Just checked the mail and it seems my package from Finland has arrived. I was an Indiegogo supporter of The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time and I've had access to it for a few days now, but it is really nice having it in dead tree format. As I've said earlier, it's not an easy read as there is a crapload to absorb. Damn good stuff.
I've already posted a review of Death Love Doom, based on the PDF. I will say I like the fact that the cover is not attached in the print version, just like the classic TSR modules of old. The ability to easily reference the maps while reading the text is a godsend for nearly every adventure, and this one is no different. I do like the prominent 18+ Graphic James used on the back cover. Green Devil Face #5 was added to the Indiegogo fundraiser for The Monolith. I've only now had a chance to flip through it, and t here are some fun alternate rules to play with. I think the next OSR style game I run will either be LotFP Weird Fantasy or Swords & Wizardry Complete. There is a bunch of usable tables and stuff in here. I'll give it a review later.
I am continually being humbled by the response of the readers of this blog. First, last months DCC RPG contest, which had 133 entries. Now, the poll thats been running for the last 5 days (2 days left as I write this) - 245 votes.
245 votes in 5 days.
I would have been happy with 100 before the poll closed, and we might come close to 300 at this rate. If that isn't a humbling experience, I don't know what is.
I'm kind of surprised at the extremely low number of 1 on 1 play - I somehow expected that number to me larger. Not large, but larger.
The ENnie Awards have been awarded. Notice a severe lack of anything vaguely OSR related? Not that it surprises me, as we are a "Niche Within a Niche" (some folks get all pissy when that is said, but it is true). Still, it would be nice for some of the publishers, games and products we all use and love to get some recognition.
I know we have NTRPG Con's Three Castles Award, but it really doesn't get much notice. I'm not sure if it's the size of the con, lack of awareness amongst the publishers and blogs or what. It would be nice to have an award for the OSR that was not only recognized but involved the larger OSR community in deciding who gets an award (and recognition).
Azlyn's Serving Tray This is a round serving tray in appearance, approximately 2' in diameter and made out of silver. It has etchings in the silver of mountains and the like. When placed against the owner's forearm, it adheres to the arm as if attached as a normal shield. In combat, it is as effective as a normal shield but it is highly resistant to damage. On a roll 1 point less than what is needed to hit the user of the shield there is a chance that the opponent's weapon might get stuck. A strength check vs DC 10 must be made by the attacker or the weapon becomes stuck to the shield. Depending on the size of the weapon, this can make things awkward for the owner of the shield. (it is also highly effective at reflecting gaze attacks)
When used as a serving tray, items carried by the tray will not fall or slip, although drinks may spill from their containers.
It's been a while since I've posted a Games From the Basement post, but I have a fun one tonight. We''re getting new bedroom furniture delivered tomorrow, so of course that meant more digging thru stuff that was buried away. Tonight's find was not one, but two GURPS Conan Solos - Conan and the Queen of the Black Coast and Conan the Wyrmslayer. I can't for the life of me understand why I avoided Tunnels & Trolls solos back in the day, but I was willing to slog through GURPS Conan Solos - go figure.
Heck, it looks like I even stated out my own character, because I hated using pregens - it just felt kinda pointless to use a character that was not your own.
Wow, these things even included combat maps. I'm pretty damn sure I never bothered with using that in a solo ;)
I was giving this some thinking after watching the D&D Keynote Presentation last night. I have to say, as much as D&D Next, at least the parts I've seen, are certainly not for me, I truly do wish it success. Heck, I wish it is extremely successful, because success for D&D Next will be a success for the hobby as a whole.
Am I taking anything away from Pathfinder? No. But D&D is still the marque name for the hobby. Even if you play Pathfinder, the act of roleplaying is often referred to as "playing D&D".
Sure, if there was never another single item released for RPGs, there is still enough out there to last me several life times. So if D&D crashed and burned, and the hobby went to ashes with it, I'd still have more than I'll ever need. But that's being selfish.
For a hobby to live and breath and God forbid, actually grow, it needs fresh blood. If D&D Next is done right, it will bring in fresh blood to the hobby.
