Monday, December 31, 2012

Closing the Tavern Doors - So We Can Open Them in the New Year!

No, we don't really close The Tavern. Why would we? It's like "Cheers!" but with swearing and "Bring Your Own Bottle" constantly in effect.

I figured I should close the year out with a State of The Tavern Update, so here it is, in no particular order or importance:

1 - The Santa Claws as a DCC Patron Contest Prizes will be awarded tomorrow and the ones that need mailing will get send probably over the coming weekend. I love giving away "print prizes", but the logistics is a PITA ;)

We didn't have a huge number of entries, but the quality was uniformly high. After I give out the announced prizes, I'll award the others that entered a pick from The Toys For the Sandbox Series. It's uniformly good stuff.

2 - I still owe a bunch of folks a Labyrinth Lord session and a Blood & Treasure session. I'll work that out over the next few weeks, when I actually have a staff at work (vacations and long term sick has taken the toll on my staff). DM'ing during the week over the next two weeks will result in "Zombie DM". Have no fear, because I plan on running the original Grande Temple of Jing.  It's gotta be good, because Monte Cook says so. John, Monte and Skip wouldn't just be in it for the money, right?

3 - Over the next month, but hopefully sooner, I plan on putting the 2000 Coppers Blog live. Post anonymously if you will. Snark is allowed. Personal attack won't be.

4 - I've got some really damn cool shit brewing with some fairly big "creative types" in our hobby. I'm flattered they even thought of me. I'll announce "substantial shit" when we hit the "substantial shit" phase. Right now I'm in the "giddy school girl" phase. If I hit the "pinch me I'm dreaming" phase, I'll make sure the wife brings me back to reality ;)

5 - As for the 2,000 Coppers Community Room on G+, I have some cash prizes to give out tomorrow. You got to be in the community to win it. We have a $5 and a $10 credit to RPGNow that will be awarded, in addition to the bonus prize for those that entered the DCC Contest.

6 - The Tip Jar Support for Wayward Kickstarters is YOUR tool to support projects YOU deem worthy / insane / bizarre / Synnibarr Crazy. We already have $10 in the Jar. Lets see what we have to play with come Saturday. Remember, I match the money put in the jar - so those 10 bucks gives us $20 to play with.

7 - As always, I'll be keeping the heat on the Overdue Kickstarters, pointing out the good Kickstarters and taking a few whacks at the doozies

8 - I wonder if +Jason Paul McCartan would actually do the podcast we riff about? We might even be able to get some OSR names to appear - as themselves!

If you think I overlooked anything, let me know ;)

First Kickstarter to Try to Rip Off The Hobbit? Halfling Wars

It's 2,000 Coppers! Quick, hide it in your ass with the rest of this turd!

You know what? There may be others trying to pull off the direct / indirect tie in to The Hobbt, but this one blatantly takes the cake. Oh, and it's the first I've found.

What am I talking about? Halfling Wars, of course. Where you can you can start a farm and raise some fighting cocks or some other such monsters for pit fights using iOS / iPhone or maybe even Android!. Yep, these are the halflings I know. Sure...

It's almost like they were building some other crap game, like perhaps some type of "Monster Wrangler" game, saw The Hobbit in the theatre and said - "Shit, we need to re-skin this to look like The Hobbi and make it into a Kickstarter! Don't forget to use the "social" term a few times in the video! We need our piece of the pie too!"

I hope this rotting pile of blatant ripoff type turd withers on the vine - and then the vine comes back from the dead and chokes the living shit out of them.

Other then that, looks like a fun game...

(No, we will not waste money from The Wayward Kickstarters Fund on this unholy hobbit aberration ;) 

The Hobbit, Rolemaster, Angmar and Aging Eyes

I saw The Hobbit last week. I thought it was really good, but not awe inspiring. Not sure why. Maybe my expectations were too high. In any case, it inspired me to dig out my old Rolemaster Boxed Set (I'm guessing 2nd edition, as it is copyright 80/84).

Anyhow, I wanted to break it out, because I was pretty sure I had Angmar, Land of the Witch King, which was referenced in the Hobbit, inside the box. Sure enough, it was there.

I peeked inside to look at the maps. I always loved the maps in the old ICE modules. Excellent maps, a nice drawing of the Witch King's "castle".

Then I looked at some of the typeface, and I had to put the bad boy back. My eyes aren't what they used to be.

Damn 40s! Next thing you know I'll be wearing bifocals!

Typesetting has certainly improved over the tears.

Which Comes First in the RPG Books You Buy - The "Words" or "The Art"?

I hope I'm not ruffling any feathers with this post, as I personally know some amazingly skilled and underpaid artists in this hobby of ours, but I have a "chicken or the egg" type of question coming up.

We all know the saying: "you can't judge a book by it's cover" which is totally true. However, we often do "buy a book by it's cover".

When it comes to RPG products, you can't have a rule book or an adventure without the words but you can do one without art. Art is nice, but the meat and potatoes of the product is the actual words that make it up.

When did artwork start to jockey for place the actual writing? 

Marketing often seems to push the art these days and not the actual writing and rules that will be sued in play.

Most adventures are sold with the GM in mind (I know there is a huge segment of collectors, but that's a whole 'nother topic). Which means much of that art only gets seen by the GM, not the players.

Is artwork therefore more important for a rulebook that will be used by all and seen by all?

The last question is just a matter of taste an opinion:

Do you prefer full color pages in your RPG purchases, black and white are instead or black and while with color plates inserted?

The Tenkar's Tavern Ongoing Fundraiser For Wayward Kickstarters (only half in jest)

+Gerardo Tasistro suggested last night that I open up a tip jar to support my "rais(ing) funds to buy into other kickstarters and chew them up."

I figured it sounded like fun, but I also figured it was said half in jest (or totally in the bag). Still, I put up a tip jar on the side of this page to support "Wayward Kickstarters" and lo and behold, I got me first $5 tip - thanks +Gerardo Tasistro  ;)

Here's how it will work - you tip, you choose. Or, at the very least, you get a weighted vote to choosing what Kickstarters The Tavern will support using this program. All blog readers get input, tip or not

When the Tip Jat hits 10 bucks, I'll put out a call for suggested Kickstarters to harass   support.

I'll match the tips dollar for dollar.

If you want something like Synnibarr supported and have my cynical wit released upon The Raven - this is the way to get it done.

Or not.

Like I said, this is a gag that has taken a life of it's own ;)

I'll still be supporting the Kickstarters I'm interested in using my own funds - this is a way for you to vote with your nickels and dimes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Taking One For the Team - I Ordered The Original Grande Temple of Jing from Noble Knight (Review Forthcoming)

I figured "enough about talking about how ridiculous the Grande Temple of Jing Kickstarter is, how bad (or possibly good) is the original?"

For $18 plus shipping, I should know by the end of the week.

At least they are consistent - it's the same art from the video.

No, I do not plan on doing a session play test, unless it's run mid week.

Hey, this may be that Labyrinth Lord session I owe some folks.

(Oh, the DCC prizes should be announced tomorrow - also overdue)

Ancient Map Found - Circa 1987 ;)

The above map was probably drawn by me back in 1987 / 88. That's before I gave up on the idea of drawing and designing my own world.

I would bounce back and forth between World of Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms after the above attempt.

Wish I could find the looseleaf pages that went with it, as I recall nothing of the this map besides the idea that I drew it.

At least it ages somewhat authentically ;)

A Kickstarter That Makes Me Want to Weep Out of Frustration For the Hobby - The Grande Temple of Jing

+Jason Paul McCartan brought the following to my attention, and expressed his own thoughts on it over on G+ - I highly recommend you peek at what he wrote, as it is spot on.

Jason pointed out his deal breakers. Me, I see them as insults and hucksterism at it's worst. Kickstarter has always had a bit of of the "but wait, there's More!" to it that reminds me in no small part to whatever the latest infomercial making the rounds is trying to sell.

