Saturday, January 12, 2013

Contest Map Preview Over at Mithril & Mages

The above is just one of the maps +Mark Hassman is previewing over at Mithril & Mages.

Remember, the contest will kick off early in the coming week and last approximately a month.

Imagine if you could win an original Dyson map like the one above ;)

At What Level(s) Does a Megadungeon Work Best?

We've touched on themes. We are still talking about which systems work best with the megadungeon format (surprisingly it's a very varied grouping of systems).

What I'd like to talk about now is "what levels work best for a megadungeon?"

Does the format work best with lower levels, middling levels, high levels?

Does it work equally well across the board, or do you need to make certain adjustments at one extreme or the other?

Does it work better or worse with a system that is level-less (generally sill based), such as GURPS, RQ/Legend, Savage Worlds, etc?

Is it feasible to have one megadungeon go from level 1 to 20, or should there be a grouping of smaller megadungeons that are linked thematically / by story / regionally / etc and are broken down by level ranges?

Can a megadungeon actually be a campaign setting? Can it be a sandbox styled setting?

You've all given me much to think about over the last few days. I suspect you've given each other a lot to think about to. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Imps - Treating Delvers Like Piñatas in Tunnels & Trolls


Monster Rating: 50

Combat Dice: 6D6 + 25 + Special

Special Damage: 1 / Each natural 6 adds + 1D6 Fire Damage from the Imp's sword. (sword only flames for Imps) Imps can leap 30' in any direction

Gold and silver and gems are what we likes. Yes, fine treasures they are. Look! Here comes our walking treasure chests! Come to us. See how polite these "Delvers" are. Let's open them up and find all the gold! Then we will burn their remains, incase we missed anything on their insides...

(David Fisher's Deviant Art page can be found here)

Butt Kicking For Goodness! - Passing the Torch or Just Passing it Off?

When it comes to "Backer Only" posts, I usually don't mention the Kickstarter in question - but that seems pointless as folks start responding to the actual Kickstarter post in question - thereby ruining my efforts to obscure.

So, new policy - "Backer Only" posts will get summaries, but will be ID'ed. This shit isn't national security, and nothing is "Top Secret".

On that note, let's look at the latest "late ones", shall we?

Dwimmermount - ( No update yet this week) Update's have been weekly for quite a bit as Tavis had taken over the reigns of communication. Weekly Friday updates with charts and shit. Last week, backers got a survey that included the following as an answer choice: (paraphrasing) "June for the PDF and August for the physical goodsis as late as I will wait after the current delays". Now, the latest delivery estimate had been to the following effect: "PDF will be complete on 3/1/13, the books and the rest of the physical rewards reaching backers on 4/26/13" but we've been told now there is no current estimate. It appears based the the survey) that's being pushed back a MINIMUM of 3 to 4 months, which would coincide with the project being AT LEAST a year late. I understand now why Tavis has passed the reigns of communications over to James Mal.

+Greg Gillespie didn't have a problem getting Barrowmaze II out on time, so I know it's not a Canadian thing ;)

Swords & Wizardry: The Actual 1st Edition Roleplaying Rules - (Direct Quote From Update 1/11/13) "The good news is the rule books are here! And look great. Matt has already signed the inside sheets so we are ready to start packing these up and sending them out.

The bad news is, the introductory modules that came with have the right covers but unfortunately the wrong interior text. They have Bill's module inside Matt's module. We have already asked the printer to fix and re-ship.

We will go ahead and start packing the 100+ orders that do not contain the Intro Book or Monster Book. We should have the replacement intro books in a few weeks and can send out those order. We have not received the date from the printers on the Monster Books yet, but will keep everyone updated." (I'm in for a Monster Book - Gonna be a long fucking wait it seems)

Ogre Designer's Edition - Ogre Parking Causes Delay
(Direct Quote - Edited for Space 1/11/13)

• The maps, counters, dice and play references (rulebook, scenario book and reference sheet) were sent to print in November.

• More counter test sheets and color proofs have arrived, surpassing our expectations for vibrancy and die accuracy. We won’t know for sure that everything is 100% until all the tests come in, but don’t anticipate these causing delays.

• Sam, our production manager, is working hard on getting the counter trays for over twelve hundred pieces right with the factory. It’s like solving a gigantic 3-D puzzle, where Sam sets the parameters!

The trays from the first test came back a little wonky, despite Sam sending a carefully calibrated CAD file. (The sample is reground plastic, while the final game uses a higher quality plastic.)

Unfortunately, the extra back-and-forth getting the trays right means that the soonest the game will arrive at our warehouse is late May – if everything goes smoothly. This is partly due to the upcoming Year of the Water Snake – the extended Lunar New Year holiday season in Asia in February, when everything grinds to a halt. We might get a second test in before the factory closes. If so, that will help our schedule.

