Saturday, January 7, 2012

What Do PCs Do When They Get Sick?

This thought often occurs to me when some virus or flu knocks me for a loop. PCs frequent cold, dank dungeons, sleep on floors, eat trail rations, horrid sanitary conditions and drink from water sources that may be less then fresh.

And yet I've yet to see a cleric spell that addresses illness. Wounds, diseases, blindness, lost limbs, even lost minds and the raising of the dead - yes. A cure for the common shits, flu, cold, rash, fever, etc - nada.

If I had to adventure the way I currently feel, the party would be dragging dead weight.

I wouldn't be in this soft, warm bed milking it for all it's worth, either ;)

Carcosa Has Kicked the Crap Outa Me

Alright, maybe not literally, but I've been mostly bed bound today, the day after I opened up the Carcosa hardcover for some stay at home reading.

Must have been one of the rituals I read (not that I was feeling all that great yesterday - its the reason I took off).

I just noticed there is a very slight, almost imperceptible color tint to the pages that changes depending on the section you are reading. Very cool.

And yes, the psionics section looks very workable, as long as you leave that daily random roll shit. Blows away the AD&D version of my youth. I always figured it was thrown in due to some otherwise empty pages in the back of the book.

Posted from my iPhone. Hot diggity dog!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Review - Carcosa - Part I - Impressions

The Look.  The feel.  Heck, touching the Carcosa book gives one a special feeling.  I said it before and I'll say it again, James really put together a nice package.  But how does it read?

Geoffrey McKinney writes well.  The imagery he draws with his written word compliments the art and the physical presentation (assuming you are reading a dead tree copy and not a PDF).  He writes over the top, and he writes it well.

The ideas presented are the key here.  Carcosa (so far - I've yet to reach the halfway mark) is one of those rare products where the parts are worth more than the sum.

I don't see myself running a campaign where Hit Dice and Weapon Damage are decided at the beginning of every battle - it adds too much randomness, too much bookkeeping, especially in the OSR corner of the hobby, where streamlined and basic is generally considered better.

Would it work as a diversion if the PCs get sent to an alternate dimension?  Definitely.  This is one of the reasons I think Carcosa is worth more for it's parts - as a toolbox / sourcebook hybrid - than a campaign setting of it's own.

Geoffrey has similar feelings, or at least expects a large number of readers to feel the same:

There is no right or wrong way to use Carcosa. Please
feel free to add to this book, or to delete or change anything
within. There is nothing in this book (or anywhere else) that
is “official” Carcosa. Following are only some of the possible
ways to use this volume:
ЖЖUse it as-is for a ready-made campaign.
ЖЖThe player characters in your regular campaign have
been transported by a curse to a terrible location:
ЖЖUse Carcosa as a change of pace or for one-shot games.
ЖЖCherry pick contents (whether monsters, the psionics
system, the dice conventions, various encounters, the
sorcerer character class, or etc.) to use in your regular
ЖЖSimply read the book as inspiration for your own
Above all, enjoy yourself.
There's a lot of stuff to borrow and steal.  I'll try and hit on it in the next part of the review.

Snuggling Up With Carcosa

I woke up this morning, realized I felt like crap, called my boss and took the day.

After trying to stay in bed as long as humanly possibly, the following hat up by a nice bath, I've decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in bed, under the sheets and reading Carcosa.

I'll either get better or die trying ;)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free Stuff - Savage Worlds: Eye of Kilquato for Fantasy Grounds II

Eye of Kilquato fills three useful niches for me:

It's for Fantasy Grounds II, my favorite Virtual Table Top (and which is due an updated review at some point, as the current review is getting a bit dated)

It's for the Savage Worlds RPG system, which I had a blast when I had the chance to play with the guys from White Haired Man playtesting via, you guessed it, Fantasy Grounds II.

It free.  Damn, how can you beat that?

From the blurb:

A free simple adventure from Pinnacle Entertainment Games converted for play within the Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop. It is perfect for inclusion in your existing Savage Worlds Pulp campaign or as a one-shot!

