Saturday, September 22, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Feedback - It Does a Body Good!

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

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

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

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

Now, on to other goodness :)

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

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

Sad but proud poppa ;(

Cyborg Commando - Age Didn't Help it Get Better

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

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

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

I never played it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cyborg still stinks.

Friday, September 21, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the blurb:

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

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

Adventuring Gear Over the Editions - The Times Are a Changing

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

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

Things that stick our to me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Come on - Cthulhu Claus is damn cute and cuddly.

You know you want to.

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

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

From the blurb:

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

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

Mini Review - Moleskin Maps Volume One (RPG Maps)


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

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

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

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

From the blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you like to see?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Have Dungeon - Needs MegaSand - All Serious Offers Considered

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

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

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

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

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

I like.

'Orrible Otley the Halfling "Land Pirate"

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

'Orrible Otley, the Halfling Land Pirate

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

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

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

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

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

Nebulous Definitions of the OSR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

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

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

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

So, what is it?


What kind of options?

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

It's about halflings and options and brewing beer.

Alright, less about the beer than the other stuff.

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

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

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

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

Or is there?

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

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

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

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

New Spell: Watcher's Ward (OSR)

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

Watcher's Ward

Spell Level - Cleric 2

Range - Touch

Duration - 1 Week Per Level

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

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

Sandboxes, MegaDungeons or Sand in Your Dungeon?

It was the worst of times.

It was the best of times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kickstarters That Make Me Go "Hmmm" - Project Eternity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First caught this at The Crazy GM blog.

From the blurb:

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

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

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Defines a "MegaDungeon"?

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

Is there a minimum size?

Can it be too large?

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

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

Does it need blank rooms for GM customization?

Does it need diverse environments?

Does it need a theme?

Do different sections need their own themes?

Whimsy - yes or no?

What defines "MegaDungeon" for you?

Temple of Elemental Evil - Still the Best MegaDungeon Around?

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

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

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

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

I ran it at least 3 times to conclusion.

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

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

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 hours left as I type this in the Kickstarter.

Free Adventure For Blood & Magic - The Tumbled Towers

If you're like me, you've taken an interest in John Slater's Blood & Treasure RPG. John's put out an introductory adventure for B&T, The Tumbled Towers. It's available for free in PDF, or you can grab it in print from Lulu.

It's a nice little adventure to kick off a campaign. Random outdoor encounters, random dungeon encounters and some potential role play encounters in addition to the usual dungeon adversaries. It's definitely old school in nature - where else would you find Shriekers and Violet Fungi? ;)  If you steal nothing else, grab the blue tone (classic TSR) dungeon map. It's very well done.

If you want to can a peek at Blood & Treasure without dropping your hard earned cash, look at the pre-gen characters in the back of the adventure. There are 12 and a blank character sheet.

Personally, I'd give maximum HP at 1st level, as these appear to be given average HP (except for the Bard, who has the Toughness feat to help balance out his -1 from his Con of 7).

In any case, the price is right and with little work this could be used in any other OSR style game.

Tenkar's Minor Magical Tidbits - Falagier's Bow - Friend or Foe

Falagier's Bow - Falagier's Bow is a military composite long bow. It imparts neither a bonus to hit not a bonus to damage, however, if the wielder has a Strength Bonus to Damage, he may add that to the bow's damage upon a successful hit.

The true magic of Falagier's Bow, also known as "Friend or Foe", becomes obvious when it is used to fire into melee combat - it will never strike a "friend" or someone on the wielder's side in combat. It will  strike a foe or no one.

Falagier  himself was a mercenary sniper, and a highly effective one at that. He used his bow to wreck havoc upon many an adversaries' troops, until finally succumbing to an assassin's blade (he still helped strike down nearly a dozen enemy troops in his last encounter prior to being permanently removed from  his occupation). Upon death, his bow was saved as a trophy by his assassin before being lost generations later.

Kickstarters That Make Me Go "HUH?" - Dark Realms RPG 1 Million Book Give-Away

I've stumbled across a handful of Kickstarters over the last year that have left me scratching my head. Some were poorly done, some poorly presented, some made no sense, some aimed to high - but they all made me look closer to try and figure out what the real faults were. This will, I suspect, become a fairly (ir)regular feature at the Tavern.