Ogre is now very close to the finish line, and we’re proceeding with all possible dispatch. We know that you’ve been very, very patient with us over the delays. We could over rush it – and have a sucky tray forever – or beg a little bit more patience, and have it right for you when it arrives.

(I guess we'll get this for "Christmas in July" ;)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Does System Matter in the World of Megadungeons?

Map by by Tim Hartin

Does the system used to play through a Megadungeon matter? I'm not talking about converting from one system to another.

What I mean to say is this: "Are some RPG systems a better match for the Megadungeon format than others?"

I suspect that less heavy systems fair better in a Megadungeon environment.

So, OD&D through AD&D and their assorted clones would be a good match. D&D 3.5 / Pathfinder less so, as combats get more intricate and drawn out. D&D 4x would be a horror from a time investment alone.

Dungeon World would probably fair very well, as would Tunnels & Trolls.

Rolemaster / HARP I think would crumble under the lethality (and long term crippling potential) of the combat system without some major houseruling.

GURPS Fantasy would probably make a poor fit for the above reasons.

I don't have enough experience with Savage Worlds to definitively say one way or another, but I suspect not.

Am I wrong? Would 4e work in a Megadungeon?

I'm sure I missed some systems, so let me know what you think? Which ones would work and which ones wouldn't.

Heck, could you make a Megadungeon that plays to the strengths of the systems that wouldn't otherwise be a good fit?

A True "Spider-man" - Spinning Webs in Tunnels & Trolls


Monster Rating: 250

Combat Dice: 26+125

Special Damage: 6/ Glue You(Single Target - Save Vs INT or only act on every other round due to webs.)   11/ Summon One Additional Spider-Man

We are Legion. We have no fear. What we once were we can never be again. Come, play with us. Feed us. Perhaps, if you are cursed, be one of us. We are The Men of the Spider and the only rest we seek is death - your death...

(David Fisher's Deviant Art page can be found here)

What Makes a Dungeon "Mega"?

What makes a Dungeon "Mega" to you?

Is it the size? The challenge? The backstory?

Does it need to be deadly? Gonzo? Epic?

Is it a dungeon the players can leave, come back, leave and return yet again? Or is it a mini campaign, where the players keep at it to they hit their goal?

Should it have a goal? and endgame? a way to "win" or should it be primarily exploration and gathering loot?

Barrowmaze, Rappan Athuk and Dwimmermount will all play out very differently, yet they are all megadungeons.

Are some RPG systems a better fit for megadungeons? why?

You would think with all of those questions, I'd have some answers, but no. I have my thoughts on it, but I want to hear your thoughts.

What makes a MegaDungeon special for you?

When the Real World and Fantasy Collide, You Get Posts Like This: Pathfinder SuperDungeon - My Plea!

First things first - the post in question referes to the Pathfinder MMO Kickstarter, but you wouldn't know it from the post, as it's all about the MegaDungeon!

There are 3 days left to raise the next $270k needed to fund the Pathfinder MMO Kickstarter - it may or may not happen. The original poster has decided it's on course to fund at $1.2 million - no idea where he got that number.

In any case, at $1.2 million the Emerald Spire Megadungeon comes in at 12 levels. That not enough for  "Mr. Reality Doesn't Have a Place in My Life", who is all gung-ho about raising another $3.8 million over the course of 3 days so it can be a 50 level Megadungeon.

The fucking kickstarter couldn't raise $750k in a month and a half, and he wants to raise $3.8 million in a 10th of that time.

It's true - kids these days have no idea the value of a dollar.

Some key quotes:

So if we could raise an extra $3.8Mill we could add an extra 38 levels to the dungeon bringing it to a whopping 50 level SuperDungeon! This would also mean there would be at least 50 flip-mats. In order to do this we would need a good deal of people backing the project. So for this to work here are the numbers:

19,000 people pledging $200 for the PDFs, PnP products (including all the miniatures) This would be the Crowdforger Pioneer with Print Pack Addon.

Notice something missing there? Any mention of the ACTUAL Kickstarter Project. I guess it's true - the funding they are raising is not because people want to fund the MMO, but despite the MMO.

Not a good sign even if the project funds.

In any case, here's the link to more Pearls of Wisdom from the Paizo Boards.

Oh, before I forget - best quote from the thread:

I do really want a copy of Emerald Spire and even though I already have a lot of the PDFs the ones I don't have would be nice to get. To be honest though it doesn't really feel right to me to back a Kickstarter when I'm not really interested in the main product of the Kickstarter. So I've been wavering back and forth a bit over whether to back it or not. Need to decide soon though!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sharpen Your Pencils - Big Contest Announcement Coming Next Week!

+Dyson Logos (Dyson's Dodecahedron)+Mark Hassman (Mithril & Mages) and little ole' me will be kicking off a contest next week. Yep, three websites, one frickin' awesome contest!

