Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Table of Contents for Gygax Magazine #1 (Photo)

Someone, anyone, please tell me this does not look like ToC of Dragon Magazine from the mid '80s.

I like the look a lot, but even my wife noted the similarity (due to helping me box up for storage 150+ issues of the Dragon last winter for storage) and she is not a gamer.

Anyway, for those that are interested, the above is the ToC of Dragon Gygax Magazine Issue #1 ;)

The Gygax Magazine Unboxing Event

Truth in posting - I am currently boxed.  I went to the German pub across from the Brooklyn Stat after getting my copies of Gygax Magazine. No one from the event was there when i got there. I had a liter of Haufbrau before heading home. Once I got home, my wife plied me with Newcastle on tap - I feel wicked fine right now ;)

I finally got to meet +Joseph Bloch face to face. Not as much time as I would have liked, but the Brooklyn Star was bursting from it's seams today. I got to meet a few folks that I haven't seen in ages, never got to meet +Christopher Mennell or +Dennis Higgins , which I really would have like to. I saw   +Tavis Allison  from  afar.  Maybe they can join +Joe D and myself at the next PubCon.

It really was a madhouse at the Brooklyn Strat. I literally ran out the door after grabbing my copies of Gygax Magazine.

Best unanswered question of the day was from +Joseph Bloch  - paraphrasing - "Do you expect any issue from using the Dragon Magazine trade dress?" There were answers, but they really didn't answer the question. Gygax magazine looks and feels like The Dragon. How do I know? The moment I showed it to my wife she said "Didn't I pack up like 100 issues of that for storage like a year ago?" No, she's not a gamer.

Gygax Magazine is $8.95 an issue for the print version. It's probably going to be $4.95 for the PDF / iPad version when it releases in about 2 weeks in electronic format.

Now I need to actually read it.

A review should be forthcoming.

Is NEXT a 2013 Gen Con Release? Amazon Hints to It

First, thanks to +Jason Paul McCartan for pointing this out.

Legacy of the Crystal Shard: Sundering Adventure 2 (D&D Adventure) [Hardcover] is releasing on October 15th, 2013. Jason also has info that Murder in Baldur's Gate: Sundering Adventure 1 (D&D Adventure) [Hardcover] is planned for August 2013. Still, if we are getting new adventures, you can bet a bucket of dice we are getting a new edition of the game.

It would make sense.

D&D Next has been in the works for about 2 years now, was announced a year ago to the public and went into Beta shortly thereafter.

Gen Con 2013 release looks good, and with the good will and profits from the release of legacy editions of D&D on the OneBookShelf series of webstore in PDF, I expect this will be a very strong year for WotC.

Next might not be my game to play, but I suspect it will do better overall than 4e did.

Of course, time will tell.

Kickstarter Updates & Highlights - It Must Be Fate

The FATE Core Kickstarter is currently sitting at $347K+ with 3 days to go. Even if you aren't a huge FATE fan, the $10 backer level gives you the core rules and all the expansions funded via the Kickstarter in electronic format. $15 gives you the Core rules in softcover and all the expansions in electronic format. Look at the page over at Kickstarter, its a crapload ;)

Dwimmermount's latest update (#43) wasn't a backers only one, so you may want to check it out. Tavis has opened a Community for Dwimmermount over on G+ - "Mages of the Mountain". I expect it will be a busy place and a nice hub of information once it gathers some momentum. 59 members already and it only went live last night - not bad at all. Might have some more Dwimermount stuff to announce in the next few days.

From the Creature & Encounter
RPG Card Decks Kickstarter
Tavern Cards are over halfway to goal with 17 days left to raise funds. You know you want a set (or three ;)

Creature & Encounter RPG Card Decks is on pace to fund (8.3k out of 9.5k with 7 days to go) I'm in it for the Stock Art. Yep, I have some long term plans that these pieces will fit well into. The different decks rock too, but I want the art!

Adventurer's Guide Core Book for Shroud of the Ancients RPG has an issue getting their backers funding from Amazon. I feel like a fly on the wall, as I was just in it for a buck Interesting RPG but not one I expect I would get a chance to play. This is a new delay for me to see.

Alright - heading out to the Brooklyn Strat in about 3 hours for the unboxing of the new Gygax Magazine. I'll try to remember to wear my Jets Cap, just so Istand out a bit :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Is the Main OSR Division Descending / Ascending Armor Class?

Is Descending Armor Class the "sacred cow" of the OSR?

Is it the one thing some folks have decided to draw the line at?

I can actually understand the desire to remain "true to the original form" and I personally found the change of the later editions of D&D to Ascending AC as an affront of my personal ideal of what defined D&D.

I started with AD&D 1e. I didn't get a DM's shield for years (and initially refused to cut up my issue of The Dragon to remove and set up the Combat Wheel). The pages of the Combat Charts in my original DMG took a hell of a beating over years of use, all because of the constant need to refer to the Combat Charts.