Danger awaits around every corner as the players venture to South America to search for the fabled "Eye of Kilquato." A mix of adventure and mystery, set in a 1939 backdrop, awaits the players.

This adventure showcases what a simple adventure looks like within Fantasy Grounds. The Savage Worlds ruleset is flexible enough to support a wide range of genres and provides as much or as little automation as you want. After playing a few sessions online with old gamer pals or newly made friends from the over 22,000 FG community members, you'll wonder how you ever played around a boring kitchen table.

Requires: A Fantasy Grounds full or ultimate license, the Savage Worlds v3 Ruleset

Tenkar's Tavern's Top Ten List of Reasons To Kill Things andTake Their Stuff

Tenkar's Tavern's Top Ten List of Reasons To Kill Things and Take Their Stuff:

10 - Because they're evil!

9 - Because we're an evil party - duh!

8 - The barkeep looked at us strange.

7 - They would have attacked us if given the chance!

6 - Just because the DM says he's a poor, innocent villager doesn't mean he really is.

5 - We don't take prisoners

4 - Did you see the lip he gave the halfling?

3 - How else are we going to earn our expo?

2 - Because the DM didn't want us to kill 'em, so we had to.

1 -

I leave the #1 answer in your able hands.

Add it to the comments section of this post. One random commenter will receive a $10 gift certificate from OneBookShelf.

Comments must be posted by 1159 PM, NYC Time on Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mini Review - Book 'Em! (Modern D20ish)

If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably have an idea that I am employed in Law Enforcement.  With that out of the way, how could I pass up on Book 'Em!, a short RPG product designed with the intent of letting the GM find out how the police investigation goes when the players go postal on someone's ass!  They will.  We all know it goes down that way.  It's the D&D training of "Go Forth & Kill & Take Their Shit!", but that's for another post at another time.

How does it succeed?  Well, it's a system.  It get's results.  Are the results realistic?  Uhm, it's a game, right?  Where does realism come in?

The thing is, there are so many modifiers and variables attached to the system that it sure as hell seems like the writer wants to go realistic.  At least, in depth, convoluted systems usually mean "attempted realism".  Then why does a highly competent police department potentially end investigations in 2 1/2 weeks, while the Mayberry Police will stick at it for months?  You get to roll each week for success, 2 successes are needed, more time means more successes.  Alright, I'm confusing myself here.

The resolution charts at the end help make sense of things, but even then, the results don't make sense to me.

I was hoping for more of a "what the PCs should expect" sort of product with a simple resolution system attached.  Instead, I got a convoluted system with no background depth attached to it.

Eh, maybe my issue is with more with the whole "roll for everything and everything with a roll" mentality that pervades 3.5 in its various incarnations.

From the blurb:

Ever wonder what happens when your players do something really bad and the cops get involved? Wonder no more! "Book 'Em!" provides the harried GM with a quick and easy means of figuring out how good the local police are at figuring out what the players did and to whom!

Designed for d20 systems with an eye on the contemporary rather than the fantasy, this simple system can be used with little or no alteration in nearly any game system.

Building a Better Bard - LotFP Weird Fantasy Style - Part 2 - The Skills

Because We All Know This is What The Bard
Will Look Like After a Few Failed Castings
You can't have a proper Bard without proper bard skills.  Here's the list I'm looking at (more or less) for Lamentations of the Flame Princess's Weird Fantasy RPG (now I know why I always abbreviate that).

Lore - The chance to know some of the history of important / magical items.  This isn't the same as the Identify spell we all know and love / loath.  As magic items are relatively rare in the default assumed Weird Fantasy setting, all will probably have a fairly unique history.  While knowing the history may certainly hint at the items powers, it shouldn't spell them out.

Inspire - This is a powerful ability, especially in a system that only allows fighters to increase in combat ability.
I'd say:
 +1 hit / +1 saves (never increases)
 - 5 rounds per pip
- 10' radius per pip
max persons effected - 1 pip=1  2 pips=2  3 pips=4  4 pips=8  5 pips=16  6 pips=32  (yes, at high levels they can possibly turn the tide of a closely matched, fairly large scaled, battle).