One thing D&D Next HAS done right is dial back the 3x / Pathfinder complexity level. A simpler core game with hopefully an inexpensive buy in should lower the entry bar to the hobby, and that is a good thing. D&D has been in the past, and should be in the future, the "Gateway Game" to the hobby.
If they are wise, they will publish the core rules as a boxed set. The Pathfinder Beginner Box is by far the best introduction to the hobby currently in print. WotC should do whatever it takes to do it one better with D&D Next.
I doubt I will ever play it (again - I did an early beta) but I will buy the first rules release when it comes out.
I'm not going to invest in the 6 book series that will reset the Forgotten Realms YET AGAIN! I'll wait for someone to give the plot summaries in a blogpost somewhere when they are published. That's just too much of a money sink for something I'll never read.
I've had some time to think about last night's GenCon Keynote address, and it was in all honesty, a whole lot said for very little of worth.
If you tuned in for D&D Next News, there was very little.
If you were looking for some self-back slapping, there was a moderate amount.
If you wanted to see a marketing department written presentation from the WotC Fiction Publishing Division, you probably got way more then you expected or ever wanted. It was slick, but the video took away from the otherwise personable but scripted interactions taking place on the presentation stage.
If you wanted to see Elminster, Ed Greenwood came in costume. Wait, no, Ed came as himself, which means he looks just like Elminster. He has a great voice for voice-overs, but it was overdone in the presentation. Hell, the whole fiction aspect was overdone and overblown. It is obvious that WotC needs to push it's fiction line as it's RPG revenue is tanking between editions, but if you didn't know any better, you would think D&D was a fiction line and not a game line. Hell, maybe that's the future we saw last night.
If you wanted to see a unique and exciting game world discussed, you were instead presented with yet another revision of the Forgotten Realms. Again, as fiction is apparently what they are putting their hopes in, I understand why the Forgotten Realms are important, but personally, I'm tired of the bland and repetitive Realms.
As for the promise of releasing previous edition products in electronic format in 2013, there is only one reason to do so - dollars. As it is WotC and their associated history of dealing with electronic releases of their earlier products (klusterfuck comes to mind) I would be very weary of their implementation. Unless it is released in a manner that will not be revocable, I'll stay clear.
Yep, just for YOU I listened through nearly every minute of the D&D Next seminar that was streamed live from GenCon. I don't know if I made my sanity save yet - time will tell. Here are the highlights, in no particular order:
1 - A whole lotta nothing ;)
2 - Forgotten Realms will be the first setting. It is being strongly linked to the fiction side of the company (which it always has been). Still, the marketing push for the series of novels introducing the revised Forgotten Realms was damn heavy. Seriously, the books gotta sell for WotC to have a chance of making their Hasbro set sales goal.
3 - There will be electronic releases of all of the prior D&D stuff - but they didn't say PDF. My guess? Some proprietary viewer so you can only use it on your PC - because you know about those evil pirates, they're everywhere! If they do go back to PDF, I want my file access at RPGNow returned to me. I paid for that shit! Grrrr!
4 - Uhm - something about critical failures, different magic systems, releasing the Sorcerer and Warlock this weekend for levels 1-5
5 - Oh, and D&D is the only game that tells you to ignore the rules when needed. Apparently no other RPG does the same. Thanks Mike! They must have that copyrighted or something...
I've gone to one GenCon in my life. I believe it was back in '92 (although it may have been '93). It was in Milwaukee and we never even had a chance to do a brewery tour, although we did find a nice pub and restaurant to hit every night after midnight for beer and grub.
Things that stick out to me?
At 7 am, with no traffic on the streets, pedestrians were waiting for the "Walk" sign. We were a bunch of New Yorkers - dodging traffic is second nature for us.
I didn't smell gamer funk until Saturday, but maybe it's just that the ventilation system was working really well.
There was a Spelljammer Miniature Battle Gameswith huge ship models and a crapload of players. "Slade" was running it, then had to run to the bathroom and put me in charge for like minutes - definitely a highlight.
Picked up a signed copy of Rifts by Kevin and Kevin from Palladium Games.
Also grabbed a copy of EGG's Dangerous Journeys over at the Mayfair booth.
