Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's Going on With Tenkar's Landing?

Talk about getting sidetracked, I haven't touched Tenkar's Landing for ages it seems (actually, nearly 6 weeks)

Consider this placed on a back burner for now, at least as far as anything beyond what I need for my irregular Sunday Morning Crypts & Things / S&W game.

Why, you may ask?

I've been dragged into the far depths of the Razor Coast. I'm only about 10% into the main book (plus having read the Freebooter's Guide) and I'm already thinking of ways to kick off a party of newbs into the campaign instead of moving established characters there at levels 3 or 4.

So yeah, the shark bit me.

Actually, I think the Bard Class I'm working on would do very well in the Razor Coast setting. Information can be more valuable than gold, especially in Port Shaw.

I'm still working on Tenkar's Landing as a swords & sorcery type setting, but as I said above - just what I need for the game, at least for now.

Building a Better Bard - A Re-Imagining III- "What a Fascinating Turn of Events" (Swords & Wizardry)

Alright, lets see what other uses we can get from the Cleric's Turning Chart (reproduced here for your ease of reference and mine).

So, how different is a Bards "Fascinate" ability from a "Turn Undead" ability? Not much really.

Here's how it works in 3e:

Fascinate (Sp)
A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his music or poetics to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the bard, and able to pay attention to him. The bard must also be able to see the creature. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents the ability from working. For every three levels a bard attains beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with a single use of this ability.
To use the ability, a bard makes a Perform check. His check result is the DC for each affected creature’s Will save against the effect. If a creature’s saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. If its saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and listens to the song, taking no other actions, for as long as the bard continues to play and concentrate (up to a maximum of 1 round per bard level). While fascinated, a target takes a -4 penalty on skill checks made as reactions, such as Listen and Spot checks. Any potential threat requires the bard to make another Perform check and allows the creature a new saving throw against a DC equal to the new Perform check result.
Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a ranged weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect. Fascinate is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.
So, how would that convert to Swords & Wizardry?

The check would be made against the Turn Undead Table as indicated above. Success would prevent the affected creature from taking any other action. Can not be used in combat, so your party would have to have no weapons drawn when you encounter the individuals your want to fascinate. Works well on town guards, less so on dungeon guards.

A "T" on the chart or a roll 10 better than needed for success on the Fascinate roll allows the bard to attempt to implant a suggestion (normal save). A "D" result imparts a further -2 penalty on the target's save.

One attempt per day per at level 1, increasing by one more use per day per 2 levels, so two uses at level 3, three uses at level 5, etc. Maximum number of targets per attempt follows the same formula, but each would get their own D20 roll on the chart.

Hmm, that covers Fascinate and Suggestion.

(nice - 12 S&W Content Posts in 11 days - building myself a cushion if I miss a day later ;)

No Game Tonight, So Time to Read & Write...

Being that it's Mother's Day weekend and some members of the group have a busy couple of days, we decided to take tonight off. Same goes with my Sunday morning group, but that group is probably on hiatus until the end of the month.

So, with all of this free time, what shall i do?

Finish watching Le Mis with the wife? Even she doesn't want to finish the Hugh Jackman flick. Heh

Instead, I think I'll read some more of the Razor Coast (I've started Chapter 2 "How This Work" and I'm really digging the various Plot Arcs) and do some writing on the S&W Bard Class Revision as well as a piece I owe +Andrew Shields . I mean, Andrew is almost single handedly rescuing Axes & Anvils from oblivion - the least I can do is an essay for one of his various projects.

Read, write and write some more...

It's gonna be a good evening ;)

Playing "The Domains at War" - Subtitled: How to Fuck Up a Playtest

Last night I participated in a playtest of Autarch's Domains at War. It shows much promise but we did our very best to prevent any actual testing of the rules in question.

Let me explain. We were divided into two groups or armies. Each group of 3 to 4 players sat on opposite sides of a nice size conference room. The set up rocked. Each side had it's own map and it's own referee. Yep, we were playing a multiplayer double blind wargame. I was having flashbacks to my own college days.

The goal was to get to Dwimmermount while securing your supply lines and gaining allies while preventing our opponents from doing the same. We went with light and fast troops and no siege engines to slow us down. We quickly made an ally of Muttontown or Nutterburg or whatever it is right outside of Dwimmermount. All the while using our skills and spells to spy out our enemy.

When we found them, they were seeking allies in a fortress full of undead. The thing is, at that point we had found Dwimmermount and proceeded to loot the first level before encountering some difficulties in the second level. Never did see the rats with their stacks of coppers damn it!