Performance - Work crowds for pocket change / food / beer lodging - the greater the success, the better the results.  Would also be used for Sleight of Hand and Picking Pockets

Charm Fascinate - I'm thinking of a Sleep like effect, but the the targets are sleeping standing up.  Or I just steal the Fascinate spell from another ruleset.

Read Languages - They are Bards after all.

Anything I'm missing?

Building a Better Bard - Prelude

Part 1- Spell Casting

Part 2 - More on Spell Casting

NYC Temperature Swing Is Worse Than the Carcosa HD Swing

Saturday Night / Sunday Morning I had to pick my son up from the police precinct he volunteers at as an Auxiliary Officer. He got off after working New Years Eve at 1:45 AM. I drove over in the pair of shorts I had been bumming around with. It was warm enough.

Today I woke up to 12 degree weather. I really REALLY need to break out my winter jacket ;)

I felt like a fighter that woke up to D4 HD in Carcosa (thanks to Dreams in the Lich House for pointing out this Carcosa quirk - I noticed it in my reading, then put it aside and forgot)

I was completely unprepared this morning ;)

A Word From White Haired Man

Andugus from White Haired Man posted this as a comment to yesterday's post about digital formats and such. I figured it was important enough to get a post of it's own.

Andugus: My goal is to eliminate the format issue in roleplaying. For example that ePub is a taste of what is to come for all of our adventures, in ePub format. Adventures are shorter than full blown resource books and ideal for holding in your hand while GMing.

That said, WHM has not abandoned the PDF format. We are currently laying out the Kith'takharos line in a new PDF format. This will of course be free to anyone who purchased earlier PDF versions. My goal as the designer is to make these new PDF's work well for self-printing (IE no background art) and Print on Demand through RPGNow. The Print on Demand option will sport a color cover and B&W interior pages due to cost. My goal is to offer our products in print under $10. About half the cost of a Paizo Pathfinder adventure product.

Summary. WHM will be publishing adventures for Savage Worlds and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game System in three formats: ePub, PDF, and POD.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Building a Better Bard - LotFP Weird Fantasy Style - Part 2 - More On Spellcasting

I've been having a small discussion of the Bardic Spellcasting on Google+ (small as in me +1 ;).

This is the alternate idea:

John Allder Stephens  -  As an alternative to using a control die, you could also have the Bard Save vs. Magic, with a mishap if d6 comes up 6 or if the Save fails. The Save vs. Magic would allow for the bard's magic getting more stable over time.
Yesterday 7:39 PM    

So, this would be harder on the caster initially but easier as they level.

Another possibility is just using the Pip to determine spell level / spells per day and requiring a save vs spells to have the spell go off unchanged.  A failed save can result in a minor change to the spell up to some fairly major issues for the caster.  The Pip could even be a saving throw bonus for this save only.

In either case there will a "Spell Mishap" table.  I like tables :)

I'll take any input you wish to offer, then I'll be putting the Bardic Spellcasting on the back burner and moving on to some of the bard's other abilities, such as Charm, Performance, Lore and such.

If a Product Is Free, But In a Format You Can't Use, Does That Make It Crap?

(damn Blogger's iPad app - sent to wrong blog - sigh)

I ask, because it came up in regards to White Haired Man's release if The Hideout in ePub format. Which means it was aimed at gamers with ebook readers that use ePub (all but the Amazon Kindle line).

There are lots of freely available stuff in the world that I either don't need, can't use or would use, but for some reason I can't. It doesn't make it useless, it doesn't make it worthless, it just means it's not for me, time to move on.

The world was not built for me. Amazingly, I am NOT the center of the world.

I don't expect every RPG product, especially the free ones, to be of use to me (or even usable by me). That's life.

I just don't see the anger that was directed at a free product as being viable. Then again, the reviewer may have been bitching about ereaders in general, but as the product is a digital product sold at RPGNow, which specializes in digital products, I fail to see the surprise.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tales of the Blue Knight - Bring Out Yer Dead!

