper Kickstarter, (as there are about 13k at the Vampire or Undertaker levels - Matt's numbers were low ;)

That's 13k people potentially getting exposed to one of the more popular OSR rulesets. Pathfinder might have some of it's iconics being reproduced in plastic as part of the stretch goals, but only one ruleset is being given to 13,000 gamers / miniature painters / collectors. Swords & Wizardry Complete.

It boggles my mind.

For those that say the OSR is dead, that the OSR has served it's purpose, that it's time to move on - 13,000 people - some of whom will be getting their first look at an OSR set of rules, may differ.

OSR - Oh Shit! Run! May it live on forever ;)

(19 hrs left to the Kickstarter as I type this)

Castles & Crusades 50% Off Sale at RPGNow

My return to active RPG Gaming was due in large part to Castles & Crusades. Heck, I played in a D&D campaign for the better part of two years via Fantasy Grounds 2. It was fun and certainly felt like D&D to me. In many ways, it was my introduction to the OSR before there even was an OSR movement.

I still buy much of the C&C stuff that is released, even if my current game of choice to run as a campaign is ACKS (and of course DCC RPG in shorter arcs). C&C Classic Monsters is the poor man's Tome of Horrors Complete if you ask me ;)

Not everything is on sale for 50% off (regretfully Classic Monsters isn't included) but the Player's Handbook is $6.99, Monsters & Treasures is $5.59 and even the Castle Keeper's Guide is marked down to $12.79. 

That being said, the true diamonds are Fields of Battle at $3.35 (though the mass combat rules can work in most OGL / OSR games), Engineering Castles at $2.10, Engineering Dungeons at $2.39, Arms and Armor at $3.00, Heart of Glass (adventure) $2.12 and the Aihrde Campaign Setting for $3.99 among others (a bunch of adventures are $2.10 each).

Not sure how long th sale is for, so strike while the iron is hot ;)

Next Stretch Goal of the Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter Includes the Swords & Wizardry Complete PDF

Yep, in addition to getting 4 more miniatures at the next stretch goal (for all of you supporting at the Vampire level), you'll also be getting a PDF copy of Swords & Wizardry Complete - that's worth $10 bucks right there! I find S&W Complete comes the closest to playing like the AD&D games I played as a teenager - in other words, it may not be AD&D, but it plays like how WE played AD&D. Hope that makes sense.

Pretty damn cool.

The last value computed (if this were all in metal) is over $1065 for the miniatures that already have molds (and therefore prices) - and 26 new figures + the metal sophie (which you can trade out for $25 worth of other miniatures) + the S&W Complete PDF (if it hits it's next stretch, and why shouldn't it?)


Woot! 250 Patrons at the Tavern!

Adam Bomb is the bomb! ;)

Adam is the 250th patron to sign up to follow the Tavern via Google Friends Connect. Thank you kind sir for joining the fun.

I remember struggling to hit 25 people following this humble blog. We've come a long way.

Sometime this weekend the next DCC RPG contest will go live. I'm not sure what the contest will be just yet, not the prizes, but it will be fun and the prizes will be cool. I'll probably add a few things into the mix like I did last month. If you ever want to know where the referrals from RPGNow go to, they go to prizes and such. Remember, I'm giving away prizes for contest ideas too. Even if I don't use your idea this month, if I use it later I'll still give you the prize.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Finally Downloaded the DCC RPG 2nd Printing

I'm very glad to have an index. I think I'll print the 2 pages out and slip it into my 1st print HC.

I do have a question - they dropped 2 pages of black and white art from the DCC Adventures cover art samples in the back to add in the index. I understand wanting to make sure the PDF file and the print file match and not increasing the page size - no biggie.

Why did the file size jump from 53.3 MB (huge) to 84.5 MB (frikkin' huge) when they removed art? I know there are typo corrections throughout, but that shouldn't have increased the file size by over 50%.

When you are moving your PDF collection over to your tablet, every MB counts ;)

More Thoughts on Adventures For Small Parties

Joseph Browning post a simple work around for small parties - just use an adventure that is designed for a lower level party. For example, a party composed of two 5th level characters will probably get a decent challenge from an adventure written for a 3rd level part of 4 to 6 characters. It's something you need to eyeball more that have a chart or equation to check the balance, but it's doable.

The question then becomes - what of small lower level parties? Two 1st level characters won't last long in the average adventure designed for 4 to 6 1st level characters - that's a fact, especially if it's combat heavy.

Yes, I know -"I write adventures specific to my player characters abilities". Regretfully, not all of us have that amount of free time (and others lack the skill or inclination). That is why adventures are such a popular purchase, especially on RPGNow.

Joseph also posted today that his most popular adventures by sales numbers are the low level adventures.

By extension, this means, at least in my mind, that low level adventures for smaller parties have an underserved audience.