The funny thing is, both sides were working off an overall strategy of securing one's positions and the two armies never did engage, which is a shame. We almost attacked our enemy in the last turn played, but they were secure behind their fortress walls and undead allies. So, we never actually tested the combat rules, but we did get to try out the double blind system, which I suspect will work much better in cons and less so at the kitchen table, but your mileage may vary and the rules are still under revision.

I had a blast, even without getting into mass combat. I explored part of the second level of Dwimmermount and lost a level to a wight. Yes, Virginia, there are wights in Dwimmermount. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I'm happy I'm a backer of this kickstarter, but I'll be using the mass combat rules on a smaller scale I suspect, and the double blind won't be needed as it will be the PCs against the world ;)

Building a Better Bard - A Re-Imagining - "Turning is Learning" (Swords & Wizardry)

I've been giving some thought to using the Cleric's "Turning Undead" Table with some of the Bard's special abilities. It's remarkably flexible.

Let's look at it in depth:

It gives a "challenge level" vs "character level" chart.

Let's look at this chart as a way to resolve the "Lore Ability" checks historically associated with D&D Bards.

Say the Bard is looking for general lore about the City of GreenDuck. It's a large, ancient and continually inhabited city. Basic info / legends would probably be a CL 1, while having knowledge of the sewers beneath the city may be a CL 3 and knowing useful secrets of the Mad Mage's Crypt may be 5 or higher.

Command words could be given a set difficulty based upon the rarity of the item, or the DM could roll a D12 to set it.

A "T" result automatically returns some useful information while a "D" result reveals something specific - like: "The Green Demon of Nstytul's Never Completed Dungeon has a weakness for Dwarven Ale and will never turn down a drink". Even with a "T" or "D" result on the chart the player must still roll a D20, with a roll of a "1" indicating failure. No one ever has complete knowledge.

I'm thinking on how to use the chart with "Charm" / "Fascinate" abilities.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Building a Better Bard - A Re-Imagining (Swords & Wizardry)

In May of 2011 I designed a Bard Class for S&W that made it into Knockspell #6 (one of two versions within that issue). It's "okay". By that, I mean it was pretty good in my eyes back then, but I believe I can do it a bit better this time around. Well, that and I can design it with Swords & Wizardry Complete in mind (first time around I'm fairly sure I was working off of Core)

Yes +matt jackson , I'm going to re-imagine the bard, flavored from the celtic tradition just a wee bit.

This time around I have some good thoughts on using the Cleric's Turning Undead Table in relation to his Charm / Fascination abilities such as they are.

Already have the 1st level spell list (I think):

Charm Person
Detect Magic
Faerie Fire
Read Languages
Read Magic

I'd work on it tonight, but I have some playtesting to do tonight for Domains of War ;)

Walking Along the Razor Coast - A Look at Port Shaw and a Shammie

Did I mention that I find myself getting totally immersed in the Razor Coast setting material? I've moved from the Freebooter's Guide to the Introduction to the Razor Coast  in the main RC book. The backstories of the NPCs are incredibly in depth. They have real motivations that have definitely roots in their backstories. Razor Coast is full of roleplay possibilities and I've barely scratched the surface. Yep, just 30 pages into the 426 page book.

Now, I have a question. It's mostly aimed at you, my dear readers. There is a member of a broken adventuring party that is a Half-Orc Shaman of no small ability. So, it's his class, but it's not given a level, but based upon the spells he has memorized, he can advance fairly far in the profession.

Would we like a Shaman class for Swords & Wizardry? (of course, if there already is one floating around, the point may be moot - or not, as variation is the spice of life)

I have 21 days left in my personal Month of May Swords & Wizardry Posting a Day and it might be a fun thing to pull together.

I see it limited to humans, half-orcs and humanoid NPC races (unless you allow humanoid races ;) Weapons more primitive by nature (club, dagger, staff, spear, bow, dart) and limited to leather armor.

Map out the first 10 levels maybe.

So, what say you? Thumbs up or thumbs down? Any other thoughts / ideas?

Will the Real Dungeons & Dragons Movie Please Step Up!

This was going through my G+ feed and blog roll earlier this week:

Warner Bros Acquires Rights To Make ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Movie - the interesting part to note is that the working title of the script is "Chainmail"
That script, Chainmail, was acquired last year as a free-standing project, based on an obscure game that was also hatched by D&D designer Gary Gygax before he and Dave Arneson launched D&D. It is being retro-fitted to fit the much bigger game creation. 
Now, Chainmail is not all that obscure, and is at least known of by most of those in the hobby (even if many of those have never seen a copy). It has no where near the pull with the general public as Dungeons & Dragons does tho'. It could be that this is their work around to using the D&D Brand - or not, because as you read further, they might have both companies might have the rights to make a D&D movie.