Another repost of one of my earlier Tales of the Blue Knight.  New fiction is in the mental hopper ;)

Building a Better Bard - LotFP Weird Fantasy Style - Part 1 - Spellcasting

For me, a Bard in a D&D styled game needs access to spells, or else he isn't a Bard.  That being said, LotFP's Weird Fantasy has pretty strict class roles with little if any overlap.  As Bards by many definitions (and most importantly mine) are Jacks-of-All-Trades, how do we rectify that with the Weird Fantasy Rules, let alone the implied setting?

For me, I'm going to link Bardic Spellcasting to the "Pip System" used for Specialists.  Yes, they'll have to roll to cast.  Additionally, the maximum spell level they can attempt to cast will correspond to the "Pips" they have in Bardic Spellcasting.  As their knowledge is imperfect, there will be a chance for some sort of spell fumble, and if they are attempting a spell that causes damage (HP loss), the price for failure, or even in some cases, success, may be high.

I'm figuring 2D6 when attempting to cast a Bardic Spell, the "Pip Die" and a control die.  If the control die comes up 6, there is an unwanted effect for a general spell.  If either die comes up 6 for a damaging spell, there is an unwanted effect.  Both dice come up 6's on a damaging spell, it's the nasty effect chart.

Obviously I'll need to work on some mishap charts.

New spells are learned through the gaining of a Pip (one spell learned when a Pip is gained) or while observing another casting a spell.  Spells may be mislearned (which won't be obvious until the first time casting) or impossible to learn (if a roll to learn is failed, it may not be rolled for again.  I think I'd still allow it to be gained from a Pip increase though.)

Figure a point may be spent on Bardic Spellcasting only at every odd level, keeping them from having access to spells before others.

Spellcasting in Weird Fantasy can be a dangerous proposition.  It shouldn't be something Bards (who really aren't properly trained) resort to all the time.  More likely they will cast when other options are gone.

All the above is subject to change ;)

Building a Better Bard - LotFP Weird Fantasy Style - Prelude

Mini Review - Fantasy Island Map by Chubby Funster

Currently Chubby Funster's Fantasy Island Map is listed on the sidebar of this blog as the 4th Hottest Item on RPGNow.  It may or may not be in that position when you read this blog post, but whatever.  It's there now, and for good reason.

CF's Fantasy Island Map is nearly a 100 MB zipped download.  Why, you may ask?  Because in addition to the main map, there are 9 maps that break that full map into 9 sectors.  He also includes icons for labeling purposes.  Oh, and each map is in JPG and PNG format.  So yeah, there's a lot in the download.

Included in the nominal price is a license to use these maps in the commercial works of your choice.  How sweet is that for a mere 5 bucks?  I feel like I'm coin an "As Seen On TV" commercial.  "But wait, there's more!"  heh

It's professionally quality maps priced extremely well for the use in a home campaign or in a commercial product.  At the very least, take a peek at the preview to see if it works for you.  It is that good.

From the blurb:

This is a poster size map file of a large island and a smaller island separated by a strait, along with a multitude of tiny islands off the coast. The map is set at a resolution of 3825x4950 placed onto a 25.5x33 inch canvas at 150 DPI (or nine 8.5x11 pages in a grid). In addition to this master file, several smaller files of each of the nine pages are included.

Some basic icon files in white are also provided for you to use when labelling the map as you wish for use in your publishing projects or at your roleplaying game table.

The zip file contains:
- The master map file (included in both JPEG and PNG format)
- The nine grid pages files for easy use and printing (also in JPEG and PNG)
- A set of 11 white icons for use in labeling

 This entire package is royalty-free and non-exclusive, allowing you to use all the components however you wish even for commercial projects. If used in a publication, please include the following citation: "Some artwork copyright Greg Christopher (c) 2011, used with permission"). The only limit is that you cannot directly redistribute or offer these images for resale on their own.

Building a Better Bard - LotFP Weird Fantasy Style - Prelude

I had a conversation with a fellow blogger last night via Google chat about LotFP Weird Fantasy RPG rules.  There was some clarification that was needed for one of the rules, which wasn't as clearly stated as it should have been, but we both pretty much knew where Raggi was going.  Bad math (either on our side or Raggi's, it was after midnite and I wasn't rechecking math) might have also played an issue.  Still, the conversation got me thinking about Weird Fantasy again.  Which inevitably led to thinking about Bards.