The only hint you are getting right now is the picture above.

The prizes are generous, the contest should be a blast and in the end, everyone, even our gaming community will be the winners.

You know what? You may not need to sharpen your pencils, but you will need to stretch those fingers of yours and get your creative juices pumping.

Details to come...

Tentative Kick-off of the Monthly Tunnels & Trolls Hangout is Friday, January 25th

Yep, Friday January 25 is the "Tentative" first night of gaming for the monthly T&T Hangout game. I'm thinking 7 / 730 kickoff time and game to 11ish.

Wow, isn't that in depth news? heh

I've got 2 slots reserved and four open. I'll ask for victims volunteers to sign up this weekend and possible set up some random-like short sessions for character gen before we kick off.

I need to put my T&T house rules together, as I plan on running a bit of a mish-mash of 5.5 / 7.5, but here's the main points:
DARO and TARO are in effect.
You'll create 3 characters, arrange stats as you will. If a character has negative adds, he doesn't have to be kept (unless he is a wizard). If you first character dies, we have your backup waiting in the wings
Races will be limited. I'll announce the races when I open the recruitment doors this weekend.
Talents are in.
Specialists MAY be in. Depends on how you present it to me ;)
Speed and Wiz are in.
I'll allow spells from 5.5 and 7.5 - I'll "wing" and DM Fiat any discrepancies. 
I'll be using Dyson's Delves for the dungeons - very appropriate I think for "Delvers".

James Mishler's Latest - Hercynian Grimoire Issue #1

It seems that when James Mishler makes a return, he makes the return full throttle.

James' latest is the Hercynian Grimoire, written by James and his non-gaming wife Jodi. I'll let James explain what it is, then I'll let you know what I think of it.

Welcome to the first issue of the Hercynian Grimoire, a new, irregular publication dedicated to providing new and cool stuff for your Castles & Crusades and Labyrinth Lord games! Yes, you read that right – every article in every issue will have dual stats, primarily in Castles & Crusades terms, with notations and additions as needed for Labyrinth Lord. In such cases, the needful stats for Labyrinth Lord will be indicated in brackets, thus and so: [LL: Stats for Labyrinth Lord].

The Hercynian Grimoire will be released on an irregular schedule, in that new issues of the publication may be released every week or every other week, depending on sales and our ability to write in a timely fashion. Each issue of Hercynian Grimoire will be released at an initial discount, with the discount to be rescinded when the next issue releases, though no sooner than one week after release. This is to give our core fans the benefit of the discount for their early adoption of each issue. We have no plans to compile issues of Hercynian Grimoire, or to offer issues on sale or discounted through bundles at a later time.

I say “our” ability to write because I am joined in this endeavor, as in all my future writing endeavors, by my lovely and talented wife, Jodi Moran-Mishler. She is not, sad to say, a gamer, but she has played from time to time, and her interest in myths, legends, monsters, and magic go back to her early childhood. She is not merely my writing partner, she is my muse. I am sometimes relieved that she is not a gamer, as her ability to conjure up creatures deadly and evil is diabolical. Her knowledge and creativity will come into good use in future developments.

Most materials to be included herein are framed in terms applicable to my new campaign setting, the Olden Lands, detailed in the forthcoming Chronicles of Mhoriedh line of products. The Olden Lands is a classic fantasy role-playing game campaign setting, incorporating elements of High and Low Fantasy, Swords & Sorcery, and Historical Adventure, and thus any materials herein presented should be readily adaptable to any fantasy campaign setting with minimal effort.

Regarding the name of this publication, in myth and legend the hercinia was a bird native to the vast, mysterious and mystical Hercynian Forest of the ancient world, of which the Black Forest of Germany is the largest remnant. The plumage of the hercinia was of such a bright and shining nature that travelers through the great forest did not need torches, as the light from the birds acted as their guide in the darkness. And so we hope this publication to be, a guide to Judges and players in negotiating the development of their games, a light in the wilderness of adventure. And so welcome to the first issue of Hercynian Grimoire!

The first issue includes the following articles:

Gnolls, the Hyena-Men
Gnoles, the Man-Beasts
D66 Ferocious Fighters
Spells Arcane and Occult
Spell Songs of Salamacine

D66 Fairies and Nymphs
Gnoll Tribe Generator
Magical Miscellanea
Monstrous Menagerie
Hyena, Cave
Lycanthrope, Werehyena
Mandayan Nyumbanyama
Ardhirengo “Small-Wings”
Chinajinyama “Butcher-Beasts”
Hewarengo “Sky-Wings”
Kidolekuta “Finger-Nippers”
Kuvutanyama “Dray-Beasts”
Milimanyama “Mountain-Beasts”
Mindajikuva “Hunter-Killers”
Mudahatu “Long-Striders”
Vitanyama “War-Beasts”
D666 Demonic and Devilish Traits

D66 Underworld Oddities
Olden Lands Preview: Alspadia
Olden Lands Preview: The Oldenwood

Olden Lands Preview: The Blood God

If the above sounds like a lot - it is! This is a meaty diet of gaming goodness that James wants to feed us. No art to distract you, just gaming info, charts, tables, creatures - the list goes on.