Now we have the latest update:

Rights Battle On ‘Dungeons & Dragons’: Warner Bros and Universal/Hasbro Tangle -

Hasbro spokesman Wayne Charness said that “Hasbro owns the intellectual property rights to Dungeons & Dragons, period, because of Hasbro’s acquisition of Wizards Of The Coast in 1998.” Insiders on the other project maintain this has come up before, and that in a binding arbitration decision, Solomon prevailed and was proven to hold the underlying rights necessary to make the Warner Bros movie possible.
Interesting, as Universal apparently also has a movie in the works:
the project at Universal (is) to be developed as a directing vehicle by Chris Morgan, the scribe behind the last five films in The Fast And The Furious franchise (including the upcoming Fast 6) and 47 Ronin.
It almost looks like the D&D Movie Brand has gone OGL ;)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hammer of the Calishun Clan - A Swords & Wizardry Magic Item

+ 2 Hammer of the Calishun Clan - this hammer is engraved with dwarven runes on it's striking surfaces. When used in combat it acts as a normal warhammer. It's special ability is revealed when it is thrown by a dwarf. It has a range of 20' when thrown.

When thrown by a dwarf at a target medium sized or smaller target, composed of metal or wearing metal armor, the hammer will attempt to bring that taget back to it's wielder. The target must make a save or find itself directly in front of the wielder of the hammer. If the target makes it's save, the wielder of the hammer must now save or find himself directly in front of his intended target - the wielder got pulled o his target.

Hit or miss, target pulled to wielder or wielder pulled to target, the hammer always returns to it's dwarven wielder's hand prior to the next attack.

When thrown by a non-dwarf, it acts as a + 2 Hammer with no other special abilities and does not automatically return to it's wielder's hand.

Rafael Chandler (Teratic Tome) Has a New Release - And He Will Be Giving Away Some Free Shit - Print & PDF to Celebrate!

One of the Most Amazing Game Book Covers - EVER

Write this down somewhere - you want to check out Tenkar's Tavern the next two Mondays for the chance to get some awesome free shit, Teratic Tome and Roll XX, to celebrate the release of +Rafael Chandler 's latest project - SlaughterGrid, an adventure for OSRIC.

The plan is to give away 3 print copies of Teratic Tome or Roll XX (winner's choice) to the top 3 character death write ups and PDF copies of the same to 3 random entrants.

Now, i say check the next 2 Mondays, as it all depends on whether or not the print proof of SlaughterGrid needs any tweaks, but I want the lads and ladies to get themselves ready for this. We haven't decided how long to leave the contest open, but I suspect it will be along the lines of 72 hrs.

So, think of the most awesome, heroic, funny, gruesome, pathetic, surprising character deaths you can think of and get them ready - we may be asking for your entries as soon as May 12th.

Oh, almost forgot this piece for Rafael:
The other thing: for each person that posts, I'll reduce the price of Teratic Tome (PDF) -- meaning that if enough people post, then yeah, I'll give it away for free!
So, if enough people post, everyone fucking wins. Awesome!

Personally, I think the Teratic Tome is one of the best moster books in the OSR. Definitely the best if you are looking for new adversaries to throw at your party and not more of the same old same old.

Needless to say, I own it in hardcover as well as PDF.

+Rafael Chandler has spoken - anything below supersedes anything above:

Don't buy the Teratic Tome until after the contest! First of all, you might win a free print copy, or a free PDF, if you're one of the lucky winners.
Second, the minute the contest starts, I'm dropping the price of the Teratic Tome PDF (which is currently at $6.66) by a whopping $2.16 (because 216 is 6 cubed, hail the Dark Master), and for each person that participates in this contest, I drop the price by another two cents.
Therefore -- if 100 people participate, then when it's over, the Teratic Tome PDF will go from $6.66 to $2.50, which isn't so bad. And that's a permanent markdown. Hardcover will also be discounted, not sure how much yet (got to do some lipstick-math on the cocktail-napkin, I'll get back to you). Even if you already have it, by chiming in, you're dropping the price for anyone else who wants it.
If you participate, you automatically get a free PDF of Roll XX or Roll XX: Double Damage, and you could also win print copies of those books, or Teratic Tome (or ViewScream, if you're into that kind of thing), just for talking about your favorite character death. Is that cool? Yes it is. 
It should be a blast. Fingers crossed that the proof copy of SlaughterGrid is error-free. And that I can figure out an easy way to get all these PDFs and print copies to people afterwards.

Cubicle 7 to Publish Far West - The Far West Will Live!

