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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Attacking the Darkness - A Way to Get Value Out of "Natural 1s" (Hat Tip to Greg Christopher)

So, last night I ran a session of Greg Christopher's Ambition & Avarice is James Mal's Dwimmermount (you can read a sort of recap of last night's session here).  There was a point in the session where it seemed like Natural Ones were coming up every other attack for the PCs. It was so damn depressing that someone yelled out "I attack the darkness!" and someone else suggested "roll damage" and they did.

It was at this point that Greg half jokingly said something to the effect of "You know, you should get a benefit for "attacking the darkness". As gamers are known to do, we passed ideas back and forth real quick. In the end, we decided to convert the damage to an expo poll, at straight up value. So, if the party "attacks the darkness" 13 times during the course of the session for 47 points of damage, there's 47 points of expo to distribute to the players. It's kind of like "learning from one's mistakes".

I'm going to take it a little further in the next session, because I like the idea of finding value in failure. This will be a "beta rule", which works as we are beta testing Ambition & Avarice.

Attacking the Darkness: On a natural roll of 1, the character in question "Attacks the Darkness". Roll damage as if you had a successful hit. These points are added to the Attacking the Darkness Pool.

Attacking the Darkness Pool: Points are placed by the party in the Attacking the Darkness Pool as described above. Points are accumulated in a per session manner, and unused points will be "cashed out" at the end of the game session. At 25 points (and each interval of 25) the party has the option of converting 25 points into a "bennie". The bennie can be used to reroll a single attack roll (but not a natural 1) or saving throw. Points spent on bennies can't be cashed out at the end of the gaming session.
Cashed out points are converted into expo on a 1 to 1 basis multiplied by the receiving character's level. Everyone in the party gets the full value of the cashed out points - they are not divided amongst the players


Dwimmermount - Session 1 Recap - Knocking Heads

So, last night I ran a party of six into Dwimmermount using the Ambitions & Avarice Ruleset. We used 2nd level characters, as I really didn't feel the need of picking bodies off the floor right from the start ;)

Greg, designer of A&A, has also played a session of Dwimmermount with James Mal, so it was decided the party would go in a different direction (as they had gone east in his session previously).

There are a few things I've learned in my years of gaming, but sometimes it takes a dungeon like Dwimmermount to drive the ideas home, such as:

- Given an assortment of levers, someone in the party will start randomly pulling them. If curiosity killed the cat, and cat's have nine lives, PCs invariably have more. In this case, the levers didn't kill any PCs. This time.

-Given an assortment of valves and spigots (or gods forbid, a Decenter of Endless Water), players will converse about the improbable ways in which they could flood all levels of the dungeon, as the PCs sit back at the pub watching their expo roll in. It ain't going to happen, but I've seen this scenario get brought up many a time before.

-Given an assortment of statues, someone in the party will attempt to start breaking off heads, prying out eyes, cracking off limbs or whatever it takes to get to the to the center of a tootsie roll tootsie pop. Just like in the commercial, getting to the center makes noise, which brings the risk of Wandering Monsters.

-Given an opportunity to use fire against an adversary, PCs will use fire. I look forward to my next opportunity for my NPCs to respond in kind.

-Given an opportunity to recover a hostage that the hostage takers believe the PCs are looking to rescue, someone in the party will invariably ask the hostage: "Dude, what's your name" before negotiations even begin.

-Halflings are squishy, no matter the rule set.

So yes, we'll be picking this back up next Saturday. It was a blast and Dwimmermount and Ambitions & Avarice go together like peanut butter and chocolate ;)


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tonight's ACKS Game is Being Interrupted By Ambitions & Avarice - Dwimmermount Found to Be an Accomplice!

Tonight's mostly weekly ACKS game is going to be put on hold for a bit longer. Tonight I will be running James Mal's Dwimmermount, using Greg Christopher's Ambitions and Avarice ruleset. As Greg will be  player, this should be damn interesting. Can a game's designer try to be a rules lawyer in a game session where he designed the game? Is Greg foolish enough to try?

Tune in tomorrow when I give a game recap / update ;)

ENWorld Redeems Itself - The Perturbed Dragon Cartoon Series is Actually Amusing

Yep, ENWorld has put out it's on cartoon series called The Perturbed Dragon. Now, I'll admit to only viewing the prelude (short and fairly weak) and the first of six. I surprised myself by actually enjoying it. Heck, my wife started hearing it in the next room and she got into it too, and she's no gamer.

Sure, it's a pretty poor quality cartoon visually, and I wouldn't be surprised to find it's computer generated, but it's available for free, so there's no harm in checking it out for yourself. The scripts are fairly amusing at times, and when the mage rants - priceless ;)

Now, what surprises me is that episode 1 only has 2200+ views and it's been out for a nearly a month and a half. View numbers drop heavily with the later episodes: episode 2 = 1200+, episode 3 = 650+. Episode  6 just came out.

For a site drawing in the web traffic that ENWorld draws, I'd expect significantly more views. The trailer admittedly has over $24k views, but that didn't convert to actual viewers it seems.

Give it a peek. It's not that bad. Parts are actually damn good (most of the voice acting is "eh", but that's to be expected when the creators need to round up friends to play parts - it doesn't detract much).

P.S.  Did I mention it takes place in a tavern? It's like a Bizzarro World PubCon ;)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kickstarters That Make me Scratch My Head: Act Ten RPG

First things first - I have no doubt that the Act Ten RPG is going to fund - it's goal is only $1,000 - it's currently at $188 and has 29 days left to fund.

I just have no idea what the actual game is about. I know it uses D10's for skill resolution.

The act is certainly sexy, but is this a spy game or supers or sci-fi - I have no idea. I tried watching the video and listening to the playtesters, but as what they were talking about initially made me scratch my head - and then fast forward - complete with more head scratching (as a side note, did we really need them literally blowing smoke as a distraction during the interview?) I'm confused as to the theme of this game.

But hey, its a sexy picture we have shown as the screenshot for the video. So, is this the theme of the game? sexiness?

Again, I'm not sure but it does seem to get repeated:


Let's see what the Kickstarter page has to say about the game:

Designed from the ground up to be accessible, easy to learn and fun to use. Act Ten uses 1d10 for everything in the game, keeping rolls quick. I’m not going to pretend this is the first system of its kind, but here are some of the features I think you will see separates the Act Ten system:
Custom Character Builds. Create your characters just how you want them. Act Ten relies on skill choices instead of classes to dictate what your character is. With our experience system, your character can evolve in any direction you want to take them.
Traits. Create characters with addictions, acute senses and even give them insanity or a rich family. There are a hundreds of combinations to help create back story, character depth, in game complications or advantages.
Precision Tuning. You have more options than ever to customize your characters specializations. Modify your target numbers, add a bonus to your roll, beef up your overflow and reduce the time it takes to do something. 
On The Fly Experience. You get XP every time you do something, which allows your character to learn new skills on the fly. This means the proactive player will be rewarded, and you will advance naturally, as you play. 
Star Power. Earn points whenever you steal the scene. Then use those points later, to add to rolls, reroll botches, lend to friends, use as experience and even force the Game Master to re-roll. 
Simplified Gear. Weapons, armor and equipment are simple and to the point. They help you get things done. Period.
Dice Mechanics. With multiple task resolution options, 1d10 is all you will ever need to cover the angles in this game. 
Maneuvers. Choose an attack style to fit your characters needs. Defensive and offensive moves aren’t a matter of just blocking and attacking anymore, but how you do them.
Strong characters can block while quick characters can sidestep. Choose between brutal smashing attacks or pinpoint accurate strikes. 
Overflow Triggers. One roll can evolve into many outcomes. What starts as a simple sidestep can become a parry, or even a counter attack! Damage becomes greater the higher you roll, so It's not about passing or failing, but how much you do it by.
Diverse Combinations. Multiple stat and skill combinations help you play an adaptive and expansive character. In depth sub stats help further define your character based on your choices.
Which is all fine and dandy - but what is the game about? I still don't know.