The thing is, as I've gotten older, I care less about "the purity of the game", which I suspect is where the  line between Descending AC and Ascending AC gets drawn. Ascending or descending, the results are the same but with ascending AC the math is simpler, as there is next to no math. You roll to hit AC. Add your modifiers and you are done. You know if you hit right then and there.

With descending AC, you either refer to the chart OR add your target's AC to your modifiers roll to hit and if the total is 20 or higher you hit. I think that's how you go chartless with descending AC. This would be THAC0, kinda sorta. THAC0 was an attempt to move descending AC away from the combat charts. THAC0 gave you a starting point with some of the math filed off. It certainly helped.

Player's have it simpler in either case, as they can writet down their standard To Hit array on the bottom of their character sheet.

DMs don't have that option.

I'm NOT going to re-gigger my 1e / OSRIC campaign to use ascending AC. In such an attempt lies madness. I am going to spend an hour or two writing the THAC0 for all the creatures in Rappan Athuk's immediate levels, so I can save some damn chart referencing time during game sessions.

I still think ascending AC makes more sense, even if descending AC is more authentic.

Mini Review - Bandits and Battlecruisers (OSR Space Opera Supplement)

It isn't often that I review Sci-Fi RPG products. The few that I do are pretty much firmly entrenched in the OSR, at least mechanics-wise. Bandits and Battlecruisers fits that bill, at it is firmly in the grasp of the OSR / Classical D&D rulesets. It is however, much less Sci-Fi  and more Space Opera. Heck, even that isn't really all that accurate a description. Let's Try Sci-Fantasy Space Opera. Too long?

In any case, Bandits and Battlecruisers is a Space Opera themed supplement for any of the OSR clones and should be useable with minimal adjusting (but will work better with LL, S&W and the like and need more adjusting for OSRIC). As it pretty much replaces many of the core assumptions, such as character generation, stats and bonuses, skills, is classless - the reality is, if you already know one of the older systems, you can run straight with B and B and just use the system of your choice to fill in any gaping holes. You will need another system to be your reference point for any spells (yes, there is magic in the setting, but no spells in the book - so, dig out the rules you feel comfortable with).

Tables. Lots and lots of random tables. Whether you use them as inspiration or let the dice fall as they may, there are lots of tables in this book. Personally, I like the Creature Creation Tables. Not as crazy as Raggi's but easy to use and quick. Note to self: making my own Things in the Room Table for Rappan Athuk would be pretty neat.

Descending AC is the default. That being said, AC 2 is as low as one can obtain without magic, so the chance of being nigh invulnerable is near nil.

The equipment lists take up about 4 pages and even includes duct tape. Any equipment list that includes the universal jury rigging tool is pretty complete in my eyes. Heck, I'd like to see a fantasy equivalent ;)

The spaceship section (about a 1/3 of the book) is the most Sci-Fi heavy part of the book (most of the rest is a combination of Sci-Fantasy and Space Opera, shaken not stirred ;) It's approach reminds me a bit of Traveller Lite, which is fine as that of course is yet another Old School game. Actually, the space combat reminds me a lot of classic Traveller, as best I can remember. It has been over 20 years since I played a game of Traveller, let alone spaceship combat.

Heck, it even includes hexagonal graph paper (in two different sizes) in the back for you to print out and use. Very convenient.

The art is all public domain (most if not all from comic books) and nicely evocative.

Overall, it's a very nice twist on the old School ruleset.

I do have 2 minor quibbles:

- lack of bookmarking for the PDF. If I have a choice, I always want my PDFs bookmarked. It makes navigating through the virtual pages so much easier.

- no sample adventures of even a random table to develop plot hooks. The random space encounters and space stations don't quite cut it. That being said, I suspect most of the people that purchase this will already have an adventure or a series of plot hooks in mind. It's just that it would have made a fine product even fine.

From the blurb:


Bandits and Battlecruisers is an Old School Role Playing Game, based on Bandits & Basilisks mini-game and the classic Terminal Space supplement. On its 140 pages you will find:

Detailed character creation rules;
Monster creation aids (plus 18 monsters - not the well-known monsters from the Original Game);
Complete rules for creating star sectors, star systems, planets, moons and space stations;
Five 100-keyword tables, helpful in designing monsters, robots, civilizations and planets;
100 random space encounters and 100 random space stations;
Tools helpful in creating treasure hoards and artifacts (plus 16 sample artifacts);
Over thirty random tables;
Chapter with a detailed starship creation sequence and starship combat rules (plus over twenty sample spaceships).

What I've Learned About Running an OSRIC / AD&D 1e Campaign

First thing I learned, and possibly the most important - I hate descending AC. With a gawd damn passion!