It looks like Far West will be hitting a GenCon 2013 release. I thought this Kickstarter had a real chance to just wither on the vine and die.

I am surprised that Cubicle 7 has gotten involved in the process but it's good for those that ponied up on this cursed project. Losing their lead artist, multiple bouts of multiple illnesses and just about anything else you can think of. I think you could make a good table of random excuses from the last 18 months of updates.

The shame is that Gareth wasn't able to finish this off with his own company. Maybe focusing on the project and not the company will all him to be more productive.

Here's the press release:

MAY 8th, 2013
Oxford, UK - Cubicle 7 Entertainment, Ltd., creators of high quality roleplaying and card games such as The Doctor Who Card Game, The One Ring, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, Primeval, The Laundry, Victoriana and Cthulhu Britannica, have entered into an agreement with Adamant Entertainment to be the exclusive publisher of tabletop games released as part of Adamant's FAR WEST transmedia project.

FAR WEST is a Wuxia-Western Mash-up - a fictional setting that combines elements of Spaghetti Westerns, Chinese Wuxia, and Steampunk, and is explored via multiple media: Fiction, games, art, music, webseries, and more. A fantasy world that's The Gunslinger meets Storm Riders meets Deadwood meets Afro Samurai meets The Wild Wild West meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Django meets Brisco County meets House of Flying Daggers and more. A fantasy world that is constantly shaped by its own fan community, The Far West Society - whose membership collaborate with the developers on the canon of the setting.

Cubicle 7 will be publishing and distributing tabletop games set in the FAR WEST universe, beginning with the FAR WEST Adventure Game, the long-awaited RPG. Adamant Entertainment will continue to produce all other FAR WEST releases, and FAR WEST Creator Gareth-Michael Skarka will act as the Line Developer for the releases at Cubicle 7, orchestrating the interconnectivity between all of the different explorations of this unique setting.

"Cubicle 7 really understand what we're doing with FAR WEST," said Skarka, "and they bring to the table such a dedication to quality and an enthusiasm for creation that I cannot think of a better match for us."

"FAR WEST is such an exciting project to be involved with", added Dominic McDowall, CEO of Cubicle 7. "I love the genuine involvement that The Far West Society has in shaping the setting, and it's always fun collaborating with Gareth - one of the pioneers of the digital format in roleplaying games. Our first priority will be helping Adamant get the RPG into the hands of the Kickstarter backers, closely followed by work on additional material for the game."

The FAR WEST Adventure Game core rulebook will be released this Summer, first to backers of the 2011 FAR WEST Kickstarter, and then to distribution world-wide. Additional releases in the FAR WEST game line will be announced soon.

For more information on FAR WEST, including other currently-available products, visit the official website at http://intothefarwest.com.

For more information on Cubicle 7 and its game lines, visit http://www.cubicle7.co.uk.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Was / Is Your Favorite RPG From Your Perspective as a Player?

Truth to tell, I never got to play much (A)D&D. I ran it a lot, but rarely got to play it after my initial introduction to it. DM was my primary role.

I did get to play other RPGs as a player, mostly Rifts and Battlelords of the 23rd Century. Dave was our primary non-D&D GM, and these were his games of choice.

Of the two, Rifts was the game I had the most fun with as a player. I had little concern with play balance amongst the different occupations (or lack there off) and my first and favorite character was a Crazy. Needless to say, he died a good death. A crazy death, but a good death ;)

So, what was / is your favorite RPG from a player's perspective (which can differ from your GM's perspective)?

Time to Award More S&W Appreciation Day Loot - Time for the Gift Certificates

As we await the 1st Prize winner of the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day blogfest to contact me (answer your email so I can then award the 2nd and 3rd prizes ;) i have some RPGNow gift certificates to award to some random blogs.

The $10 Gift Certificate goes to - The Rusty Battle Axe (60)

The $5 Gift Certificates go to - Red Box Denver (22)
                                            - Sandbox of Doom (49)
                                            - Jack's Toolbox (106)

Emails will be going out tonight :)

Coral Golem - Swords & Wizardry Monster (Razor Coast)

Golem, Coral

Hit Dice: 8 (38 HP)
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d8 each)
Saving Throw: 6
Special: Piercing and Slashing does 1/2 damage. Blunt Weapons
do full damage but each successful blow causes 1D6 shrapnel
damage in 10' radius (save for 1/2)
Move: 9
Alignment: Neutrality
Number Encountered: 1
Challenge Level/XP: 12/2,000

Coral Golems are occasionally found as servants of priests of various sea gods and high level mages headquartered in costal cities. They are huge, human like statues standing 8' tall composed of sea coral. Their intelligence in minimal, and they are able to follow the commands of their masters to the letter of the instruction, not necessarily the intent.