Played in a few tourneys. Ranked high enough it one to get a $10 Gift Certificate to the Dungeon Hobby Shop in one of them.
Also sat in on 2 or 3 seminars - boring as all hell ;)
Yesterday I reviewed Death Love Doom by James Raggi. To say it has a heavy read is pretty accurate. Not long, but not easy. Next up will be Monolith From Beyond Space & Time, Raggi's take on writing an adventure in the HP Lovecraft genre. It is significantly longer than Death Love Doom. If it works as well as Raggi hopes it works, it might convert very well to a DCC RPG Adventure, and I'll certainly be reading it what that in mind.
Every couple of days I check the RQ6 website to see if they've released an fillable PDF for the RQ6 character sheet. It's at least a month late in coming. My episodic review of RQ6 is on hold until / if it ever gets released. My next step was to post a character that I would create, going through the steps of character generation in the book, using screen shots to illustrate. No fillable PDF, no character generation post. Truth to tell, I was kind of disappointed with the softcover I received. Nothing inherently wrong with it, just very expensive for a paperback release.
I also need to read through Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria. What I've read so far is good, but not S&S as I've come to know it. I think Crypts & Things cover that base better. I suspect AS&SH will play way as high fantasy with a S&S twist, but not low fantasy S&S. I could be wrong.
Can't forget the Myth & Magic Player's Guide, but that requires a password to read, so it's a pain in the ass to use on a tablet. Why they had to use password protection on it is beyond me, as anyone who might share it with another would certainly give them the password. It won't stop piracy, but it certainly is a pain in the ass to the legitimate Kickstarter supporters. So, that's kinda low on the reading list.
On the Sc-fi side of things, I need to read my playtest copy of Starships & Spacemen. I'm hoping this supports episodic play, as that would work extremely well under the UA-LC umbrella.
I'm sure I'm missing stuff - but as it is, there's a crapload of reading on my plate. Not to mention the writing I need to do. Writing is like trying to hit a moving target - the damn shit is continually morphing on me and keeping me on my toes.
The 13th Skull is a mixed bag, almost quite literally, as it is two adventures in one package. The first, the 13th Skull, is pretty much a 4th level rescue mission.
The quick backstory is one of the Duke's ancestor's promised the daughter of one of his 13 generation of decedents (and 12 sons of earlier decedents to a devil for power and immortal life - the fool! ;) The daughter gets kidnapped in front of the PCs, the Duke offers a fortune for her safe return and the game is afoot!
The adventure itself is good, but doesn't rise to the level of Goodman's previous releases in the DCC RPG line of adventures. The art still rocks, the maps are awesome, but the adventure itself? Maybe it's the short length - 9 pages plus map less the rocking art. Maybe its the fact that even success will likely result in the death of the hostage (I know it's DCC and it's dark by nature - but when the designer states only one playtest group managed to rescue the princess, I think there might need to be a tweak or two.) It looks like it should play well until the end - so tweak the final battle is my suggestion.
Further in it's favor, the adventure does leave itself a few hooks for further adventures at the end.
Now, on to the second part of the bag: The Balance Blade, a 2nd level adventure. This one is a head scratcher for me.
First, it is stated it is better played as a one-shot, as it concludes with intra-party combat. This effectively means it isn't much use in an on going campaign, which is where I assume the vast majority of DCC RPG gameplay takes place.
Second, it requires mixed alignments to pass through certain areas. Which means it makes it even harder to try to edit this at home into something that will work in a campaign.
Third, it requires props - index cards and colored stickers. I understand why the props are needed, but it makes online play a bit awkward.
It might make a fine one-shot for a con or gameday, but except for the fairly linear map it's going to take some work to fit this into a campaign.
So, one good adventure and one less good adventure, for the price of one adventure.
From the blurb:
Thirteen generations ago, the ambitious first Duke of Magnussen made a fell pact with an unknown power, who asked for but one thing in return: the thirteenth daughter born to a Magnussen duke. Now, generations hence, the daughter of Duke Magnussen XIII is stolen away by a hooded executioner riding a leathery beast. As it wings back across the city walls to drop behind the Duke’s mountain-top keep, all who watch know it alights in the Magnussen family crypts, where the devilish secrets of thirteen generations have been buried and forgotten – until now…
This adventure module also includes The Balance Blade, a short level 2 adventure in which a wizard’s patron makes a simple request: travel to another plane to retrieve a legendary blade of neutrality. But once the journey is in motion, the wizard finds that not all is as it seems!