The Grande Temple of Jing is all that and more. Here, let me start to count the ways:

1 - "You've seen other megadungeons, but this is the dungeon crawl that rules them ALL." Really? Not only do I doubt that, but this statement sets up the rest of the hyperbole that will follow later.

2 - "We are proud to announce that the Grande Temple of Jing will feature several celebrity contributors starting with: Jonathan Tweet,  Monte Cook, Skip Williams - More celebrity contributors will be announced if certain stretch goals are reached." Are we that starved for celebrities in this hobby of ours? Are any of these truly "dungeon creators"?

3 - "Some backer rewards allow people to contribute a monster, treasure, or level to the Grande Temple of Jing. If you choose these rewards, we will work with you to create something unique. Your work will appear in the book, right along with the celebrity contributors we mentioned above!" Awesome, I can pay extra to have my crap published with the crap of others and put next to hopefully not so crappy stuff my "celebrities". Is Vin Diesel going to write a level?

4 - Players will be enthralled (really?) by the many wonders of the grande temple and challenged by its many clever tricks. Magical puzzles, devious riddles, and wondrous magical effects will keep them entertained for hours (can we find a heavier sales pitch?) and allow them to experience the height of dungeoncrawling fun.

Perhaps the best example of Jing's trickery is the resurrection mechanic. You see, Jing draws great amusement from the trials of his guests. So much so that if they entertain him…but die in the process…he will often resurrect them so that they can continue (awesome! they should make a 4e version and then there will be truly Zero Risk of character death) What does this mean to the average player? It means they can seek and find incredible treasures and artifacts - things that they normally only see in their dreams. And if they die in the search - but amuse Jing in the process - he just might grant them a do-over. (yes! a funhouse dungeon without risk! sounds really "old school" to me!)

5 - We LOVE trick filled dungeons, and so do our celebrity contributors. We've armed them with the tools they need to create some FANTASTIC dungeon levels, and we've set them loose in the grande temple. We've asked them to really push the limits and design something that they could never include in a "normal" megadungeon. We can't wait to see what they come up with and we're ready for anything! Are YOU? Are you ready for Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams - UNLEASHED??? (Because you CAN'T CAPITALIZE ENOUGH!!! more celebrity bullshit).

6 - And what notes we've got. Sidebars, icons, minimaps, pullouts, box text - (Pussy, pussy, pussy!
Come on in Pussy lovers! Here at the Titty Twister we’re slashing pussy in half! Give us an offer on our vast selection of pussy! This is a pussy blow out! Alright, we got white pussy, black pussy, spanish pussy, yellow pussy. We got hot pussy, cold pussy. We got wet pussy. We got smelly pussy. We got hairy pussy, bloody pussy. We got snapping pussy. We got silk pussy, velvet pussy, naugahyde pussy. We even got horse pussy, dog pussy, chicken pussy. C'mon, you want pussy, come on in Pussy Lovers! If we don’t got it, you don't want it! Come on in Pussy lovers!)

7 - The $20 reward includes "a PDF map of a random level of the adventure (don't tell you GM)". What The Fuck is this bullshit? Why the fuck would I want me players having a map of a level of the dungeon that is NOT gained through play? This is where I get REALLY fucking pissed. Is this what the hobby has come to? Is this bullshit our future?

8 - A part of the grande temple was originally published in 2000 as a thin, digest sized book, compatible with the d20 system. With your help we will update, upgrade, and MASSIVELY expand that book. (Which leads me to believe this is the current state of the project - a thin, digest sized book - soon to be a HUGE mega whimsical whatchamcallit dungeon - not!)

You want a mega dungeon? Try Rappan Athuk, Try Stonehell, Try Barrowmaze, Try Dwimmermount. You want something that seem to recall the goofy and insulting Castle Greyhawk (maybe Jin can bring some animated Gummi Bears to the dungeon) this might be it.

Shit, I feel like a spent time with a used car dealer reading this Kickstarter...

Whereupon My Party Asked Me to Run "Rappan Athuk" RAW, and I Hedged My Bets

Yes, the party fought off a random encounter of 7 Giant Rats.
Now they want to find the Pot of Copper at the Rat Nest ;)

RAW - "Run As Written". It's also turned into "Really? Oh Well :( " for my group in the past.

Last night we kicked off the Rappan Athuk part of our AD&D 1e campaign, and my players, initially half in jest but then suddenly serious, suggested I ran Rappan Athuk RAW. The last gaming material I had run RAW was the uncompleted Dwimmermount, and that left a sour taste in our mouths (and a new meme running around the wilds). Admittedly  the material we had for Dwimmermount was incomplete and Rappan Athuk is complete and published, but I don't wish to risk a repeat.

Besides, that, my party is 3rd and 4th level, and they are going into Rappan Athuk through a side entrance dozens of miles away from the main entrance. They are, as written, a bit overpowered for the dungeon section they are in.

So, I compromised.

I would leave the flavor text and treasures as they were, but I would be allowed to adjust the monsters' numbers and HP to maintain a challenge.

It went remarkably well. Truth to tell, it went beyond my expectations. Heck, my herd of cats went from old town to new outpost, gathered info on dungeon location, hired a handful of men at arms, were ambushed by a pack of gnolls (and interrogated a survivor), entered the dungeon, explored approximately 40% of the level and found stairs down - all in less that 2 1/2 hours of actual play.

Amazingly productive. Fucking remarkable.

The comments at the end of the session? They actually enjoyed the traps and tricks, as they were conquerable with some trial and error and thinking. Even the ones that nabbed them. Or dropped them. Or got them stuck.

They were, to a man, excited to play the next session and learn more of Rappan Athuk. Or maybe they were just looking forward to killing more things and taking their stuff.

In either case, we seem to have found their Megadungeon niche.

When Did We Stop "Playing Our RPG Books" and Start "Collecting" Them?

When I was a kid / teenager / young adult game books were meant to be used, meant to be marked up - heck, even torn apart sometimes. My copy of the DMG had perforated pages in the back for easy removal and reference.

How many today would rip hose pages out of their brand new, $40+ rulebook?

Back in the day I would actually write in the modules as I ran them, or even made notes prior to running right in the book itself.

Marking off hit points, scratching off spells as the NPC cast them, making adjustment to the adventure prior to running it... this was common practice.

Now, we have adventures that are presented as "over 250 pages, delivered in 100% full color, tightly bound with our infamous stitched-bound hardcovers -- or secured by genuine leather covers for our serious collector." Who is going to actually write in the above $110 hardback? (I'm not even considering the leather edition)

Is a book of the above quality even meant to be truly read, let alone used? Is that why we have PDF copies of such, so we can put out collectible on the shelf with the hope that it will appreciate in value and impress our friends and escape the touch of human hands?

I'm not knocking the high quality work that many companies produce, but when did we change as a hobby?

I find myself loath to write in the POD copy of paperback copy of Dyson's Delves, a book specifically made for one to write in.

I may just need to stat out a dungeon in that book, in ink, just as a form of therapy ;)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Word From "Blonde Frog" re: The Razor Coast Kickstarter

Blonde Frog (of Frog God Games) posted the piece below on the G+ thread I had mirroring this post from the Tavern about The Razor Coast Kickstarter.

It is an excellent eye opener for the behind the scenes stuff that goes into a project of this type and the costs involved.

I present it here with Blond Frog's express permission.

"We priced the book accordingly to the price tag we are being charged. The ridiculously priced art that Nick bought back in 2008 had to be paid plus replacement art added for contracts that had come due. The original pre-orders all have to be paid. The printing costs are high because we can't and won't print 10,000 books like Paizo. The more you print, the cheaper a book becomes. Our textbook binding is the highest in the industry and thus costs more than a stapled or glued backing but we feel it is worth it as we want our games to last.

The book will retail (if funded) at $100. The extra $10 on KS is to cover the shipping. We don't make very large profits at all on these books. Artists and writers make the most. My pay from frog god games last quarter broke down to $3 a hr. So you, the customer, aren't getting ripped off here - I PROMISE THAT.

