Saturday, September 15, 2012

First Impressions - Drinking Quest: The Original Drinking RPG

The only rule you need to know - if your character dies, you needed to chug your drink to bring them back to life (on the second or later death in the same session, 3 swigs can substitute for the chug). Really, what more do you need to know?

Alright, the art for Drinking Quest 1 looks real ly good, the game looks fun and you could run the game NA (non-alcoholic) if you would like - won't change the game from being fun and funny.

You can run it with or without a DGM - Designated Game Master. If you ran it with a DGM, it should work via Hangouts with a little prep. I'll try and hook something up - I already have a few interested and I'm sure there might be a few others.

The rules are simple, but I really need to read all the cards - then I'll do a "pre-play" review. Still, at first look, i'm very impressed and excited.

Hey, I wonder if we can get the "chug rule" added to D&D Next as one of those "modules" ;)

If You Want to Kill the ENWorld Forums - Make it Difficult to Find on the Homepage (Screenshot Included)

Longtime visitors over at ENWorld should remember it was pretty easy to drop right into the forums. Now, not so much. Morrus complained that forums are being ised less by companies to get their info out and that forum communities are moving on. That very well may be the case, but it doesn't help when the link to the forums looks like every other link on the page. Heck, the forum link isn't even in the upper left corner, thats for some Online Generic Randomizer Engine.

Think about it - you complain that forums are falling to the wayside, and you don't even highlight your own forums. Larger font, different colors, prime location - why bother, right?

If you can't get folks that land on your home page into your forums, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Bring Out Your Dead! Ere Now - Is ENWorld Dead?

Last night on Twitter, Morrus, the main man behind ENWorld, was involved in multiple discussions regarding the "obsolescence" of forums as news sites or hubs.

He puts the blame squarely on:

Facebook- did i mention I personally hate Facebook?

Youtube- because you know, it's so easy for the average person to produce a game related video that looks professional and uses celebrities

Company owned websites- how DARE companies have their own forums!

Celebrities- This means YOU Will Weaton!

Blogs- the bane of all existence, especially when those evil game making companies run one.

Apparently G+ is a pimple on the ass of the internet. He doesn't see it as a news distribution method or a threat to his business model.

Oh yeah, that's right - ENWorld is a business. It makes money off ads and subscriptions from it's numerous users (more like a donation). For the longest time it was one of the slowest sites to load on the internet. It seems to have gotten past that, but whether that is due to increased bandwidth or lower traffic numbers, I couldn't tell you.

I used to go to ENWorld fairly religiously before 4e hit the market - and the forums. It wasn't the edition wars that soured me, but it was the changing of ENWorld slowly to something with more flash and obviously more of a commercial appeal. Heck, even finding the forums these days can be a chore.

The more the site changed, the slower the traffic / postings seem to be. There's been less and less of anything I wanted to add my thoughts to, let alone read.

Damn shame.

Morrus wanted to know where online "communities" were going to go if forums withered and died? The answer is simple enough - Facebook, G+ and blogs (which already form a loose community). It might not pay anyone a salary, but the communities are going to go where their interests are served best.

One good thing did come from last night's twitter threads - I realized I was still paying $14.99 every 4 months as a Silver Supporter of ENWorld - a site I visit 2 or 3 times a month. The community has been leaving ENWorld for a while - the posters whose threads I would search out have moved on. So I canceled my supporter account.

I'm sure I can find a way to spend those $45 a year that will better support my gaming habit.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Night Movie Tavern - Conan the Barbarian

When the wife was away for the evening taking a stained glass art class, your tavern keeper decided to stream Conan the Barbarian via Netflix. You know the one - the 2011 Blockbuster hit. Huh, it wasn't a blockbuster? Shit!

Alright, first things first - I'm not all that up on my Conan fiction, so I'm not married to the canon. I can't sit here and say "this shit never happened in a Howard story!" because truth be told, most of my experience with Conan was the Marvel comics series' (oh, and Conan the King - I really enjoyed that one).

What all this means is that I got to watch Conan the Barbarian as a fantasy movie first and a Conan movie second. As a fantasy movie? One of the better ones to come out in recent years. As a Conan move? Call me a heretic, but it was better than the Arnie version from my youth. I really enjoyed it. My wife wouldn't have, but she fell asleep 15 minutes into The Fellowship of the Ring ;)

If there is one thing I need to yoke it's the sand warriors. That fight scene was many layers of awesome and I'd love to put my layers through something similar, at least opponent-wise. Maybe I'll write them up in the next few days OSR compatible...

A Response to My Post About the D&D Documentary - From Andrew Pascal, Producer - Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary

This was added as a comment to the original D&D Documentary post, but as it will probably get very few views there, I'm reposting it as it's own post. It goes a long way to addressing questions  and issues raised on this blog and elsewhere.  As I post this the Dungeons & Dragons Kickstarter has 53 hours to go.