You know what? That surprised the shit outa me. I used to think that ascending AC was for wussies - who the hell can't figure out the basic math for combat using descending AC? Apparently this 45 year old Grognard has trouble figuring it out on the fly during game sessions. One of the best inovations of the OSR was bringing ascending AC to the classic rulesets.

Actually, it surprises me in retrospect that this wasn't thought of decades earlier - it does away for the need of combat charts and the like and greatly simplifies the one confusing quirk of "Old School" Combat.

I've learned that running with the true rules (AD&D 1e) and it's clone (OSRIC) is easy as pie. Sure, they don't line up exactly (experience point tables are probably the most obvious example) but all of that stuff is minor and easily handwaved. Besides, the OSRIC rulebook is so much simpler to access and reference at the gaming table than then originals - when running a game, the less time spent referencing rules, the better.

We never had "guest players" when I ran my ACKS sandbox, but I have had with our current dungeon crawl. There's a different mindset in a dungeon crawl that seems more acceptable to drop in / drop out gaming. Maybe it's that everyone has the same goal in a dungeon crawl - kill things and take their stuff.

I've learned that it's easy to house rule a system you grew up with, that the "cleave" rules from ACKS make a nice fit in an AD&D game and letting players multiclass is just damn fun.

Most importantly, you can, sometimes, successfully return to your first love decades after moving on to the supposedly "new and improved" AD&D 2e ;)

I Just Realized That D&D Next Was Announced Last January

It's amazing how time flies.

I'm not the biggest fan of D&D Next, but if it wasn't for the Friends & Family playtest for Next, I wouldn't have the G+ group of friends that I game with weekly. Alright, to be honest, only 4 of our current group of 7 got started with the Next playtest, but the group wouldn't have formed if it wasn't for that playtest.

Heck, that was my first experience with gaming over G+ Hangouts, so it's probably accurate to say that D&D Next brought me back to active gaming.

So, for a game that isn't right for me, it did a lot of things right by me.

Go figure ;)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The "Red Headed Step-Child" of the OSR - Basic Fantasy RPG

It seems whenever I compile a list of OSR games ans resources, I inadvertently leave off the Basic Fantasy RPG. It's not that it's a bad set of rules - it's actually a very good set of rules. It's not that there is a lack of material for the system - there is enough freely available to keep your game running for years.

I was talking with +Christopher Helton about this last week via G+, and the conclusion I came to is that it gets overlooked a lot because it isn't seen. How's that for a self fulfilling prophesy? ;)  What I mean by that is the big names in the OSR have either their core books and / or supplementary material available on RPGNow. That's not the case with BFRPG. With BFRPG it's all available at a central location  it's own website. The problem is, without knowledge of the website you won't have knowledge of the game.

The other thing Chris and I talked about was organizing a "Basic Fantasy Role Playing Blog Appreciation Day" or something with a similarly awkward sounding title. The idea would be to organize a couple of bloggers and G+ posters to post about / talk / whatever on the same day. Kind of a saturation of the media to get the BFRPG in the hands of a few other gamers. It is free and there is a crapload of free stuff for it. Think of it as a community service for our readers :)

If it's even halfway successful, we could do this for other deserving yet under appreciated RPGs on a monthly basis.

So, what say you my fellow bloggers? Are you with us?

I'm going to suggest next Thursday, January 31st for the "Basic Fantasy Role Playing Blog Appreciation Day".

Just add a comment to this post (on the blog or G+) to let us know if you are joining us. It should be fun. The type of post you make it up to you. All we ask is that it have something to do with BFRPG.

Of course, anyone can and should add their thoughts to this, whether you plan to participate or not. Good idea? Bad idea? Needs more crumpets. Whatever ;)

(edit -  the BFRPG site is currently running a bit slow on downloads tonight- i think we are driving traffic already ;)

Out of Idle Curiosity: Have You Made a Purchase at the DnD Classics Webstore Over the Past 2+ Days?

Yep, the title of this post pretty much says it all:

Have you made a purchase at the DnD Classics store since it's launch on Tuesday?

If you did make a purchase, what did you buy and where you happy with the scan quality?

All I've grabbed so far myself was the free B1. It's a much cleaner scan than the scans of old, so I'm happy with it. I think Deities & Demi-Gods will be the next one up.

The Top Three Hottest Items in the DnD Classics Store AREN'T WotC Products

Actually, The Maze of Nuroman and the Gibbering Tower are free if I recall correctly, so they shouldn't even be on a Hottest Items list. Strange to see WotC being squeezed out of their own store.

Me thinks OneBookShelf (hereafter referred to as OBS to save my damn fingers) has some further tweaking to do of it's software.

Nice to see the Teratic Tome at #2. It is for AD&D 1e after all ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mini Review - Teratic Tome (OSRIC Monster Book)


Simply fucking wow.