Combat with Coral Golems often leaves the attackers bleeding from numerous coral splinters due to the impact of blunt weapons on the coral.

(This should fit fairly well into the Razor Coast)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mini Review - Razor Coast Freebooter's Guide (Swords & Wizardry)

Strangely enough, I picked up the Razor Coast Freebooter's Guide for S&W before I picked up the Razor Coast itself. In a way, it was a no brainer, as the Freebooter's Guide is 10 bucks in PDF and Razor Coast is $40 ($99 for HC plus PDF). Go for the smaller risk and work your way up kind of thing.

After flipping through the virtual pages of the Freebooter's Guide and running my weekly session of Rappan Athuk on Saturday Night, I plopped down my cash for the Razor Coast HC plus PDF. Oh, and 3 beers post game, but I swear I wasn't buzzed ;)

The RC Freebooter's Guide is full of flavor. Enough flavor for me to want to see more. From what I've read so far, I'd love to run a campaign in this setting. Sandboxie with a huge amount of plot elements.

From the back to the front (more or less).

I like the idea of magical tattoos - heck, i could see myself carrying this over to my Crypts & Things / S&W campaign.

The new magic items are flavorful. If you follow this blog on a regular basis, you've probably noticed my occasional focus on unique and new magic items. Again, even if you never run the campaign, there's a nice assortment of magic to borrow for your other campaigns. Same for spells - they have a nice flavor and don't need to be genre specific.

There are new weapons including pistols. I'm not sure if I'd use the enclosed pistol rules or substitute Dak's for the S&W Appreciation Day Blogfest. Still, nice selection of new, nautical flavored weaponry - again, easy to steal for your other campaign if so desired.

Gods. I don't recall seeing gods in other S&W products. It's nice to see how they are handled and written up. I'd allow their clerics to use their favored weapon.

Organizations. Kinda like "friends with benefits". Interesting way to give PCs some in game benefits, I just wish there were a few more organizations to choose from. Again, something easily yoked for a different campaign.

The Port Shaw write up is a nice piece to put in your players hands prior to the campaign kicking off, especially if you are going to have the players create "native" characters. There really aren't any included plot hooks / encounters / adventures suitable for the new character in Razor Coast - it assumes you'll start or arrive at level 3 or so, but I think I can plot a few out over the next month or two (hopefully). If so, I'll put them up here on the blog.
                                                                                              (sample art for +Joe D ;)
Under "Races" we get the usual humans, dwarves, elves and halflings (including sample name
lists for the humans and others) and we also get some new races. Tulita are basically the native humans, who have suffered at the hands of the humans (colonists). Dajobasu are mutant Tulita (with some nice abilities thrown into the mix). Mehehune are similar to halflings with a natural affinity to fire magic. Lastly we get half-orcs, who would fit in well in any S&W campaign. Unlimited advancement in the Thief and Assassin class. Nice!

Did I mention the Gazetteer? No? Necessary reading for both DM and players. Heck, players may find their own plot hooks from what they read, turning this into a true sandbox campaign.

Is there anything missing? Not really, but as the Pathfinder edition apparently has new core classes, it would have been interesting to see how one or two of them transitioned over to the S&W versions. Not a huge loss, but it would have been fun.

Now I need to spend some time delving into the Razor Coast PDF itself...

Tenkar's Transformation III - A Tasty Brew but Don't Drink Two! (Swords & Wizardry Spell)

Tenkar's Transformation III

Spell Level: Magic User, 3rd Level
Range: Immediate vicinity
Duration: 1D6 Turns plus 1 turn per level

This spell turns one pint per level of caster (to a maximum of 10 pints) of any quality water (brackish, murky, salty, etc) into a tasty celtic red beer. The water needs to be in proper receptacles prior to casting (pitchers, mugs, cups, etc) for this spell to work.

A pint of Tenkar's Transformation III Beer has the following effects if drunk within 5 rounds of the spell's casting (after 5 rounds, it is still a tasty brew but it has no further effects):

     1 - Heals 1D4 hit points of damage and bestows 1D4 temporary hit points. Damage taken is counted against temporary hit points first. Temporary hit points can exceed the PC's usual max HP for the duration of the spell.

     2 - It bestows a +1 bonus to all saving throws and a -10% penalty to all thieving skills and -1 penalty to the party's chance to surprise creatures. One has more bravado but less stealthiness.

     3 - If drunk by an NPC, their morale is vastly improved. They will not flee unless the party    flees.