Appendix N Update - 8/23/12 (From Brave Halfling)


Hey folks! Here is where we stand on the Appendix N Adventures Kickstarter: 

First, the Ruins of Ramat, The Witch of Wydfield and The Vile Worm modules as well as the Dagger Kids RPG are all still on schedule to ship in late September. I will start posting pictures of the products as they are being printed and assembled. 

Second, I have been working and will have finished the private forum where those who have pledged at levels that allow it will be able to log on and help create, name and describe major and minor npcs, monsters and locations in The Old Isle setting. I will begin inviting folks to sign up for the forum in order from the highest pledges to the lowest pledges that qualify next week. 

Third, Doug Kovacs is lined up to produce the cover art for the Old Isle Campaign Setting. 

I really appreciate everyone who has or is moving who has emailed me their new address. Just as a reminder, I am setting up a file on every supporter in order to double-check each shipment when it is time to go out - both the products to be shipped and where they should be shipped. Furthermore, I will be sending out a kickstarter survey to every supporter a few weeks prior to each shipment just to be sure I have the correct address. 
(Just got this email from John "Brave Halfing" Adams. It an update on the Appendix N Kickstarter. I figured I'd pass it on for those that might not have been on the Kickstarter email list. As a side note, this isnt the first Kickstarter where I've seen a large % of the pledges failed to go through)

Things are rolling now! 

On a personal note, I used a bit (less than $500) of the Kickstarter money to purchase two printing / shipping tables. These babies have already dramatically increased the number of products BHP can print or ship each day! I will be posting pictures of the halfling family working on them. 

There is some bad news that is two-fold. It appears that nearly $1,350 in pledges never went through - and this includes some of the highest pledges. Times are tough for many people, so I am not upset about it, but it does remove a large amount of money from the total raised. Actually, that amount is about what one shipment to supporters would cost. We will just have to see if it affects the whole program or not. 

In addition, since the successful end of this Kickstarter, two of my artists and my box maker have all raised their prices. Apparently, they feel that I should be flush with money now. Or maybe it is because a number of other Kickstarters are raising tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, they can just ask and get more money? Either way, I am dealing with it. 

Just so you know, I will begin offering to the public individual Appendix N Adventure modules and an annual subscription (4 modules a year) in September. However, supporters of this Kickstarter will always receive their Appendix N Adventure modules a month before they ship to everyone else and to game stores. Supporters of this Kickstarter already have in essence what is a year’s subscription. ;) 

Lastly, I will also begin taking orders for Dagger RPG kids game in late September as well. Again, nearly every supporter of this Kickstarter will receive a copy of this game master’s shield. 

That is it for now, back to work!

-John Adams

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review - The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time - Part 1 - Into the Valley of WTF!?! (LotFP)

I've been struggling with writing the review for Monolith From Beyond Space and Time for a few days now, for the simple reason as I didn't know where to start. Well, that and I wasn't sure if it was going to make any sense. Especially if I were to avoid "spoilers".  To deal with the "making sense" issue, I've decided to break this review into multiple parts. As for where to start, I guess I'll just start at the beginning. As for "spoilers", I'll indicate when we hit that point - and it will run from there to the end of the post.

Now, starting at the beginning might make sense for most reviews, and maybe it even makes sense here, but I'm not sure. The first thing you, as the future GM of this adventure needs to do is read the Author's Notes. This is shit I usually pass right over, but read them. There is a huge SPOILER ALERT! HP Lovecraft vibe to the Monolith and it's environs, even if nothing is specifically borrowed from his mythos. You do need to understand this before moving on to the rest of the adventure, or else the confusing aspects won't make sense (as they conform to their own sort of reality).

The Valley: Into the Valley of WTF!?!

I really don't know how to describe the Valley. Literally. It's size and effects on the party are random (anywhere from 1' across to 1000 Astronomical Units). Truth to tell, on my first reading I thought all 10 possible effects were actually 10 effects that were always in effect in the Valley, which nearly made my poor GM head explode. I'd like to not have my head explode, and rereading correcting my bad assumption. Still, the Valley is extremely dangerous (Magical Sentience brings your cast spells literally to life that can cast itself at will - just one example)

So yes, your environment can potentially kill you before you even get to the Monument, and that is without using any of the possible random encounters / locations. Now, there are 7 encounters / locations detailed in the adventure. The GM is encourage to add his own. Or maybe just use a D7. Some are a few paragraphs long. Some are 2 pages long.  All serve to add to the general weirdness of the Valley (which is a direct result of the Monolith itself). Some may have long term repercussions on the PCs. As is usual with James' stuff, know how far you want to take it on your players. Or, better yet, make this a campaign ending adventure, because then you may feel less guilt when the characters are forever fucked ;)

Did I mention that the art is excellent? Yep, some pretty sweet stuff in here (and no where near as disturbing as Death Love Doom)

(alright - end part 1.  I'll try to get to part 2 this weekend)

Looking For Ideas For The August DCC RPG Contest

I'd like to get the August DCC RPG Monthly Contest up and running sometime this weekend. Although I have a few ideas of my own, nothing compares to the ideas you guys and gals come up with.
So, give me some! ;)

If I go with your idea, I'll buy you one issue of Toys for the Sandbox (your choice) AND a copy of Tangents #1 - The Barrow Mound.