Maybe it's about being a scientist:


Or not. I suspect it's big breasted women reading their iPads. Not a bad thing necessarily, just not a game I want to play with a bunch of guys in a G+ Hangout. Or maybe it isn't about that, and we would want to play it. No idea from the Kickstarter page.

(Unified) Rolemaster Public Playtest is Now Live!

I really wish I could post a screen shot of the Rolemaster Beta Character Law book, but that would probably violate the NDA. So, I guess you'll have to go and download it and the Spell Law beta yourself. You do need to have a forum account at the Iron Crown website. Takes less than 2 minutes to create one.

What's the catch? There isn't one. The download is free and easy and linked within the Iron Crown forums. Read it and play it if you can. I always enjoyed the Rolemaster System, even if I tended to forget half the modifiers ;)

I must say, it was much easier to sign up for this and get my materials than it was the D&D Next playtest ;)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free Game of the Week: The Manse on Murder Hill (Labyrinth Lord Adventure)

Yep, I'm a bit late swapping out the free game of the week this week. I'm going to blame that on a hectic work schedule this week, allergies and just plain forgetfulness. I'm freely throwing myself on the sword ;)

This week's free game product (and probably next week's too, as this week is almost over) is The Manse on Murder Hill by Taskboy Games. It's a mystery / rescue mission for characters of 1st through 3rd level in Labyrinth Lord. Joe Johnston wrote it (not sure if I've seen any previous work from him, but he does a decent job here) and the art is by Stuart Robertson. Stuart does some fine work here.

The Manse on Murder Hill is billed as the first part of a trilogy. I'm not sure if the rest of the series is going to be free or not, but even at a couple of bucks you'd be getting your money's worth.

A Sample of Stuart's Work
The random rumor table is 40 entries long, so there are enough red herrings and truthful tales to keep you party moving, maybe not in the right direction, but definitely moving.

This isn't a dungeon adventure but a mansion adventure. Well, I guess in the end it still plays out like a dungeon, but that's not the point. It's an abandoned mansion, and that should lead to it's own atmosphere and spookiness.

From the blurb:

Several children of Little Flanders have gone missing near an abandoned house of evil repute. A desperate town has begged your heroes to exorcise the house of evil spirits and rescue the children. Will you brave the dangers of the Manse on Murder Hill?

Announcing PubCon NYC - October 27th - Mark Your Calendars!


Joe the Lawyer and I have been talking about doing a PubCon in NYC since we hung out for some drinks and grub across from the Complete Strategist this past summer one afternoon. We both figured if it's fun for two gamers to get together in a pub and tell war stories, how much better could it be with many more gamers in a pub telling war stories - and playing games.

So, this is the game plan so far - I'll make a more detailed post when we're closer to the date, but we both figured lettings our friends in the NYC Metro Area know about it sooner than later was best.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meet - First Location - Downtown Strand Book Store
Corner of Broadway and E12th Street
Time  1230 PM

Meet - Second Location - Complete Strategist Game Store
11 E33rd Street - Between 5th and Madison
Time  130 PM

Meet - Third and Final Location - Rattle N Hum (Pub)
14 E33rd Street - Between 5th and Madison
Time  230 PM

I'll be bringing Drinking Quest 1 & 2 with me to play / demo / down my beers with. I'll order an extra copy to give away as a random prize for one of the players.

This is an informal gathering at best - unless we have a huge response to this, the game plan is to grab a table or two in the back of the pub and have a blast. If we have a huge response, Joe's a lawyer and I'm sure he can arrange a good deal for us ;)

Any quick and informal RPG you might want to bring should work fine.

In any case, mark your calendars, as we intend to have a blast!



Everything Is Dolphins - Release Party This Sunday in Brooklyn

Regretfully I won't be able to make the Everything Is Dolphins release party, as I'll be at my nephew's birthday party, trying to sneak in part of the Jets game while I'm at it. Still, I enjoyed my time playing EID at Games That Can Not be Named last winter and I'm happy I have my limited and numbered copy :)

If you are in the NYC metro area the party kicks off at 5 PM and runs till midnight at 20 Meadow Street in Brooklyn.

Complete details are at the Everything is Dolphins Facebook page.

(edit: Everything is Dolphins is the classic Sega Game Echo the Dolphin converted to a pen and paper RPG by someone that might have been really "happy" on something while writing it. Don't take it too seriously and it's a blast to play. Ask why dolphins only swim along a 2 dimensional up/down left/right axis and how they are allowed to acquire harpoon guns and this game probably isn't for you)

Running an RPG Related Contest and Want to Spread the Word?

If you are running an RPG related contest and want to get the word out by getting it mentioned at The Tavern as well as G+, you have a couple of ways to contact me:

You can contact me via my Google Profile (that can be found under Barkeeps: Erik Tenkar)

You can message me at Google+. I'm Erik Tenkar at that end.

You can email me direct at trublunite at that gmail thing.

These methods also work if you want to contact me about anything else: donating prizes for a contest at The Tavern, positive feedback, negative feedback, feedback on feedback - whatever.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

There's a Contest to Win the AD&D Core 3 Reprints - And I'm NOT the One Running It ;)

Yep, there's a contest out there in RPG blogland that isn't being run on the Tavern. Well, actually, there's a handful of contest off and on running around at there, and I probably should send my readers to them, because the chance to win free shit is awesome :)



Anyhow, the Roll For Initiative podcast / The Evil DM Blog are giving away a set of the recent AD&D 1e reprints - The Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide and The Monster Manual.
There is some creative work required on your end:


Rules:
- First Edition Core Rules style only.
- A Halloween theme'd adventure.
- Minimum of 25 rooms with boxed text.
- Pictures optional.
- Full text of monsters.
- At least a hand drawn map, keyed with numbers.
- In word or PDF format

Due date: 
Nov 1st, 2012 -- 11:59PM EST*

*Note: Contest subject to cancellation due to lack of entries. All entries become properity of RFI and WGP, LLC.

Note: Vince sent me the following update - Let everyone know that the entries will not be published. Only the winner will be as a free pdf stand alone, and then later on we'll do a free PDF download of all of them so the community can enjoy.

So, if you have something in mind to write, and would like the chance to win an excellent set of AD&D reprints (I have them, and they are very well done), and are okay with donating your entry to the community of gamers, give it a shot. The rest of the details can be found here.


List of RPG Kickstarters I've Supported and Their "On Time" Record - or Lack Thereof

The below list is of RPG Related Kickstarters that were estimated to ship (I am using the ship date for the physical item, not the PDF if there is one) September 2012 or earlier.  I was going to add Indiegogo projects to the list, but they are so few (and this list got so long) I'll summarize as follows: LotFP stuff that I supported was late but has shipped. Barrowmaze II is due next month and is apparently close to shipping on time. Go figure ;)

Colors for Actual Ship Date are as follows:

Red: Hasn't shipped and is (or will be based on new estimates) significantly overdue. This includes projects that have been shipping in dribs and drabs for months. If all backers dont have what they pledged for, it's in red.