Drinking more than one pint will double the save modifier to + 2 but will also cause the imbiber to lose his or her action on the first round of every encounter while under the influence. Hit points and temporary hit points are as per drinking a single pint. It is not advised to drink more than one pint at a time. Do not operate two handed weapons, bows or crossbows while partaking in more than one pint.

This spell destroys any parasites that might be present in the water but does not neutralize or remove any poison therein.

Note: Duration of this spell should be rolled by the GM and not shared with the players until the spell expires. Relying on temporary hit points that one may not have later is a dangerous gamble.

(The Wizard Rathman researched various levels and versions of the above spell to reward and assist his adventuring companion, Tenkar Calishun. TTIII was often shared between Tenkar, Rathman and the rest of their adventuring party before entering a dangerous location. Some of these spells will be described in later blog posts.)

Announcing the Winning Blogs of the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Blogfest

Never in my wildest imagination did I think it would take nearly three weeks to get through the posts from the S&W Appreciation Day Blogfest. Let me state it flat out - the real winners here are the Swords & Wizardry Community and the OSR at large. Everyone that participated added something, large or small, to our collective knowledge, and for that we will be forever grateful. Or at least, I will be ;)

As you probably already know, the prize committee consists of +Matt Finch , +Christopher Helton and myself. Surprisingly enough, we all had the same three blog entries in our top three, but the order of our top three wasn't the same. Still, it wasn't an easy thing to decide as there were so mang good and strong posts.

Without further ado, the winner of the First Prize, which consists of a PDF copy of The Razor Coast PDF for S&W and their choice of Rappan Athuk OR Monstrosities in PDF is:

Mu: Notes For A Lovecraftian Fantasy Campaign Setting For Swords & Wizardry - congratuations! Look for an email from me ;)

The Second Prize winner, who will receive either a copy of Rappan Athuk or Monstrosities in PDF is:

The Basic Illusionist - i'll be contacting you via email once i get a response from the first prize winner, to let you know what your options are.

The Third Prize winner, who will also receive a copy of either Rappan Athuk or Monstrosities is:

Swords, Wizardry and Firearms! - Dak, you'll be contacted via email after I have worked out details with the first two prize winners.

The above prizes were donated by Frog God Games. All hail the Frog God! ;)

Additionally, there are some gift certificates I need to give away - I'll post that up later today.

Congrats to all!

WotC Puts the S1-S4 Illustration Booklets Online as Free Downloads - Huzzah!

Dungeons of Dread is the reprinting / repackaging of the classic modules S1 - S4. With the exception of the cover art for S1 - Tomb of Horrors (bad scan?), it's a nicely put together package of some kick ass modules.

There was one significant problem - they all rely on illustrations / handouts for the players, which is hard to do with a hard cover book. Are you going to be the one ripping pout pages? Not I!

WotC has put all four illustration booklets online for free download. They look amazing. Even better, you don't need to own the originals (or the reprint compilation) to use them. Grab the downloads and use them to set scenes in your own adventures. Seriously. Why let classic D&D art of this quality go to waste?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gaming in the 'Verse: a Firefly RPG Preview Pre-Order - I Need To Know "Why Should I Pay $18 For a PDF Pre-Order?"

Want to spend 18 bucks on a PDF that won't be available for download until August 15th, 2013?

Want a PDF that apparently lacks Quickstart Rules, so you still have to wait even further to actually use the included adventures?

Want a preview of a game that won't be released until Winter 2013 (which just passed, so I think they mean 2014)?

Well, Gaming in the 'Verse will fill those needs for you! Pay now and wait over 3 months to see the good s- $18 for a PDF that is meant to sell a game in 2014. Wait, if it's meant to make future sales, why are we paying 18 bucks for it at all?

Lose the Marvel Heroic license and expect us to pre-order a PDF for 18 bucks that we won't see for 3 months? Seems like a money grab, but then I am a pessimist.

Hey, I love Firefly, but this seems seems less than honest, and reminds me of those D&D 3E preview books that made cash for Wizards and offered little in return.

From the blurb:

Gaming in the ‘Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive is a Firefly RPG convention special that will debut at the Margaret Weis Productions booth during Gen Con: Indianapolis from August 15 through the 18th.

This PDF pre-order is for the digital, full-color version of this exclusive and will be available to fans worldwide. Gaming in the 'Verse will include preview material that will be expanded upon and published in the upcoming Firefly Role-Playing Game based on the popular Fox television series created by Joss Whedon.