This time I'm going to take a look at Dark Realms RPG 1 Million Book Give-Away. Right away you can tell it's ambitious. Match that to the $45,000 goal for a company's initial Kickstarter, let alone in the RPG niche, and it raises some questions.

They answer the first question pretty well - how the hell are they going to give away a million of anything with $45k dollars? They aren't - they are aiming at 250K in the first round of funding, and publishing the free RPGs on newspaper quality paper. Interesting.

The second question is an obvious one too - what the heck is Dark Realms, and why should it be able to gain $45k in pledges and 250k RPGs distributed. This there is no easy answer. Apparently Guild of Blades (the publisher) has been around since 1994, I've just never heard of anything they've put out, let alone the game they are trying to raise $45k for.

How is the game? You can grab the PDF for free, but the link on the Kickstarter page is far from helpful, as it send you to their web store to buy it in print (direct link to download Dark realms here). Yeah, I know that's not an answer - so maybe this will help:

As a function of the Dark Realms game system, each core attribute a character has is also assigned an “Adjustment Value”. The Adjustment Value is used to determine certain combat and mental capabilities as well as potential bonuses the character might receive. They “adjust” a good number of features about the character. 
The adjustment value will be determined by the current rating of the Core Attribute and is found by referencing the following table (See Below). Attribute Adjustments typically apply in one of two ways (though they can apply in others). The first is that the Attribute Adjustment rating is a direct bonus to or the starting foundation to some other game number. For instance, a character’s Strength Adjustment is a bonus to a player’s “Attack Level”. The second is that the Attribute Adjustment is a random chance on a D6 for a bonus of some sort. For instance, whenever you spend Experience Points to buy a Hit Point to add to the character’s maximum Hit Points, the character’s Health Adjustment is a chance on 1D6 to get a second Hit Point added to their maximum for free. So yes, an Attribute Adjustment of 6 would thusly be an automatic bonus Hit Point. If a character’s Adjustment for the Attribute is higher than a 6, then they get the automatic point, and each point above 6 becomes a chance for a second bonus point. So a character with a Health of 20 would have a Health Adjustment of +7, so when the character would spend Experience to buy a new Hit Point, they would automatically get a 2nd Hit Point for free, then also have a 2 in 6 chance of getting a 3rd Hit point for free.

I hope you followed that. It left me with some more head scratching.

Why would I want to put a million copies of this game out there? I guess because it uses a singe D6 and has a simple resolution system. That's about the only simple part. Here's the rules on dual wielding:

Multi-Weapon Use Penalties:
Typically this is something few people can do and even few
people can do well; but there is nothing stopping one from
trying, even if it is often unwise. Without the Ambidexterity
skill, the following penalties apply when wielding more than
one weapon:
1) Both weapons being used must be single handed weapons.
2) The larger of the two weapons will be considered to be
held by the character’s dominant hand and be the “primary”
weapon. The other weapon will be the secondary one.
3) The character gets a -1 to Dodging. This is in addition to any
Dodge penalties that would apply from each weapon.
4) The character is -3 to Initiative with the primary weapon
and -6 to Initiative with the secondary weapon. This is in
addition to any Initiative penalties that would apply from
each weapon.
5) The character is -2 Attack Level with the primary weapon
and -4 to Attack Level with the secondary weapon 
6) Yes, if they have 3 or more arms, there can be multiple
“Secondary Weapons”.
7) The character receives no Weapon Mastery bonus they
would otherwise recieve with both of the weapons being
When a character has the Ambidexterity skill each point in this skill reduces one of the penalty points to each weapon otherwise given to Initiative and Attack Levels. Additionally, at Level 1 with Ambidexterity the character no longer receives the -1 Dodge penalty.
The character will still find it difficult to utilize their Weapon Masteries, but not impossible. With each weapon, the character will be able to use 1 level of their Weapon Mastery skill with that weapon for each level of Ambidexterity skill they have; Up to their maximum Weapon Mastery skill, of course.

This is not an introductory RPG that someone is going to pick up and run for their friends if they have no prior RPG experience despite what the publishers feel to be the case.

The publishers have a laudable, if unrealistic goal (it's been live for a few days, and currently has 4 backers for $138). This isn't the product that's going to make a $45k goal. $4.5k would be highly doubtful.  It is a curiosity none the less.

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