James plans on releasing this weekly or every other week. I'm stunned. This is not a light fanzine - it's a well weighted gaming supplement. I would think that putting this out monthly would be nearly a full time endeavor. Hopefully James squirreled away some gaming material when he was away from publishing and has a bit of a backlog he can pick through.

Did I mention the random tables? Fun!

In any case, this reminds me quite a bit of James' old C&C stuff for the Wilderlands - well written, info heavy and inspiring - because I really want to work the Gnoll stuff into my current AD&D game. Of course, it's Rappan Athuk, so that might take just a little work.

(The Olden Lands Preview reminds me again of Jame's work on the Wilderlands. I'm looking forward to the full release of this one)

Mind Melters - Flaying the Minds of Tunnels & Trolls

Mind Melter

Monster Rating: 180

Combat Dice: 19 +90

Special Damage: 6/ Mind Pox (Single Target - Save Vs INT or be confused and unable to act for 3 turns. A successful Mind Pox casting heals the Mind Melter for 5D6 MR)

The tentacle mouthed Mind Melter. They have a different name for themselves, and the unwary Delver may here the name in his mind when encountering one, but he'll never be able to pronounce it. Highly intelligent, Mind Melters have been known to communicate with Delvers via mental images, requesting certain items in return for safe passage - sticks, gold, a perfect diamond, a lump of coal and more have been asked for. Those that pay may pass. Those that don't may not, or they may try and possibly die.

They are Delvers. What actions do you expect them to take?

(David Fisher's Deviant Art page can be found here)

If You Support the Cortex Kickstarter, Do You Think Those Still Waiting on They Became Flesh Will Finally get Their Books?

They Became Flesh is a Kickstarter that had / has some major problems. I previously detailed it here.

The latest I could find was a G+ thread from mid December stating that the latest update is that a box of books gor lost in a garage cleaning and there had been some dodging of communication for fear or reaction when owning up to the mishap. (there's a whole post from just this alone, but that will wait).

Oh, and hardcovers and shirts were to ship in January (this after many "promised" delivery dates that failed to materialize).

So, why am I bringing this up on the new Margaret Weis Productions: Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide?

Because two of the freelancers involved are those that have so far had some major fulfillment issues with their own Kickstarter:

Junior Adventurer's Club by Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat
Cursus Honorum: Roman Drama by Shreyas Sampat

Maybe they can use the cash they make freelancing to replace the lost books and ship out what folks are (presumably) still waiting on.

I'll look at the actual Cortex Kickstarter later. I'm a little confused at the moment, because it isn't an actual set of game rules apparently, but essays to enable "rules hacking" or some such.

Homebrew, Off the Shelf or Some Horrible Amalgamation?

I always have these thoughts hit me when I decide to start a new campaign:

Do I spends a few days writing one up and mapping it out?

Do I pick one of the myriad commercially produced settings off my shelf (virtual or real)?

or Do I pick a commercial setting and tweak it to make it something closer to what my vision is?

Invariably I choose the latter option these days.

The reason is simple. I no longer have the time to spend hours and days working on a setting, then even more time working on the adventures and yet more time actually running the sessions. Adult life seems to leave me with adult responsibilities these days. The nerve of it!

All this means is that I need to have most of the setting work done for me. Something like Forgotten Realms doesnt generally work too well from my perspective - there is too much cannon involved to allow it to tweak well, and there's too much history for me to even want to run it accurately (or have a snowballs chance in hell of accomplishing).

In my ACKS campaign I used Blackmarsh by Rob Conley, heavily tweaked but it worked fine (as an aside, ACKS has too much world setting built into it's character classes and too little world setting included to make those classes work properly, but I digress)

For the AD&D / Rappan Athuk campaign, I'm using the setting included in the RA book itself. It's not a huge area, but more than sufficient for now. The great thing is, the details are sparse enough that it's easy to tweak. Win Win! ;)

So, what it your preference?

Homebrewed setting, off the shelf or some mishmash of the two?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Original Spirit of D&D: Appendix N - A Video From Grognard Games

It's funny. Even though I knew 90% of what Martin from Grognard Games was referring to in this video - because face it, I'm that much of a "Grognard" too, there were bits where I went "Holy shit! He's right!"or "How the fuck did I miss that?"

Damn it! I really need to free up some time to read novels again, because there is some classic Appendix N stuff that is dying for me to use it in game.