See, you can win just by helping the contest :)

(and yes, I still need to cut last month's list down to 100 professions ;)

Published Adventures For 2 to 3 Players - Are There (M)Any?

When it comes to published adventures, there is usually a range for the number of players that recommends 4-6. (DCC RPG certainly ranges higher). That is why in my survey 4-6 players plus GM was one of the choices, and it seems to apply for 2/3 of the gaming groups out there. The question then becomes: "How do you modify an adventure to balance for a smaller / larger gaming group?"

For the larger group (or PCs of a higher level than the recommended level spread) the answer is usually to simply increase the number of adversaries. Heck, some adventures even give examples on how to do so. It's not so easy to modify the power level down, or at least, it's not as intuitive in my experience. Which is probably why we rarely see examples of how to power down an adventure.

Why is this important? Fully 25% of the groups (as per my I'm sure "unscientific survey") regularly play with a group of 2 -3 players plus a GM. Assuming folks aren't doubling up on PCs, we're talking fairly lean in numbers adventuring parties. An adventure that is level appropriate for 4-6 PCs is going to be a very tough for 2-3 PCs.

While I don't expect publishers to aim their products at 25% of an already small market, I can't think of any adventures off hand that have easy conversions notes for accommodating a smaller party.

Before someone states the obvious: "Why aren't you just writing your own adventures?" time is often a luxury I don't have, and a well written adventure is a time saver. Having to rewrite one to accommodate a smaller party can be a PITA. I've done it. Just wondering if there is anything out there that takes into account a larger possible spread in the party numbers, especially on the smaller party side of the equation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

$900 Worth of Miniatures for $100 - Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter

This Kickstarter from Reaper is utterly amazing. The sweet point to pledge is $100, which gives you over $897 worth of Reaper Miniatures in high def plastic as of the time I'm writing this. It can only get better before it closes in the next few days. This site (be warned, it's slow to load but awesome) gives you the current lowdown on the value and close ups of the actual miniatures.

Here's the current $100 package with the current stretch goals included-


I haven't painted miniatures in over 20 years, but I guess I'll be getting back into the hobby ;)




Anyone Play HARP?

I have a crapload of the system in paperback - bought when whatever entity that took over for ICE was clearing out inventory. Heck, I just picked up the HARP 2nd edition rules in PDF for 5 bucks (I got a link - if you want the link, let me know - I won't be posting it  it's in the comments of the post) and truth be told, I don't know what the differences are.

Heck, I'm not even sure what the difference is between HARP, Rolemaster and Rolemaster Express.

The thought did occur to me that if I wanted to run a smaller group, say 2 to 3 players, a system like HARP (if you want levels with skills) or Crypts & Things would be the more obvious choices. I suspect with the critical charts, HARP would be a tad less forgiving if the players ran into a stretch of bad luck.

So, can someone tell me a bit about HARP? Is it worth me breaking out the books and giving it a serious read through? Is 1e all that different from 2e? Or should I move them on to storage? (I think the Loot book looked portable to other systems, so that might stay)

Help me Tavern Patrons! You are my only hope ;)

Does Ruleset Impact Expected Group Size?

As I think about group size for RPG sessions (and working on the assumption of one PC per player) the following question comes up for me:

Does the ruleset impact on the group size?

I ask this, because most D&D styled gaming is based on covering the four main classes grouping: fighter, cleric, magic user and thief. Therefore, you need four players (absent multi-classing) to cover the spread.

Crypts & Things is one of the few OSR games that I can think of that does away with the spread of "core four". Fighting classes, an universal caster (mixing magic user and cleric) and a thief. But the thief isn't "needed". He's better at thieving than the other clases, but all can attempt the skills and all get better with them. In Crypts & Things, you can cover the spread with two PCs.

RQ, Legend, Basic Roleplaying, Openquest - you don't have classes, you have skills that define the character. With rules like this (and Savage Worlds and the like) you can create characters that cover more of the spread, if you will. They might not be specialized, but they should be competent.

I'm by no means saying you can't play D&D or a class based system with less than four players / PCs (or whatever the number may be). I ran a game AD&D 2e game for a year with just three players, and a Space Master game for nearly just as long with just two. What I am saying is that certain rulesets default to different group sizes by their very nature. They have a minimum number that fits their "sweet zone".

How hard do you find it if you fall below that number (no cleric or no thief in the party, etc)?