* Sample Art and Full-Color Map Previews
* Select Chapter Previews
* "Wedding Planners" a playable Echoes of War adventure written by Margaret Weis
* "Shooting Fish" a playable Echoes of War adventure written by Andrew Peregrine
* "Serenity Crew" a collection of stand-alone characters compatible with the Echoes of War line
* Chinese pronunciation guide
* ...and more!

All game material provided in Gaming in the 'Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive will employ the Cortex Plus mechanic. The estimated release for the Firefly RPG is Winter 2013.

Both stand-alone Echoes of War adventures and the Serenity Crew characters will be available separately on DriveThruRPG.com in digital.

On the Thursday of Gen Con (August 15, 2013), you'll receive an email from DriveThruRPG telling you that your purchase is ready for download. To make sure you don't miss the notice, head on over to your account settings on DriveThruRPG and modify accordingly to make sure you can receive emails from Margaret Weis Productions. If that option is not to your liking, tick your calendar to access your DriveThruRPG library on August 15th and download away!

Rathman's Robe of Serving - A Swords & Wizardry Magic Item

Rathman's Robe of Serving

Rathman's Robe of Serving is similar in many ways to a Robe of Useful Items, but it is geared more towards delivering a fine pub experience on the go. The robe is often found with a bartender's apron of non-magical quality.

The following pockets have a limited number of uses - when the item in question is pulled from the robe, one of the uses is gone. All items are permanent unless consumed or destroyed (or spoiled by time):

Table and Six Stools, Wooden - 2 uses
Bench, Wooden (seats four) - 2 uses
Serving Tray, Pewter - 2 uses
Wine Glasses, Six - 2 uses
Lute, low quality - single use

The following have a limited number of uses per day:
Wine Cask, 1 Gallon - once per day
Beer Barrel, 2 Gallons - once per day (must choose dark or pilsner)
Mugs, Wooden (holds 3 cups of liquid) - six times per day
Candle, Wax - twice per day (is lit when removed from the robe's pocket)
Pan Fried Bread Chips ("Crisps")- twice per day (each serving equals one ration)

What is Your "Go To" Adventure Module?

Most of us have or had one. The module that you can bring out at a moment's notice when the regular DM doesn't show or when the group decides they want to kick off something new. It's the adventure you know like the back of your hand.

For me that module was Under Illefarn. I must have used it to kick off at least 3 or 4 campaigns during my college years. I certainly got my money's worth from it.

It had a local setting and a few points of interest, the town of Daggerford and of course the already named Ruins of Illefarn.

So, did you or do you now have a got to adventure, and if so, what is it?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tenkar's Tavern Rounder - A Swords & Wizardry Magic Item

Tenkar's Tavern Rounder

Tenkar's Tavern Rounder appears as a plain looking smallish money purse. It's magic powers become known when it's owner offers to buy a round at the local tavern / pub / bar. Whether it is four drinks or forty, when reaching into the money purse, the exact amount of funds (plus suitable tip for the server) are always found, even if the purse was empty (in truth, the purse is always empty . This power can be called on up to three times per day.

The user is unable to store other coins, or anything else, in the money purse. The coins do not come from the user's cash, and there has been some discussion (but no firm answers) as to where the coins DO come from.

(It's a helpful item to turn a tavern's clientele mood toward the user's favor)

Frog God Games to Publish "The Lost Lands" Campaign Setting

I just stumbled across an interesting tidbit while bouncing around the Swords & Wizardry Razor Coast PDF - The Frogs are working on an in house setting. Hopefully the Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry versions are worked on concurrently and play to the strengths of each system.

Here's the piece in question:

As will be revealed in the upcoming Frog God Games
campaign setting The Lost Lands, Port Shaw and the
Razor Coast exist upon the world known as Lloegyr. The
coastland that comprises the Razor Coast and its environs
lies due south of the primary continent, Akados. To the
east of Akados, across the Irkainian Isthmus, lies the
continent of Libynos. Between and south of them sits
Great Oceanus in whose southern reaches is the stretch
of water known as the Razor Sea. The Razor Sea’s western
extremity is the Razor Coast, from which the sea takes its
name (and vice versa). Many islands dot the Razor Sea as
one sails due east. 
To the north, as one approaches the sea’s eastern
extremity, float the Aizanes Islands introduced in the
Frank Mentzer adventure, Deep Waters. These mark the
northeastern portion of the Razor Sea and have long
served as a destination and waystop for traders from
Libynos. Many consider the Aizanes, as they are called,
the last point of civilization upon the Razor Sea until Port
Shaw, because to the south of them lies the infamous
Pirate Confederacy, a loosely organized group of island
chains given over by the navies of Akados and Libynos to
the freebooters that call them home and who prey upon
the shipping lanes whenever naval vigilance grows lax.
Good stuff!