When I first saw Scott Ackerman's completed work for this blog (displayed above) I immediately loved it. I also thought I might have to tweak some things about the blog itself (such as the default colors I use) to make it work with the blog. That reaction was based upon seeing the art alone, and on my tablet.
Now that I've seen the header art on my 27" screen at home, I'm not changing a thing! Holy shit, but Scott did an amazing job matching up to and complimenting the colors I use on this blog. As someone else said, it lightens my page and integrates perfectly.
Great work and a great eye by Scott. I'm even more floored than I was before.
Let me be blunt - Death Love Doom is a NC-17 adventure. The art makes it obvious, but even reading (let alone planning out the way to run it in your head) is disturbing and personal. Which, admittedly, is what James is going for.
For Death Love Doom to be effective, it has to be unnerving and uncomfortable to not just the PCs, but the players as well. In truth, for that to happen, the GM is going to have to be a bit unnerved by the whole thing himself.
At it's simplest, Death Love Doom is a haunted house type of story. As such, it is dying to be used as a sort of Halloween type gaming session. I used to use Ravenloft one-shots for that stuff back in the day, but this - this would have been the "piece de resistance". Nothing would ever top it. That being said, I don't think I'd find players who would want to run it, or something like it, a second time. Once is probably all that any has in them.
If I have one complaint, it's the art. Not that it's bad - it is amazingly well done and horribly disturbing. My complaint is that it is interspread throughout the adventure and there aren't second copies in the back. These should be handouts or visuals for the players, because as we've been told numerous times in our lives - "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Here, I'll give you a small piece of one of Kelvin Green's pieces:
Uhm, yeah - it gets much more graphic. But that's worth at least it's share of a thousand words.
It's good though. A guilty good. Guilty good in "I'd love to run a group through this just to see if any 'tap out' before the end" ;)
Is it a thing of nightmares? Perhaps. I can't recommend this for everyone. This is graphic, emotional and mental horror. If you aren't into that type of stuff, give this a wide berth.
Thanks to Scott Ackerman, The Tavern has a new header. Really, really awesome work.
It does remind me though that The Tavern is overdue for a cleaning. Now that it has a new sign, I need to work on other stuff - cleaning out the blogroll of dead or orphaned blogs, check the links to the left to make sure they are still accurate, trim out some of the dead weight, maybe change the layout... lots of stuff to look at.
Don't tell anyone, but I find myself constantly opening up my blog's page just to look at the new header art. Can't wait to see it on the 27" screen, not the 7" tablet. ;)
Why does a capital "i" look the same as a lower case "l" when typed? sigh
It's been a while since I've had a chance to review an entry in the Toys For the Sandbox series and I figured for my next review I'd start with something special. ILIALM, The Dwarf Mine. There, all caps so you can tell the letters apart.
Ilialm is a cave based location, adventure, place to drop in front of your players when they zig and you were ready for a zag. It's got dwarves with a twist.
It follows the fairly usual TFTS menu - Six possibly way to set up the encounter, each with three twists. I often find that the most fun is to use two complimentary "possibilites" each with their own twist - it really adds lots of depth no matter which way the PCs run with it.
Ilialm is a change from what's gone before in the series and it is truly impressive. I'm not just talking about some excellent yet low key art or even the awesome map (I'm going to blame the DCC RPG for my current map obsession). Nope, it's things like a printer friendly version of the adventure. Or how about an un-keyed player's map, suitable for use with your favorite VTT (with some great background behind the map too). Heck, they've even included the file if you want to print it in booklet form.
Yep, they've kicked it up a notch and it shows. Damn good stuff.