Hi All -

I'd love to weigh in on some of your concerns and be given the opportunity to explain ourselves on this forum. 

My producing partners and I have been working for over a year now on the footage we've acquired. We've paid for everything out of pocket and had come to the point this past April when we realized, taking into account the scope of the story we needed to tell, that we simply could not afford to do it ourselves. What's more, the story is so compelling that our initial budget simply would not suffice in order to tell it appropriately and with the due respect it deserves. 

So we decided on a KS campaign. And we also decided to launch at GenCon 2012. What we imagined to be the simple process of mounting a KS campaign, was without question, one of the hardest things we've ever had to do. It was something we completely under estimated. Plus with the added deadline of GenCon, things became very interesting for us, very fast. We've never done anything like this before, we're film-makers not fund raisers. So yes, we made a lot of mistakes.

That being said, we managed to hobble together the clips we wanted to show at GenCon, a trailer for KS and a few interesting rewards to offer. And we launched, hoping, truly beyond hope that what we had to show would be enough to get us the funds we needed to meet the KS goal. We begged and pleaded the many connections that we made to help spread the word. Many in the industry championed our project and to them we owe an eternity of gratitude.

The fault in explaining our goals and stretch rewards was purely mine. Our intention was never to obfuscate what we have set out to do, which is to make a kick-ass documentary on a game we love. And we have addressed any and all who had their concerns about what it is exactly their funding. Simply put, the KS allows us to finish filming the way that we have been filming with the added exception of some help (and a good sound mixer). It also allows us to finish the film in a much shorter period of time instead of waiting for our own bank accounts to be replenished with our day jobs. Documentaries of this caliber cost lots more money than what we are asking for (an average Michael Moore documentary is in the neighborhood of $5-7 Million). We've managed to creatively cut costs wherever we can and use the resources we have to come up with a budget that is a tenth of what bigger documentaries cost to make, but without sacrificing the "look" and "feel".

Someone mentioned "Clerks" as perhaps a model to follow in terms of getting a labor of love made with maxed out credit cards and loans...that may be well and good for a movie like "Clerks". But when you're looking at $100 a second for archival footage, things get very expensive very quickly. And this is nothing but a labor of love for us.

Beyond the money we get from KS, we still have to raise even more. And we will go to investors for that. What the KS is going to help with is easing the concerns of our investors in terms of getting their money back. We can show them that the anticipation for the film is already in place. 

Our goal has always been to make a great documentary about a game we love and guys (Gary, Dave, et al) we admire and do it well. Unfortunately all of that costs money. Money we just don't have.

I hope this helps to explain our position a little bit. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our email is DungeonsDoc@gmail.com

Thanks for your time and thanks for listening.

Andrew Pascal
Dungeon & Dragons: A Documentary

The deal for the companion book has been put together with Chris Pramas of Green Ronin and author James Lowder. Everything is in place, except for actual funds. Our stretch goal, which as you mentioned, we have no way in hell meeting, would have paid for the printing of and shipping to our backers. The rest of the money would have been spent on the proper marketing of the film.

Mini Review - Crawl! #4 - The Tainted Forest Near Thorum

Crawl! for those that don't know, is a print only fanzine for the DCC RPG. Issue #4 of Crawl! is even more special then the previous 3, as it's actually an adventure. Yep, for $3.50, you get an in print DCC RPG adventure with detachable cover and artwork by Scott Ackerman. You don't know who Scott Ackerman is? Look at my blog header above to see some of the amazing work he does. Yep, him. Art AND cartography for The Tainted Forest Near Thorum.

Lets see - Ackerman cover, Ackerman town map on the inside of the detachable cover, Ackerman art on the first page of the booklet (I could swear that Tenkar the dwarf is depicted in the art there) and more Ackerman art for the dungeon map. Damn good stuff.

Yes, the US Postal Service
Got It Wet
As for the adventure itself - it's a 5th level adventure with both outdoor and indoor locations, so there should be ample opportunities for role playing and head bashing. When it comes down to it, that's what RPGs are all about ;)

It should be a fun one to run and play, assuming I ever get a party up to level 5 in the DCC RPG. One word of caution - there is a fairly powerful weapon that the party will probably acquire - because as we know, players would rather kill than talk. Depending on the type of campaign you are running, you might want to tone down some of it's power. You'll know it when you see it.

For $3.50 Crawl! #4, heck, any of the issues of Crawl!, is a bargain. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. Tell Dak "Tenkar sent ya ;)"

From the blurb:

The 4th issue of Crawl! is an adventure module by Yves Larochelle and art by Scott Ackerman. It features:

A complete adventure for 4 to 8 5th-level characters!

A detailed village full of interesting locals but with a hidden secret!