"A Copper for a Wish Sire!" or "What My Party Finally Wished For"

Some of you may remember my post from last week, where I mentioned that my party found a genie in a bottle and were granted a single wish in  return for releasing him. The group asked to end the session at that point, because they wanted to phrase their wish properly because they were afraid I (as the DM) might "fuck with them.

Perish the thought ;)

In any case, there was a strong push to send the Dung Monster after the Rat King - which would have been strong for the storyline, but weak for the player characters' actual benefit.

I really started to feel like I should read all of those online "user agreements" that go on for 78 pages of lawyer speak instead of just clicking "I Accept"...

They made their decision. They wanted every member of the party to see twice as well as a Dark Elf in the dark while keeping their "normal" vision. Or was it, they wanted to have the vision of a Dark Elf at the same distance as their normal vision while maintaining their normal vision. Something like that.

They got their dark vison. The genie took his bottle and flew away. I do have an idea for a nice twist down the line that would really push the campaign and the players to some new heights, but it may never come up - and may never need to depending on the course of the players' actions.

And they didn't get screwed. Dozens of blog readers can no sigh in relief ;)

Taking the Plunge into the Razor Coast for Swords & Wizardry

Let me preface this with the following statement: I was not a supporter of the Razor Coast Kickstarter. The Kickstarter seemed geared towards the Pathfinder version (as the third party PDFs would attest to) and I was neck deep in supporting other Kickstarters at the time. Funds were short and something had to give.

Fast forward to last week when I got my hands of reviewer copies of the Razor Coast Freebooter's Guide and Heart of the Razor in PDF. One of the first things I thought I noticed was that the conversion work from Pathfinder to Swords & Wizardry wasn't just some simple stat swapping - it seemed more like a rebuilding or reworking.

After last night's Rappan Athuk session, I decided to plop my hard earned cash down on the pre-order of the Swords & Wizardry version of the Razor Coast Hardcover (and accompanying PDF). At over 400 pages, I've barely scratched the suface of the PDF, but what I've seen so far has me excited. On one level, I was expecting an "adventure path" as is so popular with the Pathfinder RPG, and instead I find this forward by Matt Finch (edited for length):

Razor Coast was originally written for the Pathfinder
Roleplaying Game by Nick Logue, and was edited and
produced by Lou Agresta. For better or worse, I have made
some very significant changes to the setting/campaign, so
Lou’s original introduction, which is to be found here in
the Pathfinder version, no longer fits the subsequent pages
particularly well. 
One of the signal differences between the two
introductions is that Lou introduces the Razor Coast as
a pure sandbox campaign, which, in the language of the
so-called “old schoolers” is not entirely correct. It’s true for
Pathfinder—don’t get me wrong—but over the years, the
definitions of the words “sandbox” and “campaign” have
evolved to have a very different meaning than many Swords
& Wizardry players might use... 
In the case of the Swords & Wizardry version, we had
in addition to myself a tremendously talented team of
adapters: Skeeter Green, James Redmon, and Jeff Harkness.
Our goal was to supplement the double-barreled adventure
sequence that weaves through the Razor Coast with
sandbox tools, such as the random encounter chart, and
also to downplay some of the elements that were originally
designed to move the adventure sequences forward, thereby
making it easier for the players to go on side-adventures
without causing undue grief to the hardworking Referee.
By doing so, I think we have successfully navigated – if the
gentle reader will pardon me the nautical analogy – a safe
channel between the shoals of “paralysis-by-too-manychoices”
on the one hand, and the sharp rocks of “tooscripted”
on the other hand. Some readers will no doubt
feel that the balance we have struck is neither the finest
nor the fittest that could have been achieved, for this is the
nature of a balancing act. However, there are many pure
sandboxes, and many pure adventure-sequences, but not so
many books that weave the two together. The book you are
about to read is something extremely appropriate to its own
subject matter—a hybrid form. 
From this point onward in the introduction, you
are reading a highly-edited version of Lou Agresta’s
introduction to the Pathfinder version, adapted to
the nature of the Swords & Wizardry version. I have
removed his signature from the bottom, because I have so
dramatically altered the details of what he wrote.
Good Gaming in the Demesnes of the Pirates! 
— Matt Finch
Now I'm really excited to dive into this, maybe as a side diversion during the summer months, when it's hard to get the weekly group together... weekly ;)

I do wish that the Frogs would change the descriptions of the Razor Coast's S&W versions at the RPGNow store - they are a copy and paste of the Pathfinder versions and only serve to confuse potential buyers in my opinion.

Fun stuff in store for me and my group.

As I get through sections I'll post reviews.
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and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

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