Martin's going to be doing a series of these videos, and if they are anything likfe the first two I've seen, I really can't recommend them enough. Well done, informative and entertaining (my non-gamer wife enjoyed listening - there can be no greater compliment ;)

Expect me to link these as I find them, because I suspect they will be "that good".

Send in the Clones! - New Clone of Holmes D&D - BLUEHOLME

I've lost track of the current collection of classic clones (say that 5 times fast) of the different flavors of old D&D. I think I tapped out when the PDFs of Delving Deeper arrived in my inbox.

Anyhow, there is a new clone of the Holmes Basic Blue book - therefore, BLUEHOLME - Prentice Rules.

Sixty some odd pages covering levels 1 through 3.

It's actually a tidy presentation that's easy on the eyes with a nice assortment of public domain art. I'd do a comparison with my Holmes Basic Box, but that's currently in storage. In any case, I'm sure someone else will do so, as the BLUEHOLME basic rules are free.

There is mention of a full set of rules covering level 1 through 14, but that doesn't seem to be released yet.

Uhm, what else can I say about it?

Add another clone to your virtual drive or tablet. It's free ;)

From the blurb:

BLUEHOLME™ Prentice Rules is a table top fantasy roleplaying game that emulates the game play of the original basic rule book, popularly known as the Holmes Edition or simply the Blue Book. The rules in this book allow for characters of 1st to 3rd levels, and include everything the referee could possibly need to create and run a campaign in the Underworld: monsters, magic, treasure, and … well, what more do you need?

Eyes of the Beholder - Bringing the Beholder to Tunnels & Trolls

By David Fisher

Beholder AKA "The Floating Eye"

Monster Rating: 150

Combat Dice: 16 + 75

Special Damage: 7/ Death Spell #9 (Single Target - 9th Level Save vs Luck or Die)

Few who have encountered a Floating Eye have lived to recount the tale. As if it's whip like eye stalks and shark like rows of teeth weren't dangerous enough, it's main eye can discharge a beam that sucks the very life essence from it's victim, leaving little more than an empty husk behind. It is said, however, that he that slays a Floating Eye will often find gems in it's gullet. Whether this is true or not is anyone's guess.

(David Fisher's Deviant Art page can be found here)

Razor Coast Kickstarter - Adding in PDF Pathfinder Fluff to Entice the Pathfinder MMO Refugees

Just like Paizo / Goblin Works is trying to do with the Pathfinder MMO, so too is the Frog God with the Razor Coast - stuff in more PDFs to get people to purchase the (possibly) over priced core product.

What do I mean?

16 days in, 15 days to go and still $22k or so to hit the funding goal. I suspect Frog God didn't expect it to take this long, or else they wouldn't be tossing a number of Pirate Flavored Pathfinder PDFs in an effort to chum the waters.

There is a built in premium on Razor Coast, both to fulfill preorders that were taken years ago, and to pay for artwork that Logue had commissioned - the PDFs are there to add some value to the current $110 and $150 pledge levels. BTW, the added PDFs are solely for Pathfinder - you'll get them with your S&W version, but they wont do you much good. So in truth, the added PDFs are pretty much there to bring in more Pathfinder players.

Maybe they are expecting to pick up Pathfinder pledges when the Pathfinder MMO Kickstarter fails to fund?

Hey, they even added Frank Mentzer to the mix now and mention his work on the Emerald Spire MMO  Megadungeon that is attached to the Pathfinder MMO Kickstarter. See, there is a pattern ;)

Personally, I think Frog God overestimated the following The Razor Coast fiasco has had over the past couple of years. Do I think it will hit it's $75k goal? Probably, but that will be due in large part to the Pathfinder MMO refugees that were just supporting it for the Pathfinder RPG loot anyway. Out of $650k or so of pledges, I think Frog God can pick up $22k. I guess we'll know in 5 days...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

RPGNow Sale - New Year, New Game!

Alright, RPGNow / DriveThruRPG is running a sale on a selection of games at 40% off.

If you use the code: happynyng2013 you get an extra 15% off.

I worked retail for 8 1/2 years before finding my niche in law enforcement, so I've learned that in most cases, retail percentages don't add up like normal math. I suspect with the coupon you'll see a total discount of around 50%, give or take a percentage point. Not shabby at all.

You can click the banner below for the full list of games, but I'm going to showcase a handful that I feel really stand out.

Gumshoe Core: Trail of Cthulhu - I've enjoyed reading every version / system that Cthulhu has been presented with - this is no exception. I need to play it one of these days.

Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul - I'm not a huge supers fan, probably because I wet my teeth on Champions back in the day (damn heavy system) but CCaVF seems like it would be fun to play. I may become a late convert. I'll post a review soon, as this price convince me to buy in.

