Saturday, December 29, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonight - Rappan Athuk! Tomorrow? The World!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drinking Quest has true redrinkability replayability.

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

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

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

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

Holy Crap!

Drinking Quest is drinking fun!

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

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

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

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

Review will follow when I've sobered up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Thoughts on Game Balance - Sessions Vs. Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Important Are Balanced Encounters in Your Game Sessions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inn Generator Curtesy of WotC

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

Here's a random example I just rolled:

Ruby Harpy

1 server   Rooms Available (None)

Witglen Kenisville (M, Human, 38)

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

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

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

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

Topics of Conversation (3)

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

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

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

Randon Events (2)

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

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

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

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

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

Follow along with me me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy :)

Lulu Coupon for 40% Off - A Single Book

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ninth Christmas Freebie Pick - Dungeon Map Classics Sample Pack

Yep, number 9.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Freebies - The World Between For Fictive Hack

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

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2012

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

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

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

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

Christmas Freebies - Citadel of Evil (OSR Adventure)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Freebies - Zounds! RPG

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

Zounds! The Fantasy RPG!

Journey into the Fantastic

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

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

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

Play Zounds!  And begin your Adventures today!

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

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

Shaintar: Legends Arise (Players Guide)

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

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

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

SHAINTAR is deep in “good hands” territory.

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

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

What Is This?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sean Patrick Fannon
Creator of Shaintar
Evil Beagle Games

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Freebies - Heroes Against Darkness RPG

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

Today's first freebie is: Heroes Against Darkness

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

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

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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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