The Teratic Tome is a monster manual of sorts for OSRIC - that's if you took Lovecraft, Barker, King and our own +James Raggi , put them in a blender with the piss of a virgin and performed some unholy rituals that shall forever remain nameless.

The art is amazing. The art is disturbing. The art has lots and lots of boobs, and at least one female-like monster with the following accurately portrayed:
Where its genitals should be, it sports a glistening mass of foot-long tentacles that end in barbs and hooks. Its skin smells of lavender.
There is so much in here that I want to drop into my AD&D 1e / OSRIC romp through Rappan Athuk - thankfully BTB went out after the first session ;)

The descriptions are great. They literally have story hooks right in them for the most part. The default world that these creatures frequent must be one notch worse than the 3e Midnight Campaign.

I felt disturbed reading parts of this and uncomfortable in others, much like a good horror fiction novel. And yet I kept flipping the virtual pages. Like an addict. There can be no higher praise.

As a side note, it appears the art and the stat block for the Audience on page 9 are missing. Or maybe I'm blind just like the Audience is ;)

The price of $6.66 is total appropriate.

From the blurb:

This enchiridion of entities should only be used by DMs inclined towards malfeasance, sadism, and base wrongdoing.

Torn from the pages of the Books of Pandemonium, these horrific fiends -- including the grotesquely talented Curhadac, the sadistic Eremite, and the death-singing Acronical -- will test the mettle of any adventuring party.

Teratic Tome is an OSRIC-compatible bestiary featuring:

* Strange variants: Brine orc, gelatinous pyramid, and azure slime

* Undead: Ivory banshee, demimondaine, ash ghast, and verminated zombie

* New threats: Remnants, karkinoi, pontiffs, craanoi, and ingenues

* Unique entities: Baskra, Lunamic, Malchior, Pantagruel, and the Seamstress

The Winners of Store Credit for the DnD Classics Store (or any OBS store) Are...

We had a crapload of entries between the blog side and G+. We also had a nice assortment of folks from the 2,000 Coppers that were eligible for the secondary pool.

So, without further ado (and using the random number generator in Tabletop Forge, because none of this added up to something divisible by even funky DCC dice) here are our 2 winners:

+Roger Brasslett wins the $10 credit - spend it on a decent megadungeon, will ya? ;)

+Adam Muszkiewicz wins the 2000 Coppers $5 credit. Spend it on a smaller dungeon ;P

Send me a message on G+ with the email you use at OBS and I'll ge the credits out to you.

To everyone, thank you for your thoughts both on the blog and G+. There are a lot of classics that we want and maybe the powers that be will realize nearly all want the RC!

WotC's "Shelf of Infinite Books" - Boon or Bust for Indie Publishers?

Here's a Mike Mearls' quote from yesterday's Legends & Lore column:

The Shelf of Infinite Books 
Back at Gen Con last year, we announced that we were once again going to make certain titles of classic D&D material available for purchase as PDF files. I'm happy to announce that our friends over at DrivethruRPG.com are offering the first of many waves of classic content through our new PDF store DnDClassics.com!
Initially, you'll see classics such as the B-series of modules, the entirety of the first mega-campaign, spanning the G, D, and Q series of adventures, Greyhawk sourcebooks, and more showing up on DrivethruRPG's virtual shelves. Personally, I'm running a D&D Next playtest of Steading of the Hill Giant Chieftain every Friday afternoon at the office from a PDF loaded on to my iPad.
When we began the D&D Next process, we were committed to looking at D&D beyond the rules for the tabletop game. We realize that some people like running classic adventures or playing earlier editions. We hope D&D Next meets your needs, but if you want to stick with the D&D you already know and love, then DrivethruRPG.com's ever-expanding library will have everything that you'll need.
The Shelf of Infinite Books is certainly being aimed at Grognards, lapsed gamers, the curious and all of the rest of us. It's a win - win situation for the above. WotC gets to make a nice amount of pocket change from products it already owns and gamers get the opportunity to get some true classics without having to pay outrageous Ebay pricing (this applies to a small selection - the truly hard to find pieces). The opportunity to put these classics on my table is awesome.

So, we know it's good for WotC. We know it makes the gamers that have been clamoring for such for years happy.

Does it make the indie publishers happy? Does it bring more money to the RPGNow market place or will indie publishers now be fighting for scraps left over by WotC?

I'd really hate to see innovations in gaming, OSR and beyond, slow down or die off because of easy access to classic D&D. That being said, I'm thrilled about the easy access to classic D&D and I'm hopeful it will bring more gamers into the OSR fold which should bring it own growth to the OSR market. Maybe just by bringing more gamers to the PDF RPG market place, they'll get exposed to more games and that will lead to growth on the indie gaming side.