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple - this is truly a storytelling game. While not for everyone, it just might be the game to introduce the wife and kids to the basics of roleplaying.

GODLIKE: Superhero Roleplaying in a World on Fire, 1936-1946 - damn it, another supers game I wouldn't mind playing. It's like playing Captain America beating up the Nazis - or something. WWII history buff / major here. Looks like I'm grabbing a second supers game. Did I mention I don't play supers?

Kobolds Ate My Baby! Super Deluxx Edition - It has John Kovalic art! Need I say more? Seriously, this is the most unserious RPG. It's more structured then Toon and reads so much better. Heck, if it reads half as fun as it plays, its going to be a blast!

There are other nice picks, such as Icons (yet more supers!), Leverage, Lost City of the Dwarves (an OSRIC powered solo adventure), LotFP Grindhouse Edition, Myth & Magic Player's Guide, Traveller Core, Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition, Villains & Vigilantes and more.

Now is the time to fill some gaps in your RPG collection - I'm filling some in mine.

*the sale is on through the end of the weekend - for those following at home, I'll put the Affiliate Referral Commissions from this week's sale into the Wayward Kickstarter fund to give it a real kick ;) *

Thoughts on Adventure Design - Scaling the Details

Tim Shorts, the Lord of Gothridge Manor, has recently put up some thoughts on adventure design that got me thinking: what scale of detail is the best when designing an adventure?

Part of that answer falls upon the planed use. Are you writing this for your own use or do you plan on offering this for others to run? This is important.

If you're writing this for others, my feeling is that leaning towards the minimalist approach is the best. Why? Because it makes it easier for the end user to drop it into their campaign with minimal fuss. The examples Tim uses are from Stonehell Dungeon by Michael Curtis, which I will repeat here:

2. Wrecked Seraglio: Ruined bedding; erotic frescoes; smashed water pipe.  Empty. 
1. Ancient Gallery: Remains of old furniture & smashed sculptures.  Gnolls (6) bundling harvested plants to bring back to their lair.  Each has 1d10+1ep & 1d8gp.
Quick, short and to the point. Infinitely customizable by the end use - the DMs that are running Stonehell Dungeon.

Tim is taking the detail to the other extreme. Filling in all the blank spots andthat his party may or may not see but giving the DM a full, living, detailed scene. Which is awesome if the writer is the one running it, but constricting for the third party to place in their own world and run IMHO.

Which on some level is strange to think of. If you are writing the material for yourself to use, you would think the minimalist approach wold be the easiest approach, as your entries can be used as memory joggers. If you are writing for others, you would think the more detail to help them run things, the better.

It doesn't seem to work that way, at least for me.

I find that the adventures I write for myself to use have layers upon layers of depth, much of it out of sight of the players, but certainly having an impact on play even if they don't see it. Tim's example is a way to actual put that in a format that is easier to reference during play.

When I run prewritten adventures, I do much of that customization on the fly. It's easier to do without loads of info that just won't apply to my game, because to make the adventure "mine" I'll be adding that stuff in anyhow. It's easier to add to a less detailed template than it is to remove from a detailed one and then try to add your own.

But I do want to give Tim's method a try. I have an idea of a dungeon brewing in my head that's going to get slipped into my party's path at some point (they are currently in Rappan Athuk - and that place is so huge even it's dungeons can have dungeons). Using Tim's Method and one of the maps from Dyson's Delves should make for a good, practical experiment ;)

Stretch Goals Have Arrived at the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Kickstarter!

Of course, being the Trolls that they are, the stretch goals for the Deluxe T&T Kickstarter are currently hidden in the 3rd update, but that's why you have me ;)

Apparently someone paid $2,000 for Ken's copy of T&T 1e (I only paid $152 for Ken's personal copy of T&T 2e). Because of this generous collector, everyone that is supporting at a level that gets a soft or hard cover copy of the Deluxe T&T rules will also get a reprint copy of the T&T 1e rules. Very nice!

When it hits $50K (almost there) the following kicks in: "if we make our $50,000 milestone, Ken is going to write a solo adventure specifically for the 1st edition, and we will send a pdf of that adventure to all our backers. Plus Ken will include new spells in the spellbook that he has been dreaming up for the last couple days, and he will write a new section of the rulebook about using miniatures with T&T. (Also) we will include in the Deluxe T&T rulebook an 8-page tip-in of color plates. This will be in all the rulebooks. I don't know for sure yet what will be in this, but I'm pretty sure it will include the old cover from the City of Terrors solitaire. But wait! There's more!  When we make the $50k goal, Rick will recreate the famous "Official T&T Pencil - 1/2 Die Weapon When Sharpened". We will include one of these for everyone who has pledged $20 or more." - Phew!