A nearby forest full of unique beasts including a dragon!

A deadly dungeon with a sinister evil!

Plus new magic items and more!

This adventure can be played in its entirety, or bits and pieces can be used on their own, including a random forest encounter table.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm "This Close" to Announcing the Completion of my First Project

Thank the Gods it's Nearly Done
Alright, I just finished the bulk of the project I've been working on over the last two weeks or so. I still have to tighten stuff up and work on some "fluff", but the meat and potatoes are done.

I'm really not used to writing stuff that isn't for the blog directly, let alone working on a project by terms that resemble a schedule. It almost would seem like work, except for the fact that most of it has written itself. If I had to force this stuff it wouldn't be suitable for even orcish consumption.

Once I dot the "I's" and cross the "T's" on this project I'll talk more about it in detail (as it will then be in the hands of someone that can turn it into something worth publishing - oh, and an artist too. Sweet!) Then I go back to working on a yet earlier project, one that's been slowly coming together but needs a decent push on my end.

I'm slowly transforming myself into one of those "creative types".

Scary, ain't it? ;)

The Poll Results are in - Labyrinth Lord Wins by a Late Surge (Blood & Treasure a Solid Second)

Yep, the Poll is now closed, and the results are in.

Election results were verified by the same fine folks that verify elections in most 3rd world countries. Was there some ballot box stuffing? Based on the late Labyrinth Lord surge, it's certainly possible, but it's nice to see folks looking forward to playing their favorite game.

Final tally for the top five:

Labyrinth Lord with 111 votes

Blood & Treasure with 94 votes

Swords & Wizardry Complete with 68 votes

Castles & Crusades with 50 votes

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea with 50 votes

What this all means is that I'll be running a session or two of Labyrinth Lord for readers of the Tavern in early October. I'll work out the details and obviously post it here to recruit players. Aiming for a one shot, but if enough want to play I'll run it twice for two separate groups.

In addition to LL, I'll also run a session or two of Blood & Treasure at the end of October or early November. The two were neck and neck for most of the week, with either one in first place depending on when you peeked at the numbers.

Congrats to all the games - they all got votes and they are all winners :)

8 Hours Left in the OSR Poll

There's about 8 hours left in the poll in which you tell me which OSR game i should run for patrons of the Tavern in the month of October.

At the rate the poll is going, and the tight race at the top, I may have to run a session each for the top 2 vote getters. That will depend entirely on my ability to free up time next month, but I'm already working on it.

So, if you haven't yet voted - tick... tick... tick... ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

D&D Documentary Kickstarter - Why I'm Not Kicking

Gareth Skarka had a very good point abou the D&D Documentary on G+ earlier this week - their funding and stretch goals raise some flags.

Before I get to the nitty gritty, I'll admit to being extremely interested in this documentary. This is my hobby, the root of my hobby, my High School and College preoccupation. In many ways, it changed the world of games as we know it, because without D&D, there is no PRPG hobby, no CRPGs, no MMORPGs - no gaming as we know it and enjoy it. So yes, I'm emotionally invested in the D&D Documentary I'm just not monetarily investing myself in it.


Let me quote some stuff from their kickstart page (oh, and please go to the kickstarter page for some really great clips from the documentary -  as I said, it's damn interesting stuff).

Making a movie isn't cheap, but we've managed to cobble together some figures that might help explain what we need and why need it.
If we get our goal of $150,000, we get to shoot the film. This is the minimum we need for actual production, crew, equipment, flights and lodging. (Grumpy the Dwarf here - as of the posting of this blog post, they are just over 2K away from goal - they will fund - yippee!)
If we get $250,000, we get to edit, add music, mix the sound, add some graphics and do the Mastering. (wait a fucking minute! if they fund, they dont have the money to edit this fucker unless they hit a stretch goal?!? So, they get to film it, but they will never finish it unless it funds at $250k?) We get to pay for the archive footage, which, we are learning, is expensive. This pays for all the finishing costs. The $250K level brings everyone to the first of our FIRST STRETCH GOAL, a beta version of our smartphone app: GAMER FINDER. Find gamers around you using your smartphone's geo-tagging features. Now, if you want to play a game and your friends are too busy, just use your app to find gamers near you. (uhm, that app is called G+)
At the $500,000 level (which there is now way in heaven or hell they are going to reach), we get to market the film. Yes, marketing is expensive. Even the extra $250K is never enough. (trust me, if they complete this and somehow miraculously find the funds to edit it, they are going to find a way to market it) This helps us send it out to film festivals (Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, to name a few) and eventually, cross our fingers, sell the film to a distributor so they can get it to theaters.
The $500K level brings everyone to our SECOND STRETCH GOAL (and this one, we are very excited about). Everyone who donated $100 or more will automatically receive the Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary Companion Book. This beautifully bound, illustrated book, published by Green Ronin and edited by James Lowder (all this means is the book is a done deal and will be available separately - wait, if the book is a done deal, the documentary must also be a done deal - I mean, they have a publisher and an editor already) will chronicle the creation of the documentary and will include essays from interviewees and other special guest contributors. Those who payed less than the $100, will be given the opportunity to increase their pledge to the $100 (or more) level and we will send the book along with your other rewards.
Alright, let me understand this. The documentary appears to be mostly filmed already (at least the interviews). So, is the basic goal there for the filmmakers to recoup their current out of pocket expenses?