As for Nick, the book itself is very good. The writing is superb and the adventure is exciting. The sandbox feel gives you unlimited play which you just don't get from an AP (and yes $120 for Skulls and Shackles vs $100 for RC but once you are done with Skulls & Shackles you aren't going to play it again. RC you can play until you just plain get worn out). There is value here, and lots of it. Some amazing people have come on board to support this project because it is worth supporting.

As for using Kickstarter, we don't see it as a pre-order platform, we see it as it is meant to be. A way to raise funds for projects we wouldn't otherwise be able to do. There is no way we could afford to do this without the support of Kickstarter. Our previous KS "profits" ALL WENT INTO the projects they supported. Those funds are the reason we could offer the bonus goals and additional books. So trust me when I say we aren't pocketing thousands of dollars and laughing all the way home from the bank. Quite the opposite. We pour long hours into these projects and as a company barely break even.

Negative feeds like this make us question why we do it at all when we don't even get paid minimum wage for it. So I just ask that everyone keep that in mind when judging whether they feel this book is worth the price tag. We do feel it is worth it, otherwise we wouldn't have picked it up. But we can't do it alone.

We don't plan to run every project as a kickstarter, only those where we need it. This is the perfect example of a project needing the help to see the light of day. I hope for those who enjoy a GREAT adventure will take another look at the kickstarter. We will be posting more sneak peeks too which might help change your mind about the writing and value.  Plus if we fund and go over we can and will add more value to the pledges so EVERYONE gets more for their money. That's called sharing the wealth, not pocketing it for ourselves. ~Blonde Frog"

Tonight - Rappan Athuk! Tomorrow? The World!

Tonight the party will move on to Rappan Athuk, after spending two sessions dealing with the Rat King. Sure, they defeated the bugger - but what's with all that icky fluid and glass coffin like chambers?  How were party members tortured, perhaps killed and healed? Yeah, moving on might be the wisest choice.

This will be the third time delving into a megadungeon for my group. The first trip, where they dipped their toes into The Barrowmaze for a few sessions, went remarkably well. The second trip to a megadungeon was a foray into Dwimmermount. That went... less remarkably well. Tonight will be Rappan Athuk.

I'm not sure which entrance the party will choose, let alone learn about. We'll play that out tonight, when they get to their new "Base of Operations".

The players are psyched, and that's always a good thing ;)

Kickstarter For the RPG Hobby - Are Your Preordering, or Donating With a Prayer?

I see the following come up a lot, especially when someone complains about a Kickstarter that is rotting on the "overdue pile of poop":
"Remember, Kickstarter isn't a preorder system. You are supporting the project. If it doesn't actually give you anything after taking your money, well, that's Kickstarter for you. You gave your money to help with the idea".
The above is a flaming crock of bullshit, and the assholes that spew it, especially when the larger projects, the ones put forth by The Big Names in the hobby run late - they may as well be sucking ass.

Think for a moment. If someone was doing a preorder for The Best OSR Game EVAH! and they approached you and said "Dude! I have this awesome game I want to publish! Give me $100, and if I actually get around to finishing it I'll send you a copy" you would tell him to "Fuck off!"

Thats what the RPG Kickstarter Apologists are trying to sell you. "Dude, you gave money for the idea, not for the product. If you get product, that's just a bonus!"

Frog God treats Kickstarter like a preorder system. Autarch treats it like a preorder system. Evil Hat treats it like a preorder system. Steve Jackson treats it like a preorder system. The list goes on. Sure, they add chatzkies to the goodies list as they funding get higher, but it's still a preorder.

Do smaller companies use it to actually raise funds to get a project up and running and out the door. Sure. But even they don't say "give us your money and we'll send you a DVD and an Umbrella" as if you were donating to PBS. The all basically tell you some variation of "short of my death, dismemberment or world ending cataclysm, you WILL get this product". Preorders, each and every one of them. No matter the words of the RPG Kickstarter Apologists.

Think for a moment. How many of us would put good money in the hands of someone if we thought there was a good chance they would not complete their project and we would be left with nothing for our money spent? Very few.

We back Kickstarters because we believe. We believe in the hype of the project creator. We believe in the project creator. We believe that we are making a preorder for a product that will see the light of day. We believe because somehow, against all odds, against the reality of the chronically late RPG Kickstarter, projects that we like will see the light of day.

The fall from these beliefs will be painful as all hell, but it still won't make RPG Kickstarter Apologists right - preorders have failed (Razor Coast anyone?) and funded Kickstarters will fail, even ones that are run "as a preorder". It won't stop companies from marketing their Kickstarter as a "preorder", and if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and shits like a fucking duck - it's a fucking duck.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review - Drinking Quest - After Drinking...er, Play Report

Truth is posting - we just finished a 3 hr session of Drinking Quest with +DrinkingQuest DrinkingRPG  (jason anarchy) , +Mark Hassman and +Michael Garcia . I only had to chug twice, but was also liberally partaking in some Newcastle Ale from the tap. This review is true, only my sobriety is in doubt.

Drinking Quest is a card based game which uses d6s to resolve challenges. As your character can be improved by buying or finding new loot, it is also a roleplaying game of sorts. I found that the longer we drank played, the more we actually roleplayed out characters.

Now, I'd love to talk about CENSORED and CENSORED, but I was sworn to secrecy. Suffice to say, if there are any new announcements forthcoming I've asked to be kept in the loop.

Shit, it's not easy staying focused after working your way through nearly 5 liters of beer.

Uhm... fun. The game is a fucking blast to play. I suspect it would be fun to play chugging Gatorade or the like, but the idea of playing a drinking game with fantasy roleplaying elements to it is just awesome. I would have played some of the second game, Drinking Quest 2, but my poor wife would have had to roll my desk chair to the bed if that were the case.

The art is perfect for the game, with just enough humor in it to remind you not to take anything too seriously. Not that the cards take anything too seriously, one is even written as a haiku (I'll leave it for you to figure out which one, but the first to answer correctly on this post will get a $5 RPGNow account credit from me - players in tonight's session are NOT allowed to enter ;)

Drinking Quest has true redrinkability replayability.

We are already working on scheduling a Hangout session for DQ2. Heck, after I get the games I still need to run completed (LL and B&T) I could probably run a session or two of Drinking Quest online. It works better if everyone has access to a deck when played remotely, just so everyone can see the card in question (you have one person pull from the "official" deck) but it is far from necessary. Not sure how well I could run a session if I were partaking.

If I rated games on a scale of 1 to 5 Tankards, this would be a 4.5 (I want more cards before I give it a full 5 ;)

Oh shit! Did I mention I earned the most expo and won the game? Heck, my wife want to play a sesson with me. Maybe Sunday - I can't afford to be intox tomorrow night - I have to DM ;)

I Went to Drinking Quest and All I Got Were Wasted Fun!

Holy Crap!

Drinking Quest is drinking fun!

Yes, I'm most of the way through a 5 liter mini-keg of Newcastle at the moment - and I've yet to have a stein of beer go warm yet.

So far Malty has fallen twice and was brought back to life by sizable chugging. He's the "skillmonkey" of the game. I think I've found my favorite character.

Did I mention I was playing with the creator of the game?

Did I mention I've been drinking when the game hadn't called for it?

Review will follow when I've sobered up.

Shit, Quest 4 is about to start - gotta run!

"By The Power of Paizo!" - The Struggle to Get the Pathfinder MMO Kickstarter Funded

Look at all the crap I didn't want before, but I can get now, for free with a $100 purchase!
Order NOW! Hucksters... er, Operators are Standing By!

I like Paizo. I like the company. I like that they give PDFs with every Paizo product you buy through their webstore. They've done a lot to keep D&D going strong, without many of the missteps suffered by WotC.

I don't play Pathfinder. Way too crunchy for me. The Beginner Box I could handle, that's about it. But I do like much of what they put out.

All of which is why the Pathfinder MMO Kickstarter bugs the shit outa me.

Let the damn thing live or die on it's own merits. It's a huge money sink, and will only be more so once the project goes ahead (if it goes ahead).  This one project could break the company. I'm damn well sure it's not going to make the company.