What do you think? Is WotC returning to the PDF marketplace good or bad for indie publishers?

Now You See It, Now You Don't, Now You Do - Removing the WotC Releases From the Hottest Lists at OBS (and the sudden reappearance)

Top screen shot was from 10:06 AM this morning.

Bottom screen shot was from 10:51 this morning.

It looks like they are trying to keep the WotC releases from squeezing out the indie releases on the Hottest Items lists.

Same happened at RPGNow, but I didn't think of grabbing the screen shot until the moment had passed.

I don't blame OBS for doing this at all. The WotC stuff will sell no matter where it falls on a list (or fails to fall depending on how they work it) but placement on these lists can be the bread and butter of indie sales.

Falling of the list means slowing sales, and that hurts both the indies and OBS.

And just as I was about to hit send, the first list is back up - it looks like there is some major tweaking going on behind the scenes.

RPGNow's current list is WotC free. Let's see how long that lasts ;)

Don't Get Fooled by RPGNow's Top 100 List re: DnDClassics

Take a peek at the top 15 hottest selling items on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. Do you see any of the newly re-released classic D&D titles on the list? No

So why are they on the top 100 sellers of all time? Did they sneak in via the back door?


They earned those spots before the purge and apparently have held them ever since, but as they were "deleted" they didn't show on the list.

Now they do.

It could also be that OBS tweaked their system to keep the D&D stuff off the "Hot Lists" to ensure the indie publishers aren't pushed off. That's just conjecture at this point, but I do find it surprising that there are no D&D on either list, especially after the servers were down frequently yesterday due to the heavy traffic re: the launch of DnDClassics.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mini Review - The Maze of Nuromen (BLUEHOLME) (Free OSR)

The Maze of Nuromen is a first level adventure for the BLUEHOLME Prentice rules that were recently released. Just in case the release of the D&D PDFs earlier today distracted or confused you, BLUEHOLME Prentice is a retroclone of the Holmes Basic Boxed set.

So, what do you get with The Maze of Nuromen?

You get a two level dungeon to assault your players with. Actually, it's a nicely designed dungeon with multiple paths, which is always a plus. The two levels are nicely drawn.

The rooms descriptions are top notch. This dungeon should be a tough challenge for a 1st level party, and a 2nd level party still won't find it a piece of cake. I like that the wandering monster charts include creatures that have a maximum count - if the party has defeated the max number, they won't occur again. You just don't see this as often as you should.

The art is very nice. The fact that it is all public domain is awesome. Very evocative and definitely works.

Now my one complaint. The font. It's annoying. I'm sure they were going for some authentic old time feel with it, but it made reading the adventure less than pleasant on my computer screen. One demerit ;)

Overall, it's an excellent adventure for any OSR game. Just be prepared to find the font annoying. I admit it's a small price to pay for free.

Oh, and the art on the RPGNow page is wrong, but a grabbed a screenshot of the real cover :)

Technical Review - B1: In Search of the Unknown (PDF)

I'm calling this a "technical" review because most folks that are reading this own or have played or at the very least have heard about B1: In Search of the Unknown. So, I'm not talking about the adventure, I'm talking about the PDF quality of the newly re-released B1 over at OneBookSelf / RPFNow / DnDClassics.

So, how is it?

Pretty damn good!

I don't recall much about the original scans before the purge, in the way back when WotC decided that electronic media was bad, and pirates ruled the roost except that they were frequently of poor quality. When I say poor quality, I mean poor. Muddy scans were par for the course, and many seem like they were rush jobs put out there to make a quick buck (kind of ironic, in a way, as the current PDFs are certainly being put out there to make a quick buck - edit a "quality" quick buck ;)

So I was pretty surprised at the quality of the B1 scan. Fairly crisp and definitely clean. It's also bookmarked, which I can'r recall if that was part of the first round of scans, but it is certainly appreciated.

On my 13' MacAir, readable at crisp at 100%, 125% and 150%. Slightly jagged edges apear ar 200%.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed.

Check it out yourself as it's absolutely free. I'll probably check Deities & Demigods next, as that on the pay side, and I want to make sure other 1e stuff is of similar quality scans. Then I'll move on to 2e stuff.

Now That the Original PDFs are Coming Back - Original or Retro?

Now that WotC is releasing (in stages, apparently) it's TSR era material in PDF over at DnDClassics, the question of access to earlier editions will slowly be lifted.

The question will than become - play with the original rules or use the retroclones or both?

My current AD&D 1e campaign uses the core AD&D 1e books and OSRIC pretty interchangeably, with my own house rules on top.

I like the retroclones because they are much easier to read than the originals, which makes them an easier book to reference during play. But I like the originals because I grew up on them.

So, what about you? Originals or retros?