If the first stretch goal isn't hit, will there be nothing more to this than the clips already on the kickstarter site?

I hate to be like this, because I really like the idea behind the documentary and the clips look damn interesting, but I can no longer treat kickstarter as a black hole to toss money into and hope for the best.

Mini Review - DCC 72 - Beyond the Black Gate

If you've read this blog previously, you'll know how much I really enjoy Goodman Games' DCC line of adventures. The art is always awesome and the maps themselves are works of art. Have Harley Stroh write the adventure and it will probably be love at first sight.

Spoiler Alert! There will be spoilers in the review below! Fair Warning!

Case in point - Beyond the Black Gate. Harley pulls off the start of the adventure in a manner I usually avoid - with a shipwreck. This means, of course, you need to get your part on a boat going somewhere - somewhere they won't actually get to. Harley's writing skill pulls it off, or at least makes the whole situation exciting enough that I'll jump through hoops to get my party there.

There are some very nice roleplaying encounters dispersed throughout the adventure. Each of these encounters have motivations and twists that will be a blast to run as a GM. The players may not appreciate all the twists as they happen, but they'll enjoy the ride none the less. Mendax - even if I never get a chance to run Beyond the Black Gate, this character will be making an appearance - somewhere, somehow.

The story behind the adventure and the ways it may play out are extremely well put together, and the climax isn't the end. PCs may win the day and die in the evening if they aren't careful, but such is the way of the DCC RPG.

Included is a new patron - The Horned King, along with accompanying Patron Taint and Patron spell. You get a lot for what you spend with this adventure.

End Spolier Alert!

As for the maps (one of my favorite things about the DCC RPG Adventures) you get three full page adventures. I'm going to throw out a suggestion ere, but with a lot of RPG playing / sessions being run online, a VTT / G+ Hangout Player's version of the maps without the room numbers would be nice. The shame of all the DCC Adventures is that only the GM gets to see them. Player's maps w/o the locations labeled would be an awesome addition to an adventure like this.

From the blurb:

Summoned by a coven of foul witches, the adventurers are bid through the Black Gate and across the multiverse, in pursuit of the crown of the fallen Horned King. There, in the icebound gloom of Thrice-Tenth Kingdom, they must pit their wits and brawn against his dread servants. His sullen citadel looms above the darksome woods and elfin ice caves, ruling over the mystic kingdom. Do you dare to ascend the throne of bones and declare yourself master of the Wild Hunt? Whatever your answer, the land beyond the Black Gate is sure to present a grim challenge for the even the hardiest of adventurers!

The Old School RPG Poll at the Tavern is in a Dead Heat - Just Over 24 hrs to Go

At any given moment, Labyrinth Lord and Blood & Treasure are either tied for 1st in the poll, or extremely close 1st and 2nd place.

Help decide which rule system I'll use in October for readers of this blog - you have just over 24 hours to do so.

Want to pad the vote? Add a comment on this post about which system you would like to see run and I'll add it to the final tally.

Fear - Why It Is Difficult to Replicate in an RPG (and a method on how to do so)?

Fear - the final frontier of RPGs. Often attempted, rarely replicated except as game mechanics, which is pretty much a failure if you ask me.

Why does fear fail so often in RPGs?

Well, you have to be invested in the character - no investment, no return of fear. Movies draw you into the character (and add mood music and such) to draw you into the fear. Sure, the PC is yours, but until you've played him / her for a few sessions, you probably aren't as invested in it for real fear of loss to occur. Fear of loss is about the only kind of fear that works in an RPG.

RPGs tend to go for the immediate threat. Immediate threats result in fight or flight. Most situational conditioning in RPGs is to fight in these situations, even against overwhelming odds. From my own personal experience with 9-11 - when you don't have time to think, you do what you are conditioned to do. Without time to contemplate what I was fairly sure was my impending death, my training kicked in and I went into rescue mode. Believe me when I say I'm very invested in my own life, much more so than any player is in their character. Players will tend to react as they are conditioned - to stand and face the immediate threat despite overwhelming odds. I'm not saying they might not run, especially as parts of the party start dropping like flies, but that won't be the first instinct.