MMOs are a dime a dozen these days. They come and go faster then the usual WotC Christmas Purge (I think we escaped that this year). The odds of a Pathfinder MMO resulting in anything but a lot of red ink for Paizo is damn small. The odds of this project funding without some amazing help aren't good, which is probably good for Paizo.

So, what do they do, besides sending me spam from other companies in the industry encouraging me to support this Kickstarter (this pisses me off to no end).

First, they added the the "fake carrot" to the deal - The Emerald Spire Superdungeon, which gets bigger with every $100k pledged as it climbs to the $1Million goal. It's bullshit because it's either funded or it's not, so those steps in between don't mean shit. I'm actually embarrassed for Paizo for going this route.

Now the latest - a bunch of PDFs from (mostly) 3rd party publishers that you either already have (the Pathfinder Rules for example) or a bunch of shit you don't need and probably don't want (you can make your own list). It's like your mom filling your stocking with junk from the dollar store when you're 45. I don't need it, I don't want it and it's going right to the garbage. Save your money and your effort.

I'm surprised they aren't adding stuff to the pot to get some non-Pathfinder gamers to support this. That would actually make sense. Note, I'm not saying the Pathfinder MMO makes much sense either.

I sense desperation on the part of the fine folks at Paizo. Yes, I know Goblin Works is the company behind the Kickstarter, but that's pretty much just Paizo with a trench around it for when this project goes south - jettison Goblin Works and hope that Paizo didn't dump too much money in it keeping it afloat up until that point.

The best result for Paizo is the failure of this Kickstarter. I know that kills a few dreams, but it probably saves the company's longterm health.

More Thoughts on Game Balance - Sessions Vs. Campaign

It seems we have the idea of "game balance" on our minds recently (see also Dreams in the Lich House and Gothridge Manor). It's nice when great minds think alike ;)

Beedo over at DinLH takes a wider view of things - is the world balanced unto itself? Why aren't ogres and dragons running roughshod over everything? I think this is a question DMs need to aks themselves, but more so when it comes to the campaign itself.

In other words, while each encounter does not, and more likely should not be "balanced", overall the campaign itself probably should be relatively balanced. Maybe balanced is too strong a word in this case. The players' goals should be attainable with good playing and a bit of luck.

The reason campaigns setting such as Midnight (which i think is an awesome but flawed setting) have trouble finding an audience is that the players are pretty much set up to fail from the start. Failure is fine. Failure gives value to success. When failure is pretty much preordained for the end of the campaign, there isn't much value even to small successes along the way.

I am not saying that the PCs' success should in any way be preordained. Doing so removes true choice and the ability to truly success from the players hands. No, what I mean is that there should be a legitimate way for the players to "succeed" in a campaign's over arcing goal. Actually, there should be multiple ways - not all of which can be thought up by the DM in advance, as players, good players, think out of the box.

If we as DMs challenge the players, we will be rewarded by stronger game play from our players and more fun for everyone in the game.

Remember, success only has value when it is truly earned.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Soon to Enter The Fabled Lands - Cities of Gold and Glory

So, after checking out the Fabled Lands RPG (I still have much to read but like what I see so far) I quickly picked up the six reissued solos from the late 90's on Amazon. Endless quest books these are not.

Regretfully, of the six books, the first in the series is of course the one delayed, but Cities of Gold and Glory seems to be a decent one to start with (and is the one that was used for the Fabled Lands iPad app). You start at Rank 2, which is fairly low level. I just hope the rest of the adventure remains mostly low and survivable ;)

So far I've just briefly checked out a keep and found some armor - not dead and I've got some loot!

Tomorrow morning I head out to see The Hobbit part 1 and I've got work around the house and game prep for Saturday (I'll be leading the party through Rappan Athuk - they are pretty much all psyched so I expect a fun time - I just need to be ready)

All of which means I may not get a chance to run with this or Legend until Sunday at the earliest (tomorrow night is out as we have some Drinking Quest lined up). Still, I'm excited to play a solo RPG that allows play between books. I'd also like to see the Fables Lands system in action. Hopefully Sunday.

Got to Play in My First Session of Stars Without Number Last Night

There are many good things about having a week of vacation, and one of them is squeezing in a little extra gaming, especially as a player. Last night I got to play in a session of +James Aulds semi-irregular Stars Without Numbers game. It was good. (Did I mention the rules are free in PDF?)

I came in to the second session of what basically was a two part story arc, so it took me a little bit to get my feet grounded, but once I did things went pretty well. My Expert couldn't shoot for shit (if I didn't know any better, I could have sworn I was doing my best +Joe D impression) but in truth, that didn't matter much. The game was about exploration and roleplay. Well, that and skill use.

It's strange. When I read through the SWN rules, I noticed the 2d6 skill use roll and the basic skills available and didn't think much of it. In actual use, it rocks. I'm damn tempted to take a closer look at my beta copy of Spears of the Dawn and see how I can convert stuff to AD&D - the bell curve and the simple skill use is an awesome way to handle the skills.

In any case, I had a blast. The game ran until midnight, which is a bit late for me on a work night (yay vacation!) but I'll find a way to make it work for the next irregular session.

Yeah, I really need to go back and work on the SWN / LL hack...

How Important Are Balanced Encounters in Your Game Sessions?

How Important Are Balanced Encounters in Your Game Sessions? I ask this, because as someone that runs older / OSR styled games, I generally guestimate or handwave encounter balance. I go by feel, which often means I'm a bit under or a bit over where I want to be. It's an imperfect science with the earlier editions.

3x and 4x have their tables / balance charts so you can balance things out for your party's level - but how accurate are they really? If your party isn't balanced across the four main compass directions of D&D tropes (Fighter / Wizard / Cleric / Thief) you are skewing away from the baseline that the formulas expect.  Don't even ask about mixed level parties.

So, is it more important for the individual encounters to be balanced against the party, or should you aim for the adventure as a whole?

Does striving for balance take away the whole "Brave Sir Robin" aspect, so brave that he ran away?

Is running away from encounters more of an "old school" design aspect?

Has "Discretion being the better part of valor" gone by the wayside? Should heroes even need to run?

Heck, is "balance" more important than "challenge"?

Why is it so hard to find a pic of an adventuring party running away? Not very heroic I guess ;)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inn Generator Curtesy of WotC

It isn't often that I find something on the WotC site that is a perfect fit for OSR gaming. Surprisingly enough, the new online Inn Generator is an awesome fit!

Here's a random example I just rolled:

Ruby Harpy

1 server   Rooms Available (None)

Witglen Kenisville (M, Human, 38)

Class (Common)
Room: 5sp/day, Common Room: 2sp/day

NPCs Present (32)
4 Commoners, 3 Merchants, 4 Military Elite, 6 Nobles, 1 NPC Adventurer, 2 NPC VIPs, 2 Priests, 1 Shady Character, 1 Town Guard, 8 Other

Today's SpecialLocale 
(Tropical)Grilled water snake in marigold sauce, Swamplight spirits

Atmosphere (Depressing)
All alcohol shipments have been delayed, resulting in a low supply and increased prices.

Topics of Conversation (3)

• Last winter’s fires weren’t an accident. They were started by a drunken, miscast spell by a careless traveler.

• Parents speak of their ire at their childrens’ dreams of someday becoming adventurers.

• A customer laments his upcoming chores. He despairs of a full two weeks of hard work attending to his master’s errands.

Randon Events (2)

• A patron performs a trick with a coin and then flicks it toward a server, who catches it with wink and smile.

• With a loud cheer, two patrons stand and begin to dance without rhythm—clearly inebriated.

A Kickstarter That Brings a Project Back From the Dead - Razor Coast

Yep, Nick Logue's (in)famous Razor Coast will actually be seeing the light of day. I'd like to say I'm excited by the whole thing, but this is one of those projects that showed the dangers of preordering from a start up publisher - money was taken the the project never released (that's the 30 second summary - I'm sure there are far longer write ups of this drama on the interwebs).