Then at $60K: "We have been listening to your comments about wanting reprints of old adventures, and completion of adventures that were never completed. For our second milestone, if we reach $60k, we will reprint the City of Terrors solitaire adventure by Michael Stackpole, with the original cover (mentioned above) and we will send a pdf of this book to all our supporters. Plus we will reprint a new, updated version of Rick's Buffalo Castle solitaire, the very first solitaire adventure published for any role-playing game, and provide a pdf to all our supporters."

Finally (for now) at $75k:If we reach $75k, we will include a second 8-page tip-in of color art, at least half of which will be new, previously unseen art. Plus we will include an 11x17 poster with the art from the City of Terrors cover to everyone who has ordered Bjorni's Map of Trollworld (we'll mail them together). And we will reprint Ken's first solitaire adventure, Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon, and include a pdf of it to every backer.

There's some nice stuff available in the stretch goals :)

Is It Too Little, Too Late for the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter?

Apparently it is most certainly NOT the Pathfinder RPG
First, it was the illusionary carrots of the mega dungeon and the miniatures for hitting "sub goals".

Then is was the Pathfinder PDF Grab Bag.

Now its "we'll make it for OSX too!"

Why? Why is Paizo trying so hard to shoehorn this MMO into an already overcrowded MMORPG marketplace, where "free to play" has taken over for subscription services?

It's not that Pathfinder Online has anything to do with the Pathfinder RPG, with the possible exception of the setting. What, you missed that? Here's some choice quotes right form the Kickstarter page:

Here is a brief list of some of the highlights of this game:

1. No Grinding- Pathfinder Online uses a skill training system like that of EVE Online. You train skills by choosing what skill you want to train and allowing the time required to elapse. You don't train any faster by farming mobs or spamming your abilities than you do exploring the world, role playing with your friends, or even being offline. You will need to complete certain achievements to complete a skill and open up new avenues of training, but time-based training means you always get full value from your purchased game time whether you're casual or 'hardcore', an adventurer or crafter, or one who enjoys a lot of roleplaying chat or one who spends much of their time in combat.

2. No Classes- Unlike other games that give you a narrow range of abilities as you train your class, in Pathfinder you gain levels in different Roles based off what you have trained.

(it goes on for 8 more highlights, but these are the ones that directly effect gameplay in comparison to the actual Pathfinder Roleplaying Game)

What do either of the above highlights have to do with the Pathfinder RPG? I mean, besides sharing a name.

It needs $350k over the next 6 days. It aint happening.

The game may still happen, but it won't happen on the backs of the RPG Community.

Monday, January 7, 2013

An Awesome Looking Kickstarter - Legendary Realms Terrain – Themed Dungeon Rooms!

Oh my friggin' gawds! Will you look at this stuff! What I would have done with Legendary Realms when I was 19 and gaming like 4 times a week. I'm damn near about to have a geek-gasm!

Alright, someone tell me how I can use this with G+ Hangouts. Really, I need to make that work. Or hell, I could just set this up and run my unpainted Dwarven Adventurers & Reaper Bones through it. It's like a playset made for a 45 year old gaming geek.

Shit! I've used the word "geek" way to many times so far.

I notice this expects to ship in March. Somehow, I suspect they will blow past goal and fall a bit behind on that . That's fine, because stretch goals should mean more goodies.

Damn, I'll need to find a table to lay this out on.

Maybe the wife will give up her side of the bed ;)

(Holy Crap! If they hit $15k, everyone pledging $100 or more gets a PDF copy of Rappan Athuk! I wonder if I can gift my copy? Oh, other stuff in PDF too, like Purple Mountain by Purple Duck Games - its a mega dungeon too!)

My Bloodthirsty Players Let Captives Go Last Session - It's a Sign of the Apocalypse

Somehow this escaped me when I did the quick session recap on Sunday. The party got the drop on a bunch of bandits in Rappan Athuk - they got both surprise AND won initiative. This resulted in the bandit leader, the ogre and 2 or 3 others dead before the bandits could even respond. Moral roll was failed and they threw down their weapons after the party's thief called for their surrender.

The survivors, both human and orcs, asked to be spared and promised to flee the dungeon. The party asked them to map the part of the dungeon they knew, which they did (pretty much a beeline to the dungeon entrance). In return, the bandits asked if they could retain their daggers. I was surprised (and I'm sure the bandits were too) when the party agreed and let them leave.

No torture.

No fire.

I'm fairly stunned.