If you want to invest your players into their characters, if you want the stink of fear to permeate the gaming table, you have to make the object of fear a long term fear. If players are conditioned to handle immediate fears, they are rarely able to shuffle aside the long terms ones. From my own personal experience, my diagnosis of cancer a few years back (all gone now) caused me to curl up in a ball in the hallway to my kitchen and cry like a baby. Why? Because there was a distinct possibility (not a probability, but a possibility - less possibility than on 9-11 i would think) that I wouldn't make it past 12 months. I was looking death in the eye and running scared. Long term fear. I'm not conditioned for that. Too many possibilities. Too much time to worry. Heck, worrying was a luxury I had plenty of time for.

You want to put fear into your players? Hit them with a long term, debilitating curse after they've become invested in their characters. Finding the cure will become their immediate, short term and long term goal. Success and failure will have meaning. Heck, even immediate threats may get a response similar to that of a long term threat - time to run away, so as to survive long enough to overcome the long term threat.

Successful fear in an RPG is a long term situation that you need to put your players in, and much more effective (and enjoyable) than the short term "Save vs Fear."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Free Game of the Week - Mini Six Bare Bones Edition

I'm a day late with updating this week. So I'll try to make this extra special.

Do you remember the D6 version of the Star Wars RPG? The old West End Games version? Well, long after WEG lost the license, and after they tried to migrate the system to other genres, the D6 system went open. Open as in OGL.

AntiPaladin Games took the Open D6 system and boiled it down to Mini Six.

Mini Six is a member of the OpenD6 family of games. It’s cinematic and flexible like its parent, but its goal is to be lighter and faster, keeping the heart of the system’s mechanics but streamlining the rules.
Mini Six is a variant of the OpenD6 system. It's generic, though there are several starter campaign ideas presented including fantasy, science fiction, and a lighthearted take on a 1970's cop action show style game. 
The mechanics of Mini Six revolve around rolling a dice pool made of a number of six side dice, resulting in a total that is compared to a target number set by the game master. 
What you won’t find in this book are a lot of detailed examples, exhaustive rules to cover every possible scenario, or a large list of modifiers. Instead, we are trusting GM’s, with the help of their players, to apply common sense to make the game fun for everyone. Don’t slow the game down by wasting time digging for rules that aren’t there. And most importantly, when the rules conflict with fun, fun wins.

Of Racial Classes and Mundane Spells

Class as Race

Class + Race

Racial Classes

The first two are what we see most often in the OSR. "Class as Race" is the OD&D through BECMI method, where if you were anything but human, your class was decided by your race.

"Class + Race" is the AD&D method. Different races have access to different classes or even different class combinations (mulitclassing).

Racial classes are something I've rarely seen. Adventurer Conqueror King System uses the method for it's non-human races. Class options for non-humans are limited to racially specific classes. These classes often have aspect of one or more "human" or normal classes, but they are unique to each race.

I'm working on a project dealing with"racial classes". We'll see how well I can nail it (or not). A side result of this has been the more mundane spells that I've been coming up with. They certainly aren't specifically pegged to one race or another, but they are useful in helping flavor some of the classes.

I suspect there will be many more mundane spells making their way to the blog (and probably more Racial Classes too).

New Spell - Homestead Blessing (OSR)

I've got a few of these bouncing around my head. May as well post 'em and get feedback

Homestead Blessing

Spell Level - Cleric 2 / Druid 1 

Range - 100' radius per level of caster

Duration - 1 Year 

This spell is used to bless a home or farm. Blessed homes gain a +2 save vs fire and severe weather (winds, floods, etc). Occupants of the blessed homes receive a +1 to all saves while in the blessed home.

Lands surrounding the home and within the radius of the spell are more fertile and are able to withstand drought and pests a bit better than unblessed lands. Blessed farmland will yield 10% greater crops than unblessed farmland.

The material component is a pinch of dirt from consecrated ground, usually from a local church affiliated with the caster.

9-11, Eleven Years Later - A Personal Perspective

I tend to keep most real life events off of this blog. It's a gaming blog, not a news blog, political blog or life recap blog. 9-11 is one of the few exceptions to my unwritten rule.

That day literally redefined my life. I lost a close friend. I witnessed with my own eyes and ears both towers coming down. I heard screams over my police radio that I will take to my grave. I thought I was going to die that morning, and I was at peace with that. Years later, when I was diagnosed with cancer and thought it was possible I might only have six months or a year to live, I curled up in a ball on the floor and cried like a baby. Cured now.

When I came on the Job back in 1996, we were told the only heroes were those that made the ultimate sacrifice. We were told not to be heroes - be brave, but not foolhardy. 9-11 redefined that definition for me. The heroes that day were not only those we lost, but the common man that shouldered a burden that wasn't his, but decided it was the right thing to do.