Frog God has stepped in to clear out the mess and has taken upon itself the responsibility of fulfilling any of the original outstanding orders. That's mighty big of them, but the, so is the buy in for the Razor Coast Kiskstarter. At these prices, I'd expect a reach around at the very least.

Follow along with me me:

$30 gives you the Razor Coast Player's Guide in print and PDF - not so bad until you blink and realize it's ONLY a player's guide. It's not the setting. It's not what you need to run the game, it's same fluff and the like for player's to read and maybe offer some further inspiration for the DM. Still, on it's own, useless to run a game in the setting.

$40 gives you the Razor Coast Adventure in PDF only - notice it does not include what you get at the previous pledge level. $40 for a PDF of the adventure and it doesnt even include a PDF of the Player's Guide. (a copy of the Player's Guide is another $20 - I think that is print + PDF but it doesn't actually say)

You want a Hard Copy of the Razor Coast Adventure? Just $110, but hey, they throw in a PDF of it too (if you want a copy of the Player's Guide, you need to add another $20 - so it's $130 for both, presumably both in print and PDF)

$150 gets you signed and numbered HC of the Razor Coast Adventure, a HC of the Player's Guide and PDFs of both.

After $150 it just gets silly and ridiculous. Heck, $40 for the PDF of the adventure only is obnoxious. How much of the jack up in prices is to cover the initial fuck up with the original preorders?

I want to like the idea that The Razor Coast is finally being released. I want to be excited. I'm not. I can't be.

"We estimate the final book will come in over 250 pages, delivered in 100% full color, tightly bound with our infamous stitched-bound hardcovers".

$110 for a 250+ page RPG setting / adventure book? Are we that desperate?

You Find 9 Rats and 2,000 Coppers - In a Podcast!

I don't know if many of you have read "The Delvers" but you should - the campaign write ups are spot on. Soon, BurnedFX is stepping it up a notch - live, unscripted podcasts of play sessions. I was lucky enough to get an advanced listen, and the are good. I'll be adding this to my podcast list when it goes live in early January.

Still, some of you may not want to wait that long.

Some of you may want to know more about 9 rats and 2,000 coppers before then.

If that's you, you can find out more about the upcoming podcast series AND get a short taste with the above mentioned rats and coppers here.

Enjoy :)

Lulu Coupon for 40% Off - A Single Book

Okay, so I've seen a handful of others mention the current Lulu.com coupon code that is giving 40% off for one day only - today. What I didn't realize is that it's apparently for one book ONLY .

I want to get the most value out of my 26DEC code, so - any suggestions of that that one book should be?

(I already have the Blood & Treasure Complete in HC - although that would be a damn good choice)

Add your ideas here or the accompanying G+ thread...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tenth and Last Christmas Freebie of 2012 - Worlds Apart (Fantasy Spin on the Traveller Engine)

Last and certainly not least, I present Worlds Apart, an RPG that puts "fantasy" into the Traveller RPG engine.

Isn't releasing a game under an OGL an awesome thing?

Welcome, traveler, to Worlds Apart! Brave the Forever Sea in a fantasy game of trade and exploration. Take the role of soldier or sailor, entertainer or scholar, dweomercraefter or drifter. A thousand thousand islands populate the world and riches, adventure, and danger lurks upon every shore!

This is the sans-art, free version of Worlds Apart. Don’t forget to check out some of the smaller PDFs that expand and detail the world a bit more for the harried GM.

The Worlds Apart line contains the Core Rules, the *free* sans-art version of the Core Rules, the island gazetteers Awmrie, Deave, and Gryce, and Suppliers, a list of pre-generated cargoes for speculative trading.

"Four islands composed the sultry chain, floating upon a bright blue sea under a tropical sun, each island gradually decreasing size as the eye passed from north to south. They were mountainous, etched with deep valleys, and covered with lush foliage. Greysolt surveyed the chain as best he could with his spyglass, taking the longest time upon the southernmost island, covered in a hazy steam of warm clouds. The crew of The Dromedary remained silent as the Captain surveyed what no other voyagers had ever seen. Each held different thoughts in the silence: thoughts of receptive natives, thoughts of fresh water and fresh fruit, thoughts of spices unknown to the civilized world, thoughts of slaughter and pillage.

The crew was a motley sort, a dozen or so hardened men and women in their late 30’s. Each had another life behind them; some, several different lives. They were unreliable in the mainstay, but rock-solid in a clutch. They bickered and feuded as they worked, helping each other make The Dromedary move, breath, and live. Their ship was not just a thing of wood and artifice, it was a collection of elemental powers: it was a voyager ship.

Greysolt declared the all clear indicating an isolated cove to drop anchor, and the crew jumped into action. Several went into the hull to tend to the elementals bound within eldritch machinery, but most headed towards their cabins, gathering various equipment for the coming landing. The cove beckoned, the unknown called.

The Dromedary calmly pulled into the bay and slowed to drop anchor. Two dinghies plopped into the water, and their crew descended into the rocking ships. Crossbows ready, the small craft rowed to the black sand shores. Behind the shores a seemingly impenetrable wall of vegetation dazzled in a multi-colored display. Now, to heed the call…"

Ninth Christmas Freebie Pick - Dungeon Map Classics Sample Pack

Yep, number 9.

They call this a sampler pack, but there are three well done dungeon levels for you to stock for your own devices. Thats 3+ nights of gaming - for free.

Ever find yourself in need of a map and no time to draw one or just out of ideas for a quick side trek adventure. Dungeon Map Classics provides you with high resolution maps, just waiting to be filled with denizens and dangers of all types. 

This sample pack contains three maps for you to challenge your players with and if you find them to be the great gaming aid that we know they can be, check out our other Dungeon Map Classics.

Christmas Freebies - Bats in Dabelfry! (Tunnels & Trolls GM Adventure)

How many is this? Seven? Eight? Who cares, so long as they are free!

Here's an adventure for Tunnels & Trolls, and it's not a solo either. So break out those D6's and start rolling!

Roll up your sleeves and sharpen your fangs, it's time to explore the spooky old attics of Dabelfry Manor! Whatever you find is yours to keep, if it doesn't eat you first...

Bats In Dabelfry! is a short, fun and gruesome adventure in poor taste, for a handful of low-level characters. It's written for Tunnels & Trolls version 7.5, but nothing prevents the use of earlier editions of the rules.

Christmas Freebies - The World Between For Fictive Hack

Merry Christmas! I'll be out of the house for a few hours visiting the inlaws before returning for my side of the family's Christmas celebration, so I'm putting up The World Between For Fictive Hack to hold y'all over through the morning (this is entry number 7 for those counting at home)

It was my free Game of the Week for November 19th :)

What do you get when you mix Old School Hack with the Gothic setting of The World Between? You get the blessings of Kirin Robinson (OSH) and Jack Shear (TWB) and make something that's even greater than it's already pretty damn good parts - The World Between for Fictive Hack by Andrew Shields.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Delirium Noel With a Helmet! (Belgian Beer with a swing cap)

My brother-in-law is a regional manager for one of the big beer distributers here in NYC, so for birthdays and Christmas beer is usually part of my haul.

The above is a 25oz Belgian Ale brewed at a family run brewery in, where else, Belgium. Alcohol content is 10% by volume, and no, I wont be drinking this during Friday Night's Drinking Quest session.

The little hat is a "Beer Cap" of some sort - it actually swings up so you can drink while it's still attached. It won't keep your beer fresh like a wine stopper, but it certainly makes the bottle you are drinking from unique and should keep others from inadvertently grabbing your beer by mistake. It was also part of the Holiday Beer Swag ;)

Christmas Freebies - Citadel of Evil (OSR Adventure)

This should be the last of the night (I'll try to get one ready to go to send out in the morning)

Six personally picked freebies for Christmas Eve - how can you go wrong? ;)

The Citadel casts a dark shadow from it's mountain. Can you find a path to the top and rescue your kinfolk? For levels 1-3.