Of course, you know this will have to become a seed for something else down the line. This will have an impact on events in the area. No matter how it plays out (and boy, I've got some ideas) the players will know they had a hand in it ;)

The Cyclops for Tunnels & Trolls - Finding Homes for OSR Monsters in T&T

Artwork by Bruno Balixa - used under license

Monster Rating: 160

Combat Dice: 17 + 80 adds

Special Damage: 6/ Befuddle (the Cyclops' eye casts Befuddle Spell as per the 3rd level spell)

There are few things as fearful in this world (and the next) as an angry Cyclops bearing down on a party. Standing over 12' and these giants are known for their fierce fighting abilities as well as their singular eye. Although their monocular vision assures one that they won't be throwing any small bolders at opponents, it has the ability to confuse and befuddle those that make direct eye contact with it. At least they keep their toenails clean ;)

(Artwork by Bruno Balixa - used under license)

First Wayward Kickstarter Picked - Kingdom: A Pen & Paper Space Exploration RPG

With the $20 in funds available, I've decided to "Kick In" to Kingdom: A Pen & Paper Space Exploration RPG at the $10 level.

The reasons are as follows:

The art fucking rocks!

It's Space Exploration.

You can opt for quarterly updates for a year (10 bucks extra - damn tempting)

You can get the PDF for 10 bucks (very low buy in)

Did I mention the awesome art?

10 bucks still left in the fund - I may just put them in for a year of quarterly updates unless someone has another suggestion.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What Ever Happened to True20?

What ever happened to True 20?

For a time, I actually thought it was going to catch on and be the main "alternative" OGL system, but obviously that didn't happen. I remember there were a large number of setting books and the like being talked about by Green Ronin and third party publishers - I just have no ides what ever happened to them.

I remember grabbing the True20 Pocket Player's Guide after reading about the system on an ENWorld thread (my, how times have changed). I grabbed a bunch of stuff back in 2007 or so, both in print and PDF, but the game itself seems to have slid into oblivion in the mean time.

Was it done in by Dragon Age and the DC Comics RPG that Green Ronin moved it's focus and resources to?

I never actually had an opportunity to play True20, so I have no idea if it plays as well as the different settings actually read. Actually, I did play in a short play by post game of True20, which if I recall correctly was fantasy based - it didn't last long or I didn't last long, but it's hard to get a feel for a system via play by post gaming.

Is there anything going on with the system these days?

Dire Bat for Tunnels & Trolls - Finding Homes for OSR Monsters in T&T

Dire Bat 

Monster Rating: 40

Combat Dice: 5D6 +20

Special Damage: 3/ - Whammy (on the following turn of combat, the Dire Bat's Combat Dice are tripled

Dire Bats are a dangerous foe, especially when they get their song off during combat. If they manage to activate their song, their rolled damage is tripled the following round. Many a party has believed they had their bats well in hand, and then a high pitched screech has left them reeling (and dying)

(i prefer T&T 5.5 for most things, but I like Spite Damage and Special Damage for my monsters, and talents for my PCs. I guess I like a 5.5 / 7.5 hybrid sort of game ;)

(art by Nicole cardiff - used under license)

It's Time to Support a Wayward Kickstarter!

The Wayward Kickstarter Fund has $20 in it - $10 from donations and $10 matching funds from me. This means it is time for us to pick the first Wayward Kickstart of the year.

So, put forward your ideas for which one(s) to support and why.

Remember, The Wayward Kickstarter Fund is YOUR fund. Use it wisely ;)

The Theme For the Second Session of Rappan Athuk - "Focus"

Yep, the party fought a room full of Giant Rats.
The treasure recovered was:
20 gp, 100 sp, 231 cp, a silver necklace, a worthless fork and a spoiled potion.
Somehow the party was expecting 2,000 cp...
I've referred to DM'ing for my group as occasionally resembling the act of herding cats. As a group, we like to socialize, catch up, tell funny stories, talk game design - when you have a gaming group full of creatives that only gather via G+ Hangout once a week, it isn't always easy to get them to focus on the job at hand.

They are currently working their way through Level 1C of Rappan Athuk - The Mouth of Doom. The have covered the east, north, west and south - all that is left to explore os the center of the Tootsie Pop. Not bad for 2 sessions of gaming.

Last night they were focused. I mean really focused. Cracking jokes left and right but men with a mission. Well, until they got sidetracked by the "slot machine" room. I think they very well might have stayed there until they ran out of coin if they had come close to hitting it big ;)

I'm enjoying Rappan Athuk. Heck, it's already given us 2 nights of gaming and we haven't even finished the first level they've come across (they have found 2 ways to go down 1 level and 1 way to go down 2 levels - next week's session should be interesting.

The players are enjoying Rappan Athuk too. I see it in the focused play. I see it in the desire to figure out the traps and puzzles. I see it in the amount of ground we cover in a game session. What takes us 3 hours now would take us over 5 previously.

I have found one thing - I need to pencil in the monsters' THAC0 numbers alongside their entries - the few times I've had to look something up, it was that.

As an aside, I find the OSRIC monster section annoyingly organized by type, which makes it hard to flip through and actually find what you need quickly. A minor quibble over an otherwise excellent book.
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