The homeless man and the Wall St. banker directing traffic on Houston Street and 2nd Ave as I raced the police van from the South Bronx to Lower Manhattan. Shopping cart full of one man's total belongings propping up another man's suit jacket and brief case.

Local grocery stores emptying their shelves of food and water to feed the now gray colored police and firemen after the towers fell.

Watching the long lines of people walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to the far side, and other masses of people heading north up the middle of the streets. Seas of people supporting each other. Color, race, creed, orientation - it mattered not at all as folks came together for the common good. The worst of times brought out the best in people.

There are lessons in that day. In our communal loss we still have much to gain and learn.

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Spell - Brewer's Best (OSR)

Sometimes you need the silly. Sometimes the silly needs you. And at all times, you need beer.

Brewer's Best

Spell Level - Cleric 1 / Druid 1 / Magic-User 1

Range - Touch

Duration - Immediate

This spell turns 2 pints (1 quart) of water per caster level, drinkable or not, into a decent beer or ale of the caster's choice. A pinch of hops and a pinch of yeast for a pale ale or lager type, and optional pinches for other types of brew (casters may experiment or research other types). This is an effective way to turn stale water into sanitary beer.

(edited to add caster level into the spell description)

My Polyhedral Etched Shot Glasses Have Arrived - Waiting on Drinking Quest for a Beta Test ;)

The shot glasses ROCK!

My wife, who was ready to (attempt) to restrict my online shopping privileges loves them, and wants to make other purchases at Monster Dance Designs - now that's a true vote of quality :)

(maybe I shouldn't have lined them up back to back for the shots of the shots - but there will be more pics when Drinking Quest is in hand :)

If you happen to buy anything from Monster Dance Designs, tell them Tenkar's Tavern sent ya. Maybe I can get a Battle Axe etched beer glass on discount ;)

Whereupon I Traded in My GM Hat to be a Player, and Met With Death

When I gamed via Fantasy Grounds 2, it was always as a player. Not because I didn't want to GM, but because I didn't have enough confidence in myself to run games with the software. Damn shame to, as I bought an Ultimate account (or whatever they call it). FG2 is a good program, but not so user friendly if you want to design your own (or port) adventures into the program.

I was psyched about iTabletop - don't even ask me how much I put into that. Never seemed to get where I needed it to be to run with it.

Then came G+ and Hangouts and Tabletop Forge (Dinner With Dragons before the 2 merged their efforts) and the D&D Next early playtest - and I was back as a player again. But not only that, I could actually see myself running games using Hangouts - it felt right.

When our playtest group felt like moving away from D&D Next, I offered to run ACKS and I haven't looked back. Heck, I even ran a handful of DCC sessions. Hangouts is just a natural way to emulate gaming at a physical table - without the long drive, dropped dice and messy clean up of snacks and garbage at the end.

Last Saturday I gladly tossed the GMing reins back to my first (and only thus far) G+ Hangout GM - Greg Christopher. ACKS will pick up later in a few weeks, without missing a beat. In the meantime, we are getting to playtest Greg's new game - Ambition & Avarice. A&A is Old School in feel, much like the DCC RPG is, while still straying a bit from the preconceptions that go along with OSR games. That being said, it certainly plays like an OSR game.

Our party of four had 2 outright kills of PCs (myself included) and a near TPK (1 PC walking out on is own power out of the 4 of us).

It felt really nice to be a player again. It felt great to get my PC killed. Really. Even with 4 of 6 scores at 15 or better, rolling 3d6 in order. I was sorry to see my Dwarf die, but I was happy to die. I was happy he could die. Death didn't accompany us on the D&D Next playtest. Saturday night we became fairly intimate with him, unlucky rolls and all.

Oh Shit! Run! is advice my unnamed dwarf should have followed. Any game that can emulate that well is okay in my book. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to this Saturday Night's session of Ambition & Avarice

Tenkar's Minor Magical Tidbits - Daily Destiny Spear (OSR)

It's late, I know. Better late than never ;)

Daily Destiny Spear - The Destiny Spear is a warrior's spear with a fine steel tip. It's blade and shaft are engraved with runes of an unknown origin and is nearly unbreakable. It special powers will become apparent after first use.

The first time wielded on any day, the GM (or if he prefers to not keep the result secret, the player) rolls 1D4 to determine the spear's bonus for the rest of that that (midnight to midnight).

on a roll of 1, the spear has a penalty of 1- to hit and damage for the rest of that day

on a roll of 2, the spear has neither a bonus or a penalty for the rest of the day

on a roll of 3, the spear has a bonus of +1 to hit and damage for the rest of the day

on a roll of 4, the spear has a bonus of +2 to hit and damage for the rest of the day

The spear may be thrown, and always returns to the owner's hand at the end of the round it was thrown in, hit or miss.