Orange: Late but shipped, or recently missed a shipping date and hasn't shipped

Green: Shipped on time. Holy Shit!

DungeonMorph Dice
Goal: $5,000     Total: $20,620     Funded: May 22, 2011
Estimated Ship Date: July, 2011     Actual Ship Date: December, 2011

Adventurer Conqueror King System
Goal: $4,000     Total: $11,648     Funded: August 6, 2011
Estimated Ship Date: November, 2011     Actual Ship Date: April, 2012

Far West
Goal: $5,000     Total: $49,324     Funded: August 25, 2011
Estimated Ship Date: December, 2011     Actual Ship Date: Not Shipped (and has missed interim ship dates)

C&C Classic Monsters
Goal: $4,000     Total: $9,108     Funded: December 2, 2011
Estimated Ship Date: January, 2012     Actual Ship Date: May, 2012

Quantum Roleplaying Game
Goal: $13,000     Total: $47,747     Funded: December 30, 2011
Estimated Ship Date: April, 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Goal: $6,000     Total: $13,216     Funded: January 15, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: April, 2012     Actual Ship date: July, 2012 and still ongoing

Adventurer Conqueror King System Player's Companion
Goal:: $4,000     Total: $20,622     Funded: March 16, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: July, 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped  

Stort Forge
Goal: $12,000    Total: $21,736     Funded: March 20, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: July, 2012     Actual Ship Date: July, 2012

Dwimmermount
Goal: $10,000     Total: $48,756     Funded: April 14, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: August 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped (New Estimate Spring / Fall 2013)

King For a Day
Goal: $800     Total: $4,844     Funded: May 1, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: September 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped (new estimate - December 2012)

Artisan Dice
Goal: $300     Total: $91,542     Funded: April 7, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: April, 2012     Actual Ship date: May, 2012 and still ongoing

Adventures Dark & Deep
Goal: $2,500     Total: $7,459     Funded: April 15, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: July, 2012     Actual Ship Date: Shipped September, 2012

Myth & Magic Player's Guide
Goal: $5,000     Total: $24,076     Funded: May 7, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: August 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped

Appendix N
Goal: $1,000     Total: $18,893     Funded: July2, 2012
Estimated Ship Date: July, 2012     Actual Ship Date: Not Yet Shipped (New Estimate Late September 2012)

I've got some ideas why certain ones are late, and other ideas why certain ones get a lot of flack for being late, and others not a peep.  That will be i a follow up post

Doing a Little Research on RPG Kickstarters and Timeliness (or lack there off)

As I've stated in the past, I've supported way too many Kickstarters and Indiegogo Projects. Most of them are RPG related, and I started researching how well they were at keeping keeping to their estimated delivery dates.

Want to be surprised? Not very well at all.

Probably the only one that's going to hit it's mark is Barrowmaze II, which is due next month (and the PDFs might release as early as this week - technically a month early). Need to give Greg G major props for not being part of the "always late" crowdfunding trend.

So, Dwimmermount is hardly alone in being fashionably late.

I hope to have the post ready for tonight - should be interesting ;)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mini Review - Giants of the Earth (AD&D / OSRIC)

Giants of the Earth (Giants IN the Earth on the RPGNow site - probably a typo) is 7 (not just the 6 depicted on the cover page) Giant themed adventures for AD&D 1e / OSRIC that are written to kick off after the classic G series of adventures - which is why the numbering of the included adventures starts at "4" and not "1".

What can I say about them? They are all worthy successors of EGG classic Against the Giants series. RC Pinnell has really put together a nice series of adventures, which I believe were previously released as limited editions in print form.

The adventures themselves are well written but lethal. Not lethal in the James Raggi "Look! Your dead!" sort of way, but more like the "You're fighting giants. If you don't find a way to keep the odds in your favor, you will pay a big price!" type of lethal.

The maps are very well done, and I'm half tempted to reuse them for lower level dungeons, as I sincerely doubt I'll be getting my party up to ginat killing level any time soon. Pregens are included, which makes any of these adventures a fine convention module, but I do find some of RC's party formation comments amusing - apparently he does not much like Unearthed Arcana, which is a shame, as it's the next AD&D 1e reprint to in the hopper. Some examples from the various enclosed adventures:


The DM should not include classes found in the UA manual unless he personally sanctions their inclusion in the game system.


The 
addition of a druid or bard may be of great assistance, 

but a thief or monk is not recommended, nor are 

assassins and/or UA classes or combos.




Unearthed 
Arcana characters/races should only be included if 

you are satisfied that such do not overpower the other 

characters, nor the encounter.




Sorry, I just found it amusing that notes like these were in the beginning of 3 of the 7 adventures. That might be my only issue with these adventures, is that they are written with the assumption that certain classes and / or races will be present or shouldn't be present.





A thief will not find anything of interest in this encounter, nor will a monk; a druid and bard (no higher than bard 1) would be more helpful to the group than the thief and/or monk.

Adventuring parties aren't generally created to conform to a future adventure's class requirements. In truth, it's not that these instructions are necessarily true - there is more to being a thief or a monk than thieving skills (and I'm still amazed that we used these classes as combat monkeys back in the day in my groups - but it just shows you can).

Again, these are minor issues. For $6.50 you get 7 giant themed adventures that will challenge any party that is hovering around their AD&D name levels. Are they a homage to the classic G1-3? Certainly, and they do it well. Now, if you ran G1-3, then G4-9 plus the added adventure your party may never want to hear about any giants thereafter, but that's a decent risk to take ;)

From the blurb:

This product contains 6 separate adventures pitting characters of levels 6 to 14 against various giant clans. Each can stand alone as a single adventure, while some have connecting story arcs (parts 5-6, and 7-8 specifically). Designed for 1st edition games and experienced players, it can easily be adapted to most RPG rules systems)






Announcing the September DCC RPG Contest - New Mercurial Magic Effects


Yes, I know - just a wee bit late, but that's okay, as we have some excellent prizes lined up for the winners of this month's contest.

We also have real judges this time around:

     Tim Shorts, he of the Gothridge Manor and The Manor Fanzine

     Quinn Conklin, he of Toys For the Sandbox Fame

     Mike Garcia, founder and publisher over at Occult Moon

What is this month's contest? New Mercurial Magic Effects.

What is a Mercurial Magic Effect? Here's some examples from the DCC RPG Rulebook:
At great cost. Every time the wizard casts the spell, someone he knows dies (judge’s choice). 
Slow cast. The spell requires twice the normal time to cast. 
Karmic casting. Before making the spell check, the wizard can choose to add or subtract 1d5 from the roll. If the caster adds 1d5, the next time he casts the spell he must subtract 1d5, and vice versa. After two castings, the karma is reset, and the wizard again gets to choose what modifier to use, if any.
 Breath of life. Casting this spell imbues the caster and those around him with beneficial energies. All within 15’ of the caster (both friend and foe) are healed 1d6 points of damage for every level of the spell (i.e., a level 3 spell heals 3d6 damage).

Mercurial Magic is a spell's signature, and will attach to the spell when the PC learns it. Some effects are negative, some relatively neutral-ish and some are beneficial.

So, right one up of your own design and add it as a comment on this post. Contest will end at 7PM EST on October 2, 2012

What are the prizes, you ask?

So far, the prize list includes the following:

Crawl! Fanzine, in print and sent to your abode.

The Manor Fanzine, in print and also sent to your abode.

DCC #67 - Sailors on the Starless Sea, in print and guess what? Also sent to your abode.