Looking at the Numbers - How Big is Your Group?

As I stated earlier, 310 readers voted in the How Big is Your Gaming Group Poll.  Here's the numbers (complete with comments)

GM +1 player = 9 votes (2%) I expected a larger number, as I've read a number of blogs that talk about 1 on 1 play.

GM + 2 to 3 = 78 votes (25%) This number was actually larger than I expected. I'm happy to see that it is sizable, as I ran a group of GM + 2 for the better part of a year and we had a great time.

GM + 4 to 6 = 206 votes (66%) This group size is the sweet spot, and 2 out of 3 groups fall into it. If you play a D&D styles game, you have a large enough group to cover the 4 main class types and maybe some overlapping.

GM + 7 or more = 17 votes (5%) I expected this to be a bit larger in number, yet closer to the 1+1 numbers. It does seem that gaming groups gravitate naturally to the sweet spot of 4-6 players plus a GM. It might also have something to do with the number of people that can fit around your gaming table comfortably ;)

Now I'm wondering if game system has an effect on the size of one's usual RPG group, as classless systems probably have more flexibility for smaller groups. Something to think about.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"How Large is Your Gaming Group?" Poll is Closed - Time to Pick a Winner

I'm pretty excited by the "How Large is Your Gaming Group?" Poll. 310 blog readers casted votes! Simply amazing. I am at a loss for words, really. I would have been happy if we had topped 100.

So, we have 47 fine folk that left comments on two related blog posts for this contest. 45 on the main post and two on the follow up post. So, 1-45 on the original post, 46-47 from the follow up post - breaking out my trusty d50 (d100/2), disregarding results of 48-50.

Drum roll...

42

Roger from the A Life Full of Adventure blog.

Congrats!

Roger, I need you to email me at erikATtrubluniteDOTnet with the email address you use at RPGNow, and I will see that the fine folks over at RPGNow hook you up with a $10 gift certificate.

Thanks to everyone!


New Feature - Free Game of the Week - Star Frontiers (Remastered)

After passing some emails back and forth between Larry Moore and myself, I kinda realized that my link list on the left side of this blog is lacking any kind of highlighting - it's a fine list, but lists can be boring.

So, every week I'm going to showcase "The Free Game of the Week", although sometimes it may more accurately be a game supplement or adventure (but that wouldn't all fit as a title).

This week, it's the remastered Star Frontiers, a much loved game from my teen years right through High School.

So there you go Larry, this link's for you!  :)

As for the rest of you - feel free to add suggestions for later weeks in the comments section of this post, or send me a message on G+. This should turn into a decent resource for all of us with your help.

Mini Review - Tangents #1 - The Barrow Mound (Generic Fantasy)

I've noticed a recent spike in "generic" adventures and such recently. Maybe its the success (and frequent releases) of the Toys For the Sandbox series, but there is certainly a market for such. For one thing, you don't have to worry about abiding to the OGL or another license. For another, you aren't pinning yourself to a specific ruleset. LL, S&W, ACKS, RQ, Legend, the list goes on. Possibly just as important, you aren't locking yourself into a specific level or power range. Generic might just as well mean "flexible" in these cases.

The Barrow Mound is certainly "generic fantasy". It is systemless. It can work in just about any fantasy type system, and I think would make a sweet little DCC RPG adventure with some work. This is the point where we talk about The Barrow Mound's strength and weakness if you will. It isn't read and drop into play. It has a deep backstory. Deep enough that it should be reflected in the region's history. Which means this is more of a read, revise, tweak and plant sort of adventure. Actually, some of the encounters require fleshing out to tweak to the party you have, so there is prep needed before running this adventure in any case.

The strength of this is that your players will appreciate the depth of the story. Heck, the adventure even ends with a number stories seeds that can build of this one. There is a lot packed into 8 pages of adventure. I just don't see it as drop an play like the adventure states. It's good though. There's almost enough ideas here to flesh out the history of a corner of a sandbox, and isn't that what it's all about, great ideas? The Barrow Mound succeeds in providing the GM with some great ideas.

From the blurb:


Under a black, cloud-choked sky, something stirs near the hamlet of Elrin. Rumors of an unnatural blight, creatures of darkness and evil threatening the countryside abound. Brave souls are needed to dare the twisted forest, to find the heart of wickedness plaguing Elrin and defeat it forever...or be consumed by it.




DCC RPG PDF Updated at RPGNow - Includes Index and Errata

I work up to this email in my mailbox:

Hello DCC RPG customers! This email is to let you know that a new version of the core book has been made available for download. This new version is the same content as the book's second printing. It includes errata and an index. Enjoy!

I'm especially looking forward to the index. I'll check this out when I get home later.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

With Swords and Sorcery Style Gaming on My Mind, I'm About to Re-Read Crypts & Things

As nice as Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria is as a game with a crapload of options and character classes, it doesn't really satisfy my sweet tooth for true Swords and Sorcery style gaming.