There are no Bards in Weird Fantasy (no Paladins, Rangers or Druids either, but I digress).  I happen to like bards.  I even wrote one for Swords & Wizardry that made the last issue of KnockSpell.  So, if I'm going to tinker with Weird Fantasy Cannon, I may as well start with a class I really enjoy.

One of the huge strengths of Weird Fantasy is the Specialist class.  The "pip" system is really neat, and I think it could be used fairly well with a Jack-of-All-Trades sort of class, like the Bard.  We just have to define his "pip" powered abilities.

He's a bard, so Charm is a must.   Some type of Lore ability.  Spellcasting, but using the "pip" system, so it is far from powerful but possibly useful (i've got an idea for this), Pick Pockets (expanded to include all types of "sleight of hand" activities) - an Inspire type of ability would be fairly powerful in the Weird Fantasy rules, as only Fighters advance in combat ability.  Or maybe not so powerful, as most classes should be avoiding toe to toe combat in any place.

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Suggestions?  Threats?  heh

Let me know what you think, I'm open for input.  It's in the brainstorming stage at the moment...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Word To My Would Be Spammers

In December, I opened posting on my blog to Anonymous posters.  Almost immediately, spammers attempted to add comments to random blog posts here at the Tavern.

Since then, the score is Blogger's Spam Blocker 159, Successful Spam posts 0, as in Nada, Zero, Zilch.

You can continue to piss into the wind, but all you will get is wet feet.  Or you can go play somewhere else.

During the same time I think I've had 3 false positives that the spam filter wrongly caught and I had to approve.  Overall, I'm very happy with the numbers.

So, to summarize - Spammers, go fuck yourselves!     ;P

Stepping Around the Dragon's Foot

My big forum hangout location, when I hang out in forums, has been ENWorld.  I guess more for reason of habit then anything else.  I've noticed that posting has slowed down on the site, or at least, that's been my receipt perception.  As today is the start of the new year, I figured I'd pop on over to Dragon's Foot.

I had forgotten the atmosphere in the Dragon's Foot forums can be a bit more... confrontational.  Someone was complaining about the amount of reviews done by one poster and wondered if anyone else had even read the products in question.  Did he ever think if he wanted more variation in reviewers, maybe the complainer should step up and do some reviews himself?

Of course, now I remember all f the great free adventures available at Dragon's Foot.  More stuff for ME to review here at the Tavern.

I'll be hanging around Dragon's Foot more often these days.  Not sure how much I'll be posting on the forums, but I'll definitely be lurking.

Mini Review - Dwarf World - (Tunnels & Trolls GM Adventure)

(Tunnels & Trolls product releases are rare, and go right to the top of my review pile in most cases)

If there is one thing I've been lamenting on this blog on a semi-regular basis, is the lack of GM Adventures for Tunnels & Trolls.  With Dwarf World, Ken St. Andre himself gives us one such GM adventure, and in typical Trollgod fashion, it is far from typical.

It's total subterranean yet it lacks maps.  It is a sandbox setting of sorts, but it's up to you to put the final (even most) details on the setting.  Much of this will entail actual roleplaying, but for that to succeed, the GM better be a strong improvisor.

Actually, I think that is the key to Dwarf World.  A strong GM (a strong GM is always useful, but for Dwarf World I think it's necessary).  Dwarf World is more of a series of seeds then a full grown adventure.  A strong GM will bring those seeds to full growth, but that also means that no two GMs will run it the same way.  As a side note, it is almost system neutral, and it could easily be used to borrow ideas for use in other fantasy RPGs.

From the blurb:

This is a gamemaster adventure intended for Tunnels & Trolls version 7.5 (although it will work with any version of the rules). It is for Level 1 to Level 10 characters, and there should be at least one dwarf in the party. (Although for a REAL challenge, you could try it without a dwarf companion!) Although there is wealth and knowledge to be won in this scenario, the real challenge will be to get your characters back out alive. Good luck with that.

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