Once wielded for the day, the character will find it impossible to use any other weapon until the next day. He can drop it, leave it behind, lock it behind a door - the moment that he states his intention to attack, the spear will appear in his hand, and the weapon in his hand (if any) will exchange places with the spear. This may be a problem if the character left the spear a considerable distance away, or tries to dispose of it in a well or otherwise. If the spear hasn't been used yet in the day, it can be safely disposed of. It is the owner's destiny to wield the spear, but that destiny resets on a daily basis.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The List of 16 - Part IV - Blood & Treasure, Crypts & Things, Swords & Wizardry Complete and Labyrinth Lord

Final part of the List of 16. Woot!

As of the time of writing, 3 of the 4 games in the post are in the top 3 of the current poll.

Blood & Treasure - So, what is Blood & Treasure? It's an RPG that lives somewhere between the various editions. It tries to link up a simple set of rules that are recognizable to most people who have played the game in the last 30+ years with all the goodies that 30+ years of gaming creativity have given us. (Very recent release. It's getting good word of mouth in the blogosphere, including by me. I dare say it could be 5e, if 5e weren't being written for corporate reasons)

Crypts & Things - What is this game about? It’s about exploring the ruins of the dying world of Zarth. Fighting off the Others, alien monstrosities from outside of your reality. Making your mark on the world before it dives into the sun Nemesis. 

Be a wild Barbarian, a deadly Fighter, a soul-torn Magician or a sword sharp canny Thief, fighting evil Tyrants, foul Sorcerers and demons in a world rapidly dying and heading towards its final Nemesis.

In short its a Swords and Sorcery role playing game using the original edition of the world’s favourite role playing game.  Base upon the Swords and Wizardy rules. (whereas AS&SH is a heavy game with many classes and setting material, C&T is on the other extreme - lightweight and based on a familiar ruleset. Different approached to S&S style gaming, and both are valid)

Swords & Wizardry CompleteThis is the game you played 20 years ago. It's true to the original style and philosophy that made the game great. No "Spot Checks" here. Simple, flexible rules that allow players and game masters alike to roll play and roleplay.  This stand-alone tome provides all the rules you need to play the game. Its easily transferable as a rules set for other retro-clone games as well as those old dusty modules you still have in the attic. (one of my favorite OSR rulesets. reminds me of pretty much how we played AD&D back in the days - by ignoring most of the wonky rules ;)

Labyrinth Lord -Down to the Roots of Fantasy Gaming:
"Enter a world filled with labyrinths, magic, and monsters! You can take the role of a cleric, dwarf, elf, fighter, halfling, magic-user, or thief on your quest for glory, treasure, and adventure! This is a complete role playing game. All you need are a few sheets of paper and some dice. Welcome back to a simpler old-school gaming experience. The Labyrinth Lord awaits your arrival. Can you survive the dangers of the labyrinth?" (one of the big 3 of the OSR, along with OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry. This was the first ruleset I found after Castles & Crusades. Really can't go wrong with any of these rulesets.)

The List of 16 - Part III - OSRIC, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Delving Deeper and Castles & Crusades

Part III of the series of posts describing the 16 games in the Tavern's current poll.

OSRIC - OSRIC™ represents a compilation of rules for old school-style fantasy gaming. The book is intended to reproduce underlying rules used in the late 1970s to early 1980s, which being rules are not subject to copyright, without using any of the copyrighted "artistic presentation" originally used to convey those rules. (one of the "grand-daddies" of the OSR, OSRIC is AD&D 1e via the OGL - free download available)

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - is sword-and-sorcery role-playing at its pinnacle. Play an Amazon fighter, Atlantean magician, Esquimaux shaman, Hyperborean warlock, Ixian necromancer, Keltic barbarian, Kimmerian cataphract, Pictish thief, Viking berserker, or one of many other possibilities.

The heroes of a HYPERBOREA campaign delve the mazes and labyrinths of vast dungeons filled with horrifying monsters, lethal traps, and bewildering puzzles. They explore savage frontiers, breach hostile borderlands, probe ancient ruins, and investigate cursed tombs. They plunder for treasure and magic in a decaying world inhabited by bloodthirsty beasts and weird, otherworldly beings. (Popular game in the blogosphere with some very vocal fans ;)

Delving Deeper - The Delving Deeper RPG closely emulates the rules of the earliest version of the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Go back to a time when every weapon did d6 damage, clerics could cast no spell at first level, only fighters could use magic swords, and if you wanted a locked door opened you had to bash the thing in!  It is difficult to imagine in a world where multiple, weighty tomes comprise the rules; but this single, small book contains all you need to build a campaign that can span decades of real time! (An interesting take on OD&D)

Castles & Crusades -Castles & Crusades is a fantasy role playing game with countless possibilities. Designed for use with multiple players, Castles & Crusades puts you in charge of the adventure path. Included within are all the rules of play, how to get started in your very own role playing game, how to run the game and play in it.