From the blurb:
This week we venture back into the southern waters to explore the island Ilalim that some of you may remember seeing on the Lost Colony map. Here is an old dwarven mining colony that was forgotten about after a mining accident. One dwarf has found record of its existence but the colony has problems of its own, political unrest and a strange enemy lurking in the old mines below. This week we have everything you have come to expect except we have set aside the random encounters table for an extra set of rumors, one covers what is going on around the island the other will get the party there. We also have two maps from Teo this time, there was just too much Ilalim to fit on one.
I wish I knew if this lined up with the print version of Hackmaster Basic or not - I bought 5 (actually they sent 6) copies when they had their 5 for 25 deal a while back. Meant to give copies out to my old group, but the time was never right and they are packed into storage.
This is the Next Edition of Hackmaster - their 5e if you will (as they started with 4e designation). It is not a system I am comfortable with myself. To my eyes it's more of a D&D / GURPS mash-up, which may be the ideal system for some but isn't the ideal system for me.
That being said, the buy in costs nothing and even includes 3 adventures in the rulebook to get you started.
Give it a shot - you might like it... if nothing else the cover rocks!
From the blurb:
Congratulations! In a world where there is no shortage of mediocre games, you’ve managed to find one of the true gems. Designed from the ground up to be played at a table with real life friends, this hard-hitting, old-school game makes no qualms about its heritage. This is the way role playing games were meant to be played and we present to you the best of breed. This version of the game is 'basic' only in that it serves as a gateway to the dynamic thrill of the HackMaster game. Gone are the days of waiting around for your 'turn', of battling static opponents or of being anything but totally in charge of your own destiny. We want you to try HackMaster so we're letting you download the basic game for free! What have you got to lose? Here’s just a sample of what you’ll find in this free 231-page PDF: • A combat system geared for quick, hard-hitting, dynamic action. • 11 Ready-to-Play characters • Knock-back rules that eliminate static “conga line of death” battles • Penetration damage, damage reduction from armor and shields and revamped ranged combat rules, including shield 'cover' • A combination of slot and spell point system that allows for 'straight up' mage play but at the same time allows your mage to change spells on the fly or increase a spell’s range, duration and other effects • 70+ spells (including Skipping Betty Fireballs and Heat Seeking Fist of Thunder) • Classic fantasy races (dwarf, elf, halfling, human) and classes (fighter, thief, mage, and cleric) for your campaign • Five clerical classes to choose from! • An all-new thief statistic: Luck Points! • Quirks and flaws that transform your PC into a real character • Building Point rules that let you customize a character to your own style (there are no ‘cookie cutter characters' here!) • Quick-Start rules for even faster character creation • Skills, Talents and Proficiencies (including all weapons and armor) and specialization open to every character class... for a price • Honor tightly integrated into play and with more flexible usage • GameMaster chapters with treasure tables, 75 monsters, magic items, tips and more • Three adventures included so you can start gaming immediately
The pissing match that I was having with Vince is over. Although I am happy with the amicable resolution, I can't say I'm terribly pleased with my heavy handedness in the beginning.
It is easy to step over the line when communication is never face to face - and I did. I'm not saying Vince didn't respond in kind, but I fired the first volley.
Vince has kindly agreed to my suggestion, and is now credited with "additional writing and editing" for Mazes & Perils. I don't know if it was an easy decision for him, but it was the right one. Might have been an easier one of I hadn't started out with two feet on the Irish side of the road (I inherited that with marriage I think).
So, I thank Vince and I apologize for the excessive attitude. I get Grumpy sometimes ;)
(this would be snappier and have links and stuff, but I'm operating from my tablet)
I've I had a "not quite final" copy of Sepulcher of the Mountain God in my possession for nearly two weeks, and I've been eagerly awaiting it's release so I could talk about it. That time is here.
First things first - I really love Scott Ackerman's artwork. He has some really nice B&W (actually lightly colored) pieces in this adventure. Scott's been doing some really nice pieces for different third party publishers of the DCC RPG and I've really enjoying what I'm seeing. I may need to commission Scott to do a new header for this blog ;)
SotMG is a 1st level adventure that puts the PCs directly on the radar of a God, which can only mean tons of fun, especially when one is playing the DCC RPG. This is an adventured steeped in atmosphere and combat - probably more direct combat that I recall in the other 1st level DCC adventures released to date. So it has the potential to be pretty lethal - I strongly suggest that a group with less than 6 players run with 2 PCs per player. This isn't a funnel, but it isn't going to be easy, either.