The Forgotten Fortress - in PDF, with redemption code sent to your email.

Kickstarters That Make Me Go: "Holy Sh!t! - I Want This NOW!" - tremulus: a storytelling game of lovecraftian horror

First off, I'm not big on "storytelling" games in general, as I sometimes feel that the "game" gets lost behind the story, and with the games I've been in, there's seems to be a lot of "splitting the party".  I've been blessed to play with really skilled gamers, but storytelling games often don't hit my sweet tooth.

tremulous uses Apocalypse World for it's game engine, and I'll repeat my thoughts on AW for those that might have missed them in the past - best poorly written game I've ever played. That's my personal opinion - some folks really like the AW rulebook. Me? It's a shame such a brilliant system is wrapped in such a piss poor package.

So, if I generally dislike storytelling games, why does tremulous excite me?
tremulus is a storytelling RPG where you and your friends get together and create a haunting story in the vein of HP Lovecraft's works. 
tremulus lets you and your friends make terrifying stories together. No experience necessary. And dice? You only need a pair of regular old six-sided dice, like you find in most family board games. If you've never played any roleplaying games in the past, then this is a great game to start with.

This might be the game to get my wife into RPGs.

Right now, the sweet spots seem to be $20 (rules and all stretch goals in PDF) and $30 (rules in softcover and rules and stretch goals in PDF).

6 days to go.

Base goal was $5,000 - they've hit $44, 511 as I type this.

It's by Reality Blurs, so I have a lot of faith in this, as the do damn good stuff.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Adding Another Prize to the Next DCC Contest - A Print Copy of The Manor (Winner's Choice of Issue)

Tim Shorts - The Master of Gothridge Manor, is offering up a copy of his 'zine, The Manor for the next DCC RPG Contest. The winner can chose either of the first two issues, and Tim will send it to your doorstep, assuming you have a doorstep. Otherwise, we'll improvise or something ;)

See, this community f'n rocks!

The other currently confirmed prizes can be found here.

Damn, I guess I'll have to announce the contest soon...

One of the Prizes For This Month's DCC RPG Contest - Dead Tree Copy of DCC 67, Sailors on the Starless Sea

Victor Garrison, one of the fine readers of this blog and an exceptional patron of the Tavern, was kind enough to donate an extra copy of DCC #67 - Sailors on the Starless Sea for this month's DCC RPG contest.  Thank you Vic - I am in your service. Cross the river to NYC and I'll buy you a beer.

As usual, Dak, the master of the Crawl! Fanzine is also offering up the current month's copy of Crawl! (which should be issue #4).

Occult Games will be donating a copy of The Forgotten Outpost. Although not specifically designed for the DCC RPG, the adventure is certainly DCC in flavor and should convert will little effort.

And I might have some more stuff in the hopper - the 3rd party publishers of the DCC RPG extended family are a generous bunch.

Not sure what the contest will be yet - I do have some ideas. I think I will go with a panel of judges this time around, and I need to contact my nominees ;)

Poll - What Would You Like to See WotC Reprint Next?



Unearthed Arcana is the next reprint to be coming from WotC. The Player's Handbook, DMG and MM for AD&D 1E have already been released.

What else would you like to see WotC reprint from the classic years of Dungeons & Dragons?

The above poll will be live through 10/1 (next monday morning).

If something isn't in the list, add it to the comments above.

(this blog gets views from Renton and Seattle, so maybe the powers that be will hear your voices ;)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

When is a Preorder Not a Preorder? When It's a Kickstarter!


Kickstarter is a big thing these days, and it's becoming a big way to fund RPG projects. Some publishers (Troll Lord, Frog God and others) pretty much treat Kickstarter as a pre-order with benefits, but what does Kickstarter see it's role as?

Why is Kickstarter funding all-or-nothing? 
On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. This way, no one is expected to develop a project with an insufficient budget, which sucks. Remember you set your own funding goal, so aim to raise the minimum amount you'll need to create your vision. Projects can always raise more than their goal, and often do.
The emphasis above is mine. Kickstarter doesn't assume or expect that a project is complete before funding is requested. It assumes money wil be raised and then the project will be completed (hopefully it's been started to some extent, so parts can be shown to prospective supporters).

This isn't a preorder, even if publishers and creators treat it as such.

And what happens if it never reaches completion?

Kickstarter does not offer refunds. A Project Creator is not required to grant a Backer’s request for a refund unless the Project Creator is unable or unwilling to fulfill the reward.
Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill.

But what about these estimated delivery times that are posted on the project next to the pledge levels and rewards?

The Estimated Delivery Date listed on each reward is not a promise to fulfill by that date, but is merely an estimate of when the Project Creator hopes to fulfill by. 
Project Creators agree to make a good faith attempt to fulfill each reward by its Estimated Delivery Date.
These dates aren't written in stone, and if the project you supported actually hits its Estimated Delivery date, you are ahead of the game. Trust me on this, I've supported way too many Kickstarters and Indiegogo projects than is healthy for my wallet (or my marriage ;) and on time delivery is no longer something I expect. I don't count delays in days, weeks or even month - I count them by seasons. It's much easier and so much less stressful.

There is no time limit on how far a creator can go beyond Estimated Delivery Date. If it goes past the date it goes past the date. If you are one of those people that has to be early for every event in their life, supporting a Kickstarter is probably not for you.

Sometimes a Rant is Worth Sharing - Stuart Marshall on ACKS

Now THAT's a Merchant ;)
There is a HUGE thread on TheRPGSite that started out complaining about the time James Mal needs to complete Dwimmermount, which then morphed in part to a discussion about Kickstarts, which brought Adventurer Conqueror King System into the equation. Now, before I go further, I'm going to remind you that I run ACKS on a weekly basis (although we've taken the past few weeks off) and I do enjoy the system, even with the house rules I added before we played a single session.

Stuart Marshall, he of OSRIC fame, added his 2 cents (or more like a full British Pound) to the conversation when he spoke about ACKS. I'm just going to quote part of it - for the rest of it, which actually got me choking on my breakfast, you'll need to go to the original thread (Stuart's post is the second one on the page):

...my first impression was that the system is clearly misnamed. If I'd written a book called Adventurer Conqueror King, it would involve adventuring, conquering, and being king. This system ought to be called Manager Merchant Landlord, which is what it's actually about. Adventuring doesn't seem to come into the equation at all. Despite the authors' penchant for extreme detail, including for example seven pages about mundane equipment, they haven't written word one about dungeons or exploring or all that boring stuff that appears in other games. They've skipped straight onto the subject they love:- resource management. 
Anyway, after marvelling at the price tag, I skimmed over stuff I'd already read hundreds of times, and indeed written myself at least twice, before I made it as far as the first custom PC class. The Bladedancer. I quickly determined that what this means is "druid chick", and moved on. My right eyebrow crept upwards as I encountered the Dwarven Vaultguard and Dwarven Craftspriest. Then I read about the Elven Spellsword, and Elven Nightblade, at which point I had to stop and send out a search party for my eyebrow, since it had not stopped rising and was now lost somewhere above my hairline...
Classic stuff. Simply classic :)

BTW, as for the topic of the original thread - Dwimmermount gets done when it gets done. I didn't expect it to take this long, but at the same time I think I can count on one hand the number of RPG Kickstarters that actually released on time, let alone within months of it's target date. My enthusiasm for the project is waning, but I suspect that won't be an issue when I finally have it in hand ;)


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tenkar's Minor Magical Tidbits - Daev's Healing Draught

I originally wrote this 3 years ago, but it certainly fits in well with DCC and the other OSR style games making the rounds these days.