It's easy to learn attribute-based rules system allows players to choose among 13 archetypal character classes and 7 races to create their characters. Spells, equipment, fast-paced combat rules, and all essential information needed to play a game of Castles & Crusades is in this book. Further, the attribute-based rules system allows Castle Keeper's to design and run adventures as they see fit, without all the crowded, complex rules of other role playing games. (probably the best supported game of anything on the list, it's also the game that brought me back to RPGs)

List of 16 - Part II - MicroLite 74/75, Basic Fantasy RPG, LotFP Weird Fantasy, Mazes & Minotaurs

Part II of the series of posts describing the 16 games in the Tavern's current poll. If you haven't noticed yet, I'm working my way from the bottom of the list.

Microlite 74/75 -While Microlite74was originally designed as an introduction to "old school" play for players more familiar with modern rules systems based on the Primary Fantasy SRD, it has become a game that many groups have chosen to run full blow campaigns with. Microlite74 version 3.0 -- released in October 2011 -- has been designed as a complete rules set for regular play, although it can still serve as a fast introduction to old school play for those more familiar with later editions. All three versions of Microlite74 use a rules-lite OGL based game system that old school grognards – especially those who cut their gamer teeth on "0e" – should find equally enjoyable. The system also easy to modify with your own house rules or rules drawn from your favorite edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. The game system is also compatible with most 0e-based rules, adventures, and other materials. (Free and nicely put together)

Basic Fantasy RPG -The Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game is a rules-light game system modeled on the classic RPG rules of the early 1980's. Though based loosely on the d20 SRD v3.5, Basic Fantasy RPG has been written largely from scratch to replicate the look, feel, and mechanics of the early RPG game systems. It is suitable for those who are fans of "old-school" game mechanics. Basic Fantasy RPG is simple enough for children in perhaps second or third grade to play, yet still has enough depth for adults as well. (a game that is often overlooked in the OSR niche, which is a shame, as it is a damn good game)

LotFP Weird Fantasy -LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing presents a sinister and horrific twist on traditional fantasy gaming and provides you with all the tools needed to create and run a long-lasting campaign tailored to your specific vision. Simple enough for a beginner – with material intended for those that have never before played a role-playing game – yet meaty enough for the veteran. (changes many common preconceptions of an OSR game, including only true fighters increase in THAC0 - great atmosphere)

Mazes & Minotaurs -Mazes & Minotaurs is what the first fantasy roleplaying game could have been if its authors had taken their inspiration from Jason & the Argonauts (yes, the 1963 movie with all the cool Ray Harryhausen monsters) and Homer’s Odyssey rather than from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings or Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts & Three Lions. In other words, Mazes & Minotaurs is :

- a nostalgic pastiche of early fantasy roleplaying games

- a tongue-in-cheek tribute to old-school gaming

- a complete and fully playable roleplaying game !

The List of 16 - Part I - Mutant Future, Starships & Spacemen,Space Princess and Tombs & Terrors

It was pointed out to me that I probably should do a series of short posts highlighting the 16 games that are currently in the poll, so this is the first part of that series. Without further ado...

Mutant Future - Mutant Future is a nuclear post-apocalyptic science fantasy game. It is created in the style of similar RPGs from the late 70s, but built around the core Labyrinth Lord rules so that these two games are fully compatible. (Think Gamma World type setting)

Starships & Spacemen (2e) - This second edition of the classic game is compatible with Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future. The best elements of the first edition have been kept--the classes and subclasses, the excellent starship rules, and the space adventuring rules. Classes, races, and abilities have been made more in line with Labyrinth Lord. (as a supporter of the Indiegogo project for S&S, I have access to the current PDF - should release in October)

Space Princess - Take your dungeon crawls into the future! Tales of the Space Princess is a rules lite game inspired by the original fantasy rules. Character creation in about 5 minutes, learn the rules in about 10 minutes and then you're ready to delve into the space fortress to wrest the Space Princess from the clutches of the Dark Lord! (from what I've read, it plays very much like "Dungeons in Space" in a good way)

Tombs & Terrors - Based on the rules first found in Go Fer Yer Gun! and seen later in Medieval Mysteries, Tombs & Terrors is an unashamedly familiar role playing game of delving into subterranean crypts and looting the treasure. Including 4 traditional character classes (Cleric, Fighter Mage and Thief) plus 2 "exotic" ones (Barbarian and Troubadour), and 5 races (Dwarf, Elf, Giant-kin, Half-elf and Human), this game is condensed for simplicity but covers ground that you will understand. Compatible (with some tweaking) with sourcebooks and supplements that you already have. (Not a clone, but a nice addition to the "Old School" feel ensamble of games)
Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition