Saturday, June 1, 2013

Character Gen and Workable Hangout - Session Zero of "The Voyages of the Starship Icarus"

Tonight was a playtest of sorts. I needed to stress test the upgraded DSL at my parents' place in NE PA. Shit works well. Hell, it actually works, unlike the slightly cheaper DSL they used to pay for. The Saturday Night Game Sessions will continue throughout the summer as the escape to the Poconos on multiple weekends. Huzzah!

I did Stars Without Number character gen with 3 of my regular players. SWN is a bit deeper then any of us had expected, which just goes to prove that reading through the rules isn't always a complete reading through if the rules. Heh.

I'll need to tweak things a bit for the "Red Shirt" sessions and tonight gave me some ideas on how to streamline things on the char gen side, especially for "Zero Levels".

Did I mention there still isnt much of a breeze here? Sigh.

The Winners of the "Name a Crazy Magic Item Contest" Are...

The votes are in.

Can we have a drumroll please!

Alright, the winning entries are:


The Portable Beach

and tied for third place are:

Oscillating Protuberance Magnifier


Burgulcut's Belt of Basic Badassery

yes, awarding an extra prize for the third place tie ;)

The winning random commenter is:

+Brett Slocum 

I'm away for the weekend, so give me a day or two to get those prizes out to ya.

In the meantime, the winners should email me at tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom so I can get those prizes out promptly when i settle in back home.

Thanks to all that submitted - that's one hell of a lot of weird magic to spark the imagination ;)

What Would Be Your Choice of SciFi RPG Rulesets?

I plan on kicking of a Stars Without Number campaign that going to draw influence from other scifi sources - RPGs, fiction movies, etc.

I'm going with SWN as there is little transition need for my mind to go from AD&D / S&W / OSR to SWN - the engine is pretty much the same even if the chassis is different.

There are other viable choices, of course.

My last (and only) sci-fi gaming in the last 15 years prior to my upcoming campaign was playing in a Warhammer 40k Dark Heresy campaign. I had a blast as a player, but the game itself is just crunchy for me to be able to comfortably run it these days. Not saying I might not borrow a lot of it's flavor for the new campaign, just not the rules.

Traveller, whether the LBBs or Mongoose is a solid system, but I'm at least 20 years past the last time I've run it.

X-Plorers, Hulks & Horrors and other OSR type scifi rpgs are sources I plan to liberally liberate material from. They are both good choices, but SWN seemed to fit my needs the best.

So, if you were to run (or currently are running) a SciFi RPG game, which set (or sets) of rules would you use?

Recharging My Creative Batteries - Hot Pocono Mountains Weekend

I haven't escaped to my folks' place in the Poconos since January. I've exchanged the snow of winter for the summer heat - and it's only June 1st.

My bag and iPad are full of inspirational reading for the Stars Without Number Drop In / Drop Out Campaign I plan to run as a backup to our usual AD&D 1e / Rappan Athuk game: Starships & Spacemen, Mutant Future and Hulks & Horrors just to name a few.

I'll be doing character gen with some of my regular group tonight - assuming the upgraded DSL here in the country is up to the task. I'm hopeful, so I'll be making a trip to Walmart later to secure a headset.

I just love getting away for a few days and not having to go through a whole production to do it. I also get much more reading done during my weekends in the country.

Summer can't get here fast enough ;)

Friday, May 31, 2013

About 24 hrs Left in the "Top Ten Picks From the Name a Crazy Magic Item Contest - Help Us Choose 3 Winners!" (one random voters gets a $5 RPGNow GC)

Voting ends tomorrow nite!

Cast your vote here!

Croaker - Druid of the Swamp (Swords & Wizardry NPC)

Thirty-one days of Swords & Wizardry posting. Holy crap!

Well, thirty-one days after this post ;)

"Croaker", Druid of the Swamp

"Croaker" wasn't always "Croaker". He was a she, and human at that. That was all before stepping  onto a floor that wasn't there. Her party recovered her body but weren't able to find a cleric willing to cast a raise dead spell, so the party settled on reincarnate cast by a druid who looked favorably on their situation.

Human female dies, and "Croaker", the male Bullywug arrises. Hey, at least "Croaker" was still a druid, still looked upon favorably by her  his goddess.This is what nature meant to happen, and "Croaker" has embraced it, to the point of forgetting (or so he says) his previous name and life.

"Croaker"'s friends overlook the fact that their froglike friend likes to carry the skulls of those that he feels have defiled his swamp. What do they know of the ways of the swamp?

"Croaker", Druid, Level 7

Str 11
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 15
Cha 8

Leather / Bone Armor (treat as Ring)
+ 1 Staff

No other valuables, as he does not value material possessions anymore.

My Barrowmaze T-Shirt Acquisition ;)

Simply awesome!

I bought 2 of the same and I'm glad I did, because they are going to be worn - a lot ;)

Greg Gillespie done did good ;)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thieves - The Backstabbing Little Bastards That Hardly Ever Backstab! (Swords & Wizardry Houserules)

The one thing I've generally disliked about playing thieves is that their backstabbing ability rarely comes into play when playing without a grid. It's a shame, too, as it is a cool ability and the whole idea of putting a thief in the thick of combat is just plain fun. Well, dangerous too, but danger is fun. :)

With the grid you can show placement and facing and the thief can move into a backstabbing position right in the middle of combat. When playing gridles, or Theatre of the Mind, those opportunities are pretty much lost. Let's try to work them back in.

Surprise. When the thief gets the drop on an opponent you probably should allow the thief to make a backstab attack. He's going for vitals, the opponent has his guard down, it should have the potential to be very painful.

Initiative on the first round of combat. This depends on how combat heavy a campaign is that you are running. If you want to make the thieves more than trap monkeys in your campaign, give them the opportunity for a reduced backstab if the thief beats their opponent's initiative in the first round of combat in an encounter: + 2 hit instead of + 4, and one multiple less on the damage bonus (so the damage bonus wouldn't kick into level 5, where it would be at x2 and move up from there). Of course, this also puts the lightly armored thief in the party's front lines.

Pick Pockets Skill - if you treat picking pockets as more of a distraction type skill, one thief could set up a target for another thief in the midst of combat. Would work very well in a dark alley ;)

Remember, what's good for the goose is also good for the gander. If you put any of these houserules in play for the PC thieves you've also made the NPC thieves more dangerous. That can only be a good thing, right?

Top Ten Picks From the Name a Crazy Magic Item Contest - Help Us Choose 3 Winners!

There are too many awesome choices for the "Name a Crazy Magic Item" contest for me to pick just three - so I'm picking ten favorites and letting y'all vote over the next two days to choose the top three (voting will end sometime Saturday night). You vote by indicating up to three favorites as a comment on this post.

I'm not including names of the entrants on this post to make the voting more for the item name and not the name of the entrant, but if you feel a need to know, you can always search the comments for the original post.

Top Ten Crazy Magic Items, in no particular order:

1 - The-cloak-that-weeps

2 - Olisbos of Venca (name changed to protect the non-OGL proper name)

3 - Oscillating Protuberance Magnifier

4 - Marshmallow of Desire

5 - Ogre Boots of Foul Smelling Fungal Excretion

6 - Abelard's Magnificent Traveling Pants

7 - Burgulcut's Belt of Basic Badassery

8 - The Stone of Dentistry

9 - Erik's Tankard of Backwash

10 - Portable Beach

I'll award a random voted a $5 RPGNow GC just for playing ;)

Wherein I Become an Emotional Sap ;)

I am overwhelmed by the offers of support, both public and private, for the Copper Droppings fanzine. I really don't know what to say but "thank you!" and "I'll get right on it".

As I stated in the last post on the topic, I see this as an ongoing community project that belongs to everyone is this niche of ours. I'm thrilled to see so many others view it the same way. Any success it has will be because of y'all.

Seriously, y'all rock.

Much appreciated.

Now I'm getting all teary-eyed ;)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pouch of Useless Items (Swords & Wizardry Magic Item)

Pouch of Useless Items

The Pouch of Useless Items appears to be a normal belt pouch of rather largish size until one reaches inside. No matter what one intends to find, a random item from the following list is what is found. The extra dimensional space in the pouch can hold up to 25 pounds that it's owner places within (the pouch always weighs 1 pound) - it's removing what one wants that is the question.

1 - spool of thread, white

2 - bent copper piece

3 - fishing pole without a line or hook

4 - large padlock (no key)

5 - glass gem (value 1sp)

6 - half eaten trail biscuit

7 - leaky waterskin (1 qt)

8 - dead rat, slightly putrid

9 - deck of 49 playing cards (random missing cards from the full 52)

10 - 5' of rope

11 - small knife, bronze, dull (Damage 1-2)

12 - random item placed in pouch previously - otherwise slice of apple pie, crushed and w/o plate or utensils (messy but still tasty)

Mini Review - The Revelation of Mulmo (DCC RPG)

Learn from me - print out the maps to The Revelation of Mulmo before you start reading the meat of the adventure. With smaller adventures, the visual of the map isn't always necessary, but in this case you'll got from scratching your head to "holy shit! now I see how it works!" in one fell swoop. As I said, learn from me ;)

The Revelation of Mulmo is a bit of a switch from the usual DCC RPG adventures that one normally finds.

Firstly, it is for level 4 adventurers, which is generally at the higher end of what one finds for DCC. Then again, DCC seems to have a fairly high attrition rate among characters, so the preponderance of lower level adventures makes sense.

Secondly, it has a Patron woven very directly into the story - one of the PCs will be hearing voices in his head. Actually, this adventure is very Patron driven. Patrons are one of the more unique parts of the DCC system, and I enjoy seeing it get some good mileage. +Daniel Bishop gets some very good mileage from it. Well done :)

Thirdly, it's a long adventure, both page-wise (about 50 of the 76 pages are dedicated to the adventure itself - the rest are maps and Patrons) and I expect play-wise. I'm guessing there are a good 2-3 sessions in here easily.

It has a nice balance between roleplay, DC checks, combat and thinking. the DCC RPG is a very lethal game, and The Revelation of Mulmo is no exception. Well, except that there are events that may remove a character from play, but may not actually kill him and he may spend years someplace but still be waiting for the party when the survivors finish. Wait, I didn't mention the time thing, did I? Well, forget I even mentioned it - or that I didn't.

Be forewarned - The Revelation of Mulmo is not something you are going to read two hours before game time and be able to run it with any sort of authority. It's not a complicated adventure but it is far from simple and it will play much better with a ref that is well prepared. For the review I did a skim and then a read through. I'd need a second read through at least before saying I had the knowledge to run it.

+Daniel Bishop has been challenging his readers of late by keeping off the beaten path (Stars in the Darkness is a recent example) and The Revelation of Mulmo is no different. Well no, that's not quite right - it is very different (and extremely good) in a different way.

From the blurb:

Death comes to us all… but what price are you willing to pay to bring back one you have lost?

In The Revelation of Mulmo, brave adventures risk magic, monsters, and the passage of time itself to bring a fallen comrade back from the dead.

This module describes a fallen elf hill, with descriptions of 60 locations, additional patron information, and a new spell. It makes use of patron information from the DCC rulebook and Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between by Dragon's Hoard Press. If you are wondering how to make patrons more active in your campaign, this is the adventure for you!

My Thoughts About the Upcoming Copper Droppings S&W Fanzine

Why Copper Droppings?

Why indeed?

Sometimes things play out on their own, in ways no one involved expects. You either embrace it and ride the wave or try to avoid it and hope to not get rolled over in the process.

I never expected the amazing response to the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Blogfest that manifested. It was glorious and amazing and dumbfounding. Most of all, for me at least, it was inspiring. There was so much love, so much excitement and so much “stuff”. It appears there are a lot of creative folks that are fans of Swords & Wizardry. There is also a lack of opportunities for them to share their work.

One of the great results of the S&W App Day was the announcement of the return of Knockspell. I loved it and missed it and I’m thrilled it’s returning. I expect to submit an article or two when Matt announces his call for submissions.

Still, I think there is room for a (mostly) monthly fanzine that targets the Swords & Wizardry Community. The first issue will be mostly content written by me, but I want to make it a community project. While we can’t pay much, I’d like to think we can pay something for the rights to publish work that you, a member of the S&W Community, submit to Copper Droppings (you keep all copyright to your work). I’ll be referring to this as “paying with beer money”- 5 bucks for your accepted article or artwork. Just about enough cash to buy yourself a decent pint of tap beer at your local pub - or a really crappy six-pack of beer at your local grocery. It aint much, but as the line most folks us in this corner of creative activity often say: “I work for beer money!” we want to be honest - you will be basically working for beer money (or a weird sounding Starbuck’s coffee if that’s how you swing).

It’s your community. It’s your fanzine. We thank your for joining us on this ride :)


Will Copper Droppings be 100% Swords & Wizardry all of the time?

Probably not - the OSR is large and my interest spans many systems, but the focus will certainly be S&W. That being said, if someone submits an awesome OSRIC article or some such, they'll probably get their beer money ;)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When The Troll God Speaks, He Desires Marshmallows ;)

Fun times when Ken St. Andre joins in on the festivities ;)

I'll stat the winning entries for Swords & Wizardry AND Tunnels & Trolls now :)

Contest Time: Name a Crazy Magic Item and You May Win a Copy of Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume 1

We got ourselves a little contest here, with 3 copies of Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume 1 in PDF up for grabs (there are also be 3 copies of Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume 2 up for grabs at the contest over at TheCrazyGM Blog - Volume 2 released earlier today).

What you have to do is simple:

Name a magic item.

No description, no powers - simply a name.

The crazier the name the better.

I'll pick the top 3 entries (the ones that speak to my creative juices) to get a free copy of MM&MA Vol 1 and I'll stat the winning entries here on the blog and probably put them into one of the early issues of the Copper Droppings Fanzine (working on it as we speak - sorta).

The contest will run till about 8 PM Thursday night (May 30th).

If the writer of a winning entry is also a 2000 Coppers Community Member of the G+ side, I'll credit their RPGNow account with sufficient funds to grab a copy of Volume 2, too ;)

Legendary Traveller Shadowruns to Pendragon - and They Are On Sale!

DriveThruRPG has a nice assortment of RPG core books on sale for some extremely nice prices:

Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition -The ultimate adventure of fantasy samurai, locked in perpetual battles of honor and glory within the bonds of the Code of Bushido. (I've heard some really good stuff abut LotFR RPG, but I'm not sure if my group would ever go for the setting itself)

Regular PDF Prince: $34.99 Sale Price: $8.75 Savings of $26.24!!

Traveller Main Rulebook - Traveller is back, and it is better than ever! Based on the Classic Traveller rules set, this book has been streamlined for modern roleplaying, and yet still retains that unmistakable Traveller aura. (a bargain and a half. much harder to die during character gen with this edition than the classic Traveller rules)

Regular PDF Price: $19.18 Sale Price: $4.80 Savings of $14.39!!

Shadowrun 20th Anniversary Edition - The year is 2072. Magic has returned and creatures of myth and legend walk among us as megacorps bleed the world dry. Shadowrun, Fourth Edition offers a completely new rules system that is simple, integrated, and accessible. (I only have the 1st edition rules of Shadowrun. For $3.75 I'm sold)

Regular PDF Price: $15.00 Sale Price: $3.75 Savings of $11.25!!

King Arthur Pendragon 5.1 - Relive the grandeur and romance of the greatest of all legends - the story of King Arthur. Assume the role of a knight starting his career in the time of Uther Pendragon, undertaking quests and perilous adventures for your lord, for your lady-love, for the Church, or for your own glory. (I have this in print. even if I never play it, it's worth the read)

Regular PDF Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $5.00 Savings of $14.99!!

Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume II is On Sale at RPGNow

I'm happy to say that Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Volume II is currently on sale at RPGNow.

I'm not going to say much about the writing - as I wrote it, so it succeeds or fails on that aspect based upon my work.

What I am going to talk about is the art by Teo Commons, which is pretty awesome. Teo does some of the most amazing black and white artwork that I've come across, and it's especially well suited for the magic items presented in this volume and it's predecessor. I look forward to working with Teo on Volume 3 (which should be done around the beginning of July)

I'm going to see if we can get a few copies to give away. Teo's art deserves the exposure.

Will the Real "Tenkar's Tavern" Please Stand Up?

Last fall this blog got hit by a stealth attack. A third party app was embedded in the site by me (dumb, I know) but it worked fine over over a year, before the app's owner let the domain expire. Someone grabbed the domain, redirected the app and turned the blog into an adware home for a few hours.

As I had purchased the domain tenkarstavern.com from google, google's buggy interface didn't allow me to edit the original tenkarstavern.blogspot.com. So, my work around was to create a new blog at tenkarstavern2.blogspot.com and allow tenkarstavern.com to redirect to the new blog.

All was well - until today.

It appears a "blog resurrectionist" has grabbed about a dozen abandoned blogs today, and tenkarstavern.blogspot.com is on that list. There can be only one reason for the blog land grab - adware or worse.

So, if a "Welcome" message popped up in your blogroll today from a blog claiming to be Tenkar's Tavern, it's not me.

It probably only effects those that have been following this blog for 3 years or so or longer, but I figured I'd throw it out there.

Big thanks to +Tim Shorts for the exceptional looking out ;)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Games From the Basement - Dragonstar (D20)

Dragonstar - Starfarer's Handbook initially seemed like a quasi-science version of Spelljammer, but my God this book spoke to me. I so badly wanted to play it or run it or do anything with it. Hell, I bought every accessory I could find and even joined it's Yahoo Group.

It was just that cool.

Yes, I had a gamer's crush on Dragonstar during the early days of 3e, when I had no group and even less time to find one.

From what I recall, the advent of 3.5e killed Dragonstar, which is a shame, as it has a nice, dark side to everything.

As I put together the Stars Without Number / Spacement & Spaceships hack for the drop in / drop out campaign this summer, I can't help thinking about hacking some Dragonstar into it at some point.

Who the hell am I kidding? I'd love to see this hacked into Swords & Wizardry. Not sure if I have the time or the skill, but it would be damn sweet to see :)

Flying Stuffed Monkey - (Swords & Wizardry Magic Item)

Art By Teo Commons
Note - This monkey does NOT fly out of one's ass ;)

Flying Stuffed Monkey

The Flying Stuffed Monkey is a sort of quasi-golem. It can fly, walk, fight and even die for it’s master, but so long as it’s master retrieves the majority of it’s remains from the field of battle, it will be ready to fight the following day.

Hit Dice: 2 (13 HP)
Armor Class: 6 (15)
Attacks: 2 Claws (1d4), 1 Bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 12
Special: Reforms 24 hrs after being defeated. 23 Points of magical fire will destroy the Flying Stuffed Monkey for good
Alignment: Neutral
Number Encountered: 1
Challenge Level/XP: 2 / 30

(The Flying Stuffed Monkey will be in Minor Magiks & Miscellaneous Arcana Vol 2)

Checking Interest in a Swords & Wizardry Online Convention / Gathering

I tried running this poll or survey about a month or so ago, and Blogger's plug in for it was so frigging buggy I had to stop it, so here we go again ;)

The poll is on the right side of the page. I think it maxes out at 200 votes, but if we reach that we should have a pretty good idea if there is enough interest in this or not.

We'd probably be looking at a weekend in September, sometime after Labor Day here in the States. If it does have legs, I expect this to be mostly community driven, much like the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day was.

I would assume that most of the gaming would revolve around G+ Hangouts / Roll20, but it does't need to. There are other viable Virtual Table Tops out there: Maptools, Fantasy Grounds, EpicTableTop, ScreenMonkey and other. Add in Skype (or not) and you are good to go.

Heck, we could even get a panel or two going, interviews, maybe even a workshop - like Quick Adventure Design Hints or 10 minute Dungeon Maps.

So, what are you waiting for? Vote!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Purple Duck Games Sale - 25% Off Everything Until June 1st!

I really like Purple Duck Games. Not only do they have some nice DCC RPG adventures, but Mark is very open to feedback. When I mentioned in one of the reviews on this very blog that having an unkeyed version of the adventure map is almost a necessity for online gaming, the suggestion was addressed and the adventure in question was updated with an unkeyed map. Mark has been pretty good at adding unkeyed maps to later DCC RPG releases too.

Talk about customer service. :)

Anyhow, everything they sell is 25% off until the end of the month.

Oh, and they sell stock are too, so if you are looking to self publish, now is a good time to stock up on some stock art (I may do so myself ;)

Building a Better Bard - A Re-Imagining IV - We Can Make You Better

The AD&D 1e version of the bard needs 2 rounds to warm up with his poetry before it takes effect, and it gives a 10% moral bonus and + 1 to the to hit roll of friendly characters.

I like that built in 2 round delay, and I would rule that those two rounds must be combat rounds, not waiting for 2 rounds as the fighter gets ready to burst through the door to the next room.

The bard can fight, but can't use any of his songs or spells while inspiring courage and ferocity for those 2 rounds, and then it lasts for one round per level (AD&D 1e calls for a full turn, but that's for a character that already has at least 10 prior levels of fighter and thief behind him - one round per level should work fine).

I would give the bonus to saves too I think.

I'm getting closer to fleshing all of this out, and I really like the idea of using the Cleric's Turning Tables for the other abilities, but we'll see how everything fits together as I start to finalize things. I don't think the finalized class write up will be done by the end of the month but it is getting closer ;)

What is Your Preferred RPG Genre?

I find I'm pretty well grounded in fantasy when it comes to my PG playing, which is why this summer's "drop in / drop out" Stars Without Number campaign is going to be a huge change for me and probably a decent challenge.

It's not that I haven't run scifi in the past. Original Traveller, Star Ace and SpaceMaster were all games I ran back in high school and my college years, but they never held my attention as much as fantasy games like AD&D, Runequest, MERP, Rolemaster, WFRP and the like.

I did dabble in some horror with CoC and Chill, but my players really weren't into it.

We did get some good play out of 1st edition Paranoia, which is more slapstick than scifi.

I did play in a short Twilight 2000 campaign and thought of running a RECON game, but the last never happened. I've always found it interesting that RPGs, which built upon wargaming, don't seem to do "modern war" roleplaying all that well.

I'm looking forward to stretching my GMing chops with a return to scifi.

So, what's you preferred genre to run or play in? Is it different if you are running the game or playing in it?

The Voyages of the Starship Icarus May Kick Off Next Weekend

I guess I need a name for the "Stars Without Number / Starships & Spacemen, Star Trek meets Aliens meets Warhammer 40k" drop in / drop out campaign.

"The Voyages of the Starship Icarus. It's 8 year mission: To explore strange, new worlds. To seek out adventure wherever it may be. To return. Yes, to simply survive and return after it's mission is complete."

The Icarus is halfway through its 8 year mission. All of the original command staff have met their end on one world or starship battle or from food poisoning or the like. Ensigns have been assigned to act in the ranks of the different command staff, but in truth they are all still ensigns.

Communications with the nearest Federated star base takes weeks to travel through hyperspace, and even if the Icarus turned back now, it would still take six months through occasionally hostile space to return home.

Over half the crew has been added from local populations over the years to replace crew members that have been lost. The new generation, or "New Gens" are inevitably "Red Shirts" until they prove themselves to the original generation of crew members. With experience comes added responsibilities, if not survivability.

(All PCs being ensigns and red shirts removes the constrictions of a rank based structure while still filling the requisite "rank" roles.)
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