Daev's Healing Draught has the look and taste of a normal healing potion, although the astute drinker may notice the aftertaste is reminiscent of cherry wheat.

Game effects are much like the normal healing potion according to your game rules, at least as far as the character is concerned. Wounds are apparently healed, bleeding stops, bruises seem to fade, pain lessens, etc. In truth these are but illusionary gains... the character suffers no ill effects from his current wounds until he takes damage equal to the amount "healed", at which point all the illusionary healed damage is again in effect for the character in addition to the new damage. This could lead to a warrior still fighting when he should be unconscious or dead, let alone said warrior suddenly dropping dead as new damages causes the illusionary healing to cease it's effect. The illusionary healing fades in 24 hrs, again returning the character to his correctly wounded state.

Daev's Healing Draught was conceived as a way for unscrupulous mercenary leaders to get the most fight out of their men while at the same time ensuring there will be less survivors left to collect their pay. The cost of Daev's Healing Draught is generally half of that of a normal healing potion, although some charlatans attempt to pass off Daev's Healing Draught as "the real thing".

Feedback - It Does a Body Good!

Feedback - it helps the soul, energizes the mind, and makes you feel all googlie inside.

This summer kicked off a new experience for me - blog feedback that wasn't a comment on a blog post, but sent direct either via my Google Profile or snagging one of my emails from one of my many contest related posts or sending me a Google Message.

It's all awesome and I really appreciate all of it, even the occasional criticism. Hell, with my posting schedule, I'd expect a lot more flat and boring posts than I actually seem to pump out ;)

So, thanks again to all, especially if somehow I missed responding to you.

Now, on to other goodness :)

One of the readers of this fine blog (more awesomeness) is sending me his extra copy of DCC 67, Sailors on the Starless Sea, to give away in the next DCC RPG Monthly Contest, which I really need to get up and running this weekend. I also need to reach out to the third party vendors and see what else can be added to the prize pool. Oh, and yeah, and actual theme for the contest. I'll need to get to that.

This weekend may be hectic for me, as today is my son's "Going off to Basic" Party, and tomorrow I actually send him off.

Sad but proud poppa ;(




Cyborg Commando - Age Didn't Help it Get Better

I did some cleaning earlier tonight and found my copy of Cyborg Commando. You know, the game Gary Ggax, Frank Mentzer and Kim Mohan put together when Gary was booted for TSR.

I still have the original, oversized zip lock bag it shipped in.

You got the CCF Manual (rules), the Campaign Book (setting), a GM's Adventure Notes booklet which flips to be the Player's Adventure Notes booklet, a short scenario and a signed Certificate of Authenticity (#0154) signed by the three amigos above.

I never played it.

Never even tried to convince my players back in '87 to play it.

It was that - "Eh" - even back then.

So, my idea upon finding it was that I'd read the rules for the first time in 25 years and run a session on G+ as a goof.

Ain't happening. I can't do it to myself. I tapped out flipping through the rules.

There's too much good stuff out there, old and new, to drag crap like this out again.

If I ever ran a Mutant Future game, there might be something usable in the campaign book, but that's far from the top of my list of games to run or play.

Somethings get better with age, and others stink just as bad or even worse then before.

The cyborg still stinks.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mini Review - Daughters of the Deep (OSRIC / 1E Adventure)

Daughters of the Deep is an OSRIC / 1E adventure for characters of level 4-8.

First things first - it is extremely well written. Really nicely done, which is why it's a shame that the layout is just awkward. It really should have used a 2 column format for the adventure, as it would have made things much easier to read and follow, at least at this font size. Minor quibble maybe, but I did find it annoying. YMMV.

It is apparently designed for use with the supplement Sea Maidens of San Gropia - which I've never heard of and couldn't find at OneBookShelf, but it certainly isnt needed (that being said, it would be nice to know where one can find the product that this was made to be run with). Daughters of the Deep runs fine on it's own.

Getting your party to the location shouldnt be an issue if you can drop it into your setting. The Village of LaMounte has enough detail for the party ro spend some time getting to know it, without so much that they will tire of getting to know it. It's there to give them the background of the events that are going on, and picking and choosing what you want to feed the party from the rumor table works better than random rolls in my opinions this time around.

The adventure itself is a nice one and should be a challenge to most groups. My singular issue, and this is shared with most any adventure that deals with "water locations" is that without supplying the party with the appropriate water breathing methods, they are damn near completely hamstrung. Yes, the adventure tells us how to overcome that, but it feels forced when ever i read an adventure that requires time in the water. Ah well, pet peeve of mine, and it doesn't distract from an overall excellent adventure that was the party seeking a solution and not just a body count.

From the blurb:


For centuries peace has existed between the fishermen of San Gropia and the local sea beings. But something has happened, and that peace is threatened. There has been a recent plague of disappearances among the fishermen within the coastal communities; the men have slowly disappeared! In one village along the southern coast, the entire male population has vanished, leaving only the women, young and elderly to defend themselves. Hearing of their plight, your little group of adventurers decides to journey to the village, out of curiosity, and--perhaps--to gain a few gold pieces. But, upon arriving, you find there is a greater mystery behind the missing men; the strange behavior of a local lad, and hints of an angry god.

Designed for 1st edition games and experienced players with characters levels 4-8, it can easily be adapted to most RPG rules systems. (Some of the material briefly mentions certain biological functions pertaining to females, but is not gratuitous)




Adventuring Gear Over the Editions - The Times Are a Changing

There is an article over at Wizards that talks about adventuring gear over the different editions - specifically 1e, 3.5e and 4e.

Alright, there isn't at that much in the way of discussion, but it does have handy links to 2 page excerpts for the adventuring gear pages from the editions in question.

Things that stick our to me:

1e is a 91 Kbs PDF, 3.5 e is a 195 Kbs PDF and 4e is a 538 Kbs file. Each file is 2 pages long, so obviously 4e gives you much more info over its 2 pages than 1e does, right?

1e gives you info on starting money by cash, conversion between coins types, weapon prices, armor, clothing, herbs, livestock, miscellaneous, provisions, religious items, tack and transportation prices. It also discusses armor, Armor Class (AC), shield use, weapons and weapon proficiencies. Phew!

3.5e gives you adventuring gear, special substances and items, tools and skill kits, clothing, food drink and lodging, mounts and related gear, transport, spell-casting and services.

4e gives you adventuring gear; food, drink and lodging; and mounts and transport.

so, the later editions give you less info over the same amount of pages, but the file size bloats due to? what? I'd blame the the annoying border art like 3.5e has, but he 4e sample lacks that.

1e give much more info in less space. Actually, 4e reminds me of the papers my kid did in High School - enlarge the margins and the font to make less into more. The problem is, it's still less,

I'm sure this observation is not what WotC expected when they posted these samples ;)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kickstarters That Make Me Go "Hun, I REALLY Need This!" - Cthulhu Claus Greeting Cards

Say this out loud with me: "Cthulhu Claus Greeting Cards".

OMFG by why wasn't this thought of before!?!

Alright, at $30 bucks for a box of 25 cards, I'm not sure I can justify it - but I don't think we'll send out more than 15-20 cards anyway, so maybe I can convince the wife. Heck, if you're in the states shipping is included.

Shame that the Cthulhu wrapping paper was so limited - I would have wrapped all my wife's Christmas presents with it ;)

Come on - Cthulhu Claus is damn cute and cuddly.

You know you want to.