The DnDClassics PDF Store is Live - Add a Comment and You May Get a $10 Credit to Spend at the Store

DnDClassics is now a live store (remember last week's inadvertent sneak peek?)

There's going to be an ongoing rollout of classic products.

Here's part of the email I got from OneBookShelf earlier this morning:

"Customers who purchased D&D titles from us in the past will be able to download the newly updated D&D PDFs for free in the My Library section of the My Account page as they are re-released by WotC."

There are over 80 titles available today and more on the way each month."

I'm happy to see WotC plans to do it the right way and is going to take care of the customers that were caught by "the purge" the first time around.

B1 In Search of the Unknown is one of the freebies

Here's what I'm going to do:

Add a comment here or on the accompanying G+ thread. Tell me what classic D&D product you're hoping to find in the DnDClassics store. Add you comment prior to 11 am EST tomorrow, 1/23/13. Later that afternoon I'd randomly pull one entry to win a $10 gift certificate at OBS. Spend it at any of the OBS store fronts, including DnDClassics.

If you are a member of the 2,000 Coppers Community over at G+ please indicate as such with your comment (and if it's on the blog side, I need your G+ name).  There will be a second random roll for the 2k Coppers folks for a $5 certificate. So yes, 2k members are entered twice. Membership has it privilege :)

So, what are you waiting for? Tell us what you want ;)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Feed Me Some Good Gaming Podcasts Please!

I'm sure I've asked this question in the past, but as The Tavern's readership has just about doubled in the past 12 months, I figured I'd ask again.

Those of you that listen to gaming podcasts, what do you listen to?

I find myself mostly listening to Happy Jacks, because they remind me one hell of a lot of my own gaming group. Not sure if that is bad or good ;)

I just stumbled across Drunks & Dragons. Haven't listend yet but getting ready for tomorrow's commute.

I listen to some Fear the Boot, but I find the "broadcaster" vocals grating at times. Not a bad podcast, I just need to limit the dosage :)

That's How We Roll with Fred Hick's is awesome but very irregular.

Save or Die! needs to prove itself in the first 10 minuts or I just move on. I guess I have a limited attention span.

The Delver's Podcast play session type podcast, but the episodes are short. I tend to listen to them ay my computer while multitasking, not commuting.

I'll try and return the favor in March if the tentative and extremely irregular podcast on this end gets off the ground ;)

Mini Review - The Trollmanac (Tunnels & Trolls)

The Trollish Delver, otherwise known as +Scott Malthouse , is a pretty prolific writer of T&T blog posts and has a selection of T&T solos available on RPGNow. His latest T&T piece is The Trollmanac.

The Trollmanac is like a T&T buffet. There lots of options and lots of stuff to try out. Some may not appeal to you, but there is enough ere that every T&T player should feel they've gotten their $1.59 worth (which is the current sale price and it's a steal!)

Let me look at it in order:

New Classes - Very hit or miss to me, but the hits are solid. I really like the Minstrel, Burglar and Wildfarer classes. When I get that once a month T&T game off the ground, I expect I'll include them as player options.

Character Options - As Scott explains it, these aren't new classes, but ways to tweak existing classes into different roles than expected. If your players are into role playing and not just rolling, they should read this, even if just for ideas on their own tweaks.

New Kindreds - They look like they would all work fine. I doubt I'd use them, especially as I plan to fairly limit the amount I'll be allowing in my upcoming game, but again they look like they would work in game.

New Monsters - as I've been putting one up a day on my blog, you know I love new and unique T&T monsters. Foe me, this section is worth it on it's own.

Magic Items - some good, some average, but enough entries to make it interesting. Watch out or I'll trim your hedges!

Guides for:

- Playing Vampires - not really my interest

- Spicing up combat - Scott, you got me thinking about using Mighty Deeds from the DCC RPG in T&T. I may need to write this up.

- A Guide to Uroks - a nice little write up on the master orks ;)

- Sea Adventures - short but useful. it could add some spice when taking the delvers out of the tunnels

2 Mini Solos.

All that for $1.59

Damn good stuff!

Which RPG Product Has Been the Most Influential on the OSR?

As we are conducting our list of Essential Free OSR 3 Packs  I thought I ask: "Which RPG product has been the most influential on the OSR and why?" I ask, because I can't think of a single one - I have a handful.

Castles & Crusades, as it opened the door that led to the OSR, even if it didn't know it was doing so at the time.

OSRIC, which firmly planted the flag to which other retroclones followed.

LotFP Weird Fantasy, a game that showed you could be true to your roots and still change things up. It also showed the importance of high quality art, and pushed the line of what's considered acceptable in RPG art.

I guess each one represents a different stage of the OSR for me.

Look at that, I asked for one anser and I gave three ;)

So, what are your thoughts?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Three Free OSR RPG Products Would You Suggest For a "Lapsed" Gamer?