When I first got my copy of Crypts & Things last November (in PDF) I had just gotten married earlier in the month, just started a new supervisory position at work and had just commenced renovations at the house. I did a quick read of the rules and and didn't get to do the multi-part review I was hoping to get to. I wasn't running or playing in any games at the time either.

Now I've been GM'ing and playing again since the beginning of the year and I really have an itch for some Swords and Sorcery styled gaming. I think Crypts & Things is going to satisfy that urge for me. It doesn't hurt that the system is built off of Swords & Wizardry Core, a system I'm fairly comfortable with. Yes, I know all of the OSR games are fairly similar in set up, but some are just easier to run with than others.

Besides, Crypts & Things is much less cluttered than AS&SH (but I will be yoking classes from AS&SH as NPCs in other games, and possibly my ACKS campaign). The DCC ROG most certainly has a Swords & Sorcery feel, but I want to try a system that is lighter. That being said, the DCC RPG is the main factor in my renewed desire to try other S%S style gaming.

Here's a very nice list of what makes C&T different than vanilla S&W core (from page 4 of the C&T rulebook):


Characters

The Fighter has optional fighting styles, to add more
options and fun and to differentiate between fighter
characters.

Adds the Barbarian character class based off the version
of the class originally published in White Dwarf 2 in
1977.

The Thief class., is a more martially-inclined version
of the Thief, inspired by the Grey Mouser from Fritz
Leiber’s Lankhmar stories.

Adds the Magician class, which combines the spell lists
of the Magic-User and Cleric, and then separates them
into White/Grey and Black magic spell lists.

Higher Ability bonuses (+1 to +3) to highlight
exceptional characters.

Removes the Cleric and Magic-user Class

No Elves, Dwarfs or Halflings..

No Turning the Undead either as a class ability or spell.

Life events. This takes the form of a simple table where
characters roll a single D20 three times for starting
characters to learn some of the events that occurred
before they started adventuring and the benefits that
they caused.

Rules systems

A simple skill system based off the Saving Throw
number. Used for class skills (such as the Thieves’
skills and Barbarian’s abilities) and other skills that the
character may have picked up along the way.

Sanity rules. Wisdom is used as a measure of mental
stability. This system is used for both taking mental
damage for witnessing horror and for magicians casting
Black Magic.

Altered damage rules. Hit points become a measure
of exhaustion and fatigue – and are lost as a Magician
casts spells. Constitution is used as a measure of
physical health, and is lost once Hit points have been
exhausted.

Back ground and Setting

Crypts & Things is based more upon the Sword and
Sorcery works of Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber
and Robert E Howard, than the more traditional
Tolkienesque fantasy.

So, I'd say that all looks pretty good. I also have the introductory adventure Blood of the Dragon, which includes a small sandboxie setting. If all goes well, I may run this for a few session in September.

Adventurer Conquerer King System - 12 Session Review

I believe we have played at least 12 session of ACKS - we started in early May of 2012 and have taken off one week a month (sometimes two). So, by my reckoning, we are at 12 or 13 sessions. So, what can I tell you about ACKS?

First, let me "pick the nits" and get them out of the way:

Using the Player's Companion will lead to some unbalanced classes. It's the nature of the beast - the book is in beta. Still, be prepared to fix things on the fly if needed.

Proficiencies are great in theory - most are piss poor in execution. The chance to succeed in most of them is nearly pathetic, which is why I added stat bonuses to proficiencies.

The needless rewording of to-hit, THAC0, whatever to Attack Throws makes the conversion to other OSR games needlessly confusing. It isn't hard, but it is awkward.

Character classes. Many of the character classes beyond the core classes (and in the Player's Companion) default to a campaign setting that isn't available yet. Some of the classes seem to be very campaign specific, so working the into your game may or may not work.

Okay, the nits are out of the way - now to the good stuff:

Spells repertoire for the Arcane Casters makes them sorcerers of a sort, but it seems to be done right. Not saying I didn't throw my own house rules into the mix, but I like the way it is handled, as it gives arcane casters some flexibility.

Proficiencies - once I house ruled them, they became important parts of the game for my group. I do like them.

Levels cap of 14, 10-12 for specialty classes. It keeps the games power levels within the realms of playability.

The combat damage bonus for the fighter type classes means they don't fall behind the arcane casters, which is good (especially with the new found flexibility of the arcane casters.

Long term playabilty - the most easily ported and ground breaking part of ACKS is the framework used at higher levels to accomodate PCs that become rulers or otherwise influential players in the larger world. It is well done and pretty much defines the game. We are no where near that level of play.