Just convince the significant other and you'll be fine :)

(thanks to Monte Cook for the heads up on this one)

From the blurb:


Have you ever wanted to share your love of weird and eldritch horror during the Holiday season?  If you answered yes to this question, then Cthulhu Claus Greeting Cards are just for you.

Each box of Cthulhu Claus Greeting Cards will contain 25 cards and feature 5 different illustrations by cartoonist Jody Lindke.  They will also feature a Lovecraftian greeting written by Cthulhu scribe Kenneth Hite.  These items will be shipped as soon as possible after the project is funded and should be ready to ship this Holiday season.

Mini Review - Moleskin Maps Volume One (RPG Maps)

Maps.

Maps can make or break a game session. No, really. Not in the "Battlemaps" sort of sense, but from the GM side. Nice, easy to use and pleasant to look at maps make my job as a GM that much more enjoyable. Not to mention easier.

Moleskin Maps Volume One from Matt Jackson does just that.  10 maps, both outdoors and underground, waiting for you to stat them out. One page hold a large thumbnail of the map along with space to note background, key locations, GM notes, wandering encounters and major treasures. That is accompanied by a full sized version of the map (and separate PNG images of each map for use in the VTT of your choice).

So they aren't just a set of random maps, but they are there as tools to help the GM make each of these maps unique to his campaign. His game. To me, that's an awesome tool, and as Matt's maps are always top notch, $1.99 for 10 of them is a friggin' steal! Get them now before he wises up and charges what they are worth ;)

If you want to get a free peek at Map #11 (I'm calling it map #11) that was not included in this set, use the following link: Matt's free preview sample

From the blurb:

This first volume of Moleskin Maps contains ten of my Moleskin Maps, rescanned and cleaned up. The maps are in PDF format, with a page devoted to the entire map and a GM Prep Page to assist in setting up the encounter or dungeon. The GM Prep Page is an excellent tool to help GMs prepare their game sessions. 

The product's zip file also contains a larger format image of each of the maps so you can drop them into Fantasy Grounds, MapTool, TableTop Forge, or Roll20 to facilitate easy online game play. 

What's the Next Classic D&D Reprint You Want to See From WotC?

They've already released the core 3 AD&D 1e books back in July. The 3.5e books should be hitting shelves now as the release date was September 18. Unearthed Arcana looks to be next it line. WotC is doing a fine job milking the reprint cash cow, but what should be next?

Foe me, I'd like to see the D&D OCE Boxed Set reprinted. I already have a copy, but a reprint would be nice. Maybe the Moldvay Basic Set. These are pieces of gaming history, and it would be nice to see them re-released.

They should be played, not collected and gathering dust (like most of the surviving original copies)

What would you like to see?

Guild Wars 2 Is Now Available for OSX - Time Crunch Forthcoming

Earlier this week Guild Wars 2 released the Beta software for it's Mac version. My iMac dual boots with Win7, but it's such a chore to boot into Windows, wait for it to load, update and what not, that I hardly played GW2 after the head start days. My God but I've really learned to dislike Windows since switching to a Mac.

The OSX Beta has run fine for the hour or so I've put it through it's paces. Same server and characters as when I was playing from the PC side, so I'll have a chance to play with some of my friends.

I very much like the idea of no monthly subscription ;)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Have Dungeon - Needs MegaSand - All Serious Offers Considered

Would You Prefer My Leet Mapping Skills?
Alright, in truth - I don't have a dungeon. Well, I do, but the last ones I designed myself are from the late 80's and they have their own issues.

Still, I have this idea. Alright, less an idea than a random thought that came crashing down sometime after Zak S posted this link on G+ : It's a Dungeon Overvue generator. It doesn't map out anything, but it gives you a randomly generated background for the sandbox dungeon, or dare I say - megadungeon - to be.

Here's the result I currently generated (BTW, there are numerous random table on this site - me love it long time I think):

The dungeon was originally a cathedral that is the basis for the stories of the degenerates (degenerate church folks? cool!) but has been forgotten by most civilized races for eons. It was rediscovered due to the recent comet, causing madness (madness to who? this seems almost ripe for a DCC RPG adventure so far). Near the Southwest entrance, a human male barbarian of unusual intelligence suspects it may contain : A male commoner, secretly allied to a group of cannibal halflings (damn I'm so yoking this!) & rumored to be the lover of a powerful boatman ("Orrible Otley, the Halfling Land Pirate) --one of particular interest--and so has dispatched cannibal halflings into the complex. They communicate via a code language that sounds like the common tongue but the words mean different things (great way to confuse the party).
Meanwhile, a group of bioengineered jackal-headed warriors (WTF?!? More awesome!) who entered through a secret door to the Northeast suspects it may contain : A female elven torturer, ex-lover of an NPC known to the players (nice hook) & rumored to be a flesh golem that they value (this might have to get changed - maybe). Their leader is said to be strangely eerie and is also a wizard with a dangerous pet--a giant mantis that appears to obey his/her every whim. It roams the halls looking for sustenance (random encounter table) but is afraid of thunder. It's also far fearless of death, heedless of pain than the typical member of its species. This group uses a network of hidden shafts and elevators to spy on the other group of intruders. (nice little "extra")
(In recent weeks, the two factions have begun to notice each other in the halls.)
Unbeknownst to either side, a vomiter (excellent name for the creature)--a centuries old victim of an unaging curse--lives deep within, inside a network of tunnels leading eventually to five apples (oh-kay...) which it prizes beyond all things.
It has constructed traps around its lair--for example, gaping steel jaws ready to close on whatever steps inside - clouds of steam are produced, lightly obscuring vision--but also four stranger traps, informed by its bizarre alien intelligence, which cause intruders to be destroyed by noise. It can avoid the traps easily because of its unique abilities. (lots to work with here)
The other factions have made about three traps each as well, but they are cruder, since they've been recently and hastily thrown together. (nice touch)
In addition, there are many hazards that are the legacy of the dungeon's original inhabitants. No-one has yet discovered the secret passage above the doll house (this would trip out many a party) on the third level.
Due to the subtle influence of a hat (above the giant lever on level three) with a powerful curse on it, nearly all of the inhabitants have become increasingly dissociated and some have gained additional bizarre physical and mental deformities (FUN!). Some have become obsessed with a(n) wolf for reasons unknown.
Perhaps the most disturbing room in the dungeon is the so-called "Chamber of Whispered Omens" which the intelligent creatures in the dungeon fear above all else (nice piece to work with). However, beyond it there is a female demonologist (-Lvl 2-) who hails from the homeland of one of your PCs and may aid him/her, though s/he covets the PCs' (whatever they have that's unusual) and is repulsed by the sight of every doll house s/he sees in the dungeon. (exactly how many dollhouses are in the dungeon? and why?) 
The dungeon's architecture resembles an overgrown temple, however every piano in it is made of granite and silver. (pianos in the dungeon? just enough wacky going on to work)
In addition to these things, it is said by some that, hidden deep within the complex, where no mortal has been in eons is the Blood of The Other Moon and the EnigMan, returned from a centuries-long journey beyond the sky, awakening from his slumber to a world gone mad. (something for the PCs to screw up with in the end - priceless)

There is so much to work with here, even if you go the route of dropping / changing stuff that you think doesn't make sense, that this just calls to be written out and mapped. It's also got some sandbox elements built in, with folks to met, different factions, generally weird shit to interact with.

I like.