An old school one-page dungeon including dungeon maps and descriptions for 29 locations.

This purchase includes both a PDF version suitable for reading on your computer, iPad or iPhone (with bookmarks) and a special 'PocketMod' PDF version for printing. The PocketMod version lets you create your own  4.25" x 2.75" sized game books from a single sheet of paper.

Christmas Freebies - First Fable (An RPG to Introduce the Young Ones)

Hey! The kids are home this week. Why not spend some family time introducing them to roleplaying?

The fifth in a series of free RPG products being linked for the holidays.

FirstFable is a simple, elegant game designed to help adult gamers introduce young players to the joys of roleplaying. Appropriate for players as young as 6 years old, FirstFable was designed by professionals in both game design and education, and is available, free of charge, to anyone who wishes to use it.

This is the Guide Book for the game, primarily intended for parents. Each child playing First Fable uses one of the Character Books designed as both a characer sheet, activity book and adventure log. All of the First Fable titles, including the Character Books can be found here. All are available for free download and modestly priced in print.

Grab some dice and some pencils, and start crafting your own FirstFable!

First Fable is released under Creative Commons. Download the game for more information.

OneBookShelf is the parent company behind DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. We sponsored the creation of FirstFable and released in under Creative Commons both to give something back to the hobby that we love and also because we felt that there weren't enough roleplaying games truly engineered with younger kids in mind. After we started work on FirstFable, some other great games for kids have been released: titles like Hero Kids by Justin Halliday and Eric Quigley (a kids game that uses a tabletop map and minis approach which many kids may prefer over the theatre-of-the-mind approach used in FirstFable) and many more family-friendly titles.

Find the game that's right for your kids and roll some dice together!

Christmas Freebies - Zounds! RPG

Number 4 for the Christmas Freebies and last one before Christmas Eve Dinner ;)

Zounds! The Fantasy RPG!

Journey into the Fantastic

Unlock the power of your imagination!
Any kind of fantasy adventure, any powers, any scope...
one Simple, Fast, Exciting system!

Zounds! gives you everything you need to play the Fantasy RPG of your dreams: Powers, mounts, equipment, non-human races, factions, ruling kingdoms, war, questing...it's all there, and you don't need a degree in accounting to create the hero you've always wanted to play!

Does your game sound like a Fantasy Story? If you use Zounds! it will. Zounds! uses the SFX! System, which blends free-form play, with players deciding whether their actions are plausible within the fantasy genre, and dice-driven mechanics where the degree of success--or failure--can come as a surprise to all, and the Tension is real.

Play Zounds!  And begin your Adventures today!

Christmas Freebies - Shaintar: Legends Arise (Players Guide - Savage Worlds)

Sure, you can get these "Christmas Freebies" for free any day of the year, but don't you just like gifts more around the holidays?

Shaintar: Legends Arise (Players Guide)

Sean Patrick Fannon’s vision of Epic High Fantasy comes to life for Savage Worlds in this all new iteration brought to you by Evil Beagle Games.

"The heart of any lasting and memorable roleplaying campaign is the setting. Is it vivid? Alluring? Full of mysteries, as well as straight-ahead challenges?

If the answer is “Yes” to all of these, you are in good hands.

SHAINTAR is deep in “good hands” territory.

Just paging through the Players Guide makes you want to play, and it’s genuinely hard to create a boring character using this book; everything works together to make your Hero interesting. And that’s even before you get to the four detailed Major Enemies lurking in Shaintar. Or the rules for alchemy, or the tantalizing glimpses we get of the Black Lantern and Grayson’s Grey Rangers . . .

A winner. Get this book." -- Ed Greenwood, creator of The Forgotten Realms®

What Is This?

This is, essentially, a simple relaunch of the Shaintar: Player's Guide Beta that was first released by Reality Blurs in August of 2012. We've put a new cover on it, done by the exceptionally talented Susan Knowles.

Really, that's about it. No new edits, no change to the content. The main reason this has been done is to reflect that Reality Blurs is no longer the publisher for Shaintar; that is the domain now of my own publishing effort. Evil Beagle Games. Sean Preston and the RB crew are incredible folks, and they went all out on my behalf for quite a while. I will always be grateful to them for their efforts. They have some serious hits on their hands right now, not the least of which is the fantastic tremulus that is taking the game world by storm ever since their amazing Kickstarter.

With the advent of that wonderful surprise, as well as my finally deciding to strike out on my own as a publisher, we very amicably decided it was time for me to bring Shaintar back under my direct control.

So here is the first step in that process. Relaunching this Player's Guide under the Evil Beagle Games banner. There is much, much more to come, however; by now, you've likely heard or read announcements about Evil Beagle's partnership with Savage Mojo for production; the impending release of the full Shaintar: Legends Arise book; the planned Kickstarted for Shaintar: Legends Unleashed and a slew of other products for the entire line; and so very much more.

For now, enjoy this with our compliments – free, of course – and stay tuned for more.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support! Your Epic High Fantasy journey is about to take you places you've always dreamed of and never expected.


Sean Patrick Fannon
Creator of Shaintar
Evil Beagle Games

Christmas Freebies - Mal'Zwar Keep (Systemless "Christmas" Adventure)

Yep, here we have the second Christmas freebie in the series - Mal'Zwar Keep+matt jackson did the mapping, so you know it has to be good ;)

Mal'Zwar Keep: A Short Christmasy Delve...with an ice demon!

The halflings of Mal'Zwar Keep have been making toys for the good children of the kingdom for decades. That was until recently when their path caross with that of a trapped ice demon. Now they are enslaved and pawns in the ice demon's escape plans! Cursed toys, trapped ice demons, and starving halfling slaves....are your hereos brave enough to face the ice demon and save Winter Night for all the good boys and girls of the kingdom?

The adventure is presented in a system-less fashion using common themes and elements found in any fantasy game. It should be easy for any GM to work this into any campaign. Included are the original PDF and a PocketMod format for those needing to take the adventure with them! We hope you enjoy this one!

Christmas Freebies - Heroes Against Darkness RPG

Today and tomorrow I'm going to be posting up some free RPGs and such. It is, after all, the Christmas Holiday. In some cases,  it will be the first time I've posted the item - for others, I might have posted it prior but feel it needs a second, more recent look.

Today's first freebie is: Heroes Against Darkness

Heroes Against Darkness is a free, fast, flexible, and fully-featured fantasy d20 RPG system. The game is quick to learn and play, while offering progressively greater options and flexibility as players develop their characters and explore the breadth and depth of the system.

For Players:
• A game that’s fast, fun and deep
• Streamlined rules system using unified mechanics
• Eleven character classes for all play-styles
• Three martial classes: Warrior, barbarian, berserker
• Two specialist classes: Rogue, hunter
• One hybrid class that combines magic and martial: Hospiter
• Five magi classes: Warlock, healer, canonate, necromancer, mystic
• Extensive character background and skill options
• Fast character building with plenty of depth
• Martial and specialist classes get meaningful combat choices through class-specific techniques that are based on trade-offs and the unique capabilities of each class
• Anima points-based magic system with five main schools focusing on each of the following; physical, healing, protection, necrotic and controlling

For GMs:
• A system that’s easy for the GM to set up and run
• Intuitive and clear rules
• Set up unique combat encounters in minutes
• Easy on-the-fly conversion of adventures from other systems
• A simple ability test system for non-combat challenges
• Support for long-term campaign play
• Extensive GM’s Guide to help run the game
• Huge bestiary with over 80 monsters
• A framework for quickly making custom monsters
• A comprehensive world-building guide
• Appendix of key tables for GMs

Sunday, December 23, 2012

There is Something to be Said About "Flexible Magic Systems" in RPGs

Minotaur Boy - Early Age Fantasy Super Hero
I enjoy it when my players think "Out of the Box". It not only make sit a fun challenge for me as a DM to adjust, but it's a blast to see my players think up solutions that never occurred to me or the game designers.