So, the question then becomes: Would I run a second campaign of ACKS before running a new campaign. For that, the answer truthfully is "I don't know". I really like S&W Complete and I'm enjoying my short gaming arcs of DCC RPG. If the ACKS game were to come to an end, I suspect I might run with a different OSR style system, not because ACKS doesn't do all I want it to do, but because there is so much out there that I want to play with.

Adventurer Conqueror King or Die! - Zombies on Fire

We're about a dozen sessions into the Adventurer Conqueror King or Die Campaign that I'm been running mostly weekly. The party consists of 4 PCs (covering each of the major food groups) of levels 3 to 4 with a 1st level henchman each. The recent addition of henchman has certainly added to the viability of the party, and allows the party's mage to actively participate when he isn't casting. So, it's a win - win.

The highlights from last night's session:

The party smashed to pieces a one armed goblin statue. That might come back to haunt them - I guess we'll find out in a session or two.

Later, they stumbled into a large ass crypt with 10 skeletons and 10 zombies. Multiple successful turning attempts kept the part from going under (although one of the henchman went down and lost a tooth). This was followed up by multiple tosses of flaming oil complete with splash effects on the retreated and cowering undead.  Most of the zombies made it back to the party to reengage but the damage was done, and the undead fell fairly quickly. Mark off fire for the session.

A short time later they surprised a small group of mongrelmen. After trapping them with a web spell, they were asked the usual basics - coins, magic, loot, where's it at? When no useful answer was forthcoming, they were quickly disposed of. Maybe a "?" for the torture part. ;)

Otherwise, the usual killing, looting, bad jokes and horrible stories. All the reasons you love to play RPGs and more.


Mini Review - Fistful of Fantasy: 01 (Generic)

Do you remember the Hook, Line and Sinker series from Knights of the Dinner Table? A Fistful of Fantasy is basically that, but with a higher standard of writing.

It's not a unique way to present plots with options - Toys for the Sandbox does something similar, but it is effective.

So, what do you get for your 69 cents? (James D, I'm going to have to summon my Research Assistant to handle your "in-joke ;)

You get 5 plot hooks or Legends, presented as a small piece of fiction that the players may overhear or have fed to them when appropriate. This is followed by The Truth behind the Legend - what actually happened. You are then presented 2 to 3 Stories. These are the seeds for the GM to work out further for the players to explore. Similar to TftSB, you don't need to waste Stories that you don't use immediately. There's enough here to use for inspiration later.

Each of these 5 plot hooks takes up a page, including a decent piece of art on each. Well, done James. I'll be looking forward to more in the series. (note, at $0.69, there is a $0.35 surcharge for orders under $0.99 - so buy this with something else on your list. It's certainly worth $1.04, but you might want to pad you order)

From the blurb:


From the author of the '100' series of Adventure Seeds books, a new, shorter form source of inspiration for Games Masters. They might be adventures, non-player-characters, monsters, places... all ready to be dropped into your fantasy campaign, regardless of system.

In this booklet:

The Dragon's Head Inn: Augury to the masses and site of the Blue Moon Festival. A wild stopover for travelling adventurers.

The Blackberry Wilder: A different kind of dryad with a thirst for blood and the thorns to get it.

The Shrieking Tomb: Not every vampire can escape its grave to bring terror, but then again, maybe it doesn't need to.

Fimble Finesmoke: Halfing tobacconist, herbalist and fan of experimenting with the inhalation of substances.

Elesha the Exotic: Immortal elven companion looking for interesting and exciting places to be to distract her from the boredom of centuries of life.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mail From Finland - LotFP in the House!

Just checked the mail and it seems my package from Finland has arrived. I was an Indiegogo supporter of The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time and I've had access to it for a few days now, but it is really nice having it in dead tree format. As I've said earlier, it's not an easy read as there is a crapload to absorb. Damn good stuff.

I've already posted a review of Death Love Doom, based on the PDF. I will say I like the fact that the cover is not attached in the print version, just like the classic TSR modules of old. The ability to easily reference the maps while reading the text is a godsend for nearly every adventure, and this one is no different. I do like the prominent 18+ Graphic James used on the back cover.

Green Devil Face #5 was added to the Indiegogo fundraiser for The Monolith. I've only now had a chance to flip through it, and t here are some fun alternate rules to play with. I think the next OSR style game I run will either be LotFP Weird Fantasy or Swords & Wizardry Complete. There is a bunch of usable tables and stuff in here. I'll give it a review later.

Two Days Left in the Poll - 245 Votes So Far!

I am continually being humbled by the response of the readers of this blog. First, last months DCC RPG contest, which had 133 entries. Now, the poll thats been running for the last 5 days (2 days left as I write this) - 245 votes.

245 votes in 5 days.

I would have been happy with 100 before the poll closed, and we might come close to 300 at this rate. If that isn't a humbling experience, I don't know what is.