'Orrible Otley the Halfling "Land Pirate"

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I present to you:

'Orrible Otley, the Halfling Land Pirate


Halfling Thief, Level 4
HP = 11
AC=5 (Bracers AC6, +1 from Dex)
Weapons: Sword Sword and a Bailing Hook (treat as a dagger for damage)

STR 10, INT  14, WIS  9, DEX 15, CON 12, CHA 16

'Orrible Otley is a self declared "Land Pirate", possible the only such one in the lands. During his travels he "found" a Pirate's Hat and deciding that as hats make the man, or halfling in this case, he  would become a pirate. Which would have worked fine, except that he disliked the sea, hated boats and had swimming skills to match that of an average dwarf.

So it was that "Affable Otley",  occasional adventurer and purloiner of fine goods became "Oribble Otley, fiercest Land Pirate the Lands had ever seen. Most folks humor him as if her were a child in costume, which is fine by Otley, as it gives him ample opportunities to acquire items from those that are otherwise distracted.

'Orrible Otley is personable and entertaining, with a wide and varied repertoire of pirate stories to entertain folks while using his best pirate voice. "Ahhrrr!!!"


Nebulous Definitions of the OSR

For a hobby nearly 40 years old, there are certain definitions that seem to be hard to tack down to a single accepted meaning. Some examples are as follows:

Megadungeon - I think "regeneration" of dungeon denizens census count between expeditions is the most common feature of the definitions I've seen

Railroad (apparently it is a verb and a noun) - "Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the train set!"

OSR - not only is it up for grabs what the acronym stands for, it's also open to interpretation as to what rules / games / genres fall under it

Crunch & Fluff - I love listening to the Happy Jack RPG Podcast, but when I listen to Tappy's rants on Crunch & Fluff, and what games are Crunchy or Fluffy, my head starts to hurt. Actually, most of the time Tappy starts talking my head starts to hurt...

Multiclassing - the rules have changed so much in the later editions I no longer look past it's usage in the OSR - if we could only define the OSR

Clones, Simulacrums and Beyond - I'm never quite sure the difference between Clone and Simulacrums, but the beyond is much easier (ACKS, LotFP Weird Fantasy, AS&SH, etc)

Module / Adventure - back in the day, they were modules. Today they are adventures. WotC is talking about modules for D&D Next, but they aren't adventures

Hit Dice - I always knew what they were, and then D&D Next decided they weren't. Another reason for me not to step into the light. D&D Next is the TV Ghost from Poltergeist.

Sandbox - how free wheeling does it have to be to be a sandbox? (edit: can't believe I left this out initially)

What other RPG words and phrases have hard to tack down definitions, or more than one meaning?

Unearthed Arcana Reprint Coming in February '13 (Hat tip to Joe Browning)

Joseph Browning of Expeditious Retreat posted that Amazon lists a release date of 2/19/12 for the Unearthed Arcana Premium Reprint. I'm happy to see that it looks like the rest of the AD&D core books will see a reprint at this rate, I can't help but be cynical to see this as a cash grab by WotC.

I thought (I could be wrong) that D&D Next was to release at Gen Con 2013 (although that might have changed). Can putting more reprinted AD&D books on the market actually help D&D Next sales? I doubt it.

Instead, this is an attempt to fill in the gap left by the gelding of D&D 4e after the announcement of D&D Next. WotC needs sales to show daddy Hasbro that D&D is still viable, and reprints seem to be the way they are doing it. Additionally, the 3.5 reprints have / are released this month. Another pure cash grab.

I'm surprised they haven't reprinted the original D&D Boxed Set and Supplements.

What happens at WotC when the reprint sales dry up and Next isn't ready to go out the door?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You Know Those Pesky "I's" & "T's"? Project is Now Done!

Yep, I finally finished the f'er. For some reason, the last bits are the hardest, and I really suck at self editing (as anyone that reads this blog on a regular basis can attest to). In truth, I finished it last night, as I suddenly found the zone and went through the different parts and did what I needed to do.

I like the sound of "and then I sent it to my publisher" as it draws images of the postal service and large manilla envelopes and and someone smoking a cigar as an oldie style fan circulates air in the background. The reality is I sent an update via Google Chat saying to check the Google Docs folder as I finally finished my end. Now it's off to layout, and if that person is as slow as I apparently am at getting shit done, lord know when this will come out ;) (trust me when I say "I know he's faster than me").

So, what is it?

Options.

What kind of options?

Army Options sir! (sorry, insert Stripes joke in front of this).

It's about halflings and options and brewing beer.

Alright, less about the beer than the other stuff.

I'm excited to see what the finished product looks like. I'll also be excited to talk about it in more detail when the finished product hits the virtual shelves.


Looking Deeper Into Drinking Quest - Thinking of House Rules Before I've Even Played a Session

People that know me know I like to tinker with rules. Before I ran my first session of ACKS I already had a sheet of house rules written up. Such it is with me and RPGs.

Conflict / Combat resolution is quick and easy is Drinking Quest, as it should be for a game that has drinking adult beverages as a game function. No worrying about THAC0 or Ascending / Descending AC. Roll a D6, add any modifiers, compare to targes defense rating. Easy as pie. Heck, the rules are so balanced and instinctually simple to learn, there really is much in the way to house rule.

Or is there?

So, what is a man to do if he has no group ready to quest with him? I've got a deck of cards, my blank character sheet, dice and a 22oz glass of Heineken Light straight from the tap - what can I do?

Solo play is the easiest to work out. Since a two player game defaults to 8 Quest cards (4 per player), just shuffle the deck of Quest cards and play as usual, except that you also roll for the bad guys. After your 4th Quest card / encounter you can stop, but if you decide to push on, each Quest Card / Encounter is worth 1 extra point of XP, as you are truly risking death.

Pub play is played as usual, but the Winner of the Quest pays for the next round for use in the following quest. It makes the losers feel just a wee bit better ;)

I have ideas for G+ Hangout play, but I need to tweak them a bit - more later

New Spell: Watcher's Ward (OSR)

Continuing with the theme of practical, community centered magic spells:



Watcher's Ward

Spell Level - Cleric 2

Range - Touch

Duration - 1 Week Per Level

This spell is used to place a protective ward on a town watchman's symbol of authority (this may be a small metal badge, pendant, ring or anything that is appropriate and symbolic in the community). While worn by a duly sworn (by civil authority or by the church authority) town watchman, the watchman gains the following benefits: +1 AC, +1 to all saves, +3 to save vs magical sleep and +1 to hit when fighting unarmed or doing subdual damage.

The material component is a drop of holy water, which is dripped onto the watchman's symbol of authority during the casting.

Sandboxes, MegaDungeons or Sand in Your Dungeon?

It was the worst of times.

It was the best of times.

Like sand through an hourglass, so go The Games of the Week.

Yesterday's discussions about MegaDungeons and what makes a dungeon "Mega" was pretty interesting (if you missed some of the posts, they were on the G+ side - there's a G+ link somewhere on this page is you want to follow and participate on that end too). It isn't so much size as how it is used (minds outa the gutter) and the idea of it reacting to the presence of the players and their activities. Some even said it's like an "underground sandbox".

That got me thinking. Off hand, I really can't think of a dungeon, mega or otherwise, that truly conforms to the idea of "sandbox play". By their very nature, dungeons are a enclosed environment. Options available when you have a whole world to discover become much more limited when it's a dungeon, no matter the size (even infinite) unless you start adding actual societies to the dungeon environment, making the dungeon less stagnant and more vibrant, much like the above ground world.