I'm a big OSR type of guy, which invariably means Vancian Magic in some manner. As I'm reading the Fabled Lands core rulebook, I noticed an interesting passage in the Spells & Sorcery Chapter:
The next few pages lists all of the lores of magic and the suggested use of them in terms of spells. Please bear in mind that the spells listed within the lores are not necessarily the only possible uses; if you, as a player, come up with a use for the lore that the Gamesmaster approves of, then the Gamesmaster should assign a Difficulty and allow it to be used. Feel free to get creative with your spells and come up with unique uses for them (within reason, of course). (the bolding is all mine)
Think about it - here's a game challenging players to come up with new spells (within reason ;) and bouncing it off the GM to come to a joint decision on how powerful it is and how it will work - on the fly.

Talk about needing to be comfortable with GM Fiat - I know some gamers that something like his could cause near heart attacks.

I don't think I could rightfully challenge by AD&D 1e p[layers to think up new spells on the fly - it doesn't fit the Vancian Magic system at all, but it's damn intriguing an idea  and one I'd love to see in action. I know my players could pull it off.

Maybe in the springtime I'll run a short arc of Fabled Lands. Maybe. Still have the rest of the book to read ;)

Fabled Lands Might be the Choice For One on One Gaming With the Wife

No, I'm not giving up on the idea of running a FATE Core / Dungeon World / another Indie styled fantasy game at some point, but probably not for the wife.

With the wife, I need something simple yet complete. Strangely enough, it looks like Fabled Lands will fit that bill. Maybe not so strange, as it was originally a solo system. A solo system that was sandboxie in nature apparently, as you could move your character between books. I'll let you know more about the original books, as they've been reprinted and I've ordered the first three at Amazon.

In any case, Fabled Lands has been released for full RPG style play, and I grabbed it in PDF from RPGNow for 10 bucks, and the first source book for 4 bucks.

I'm fairly impressed so far. Mind you, it's a simple 2d6 plus modifiers roll over system, so I'm not sure how happy I'd be running this as a campaign for my regular group, but for my wife it may just be what the doctor ordered.

Character creation is decently in depth for a system with a basic resolution system:

1. Choose background
2. Generate description
3. Generate ability values
4. Generate Stamina value
5. Choose profession

Your background, which is close to being akin to your social status, generally gives you a bonus skill (although Nobles get extra starting cash)

Description includes things like height and build (extremes can effect skills), personality traits (both good and bad), and optionally distinguishing features, birthplace and the like.

Ability scores are next up: Charisma, Combat, Intelligence, Magic, Muscle, Sanctity, Scouting and Thievery. So, abilities aren't strictly what we tink of them in the usual OSR game. Starting Scores range from 1-6 (12 is the absolute maximum). The player rolls 8d6 and assigns as they like. I suspect I'll let my wife roll 10d6 and drop the lowest 2 (in any case, if your total starting scores is less than 20, you may roll again)

Stamina (think HP). It's a d6+6 adjusted by backgrounds and character description if applicable.  It goes up as you level.

Last, you choose your profession, which gives the PC access to certain skills and powers. The classes are: Barbarian, Druid, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Troubadour (Did I ever mention that I love bards?), Warrior and Wayfarer (think Ranger).

Actually, maybe there is enough to run a campaign for a larger group here. I'll know more after the first solo arrives on Thursday.

From the blurb:

The Fabled Lands Core Rule Book and source books are based on the game books written by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson.

Harkuna is a world of mystery, intrigue and high adventure. Create campaigns and quests based in your favourite territories from the Fabled Lands: The War-Torn Kingdom of Sokara; the prosperous cities of Golnir (Cities of Gold and Glory), the Violet Ocean (Over the Blood-Dark Sea), north through the Spine of Harkun to The Plains of Howling Darkness, further west to The Court of Hidden Faces in Old Harkuna or east across the ocean to the Lords of the Rising Sun in Akatsurai.

12 source books will accompany the core rule book: the first six will be based on the published game books; the other will be based on the six unpublished books.

The Role Playing Game has been designed using rules that are based on the original game book rules but have been expanded to achieve a party, role play experience. Within this Core Rule Book you will find:

Character Generation
The gods of Harkuna
The chronology of Harkuna
An overview of the world
A chapter for the Gamesmaster that includes a detailed look at Yellowport in Sokara
A Quest set in Yellowport to get you started

The Fabled Lands Core Rule Book come with a full colour large map of the Fabled Lands

A Kickstarter About Superheroes in the Middle Age - Exemplar: Tales of the New Roman Empire RPG

First, a confession. If memory serves, I was asked to look this Exemplar back when it launched and to give feedback, and in truth, I had nothing. I don't play Savage Worlds, and this is a Savage Worlds setting. I also don't play Supers. It is seriously not my bag, which is surprising considering how much I enjoy the comics and the movies of the same. I guess the idea of being Green Lanter or the like left me in my teens.

So, like I said, I gave it a quick peek and then never looked back. Now I'm taking a second peek at it with 8 days left in the funding cycle and I feel bad. It's not even at 10% of it's 18k goal. I don't think I, or anyone else that was asked to look it over in the beginning could have changed that much, but it's sad to see something that the creative team is obviously excited about fail to gather similar excitement from the gaming populace. Savage Worlds is a popular system with a loyal following and Exemplar failed to tap into that following. I have no idea why with the possible exception of the obscure combination of super powers and the Middle Ages.

I'd love to drag some quotes from the Kickstarter page, but most of their text is actually part of uploaded graphics, which makes it difficult. Ah well, I'll snag what I can:
Exemplar is a Savage Worlds Setting where you play Super Powered heroes bound by oaths of fealty during the Middle Ages.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Kickstarter About... Space Ferrets? Kingdom: A Pen & Paper Space Exploration RPG

When I saw the main art piece for Kingdom: A Pen & Paper Space Exploration RPG, my thought was "Why space ferrets?" I still have no idea. It's not that the art is bad (it's fairly good and evocative of something), but I do wonder why most of the aliens races are shown as sets of three. Are they somehow linked to the German language and it's use of  3 sexes? Don't run off in a tizzy - I was referring to Masculine, Feminine and Neutered...er, I mean Neutral.

Anyhow, it's a new sic-fi RPG that uses d6's and d100's. I know this because it tells me so:
The Kingdom Role-playing System relies on six sided die and percentile die. Players can either randomly generate the basic statistics for their characters or GM’s (Game Master) can choose to have a point buy system. Then they play through adventures run by the GM where their choices can inevitably and sometimes unpredictably have an impact on the galaxy at large.
 The system allows for easy creation of new adventures while having a large framework for the underlying narrative of the Kingdom universe. The main book will contain many species to use as enemies/allies/players as well as information about technology, planets, ships, and more. GM’s will have many tools at their disposal in the book in the form of percentile charts that will allow them to randomize events that happen to their players and can act as plot devices. It will also contain a starter adventure for both of the canon Kingdom scenarios.
You know what? I think project creators of Kickstarter Projects should take some marketing classes, because the above paragraphs tells me something, but they dont't tell it in the most compelling manner. Not that I want people to spout marketing shit in their Kickstarters (I could point some fingers but I won't. It's quite possible I already did in the past). Even the title lacks excitement - Kingdom: A Pen & Paper Space Exploration RPG.

Goal is set at 6K. First stretch is listed at 9k. Stretch goals only benefit those pledging $50 or more (which is a lame way to create a distinction between pledgers that HAVE and pledgers that HAVE NOT - remember, new material can always be offered in PDF to the lower level supporters). But here's my bigger question, based upon this bit about the stretch goals:
(For every 1,000 we get over the goal I will be throwing in new and unique items for donors who have pledged 50 and up. Some will also be available as add-ons.)
What do folks get at the 7K and 8K stretch goals? Remember, goal is 6k and the first listed stretch is 9k.

Still, I think the art is fucking cool, and I may just kick in 10 bucks to support the art alone. Maybe.

Looking Over The Legends RPG Rules (Not Mongoose but The Fantasy Trip)

I was hoping to play a solo adventure of either Shadows in the Dark or Emerald Twilight tonight, but after the full morning and day I had up here in the Poconos, I don't see it happening. That's okay, because I'd still have to design my party of four.