I've been thinking of this for a while: What would be the three OSR RPG products I would steer a retuning or "lapsed" gamer towards? We have such an abundance of free (and inexpensive) RPGs to choose from in our corner of the RPG universe, which can be as much curse as boon when one first looks.

So I figured I'd put together a 3 pack that would allow a returning gamer to get his feet wet in the OSR without being overwhelmed. My picks are below. Nothing states my picks are the only ones or even the best ones. Part of my thinking was a single system for all three products. Yes, everything in the OSR is extremely compatible, but I wanted to simplify things as much as possible.

Labyrinth Lord (no art version) - It was a toss up between LL and Swords & Wizardry. LL has the Advanced Edition Characters book freely available in a no art version, so they could make their campaign more AD&D like without having to pay for a new rulebook like you would with Swords & Wizardry Complete.

Blackmarsh - I'm not sure how many freely available campaign settings there are in the OSR, but this is professionally done and has the makings of one heck of a hexcrawl if the DM so desired.

Tomb of Sigyfel - A short and simple dungeon adventure. Short enough to be finished in a 2-3 hour session, it shouldn't overwhelm a returning DM.

What "Free OSR Three Pack" would you assemble for a returning player or DM. Would it be different than what you would give to a totally new player to the hobby? Why?

Give me your picks and we'll add to this page.

---------------------------------------------- Reader Submitted Lists -----------------------------------------------------

1  +Jeremy Friesen 

1) Labrynth Lord - its really close to the original, with excellent free support
2) Dungeon World - I love this game, and the narrative style may be a better fit for a lapsed player.
3) Stars Without Number - Maybe they played Star Frontier's or Traveller? Its a good system.

2  wrathofzombie

I'd also recommend the OSR Premier as an excellent guide for new and rusty Rpgers.

3  +Tim Shorts 

I would have a hard time arguing against any of those choices. My 3 would be.
1. Swords & Wizardry Core
2. Blackmarsh
3. While Tomb of Sigyfel is great I think I would go with the one-page dungeon collection.

4  The Dave

1. BFRPG core rules - To me its OSR minus the descending armor class..and I like that its completely open source..
2. BF1 - Morgansfort: Very Keep on the Borderlands. Some small beginner adventures along with a small keep that the adventurers can base their exploration from.
3. AA1 - Adventure Anthology: A compendium of different adventures that could take a party from beginner to mid-level.

5 Robo

1) Labyrinth Lord
2) Obelisk of Forgotten Memories, a Level 1-2 outdoor encounter area and small dungeon complex designed for Patrick Wetmore's ASE setting
3) World of Algol 1: The Iridium Plateau

6  Tori Bergquist

1. Labyrinth Lord
2. Mutant Future
3. Stars Without Number
Those cover the OSR experience pretty nicely, and each has the feel and familiarity of the most popular classics (B/X D&D, Gamma World, Traveller)

7  S'mon

1. Labyrinth Lord
2. The Endless Tunnels of Enlandin off Dragonsfoot, for use with LL.
3. Mutant Future would be a good intro to the non-D&D side of the OSR.

8  Rob S

1. Labyrinth lord
2. One page dungeon compilation 2012
3. Secret Santicore 2011

Honourable mention goes to Dyson's Delve.

9  +Charles W 

1) Labyrinth Lord
2) BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules
3) alas was not free ;)

10  +Roman Mollari 

Swords & Wizardry SRD
Labyrinth Lord and Advanced Edition Companion (no art version)
Mutant Future (no art version)
Star Frontiers - all of it
Marvel Super Heroes RPG - FASERIP

11 +John Bell 

Swords and Wizardry Core
How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox
Stars Without Number

12 +Bruce Callan

1) Labyrinth Lord
2) Stars Without Number
3) Mutant Future

13 +Dead Greyhawk 

Stormcrows Gather
Obelisk of Forgotten Memories
Labyrinth Lord

Two radically different ways to play a game under the same rules. 

14 +Zachary Houghton 

-Stars Without Number
-Labyrinth Lord
-Either Blackmarsh

15 +Richard Iorio II 

Microlite 74

Stars Without Number
Labyrinth Lord

16 +James Aulds 

Labyrinth Lord
Stars Without Number
One Page Dungeon Contest

17 +Pearce Shea

Old School Hack
Fictive Hack
Stars Without Numbers

Humungous Rabid Rat - Hunting For Coppers in Tunnels & Trolls

Art by Ryan Sumo

Humungous Rabid Rat

Monster Rating: 25

Combat Dice: 3 + 12

Special Damage:  2 / Poison does 2 Pts damage per CT for 5 CTs

We hunt in packs. We swarm and we eat. We never eat enough so we look for walking food. Walking food not as tasty as rotting food, but is good. We likes shiny. We likes copper. We nest in copper.