It should be playable in a single session, unless your players are the type that turn over every dust mote. In which case, it may take a tad longer ;)
If there is a minor quibble, its that the maps are fairly linear - not literally, but with few true PC choices to be made. Still, in a short adventure, this is to be expected
The inclusion of unmarked players' maps is an extra that I can't stop praising. The maps are nice and clean and perfect for use in a VTT. This alone adds a huge value to the adventure, especially if you DM online like I do.
From the blurb:
Braving the hidden tomb of an ancient tribal king, the adventurers become embroiled in a quest directly from Ira, the Mountain God – find the Skull of Vyache and his magic club, Alceon, that were stolen by Bashkim and the twisted minions of Gelihedres. Supulcher of the Mountain God is a Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game adventure designed for 8-10, 1st-level characters or can be easily adapted for use with higher or lower level characters. All products in the Adventure Locale line present one or more dungeons that can be quickly picked up and used for a session of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game.
"John" is taking a class in college. He does some research and decides he wants to write his term paper on "13 y/o boys whose mothers' lock them in the basement". He sees a previous student wrote the same and likes the previous term paper so much, he decides to do a homage to it, extrapolating the data to cover "13-18 y/o boys whose mothers' lock them in the basement". He hands the paper in crediting the original writer of the previous paper as the "editor" and himself as "retro-organizer". His professor isnt sure what to make of it. He had read the original term paper it was based on, but the amount of new material and research was significant. There were problems with some of the material that was repeated verbatim, and in the end "John" decided to abandon the term paper and the class. Along comes "James". He wants to take the same class and wants to do the same type of term paper. "John" sees him and says to the effect: "I no longer want to take this class. Do you want my term paper?" "James" eagerly takes "John's" term paper, makes a few minor changes and submits it with his name on it "By James". He lists the previous "authors" as "contributor" and "original system and rules authors" after his name and in a much smaller font. Now the professor is getting pissed. He's definitely seen this before. The tables match the previous copy he pulls out of his desk. Paragraphs may be rewritten but say basically the same thing. There is no way"James" wrote this. "If I accept this paper, I'll have to bring it to the attention of the school authorities." After a little thought, "James" withdraws the the term paper. The next semester, "James" rewrites pieces of the previous term paper, changes some numbers on the charts and resubmits it. He wonders why the professor refuses to accept his rewritten term paper, which in substance hasn't changed at all. So, here's the issue with Mazes & Perils, just so it's out there in plain english - Vince didn't write it. He claims authorship, but it's not his work. It's the work of another (or two others, depending on your point of view.)
If Vince had released it as "Mazes & Perils, based on the work of Holmes and Pinnell. Additional work and editing by Vincent Florio" I doubt there would have been as much as a whisper. Ego apparently wouldn't allow that.
So, where's my facts? As apparently Vince feels I've appointed myself "OSR Cop", I figured I'd take some pictures of the crime scene. To Vince's credit, he does change up the numbers and charts in the second release of M&P. Doesn't change the fact that he is not the author of the work. Editor? Certainly. Additional material? I'll grant him that. Author, let alone sole author? Not happening.
The following screenshots are, from left to right: Holmes 77, M&P 1e, M&P 2e. You'll need to click on the images for a larger view.
Let me put it another way. Vince does podcasts. If Vince were to suddenly say "I'm done with podcasting! Jack, here, Save or Die is all your's now." Jack now goes and instead of writing new episodes of the podcast, uses old scripts, changes a few words and now claims authorship of the "new" episodes. People that listen to Save or Die would be going - "WTF?!? I know I already heard this! This guy "Jack" is taking credit for Vince's work!"
Therein lies the problem - taking credit for work that isn't your own. As a creator, I'm sure Vince has a better understanding of the point being made now.
The Minotaur for Old-School Essentials
*Requirements:* Minimum STR 9, Minimum CON 9
*Prime Requisite:* STR and CON
*Hit Dice:* 1d10
*Maximum Level:* 8
*Armor:* Leather, including shield...