Here's the cool thing about the solos from Dark City Games - the fact that they default to four person parties means that you could actually run through the programed adventures with more than one player. It's actually a cool twist on the solo style adventure and gives an option that the standard default of solo adventuring, Tunnels & Trolls, doesn't - more than one player in a programmed adventure.

The other feature that the Dark City Games series of adventures has that T&T solos lack is tactical combat - it comes with a combat map and cardboard cutout tokens. Depending on your style of play, this could be a feature or a fault, but I'm much more tolerant of tactical combat when I'm the player and not the DM ;)

Anyhow, the Legends RPG system (which is available for free download on the DCG website) is also included in the adventures they sell. The rules take up about 7 digest sized pages (additional rules on how to use them in the programed adventure take up about another page). It's a pretty tight RPG for 7 pages, but it's also sparse in detail. You could, however, run a campaign using these 7 pages, but I suspect it would require much DM Fiat - not necessarily a bad thing, but it should be noted.

I'm going to have to put these rules through their paces later tonight and create my first character. Heck, I used to create characters in GURPS back in the day - even used Man to Man prior to GURPS. 7 pages of rules should be a breeze ;)

Butt Kicking For Goodness - Just a Tad Less Buyer's Remorse

It's been a bit since I did the last one of these.

Dwimmermount: An Old School Fantasy RPG Megadungeon

Yep, backers only, so not much I can say directly - or at least, little I can quote directly. Still, PDFs are estimating 3/1/13 and physical rewards are estimating 4/26/13. Late but at least on track now with a schedule.

And the sample art from one of the battlemaps? Actually looks really good. I no longer feel "as foolish" for supporting at a level that included the battlemaps when I do 99.99% of my gaming via G+ Hangouts ;)


Hey, a "Disclosure" Pledge?

Disclosure Pledge

I recognize my value as a voice to the public about this game.

Therefore, I will talk about my reading and playtest experiences, in public, whether it’s on my blog, my podcast, the forums I frequent, or with the people I meet and game with.

I recognize my value as a grass-roots word-of-mouth sales-force for this product.

Therefore, when I speak publicly about my playtesting experiences, I will do so mindfully, recognizing that what the public does with what I share may not always be what I intend.

I understand this does not mean I should speak with artificial enthusiasm or acclaim, but I should share my enthusiasm and enjoyments when they happen. When encountering speed bumps and failures along the way, I will speak fairly, and try to preface my comments with the explicit mention that this is an early playtest and some problems are to be expected. I am responsible for what I say, but I am not an “internet cop”, here—others may say what they say. Whenever possible, I will share my “off-list” discussions (actual play reports, thoughts as I read the materials, etc) with Evil Hat Productions so they might keep tabs on them.

I recognize the value of keeping the game texts I read private.

Therefore, I will not share those texts, in whole or in excerpted part, with anyone not authorized by Evil Hat Productions. I understand that any such authorization must come directly from a member of Evil Hat Productions and must be explicit and written*.

I also understand that if I think that sharing an excerpt of the text would enhance my public voice or the grass-roots sales-force effort, I will contact Evil Hat Productions and discuss what I’d like to do!

*Explicit and Written Approval to Share

As some of you may have already seen us say, we are entirely fine with you sharing the draft with your play-group for play and testing purposes. Naturally! You need to do that kind of sharing in order to do that kind of playing. So do it! You have our blessing. And if you happen to encourage a few of them to back at the $1 level while you're at it... great! :)

Regardless of whether you read, play, and talk about Fate Core over the next week, we hope you all travel safe and stay cozy, wherever you are. Thank you so much for getting us so far already, and we think you'll be excited to see what we have in store for you when we return.


Appendix N

Did I hear rumors that Delving Deeper boxes have started shipping? Absolutely nothing to do with the backers only update, except that our cousin that's always fashionably late but always arrives with the greatest beer for the party is remaining true to form ;)

Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution Of Gaming Miniatures

OK, we received 6 approval samples of the Vampire Level part of our Kickstarter rewards and thought you might be interested in seeing the progress of our project.   It's getting amazingly close and we are probably as excited to send these out as you are to get them!

Yep, that's Reaper (All Thumbs) Bryan hosting and Reaper (Matt the Katt) Clark playing the guitar with Video production and box tossing by Kit (Mr. Hands) Pierce.


Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual

First and foremost, thank you to all who backed the Players Manual project. We came in at $8,600, which is 132% of the goal. Thanks to you, we're going to have a beautiful book!

The next step is to get the artists set to working. The emails to them will go out today or tomorrow, giving them their individual assignments. Their work should be back to me by February, or possibly sooner.

And one piece of even better news; the editor has already gotten back to me with her notes and revisions for the manuscript! Seems that some people had a lot of faith that the Kickstarter campaign would meet its goal. So that potentially lengthy phase of the project is already done. I just need to incorporate her notes into the "live" version of the document.

So we're in an even better place than I expected to be today. Artists will get their marching orders by the weekend, and the markup is done and just needs to be incorporated into the manuscript. Once the art comes back, final layout and production can commence. I'll keep you all posted as there's news to report.

Thanks again, and have a wonderful holiday season.

Joe Bloch
BRW Games

Horror on the Orient Express: Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium

To Contantinople...err...Istanbul...Constantinbul...Istantinople...to Turkey!

For backers only
Greetings and Happy Holidays!

As part of the research for the reprint of Horror on the Orient Express Chaosium's Nick Nacario and Meghan Mclean will be taking a research trip to Istanbul, Turkey. There we will look up photos and ephemera from the good ole' days of the Simplon Orient Express. We want this reprint to be as authentic as possible, especially when it comes to the handouts, in order to make your gaming experience as realistic and incredible as possible.

Join us on our journey, and follow our progress on the Chaosium in Turkey blog. Here we will upload photos and post about our discoveries.



Deadlands Noir

'Twas the Week Before Christmas...
...and all through the Old Absinthe House,
not a creature was stirring...especially Delilah Starr!

She was an ebon goddess on a dirty stage, belting out tunes to the locals every Friday and Saturday night at the Old Absinthe House. Delilah loved Bourbon Street. She sang to the drunks and the sailors and the roustabouts and they sang back. They sang in quiet murmurs and lewd catcalls and the clink of the ice in their glasses. Delilah loved the chatter—even while she sang. She loved everything about Bourbon Street, and she tweeted at them like a canary out of its cage.

But something's happened to Delilah. Something that will lead your party around the Crescent City and beyond.

The Old Absinthe House Blues is the first full-length adventure for Deadlands Noir, built for a party of Novice characters with gum on their shoes and icewater in their veins.

Final Version of Deadlands Noir

We fixed a last few mistakes you guys and gals helped us find in Deadlands Noir.

Adventurers Guide to Terrath for Shroud of the Ancients RPG

The Age Old RPG Debate - Portrait or Landscape Character Sheets
Greetings Adventurers,

The writing and editing continues. However, at one of our meetings this week, the question of the orientation for the Shroud of the Ancients character sheet came up and there was much debate. We have been using the landscape format (lengthwise like a TV screen) during all of our playtesting (i've never used a landscape styled character sheet, but there have been a few folks that said that they prefer a portrait orientation (like a book or memo).

What are your thoughts? Let us know and help us shape the character sheet that you'll be looking at each week.

King for a Day

Page 269... and closing
As you can imagine, the events of Friday have affected a lot of us, and made it hard to focus and write. But I still got a lot of writing done on the book. I am on page 269, but the townships still need fleshing out as well as some details on NPCs and stories.

The good news is that the firs 150 or so pages in stone and they will not be moving. The rest of the book is still in that weird cross-referencing stage where I have to write something here and then there and then... oh that means the office he works out of has another lamp.

You get the idea.


It's 3am. And I will try to have more updates from here on out.

(Seriously, I don't update that much, because I just don't like spamming people.) (it's only spamming if you are pimping a new project)

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