I'm kind of surprised at the extremely low number of 1 on 1 play - I somehow expected that number to me larger. Not large, but larger.

Looking forward to the final results. :)

The ENnies Are In - So, When Do We Get the OSRies?

The ENnie Awards have been awarded. Notice a severe lack of anything vaguely OSR related? Not that it surprises me, as we are a "Niche Within a Niche" (some folks get all pissy when that is said, but it is true). Still, it would be nice for some of the publishers, games and products we all use and love to get some recognition.

I know we have NTRPG Con's Three Castles Award, but it really doesn't get much notice. I'm not sure if it's the size of the con, lack of awareness amongst the publishers and blogs or what. It would be nice to have an award for the OSR that was not only recognized but involved the larger OSR community in deciding who gets an award (and recognition).

So, thoughts? Ideas? Stupid idea?


Tenkar's Magical Tidbits: Azlyn's Serving Tray (and Shield)

Heres this weekend's magical tidbit:


Azlyn's Serving Tray 

This is a round serving tray in appearance, approximately 2' in diameter and made out of silver. It has etchings in the silver of mountains and the like. When placed against the owner's forearm, it adheres to the arm as if attached as a normal shield. In combat, it is as effective as a normal shield but it is highly resistant to damage. On a roll 1 point less than what is needed to hit the user of the shield there is a chance that the opponent's weapon might get stuck. A strength check vs DC 10 must be made by the attacker or the weapon becomes stuck to the shield. Depending on the size of the weapon, this can make things awkward for the owner of the shield. (it is also highly effective at reflecting gaze attacks)

When used as a serving tray, items carried by the tray will not fall or slip, although drinks may spill from their containers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Games From the Basement - GURPS Conan Solos

It's been a while since I've posted a Games From the Basement post, but I have a fun one tonight. We''re getting new bedroom furniture delivered tomorrow, so of course that meant more digging thru stuff that was buried away.

Tonight's find was not one, but two GURPS Conan Solos - Conan and the Queen of the Black Coast and Conan the Wyrmslayer. I can't for the life of me understand why I avoided Tunnels & Trolls solos back in the day, but I was willing to slog through GURPS Conan Solos - go figure.

Heck, it looks like I even stated out my own character, because I hated using pregens - it just felt kinda pointless to use a character that was not your own.

Wow, these things even included combat maps. I'm pretty damn sure I never bothered with using that in a solo ;)

Where D&D Goes, So Goes the Hobby - So, What's Next?

I was giving this some thinking after watching the D&D Keynote Presentation last night. I have to say, as much as D&D Next, at least the parts I've seen, are certainly not for me, I truly do wish it success. Heck, I wish it is extremely successful, because success for D&D Next will be a success for the hobby as a whole.

Am I taking anything away from Pathfinder? No. But D&D is still the marque name for the hobby. Even if you play Pathfinder, the act of roleplaying is often referred to as "playing D&D".

Sure, if there was never another single item released for RPGs, there is still enough out there to last me several life times. So if D&D crashed and burned, and the hobby went to ashes with it, I'd still have more than I'll ever need. But that's being selfish.

For a hobby to live and breath and God forbid, actually grow, it needs fresh blood. If D&D Next is done right, it will bring in fresh blood to the hobby.

One thing D&D Next HAS done right is dial back the 3x / Pathfinder complexity level. A simpler core game with hopefully an inexpensive buy in should lower the entry bar to the hobby, and that is a good thing. D&D has been in the past, and should be in the future, the "Gateway Game" to the hobby.

If they are wise, they will publish the core rules as a boxed set. The Pathfinder Beginner Box is by far the best introduction to the hobby currently in print. WotC should do whatever it takes to do it one better with D&D Next.

I doubt I will ever play it (again - I did an early beta) but I will buy the first rules release when it comes out.

I'm not going to invest in the 6 book series that will reset the Forgotten Realms YET AGAIN! I'll wait for someone to give the plot summaries in a blogpost somewhere when they are published. That's just too much of a money sink for something I'll never read.

Some Further Thoughts on the GenCon Keynote Address

I've had some time to think about last night's GenCon Keynote address, and it was in all honesty, a whole lot said for very little of worth.

If you tuned in for D&D Next News, there was very little.

If you were looking for some self-back slapping, there was a moderate amount.

If you wanted to see a marketing department written presentation from the WotC Fiction Publishing Division, you probably got way more then you expected or ever wanted. It was slick, but the video took away from the otherwise personable but scripted interactions taking place on the presentation stage.

If you wanted to see Elminster, Ed Greenwood came in costume. Wait, no, Ed came as himself, which means he looks just like Elminster. He has a great voice for voice-overs, but it was overdone in the presentation. Hell, the whole fiction aspect was overdone and overblown. It is obvious that WotC needs to push it's fiction line as it's RPG revenue is tanking between editions, but if you didn't know any better, you would think D&D was a fiction line and not a game line. Hell, maybe that's the future we saw last night.