It's my experience that sandboxes work as well as they do (in the hands of like minded GM's and players) when roleplay encounters open up avenues of additional goals, desires, wants and general greed. For a sandbox style of play to to truly work in a dungeon environment, there would have to be set (and wandering) encounters for roleplay and expansion, and I can't think of any dungeon environment off hand that has done so, or have done it well.

That being said, I'm sure if it's out there, my readers will know of examples.

So, has it been done? Has it been done well? Recommendations?


Damn Review / Reading Pile Keeps Growing! Tell Me What to Review Next...

I think I'll take the easy way out and watch The Whisperer in Darkness ;)

Feel free to tell me what you would like me to read / review next.

As an aside, project #1 was finished last night and forwarded on to whoever it is that does layout. The Layout Fairy maybe - I have no idea. When it's ready to spring forth from RPGNow I'll let everyone know where they can find it (and hopefully run a small contest to give away a copy or two)

Kickstarters That Make Me Go "Hmmm" - Project Eternity

This Kickstarter is a little different. Why? It's for  computer RPG. Not just any computer RPG either. It's being written and designed by Obsidian Entertainment. If you don't know who they are, you probably should, but here's a list of what they've worked on in the past:

Baldur's Gate 1+2
Icewind Dale 1+2
Planescape: Torment
Temple of Elemental Evil
Fallout 1+2

That is one hell of a resume. This time around, they want to make a computer RPG in which they are answerable to their customers, not a corporation. Party based and story driven. Project Eternity

There will be a PC version and with the next stretch goal a Mac version too. Sweet. There's a later stretch goal for a Linux version, which is virtually unheard of these days.

28 Days left in the Kickstarter - over $1.5M already raised.

$25 gets you a digital version of the game. $35 adds in a digital collector's book in PDF.

I'll be jumping on this before it's done. I've owned and played everything on the above list, and I'm looking forward to their latest, and dare I hope - greatest - project.

First caught this at The Crazy GM blog.

From the blurb:


Project Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur’s Gate, add in the fun, intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment.

Combat uses a tactical real-time with pause system - positioning your party and coordinating attacks and abilities is one of the keys to success. The world map is dotted with unique locations and wilderness ripe for exploration and questing. You’ll create your own character and collect companions along the way – taking him or her not just through this story, but, with your continued support, through future adventures. You will engage in dialogues that are deep, and offer many choices to determine the fate of you and your party. …and you'll experience a story that explores mature themes and presents you with complex, difficult choices to shape how your story plays out.

We are excited at this chance to create something new, yet reminiscent of those great games and we want you to be a part of it as well.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Free Game of the Week - Ambition & Avarice (OSR Style)

Hey, I can finally freely talk about Ambition and Avarice ;)  See, I game with the game designer of A&A, and he's bounced bits and pieces off me for a few weeks now, and I've played in two play test sessions so far. What can I say about it? Simply that I want to come back for more.

It has the comfort of being the game you know, with the twist that it isn't quite the game you know. Hit Dice size is based on race, not class (except Rangers get to step the die size up by one). The spell list is NOT the one you are sued to from nearly 40 years of D&D playing, but the magic is still pretty much Vancian in nature. The spells themselves? Mostly pure gold. Well, at lest the first level spells that are included. This is the free beta release and there is surely more to come.

I like the idea that everyone can be "thiefly" in nature, but some are just better at it than others. Non-casters (mundanes) get the addition of character points, which can be used to increase HP beyond the rolled HP total, to make one better at dungeon skills or saving throws and even the chance to hit. Customization is a sweet thing. Casters get to customize via their spells, but much like LotFP's Weird Fantasy, they won't be getting better in combat or skills or even saves. Interesting way to work out a balance between the meat shields and their magic casting buddies.

I've played in two sessions thus far - and I have a 2nd level Dwarven Priest and a Hobgoblin Knight. Yep, the humanoids and demi-humans get to mix ;)

There's a crapload more to Ambition & Avarice  than what I just discussed above, but I'll address that in a follow up post.

BTW, the PDF is formatted for Tablets / onscreen reading and has basic bookmarks, so it's prefect for reading on your iPad or Google Nexus ;)

What Defines a "MegaDungeon"?

Found on Gnome Stew ;)
Just like the OSR doesn't have a "one and only" definition, it appears defining what constitutes a "MegaDungeon" is, if not nebulous, certainly open to interpretation.

Is there a minimum size?

Can it be too large?

Does it need to be "sandbox-like" in nature?

Does it need to support a wide range of character levels?

Does it need blank rooms for GM customization?

Does it need diverse environments?

Does it need a theme?

Do different sections need their own themes?

Whimsy - yes or no?

What defines "MegaDungeon" for you?

Temple of Elemental Evil - Still the Best MegaDungeon Around?

If I had a problem with most of TSR's earlier adventures, it's that they were tournament modules poorly converted for campaign play. I of course did not fully understand the problem at the time, in large part because the only commercial adventures I had were from TSR.

Then T1-4 was published (which I found to be strange numbering, as I had only previously seen T1 - The Village of Homlet).

The Temple of Elemental Evil changed my gaming style for a long time. Simply because it was pretty awesome.

TOEE had a village for the players to base themselves in. It had a dungeon that they could spend months adventuring in. They had to deal different factions within the temple - they could align with one faction against another, before breaking the alliance (or having it broken on them). The stand alone map booklet was many layers of awesome. For all intents and purposes, it was a stand alone campaign with a suitably climatic ending with purpose and value.

I ran it at least 3 times to conclusion.

I haven't found a megadungeon to match it - yet.

Stonehell does what it does well and Barrowmaze is currently giving my ACKS party a damn fine change from the sandbox above, but have I missed the next iteration of ToEE?

Heck, how about a list of OSR / Old School MegaDungeons?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kickstarters That Make Me Go "Hmmm" - Numenera: A New RPG from Monte Cook

Not all Kickstarters have issues or problems. Some offer so much value, you find it impossible to say no as more and more stretch goals are hit, and more and more value is added for the same price. So it was for the Reapers Minis, and so it is with Numenera: A new roleplaying game from Monte Cook.

Now, let me just ground everyone for a minute. Monte was part of James Raggi's LotFP Weird Fantasy Adventures insane July Indiegogo Campaign. Monte's project never funded. Hell, the vast majority of that multipart campaign failed to fund, but there was an expectation that Monte's name would bring in crossover fans and it would be a win win. Never happened.

Something else - like I mentioned the other day, I predicted that Monte's "Next Big Thing" would be a Kickstarter project after he left his contract position on WotC's D&D Next Project. Lo and behold, I was right.

I held off on supporting the Numenera Kickstarter, as I had just emptied my pockets supporting just about every Old School styled / DCC RPG Kickstarter I could find. But the damn thing kept on hitting stretch goals, and finally last night I pulled the trigger. God help me ;)

I went if for the Real Deal at $60. This is what's included thanks to all the stretches that have been hit:


THE REAL DEAL $60 Level (+$10 shipping outside North America)
App (Android, iOS, or PC)
Name in the back of the corebook
Player's Guide PDF
Numenera corebook PDF
The Devil's Spine 32-page adventure PDF
The Mechanized Tomb 32-page adventure PDF
The Other Side of the Maelstrom 32-page adventure PDF
The Ninth World Bestiary 160-page PDF
Sir Arthur's Compendium 160-page PDF
Numenera 3D Paper Fold-Up Terrain PDF
GM's Screen PDF
Cypher, Creature, and XP Deck PDFs
Numenera corebook in print
Ninth World Guidebook PDF

So, core book in print and a campaign worth of material in PDF. I can get into that.

19 hours left as I type this in the Kickstarter.

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