If You Could Only Play One RPG and it Had to be "By the Book" - Which Would it Be?

This is a damn tough question for me.

I'm running an AD&D 1e / OSRIC Campaign, but I've houseruled the crap out of it. Without houserules, I don't think I could stomach AD&D, as much as I identify with it.

By the book I think I'd have to default to Labyrinth Lord with Advanced Edition Characters, although if I were restricted to one book I'd go Swords & Wizardry Complete - the single save does have it's advantages, and it gives me most of the AD&D characters in a single book.

I default to the clones over the originals as they are generally less confusing rules wise. I'm sure others will default to the unadulterated originals, but my problems would be we never played AD&D as it was written.

So, what would you chose as you BTB system?

Just Another Night in Rappan Athuk

It Almost Looks Like "Demon Chucky"
Last night my players continued their exploration of Rappan Arthuk, We found ourselves more derailed then recent nights, but we admittedly had a shitload of catching up to do. Once we finally got their feet in motion they did okay.

They went from the 2nd level, back to the 1st (and a section they had skipped initially), down to the 3rd. We use Tabletop Forge, mostly because I feel comfortable with it, but the one feature we've found to be sorely lacking is the ability to save play maps between sessions. I run with just a grid and we map as we go along, so session to session we lose all the mapping. As I'm typing this, I wonder if I could screen shot just the play map at the end of the session, then import it into TTF with the next session. Leave of the grid as it's already on the old map. Only problem is we'd lose tabletop space, as the gridded map section would be limited to the screenshot from the previous session. Scrolling the mapping "tabletop" would scroll us off grid. I need to think about this.

They got to deal with a large talking head (which swallowed one PC) but in the end, they came out "a head" of the game ;)

It was fun watching them encounter the demon buggers pictured above. If I didn't have a knack of rolling "1's" for my damage rolls, it would have been a bit more dangerous. Ah well, can't kill them all. I suspect the 3rd level of the dungeon will finally put them to a true test of skills and luck.

They didn't cover as much ground as either of the last two sessions, but I think we were all feeling a but run down. Besides, the distractions were damn glorious.

Oh, and I found that one of my players has an adventure coming out in the nearish future from one of the 3rd party DCC RPG publishers. My, but I have a talented gaming group :)

Gygax Magazine Unboxing Saturday, January 26 at the Brooklyn Strat - Who's Going?

The unboxing of the 1st issue of the new Gygax Magazine is next Saturday, January 26th at 2 PM at the Brooklyn Strat in Brooklyn NY.

I plan on showing up around 130 ish (when the event official starts) and probably stay until about 3 or 4. There's an afternoon of gaming planned for the event, but as I have an evening of gaming waiting for me at home, I don't foresee myself staying much longer (admittedly, that could change with the right gaming ;)

Registration and attendance is free, although gaming slots do have a cost (which I am not sure of at the moment). I've been to the location a handful of times and it's nice and relaxed. If it wasn't a 30 minute drive (without traffic) from my house, I'd be there a lot more often.

I'll be bringing a small video camera to catch the highlights, and I'll grab a couple of copies of Gygax Magazine, with the intention of giving away one or two on the blog (assuming you can buy more that one).

Here's the blurb on the event:

Join us for the release of the premiere issue of Gygax magazine! 
We'll be opening the first box of magazines at 2pm sharp, and doing a live + video Q&A with the crew: Ernie Gygax, Luke Gygax, Jayson Elliot, Tim Kask, Jim Wampler, and James Carpio. 
There's a full day of gaming, including Savage Worlds, Marvel RPG, and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. Admission is free, games require tickets, sold at the event. 
Plus a massive AD&D 1E dungeon delve with the founder of Dwarven Forge! 
Magazines go on sale as soon as the first box is opened.

AD&D 2e Is the Next Round of WotC Reprints - The Funding of 5e on the Reprints of Earlier Editions Continues

It look like WotC has listed the core 3 books from AD&D 2e for the next round of Premium Reprints at $50 a pop.

Player's Handbook, DMG and the Monstrous Manual.

I spent most of my younger years playing AD&D 2e. I remember picking the books up on the day of release and bringing it to the game session that evening. Back then, if TSR put it out, it was golden. We actually thought that way until the Complete Handbook series jumped the shark with the Complete Book of Elves. Even in those heady days of gaming we could see how unbalanced Bladesingers were ;)

With the exception of my Player's Handbook with it's peeling spine and my Monstrous Compendium with the inserts falling out, most of my 2e stuff has held up to the test of time.

I do find it very interesting to watch WotC relying on reprints of previous editions (and soon PDFs) to fund their development of 5e. I wonder how much of their future customer base they'll lose to the reprints? I doubt it's much, but there will be some bleed.

I'm still curious how much money from the AD&D 1e reprints actually went to the Gygax Memorial Fund...
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