If you wanted to see a unique and exciting game world discussed, you were instead presented with yet another revision of the Forgotten Realms. Again, as fiction is apparently what they are putting their hopes in, I understand why the Forgotten Realms are important, but personally, I'm tired of the bland and repetitive Realms.

As for the promise of releasing previous edition products in electronic format in 2013, there is only one reason to do so - dollars. As it is WotC and their associated history of dealing with electronic releases of their earlier products (klusterfuck comes to mind) I would be very weary of their implementation. Unless it is released in a manner that will not be revocable, I'll stay clear.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Highlights From the WotC D&D Next Gen Con Keynote Address

Yep, just for YOU I listened through nearly every minute of the D&D Next seminar that was streamed live from GenCon. I don't know if I made my sanity save yet - time will tell. Here are the highlights, in no particular order:

1 - A whole lotta nothing ;)

2 - Forgotten Realms will be the first setting. It is being strongly linked to the fiction side of the company (which it always has been). Still, the marketing push for the series of novels introducing the revised Forgotten Realms was damn heavy. Seriously, the books gotta sell for WotC to have a chance of making their Hasbro set sales goal.

3 - There will be electronic releases of all of the prior D&D stuff - but they didn't say PDF. My guess? Some proprietary viewer so you can only use it on your PC - because you know about those evil pirates, they're everywhere! If they do go back to PDF, I want my file access at RPGNow returned to me. I paid for that shit! Grrrr!

4 - Uhm - something about critical failures, different magic systems, releasing the Sorcerer and Warlock this weekend for levels 1-5

5 - Oh, and D&D is the only game that tells you to ignore the rules when needed. Apparently no other RPG does the same. Thanks Mike! They must have that copyrighted or something...

Obligatory "I'm Not at GenCon" Post

I've gone to one GenCon in my life. I believe it was back in '92 (although it may have been '93). It was in Milwaukee and we never even had a chance to do a brewery tour, although we did find a nice pub and restaurant to hit every night after midnight for beer and grub.

Things that stick out to me?

At 7 am, with no traffic on the streets, pedestrians were waiting for the "Walk" sign. We were a bunch of New Yorkers - dodging traffic is second nature for us.

I didn't smell gamer funk until Saturday, but maybe it's just that the ventilation system was working really well.

There was a Spelljammer Miniature Battle Gameswith huge ship models and a crapload of players. "Slade" was running it, then had to run to the bathroom and put me in charge for like minutes - definitely a highlight.

Picked up a signed copy of Rifts by Kevin and Kevin from Palladium Games.

Also grabbed a copy of EGG's Dangerous Journeys over at the Mayfair booth.

Played in a few tourneys. Ranked high enough it one to get a $10 Gift Certificate to the Dungeon Hobby Shop in one of them.


Also sat in on 2 or 3 seminars - boring as all hell ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So Much To Read, and Monolith From Beyond Space & Time Tops the List

Yesterday I reviewed Death Love Doom by James Raggi. To say it has a heavy read is pretty accurate. Not long, but not easy. Next up will be Monolith From Beyond Space & Time, Raggi's take on writing an adventure in the HP Lovecraft genre. It is significantly longer than Death Love Doom. If it works as well as Raggi hopes it works, it might convert very well to a DCC RPG Adventure, and I'll certainly be reading it what that in mind.

Every couple of days I check the RQ6 website to see if they've released an fillable PDF for the RQ6 character sheet. It's at least a month late in coming. My episodic review of RQ6 is on hold until / if it ever gets released. My next step was to post a character that I would create, going through the steps of character generation in the book, using screen shots to illustrate. No fillable PDF, no character generation post. Truth to tell, I was kind of disappointed with the softcover I received. Nothing inherently wrong with it, just very expensive for a paperback release.

I also need to read through Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria. What I've read so far is good, but not S&S as I've come to know it. I think Crypts & Things cover that base better. I suspect AS&SH will play way as high fantasy with a S&S twist, but not low fantasy S&S. I could be wrong.

Can't forget the Myth & Magic Player's Guide, but that requires a password to read, so it's a pain in the ass to use on a tablet. Why they had to use password protection on it is beyond me, as anyone who might share it with another would certainly give them the password. It won't stop piracy, but it certainly is a pain in the ass to the legitimate Kickstarter supporters. So, that's kinda low on the reading list.

On the Sc-fi side of things, I need to read my playtest copy of Starships & Spacemen. I'm hoping this supports episodic play, as that would work extremely well under the UA-LC umbrella.

I'm sure I'm missing stuff - but as it is, there's a crapload of reading on my plate. Not to mention the writing I need to do. Writing is like trying to hit a moving target - the damn shit is continually morphing on me and keeping me on my toes.
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